Sunday, February 29, 2004
Hollywood :: Bowl
Censor :: XXX
Nascar :: redneck
Lube :: job
Mortgage :: arrears
Freedom :: fries
Champion :: the Wonder Horse
Reality TV :: dull
New York :: New York. So good they named it twice.
Tease :: tickle
Friday, February 27, 2004
No Friday Five this week...
So, in it's place ...
Name five exciting things that happened this week:
1. Claire Short (who now looks increasingly as though after the next election she will be co-hosting a lifestyle TV programme with Michael Portillo - "Location, Location - the Economic Migrant Game") and Katherine Gun have embarrased the Government over alledged spying on United Nations' Security Council members, Kofi Annan and Hans Blix
2. Bill Hicks is the new rock and roll. (Hands up those who had heard of him when he was alive. Yeah, thought so.)
3. It snowed in London.
4. Bush pissed off Andrew Sullivan. Huzzar!
5. I've been offered a job. More later.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
WHISTLE IN THE WIND
The Crown Prosecution Service has, at the last moment, dropped charges against intelligence officer and whistleblower Katherine Gun. As a worker at the Government Communication Headquarters (aka the Donut), Gun saw an e-mail from a US contact last year which was effectively asking the UK to help spy on diplomats from swing vote countries on the UN Security Council in an effort to get sanction for the invasion of Iraq.
Gun violated the Official Secrets Act by leaking the e-mail. She admitted this, but claimed it was because the e-mail was evidence of illegal activities by the US (and possibly the UK) secret services.
Why has the government decided to spike this case? Is it because they were afraid what might come out in the trial. Was it because of the threat that the full version of the Attorney General's assessment of the legal case for war?
We will probably not know in our lifetimes. The documents will probably be kept back for a 50 year review.
But, we can have a go at getting the government to come clean. Go to the Our World Our Say site for more.
CIVIL SERVICE UPDATE
Peter Kemp, one of the key architects of change in the Thatcher Civil Service, has responded to the leaked Gershon Report.
Kemp runs a careful eye over the plans which would involve considerable remodelling of the structure of how the machinery of government delivers and a substantial change to the way in which Civil Servants work. Surprisingly, he's not totally convinced that increased outputs are possible with reduced inputs.
Accountability, though, is more problematic for Kemp, as Gershon would break the traditional "silo" structure of departmental government:
"Who is in charge when things go wrong? It is not clear who would answer for these new "super agencies" nor how they would be accountable, whether to the minister in charge in the ultimate service, or indeed to parliament. Nor is it clear where the blame would lie when things go wrong."
Yesterday also saw Tony Blair outline the plans in a bit more detail. I've not read the full speech, but from what I've seen reported elsewhere there are a lot of questions, like how is this plan going to be implemented, how do you retrain the thousands of generalists for "front line" work, what that front line work will be and what do civil servants deliver? Pizza?
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
NADER - THE DEMOCRATS BOGEY MAN
So, Nader has decided to run for President. It has certainly agitated a lot of people.
From the People's Republic of Seabrook:
"I will say that I have lost whatever respect for Ralph Nader that I previously had- and it was considerable. If not for Nader, Gore would be President, and he may end up handing this election to George Bush as well."
And, a link to the erudite Shut the Fuck Up Already.
"Nader you FUCK!
"Haven't you learned anything in the last three years? Do you really believe this country would be in this unbelievable mess, if Gore had won in 2000?
"You stupid stupid stupid nasal hissing slime of a man."
Someone's riled. So too is the Nation, a Nader booster in 2000.
"Ralph, please think of the long term. Don't run."
To which, Nader replies:
"The Nation's open letter does not go far enough in predicting where my votes would come from, beyond correctly inferring that there would be few liberal Democratic supporters. The out-of-power party always returns to the fold, while the in-power party sees its edges looking for alternatives. Much more than New Hampshire in 2000, where I received more Republican than Democratic votes, any candidacy would be directed toward Independents, Greens, third-party supporters, true progressives and conservative and liberal Republicans, who are becoming furious with George W. Bush's policies, such as massive deficits, publicized corporate crimes, subsidies and pornography, civil liberties encroachments, sovereignty-suppressing trade agreements and outsourcing. And, of course, any candidacy would seek to do what we all must strive for--getting out more nonvoters, who are now almost the majority of eligible voters:"
The Chirstian Science Monitor ponders what Nader offers voters.
