13 February 2010

Sven: the musical?

Not actually a happening project AFAIK but hopefully someone will be tempted to take up the option after reading this piece in the Guardian about Sven-Goran Eriksson's seven month tenure at Notts County.

It's got all the ingredients for a classic:

  • an opportunity to manage the North Korean national team
  • dodgy consortia of financiers (admittedly this is almost mandatory in English football nowadays - but not in Division 4?)
  • Sol Campbell
Combined with the best hi-jinks from Sven's England period this would make for a classic. (Who was it who said about his half-time team talk in the England-Brazil world cup game in 2002, "we needed Winston Churchill and we got Iain Duncan Smith"? Superb).

11 February 2010

Google Buzz... just means like more s*** I gotta do now.

In one of the innumerable great scenes from my favourite movie ever, Twin Peaks - Fire Walk With Me, Harry Dean Stanton's character says in world-weary fashion, "it just means like... more shit I gotta do now".

Google Buzz (added to my gmail account without consultation or agreement from me) falls into that category of annoying stuff that doesn't really do anything useful apart from create a possible security risk.

Here's a good summary by maverick accountant Dennis Howlett (via Richard Murphy) of why Buzz is a piece of crap.

It's basically an aggregator for loads of stuff from Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, blogs etc for people who might be in your gmail account. And they can add new posts as well (a bit like Facebook). The problem is that it doesn't ask you whether you want to be added to everyone else's aggregator - so if you are running an anonymous blog out of Blogger (owned by Google for several years) you might find that it's suddenly not so anonymous anymore. Which could be mildly interesting. In my case, I turned the f***er off. (You can do that by finding the tiny link at the bottom of the gmail screen that says "turn off Buzz".)

I'm sure that one day Google will be revealed as a huge scam to get everybody's bank account details (e.g. through Paypal) and then shut down the entire world banking system by emptying everyone's account at once. If you had access to enough banking info you really could do this, and be out of there with trillions of dollars before anyone had a chance to change their passwords. Alternatively you could use it as the ultimate tool of economic sabotage. It would make the credit crunch look like a minor clerical error. Jesus Christ.

05 February 2010

A cheap punk and now a dirty criminal? That's the (ex) leader of Essex County Council for you

The Director of Public Prosecutions has announced that three Labour MPs and one Conservative peer will face criminal charges for theft in connection with fiddled expenses claims.

The three Labour MPs are Elliot Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine - all pretty much no-mark has-beens. But the real excitement here is Paul White aka Lord Hanningfield - Tory front bench industry spokesperson in the Lords and leader of the hard-right Essex County Council, at least until he resigned from both positions today.

A cheaper punk than Hanningfield would be hard to find. Essex County Council is a disgrace, a gang of cheap greedy killers who slash council services while making sure that their own offices are as comfortable as possible. The voters in this county is, sadly, a bunch of morons who thinks that voting this bunch of lame-ass Thatcherite bastards into the council with huge majorities makes some kind of statement against Westminster, when in fact all it does is make Essex a worse and worse place to live.

I hope so much that White goes down. It won't be easy, because the expenses regulations were so lax that it was difficult to break them. Difficult but not impossible, and he could face up to seven years in jail if convicted. That'll be an occasion to crack open the budget Cava. Hey, to quote Jeffrey Lebowski, I might even "do a J".

02 February 2010

Reactionary little maniac, isn't he?

More total BS from the Pope this week...

"Your country is well-known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society.

"Yet, as you have rightly pointed out, the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs.

This quote refers to the Equality Bill currently going through Parliament which doesn't allow religious organisations to discriminate against hiring religious people for jobs (except for priest or equivalent jobs).

Imagine if Nick Griffin was making a quote along similar lines, e.g.:

The effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of Nazi racists to act in accordance with their beliefs.

Somehow I don't think that allowing religious organisations not to hire black people, for example, would go down too well. But replace "racists" with "homophobics" and you've basically got the Pope's quote, or thereabouts.

It's not the first time that this Pope has pursued a reactionary vendetta against the 21st century. But it's probably the most high-profile case yet, and I'm grateful for that. There are some on the progressive left who are saying the Pope shouldn't be let into the UK for his state visit later in the year. My stance is, as usual, the Han Solo line: Bring him on. I'd prefer a straight (metaphorical) fight between humanist (and indeed moderate religious) rationalism on the one hand, and extremist religious hatred on the other.

I'd actually argue that the Equality Bill should apply to priests as well. Why the exemption? It'd be fantastic if, to carry on practising in the UK, the Catholic Church had to let women priests in. That would be one of the greatest achievements of New Labour. Forward the Revolution.

01 February 2010

And while we're on the subject of tech...

...let me move from praising Linux - an under-publicised rough diamond that may occasionally look a bit clunky but gets most jobs done better than anything - to burying Apple: an over-hyped piece of bling that looks nice but doesn't actually do anything better than the much cheaper alternative you could have bought instead if you weren't a total slave to advertising. You fool out there, you.

As so often, Charlie Brooker nails it four-square with a rant about the iPad. Basically an iPhone the size of a laptop. And you thought Trigger Happy TV was just for fun...

Nokia had this technology out about 5 years ago. It was called the 770 webpad or some such thing. It was a failure because the basic concept is rather pointless... all you can use it for is surfing the web - badly - while pretending to watch TV - badly. Which you can do better - and cheaper - with a netbook.

But of course because this is Apple, you get the Roger Waters "sheep effect": 'wave after wave of demented avengers march cheerfully out of obscurity into the dream'. For me, Pink Floyd's Animals LP is basically about Apple owners. (and Mary Whitehouse). It's no coincidence that the Apple II was released the same year.

Actually, early Apple was f***ing good. Up to the late 80s or so they were way ahead of the game. I once read that when Douglas Adams was asked why he used a Mac, he gave a puzzled look and replied "why would anyone use anything else?" That made sense back in the 80s - maybe even the early 90s. But now, they offer the same thing as a well-adjusted Linux box, only for around 3 times the price. It's the yuppy thing all over again, and with less justification. My wife has an iPod - but only because we got it free when I bought a G1 Google phone (which, for my money, is a better effort than the iPhone). Great motion sensor for playing bagatelle with - shame about the usability of the iTunes software.

But I am more and more of the opinion that Apple owners are either people who are in on the (expensive) joke, or clueless dupes who are happy to be stiffed by The Man (i.e. Steve Jobs) in the cause of fashion. Stuff 'em all. I reserve the right to make my own PC out of cannibalised PCBs and washing up liquid bottles, A Team style. Let's see what your iPad looks like when my custom mini-ITX PC in a pneumatic drill casing has finished with it.