Saturday, February 28, 2009

Just say no

The Consumerist thinks that it has found the “Worst Food Product Ever”.

Quite possibly: it is Pork Brains in Milk Gravy, whatever milk gravy is, and it claims that it contains 1170% of your daily cholesterol.

The good news is that while it’s low in fibre, it’s also low in sugar.

Monitor: Tyler Cowen

Friday, February 27, 2009

Sentence of the day

Toby Young in the Spectator:
If the zeitgeist was on Mastermind, Twitter would be its special subject.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Quote Unquote – the magazine

In the first of an occasional series of reprints, if that’s the word, from the original magazine, here is James Macky, the Artist Formerly Known as James Allan, writing in a Jan/Feb 1994 feature called “I Get a Kick Out of This”:
I come from a very anti-social family. Naturally, I tried to rebel. As an adolescent I promised myself that I’d be different. “I’m always going to have heaps of friends, and ask them around all the time, and lead a very busy social life,” I swore.

But now, in my 40s, I find myself declining every invitation that comes through the letter box. After a decade as a society/PR journalist, attending every free bun fight from Mt Eden to Melbourne, I find myself all partied-out and like nothing better than a social diary entirely free of engagements. It’s not that I dislike people, you understand. I just don’t like them en masse.

However, there are times when I am impelled to attend some festivity or other. On these occasions I arrive as early as possible. Thus, when everyone else rolls up about half an hour to an hour later they find me just leaving, my social duty done.

Often I arrive to find my hosts half-dressed, rushing about the living room, hiding old newspapers and children’s toys under the sofa. “Oh,” they say, somewhat distraught, “here already! Is that the time?”

“Sorry, am I early?” I say. “Let me help prepare and you go get dressed.” Gratefully they rush to the bedroom to complete their toilette while I check the ice, chill the wine and arrange the hors d’oeuvres. By the time the other pleasure-goers descend I’ve had a spot of sherry, eaten the best of the snacks and earned the gratitude of my hosts. Laden with Brownie points, I slip quietly away.

By leaving early, before the alcohol-fuelled dramas begin, I see everyone at their arrival best, all clean and pressed. I am thus spared making stilted conversation with complete strangers, and, far worse, the upsetting spectacle of dear friends eating too much, drinking too much and, in general, losing those finer qualities for which I admire them. Take my advice – if you want to enjoy your friends, don’t party with them.

Musical differences

Jonny B, my favourite Norfolk blogger, has a problem. His LTLP can’t stand progressive rock:
The trouble is that couples work on Venn diagrams when it comes to musical appreciation. The overlapping bit in the middle on our particular Venn diagram does not contain many bands, and sometimes you can have too much Proclaimers or the free ‘Chill Out’ CD that was once taped to the front of the Observer newspaper.

I am a bit cross with her closed mind attitude.

“I think you should give it more of a chance,” I say. “I know progressive rock does have a bit of a bad reputation, but the interesting thing is that the best, most well-regarded stuff - your Genesises, your Tulls, even something like Tubular Bells - essentially consists of a series of cracking tunes linked by short musical bridges. So whilst it’s those bridges that define the genre, if you like, it really just goes back to those cracking tunes, which are the essence of pop music anyway.

“Aside from Yes,” I admit, “who sound like an explosion in a wank factory.”

I warm to my theme. “So whilst many people have likened Progressive Rock to classical music, I’d say that it’s more to do with the traditions of opera - big numbers with a theme and links.”

I am pleased with my analysis. Sometimes I think that I should have been a teacher; perhaps I might re-train one day. There is nothing quite as satisfying as imparting learning to people.

“I think it’s shit,” she replies.

I am annoyed once more. The problem with being a teacher in the twenty-first century is that trendy teaching theories have made it all but impossible to exclude pupils.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I’m voting for Fromage Frais

The Bookseller reports that culling entries for its annual Diagram prize for oddest book title of the year was difficult this time:
“We received a huge number of entries this year and the debate was furious as to which would be included on the shortlist. Six seems such a cruelly low number given titles such as Excrement in the Late Middle Ages and All Dogs Have ADHD were rejected,” said charts editor Philip Stone. “We also had to exclude a few titles because they were published before 2008 – Monumental Beginnings: Archaeology of the N4 Sligo Inner Relief Road and one of my personal favourites, Sketches of Hull Authors. The latter was first published back in 1879, but thanks to print on demand – the wonderful saviour of out-of-print books – you can still purchase copies to this day.”