"No one knows yet if he'll siphon off critical votes in critical states from the Democratic nominee. But this champion of public reform will be able to shine a new spotlight on what most ails the two major political parties: big-money influence in Washington ...
"Independent candidates often thrive on single issues. They offer voters a way to send a message, even to a political party they might prefer. They are a safety valve when the political system itself needs to be fixed."
The "Nader lost Gore the election line" just doesn't wash. Look at the figures. Gore lost two states where Nader held the balance of votes - New Hampshire (Bush 48% - Gore 47% - Nader 4%) and Florida (49-49-2). That's just two states. Exit polls indicate that the vast majority of Nader voters would not have voted at all in the election if it were just a two horse race. Let's look at that again: only a few Nader voters would have voted for Gore.
The shrill voices overlook that Gore sleepran for Prez against a complete political moron. Gore should have trounced Bush in the debates, but instead came across as a stuck-up preppie Washington lawyer who couldn't connect with the voters. His campaign was awful until the final moments when he managed to make up considerable ground on Bush.
Gore would have won, if he decided to run outside the shadow of Clinton. He would have won if he had played to his debating strengths.
Gore might have won if Florida wasn't crooked.
Gore did "win" the popular vote - but that of course shows the error of the Electoral College system and its bias towards the corrupt two-party system.
Most importantly, Gore would have won if he had won his own state.
What about Nader? Certainly he will not make nearly as big an impact as he did in 2000 - some 3 million votes. Nader energised a lot of activists who had never got involved in the race at all. Like John McCain - who I think did the public a disservice by not standing as an independent - he raised important issues during the election.
But this year, voters will be scared away because the press and some Democrats would have you believe he threatens their man again: another Washington stiff.
That, I fear, is not good for politics and not good for democracy.
Forget nobodies like Kerry...
"On the Iraq War:
"President George W Bush rushed into war at the expense of real information, and without gathering together the appropriate level of confidence in our facts. Because of this hurry, we were unable to convince our allies to join us, creating a "Go It Alone" foreign policy and a doctrine of unilateral invasion. America has lost over 500 soldiers as a result of this policy, and squandered the opportunity for international respect. Had Gay Penguin been in office, this war would not have taken place.
"On Foreign Policy:
"George W Bush has alienated our allies, including France, Germany, and the United Nations. Under Gay Penguin's leadership, they would not be in an adverserial position today. Who could feel culturally threatened by a Gay Penguin?"
Gay Penguin's gotta be my candidate.
Monday, February 23, 2004
Don't mention it.
ALL THE NEWS THAT'S FIT TO PRINT
Stephen Glover, a force behind the founding of the Independent, is now behind a new high brow newspaper - a tabloid with broadsheet content (er, the new trend). Here him yap on this morning's Today Programme (.ram file).
Glover reckons there are plenty of readers out there who have ditched reading the dailies because of the frivolous coverage of celebreties and reality TV progammes. Could it be that many have ditched buying a newspaper because there is now so much news content on-line? Viz: BBC News, the Guardian/Observer (click for relevant article) and any number of mostly free specialist sites?
At a time when the market is already saturated with news and advertising is going through a slump, Glover et al appear a bit optimistic. And, of course, Murdoch would kill it with a price war: just like he did with the Indy.
What if you blogged and nobody came? Traffic is a bit slow. The regulars still come here (you know who you are). But, things are dragging. Lack of inspiration, lack of time, lack of knowledge. Whatever it is, a little time has been spent trying to tweak the template. That small typeface was getting harder to read as age takes its toll on the eyes.
Now the tweaking's done, it doesn't really seem that much better. So, there may be a completely new look to the Donut very soon. Or, posts may pick up. Or, nothing much might happen. There's plenty of moribund blogs out there. This one doesn't intend to go the same route.
Iamadonut needs a pick-me-up.
Stars:: in their Eyes
Hart:: Gerry - as in failed presidential campaign - bit like Dean...
Fortune:: I'll never have one
Saturday, February 21, 2004
M IS THE
TWELFTH THIRTEENTH LETTER
Dave Pajo (aka Papa M) has a tour diary: intersting stuff.
N.B. - Don't count after slammin' down a margherita
Friday, February 20, 2004
BBC News reports:
"Police in Georgia have arrested the son-in-law of former President Eduard Shevardnadze on tax evasion charges ... a senior employee at Mr Dzhokhtaberidze's company, Magti, said he was on a business trip."
