One day I’ll tire of being in the vanguard of technology and fashion.
Archive for June, 2006
Well, duh… how did I miss these until now. Webcast and podcast courses from Berkley, from Art 23 – Foundations of American Cyberculture to Psych 130 – Clinical Psychology.
a rather stroppy looking woman with an accent wandering around
Tom Coates, Plasticbag
Yahoo fanboy Web 2.0 fanboy Tom Coates means to say foreign accent, I presume. Or perhaps he really thinks he doesn’t have an accent; lots of people from the South-East I’ve met really believe this, the arrogant tossers.
I believe in the fact of evolution. I even believe in it with passionate conviction. To some, this may superficially look like faith. But the evidence that makes me believe in evolution is not only overwhelmingly strong; it is freely available to anyone who takes the trouble to read up on it. Anyone can study the same evidence that I have and presumably come to the same conclusion. But if you have a belief that is based solely on faith, I can’t examine your reasons. You can retreat behind the private wall of faith where I can’t reach you
Richard Dawkins, Is Science a Religion?
Dawkins goes on to describe religious indoctrination of children a form of mental child abuse. As someone obliged by parents to attend church every Sunday and Sunday School too I wonder whether Dawkins isn’t being hyperbolic about this. After all, I ended up a healthily sceptical atheist, my doubts being partly provoked by the sexual shenanigans of the Rev (he ran off with a parishioner) and of a senior respected church elder who had a stash of the most explicit pornography imaginable in the days way back before the Web.
I coped with the sexual hypocrisy by assuming everyone was lying about everything for reasons I couldn’t quite fathom. I suppose now that they were partly fooling themselves, too, more for social reasons than for any supernatural revelation. I don’t think anyone at the Van Road United Reformed Church was doing a Julian of Norwich. The place was a club for people who preferred the easy comfort of small dishonesties to the difficulty of thinking.
Where I might have missed out is in what I wasn’t introduced to. Nobody bothered to tell me about the Enlightenment and Hume and the grand history of dissent, agnosticism and atheism in the UK and abroad. Nobody told me about Darwin.
Religion is the one field in our culture about which it is absolutely accepted, without question without even noticing how bizarre it is that parents have a total and absolute say in what their children are going to be, how their children are going to be raised, what opinions their children are going to have about the cosmos, about life, about existence. Do you see what I mean about mental child abuse?
Richard Dawkins, Is Science a Religion?
Helen, who rather prides herself on her musical taste, has just received a recommendation from Amazon that she might well enjoy Vienna, the album from 80′s New Romantics Ultravox fronted by miniature Scottish yodeller Midge Ure.
Update: it’s getting worse. Amazon’s suggesting she buy Kate Bush.
Tilt shift, Tallinn, Estonia. It’s not quite right, I think.
Just trying out tilt shift with Photoshop. Here’s the foot of the Campanile, St Mark’s Square, Venice
Which bit of the BBC’s remit do you think this is covered by:
The Lancashire Evening Post reported that only 20 hardy souls turned up at the BBC’s costly giant screen in the northwest English city on Thursday to watch the match, after just four people and a dog braved the miserable rain for the earlier Group E games.
The public service broadcaster was slammed by one member of parliament for wasting money on the 27-metre screens dotted across the country, which cost 500,000 pounds … each and 5,000 pounds a day to operate
I should reflect more on this recent change to my habits; but briefly, I don’t buy a newspaper anymore and I’ve nearly given up listening to BBC R4. I had bought The Guardian just about every publication day since I first went to university (my parents bought the South Wales Echo, an almost entirely uninteresting regional rag). I’ve listened to R4 forever and some of it was very good indeed; and some of it was very, very poor.
Now, I download podcasts overnight and listen to them during the day. The downloads include R4′s programme, In Our Time from Melvyn Bragg, surely the finest series of radio broadcasts ever; and other good stuff too, from all over the world.
I grab R4 news headlines when I get up and switch it off soon because of the insufferable presenters on BBC’s R4 Today. I read up more on the web, browsing through my RSS reader and favourite sites for my news. The Guardian is notable for its interesting web experiment with the Comment is Free website and the ongoing trashing its paid-for commentators are receiving now they’re opening up their opinions for the rest of the world to comment upon.
I’m more and better informed now than I ever was and I’m not paying the news sources or commentators for it. Good for me but I wonder how they intend to make a living.
In the case of the BBC, they have a compulsory licence fee to rely on. I’d prefer to pay for Melvyn Bragg and save the rest of my money for content I want. Imagine if I didn’t have to pay for Celebrity Come Dancing (at the threat of imprisonment) and could instead fund the content I want to buy. Imagine.
In an entirely unsuprising moment of obtuseness, the Deputy Chief Constable of North Wales, Clive Wolfendale, has added to the national World Cup excitement by suggesting that English people carrying the English flag on their cars in Wales are behaving with discourtesy and indecency.
The Welsh police are famously inept. For example, a few years ago, during the investigation into a notorious double murder in which one body had been rolled up in a carpet the police lost the carpet. So it’s hardly suprising that now another of their number suggests something so incredibly stupid that even Welsh Nationalist politicians reject his suggestions.
Elfyn Llwyd, the Plaid Cymru parliamentary leader, said:
England are the only home nation left in the competition and while we would have wanted Wales – and Scotland and Northern Ireland – there too, I would want everyone to get behind England, as I think it would be good for the whole country, just as I believe the London Olympics will benefit us all.
“If it was the other way round, I would hope that people in England would want Wales to do well.
“Why he has made these comments, I don’t know. He has made an issue when there isn’t one.
And we could have left it there as another example of Y Plod being so politically correct they’d rather support lawbreakers than do their jobs and defend law and order, if it wasn’t for the fact that Mr Wolfendale was tapping into a violent, fascisistic streak in Welsh Nationalism that hasn’t gone away since the days when early Plaid Cymru frontman Saunders Lewis supported Hitler.
Over at the blog of Lib Dem Member of the Welsh Assembly Peter Black, you can read in comments from a Ceri Grafu the sort of tripe these extremists come out with; in this case, asserting that that it was a ‘bloody good thing‘ that a sports shop in the mid-Wales town of Aberystwyth was vandalised, putting the blame not where it lies – firmly with the Welsh-language-speaking nationalist chavs who did the vandalism – but with the sportshop for displaying the English flag in its windows just before England began its World Cup campaign. Right.
Ceri Grafu points to comments on another blog, a Welsh language blog, where this diplomatic incident is discussed. Fortunately for all of us, Welsh is such a bastardised language these days that the general sense and sometimes specific meaning of the insults and invective are discernable even to non-Welsh speakers. For example:
Nid Birmingham. Nid Chesterfield. Nid Dunnny-on-the-Wold. Aberystwyth. Yng Nghymru. Ffcn Cnts.
Wherin the geographically enlightened poster of the story points out the indisputable fact that Aberystwyth is not Birmingham, Chesterfield etc but is in fact in Wales, and calls Gilesports ‘Ffcn Cnts’. Another contributor calls them,
Ffacin twats, another says it is a
Disgres, which is the Welsh for ‘disgrace’; directly misspelt from the English. I particularly liked
basdads. Seriously, a language has to be dying, hasn’t it, if it doesn’t generate its own sweary words.
All very childish and schoolboyish until you see that these rather angry little chaps have posted on the web the name of the store manager and the telephone number and have promised to cover the shop in graffitti.
Don’t expect the police to help out here.
Update: They do things differently in Scotland:
The Scottish Commission for Racial Equality has cautioned against anti-English racism, while schoolchildren who make anti-English remarks in class have been threatened with suspension