The prize was established in 1978, when it was won by Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice. This year’s winner will be decided by a public vote at, and will be announced on 27 March.
The shortlist is:
Baboon Metaphysics by Dorothy Dorothy L Cheney and Robert M Seyfarth (University of Chicago Press)
Curbside Consultation of the Colon by Brooks D Cash (SLACK Incorporated)
The Large Sieve and its Applications by Emmanuel Kowalski (Cambridge University Press)
Strip and Knit with Style by Mark Hordyszynski (C&T)
Techniques for Corrosion Monitoring by Lietai Yang (Woodhead)
The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais by Professor Philip M Parker (Icon Group International)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Country matters

Here in Waipa, the Waikato Times is our local daily. I like it. It’s a strong regional paper, has good Pacific coverage (for example, this obit of the Tongan novelist Epeli Hau’ofa) and it has Kingsley Field. Here he is hailing the approach of autumn:
Already darkness is expanding its hold over dawn and dusk, and soon enough there will be a sharpness at daybreak, indicating frosts are on the way. And as that time creeps up, so there’s a group of men and women who begin to “sort out their stuff” checking on back-pack straps, overhauling camping and cooking gear, making sure shirt-buttons are sewn on tight, that woollen socks don’t have holes, that thermal underwear is in good condition. Sleeping bags will be aired, tents and pegs and cordage inspected, knives honed, boots greased, rifles oiled and cleaned and sighted in, ammunition purchased or special loads put carefully together.
Yes, hunting season approaches. Home Paddock writes occasionally about the urban-rural divide – here, for example – and hunting is a real marker. A metrosexual friend in Auckland was horrified last year by the rise of Sarah Palin: it wasn’t her ignorance, religion or political views that upset him most: “It’s that gun shit I can’t stand,” he said. I didn’t like to tell him that my father-in-law goes duck-shooting in the Manawatu, my grandfather used to take me along to the Tauranga Rifle Club, both my neighbours go hunting (they eat a lot of venison) and most of the dads at my children’s school have guns. All farmers do, all over New Zealand. It’s normal.

As an attempt to bridge the urban-rural divide (and it’s a one-way bridge, since the incomprehension is almost totally on the urban side), Sunday 1 March is Open Farm Day:
Farmers will take you for a walk around the farm, introduce you to the animals and explain how they grow crops. . . Every farm visit will be different. On some farms there will be games to play and activities like sheep shearing, milking cows and working-dog demonstrations. This is not a sanitised farm experience but an opportunity to see real farms and talk with real farmers.
Twenty-eight farms across the country will be open to the public. This map shows the ones closest to you. It’s a great idea – see how the other half live and all that. My friend might even discover that farmers tend to be smart, well-informed and, sometimes, quite nice when you get to know them. Even if they do have guns.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kindle 2 Part II

Geoff Walker, publishing director of Penguin Books in New Zealand, writes:
It’s fascinating stuff all right. I actually agree to a large extent with John Makinson that publishers will and/or can benefit from digital publishing. It’s the conservative bookseller trade that should be shivering in their shoes, because in the long run they could be left stranded.

I think that for us the big danger is in a possible transition period (some say it has arrived) with bookshop sales softening and falling but income from e-books and the like not rising at the same rate. So our businesses could be in some trouble.

Penguin overseas is devoting huge efforts to adapt and to produce e-books. Us too: all our one-colour new books now have digital e-book files prepared at the same time as the physical book pages, ready to go.

The Kindle is being used in US publishing in-house. Editors now travel around with page proofs on their devices in digital form. Manuscripts too. And on the Metro, of course, they also read the New York Times and Publishers News.

I’m really impressed by the thought that these e-book reading devices are actually quite conservative in construction and use. They’re not very hi-tech, so it’s existing book buyers who are using them.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sentence of the day

David Farrar at Kiwiblog on TV3’s latest poll rating of 60% for National, its highest ever for any political party:
Now of course there is a honeymoon period, but this is like having a honeymoon with Angelia Jolie instead of Rosie O’Donnell.

Kindle 2

This week’s Economist has a good piece on the Kindle, Amazon’s e-book reader, and its implications for book publishers (and, by extension, authors). There has been a lot of hype about e-books for years now, but the Kindle 2 has a lot going for it:
. . . it appeals to passionate readers, who want no fiddling with cables (the Kindle works without a computer) or complicated pricing plans (Kindle users pay to buy books and other content, but do not have to pay wireless-subscription fees). It is, in short, perfect for older people. . .

