Monday, February 28, 2005


In typical Guardian deadpan style, this from last Wednesday's Correction and Clarifications column.

In our G2 cover story about Hunter S Thompson yesterday we mistakenly attributed to Richard Nixon the view that Thompson represented "that dark, venal and incurably violent side of the American character".

On the contrary, it was what Thompson said of Nixon.

Easily, the most unintentionally funny column in any newspaper. This from Saturday:

Rufus Wainwright, page 17, Friday Review, yesterday, has recorded a setting of Agnus Dei...

and the punch line

...rather than Angus Dei.

Boom! Boom!

Sunday, February 27, 2005


You’ve got a friend :: James Taylor - I've seen him live and he is very dull
Immigration :: what? you want me to write an essay? When in doubt, blame it on darkies.
Waitress :: coffee refill
Snickers :: Marathon
Recognize :: good with faces, bad with names
Concept :: album - a la Rick Wakeman
Birthday :: suit
Told you so :: Iraq WMDs - need I say more?
Unlikely :: see Iraqi WMDs
Extension :: lead

Friday, February 25, 2005


Er, I guess this needs to be done to help pandas - notorious for fickle sexual behaviour - procreate. So, poor Sisi - ahem - has to be "helped".

Veterinarians failed to collect Sisi's sperm after two attempts.

Too much Tsing Tsao? Wrong sort of panda porno?

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Copenhagen suburb, Kastrup, was grey. The buildings were grey. The sky was grey. Planes flying overhead were grey. Less jet powered: seagulls were grey. Snow cleared streets were grey. Unwashed taxis were, I think you get my drift, grey.

Only the buses were yellow.

Nothing, then, to put us off from the issues of our meeting. Before starting several of our group recounted tales of meetings in Hawaii or Florida or some other sun kissed venue. Conferences rooms next to swimming pools, golf course or scantily clad bronzed young women. Luckily we were on the fourth floor of the grey building, next to my grey hotel.

It was a grey meeting, broken only by bald heads, odd Germanic phrases, bad facial hair and evil smelling lunch: the Danes like their herring.

Speaking of my hotel, breakfast was, no, not grey. But, despite a plethora of available cereal, dries fruit and fixings, there were no cereal bowls.

Copenhagen: "The true heart of Scandinavia".

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Enough ranting for now: another European capital beckons.

A cold north wind continues to blow in London-town. Snowflakes flitter down through the Edwardian streets around my office. Later this evening I travel to Copenhagen, where the flakes are piled high and the thermometer has sunk low.

I need some help, please. My hotel is a short bus ride from the airport according to my reservation confirmation. However, a rather nifty travel planner tells me to take a different bus. That journey is 4 minutes, but the ensuing walk is 14 minutes.

Anyone an expert on the Copenhagen bus system?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


This from the BBC London web site.

Year of the Rooster. Olympics. (Load of) Cock?

Nice thought having the Olympics in London. Then again, is it really a good idea?

Leave aside the transport issues. (Today: Jubilee Line signal failure, Clapham Junction power failure.) Forget Picketts Lock. The Dome? History. Tory Boy, Seb Coe, 150 grand a year to look smug. I can live with that.

What concerns me is the plain and simple money. London council tax payers will be lumbered with the bill for the bid - win or lose. Ok, it's 50p a week for a couple of years. But, that adds up to a lot of potatoes which could easily have been spent on improving sports and leisure facilities in London.

I'm more concerned if the bid succeeds. There will be no cap on the costs. No matter how well the Games run - and I've no doubt the organisation will be great - to get the facilities built in time is a massive logistical task. Putting all the pieces together will cost. And, I doubt that it'll be anywhere near budget.

For every "success" - LA, Barcelona - there's Montreal '76 (still being paid for by Montreal citizens and Quebecois) or Atlanta. Sydney is stuck with useless sports facilities even a sports mad country like Australia doesn't need.

I've seen arguments that Paris shouldn't get the Games because Stade de France will be 20 years old by 2012. Big deal. The much overhyped "successful" (read cheap) Los Angeles games had a 50 year old main stadium. Barcelona used an even older stadium.

Be that as it may, we'd get a new 80,000 capacity stadium in East London. For what? The country is already building (and paying for) the new Wembley. This should have been the main Olympic stadium, if not for the greed of the Football Association and, particularly, Ken Bates.

A successful London Olympic bid will pump money into gold-plated facilities whilst sport at the grass roots in the country is scandalously underfunded. Think about Herne Hill cycle centre - used in the 1948 games. The track closed last month after Southwark Council decided not to pay anymore rent to the landlord, Dulwich College. Herne Hill will hopefully re-open. Meanwhile, Coe's team want to spend millions to build a new velodrome. Again, we've already got a world class velodrome. It was built for the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002.

Not three miles from here sits Crystal Palace Sport Centre: a national disgrace. The swimming pool has been waiting for a decade or so for funds to be updated. The track - once our national venue - has deterioated. The country seems willing to pay not to update and upgrade Crystal Palace, but to spend 5 or 6 billion on unneeded facilities which are likely to be unused or dismantled after the games.

