30 January 2010

Drum & bass Channel 4 News remix

By Netgem21 and Speedy via the B3ta newsletter:

27 January 2010

Scion of an ancestral procession of idiots

Mark Twain didn't suffer fools gladly. In this 1905 letter he writes to a disreputable correspondent who seeks to market quack medicines:

Your letter is an insoluble puzzle to me. The handwriting is good and exhibits considerable character, and there are even traces of intelligence in what you say, yet the letter and the accompanying advertisements profess to be the work of the same hand. The person who wrote the advertisements is without doubt the most ignorant person now alive on the planet; also without doubt he is an idiot, an idiot of the 33rd degree, and scion of an ancestral procession of idiots stretching back to the Missing Link.

[Via Letters of Note]

23 January 2010

Virtuous ignorance

'A book that begins with Governor Palin visiting the Alaska Right to Life booth at the 2008 state fair ("With their passion and sincerity, the ladies typified the difference between principles and politics") clearly isn't aiming to pander to liberal trespassers among its readers. Her encounter with the sincere and passionate ladies, and the jangling false antithesis between "principles" and "politics," which goes little further than the fact that both words begin with a p, sound the opening notes of Palin's dominant theme, as she markets her brand of "Commonsense Conservatism."

Commonsense Conservatism hinges on the not-so-tacit assumption that the average, hardworking churchgoer, like the ladies at the booth, equipped with the fundamental, God-given ability to distinguish right from wrong, is in a better position to judge, on "principle," the merits of an economic policy or the deployment of American troops abroad than "the 'experts'"—a term here unfailingly placed between derisive quotation marks. Desiccated expertise, of the kind possessed by economists, environmental scientists, and overinformed reporters from the lamestream media, clouds good judgment; Palin's life, by contrast, is presented as one of passion, sincerity, and principle. Going Rogue, in other words, is a four-hundred-page paean to virtuous ignorance'

- Jonathan Raban reviews Sarah Palin's Going Rogue, New York Review of Books, 14 January 2010

20 January 2010

The blessing of the smart phones

'Two hymns had been sung and the sermon preached when the Rev Canon David Parrott lifted his right hand to begin the blessing of the smart phones.

The congregation at St Lawrence Jewry in the City of London raised their mobiles and iPods above their heads and Canon Parrott raised his voice to the heavens to address the Lord God of all Creation. “May our tongues be gentle, our e-mails be simple and our websites be accessible,” he said.

Great efforts have been made to modernise the Church of England, but its liturgy dates from before the arrival of the Nokia 6310, and until yesterday, none had been brave enough to adapt its ceremonies to address the modern mysteries of 3G network coverage, iPhone apps and variable battery life.

But if anyone can, the Canon can. Even before he came to St Lawrence Jewry, Canon Parrott was known for his dynamic approach. In his former parish, he once dressed up as a Christmas tree to promote the message of Christmas.

Yesterday, in the church of the City of London Corporation, he presented an updated version of Plow Monday, an observance that dates from medieval times. On this day, the first Monday after Twelfth Night, farm labourers would bring a plough to the door of the church to be blessed.

“When I arrived a few months ago I looked at this service and thought, ‘Why do we have a Plow Monday?’,” Canon Parrott said. Men and women coming to his church no longer used ploughs; their tools were their laptops, their iPhones and their BlackBerries.

So he wrote a blessing and strode out to deliver it before a congregation of eighty, the white heat of technology shining from his every pronouncement. “I invite you to have your mobile phone out ... though I would like you to put it on silent,” he said'

- The Times, 12 January 2010

Ripping paper is hilarious

[Via Graham Linehan]

16 January 2010


Students who don't see why they should do their own work: Colin Hayes writes from Notts [Nottinghamshire] where he lectures in a further education college. He'd given one group a simple study task along with suggestions of books, web addresses, etc., to find information. One young woman's work seemed familiar. 'Sure enough, she'd done a cut-and-paste job on a website - my website! When challenged, she was not even embarrassed. She refused to write an original piece as asked, saying she had already done it. I gave her an "unattained" which she then appealed!'

- Simon Hoggart, Guardian, 16 January 2010

13 January 2010

A slogan for Dunedin

Dunedin is staging a competition to find a new town slogan to replace the feeble 'I am Dunedin' incumbent. Here's some of the suggestions so far:

Dunedin, where that missing sock ends up
Dunedin: if Keith Richards called Invercargill the a---hole of the world, we must be its fun bits
Sydney is hot. Dunedin is cool
We burn the sofa at both ends
Dunedin – Kids are actually safe in our chocolate factory
“Been there Dunners that”
Dunedin – where you used to be
Down there
Dunedin: we’ve got a castle
Dunedin – cr-pping all over your summer since 1848
We keep your beers cold.
Dunedin: gateway to Mosgiel
Dunedin: At least it’s not Palmerston North
Dunedin: horizontal rain is a good thing
Dunedin: Keeping it real (cold)
Dunedin: It’s not Auckland

- Source: Red Alert

11 January 2010

09 January 2010

Mr T

'The strangest thing about [acting in] The A-Team was Mr T. He was, as far as I'm concerned, a bona fide, credentialled psychotic. He had no benevolence. He drove a fire-engine red Rolls-Royce Corniche convertible. He'd start talking when he got into makeup at 7 o'clock in the morning and he'd still be talking at 7 o'clock at night when he got back into his Corniche. And nobody paid any attention to him at all. He was a very, very strange man'

- Actor Robert Vaughn discusses Mr T, Guardian Guide, 9 January 2010

06 January 2010

The 2000s

Sam Wollaston provides a pithy summary (from a UK perspective) of the decade I still refuse to call 'the noughties':

It began with an ill-thought-out dome by the Thames that no one wanted to go anywhere near, although, a few years later, middle-aged people were fighting to get in, to feel young again, after it was reborn as a music venue. These people pretty much succeeded in reversing the ageing process, physically, mentally and in their souls. The fact that they had accidentally become wealthy, due to the property they owned, helped.

The youth weren't wealthy, but it didn't matter so much because this was the decade when everything became free. The little money they did have they spent binge-drinking, then they disappeared into their hoods, and then they put a donk on it.

The oldies didn't understand and were afraid. But only for a minute, because they were too busy kite-surfing, and rocking out to Led Zeppelin and Prince. Then suddenly the clock struck 12, their young bodies and young minds turned back into pumpkins and they rushed to Switzerland to have themselves put down. "There is a point when you stop being a kidult and you start being a state-subsidised organic unit rotting in a care home," says Will Self. "And you start trying to reckon whether you're going to be able to cram yourself on an EasyJet to Zurich where a man will give you a beaker of sodium phenobarbital and you'll die."

- Guardian, 6 January 2010