Mikhail Saakashvili, you may recall, was elected new President of Georgia earlier this year, replacing the discredited Shevardnadze regime, which was blamed for the endemic corruption in Georgia.
People will tell you (if you want to listen), that following the break-up of the Soviet Union, Georgia would be the most prosperous republic. Instead, the capital Tbilisi sees regular power outages and gas shortages as the country has tumbled out of control. There is no money in the Exchequer. But, "Misha" is making slow progress towards establishing the rule of law and good governance.
FOXES IN TOWN: NO TIME TO CHICKEN OUT
It's a crucial match for the mighty Spurs at White Hart Lane. A Leicester team in some disarray are the visitors. Spurs are highly unlikely to reach a Champions League spot this season. Instead safety is the challenge. The current league position looks safe, but Leicester are the sort of team that they must punish.
Upcoming matches - Newcastle (h), Manchester United (a), Southampton (a), Chelsea (h) - don't look promising for bagging many points. So, three points please on Sunday to make sure we stay up.
Somewhat surprisingly, Leicester hold the edge over Tottenham during the Premier League era - Spurs 5 wins, Leicester 8, Draws 2.
Meanwhile, one of George Graham's less than succesful buys during his ill-fated White Hart Lane tenure Sergei Rebrov reckons he's on his way back from exile in Turkey.
Reborv claims: "David Pleat has already indicated that he is counting on my return." Er, with any luck Pleat won't be in charge for much longer.
"I'm not 40 years old and I'm not ready to retire just yet," Yeah. But, you are crap, mate. Stay at Fenerbahce, please. We've got Kanoute, Keane, Defoe and Postiga. So we don't need Rebrov.
THE MORNING AFTER A SESH DOWN THE PUB FRIDAY FIVE
When was the last time you...
1. ...went to the doctor?
Doctor, doctor, I keep thinking I am a set of curtains! Pull yourself together man!
Last saw my specialist - the crazy Icelander - in March 2003.
2. ...went to the dentist?
March 2003 to get my false tooth refitted.
3. ...filled your gas tank?
Several weeks ago. We drive to the supermarket and back on a Saturday. otherwise it's public transport to get around London.
4. ...got enough sleep?
Last Saturday afternoon on the sofa in front of the Welsh rugby XV hammering Scotland.
5. ...backed up your computer?
D'oh! Not as recently as I should have. I've got a whole load of Zip Disks which have the important backed files my old PC, but no Zip Drive. Can anyone help?
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
An update on the pay dispute with my employer.
David Rowlands, my employer's top official, met union representatives yesterday. Rowlands earns at a minimum £150,000 and voted himself a 5.5% pay rise last year. At the bottom end of the scale, employees in his organisation earn around £12,000 and have been offered around 2%.
Rowlands rejected an offer by the union to return to the negotiating table.
Last Friday's Times picks up cross Whitehall pay battle.
"A bitter row over Whitehall pay erupted last night after the most senior officials were awarded pay rises of up to £50,000 while the lowly were told that they would have to manage on less than inflation.
"... The rises for the 3,000 most senior civil servants, including permanent secretaries, are on a sliding scale of 0 to 9 per cent.
"The announcements will deepen the rift between the 3,000-strong Whitehall elite and the 497,000 rank-and-file officials who are now in dispute with six departments.
"...junior officials at the Department for Work and Pensions, on salaries of £10,500 are taking strike action over a 2.6 per cent proposed pay rise.
"They will be futher angered by bonuses of up to 11 per cent which senior civil servants could earn, in addition to the pay increases of between 0 and 9 per cent. "
Good reviews for Democracy, Michael Frayn's Democracy that is. Whilst
Sir David Hare's controversial Permanent Way is garnering all the attention after its debut in the National's Cottesloe Theatre, the play it has replaced has moved to the larger Lyttleton.
Last Thursday's performance was packed to the rafters. That came as no surprise after the first act which crackled with political intrigue and espionage.
From the Independent.
"The play is wonderfully alert to the piquant paradoxes and ironic twists of this intensely tricky period in Germany's conversation with itself. Initially distrusting the sincerity of Brandt's Ostpolitik, the East Germans wind up more intent on keeping the Chancellor in power than many of his own resentful SDP colleagues. As sketched here, post-war West Germany is a world where power depends on unstable, ill-natured coalitions and a bizarre partner-swapping game where an old ex-Communist can find himself forced into bed politically with an elderly former Nazi. Only Brandt, who fled the Gestapo and worked for the resistance in Scandinavia, is untainted by the war - though, to some, clean hands are themselves suspect."