The state of swimming in London is appalling with underfunded, outdated pools. The Government (of both colours) has had a long policy of allowing schools to sell playing fields. These are the areas the Government of the day should address, not glossy developments in East London.

Regeneration. Yes, there is a crying need to pump money into East London. The site is a mile or so from where I used to live. I know its problems only too well. But, why the Olympics? Is it the necessary catalyst? I don't agree. Much of the money pumped in through the games will not benefit the community. It'll be on things that will last the length of the games and no more.

I am also deeply scepitcal of the alleged economic benefits put forward by the London Development Agency. They claim 5000 full-time jobs. Well, 6 billion is a lot of money to pay for 5000 jobs. Anyway, most of the jobs the games will bring are temporary. The LDA's assessment is another one of those lame econometric studies commissioned by industry to show the dubious spin-offs that they provide the community. Other independent economists - like Andrew Zimbalist in the US - have consistently shown that stadium and other sports developments do not kick-start local economies mainly because they divert investment and benefits from elsewhere.

Sure, the bid looks good in the videos and on the web site. But, check out the plans for Paris, Madrid, New York and, even Moscow. They are all impressive. I can't help think that 5 cities putting in all this effort is a waste and duplication.

Who should get the games? I tempted to say, I don't care as long as don't have to pay. I'm also tempted to say that the games should be in Athens every 4 years - also ditch the European and other regional championships in athletics so that the Olympics retain their special nature. I say take them back to somewhere that's had the games before. Make the 2012 games not only more green than any before, but also within a very constrained budget that won't break the bank for the host city. Maybe, Moscow?

Monday, February 21, 2005


The Donut's flag is at half mast (or perhaps my flies are undone). Inventor of Gonzo journalism, drug addict and noted firearms enthusiast Hunter S Thompson has "blown his brains out".

..."he was not going to age gracefully, he was going to go out with a bang. He was tormented."

Conspiracy theories start here or somewhere.

Sunday, February 20, 2005


Dirty work :: CREEP
Shopkeeper :: nation of... (description of Britain by Napoleon, Adam Smith and others)
Goodness :: gracious me!
Yearning :: pining (for the fjords?)
Show and tell :: kiss and tell
Trapped :: in the Middle
Malcolm :: in the Middle
Season :: with salt and pepper
Bestseller :: bonkbuster
Desk :: tidy

Friday, February 18, 2005


Apologies dear reader, I went away without telling you. The Donut has been in the capital of Europe(tm), Brussels - sometime home of the tanned one.

As way of recompense for absence of blogging, I bring you (via the ever wonderful Bears Will Attack via wherever) "the best thing ever"

This link comes with a money back guarantee.

Monday, February 14, 2005


protesters marched on the US embassy in London to urge Bush to sign up to the United Nations Kyoto agreement

A placard from Saturday's demo sitting outside my office this morning.


You mean it comes in sizes other than small?


"Sen. Hillary Clinton blamed her collapse at a New York fundraiser on a stomach virus but Weekly World News has learned the shocking real reason she swooned and hit the deck"

I couldn't possibly comment on this explanation.


From the Dude blog.

Our Bloggers, who are on a charge, Hallowed be thy names
Thy Pings’ll come
Thy comment be done, on blog as it is in Rss
Give us this day our daily thread
and forgive us our bloginess
as we forgive those who lurketh against us
and lead us not onto a dead page
but deliver us from the poker spam
for thine is the sarcasm
and the power
to make the comments
over and over again


Requires no comment (geddit?)


"A plan by a German zoo to test the sexual appetites of a group of suspected homosexual penguins has sparked outrage among gay and lesbian groups, who fear zookeepers might force them to turn straight."

File under St Valentine's Day Silliness.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


Times continue to be hard for US airlines.

"[American Airlines] said today that pillows will be removed from most flights beginning Tuesday in a cost-cutting move expected to save another $370,000."

Like Delta's sale of cutlery, this is hardly going to save the bacon.


Judge :: Dredd
Detroit :: Spinners
Hyphen :: -ate
Get it right :: the first time!
Pulsating :: the Orb
Yoga :: cross-legged
Memorable :: er, could you remind me again?
Financial advisor :: crook
Ten million :: London population (give or take a few million)
I :: am a donut

Thursday, February 10, 2005


Especially in Edmonton, North London at midnight.

Have you ever shopped at IKEA? All stores are huge aircraft hanger sized boxes with no windows. You are shunted through a maze like corridor. Stuff is so "cheap" that you "must buy" it. (There's still a few unused picture frames hanging around in my house. And, how did I not live without that shelving unit that stored nothing but air?)

Before getting to the checkout, you have to negotiate the "self-service" warehouse, which surely contravenes health and safety legislation. Oh, don't forget to pick up another shelving unit, desk, CD storage rack, TV/Video/DVD/Bondage unit whilst you're at it.

Push that trolley to the check-out, via the shins of fellow shoppers. The polo-shirted, minimum-waged, automaton will ring up your goods, at which time you'll remember that you only came for a light bulb and tea-lites. £178.53. And, then they hit you with...

