Thursday, November 27, 2008

Me 'ansome

New jungle found in Cornwall. Hooray! But there's no need to write the gardeners comments up in the perceived local accent of the place:

He said: "I was cutting back some bushes when I saw the most amazing jungle scene. It was like nothing I had ever scene before. I've been head gardener here for the last 18 years and didn't know a thing about it."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

If only they'd listened

I'd not claim to know any of the ins and outs of the 'Credit Crunch', but this video is very illuminating. It's 10 minutes long but it's worth watching. It would be nice to know what those who laugh at Peter Schiff do now, and what they are suggesting now. If I was taking advice from them and saw this, I'd tell them to sling it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I won this last year.

Dancing in the dark

Every blogger under the sun will be writing about this but what the hell so will I.

So, John Sergeant has quit Strictly Come Dancing because he doesn't want 'the joke to go on' and potentially win the competition despite it being obvious he is not the most technically proficient dancer on display. What does it all mean? There are several points that spring to mind.

1) The judges' annoyance with Sergeant's continual survival, despite the low scores they awarded him, shows they don't understand about the show's success. If the show was about the quality of the dancing they wouldn't need celebrities to get involved. They could have pairs of professional couples and still have the voting format. However, people only watch the show to see celebrities (like animals at the zoo) and how they improve through the coming weeks (or in his case, don't improve).

2) The show is merely mindless entertainment. If the public has chosen to keep on the most entertaining dancer (because he's bad) then that is their right. If they are charged for the privilege of keeping him on, and they still choose to do so, then they have even more right to feel ignored when it seems clear the minority of voices from inside the show have caused Sergeant to quit, despite the public clearly wanting him to win - or at least remain.

3) Personally I feel somewhat disappointed that a man who is involved with political reporting and all that jazz has decided to ignore the wishes and whims of the public and drop out anyway. He's been democratically asked to stay through a paid medium and has ignored those wishes. Of course, he does have the right to stop whenever he wants but for him to do so purely because he doesn't want 'the joke' to go on is unfair. Still, did he jump or was he pushed?

The final point is that now the BBC has to reimburse all the people who paid to keep Sergeant in. How on earth will they do that and what will it cost? Will they send cheques back to people for 25p? Or can they uncharge them from their mobile phones? However they do it you can be sure it's a lengthy, time-consuming and expensive process.

And of course what does this all mean in the long-run? Well nothing. The show must go on as they say and undoubtedly it will while there are the audiences and a healthy revenue being generated. But let's not pretend that Strictly Come Dancing is anything more than another celebrity show. If it wasn't they wouldn't need to get celebrities on in the first place to get people watching. It would be nice to think the public would make a stand and boycott the show, or at least not vote at all, but somehow I don't think it will happen.


Good article on this subject on the BBC site.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Told You So

As I mentioned a few posts previous I recently took part in Someone Once Told Me, and now my image has been updated. You can click here to see it on the site, or just look a few millimeters to the right. There's even a little audio description of what my 'SOTM' is about.

The owner of the site is always happy for people to take their own and send it to him so why not? What inspirational (or comedic) words would you choose?

Friday, November 14, 2008

The past as the present

If you want to you can read Samuel Pepy's diary and George Orwell's diary updated daily, in the form of blogs complete with links to subjects they mention so that additional information is added. An interesting modernisation of information from the past. You can also comment on them too, thus building a community of people interacting through the writings of eminent writers, even if they are only telling us they only got one egg today. But of course they weren't writing it for us, it was for themselves, in a private diary. All of which is great isn't it?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Under the sea

The BBC’s new series Ocean is billed as “a series of underwater scientific expeditions to build a global picture of our seas” which sounds good. But like many BBC shows of this nature it featured two elements that seem to be recurring more frequently.

Mild Peril. In the first episode we were forced to watch a scene in which the boat lost contact with the diver below the surface. Those on the boat were extremely worried about this and there were audible sighs of relief all round when the connection was remade. There’s no reason to doubt this happened – although maybe there is – but whether it did happen or not is irrelevant. The show should not be about this, it should be about the fish, the sharks they were there to try and capture on film and, obviously, the ocean. Not presenters in fake danger. As everyone knows shows like this go through endless health and safety checks so there is probably very little real danger beyond what would occur on any dive in ocean waters infested by sharks. Secondly if something really had gone wrong there is no way it would be on TV. It would most likely have resulted in some BBC Trust being called in to examine the ‘serious breaches of editorial policy’ that had occurred.

Forced Social History Lesson. There must be something in the BBC charter that now means more must be done to focus on the social history of areas that shows cover. In Ocean we had a segment in which Dr Lucy Blue, a maritime archaeologist, swam around the wreck of a boat in which Chinese immigrants had attempted to enter the US. Okay, but what’s that got to do with oceans? They came by a boat that travelled on the ocean? Is that it? And there’s not some tragic tale of the ships sinking either. It was only explained at the end of this section that the boat had been deliberately sunk to create an artificial reef. Surely that’s the most relevant angle to be covered in Ocean’s remit? It felt like a snatched footnote of information that should have been at the core of the show.

The BBC though is a victim of its own success. After decades of making some of the best nature documentaries ever made – Trials of Life, Blue Planet, Planet Earth – with David Attenborough, winner of the Culture Show’s Greatest Living Icon award, at the helm, they appear to have reached a crossroads and can’t decide where to go next. Should they be serious or fun? Educational, entertaining or edutainment? They need to make up their mind soon though before they risk undermining a legacy of shows on the natural world that, even now, still justify the license fee.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A lesson from history

The old ideas, really are the best.

