cartoon, sleeping

Amazon Tag Agendas

I've found a new game - it involves the one of the strangest features of the internet age, namely people who think that the tags assigned to Amazon products are somehow an appropriate platform for either their political views or sense of humour. I feel a bit bad that so much effort is attracting so little attention, so have decided to add another form of time-wasting to the mix.

The aim: find the book with the highest number of point-scoring tags.
A point-scoring tag is one which has been added with the sole purpose of expressing a point of view and / or making a joke, and which cannot be said to group books together in a useful manner.

For example, I count 2 definites on Mein Kampf, and a couple of possibles which would require a panel of impartial judges:

However, this is clearly trumped by The Communist Manifesto, which has around 20:

Communist Manifesto Amazon tags

As it's the thought that counts with this game, similar terms don't have to only count as one. I'm a little unsure on what to do about 'firedman' though - could come in handy in a tie-break situation.

So those are the rules. There's nothing more for me to say except: ACTIVATE!
cartoon, sleeping

Resolutions for Britain

Yes, that is indeed a very arrogant title and sounds like a straight-to-recycling election leaflet but a new decade has begun and I'm going to slap down some optimism here and now, before it starts to look just like the old decade.

Most of the time I'm hampered by the overwhelming feeling that our species is doomed, especially those parts of it which have been living well beyond their means for centuries by screwing over other parts and the planet they view as their own life-sized Risk board. Every time I try to write something pro-active and political I remember that groups of people, regardless of the personalities of the individual members, tend to behave as if humans are inherently ignorant, self-centered, self-serving bastards. But as this is the designated time of year for setting unrealistic goals for the future, here are a few of mine for the country. If I stick to one of my personal resolutions, these will be expanded on over the next few weeks.
  • Focus on the real positives - let's try and break through all this hell-in-a-handcart, make-Britain-great-again whining from self-pitying (often ex-pat) wind bags and occasionally celebrate some of the things that Britain genuinely does well. Then maybe we'll accept that none of these things are really under threat from immigration, multi-culturalism or anything else people kick off about when they don't want to admit they're scared of foreign-looking hats. Which brings me on to...
  • Political correctness doesn't mean what a lot of idiots think it means, but that doesn't matter any more. It's still used as an excuse for people to hide behind nasty little euphemisms and pretend they're being a brave spokesperson for the silent majority. Now we're entering an age in which 'human rights' is a dirty word; 'asylum seeker', 'Muslim' and 'terrorist' are practically synonyms and the only tactic employed against this shift in rhetoric is to shout "racist!" and run away. Speaking of which...
  • The left have to get a grip. Seriously guys - we're accused of running the country, we're even accused of having taken over the USA, for heaven's sake, and yet viewed from the inside, we're a fractious bunch of cynical, defeatist, lone-rangers who've forgotten where the common ground is that we're supposed to be defending. We're losing, and it's our fault.
So that's what I'd like to see in the next ten years - a better-defined, more positive and winnable battle against the forces of prejudice, division, and racist self-interest. Please?
cartoon, sleeping

Not your place to say

That urge to leave angry comments in any available space, even though the writer you're annoyed at isn't going to read your insights and everyone else will think you're a prat? It's not just an internet thing:

Comment left in Marianne Hester's book

From Marianne Hester's Lewd Women and Wicked Witches

Ok, so it's within the bounds of possibility that the reader had genuinely linked two thoughts in their brain and was worried they wouldn't remember, just as they hadn't remembered to buy any paper before starting their course. This one, however, is pure spite:

Comment left in Nancy Love's book

From Nancy S. Love's Marx, Nietzsche, and Modernity

These are just the ones I found today. Anyone else found a good one?
cartoon, sleeping

My Life: The Soundtrack

Technically I don't have time for this but I have two flimsy justifications to hand:

1. I'm making pea soup with dried peas that are... 6 years past their best before date. I can't go to the library until they're soft enough to eat, and they've already been boiling for nearly 90 mins.
2. I haven't posted anything here for ages and need to kick-start the blogging. This seems an easy (if self-indulgent) way and hopefully more worthwhile and interesting posts will begin to flow.

So then, the method is explained fully over at Pop Sensation and similar ideas have been pinging about Facebook etc. for a while. The following list is the product of shuffling my "good stuff" playlist, which excludes all the sample RP telephone calls and business negotiations I use for teaching. I don't consider this to be cheating.