The Kindle 2 can hold about 1,500 books, and one battery charge allows two weeks’ reading. And since the screen is not backlit but imitates real ink and paper, Kindle owners can read for hours without straining their eyes. . . this does not seem to spell the end of paper books, since Kindle users buy just as many bound books as before, so that their total consumption of books goes up by 2.6 times.
Bound books are expensive to produce but each electronic copy is free. As the Economist puts it, “A book sold via a Kindle thus has no marginal cost, but adds revenues.” I can’t find out where the money goes, as neither Amazon nor the publishers will say how revenues are shared. But I shall be very interested to see how the royalties are split between publisher and author.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Happy birthday Barry Humphries

Barry Humphries is 75 today. Graeme Blundell plays tribute in the Australian here. Dame Edna’s Questions and Answers page is here.

I saw him perform live three times – at His Majesty’s in Auckland in the early 80s, when he hauled three people up for a barbecue and promptly left the stage for five minutes, telling them to entertain us while he got changed; in the Auckland Town Hall in the 70s when he was still doing the elderly Sandy Stone and the trade unionist Lance Boyle, before Edna Everage shoved them aside and took over his act; and as himself in the Auckland University café. Humphries as his characters was superb, but Humphries as Humphries was a revelation – funny, naturally, but also urbane, elegant, quick-witted and erudite. Coming from Tauranga, I had no idea a person could do that.

In some ways it’s a shame that people know him now just for Dame Edna, as there’s a lot more to him. His early Dadaist phase, which he writes about in his excellent autobiography More Please, explains a lot; some of his early monologues – the Sandy Stone ones are quite poignant – are collected in A Nice Night’s Entertainment. Both seem to be out of print but are well worth tracking down.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sentence of the day

At the NZ First conference yesterday:
Asked why Peters refused to talk to journalists, [party president George] Groombridge blamed the press.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A fractal Valentine

From XKCD. It’s based on the Sierpinski Triangle, as if you didn’t know.

Kiwiblog and the credit crunch

Top blogger David Farrar is aggrieved that his superb scoop on Helen Clark and the no. 3 UN job was picked up by the Sunday Star-Times and run on the front page last week with no attribution to him:
. . . yesterday I broke the story of the NZ Govt supporting Helen Clark for the UNDP job. Today one Sunday paper has it as a front page story, and ever proclaims it to be an exclusive. Hello? Now sure it is possible the paper was working on the story anyway, but to call it an exclusive when it was broken the previous day? And today the radio is referring to the story as being broken by the newspaper, when it was not.
I happen to know that the SST was not working on the story at the time, because I alerted them to Farrar’s scoop about three minutes after he posted it, and it was news to them. They moved commendably fast to get the story in the next day’s paper. But was it an exclusive or not? David Cohen thinks it was:
In journalism, an exclusive usually refers to information provided to, or available from, only one news outlet. Anthony Hubbard’s story in the Star-Times was an exclusive, then, insofar as it officially confirmed the story for the first time.
And that confirmation is the crucial difference between blogging and journalism. Farrar’s post begins, “I have heard from a highly reliable source that. . .” So he reported hearsay. That is blogging. Hubbard rang the PM and got confirmation from him that the government was indeed supporting Clark’s application. That is journalism. And that is why it was fair enough for RNZ to credit the SST for breaking the story – even though Farrar’s sources are clearly the equal of any journalist’s, if not better, it wasn’t a solid, quotable story until Hubbard got Key to confirm it.

Elsewhere, veteran blogger Bruce Simpson commented:
I know that a lot of other bloggers read Aardvark so I’d be interested to hear from any who might be interested in forming an entity that can properly represent the rights of the blogging community when dealing with the MSM and their unethical ways.
Good luck with that. When you’re done, there are some cats here that need herding.