Ship's blog

Pete Goss is currently sailing, with three other crewmen, from Newlyn in north Cornwall, to Melbourne in Australia, via Cape Town in South Africa. It's being done in honour of the same journey taken by seven Cornishmen 154 years ago. They are sailing in a 37ft boat built from scratch named the 'Spirit of Mystery' in honour of the original boat called 'Mystery'. An interview with Pete Goss here goes into far more detail on all this.

This is all well and good. The interesting point, for this blog at least, is that Pete and his crew are keeping a thorough, interesting and amusing blog of their trip as they go. It's a great example of the power of blogging, that four men alone at sea, miles from land and travelling half way around the world can keep friends, family and strangers entertained by using the internet and specifically a blog, to upload entries of their latest sights and sounds and adventures that people can read almost instantly from where they are based - which you can also follow via a satellite tracker. Entries which in the past would have been confined to a ship's log are now in the ship's blog. Har har.

Furthermore there are many references throughout the blog of the crew asking questions about certain things - 'What do Turtles eat?' - and the readers of the blog emailing back with answers to inform them. They could Google it of course but where would be the fun in that?


'I went to see Micah P. Hinson at La Scala last Thursday.'
'Really what was that like?'
'I could tell you, or you could read my review and find out.'
'Okay I will.'

Monday, November 10, 2008

Only if the result is right

So people want X-factor singer Laura White reinstated because they think it's a fix she was voted off?

This is ludicrous. The show involves people ringing up to vote for their favourite and then the bottom two being put before the judges and one being saved. It's that simple. People know that's how it works and if they don't like it shouldn't watch, or at best certainly shouldn't vote. And surely if this singer was as popular as everyone says she would have got the votes in the first place? If, however, it was a fix, then where is the surprise in that?

Have people learnt nothing from the TV phone in debacles of the last 18 months? If you still insist on phoning these shows to vote for people in overhyped talent contests and the result doesn't go your way either accept it for the transient waste of time it is, or don't bother at all and learn from the past in which TV execs and so on were found guilty as charged for rigging phone contests, competitions, and even the naming of TV cats. You can read the extensive list here.

A glorious quotation from the story on the BBC: "In the petition, some of White's supporters also accused X Factor judge Louis Walsh - who had the casting vote - of getting rid of the singer so that his group, JLS, would have a better chance of winning. One fan, Donna Clarkson, said the result was an "absolute joke" and suggested Walsh should have "let it go to deadlock"."

So people are upset one judge chose his own act over a rivals? Do they not understand it's a (mock) competition in which the judges endlessly crow on about their 'rivalry' with one another?

It should be noted X-Factor have strongly denied all these various, wild and spurious, accusations. It doesn't matter though, the point remains the same, who cares?

This isn't spam

Don't you always wonder who the people (morons) are who actually click through on spam emails and buy whatever the hell it is that's being offered? I for one can never really understand why spammers do it. But a very interesting study, just reported on the BBC, underlines there is significant money to be made by simply sending out countless millions of emails, and knowing 0.00001% of people will be dumb enough to buy.

If the internet didn't exist - try and imagine it, hard though it is - what would these people do for a living? And what would the people wasting money through spam emails be doing with that money instead? Buying more junk from shops? Saving it? Or perhaps donating it to charity, like my marathon sponsorship page? One would hope so.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Plan ahead

On Demand from Virgin is a fantastic television service. It's basically a big database of TV shows, music videos and films (these you pay for) you can access through your remote control. It contains all series of Peep Shows, entire seasons of shows like The West Wing, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip to name but a few. It also has Band of Brothers...well, kind of.

You see it has seven episodes. Which is fine. Except there are 10 episodes in the show. So this means having watched and been utterly engrossed by seven episodes of one of the best, if not the best television war drama ever made, you suddenly reach a dead end. Why would they negotiate a deal for seven out of 10 episodes? What could be the logic for that? Or do they have the final three but haven't got around to making them available?

I emailed the 'help' section on the website but was unhelpfully redirected to the basic television page of their website, which I had already checked, and then, to top it all, berated for not giving my unique customer number! They don't need that, they just need to inform me why they aren't putting up, or don't have the right to put up, the final three episodes of Band of Brothers.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Words of wisdom

The internet is great for many reasons. Chief among these is the way it brings people together through the most random of routes and for such interesting reasons.

On Saturday I took part in photo-wisdom website 'Someone Once Told Me' because the owner of the site had used his Google Analytics to track the link I had given him on this blog. He asked if I would like to take part and so I accepted and myself, and my housemate, went along to meet him.

We wrote our words and had our photos taken, chatted about the site, his future plans for it, why it's such an enjoyable site to peruse and so on, and it was all very pleasant. And really we had the internet to thank for bringing us all together on a cold and rainy day in North London when otherwise we would have probably just sat around doing nowt.

If you want to take part in the project you can contact Mario (for it is he) at the bottom of this page. Alternatively he says he is more than happy for people to send in their photos for submission.

I'll upload my picture once it's live.

How do you feel right now? Er...

Well done Lewis Hamilton. Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, having been close to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, after having previously been leisurely gathering victory from a supermarket on the other side of town from defeat.

But why do the broadcasters have to shove cameras, microphones and dictaphones into the face of the poor chap the moment he finishes the most climatic and exhausting race of his life? Are we that desperate for people's immediate reactions to events? He'd barely exited the car before people wanted to know how he felt. His bewildered and exhausted face gave the answer: he didn't know. It was sinking in.

I'd rather let him enjoy the moment and be with his friends and family and then gather his thoughts and give a press conference than have to fight off quote-hungry journalists desperate for a snatched " feels hasn't sunk in yet."

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Sing along

While some radio presenters have been in the news for making phone calls, others have been making very clever football player / song lyric changes. Just click here to see what I mean. Also you can 'sign' along with the BBC if you want, if you look at the bottom.