Lowering Expectations

Everybody says that the new Matrix film is awful, so I'm probably going to enjoy it tomorrow. I'm just contrary like that…

currently playing: The Cure - Inbetween Days

My Money is Worthless

It's possible that I wasn't in the right mood, but the new Spiritualized album is really dull. In the oh-has-an-hour-passed-doesn't-this-track-sound- the-same-as-fifteen-minutes-ago-type way.

I've updated the site a little today; shamed by Matt's fancy new comment system, I finally got around to changing the comment template so that it doesn't look like I spent five minutes changing the original one supplied with MovableType. The design seems to break on long hyperlinks, but I'm not sure if there's anything I can do to fix that.

Back to the cynical news links, I suppose. Nice move, Admiral. Calling it Terrorist Information Awareness is a fantastic idea. Those Senators don't want to be seen voting against defeating terror, do they?

Meanwhile, thousands of people are dying in the Congo, while 750 UN troops look on, powerless to do anything. Oh, and Indonesia has parachuted troops into the Aceh province, bringing the area under martial law. Expect war to break out in the next few days.

Let's finish with something that doesn't involve crushing despair, shall we? Hundreds of Albert Einstein's papers have been placed on-line as part of a joint project between CalTech and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Yay for digital archiving!

currently playing: All Girl Summer Fun Band - Samantha Secret Agent

A Random Assortment of Links

We'll start with this (no, I have no idea what it's about, but then I chose the French option by mistake).

Ari Fleischer resigns.

Microsoft gets the conspiracy brigade working overtime.

A Guardian journalist's account of his last days in Zimbabwe.

Remember all those stories set in the future where corporations have their own private armies?

Basra has good ice-cream.

Okay, time for bed. I must really get around to changing the time zone on this site…

currently playing: A Camp - I can buy you

Vital Sunday Update

Today, I have been mostly blowing up my MP3 player.

Quote of the Day (from Panorama, talking to Richard Perle): "Don't you worry that you're scaring the hell out of the rest of the world?"

currently playing: The Flaming Lips - Waitin' for a Superman

You've Been Gone Too Long

Walking into HMV and not recognising any of the bands that they're promoting is not a good sign. But! But! Mark and Lard should be back on Monday, so the re-education process shall begin shortly.

Double-decker buses! Closed shop fronts! Brief periods of sunshine followed by drizzling rain! Workmen tearing up the main street yet again, meaning that the only access to half the shops is via wooden ramps! But, hey, at least it's not Cambridge…

currently playing: David Gray - This Years Love

They're Back!

51 Texas Democrats today returned triumphantly to Austin, having managed to prevent the passage of a redistricting bill by hiding out in Oklahoma until there was no time left in the current legislative session for it to be passed.

It's an interesting story; when I first heard about the exodus, it seemed as if the Democrats were just throwing a tantrum by running away, but it's not quite that simple. Every ten years, the Legislature redraws the district maps for Texas, changing the boundaries for senate, house, and educational areas. The last redrafting was supposed to take place in 2001, but the Legislature failed to come to an agreement, and after a series of lawsuits, the task was given to a panel comprised of three Federal judges. This new map would likely have given Democrats 17 out of the 32 Congressional seats available in Texas.

At this point, Tom DeLay (R-Texas), Majority Leader of the House of Representatives came up with a new set of districting plans which would have seen Republicans ending up with 19 of the 32 seats, and the flight of the Democrats at the weekend was a last-ditch attempt to stop this new map from replacing the one approved by the three-judge panel, as the GOP currently has a sizable majority in the Texas House of Representatives. The only way to stop the bill from passing was to invoke the quorum rule.

Not only did the Texas Republicans call the fleeing Democrats "legislative terrorists", they used the Office of Homeland Security to track them to the Holiday Inn in Oklahoma. An excellent idea, and not at all a waste of time for an agency that's supposed to be hunting down terrorists.

Okay, I've finished boring you now. I'm just cursed with finding these things interesting.

currently playing: Black Box Recorder - The School Song

One Week

Okay, it's not really one week since I've come back, as I arrived last Saturday, but last Thursday was my last proper day in Chapel Hill. What have I done so far? Not a lot, really. Aside from resisting an irrational urge to visit Reykjavik, that is.

Bicester seems smaller. More so than when I came back from Manchester, which is rather strange. I imagine I'll get used to it again eventually.

But enough of that. Yesterday, I was reintroduced to the joys of Jeremy Paxman (for any Americans reading — Paxman is one of the BBC's most feared interviewers, as he doesn't accept dissembling answers from politicians). Today, I discovered that The Daily Show archives the main story of the day, so you too can enjoy this wonderful slice of American politics (although I have no idea as to how long the link will be valid for, so be quick). Why can't our local politics stories be this bizarre?

Tomorrow, I will do something productive. I promise.

currently playing: Patti Smith - Gloria

The Gentleman's Interviewer

I've missed Jeremy Paxman.

currently playing: The Mighty Wah! - Come Back

Brrrr

It's so cold. So cold…

Today's (possibly) interesting observation: walking around Tesco's, I noticed several American brand names which weren't here a year ago: Welch's, V8, and a few others which I can't remember now. The Americanisation of Britain continues apace (I know that'll make some of you unhappy).

I've installed a wireless network in the house, so I now have the ability to use my iBook outside. That's assuming that it stops raining sometime, of course.

Hopefully, these blog entries should become more coherent as the week goes on, but in the meantime, here's a random link explaining what happened to Saturday morning TV in America during the 1990s.

Really should be getting to bed now, but I saw this link and thought it should be included. It's certainly one way of making your point, I suppose…

currently playing: Kenickie - Can I Take U 2 The Cinema

Back Home

What Now?

That's a very good question. Having deftly sabotaged my life, it would be nice to have some idea about what to do next. Answers on a postcard, please…

Anyway, back in Britain. Yes, it has been raining. At the moment, there's a big black cloud hanging in the sky, just waiting to relieve itself upon Bicester. It's surprising just how little a town can change in a year, you know.

Everybody likes to joke about the lax security in US airports, but we were out of Gatwick in less than half an hour, having sailed through Customs with a considerable amount of consumer electronics. I am thankful for the Jamaican cigarette smugglers who occupied the official's attention while we trundled through with our packed trolleys ($220 in excess baggage costs. Yay!).

One last thing, before I go back to fretting about what to do next; it's really strange how a simple thing such as fonts on road signs can make a country feel different. In America, the signs are set with a stern typeface, and are very concise (you're lucky if you get more information than a sign saying 15-501 East, for example). Back home, the signs have a slightly quaint and friendly looking font, with copious amounts of detail. This is actually fairly deceptive, as American roads tend to be more amendable to making mistakes — you just come off at the next exit (not very far) and turn around, whereas here you can find yourself joining the wrong motorway really easily if you don't pay attention to where you're going…

currently playing: The Cure - Inbetween Days