Diebold: We Know Who You MEANT To Vote For

DELAND, Fla., Nov. 11 - Something very strange happened on election night to Deborah Tannenbaum, a Democratic Party official in Volusia County. At 10 p.m., she called the county elections department and learned that Al Gore was leading George W. Bush 83,000 votes to 62,000. But when she checked the county’s Web site for an update half an hour later, she found a startling development: Gore’s count had dropped by 16,000 votes, while an obscure Socialist candidate had picked up 10,000–all because of a single precinct with only 600 voters.

currently playing: Sing-Sing - Feels Like Summer (Scorcher Mix)

PC Load Letter?

Just give me five minutes alone with it. Just me and a baseball bat. Then I’ll get my printing done.

I'm convinced that printer manufactures are accomplished sadists; there's no other explanation for the way that printers refuse to work in times where a five-year-old could probably install Linux on her computer if she so desired. Even Microsoft has worked out how to build a half-decent operating system, after twenty years of inflicting pain on us all. We should be living in a paper utopia.

Instead, we have inkjet printers that have cartridges that cost more than the printers themselves, awkward paper trays that love to munch on 90gsm sheets, and the infamous "PC Load Letter" message. A pox on HP, Epson, and their ilk.

Yes, I tried to print something today. A script, which I'm sending off to the BBC. I send it off to the printer, and then go and have a shower. I come back to find that while the first three pages have come out okay, the type fades out on the subsequent pages, eventually turning into blank sheets of paper. "Hmm," I say, "Another printer problem. No worries, I'll have this sorted in a jiffy, and still have time for a brisk walk in the lower fields." But no. Cleaning the cartridge, switching to a different type of paper, and even taking a look at the PDF file itself; nothing seems to have any effect. The first three pages are fine, but everything after that fades away. I consider spending the rest of the day ripping the PDF file apart on my Linux box to see exactly where the problem is buried (as it looks fine on my Mac, and in Postscript form). I come to my senses, and fix the problem by the laughable solution of printing the script three pages at a time. Luckily, the script it only thirty pages long, but it's still rather annoying. Of course, there's still the chance that when I come to print something else out, I'll have the same problem, but I imagine the printer gremlins will give me something else to fret about when that happens. I'm half-convinced that it's payback for the surprise of getting the printer to print double-sided on card earlier in the week…

currently playing: Cotton Mather - Homefront Cameo

Your Licence Fee At Work

I’d like to draw your attention to the newest part of the BBC’s website, iCan. It’s a site where people can register their campaigns, for issues as diverse as whether the BBC’s website should switch from Real to MP3 for its audio archives (a hearty YES! from over here), to a call for more cycling in Loughborough . People can browse the site, offer support to whichever cause they wish to support, whether it’s just by clicking on a “support” button, or using the contact information to find out how they can help in a more substantial way. Give iCan your post code, and it will provide a list of all your local councillors and MPs, and also show you the ways that you can get in contact with them (good to see that faxyourmp is still up and running).

Ever wanted to run a campaign on an issue, local or national? iCan looks as if it's going to give you most of the organisational structure to make it happen. All funded by the licence fee. Genius.

(Insert SNL-style "This would never have happened under a Conservative Government" gag here)

currently playing: Marvin Gaye — I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Pictures of You

No music today, as I’m waiting for a delivery from HMV Online (as they don’t have the singles I want in their shops). Instead, here’s a few pictures:

currently playing: Aimee Mann - Pavlov’s Bell

The First Album is Quite Rare

Watch out, everybody, Malcolm McLaren thinks he’s discovered a new music scene (and, typical of McLaren, doesn’t realise that it’s been going for at least ten or so years). Maybe it’s just me, but it reads like a rant complaining about all these new-fangled microprocessors — aren’t valves all anybody needs?

I don't see the problem with Pro-Tools; it's a tool for music production, just like an an analogue mixing desk, a tape machine, and all the other parts of the studio it replaces. Any artificiality is a result of the person using it, rather than a problem with the software itself. If McLaren really thinks that it's the software's fault, then I don't understand where he's coming from, as the LittleSoundDJ cartridge he enthuses about is little more than a collection of old Roland samples; surely if the scene is really pure, then they'd wouldn't be satisfied with anything less than a properly restored TR-808? Why does the use of old Gameboy sound chips make this music any more real than the latest Neptunes production?

I've no doubt that there's good music coming from this scene (I'll be going on a hunt after I finish writing this entry), but I hate the retro argument that McLaren espouses. As if all we can do is remain trapped in the past, with music trapped in a vinyl cage. As if we shouldn't look to the future. As if music shouldn't be easier to create. Who cares if you use a Gameboy, a half-broken C64, a Powerbook G4, or a four-track tape machine to make it?

currently playing: Björk - Alarm Call

Elliott Smith: 1969-2003


currently playing: R.E.M. - Turn You Inside-out

Ball of Confusion

Sometimes it all seems to change so fast; this morning, it was a great day for Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein gave the clearest sign yet that the war was over, the Unionists welcomed this announcement, and then the IRA gave a statement backing up Gerry Adams and committing to the continuing decommission of its arms. Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern announced that elections for the Stormont Parliament would be held in November. Things were looking up.

Four hours later, it all seems to have fallen apart again. David Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (the biggest Unionist party in NI), took issue with this afternoon's decommissioning announcement by General de Chastelain (to sum up: He can't say what they got rid of, but it was a lot of guns). As of tonight, it looks like it's all gone horribly wrong yet again.

I can see Trimble's position; I think he's ready to jump for a new Stormont assembly, and that he'd quite like to be the UUP leader that brought peace to the region. However, there's a sizable section of his party (and the electorate in the area too) that won't be satisfied until they see every last IRA gun destroyed with their own eyes (they're normally surprisingly quiet when it comes to the subject of Loyalist arms, but that's another debate). Trimble has to be careful, as his position as leader is shaky at best, and he doesn't want the party to be routed in the November elections by the hard-line DUP. The IRA, on the other hand, have hopefully realised that violence is not the answer, but I think that they want to keep the extent of their weapons cache under wraps (perhaps it was larger than British intelligence thought?), and while they're receptive to the peace process, they're not willing to bend over backwards to save Trimble. Hence the current deadlock.

On some days, all you want to do is round them up, lock them in a room, and not let them out until they've come up with a solution. Perhaps it's time to break out the IKEA Paas Table again

currently playing: Spiritualized — I Think I’m In Love

Save It For Later

Today, I’ve managed to avoid discovering any more skeletons in my heroes’ closets. Hurrah!

Did I mention that Neil Gaiman is going to be having a signing at the Oxford Borders in November? Anybody fancy going?

currently playing: Longpigs — Lost Myself

Religion Special!

I thought that it was the Middle East countries that were supposed to be full of crazed religious lunatics? “I knew that my God was bigger than his.” Boy, I feel safe in the knowledge that Lt. Gen. Boykin is one of the top men in the Pentagon, don’t you?

The Pope began the process of making Mother Teresa a Saint earlier today. It all seems a bit too fast to me; there's quite a bit of evidence that she wasn't the huggable, snuggable figure that the media continues to present, and the miracle that has been attributed to her seems to be more of a triumph of medicine than divine intervention. There doesn't seem to be any particular need to rush on these things, either; it normally takes decades, or even centuries, for a person to become a saint, so why do things have to be speeded up just for her?

7-11! 1,300 different flavours! Three different discernible tastes!

currently playing: Madness — Our House

The Great Gatsby

The film doesn’t quite have the charm and pizzaz of the book, does it?

currently playing: The Great Gatsby