This was a taught, well scripted, superbly produced play that grabbed my attention from the outset. Things slowed a bit in after the interval, but as the reviews say it's a function of the story.
"It is, of course, the spy-story element, so familiar from the Cold War novels of Le Carre and Deighton, that initially grabs attention. Almost as soon as he became Chancellor, Brandt was shadowed by one Gunter Guillaume, an apparently servile, nondescript functionary, who eventually became his personal assistant. He served Brandt devotedly, but he was equally devoted to his other role of spying for the Stasi."
Brandt's term as Chancellor is but a dim memory apart from his Kennedy-esque features and that unforgettable event when he knelt after laying a wreath at the memorial to the Warsaw Ghetto dead. That was a unique cleansing moment, admitting guilt and wiping away the hurt of German occupation during the Second World War. Even on stage this was a moving event.
From the Guardian.
"Roger Allam's Brandt is one of the best portrayals of a politician I have ever seen in that it shows how total public command coexists with depressive private uncertainty. And Conleth Hill as Guillaume combines exactly the right moon-faced anonymity with a rapt capacity for hero-worship. David Ryall as Wehner and Jonathan Coy as Brandt's aide also stand out in a play that shows how the divided selves of chancellor and spy echo the contradictions of the two Germanies. "
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
THE C WORD
Happy Birthday C-charge (PDF file) - one year-old today. Transport for London (i.e. "Sir" Ken Livingstone) trumpets that the C-Charge has been a success.
- Traffic delays inside the charging zone remain 30 percent lower than before charging was introduced.
- Buses continue to experience significant gains in reliability in and around the charging zone
- Surveys of over 700 businesses inside and immediately outside the charging zone have shown that wider economic and other factors were reported most frequently as influences on recent business performance
- Congestion charging contributes £50 million of net transport benefits to London’s economy per year, mainly through quicker and more reliable journeys for road and bus users.
Sayeth, "Lord Kenneth of Neasden":
"Congestion charging was a radical solution to a long standing problem. Before the introduction of the charge, London’s roads were clogged with slow-moving traffic and congestion was costing business £2m a week.
"The scheme has made a real difference in getting London moving again. Fewer vehicles in the zone coupled with improved bus services and faster, more reliable, vehicle journeys, make London a far better place to work, live and visit. Despite the dire predictions before the launch of the scheme, congestion charging has proved a success and that is why nearly three quarters of Londoners now support the scheme - because it works."
Unfortunately, Ken hired Crapita to administer the scheme. They are "officially" pants.
Now Ken wants to double the C-Charge area to include toffs in Kensington & Chelsea.
The Donut says, do more than that Ken.
- raise the charge to £6 per day
- raise the fines to £120
at the same time
- build segregated cycle lanes
- hire bus drivers who care a shit
- hire bus drivers with a softer touch on the accelerator and brake.
- and get rid of bendy buses.
Monday, February 16, 2004
I'M A CIVIL SERVANT, GET ME OUT OF HERE
So why aren't I on strike along with 80 (or 90) thousand civil servants on strike?
The story goes bak to the mid-1990s when Thatcher (bless her iron underpants) in her infinite wisdom devolved pay to departments and ministries. Until then, civil servants had national rates of pay, national terms and conditions ergo national strikes (er, so the old divide and conquer). Fast forward to 2003. Civil service pay years run to the ned of July. Each negotiating unit (and there are hundreds of them across the country) has a pay remit from the Treasury (so much for devolving pay).
Staff at the Department of Work and Pensions (aka the SS of the old DHSS, plus Job Centre staff from the old Department of Employment) and other pay units are ahead of other departments, like mine, in their pay battle. They have been negotiating for some time (although talks have now broken down). My lot have only been at it for a few months.
This year, I mean in 2003, the Treasury started to put the screws on. Most departments were given instructions to ratchet down pay deals to 2 or 3%. Across Whitehall and elsewhere (all those driving test centres for example) staff have been offered pretty low increases. And, unique in most industries, the headline pay increase figure is gross - i.e. the figure is supposed to cover uprating pay other than cost of living increases. That is to say, additional pay awards such as agreements to condense pay scales count against the overall settlement. Re-valorisation of pay is therefore decreased.
