This City For Rent

If you’ve ever wondered what a city would look like ten years after a neutron bomb detonation, then I highly recommend downtown Durham. There’s nothing there except for a huge cigarette factory and blocks upon blocks of empty shops; boarded up with “This Space For Rent” signs. A faded hoarding with “F. W. Woolworth” burnt into the wood betrays just how long the centre has been in this situation. The DATA bus shelter is filled with dusty, dirty, and rusty buses; fatigued metal screams in pain as they pull away from the station.

After an hour of wandering, I stumble across Brightleaf Square, seemingly the only remaining retail operation left in the downtown area. It appears to be modelled on Boston's Quincy Market, but is less than a tenth of the size. A few restaurants, a small music shop, and many boarded-up failures.

I leave completely disspirited; I've never seen a city in such a state like this before. I wasn't expecting New York, San Francisco, or even Oxford, but I thought there would be something, if only a shop or two.

Travelling back, I decide to go the Southpoint Mall again. On the way, the bus passes the South Square Mall. When I arrived in August, it was having trouble competing with the two new shopping centres that had opened; now it's completely closed, and a wrecking crew is turning it into scrap. The inside of the mall is completely exposed; a pile of metal girders is growing next to the abandoned car park.

I hope Raleigh is slightly healthier.

currently playing: Saint Etienne - Finisterre


Two things left over from last night’s Address:

Hitlerism. An intriguing choice of word. Those nasty Germans can never be trusted, can they? So let's ignore their little objections to the USA/UK razing party.

Scariest moment: the cheering and applause when Bush put on his best "hard man" stance and said:

And many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: They are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies.

But enough of that. I've been checking the access logs, and I want to know who is ending up on this site after doing a search for "Denise Richards bond mpeg". I'm not sure what's scarier: that somebody is looking, or that Google thought that this website would help them.

I should remember to read the menu properly before I order. That way, I might not be confronted with a double burger containing a pound of beef, plus a huge mound of waffle fries dripping in some strange cheese sauce. Yikes.

After finally reading Stormwatch: Force of Nature, I must say that I prefer it to The Authority. It's interesting to see Ellis changing his style as the book goes on, from the over-captioned first few issues, to the beginnings of the cinematic style that he currently uses.

Oooh. Shiny.

currently playing: Kenickie - J.P.

Chocolate Teapots and Air Miles

I have 10,600 air miles. Unfortunately, you need to have 25,000 to even think about using them.

Which means I won't be flying to Washington. But! But! There's an Amtrak station in Durham, so I can ride by train. Yes, it's a five hour trip; but I've always wanted to travel across America by rail. I'm slightly insane, but you knew that anyway...

I'm off to watch the State of The Union address. I need a good laugh.

Oh no. Ashcroft is the guy left behind. There's just no end to their evil. Even the Mayor would make a fairer President.

Hey boy...Hey ....Superstar Bush....Here We Go!

Soft-pitching it, I see: "we going to cut taxes, improve the economy, help fight the world's diseases...AND KICK THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS OUT OF IRAQ!"

Has any President ever said "Actually, the state of the union is pretty ropey, and I'm really sorry about that" ?

The Departmeant of Homeland Security is mobilising. Excellent news. I take it that they've got the brown shirts ready, then? And the fancy helmets.

BWHAHAHAHAHA! "Our economy is improving"

It's back to trickle-down economics everybody. Because they worked so well in the 1980s, didn't they? They didn't saddle America with trillion-dollar levels of debt, oh no.

At the rate he's giving money back, shouldn't they just stop bothering to collect income tax? It'd be a lot easier.

People are crying.


Um, explain why taxes on shares are unfair. Saying it in a silly voice doesn't make it true, you know.

Bueller? Bueller?

Okay, so Federal spending shouldn't rise above 4% each year. How's that going to play with a rather expensive fight in the Middle East.

Yay for the gutting of Social Security!

He's suggesting a National Health Service! High quality health for everybody! Oh no, he's against a nationalised service. To the end of my days, I will never understand why this country does not have a proper health system.

Energy independence! Gee, George, if you're so keen on the environment, why did you refuse to sign Kyoto?

$1.2 billion for hydrogen cars? Not bad.

Satanists for the homeless!

Well, that's just alienated all the non-Christians...

Roe vs. Wade? Its days are numbered.

