Friday, February 28, 2003


Old joke that one. But, what about Super Mario? Mario Cippolini, pin-up bad boy of Italian cycling. Cippolini pissed off Tour de France officials when he inssisted on wearing red shorts. I forget which jersey he "held" - it might have been the points jersey - green I think. But, he should have worn the same colour shorts. But, Mario insisted on wearing his usual red shorts. If there's a cycling fan out there, they'll put me right.

Anyway, Mario made yesterday's BBC Sport web site. 60mph on the open road? Never mind red shorts, sounds like he needs a drugs test.

PS - there's picture of me here with my bike - won at a drawing after the 2000 DC Bike Rally.

Thursday, February 27, 2003


Nick's blog has provided me with a few good links over the last couple of days.

Why not take the Political Compass test? It takes about 10 minutes or so and plots you on a grid of lefite/righty and libertarian/authoritarian. I guess you've got to take it as a bit of fun, but I found it quite illuminatng. I think I did the same quiz or something like it a couple of years ago. This time round I came out much more libertarian than last.

Economic Left/Right: -5.25
Authoritarian/Libertarian -7.95

Meanwhile, on a more serious note, Nick pointed to the Iraq Body Count web site. The site is keeping a runing count of war dead. I've got a body count tally on my blog now. You can get your own one at the site. Nick's link also mentions the Afghan body count. This is not meant to be frivolous. There is an important principle here. My Government is intent on changing the regime of another sovereign nation. To do so will cause significant death and destruction. I find that repulsive. There will be a lasting effect: physical, emotional, political and spiritual. The body count is one reflection of what I see as a misguided adventure.


Hooray, Haloscan is working again! All you thousands of people can now comment away!

Wednesday, February 26, 2003


Due to general pantsness of the servers at work and Haloscan going offline, it ain't been a good day for blogging.

It'll be better tomorrow, I hope.


Interrupted by foxes...

Tuesday, February 25, 2003


I had a strange dream last night. I dreamt I watched as a strong wind blew across London. All the big buildings in Westminster sawyed in the wind. But, Big Ben swayed then fell down. I can remember trying to phone my parents to tell them that I was okay. There were also streams of people crossing one of the birdges to escape the carnage. Boy!

This brought back to mind my idea for a new blog. What it is is: people contribute their dreams. Anyone can log on and type away after waking up (or later if they can remember dreams that long: I can't). It would be a sort of streamof consciousness thing.

Any takers?

Meanwhile, I woke up to the nightmare horror that is John Ashcroft, bible-bashing, drug hating, stupid song writing Attorney General in the US. This article (via Right Wing Slayer - go Buffy!) staggered me.

And this, via A Dash of Salt, will made my jaw drop. Help! I need duct tape! "Don't be afraid" No, just panic like hell!

Monday, February 24, 2003


Just a Flash interactive game which is huge fun and superbly designed. Love it. But, then I'm easily pleased.

Found on Swish Cottage (yeah, I saw the Guardian on Saturday too).


A big thank you to Rhys, Scornfate, Yorkshire Soul and anyone else I've forgotten for the links. It makes all this blogging worthwhile to know someone actually read it!

Their links are at the side. Visit them now (or later). Regular reader(s) will notice weeding and adding of blogs. I'm thoroughly enjoying reading all those other blogs. Trouble is that work and sleep get in the way.



Awards seson is upon us. So it was the Barftas or somethin like that last night. But, well done the Guardian for spotting the British Parking Awards ceremony.

Kudos for Harrogate's Jubilee car park - Multi-storey of the year.
Bravo Cambridge - Best Park and Ride [or not, as the case may be]
Cheers to Sohail Khan, parking manager from Camden - Parking Employee of the Year

But, I loved the hot favourite for the employee of the year who apparently handed out change to people so they could feed parking meters. Do you think he would hand out fivers to people driving in to Central London?


Great picture of a light projection by Greenpeace activists on the bow of the USS Blue Ridge in Hong Kong harbour.


I like doggies. But there is something not quite right about the dogs in cars web site.

