30 June 2010

Life's such a struggle when you're cutting back

From an article in which journalists describe the ways their families have been trying to cut back on spending, here's Jonathan Prynn:

By making the most of the aisle-end deals we probably did cut 25 per cent off the normal shopping bill. But at what cost to family well-being? I was also quite put out that I could not find my favourite type of butter —from Brittany with embedded sea salt crystals.

- Evening Standard, 30 June 2010

26 June 2010

That's not a very constructive contribution

From a discussion of the 16th century negotiations between Spain and Portugal on the line of demarcation between their two overseas empires, known as the Tordesillas Line:

To symbolise the strict impartiality of the deliberations, the summit was held on a bridge spanning the Guadiana River, along the Spanish-Portuguese border, but the location nearly undid the conference. As the distinguished members of the Portuguese delegation happened to be walking across the bridge, they were stopped by a small boy, who asked if they were carving up the world with King Charles. The former governor of India, Diogo Lopes de Sequeira, acknowledged that indeed they were. At that, the boy lifted his shirt, turned to reveal his bare bottom, and with his small finger traced the line between his buttocks.

"Draw your line right through this place!" he declared.

- Laurence Bergreen, Over The Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe, New York, 2003

25 June 2010

'Never have I been accused of corduroy'

When he was cited by Tatler as a champion of corduroy, he threatened to sue the magazine. "I will tolerate most things said about me," he told me. "I've been accused of misogyny, racism, sodomy, homophobia, plagiarism, drug addiction, whoremongering, being a pimp, pervert and prostitute but never have I been accused of corduroy".

- Sebastian Shakespeare remembers Sebastian Horsley, author of Dandy in the Underworld, Evening Standard, 25 June 2010

Little Master Cricket

A 'rag-doll' style cricket batting game that works surprisingly well. You can either go out blasting or try for the slow and steady approach. My best score so far: 143 282 378 522.

Little Master Cricket

24 June 2010

Just brilliant

Increasing Number Of Americans Unable To Point Out Map

WASHINGTON—-An alarming new study released Tuesday by the Department of Education found that nearly 70 percent of Americans are incapable of pointing out a map when presented by researchers with a map. "Not only did a majority of people just stare blankly ahead, but nearly half pointed to nearby desk lamps in their attempts to guess correctly," said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who called the findings endemic of the nation's failing school system. "In fact, 14 percent of all Americans claimed they had never 'even heard of no map,' and asked if being prompted to locate one was some kind of trick question." According to Duncan, the Department of Education has suspended all further studies and will instead be spending the next six months just screaming into a pillow.

- The Onion, 23 June 2010

23 June 2010

Probably not ideal ambassadorial material

From an article on the corruption trial of disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich:

[His former chief of staff John] Harris told jurors that Blagojevich suggested leaking false reports that he was thinking about appointing state officials, including Attorney General Lisa Madigan, to give Obama and his advisers the impression that he would be expending a lot of political capital in appointing their preferred candidate Valerie Jarrett — and so would expect more in return.

Among a list of appointments he thought he might be able to secure in the new administration in exchange for appointing Jarrett to the seat was U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, or ambassador to the U.N., Canada, Germany, England, France or India, according to the tape.

Harris implied that ambassador to India might be too important a position for a former Illinois governor.

"I'm the governor of a $58 billion corporation," Blagojevich said on the tape, referring to Illinois and cursing. "Why can't I be the ... ambassador to India?"

Blagojevich says to Harris in the recorded conversation that he understood he was so politically damaged in Illinois that he didn't want to ask Obama for any help that might suggest he wanted to remain governor.

- Christian Science Monitor, 23 June 2010

Careful Elton, you might make Belarus gay

Belarusian officials have requested tapes of Elton John’s past performances before his upcoming concert in Minsk. Their fear? That Elton John would convert concertgoers into homosexuals:

'The Public Council for Morality is to study recordings of earlier performances by the British singer to make sure “they have no elements inconsistent with the law and morality,” the head of the organization said.

“We have requested the organizers of the concert to give us records of Elton John’s earlier performances,” he said.

Sexual minorities have become active in the country of late and “even attempted to hold a gay parade in Minsk,” Cherginets said. The attempted parade was broken up by police.

Cherginets said the Council had already prevented outbreaks of “immorality” during a May concert by German industrial metal band Rammstein in the Belarusian capital.

“If we had not interfered, there would have been sex on stage and the relief of physical needs right in front of the audience,” the official said.

- Via Neatorama, 22 June 2010

22 June 2010

No digs, no dice

From an article discussing the problem faced by Chinese bachelors, who find themselves priced out of the real estate market by high prices, and squeezed by would-be brides, who increasingly demand that potential husbands own their own property before marriage:

Wang Haijun, a real estate agent on Beijing's east side, said he can always tell when a desperate bachelor walks into his office.

"They're always the least rational buyers," Wang said. "They don't care how little money they have. They just want an apartment as soon as possible. They take on a mortgage with the longest terms and highest interest rates. But they have no choice. They have to get married. I feel sorry for them."