Violetta Crisis: The Soundtrack
Opening credits:Live Forever - OasisA very optimistic point of view and a very good song.
Waking up: Waterloo Sunset - The KinksIsn't there a film where someone wakes up to this? It's a great opening riff to start your day with.
First day of school:Sorted for E's and Whizz - PulpHmmm. Well there was none of that at my C of E primary school but I guess it clearly conveys the general bewildered wanting-to-call-your-mother feeling.
Falling in love:If I ever lose my faith in you - StingThere are dozens of songs I've listened too obsessively whilst falling in love. This was never one of them.
Breaking up:Bitch - Meredith BrooksYes, yes I was.
Prom:Go let it out - OasisI always hated school / uni discos. In this scene, I'm relaxing in the grounds with an illicit bottle of vodka.
Mental breakdown:When Logics Die - SoulwaxPerfect!
Driving:Rip her to Shreds - BlondieI don't drive, but this is a good song for stomping about angrily to.
Flashback:Half the lies you tell aren't true - The StereophonicsOooh, a resentful flashback
Getting back together:The Time is Now - Moloko (orig. album, not the remix)Appropriate lyrics and not at all sappy.
Wedding:Love and Affection - Joan ArmatradingIncredibly that's the one of three real possibilities. The others are "Dancing in the Moonlight" by Thin Lizzy or "Ava Adore" by The Smashing Pumpkins.
Birth of child:Common People - PulpIt had to be on the soundtrack somewhere, but why here?
Final battle:C'mon People - Paul McCartney...which I listen to when battling my own apathy. Not a bad choice.
Death scene:Shiver - ColdplayMy favourite Coldplay song, but far too uplifting to die to.
Funeral song:Save Tonight - Eagle-eye CherryWell now you're just taking the...
End credits:Hazy Shade of Winter - The BanglesI'm seeing... skeletal trees and swooping shots of a fog-filled Lake District.

Personally, I'd have swapped the beginning and end credits (having been born in the middle of winter), and played Boston's "More than a feeling" at the prom (cheesy, but it has to be done) and Pink Floyd's "Fearless" at the funeral.
I now need to pick out a good song for a "essay-planning montage with music". Or I could waste less time and actually do the bloody work. Hmmm.

cartoon, sleeping

Who cares who was protesting?

I'm not particularly impressed with this BBC story on the events in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester today. For a start, they've given all readers a clear view of one side's banner, with a fairly appealing slogan (if you don't know much about the EDL), right at the top of the page.
Secondly, I'm not sure about the accuracy of their numbers. From what I could see of the EDL group (I'm short, but I was there a while and tried my best to get an overview of the situation) there were never more than 90 - 100 members. The BBC estimates 2000 "protesters" in total in the gardens, though whether they counted everyone or just people with placards, I don't know, but says the EDL were outnumbered 3 to 1. How?
Ok, so those are minor points and I could be wrong about the numbers. This mistake, on the other hand, is unarguably idiotic and someone deserves a slap for it. Defence? Democratic? Same difference, right?

cartoon, sleeping

Am I going to UAF demo tomorrow?

Against: I'm not sure that protests and demos really convince anyone of anything. The only message people get is "Here's a protesting rabble of jobless loudmouths".

For: According to who? The usual Have Your Say / Daily Mail commenters maybe, and they'll downplay and belittle any campaign.

Against: I definitely don't want members of the EDL to come to harm. We have to be more civilised and understanding than them or we're just giving them ammo. We can't have anything that looks like Britain's coming apart at the seams.

For: So the more pacifists there the better, surely?

Against: There must be something more original we can do, with a message that'll appeal to borderline BNP supporters.

For: But what? And until then, are you just going to sit at home reading about street battles in 1920s Hamburg?

Against: I'm small and scared.

For: Fucking get over it you wuss.
cartoon, sleeping


...this year's winner of the Clumsiest Headline Award, with an additional honorable mention in the Articles with a Pro-Death Bias category:

Cervical cancer jab girl died from unrelated chest tumour as researcher calls vaccine plan a 'mass experiment'

By Daniel Martin and David Derbyshire
Last updated at 12:59 PM on 01st October 2009

(Article and headline may be subject to change without prior notice.)