Staff in my department are faced with an award of about 2% - more than 1% below inflation. Fine if you are a middle or upper manager. But, it is a really crappy rise if you are at the bottom of the food chain. It's really crappy in the likes of DWP where "PCS estimates a quarter of staff ... earn less than ?13,750 and 81% are paid less than the UK average for non-manual workers of ?24,000."
Meanwhile, we have rejected the pay offer and a strike ballot looms in the next few weeks.
PCS General Secretary and awkward squad member, Mark Serwotka, has called the leaked Gershon report a kick in the teeth.
Gershon has been brought in from that ever efficient private sector (in his case arms dealers to despots around the world BAE Systems) to tell us how to save shed loads of money. Oh, and fuck staff in the process. Yes, the civil service and the public sectors can deliver better services and could cut costs. Yes, let's have some blue sky thinking too. But, some of the stuff reported in yesterday's FT sounds downright loopy to me.
LIKE "BEING SHOT OUT OF THE NOZZLE OF AN ATOMIC CANNON"
The Guardian has some useful tips for those of you wanting to experiment with "research chemicals". Gives new meaning to the term e-mail.
Disclaimer: the Donut does not advocate the use of what are illegal substances in the UK. Just make sure you don't get caught.
Sunday, February 15, 2004
This has been an awful week of death. From Baghdad to Moscow; on the rails in northern England to a shopping mall in China. So, the tragic death of Italian cyclist, Marco Pantani, might pale in comparison. But, the cycling fraternity is close and just like the deaths on the roads of Tom Simpson and Fabio Casartelli, Pantani's sad almost pitiful end hurts. Pantani will be remembered for his bald pate, his brilliant climbing efforts and his Tour win in 98. Equally, Marco's name is synonymus with cheating - the use of illegal substances to enhance his performance. The great professional, the driven cyclist he was perhaps led him to plead his innoncence. All that is now irrelevant as he has died a lonely, bitter and troubled man.
- Dragon:: breath
- Molecule:: hydrogen
- Tire:: of London, you tire of life
- Mighty:: oaks
- Octane:: fuel
- Troll:: little bloke and blokesses with frizzy hair
- Atmosphere:: nitrogen/oxygen
- Guide:: dawg
- Leash:: dawg
- Dustmite:: in your bed
THE BLACK CAT FRIDAY FIVE
1. Are you superstitious?
No, touch wood.
2. What extremes have you heard of someone going to in the name of superstition?
Sports team coaches wearing the same suit, players dressing in the a particular order, running on to the field in a particular place (last or next to last)
3. Believer or not, what's your favorite superstition?
Garlic to ward off vampires.
4. Do you believe in luck? If yes, do you have a lucky number/article of clothing/ritual?
You make your own luck.
5. Do you believe in astrology? Why or why not?
Er, no. One reason - the "science" is all wrong. I'm "born under" Taurus, which is supposed to mean that if you could see it during the day, the sun would be seen against the constellation Taurus. However, astrology was invented more than 2000 years ago. Since then, due to "progression" of the sun, the positions of the sun against the constellations has moved one forward. So I wasn't "born under" Taurus, but Gemini.
Friday, February 13, 2004
MORE ON PAY
On the same day that the organisation's staff survey showed that 57% of employees felt they were not paid fairly, my employer imposes the pay award:
Pay is the number one thing that could make working here better:
FREEDOM OF THE PRESS BE DAMNED
A BBC reporter gets carried away and files a slightly inaccurate report: we get this bollocks and the great institution of the BBC is slandered by this unelected twat.
Matt Drudge "prints" a load of unsubstantiated crap: he gets away with it and free publicity from the world's media.
I mentioned "fiddle yards" last week, which (as Iain corrected me) are the behind the scene part of a model rail layout where modellers "fiddle" with trains - i.e. handle the engines, coaches and wagons.
So, it was apposite to stumble upon a modeller's blog at lunch today. Quite enjoyed the comments of "Permanent Way" Ali.
Hold on, I think I'm growing an anorak.
Thursday, February 12, 2004
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Four, bloody two. Spurs give fans another heart attack, but bag the points.
WHAT ABOUT THE WORKERS?
It looks increasingly likely that at the end of March I will be on strike. My employer has offered a pay deal which after taking account of contractual obligations to generally uprate pay will come to about 2% - some 1% lower than inflation. Even with "performance pay", my pay increase will be about 2.9%. What's more, the increase was due last August. Indeed management tried to get away without paying the contractual increases in August on the basis that we had not agreed the overall pay deal for 2003.
