A Few Words About The Weather

But first, some illustrative images:

The temperature finally broke the 37.1˚C barrier earlier today (that's around 100˚F for those of you still working in old money). Given the state of Britain's weather normally, it seems churlish to complain. But this country simply isn't built to handle this sort of temperature. Back in Chapel Hill, it was regularly this hot during the summer months, yet it never seemed this bad; the area's buildings were designed with the extreme temperatures in mind. Here, however, houses are built with an eye for keeping every last degree of heat trapped inside. Bricks, insulation, fairly low ceilings, etc. Great for those winter months, and, to be honest, most of the year. Not so great during once-a-decade heatwave.

Of course, it's not just our homes; the railway network falls apart as soon as the temperature goes past 30˚C (although it also falls apart of its own accord fairly often as well), economists go into a panic; insisting that the good weather is going to cause havoc on the economy (oh no! People won't buy stuff for a day or two!), and lots of people with white skin decide to give themselves fashionable skin cancer. (strangely, we're probably one of the groups that needs sunscreen the most, yet we refuse to wear it).

For the past week, Britain has been quietly going insane. IT'S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE 22˚C AT NIGHT! How can you enjoy a decent cup of tea when it's this hot? IT'S JUST NOT BRITISH!

Ahem. It looks like the thunder and rain period of the heatwave has just begun. I'm going to go and stand in the rain for a little while. Time to cool down!

currently playing: The Flaming Lips - Fight Test

I Do Not Have A Problem

currently playing: Neko Case - Furnace Room Lullaby

A Push And A Pull And This Land Is Ours

California’s plan to replace Florida as the butt of all electoral jokes continues apace. The current list of candidates includes a porn star, a porn mogul, small actors, large actors, and a comedian that no-one outside of America knows about. The only two people in California who won’t be in the running for Governor, it seems, are Gary Davis (he’s not allowed to participate in the recall), and Darrell Issa, the man responsible for turning the state into a laughing stock in the first place. He’s dropped out because he knows he’d get destroyed by Schwarzenegger. Hohoho.

The really funny thing is that this could be a never-ending source of amusement. The Democrats have already floated the possibility of recalling the recaller. All you need is 1.3 million signatures. Both sides have enough money to keep going for years, although at a cost to the state of $35m for each election, California may run out of money before too long…

Al Gore gives another of his President-in-Exile speeches. Florida still has a little while to go before it's forgiven, you know…

currently playing: The Magnetic Fields - I’m Sorry I Love You

Today In Britain

Even Domo-kun is taking the day off:

currently playing: The New Pornographers - Mass Romantic

A Public Service Announcement To SCO


In response to Red Hat's suit, SCO Group says it can file a motion to dismiss or to file counterclaims against Red Hat. Either way, the company doesn't expect the suit will be settled before the start of its lawsuit against IBM, which is scheduled to begin April 11, 2005.

2005? 2005?! You mean we have to suffer this for at least another year and a half?

currently playing: Paris Angels - Scope

Synchronicities and Manchester

Phil had forgotten the number for railway enquiries, so we had to walk through Piccadilly Gardens to see if the number was in the tram station. We didn’t get very far.


Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Matt, one of my friends from my time at Manchester, and one of the people I didn't expect to see this weekend, considering he works in London:

Strangely, by the time this chance reunion occurred on Saturday afternoon, Phil and I were ready for just about anything. We had seen sheep and a cow in Albert Square, watched a a silver clad man in stilts chase after girls, waved at a gondola containing two men dressed up in 1920s Oxford clothes, watched a street show fronted by Japanese Yakuza pranksters, and puzzled over a man and a woman having a pillow fight in a transparent tent.

It was a weekend of weirdness. For instance, did you know that Selfridges sells chocolate-coated scorpions and ant encased in peppermint? Before you ask, I didn't try them; I know I should be open to new things, but there are limits. Phil also took me to a bunch of shops and cafés that I'd never seen before, but had been around while I was living there, which made me feel pretty dumb. On the other hand, I introduced him to the delights of Vinyl Exchange.

The centre of Manchester has been in constant flux since the IRA bomb in 1996. While I was at university there, the bomb site was cleared, and new buildings began to spring up; now there's a host of shops, seating areas, and a huge IMAX-screen cinema to be found where rubble once stood. Having finished with clearing up the bomb site, the city now seems to be revamping the 1960s-style Arndale Centre and expanding the Northern Quarter (the trendy part of the city). Here's some pictures:

Aside from Matt and Phil, I met up with some other friends as well; we bumped into Will Rizk on our way back from surveying the remains of the Haçienda (okay, there are no remains, so we looked at the new housing development), and we had a nice tea at Will and Rosie's house on Saturday. At this point, I am obliged to give out this public notice: Don't let Phil near your wedding presents. That is all.