Or is there? Useless waste of bandwidth? Innovative use of the internet? The internet as community? Sad f@$%er? You decide.

Sunday, February 23, 2003


Which Marc are you?


Last week's culture included a visit to the Whitechapel Gallery for the Mies van der Rohe exhibition. Together with Le Corbusier, Philip Johnson and Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies was one of the most influential architects of the 20th century. Mies pretty much invented the glass skyscraper in post-war US. However, this exhibition was all about his time in Berlin before 1938 when he emigrated to the 'States. It was fascinating to see some of his earliest commissions whilst working for Peter Behrens practice. Behrens gained note for his use of steel, particularly in the AEG Turbine Hall, and an early use of pre-cast concrete. Some of the early Mies work was quite old-fashioned, in the style of the English Arts and Crafts movement. But, particularly after the war, his style evolved into the more modern idiom. I wasn't aware of the influence of modernist painters like Theo van Duisburg on Mies's work. But, it's pretty evident in the dozen or so house commissions in post-WWI Germany.

Mies later became the director of the Bauhaus school of art . When the Nazis came to power in 1933, the Bauhaus was closed down. A defiant Mies got it reopened after awhile, but he quickly lost favour in the new regime and was forced out of the country.

The exhibition, put together by the New York Museum of Modern Art, concentrates rightly on the highly influential pavilion at the Barcelona trade fair. But, it was the earlier house commissions that really interested me.


The latest from Dhaka (where I spent three "interesting" days last month). We finished off our two days of negotiations with a signing ceremony in a room buzzing with mosquitoes.

I was somewhat surprised at how docile the mozzies were - only two bites over three days. I've had the pleasure of experiencing the voracious beasties of Alaska in prime Mozzie season (June). Driving throught the Alaska Range I got out of the car to photograph a moose only to be driven back within 30 seconds as the mosquitoes homed in on me. You may have heard of the pictures of people walking through the muskeg in Alaska surrounded by a "coat" of bugs.

Of course, the Alaskan critters don't carry dengue fever or malaria. The latter is apparently not a problem in Dhaka. I took no chances popping anti-malarials and dosing up on DEET and other bug repellents. One of our hosts was indignant that this was unnecessary - just drink quinine (preferably in a gin and tonic).

Saturday, February 22, 2003


Just say cheese! Noah Kelly (who he?) plans to sit inside a giant cheddar cheese for 48 hours.


All 90 odd people in my part of the office went for an "Awayday" the other week at the Globe Theatre. The head of our unit started off by saying he wasn't sure what he wanted to get out of the day, but set two objectives "that we feel better about working for the unit and better about wokring for the organisation" NIce bit of manouevering there.

Anyway, we were stuck up in a small, cold room being spoken at by suits. So much for engaging staff. We had about 15 minutes of break-out sessions when, again, suits dominated. The rapporteurs were...suits. In the afternoon, we had more suits lecturing about "their" objectives. Oh yes, lunch was served by three people so it took 20 minutes for everyone to get food on their plates. No seats once you got your food.

Do I sound, unimpressed?

But, the result is probably going to be a badge for the organisation.


Re: London's congestion charge, the Economist (spit!) quoted Anthony Downs from the Brookings Institute:

"Get yourself an air conditioned car with a CD player, a hands-free telephone and commute with someone you really like. Learn to enjoy being stuck in traffic as another leisure activity, because congestion is here to stay."

My scientific survey on the success or otherwise after the first week - asked a cab driver who thought the roads were empty on Monday, but back to usual on Tuesday. Everyone else at work seems to think that traffic is down. Simon Hoggart in the Guardian diary agrees. The Evening Standard (ptooey!) is convinced that it'll all end in tears - but strangely quiet on the subject today. Ken Livingstone's job is on the line. Great soap opera.