Now for the fun part. Abroad! Confound the desires of evil men! Do you think he's going to...HANG ON! The problem with the lack of AIDS drugs in Africa is because the multinational companies charge extortionate prices for them, and the US is the major opponent of the compulsory patent licensing schemes that the Third World countries are turning towards.

Confronting EVIL! EVIL! EVIL!

We're winning! Yay! er...where's Osama? How come Kabul is the only Government-controlled area of Afghanistan? YEMEN! But we've killed some people, so YAY! CLAP!

American Justice! Where they put you in a prison without charge or trial? Or is that not what you meant?

Star Wars. Please. No. Make it stop. Look - missile-based interceptors just WILL NOT WORK. If the enemy has any sense, they will send enough decoys with the real missiles to render a missile shield useless...

Neverending WAR! Excellent news.

But, George, what about those nations that already have weapons of mass destruction? And let's be fair, didn't Russia and America bully each other during the Cold War?

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAA! He's just described American foreign policy for the past fifty years. Didn't they install most of those generals and dictators?

He's going to do it for us, you know. I'm so grateful.

No-one else is allowed nuclear weapons. Sorry about that. Or do free nations get a pass...hold on...he's just said that they'll go it alone if necessary...oh dear...anyway, if Iraq was to say, hold a democratic free vote, and Saddam just happened to win, does that mean that they could have their nuclear programme?

STOP HITTING ON IRAN, OKAY? They're making progress, and every time you open your mouth it sets the progressive movements there back six months. And, wasn't Iran democratic before you toppled the regime and installed the Shah? Oh, yes it was.

Got that? You're not allowed nuclear ambitions. The club has closed. In the immortal words of Minnie Driver: "Y'can't come in."

And spies, George. Let's not forget the spies that were on that inspection team...

Iraq has no military capability, George. You know this. You know that one aircraft carrier in the Gulf could take out most of the Iraqi army. But scare stories. But what you're not saying is that most UN Inspectors don't believe that the chemical weapons that Iraq possessed could be viable after twelve years. BUT THEY DIDN'T GET THE URANIUM! That was the point of the British evidence! If if they were after that, then their weapons programmes weren't going according to plan, were they?

Do you have the slightest shred of evidence to back up these claims of scientist intimidation?

What? Saddam Hussein is not insane. If he was stupid enough to attack Israel, they would respond with their (illegally developed, but we'll let that pass) nuclear arsenal. If he attempted to use them on American troops, the NATO Doctrine would turn Iraq into a nuclear wasteland. I don't think he's the type to commit suicide.

This dictator, who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons, has already used them on whole villages - leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind, or disfigured. Iraqi refugees tell us how forced confessions are obtained - by torturing children while their parents are made to watch. International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape.

Of course all this went on in the 1980s, when Iraq was funded with American money of course, but we'll skip over that, shall we?

Your enemy is not surrounding your country - your enemy is ruling your country. And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation.

Rise up! This time we promise we won't wimp out on you! Honest!

We have a new deadline. February 5th, people!

currently playing: The Beat - Sole Salvation

That's a Nice Shade of Red

Yesterday I managed to watch part of the Superbowl, slice my thumb open, and take a starring role in a short film. You would have thought that after spending the last few weeks complaining that I don’t have anything to write about, Sunday’s blog entry would be very exciting. Which is why I didn’t write one. Have to keep you guessing. Okay, it could also be because of my incompetence. I leave it up you to choose which one is more likely.

For all the vaunted usability of the iBook, I can tell you that fitting extra memory into it is a maddening experience. The manual tells you to insert the card at a 30˚ angle, but neglects to point out that you can't do this in the way that looks obvious. That was fun. As was assembling the machine after thinking I'd got the chip in correctly, booting up, and finding that I hadn't done it right. You have to go through several layers of metal to get at the memory slot (it's my own fault for having an AirPort card, I suppose), which became extremely irritating after the fourth attempt at installing the chip.

Nevertheless, it's in, it works, and now my laptop has more memory than the main computer (640MB vs. 384MB). Fear my l33t skills.

I wouldn't say that it's a cut. More of a deep gash. Mach 3 blades — they're quite sharp. A question to the chemists out there: when I went to the pharmacy, the shopkeeper recommended I use hydrogen peroxide. Is this normal? It scared me, so I just went for the safer antiseptic cream option. I didn't want a blonde thumb.