Sentence of the day

Patrick Cook in the Australian edition of the Spectator:
Rather than place the state on a pedestal and defer to its judgement, I would sooner place it in lobster pots, and thereby put it to practical use.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Robert Mugabe’s birthday party

The Times reports:
It is the 85th birthday of President Mugabe this month and the zealots of his Zanu (PF) party are determined that it should be an occasion that their great leader will never forget.
In recent days they have been out soliciting “donations” from corporate Zimbabwe and have drawn up a wish list that is scarcely credible in a land where seven million citizens survive on international food aid, 94 per cent are jobless and cholera rampages through a population debilitated by hunger.
The list includes 2,000 bottles of champagne (Moët & Chandon or ’61 Bollinger preferred); 8,000 lobsters; 100kg of prawns; 4,000 portions of caviar; 8,000 boxes of Ferrero Rocher chocolates; 3,000 ducks; and much else besides. A postscript adds: “No mealie meal” — the ground corn staple on which the vast majority of Zimbabweans survived until the country’s collapse rendered even that a luxury.
Those who prefer to give in cash, not kind, are invited to send “donations” of between $45,000 and $55,000 to a US dollar bank account in the name of the 21st February Movement, a youth organisation controlled by Zanu (PF) and named after the date of the President’s birthday.
Reporter Martin Fletcher admits he can’t prove the list is genuine but says it is from a reliable source who:
. . . had no vested interest in its publication, was hesitant about releasing it and had himself received it from three or four separate businesses that had been approached for donations.
Also on the list: 500 bottles of whisky (Johnny Walker Blue Label, 22-year-old Chivas); 16,000 eggs; 3,000 cakes (chocolate and vanilla); 4,000 packs of pork sausages; 500kg cheese; and 4,000 packets of crackers

The Times report includes an excellent three-minute clip from Emma Hurd of Sky News showing how life is for ordinary Zimbabweans under the murderous old brute’s regime.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bruno Lawrence

Thursday 12 February would be his birthday if Bruno was still with us. Born in Brighton in 1941, he died in Australia on 10 June 1995. I couldn’t find any clips of him drumming – he was a great drummer, good enough to play with Frank Zappa, that's how great – with Blerta, the Crocodiles or anyone else, and nothing from the great Aussie TV series Frontline, so here he is acting solo in the first nine minutes of The Quiet Earth.

Bar Refaeli

In more Jewish world domination news, Bar Refaeli is confirmed as the model on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s 2009 swimsuit issue:
She is the first Israeli model to dress down for the cover of the swimsuit issue, which hit US newsstands on Tuesday and will reach a global audience of some 66 million readers.
What will John Minto have to say about this?


On her blog at the Australian, Caroline Overington quotes a reader’s comment on an earlier post on the destruction of Marysville:

Hi Caroline
Last night I took a drive. Not a real drive, but a Google Street View tour. I sauntered through the beautiful village of Marysville. Through the tree lined streets I wandered, past the quaint neatly painted picket fences and the inviting places to have a picnic. The place oozes community and pride. It is at one with nature. It’s your typical lush Australian bushland village. It’s now gone. Obliterated. Betrayed by Mother Nature, this town and many others like it now only exist as a weird alternate universe in cyberspace.
Malcolm, she writes, “challenges readers to go to StreetView and not be moved”.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Let’s party like it’s 1199

Richard Thompson is currently touring his show 1000 Years of Popular Music in which he performs songs from, yes, the last 1000 years. The first track on the DVD is “Sumer is Icumen in” from c1260, but this one (filmed illegally on a phone on a week ago, on 3 February to be precise, at the Barbican) may be even earlier:

It was written by King Richard I. You know, the Lionheart, the one in the Robin Hood stories. Later songs are by Trad, Purcell, Gilbert and Sullivan, Cole Porter, the Kinks, the Who and Britney Spears. Here’s what Daily Telegraph critic Neil McCormick had to say about the show:
Taking us on a journey from Richard The Lionheart’s simple (and actually rather drab) lament “Ja Nuls Hom Pris” (circa 1119) to Nelly Furtado’s “Maneater” (circa a couple of years ago), Thompson has considerable fun with the notion that there has always been pop music. Styles may change, but the core song form of verse and chorus remains remarkably consistent, as does the essence of the experience: rhythm for dancing, melody for carrying the emotional spirit, lyric for engaging mind and heart. It is a history lesson as a gig, light hearted yet (in its sense of humanity’s connectedness) profound.
Here is Thompson doing “Oops I did it again” on some UK TV show, with a bonus snippet of him with ex-wife Linda in their heyday in the 70s. It’s a seven-minute clip: after an excruciating interview (“I live in California for the culture and come to London for the weather”) the good stuff kicks in at about 5:00.