"From 1st September 2004, customers paying by Visa and MasterCard will have a 70p supplement added to their bills at the point of payment. This is to cover credit card administration charges imposed on IKEA by Visa and MasterCard.

4. Why is IKEA charging 70p? Wouldn't it be fairer to charge customers a percentage of their total bill?
We're doing it for simplicity and the sake of speed at the checkout. A one-off 70p charge can be addded to the bill using barcode technology."

More reasons to hate IKEA:

You stand a high probability of getting crushed if you want to take advantage of special offers.

"...a crowd outside of the controlled queue surged forward, causing a crush at the entrance to the store."

That is, it's the public's fault.

"Police is also investigating ca separate incident near IKEA’s premises, in which a man was stabbed."

Probably that moustachoed fat bastard who's been threatening to do bad things to his dog in ads on the London Underground.

"The safety of customers and co-workers is of the highest priority for IKEA."

Actually, making profits is the highest priority.

Oh, and the IKEA founder, Ingvar Kamprad, was a Nazi sympathiser. But, of course, now he's the acceptable face of crapitalism.

* - Because of their huge turnover, IKEA probably get charged no more than 1/2% per transaction. Do you think the average credit card transaction at IKEA is £35? No, neither did I.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


So, immigration has become an election issue.

"It means controls that weed out the abuses, make sure that it is only people who we really need to come to Britain that come here, but do so in a way that doesn't actually damage our economy."

A few thoughts:

Britain has accepted "economic migrants" for generations. "Economic migrants" tend to come to Britain to work. They do add benefit to economy and the community - about £2 billion or more per year. As opposed to the young, white chav that's become the new symbol of Britain's underclass.

Our wise new Home Secretary again:

"The points system to determine what labour skills are needed will consist of four tiers: highly skilled, skilled, low skilled and student/specialist (such as football players)."

"There aren't enough jobs to go around." And, where would the London hotel, pub and restaurant trade be without foreign workers? Perhaps retired foreign footballers should take up the jobs. The UK has more or less full employment. (I'm beginning to sound like a Tory here but,) Most of those out of work are unskilled and a fair percentage of those are either unemployable or will only work in the grey market. We certainly need skilled migrants and those with fewer skills, but willing to work at the lower end of the market - see London ents business above.

The plurality (pdf file - see table 2.2) migrating to the UK are white and/or English speaking. Are political parties saying that there are too many Americans, Australians and South Africans in the UK? Should David Soul hand back his citizenship? What about Rupert Murdoch? What will happen to Earl's Court? Or, is the true message: "No darkies, thanks. Particularly Muslim darkies."

The UK's population is stagnating because of a lowering birth rate. We are below zero population growth (ZPG). Some 80,000 Britons migrate out of the UK each year. We actually need people of working age to fill jobs, to pay taxes that help provide services and fund pensions. What about the demographic timebomb? Wouldn't it help if we invited in people from cultures where birthrates are higher, to help stimulate the UK's birthrate? And, pay my pension when I retire.

Britishness or Englishness: Immigration opponents fear that the "swamping" of Britain will destroy our culture. I thought one our nation's virtues was its sense of fair play, willingness to help those less fortunate and create an inclusive society. Or has Thatcherite (and now Blairite) policies changed that?

More views:
Lib Dem view
"Veritas" (like the party leader, this site doesn't deep link)

Sunday, February 06, 2005


Shelter :: the housing charity
Karate Kid :: the worst of bad 80s movies
Andrew :: [drew a complete blank here, I'm afraid]
Rib :: Adam
Push it :: Scott's famous "push the pinto" video - bring it back, Scott
Creep :: Radiohead
Chainlink :: cyclone fence
Squash :: balls
No mercy :: No Surrender
Superhero :: my dad

Friday, February 04, 2005


Good luck to nephew Ali this weekend. Ali is guitarist and webmaster (a bit tardy with updates recently) with his schoolmates' band, B.L.I.M.P Saturday night he takes his own group to the Bishop's Waltham Battle of the Bands. Ali entered the competition half-heartedly, but has been selected to appear. Even better, the event will be filmed by Channel 5!

Watch out for further updates.


from Planet Ark

Eleven children from Amazon Indian tribes have died of rabies in Peru's remote northern jungle after being bitten by bloodthirsty vampire bats.

It's all true. This is not the reinvention of Hammer Films in South America.

Despite their bad reputation, US bat expert Merlin Tuttle said vampire bats were in fact gentle and easily tamed, and should not be demonized.

That's easy for him to say.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


10ml olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 red pepper, peeled and chopped
200g Quorn pieces
20ml vegetable stock
2tsp tomato puree
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 can black eyed beans, drained and rinsed
1 can chopped tomatoes
2tsp chilli sauce
freshly ground pepper
100g rice

Saute onion and garlic until transparent
Add Quorn, saute for further 4-5 minutes
Add rest of ingredients (except chilli and chilli sauce)
Season to taste
Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes
Add chilli and chilli sauce
Cook a further 15-20 minutes
Serve with rice

UPDATE: yes, you can add Tabasco too.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


(Opens Excel file)

Myers-Briggs, this ain't. But, it's much quicker and more fun.