A 31 year old headline and the name of an opera by John Adams. For people of my generation, the opening up of China in the 70s was epochal. China was, in many ways, yesterday’s North Korea – secretive, potentially dangerous and in the midst of a personality cult. China is still considered an exotic destination, but as I found out during a short visit to Beijing (en route to a more exotic capital - Ulaan Baatar), there's plenty of western influence already there.

hot milk takes over the world

China, of course, is a huge country with an equally huge population. Its economy is growing at a phenomenal pace and already its GDP is 12% of the world's total. But, of course, China was the home of one of the greatest and most innovative civilisations in history. Those first glimpses into China - I remember the pictures of Nixon arriving at Beijing airport - were not so long ago, but in many respects light years away.


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Thursday, February 20, 2003


This one's been going aroung a bit. I guess you could call it the Hans Blix page.

Nicked off Lazylaces.

your arms, up!

Tuesday, February 18, 2003


Couldn't resist this pic of an Argentine protester in a Dubya mask bagging Mesopatamians.


Just when you though sanity was prevailing up pops some more silliness from the fringes of reality.

In other words it's the Brittany Spears Physics web site.

Monday, February 17, 2003


It's getting crazy out there. You never know: this could be true.

In case you missed the big day, here's your chance to buy the perfect gift for your loved one.

Friday, February 14, 2003


make love, not war.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Music update: pinched this reference off Dave Barry's weblog.

I guess a world tour is out of the question. Anyway, I'll wait for it to come out on CD.

I like this quote from the article:

"Cage composed the original piece before his death in 1992"

Of course if he did it after his death he would be de-composing. (This joke copyright 1973, The Two Ronnies)

Reference the footy score, England captain, David Beckham, criticised the fans for booing the players off the pitch.

"The disappointing part for me was the way the fans reacted at the end of the game."

Er, David. Perhaps for the fans the disappointing part for them was the poor performance by the players.

Read what Aussie PM, John Howard, has to say about fridges - mini-bars, eskies and Kelvinators. Oh and this cool war thing and hanging with his mates George and Colon.

England 1, Australia 3. Bloody hell! If the Ashes wasn't bad enough, they now go beat us at the only sport we're half decent at.

Addendum: I forgot that sport played by men with funny shaped balls. Allez les blancs!

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

More off beat photos, this time from Brighton (I think). Reminds me of a cleaning company that advertises itself with the slogan "Muck Off!" Indeed.

Bounced on to Jonathan Keller's wierd and wondeful daily photo project. Simple concept: take a picture of yourself every day for the rest of your life and see what happens. It just struck as kind of Andy Warhol: 15 minutes of fame. Kinda what much of this weblog thing is. [Aside: it's also about shouting (sometimes in to a void). But, that's another post.

Like the person said in the Jonathan's faqs, I had the same idea too, sometime ago, but... Well, for a start there was no internet and no digital cameras.

I have to ask Jonathan how does he manage to have the same expression every day?

On a separate note, Jonathan spent some time in Antarctica - which is cool. Agh! Anyway, I've been reading quite a lot of Arctic and Antarctic stuff recently, including Shackleton's "South" and Fleming's "Ninety Degrees". I probably won't ever get south.

Furthest North? Fairbanks, Alaska
somewhere north of fairbanks - the antlers aren't mine

and Snaesfell, Iceland.
snaesfell - gateway to the centre of the earth

Furthest South? Hmm. Singapore.
singapore sling, anyone

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Whilst I was in Dhaka the other week, one of the local papers reported "Lake Robbed Overnight". I guess in a country practically under water for a large part of the year that a "typical case of lake grabbing" is a big deal. But, bizarre all the same.

Why did the police officer walk away with a smile? And, who went to the trouble to measure the encroachment: 0.21 acres?
give me back my lake

Monday, February 10, 2003

The Air Letter reports:

"Many big airlines may stop carrying pets over the US if the government makes them report figures on how many animals they lose and how many die or are injured on their aircraft, an industry group says. Carriers say they fly millions of animals each year for a fee and endorse government efforts to make animal transport safer."

Lose animals? How is this possible? I think we should be told!

"Fly millions of animals each year..." In cattle class, surely.