I saw three films over the weekend: Buffalo Soldiers, T3, and Legally Blonde 2. The last one was not my idea. Buffalo Soldiers was quite funny, and came complete with GIANT TANK scenes, although quite a few of the scenes suffered from some really bad dubbing (and that the projector was out of focus for the trailers and the first few minutes of the film). But a GIANT TANK more than makes up for that. T3 was better than I thought it was going to be, but I'm still trying to scrub the horror of Legally Blonde 2 out of my mind. Oy.

Interesting Manchester fact I learnt over the days I was there: apparently, there's gunfire in Moss Side every night. But, according to the police, they're really bad shots. So, don't be a random passer-by near Maine Road…

After that boost to the Manchester tourist industry, I think I’ll just leave you with a few more pictures; it really is quite a nice place, honest.

currently playing: Camera Obscura - Eighties Fan

"I Don't Believe You"

Back home. More later…

currently playing: Saint Etienne - Action

8:15 From Manchester

I’m sure I’ve used this title before. But hey, it’s a great title, even if I’ve never been on such a train. I came close one Monday, on an 8:14 (I make it a point to leave at insane times. To make things worse, I was up all night watching the Oscars, so didn’t get any sleep until later that night).

As I mentioned before, updates for the rest of the week will probably be sporadic, so I'll leave you with the return of Ian's Dodgy MP3 Discoveries!

  • Hangedup - New Blue Monday
    Included because it's funny. Hangedup are labelmates of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, so you would expect lots of post-apocalyptic instrumentals. What you don't expect is a cover of Blue Monday where the drum track is played by a viola. See? Even post-rockers can have a sense of humour.
  • Life Without Buildings - The Leanover
    At first I thought this was a band from the early 1980s, but further research on the Interweb told me that they're much more recent than that (they split up a year ago). A punkier Altered Images. No! Come back! Altered Images were cool! Bah.
  • ESG - You're No Good
    Remember all those stories about how only forty people turned up to a Sex Pistols gig, but all those present went off and formed bands of their own (last seen on 24 Hour Party People, where we discover that John Lydon is responsible for Simply Red)? Well, ESG are a similar case; about ten people bought their original single (released on Factory Records, fact fans!), but these people were members of The Clash, Public Enemy, New Order, the Beastie Boys, and Public Image Ltd. They seem to have been written out of music history somewhat (heck, I didn't even know they existed until last Sunday!), so have a listen to this, the A-side from their debut single.
  • Panjabi MC - Mundian To Bach Ke
    Ah, the UNC memories…
  • Boo Radleys - It's Lulu
    Okay, so not a recent discovery by any means, but it's one of my favourite records from the Britpop era, and you should all listen to it.

currently playing: DJ Premier - In Deep Concentration

The F-Word's Here, The F-Word's Back

“I am disappointed with your attitude, sir, and I politely ask you to cease and desist.”

Section 11 is a classic. Bonus points for mentioning the Florida Electoral Commission…

currently playing: Modest Mouse - So Much Beauty In Dirt

More American Politics (snore, snore)

The Doctor is in. Now with extra titanium. Good to see he’s back on his feet.

We might be in need of his skills soon, as the Primary contest starts getting interesting. The Dean campaign continues to impress; this weekend it wiped the Vice President's fund-raising attempt off the map, by simply issuing a challenge to the Internet community. And a new poll out today shows that Dean is now tying for the lead in the Democratic nomination race. Of course, the same survey shows that only 66% of people questioned want someone who'll stand up for what they believe in, and 30% would vote for lying scum, as long as he would beat Bush. Sigh. One of these days, somebody should try and run for both nominations, just to see how many votes they can pick up…

Finishing off the US Primary talk for today, the neoconservative-leaning Weekly Standard handicaps the current Democrat contenders, and seems to be quite positive about Dean's chances. It's rumoured he's the candidate that the Bush team would like to face, as Dean is a loud critic of both the Iraq war and the recent tax cuts, and they'd dearly like to peg the Demoncrats as peacenik hippies who want to tax America to the hilt. (The typo was unintentional, but I thought it was amusing, so I left it in)

I really hope there's a department in the Pentagon that's dedicated to making up insane ideas in order to distract people from news they'd rather didn't get a wide airing (e.g. the increasing casualty figures in Iraq). Because, I'd like to think that DARPA didn't get all the way to announcing their terrorism futures scheme without somebody saying "Dude! You're planning to make a terrorist stock exchange? Are you nuts!!?!?"

currently playing: Life Without Buildings - The Leanover