Now I'm a realistic sort of chap. I'm paid a decent wage though I know that I could earn 50% more if I plied my wares in the private sector. Senior staff awarded themselves a 5.5% increase last year. There's more evidence that the Treasury are clamping down on pay.
"Pay rises in the public sector are about to be squeezed as Gordon Brown puts an end to above-inflation increases.
"Top civil servants, judges and senior members of the Armed Forces will be first to feel the pinch (sic), with basic salary rises pegged at about 2 per cent and planned bonus rises cut back."
My union branch voted overwhelmingly to reject the pay offer. An indicative ballot shows support for industrial action. That's likely to mean a series of two day strikes. Civil servants in other Government Departments have already taken action having been offered similarly poor pay deals.
I'd rather not strike because the chances of a significantly better offer are small. But, there's a point to be made, that staff are not going to put up with increasingly poor treatment by our employer.
See you on the picket line.
HOLD THAT LEAD
Well. 23 1/2 minutes left and Spurs hold a 3-1 lead away to Charlton. Surely, history cannot repeat itself one week later?
I've visited the counties in yellow.
Which counties have you visited?
made by marnanel
map reproduced from Ordnance Survey map data
by permission of the Ordnance Survey.
© Crown copyright 2001.
create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide
via that Beatnik guy
"Now it's the wrong sort of warning hooter plaguing London's new £1million-a-carriage commuter trains.
"The noise from the hooter is being blasted out "sideways" - rather than in front of the train - and straight into lineside homes.
"Local councils have threatened noise abatement orders and even an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights."
Would never have happened with steam trains.
DEMS THE FACTS
So the final wheel of the Dean bandwagon has lost its nut and is about to fall off.
"Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) cruised to victory in Virginia and Tennessee last night, adding the first southern states to his growing string of primary and caucus wins as he continued to run away with the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
"Kerry's victories claimed another victim late last night when retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark decided to end his candidacy after finishing third in both states. Clark plans to make a formal announcement in Little Rock this afternoon.
"The results left Kerry's two other major rivals, Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) and former Vermont governor Howard Dean, in precarious positions ... Dean was still winless after the first 14 events of the nominating season, not counting the District of Columbia primary, in which no delegates were chosen. "
Man with hands in air.
There's one last chance to screw the wheel back on:
"Governor Howard Dean spoke in Madison, WI about the importance of the next week:
"Wisconsin, let me get right to the point: Over the next eight days, the power to make this country great again is in your hands."
It looks bleak for Dean and now the wooden man, John Kerry, is an odds on cert for the Democratic nomination.
Tom Carver, last week, looked at some of the exit poll numbers on Kerry. They don't look that good.
"Exit polls from Tuesday's primaries show that the main reason people voted for Mr Kerry was his electability...
"But the same exit polls show that electability is not the most important quality people seek in a candidate.
"The main thing they look for is "a candidate who cares about people like me", the second is "a candidate who stands up for what he believes".
"And in these areas, John Kerry did not score so well.
"That suggests that
- he doesn't relate well to voters
- voters are not sure what he stands for.
"Who does that remind you of? Al Gore. "
Julian Borger in the Guardian thinks the early end to the battle for the nomination might just be bad news for Kerry and the Dems.
"...that would be a shame - not just for the grand circus of consultants pundits and journalists that follows the primaries around the country accumulating expense account meals and mileage points. It will also be a loss, paradoxically, for Senator Kerry and the Democratic party.
"For one thing, the show has been playing well to a receptive public, and far from damaging the Democrats as had been expected, the jousting has eaten into George Bush's support, by giving an airing to popular grievances. "
Back slapping at the Kerry-blog:
"Once again, the message rings out loud and clear. Americans are voting for change - East, West, North - and today in the South.
"...You showed that the mainstream values we share - fairness, love of country, a belief in hope and hard work - are more important than boundaries or birthplace. "
I quite like the sock puppet analogy by Steven R down the bottom of the comments.
Kerry now has support from the Dems own worst enemy:
"John Kerry lined up support from former rival Dick Gephardt on Thursday in a quick paced rush toward the Democratic presidential nomination. "
That's gotta hurt.
P.S. - it gets worse. Kerry is endorsed by "wraock" group, Dull-play.
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
DARE YOU, FRIDAY FIVE
1. What's the most daring thing you've ever done?
I won't tell, but it probably wasn't illegal even though it involved cash and a woman.