Zhang, [a] language tutor and interpreter, wanted to marry his girlfriend, a receptionist at a language school. The two shared a love for American TV — "Sex and the City" for her and "Lost" for him.

The closer they grew, the more she asked about their future and a home.

"I told her I loved her and would marry her if she didn't mind not having a house," Zhang said. "But she said no. I told her I wanted a house too, but I didn't know how. I'm not rich."

Zhang began checking real estate listings in his neighborhood a year and a half ago. He was stunned. An apartment of about 1,000 square feet cost $150,000. Zhang's parents, who run a modest bakery in northeast China, offered to help. But the $30,000 down payment was still well out of reach.

His girlfriend grew increasingly concerned. She wanted to get married while her grandparents were still healthy and could celebrate her wedding. Last December, she called off the relationship.

- Los Angeles Times, 21 June 2010

Milton Jones

Tousle-haired stand-up comedian Milton Jones offers a selection of his one-liners in two excerpts from Mock The Week:

Far superior to a hockey game

It’s also worth noting the amazing interest shown by white women in the World Cup. While they generally find most professional sporting events to be boring, the atmosphere at a World Cup match is much more amenable. Mostly because they don’t have to drink light beer and there is a good chance that they might meet a European man, or, at least someone who might be planning a trip there. This is far superior to a hockey game where, at best, they might meet a Canadian. It goes without saying that for white women, the World Cup can’t come soon enough.

- Stuff White People Like, 1 June 2010

18 June 2010

Perhaps I'll rephrase that

From a comments thread discussing the BBC comedy panel show, Mock The Week:

My favourite Russell Howard joke was the one he said about the most embarassing moment he had at school. This was when the maths teacher was presiding over a quiet classroom and a fellow pupil called Linda was hitting her calculator repetitively on the desk. The teacher suddenly exploded 'Linda, how would you like it if I banged you against the desk?'

- Guardian, 16 June 2010

17 June 2010

Marketing fail

From an article on bottled water sales in the UK:

Coca-Cola launched Dasani in the UK in 2004, neglecting to alter its US marketing strategy, which saw it labelled "bottled spunk", a PR disaster soon topped when it was revealed to be treated water from a tap in Sidcup.

- Independent, 17 June 2010

04 June 2010

A pakeha myth, like speed limits and Dunedin

From an imaginary interview with Maori Party MP Hone Harawira:

DP: There’s been some confusion about the Maori Party’s flagship Whanau Ora initiative. Can you give a brief overview of the policy?

HH: At its core it’s very simple. Billions of years from now . . . [At this point a door opens in the building; due to noise from the nearby rehearsal Mr Harawira's voice is not audible - drowned out by 'Oh No You Won't', a charming duet between Helen Clark and Mr Harawira's Mother Titewhai. The gap lasts for nine minutes.]

HH: . . . W and Z bosons and the kaitiaki of the rangitira over all elementary particles we estimate Whanau Ora will allow New Zealand to overtake Australia in GDP by as soon as 2018.

DP: That’s just breathtaking.

HH: But the real key is communication. Without a clear understanding of the policy in the minds of the nuinga we are doomed to fail.

DP: And this policy has buy-in from the National Party cabinet and John Key?

HH: Actually there is no such thing as John Key. He’s a pakeha myth perpetuated by the racist media – like speed limits and Dunedin. But we have support from the Ministers with the relevent portfolios.

DP: I’d like to ask you about the extra funding received by Te Puni Kokiri in the budget. Extra funding for Maori tourism and export operators on top of continuity for existing programs such as Ngā Kaihanga Hou . . .

HH: All excellent programs that deliver great returns for all taxpayers . . .

DP: So what is your response to the recent leaked Cabinet report concluding that the only function Te Puni Kokiri serves is to make up fake Maori sounding words and try and trick gullible white people into using them?

HH: Simply not true and this is another area where National and the Maori Party have agreed to disagree and abide by the Maori principle of tirangawhai.

- As imagined by Danyl of the Dimpost

02 June 2010

How to attract a politician's attention

Threaten to kill the Prime Minister in a fax detailing your name, address and telephone number (er, actually please don't):

A North Canterbury farmer accused of threatening to kill Prime Minister John Key was upset earlier threats were not taken seriously, a court has been told.

Mark Stafford Feary, 53, of Oxford, faced two charges in the Christchurch District Court yesterday of threatening to kill Key and 12 of threatening grievous bodily harm against various politicians and government officials. Those targeted included the police commissioner, the attorney-general and the ACT, United Future and Maori Party leaders.

Feary, who is representing himself, pleaded not guilty to all charges.

He has been involved in a long-running battle with officials over a 1780-hectare Mt Oxford farm that has been in his family since the 1920s.

Crown prosecutor Tim Mackenzie said threats had been faxed by Feary in February last year, including one to Key saying "it's killing time".

Mackenzie said Feary had "upped the ante" after threats sent by post to Wellington between September and December 2008 were not taken seriously.

- The Press (Christchurch), 2 June 2010

['Who is representing himself' = seldom a good sign]