Sentence of the week

From Simon Gray’s last diary, Coda, which begins on the day he has been told that his lung cancer is terminal:
It’s like this, at least in my imagination – you come back home one evening, the house is dark, as you expect it to be, you switch on a light, an extra light, one you didn’t know you had, and unexpectedly your eye goes to a corner of the room that you’ve never seen illuminated before, and in it is crouching a grinning man holding a knife – and then the light goes off, normal lighting is resumed, there is no one in the corner as far as you can see, but you know that if the light came on again you would see him again, see him in more detail, the teeth, one particular and prominent tooth, the completely confident intent in the eyes, the compactness, wholeness, distinctive of his intent to murder you – and you can’t get out of your house, which was once your protection and the most comforting place in the world – it is now your prison, inhabited by you and the creature in the corner, who might also be slipping into other rooms, to catch you there, or there, or there – in his own good time.
He died on 8 August 2008.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Climate change

My Russian friend Olga writes from St Petersburg:
We have very changeable weather here that also takes a lot of our energy. One day it’s minus 16, and next day it’s around 0. Doesn't make one feel very well I’m afraid.
Here in Waipa it is currently 33 and seems to have been that all day.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The death of print, Part XXCIV

From Gawker’s recent round-up of doom and gloom stories from the US magazine and newspaper industries:
And a Time Inc. tipster tells us: “Today (Friday 30) all staff are to be told that subscriptions for ALL outside newspapers and magazines are to be cancelled. Read em on line, is the new edict.” Funny thing, for a magazine company.
A separate piece details the New Yorker’s woeful advertising sales – just under 10 pages in an 82-page issue – and asks, “Is it time to get seriously concerned?”

I’d say so, but still it’s doing better than the Listener, which currently has eight pages of advertising (including the classifieds but not the house ads) in a 96-page issue. In the 70s and 80s demand for ad space in the magazine was so high that prospective advertisers were waitlisted. Those were the days.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fear of flying

The Times reports:
It is normally a moment of cheery reassurance when an airline pilot greets passengers during preparations for take-off. But Alexander Cheplevsky sparked panic on flight Aeroflot 315 when he began to speak.
His slurred and garbled comments ahead of a flight from Moscow to New York convinced passengers that he was drunk. When he apparently switched from Russian into unintelligible English, fear turned to revolt.
Flight attendants initially ignored passengers’ complaints and threatened to expel them from the Boeing 767 jet unless they stopped “making trouble”. As the rebellion spread, Aeroflot representatives boarded the aircraft to try to calm down the 300 passengers.

One sought to reassure them by announcing that it was “not such a big deal” if the pilot was drunk because the aircraft practically flew itself. . .

An Aeroflot spokeswoman said that tests had revealed no trace of alcohol in the pilot’s blood. She blamed “mass psychosis” among passengers for the decision to replace the crew, although the company later issued a statement saying that Mr Cheplevsky could have suffered a stroke just before the flight.
And this guy thought he had problems on Virgin.

Monitor: Tim Blair

1920s retail therapy

Taken in Washington, circa 1920: People's Drug Store, H and 8th Street N.E., night. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.

There’s a full size version, as big as your screen, here. Note the snappy slogan “We deliver free – freely”. Also “The Velvet Kind pure ice cream”, “Rubber goods” and, above the display of cigars in the right-hand windows, the sign declaring, “Here is a good smoke – Helios”.

They don’t make them like that any more.

The bacon explosion

This is so disgusting. Only in you know where:
Mr. Day, a systems administrator who has been barbecuing since college, suggested doing something with a pile of sausage. “It’s a variation of what’s called a fattie in the barbecue community,” Mr. Day said. “But we took it to the extreme.”
He bought about $20 worth of bacon and Italian sausage from a local meat market. As it lay on the counter, he thought of weaving strips of raw bacon into a mat. The two spackled the bacon mat with a layer of sausage, covered that with a crunchy layer of cooked bacon, and rolled it up tight.
They then stuck the roll — containing at least 5,000 calories and 500 grams of fat — in the Good-One Open Range backyard smoker that they use for practice. . .
Mr. Day said his wife laughed the whole time.
I bet she did.

A lesbian paradise

Sarah Kershaw reports in the New York Times:
They called it a lesbian paradise, the pioneering women who made their way to St. Augustine, Fla., in the 1970s to live together in cottages on the beach. Finding one another in the fever of the gay rights and women’s liberation movements, they built a matriarchal community, where no men were allowed, where even a male infant brought by visitors was cause for debate.
Emily Greene was one of those pioneers, and at 62 she still chooses to live in a separate lesbian world. . .
She walks each day in the woods with her two dogs, Lily, a border collie mix, and Rita Mae, a Jack Russell terrier. . .
Whoah there – a Jack Russell?