2. What one thing would you like to try that your mother/friend/significant other would never approve of?
3. On a scale of 1-10, what's your risk factor? (1=never take risks, 10=it's a lifestyle)
4. What's the best thing that's ever happened to you as a result of being bold/risky?
Moving in with a blind date four weeks after meeting.
5. ... and what's the worst?
Losing a shed load of money in the last stock market crash.
- Identity:: crisis (where's my passport)
- Reveal:: all
- Live:: ...and in colour.
- Attitude:: nasty piece of work
- Night:: bus to Streatham
- Nevada:: nuclear bombs
- Weekend:: break (or Le Weekend)
- Write:: read
- Friend:: or foe
- Seventeen:: I am sixteen, going on ...
MUSIC HATH CHARMS TO SOOTHE THE SAVAGE BREAST
...except in the US, where the State Department has struck a blow for stupidity, banning entry to bunch of old codger musicians. Sign the petition here. Full story here, for a limited time.
...AND UP THROUGH THE GROUND CAME A BUBBLIN' CRUDE...
"An East Texas woman struck oil a strange way when she came home to find her toilet gushing with the bubblin' crude."
Well, you certainly couldn't run a car on the contents of our toilet.
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
THE GREAT FIDDLE YARD IN THE SKY*
The Evening Standard reports:
"Thousands of London mainline rail commuters are today condemned to travelling on overcrowded and "grubby" 40-year-old slam door trains because of a "catalogue of blunders" by industry chiefs. "
As opposed to the grubby 20 year old stock I ride on every day.
"Amazingly, [great tabloid word that] the train manufacturers were not given sufficient information about the network - making it difficult to build stock "compatible" with routes."
Rail privatisation strikes again.
"As a result of power supply problems, slam door trains will not all be withdrawn in December as intended - 300 will continue until June 2005."
And this, 15 years after the Clapham rail disaster, the inquiry of which recommended the earliest removal of the said slam door stock.
Today's commuter nightmare: dead body on the line.
A good day to take off and do jobs around the house.
* - "Fiddle yard" = the hands of a model railway enthusiast.
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
FOX PLANS DWARF DATING SHOW
The day reality TV became surreal.
The announcement sparked a flurry of angry letters to the LPA [ed: Little People of America] from little people and their parents.
“The fact that Fox is doing this reality show is outrageous. It is one more avenue to make fun of their stature.”
What next? "Who Wants to be a Downs Syndrome Millionaire", "I'm a Cancer Sufferer, Get Me Out of Here!", "When Toasters Take Revenge", "I am a Donut, Get Me Out of Here", "Joe Millionaire" (oh, I guess they did that one and it is, of course, soon to be seen on these shores thanks to E4)
Sunday, February 01, 2004
THIS ONE WILL RUN AND RUN
I'm back from India and brought a little friend with me who is lurking somewhere in my digestive system. Yesterday was spent prostrate or on the toilet. Several immodiums, a hot water bottle and peppermint oil later, the Donut is feeling a wee bit better.
Delhi was like pretty much anywhere else I've travelled on business. We were stuck in meetings Tuesday-Thursday so I saw nothing much other than the road from our hotel to the conference room, plus the inside of the High Commission and the top man's house. The bad/good news is that our business isn't finished so I might find myself back there in March.
The hotel was just like any other international business hotel.
We chowed down/drunk at all the hotel restaurants/bars, except the Towers and West View. Oh well, we'll probably hit those two in March.
I was rather amused to find out that Home Secretary David "Tolerant" Blunkett arrived in Delhi on Thursday. However, his luggage didn't. If you hear a barking dog at the baggage recalim in Heathrow's Terminal 4, that'll be David's bags.
THE $ MILLION FRIDAY FIVE
You have just won one million dollars:
1. Who do you call first?
Ghostbusters? My bookie? My bank manager?
2. What is the first thing you buy for yourself?
A small Central American country.
3. What is the first thing you buy for someone else?
4. Do you give any away? If yes, to whom?
Mine, all mine!
5. Do you invest any? If so, how?
A monkey on number 5 in the 3.20 at Newmarket.
- Ignore:: at your peril
- Death:: to Nazis
- Missy:: Elliott
- Ballet:: shoes
- Guest:: Christopher ("This is Spinal Tap", "Best of Show")
- Campus:: humour
- Lonely:: Hearts Club Band
- Company:: B
- Helicopter:: Apocalypse Now
- Sterile:: gauze