Reading (or rather, just finished): What Went Wrong? Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response by Bernard Lewis.
Listening to: The Inspirational Sounds of Muslimgauze
Watching: Snooker! (or how many more times can the BBC advertise Benson & Hedges cigarettes before the advertising ban kicks in on 14 February)

Decided to check out the rather excellent City of Vilnius web site (as seen here earlier) this lunchtime. There's a rather dull bit about letting a contract on the new light rail project. But, more importantly, can anyone tell me more about the Lithuanian "Brake Dance" tournament upcoming in March?

16 February is Lithuanian Independence Day and, well what can you say. That's a worthy day I guess we can all celebrate.

Turkish delight. While "Old" Europe digs its heels in against "the impulsive cowboy in the White House" (quote from Sen John McCain, R-Arizona), anti-war campaigners make a sweet point.

Sen McCain went on to claim that "Iraq could be to Nato what Abyssinia was to the League of Nations". Eh? The League of Nations turned a blind eye to Italy's invasion. Surely, if NATO members turn a blind eye to the US/UK invasion of a sovereign state, Iraq, then that is the right analogy. Why not e-mail John and put him right?

Other gems from the good senator:

"For all the terrible suffering they caused, the attacks of September 11 did have one good effect. Patriotism flourished in America. We remembered how blessed we were to be Americans."

"America and her causes are a blessing to mankind..."

Excuse me, but I think that's called arrogance.

Ah, but, he makes up for it with this:

"Nationalism is not intrinsically good."

"We are not a perfect nation. Prosperity and power might delude us into thinking we have achieved that distinction, but inequities and challenges unforeseen a mere generation ago command every good citizen's concern and labor."

I kind of like McCain, becuase unlike most politicians, it appears that he actually speaks his mind. Not the carefully constructed, spin-mastered sound bit for him. But, then again, when he does speak his mind I don't usually agree with him.

Friday, February 07, 2003

Interesting Congestion Charge story. (Only 10 days left! £5 a time to travel into Central London.)

The US Embassy asked for an exemption from the charge for their diplomats. No dice. So the US State Department are now going to levy a charge on British diplomats in Washington DC. And, this is our closest ally? How are the US authorities going to know who drives into the British Embassy? At what rate will they charge? And, will this money (like the money collected by TfL) go towards improving public transport in DC?

Thursday, February 06, 2003

I know the space shuttle travels fast, but not this fast! Warp factor 8, Mr Sulu!

What a long strange trip it's been. Or something like that. Dead head merchie store sells out. Man.

All together now...

"Truckin' got my chips cashed in
Keep truckin' like the doodah man
Truckin' like the doodah man once told me "Gotta play your hand"
Truckin' up to Buffalo, been thinking you got to mellow slow
Takes time, you pick a place to go, just keep truckin' on
Truckin' I'm a going home, whoa, whoa, baby, back where I belong
Back home, sit down and patch my bones, and get back truckin' on"

(Thanks to The Grateful Dead Lyric And Song Finder)

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Slight loss of service not related to BBC transmitter problems (see below) for i am a donut. Holiday in Morocco,
the atlas mountains in late afternoon
a work trip to Bangladesh
dhaka street scene
and lots of work and play got in the way.

"Five million TV viewers in south London were left without a BBC signal when a transmitter failed. " sayeth the London Evening Standard.

"Those tuning in to see Red Cap, starring Tamzin Outhwaite, were shocked to see fizzing screens. By 10pm engineers had repaired the BBC1 signal but BBC2 was hit for nearly an hour and a half, losing Posh Nosh, with Arabella Weir and Richard E Grant and Happiness."

"Shocked"? Shurely not?

Don't recall seeing this story about Greenpeace protesters chaining themselves to British Army tanks on the front page of the Sun (or the Times or Telegraph). More here.

Meanwhile, the Kultcha Secretary has agreed that the anti-war march in London on 15 February can end in Hyde Park. Earlier, the Government argued that the ground in Hyde Park was too wet to allow the demo there: "Sorry, democracy cancelled due to the weather". They offered Victoria Park (scene of the recent "jogger murder") in East London (I assume that Viccie Park, where I used to cycle when I lived around the corner, doesn't get soggy) or the ill-fated Millennium Dome (home most recently to New Year's Eve ravers).