Monitor: Caroline Overington

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Dubya might have left the stage but we still have Gordon Brown:
“That that’s not the right thing to do and it’s not defensible,” he replied. “What we’ve set up as a process to deal with the questions that people have been asking about what has happened in this particular instance.”

Monday, February 2, 2009

Yes we can!

My economist friend Penny Wise emails, “See this rather good article in the Financial Times on how politicians appear to be doing their best to turn global recession into depression.” It’s by Willem Buiter, “Professor of European Political Economy, London School of Economics and Political Science; former chief economist of the EBRD, former external member of the MPC; adviser to international organisations, governments, central banks and private financial institutions.” Probably knows his stuff. He starts:
I used to be optimistic about the capacity of our political leaders and central bankers to avoid the policy mistakes that could turn the current global recession into a deep and lasting global depression. Now I’m not so sure.
And he finishes:
We can go down in history as the generation that created the Great Depression of the Noughties. Just keep on beating the protectionist drums. Keep on the foot-dragging that prevents effective qualitative and quantitative monetary policy easing in the Eurozone and the UK. And go ahead with unsustainable fiscal stimuli in the US, the UK and elsewhere that will spook markets, push up long-term interest rates and raise the spectre of sovereign default by countries not belonging to the group of usual suspects. Yes we can! I hope we won’t.
The stuff in the middle is, as the late Neil Roberts would say, fairly interesting.

Secrets and lies

Antony Beevor, author of Stalingrad, Berlin and The Battle for Spain, is worried about the historical inaccuracy of so many recent films:
Over the past dozen or so years, television and movie-makers have managed to blur the border between fact and fiction to an unprecedented degree. They pretend increasingly that their film is based on a true story. Every device possible, from computer-generated imagery to place names and dates thrown onto the screen seek to suspend the disbelief of historically illiterate audiences. Alarmingly, the new technology has coincided with a dramatic growth in conspiracy theories. . .

The home-produced movie Loose Change takes the ultimate conspiracy-theory approach to 9/11. It is now said to have been seen by more than 100m people on the internet. A few weeks ago, a leading Russian TV channel broadcast Loose Change to mark the anniversary of 9/11. The film was accepted as completely true by the presenters and the studio audience, who debated it in a three-hour prime-time programme.

Studies of internet sites reveal an unholy alliance between left-wing 9/11 conspiracy theorists, right-wing Holocaust deniers and Islamic fundamentalists. Many Muslims throughout the world now believe that no Arabs were involved in 9/11. Significantly, Islamic websites have also been learning from American creationists and have eagerly embraced their theory of intelligent design, which attributes the origin of life to a higher power and opposes theories of natural selection.

In a post-literate society where the image is king, the scope for mischief is almost without limit. I suspect that it will not be long before we see a Holocaust-denial movie. It could take the form of a Da Vinci Code-style thriller, and be packaged as straightforward entertainment. . .

It should be the duty of not just every scientist and historian, but also of every writer, publisher, movie-maker, TV producer and ordinary citizen to fight all attempts to exploit the ignorance and gullibility of audiences.
Guess he’s not a big Oliver Stone fan.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Monster Mash

At last, proof that Microsoft is not evil. Not entirely, anyway. Its program Songsmith can be used to reconstruct your favourite songs (or perhaps the ones you hate) by putting the lead vocal on top of a wildly different backing track: a swing version of “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. Radiohead’s “Creep” as lounge jazz, or “Wonderwall” as techno.

And then, magnificently, there is this: “White Wedding” by Hillbilly Idol:

Sunday supplement

Laughy Kate has a constructive suggestion for police recruitment.

Cactus Kate righteously rips into the ANZ:
That a bank who has as a solution to keeping New Zealanders in jobs, has outsourced to India, can attend with any shred of humility, a Jobs Summit discussing how to keep New Zealanders in jobs at a time of impending financial really quite amazing.
The Economist is in favour of deep-fried sea kittens.

Tim Blair gets a bit sarky about the Australian film industry, or rather the luvvies who complain about under-funding.

And Brett at Harry’s Place makes the case that:
Perhaps more attention should be paid to the fact that premarital sex, masturbation, homosexuality, cheap lager and brandy pudding are all root causes of Islamist terror.