My film debut was a rather embarrassing affair. Rishi had an assignment due today for one of his classes, and in a moment of inspiration, he decided to make a movie instead of writing a paper. It was supposedly a recreation of a childhood fable told to Rishi and his friend when they were eight. Obviously, this meant that Rishi and Ludovic were played by the two grad students. A complete shambles, yes, but it was fairly good fun. Although I refuse to watch the finished film...

currently playing: The Flaming Lips - The Gash

Things To Do When You Should Be Doing Something Else

Not a snappy title there. Anyway, today’s entry is just a general hodge-podge of things mashed together, in the hope that they’ll be slightly entertaining (I’m not optimistic about this).

First up: the new phenomenon that is sweeping the nation (or possibly just filling up a few column inches that an editor desperately needed to fill. You decide): Google Stalking. Cower in fear as a person who has a passing interest in you decides to see if you have a history on the Internet, and discovers that you once got involved in a Superman vs. He-Man argument. Or that you got bitch-slapped by Roger Stern. At least Warren Ellis never told me to kill myself. I think.

The Internet. Helping the neurotic to become even more so.

Of course, there’s the beneficial flipside; speaking entirely hypothetically, if somebody you like turns out to be a possible member of PETA, it’s probably a good idea to be prepared beforehand, just in case she doesn’t react well to a suggestion of a steak dinner (also, it might be advisable to look for pick-up lines in places other than Leonardo DiCaprio films. Just saying). (there’s far too many parentheticals in this entry. Cut it out —Ed.) (Sorry) (Stop that —Ed.)

On a slightly different subject: Neko Case. A further indication that my taste in music is faltering rapidly, or quite good? I can’t decide.

I finally got around to doing my first homework for the Technical Writing course today. It turns out that I was right in thinking I could do it in an afternoon, but next time, I’ll try and get it done a little bit earlier than two days before the deadline. And not get distracted by anime series featuring normal and genetically-enhanced humans beating each other up via the use of huge mecha battle suits. I promise.

Time to play Tumble Dryer Lottery again. I’m working up to a full “Why doing the washing in America is quite annoying indeed, actually” post, but in the meantime, just understand that not all tumble dryers are created Equal.

currently playing: Blur - The Universal

I Don't Care

It’s just NOT FUNNY. And it’s not edgy at all, being a lukewarm copy of People Like Us, only without the jokes. My campaign for the continued existence of the laugh track aside, why does every feature on The Office seem to hype this feature? It’s not the first comedy to do it, so I don’t see why they keep bringing it up at every opportunity.

Also, American writers not being able to write subtle comedy? Cheers? M*A*S*H? The Simpsons? Futurama? The Daily Show?

Poor Iain Lee. Oh, wait. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.


Sorry. Just had to get that out of my system. To be honest, I won’t be truly happy until everyone who was involved with the 11 O’Clock show is publicly flogged and exiled to Inner Mongolia. It’s just a little thing I have.

&lt stewart lee>BUT WASN’T ALI G. FUNNY?&lt/stewart lee>

I believe in Voltron.

currently playing: The Clash - London Calling


  • Funny Face (1957)
    AMC, Sun Jan 26 01:00pm EST
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
    AMC, Sun Jan 26 03:10pm EST
  • Sabrina (1954)
    AMC, Sun Jan 26 05:35pm EST
  • My Fair Lady (1964)
    AMC, Sun Jan 26 08:00pm EST
  • Roman Holiday (1953)
    AMC, Sun Jan 26 11:20pm EST
  • How to Steal a Million (1966)
    AMC, Mon Jan 27 01:45am EST


currently playing: Tatu - How Soon Is Now?

Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow

I woke up this morning feeling extremly ill. I managed to rattle off an email telling my students that I wouldn’t be in this morning, and clamboured back to bed. Out of sheer chance, I looked out of the window.

Snow. Everywhere.

And once again, I had no food. Thinking that spending the day eating junk food would probably not help my stomach much, I had to get to a supermarket. Normally, this would be easy, but the only flaw in Chapel Hill’s otherwise excellent bus network is that it shuts down at the first sign of a snowflake. This meant that I’d have to walk to Carrboro and back. Again, not usually a problem, but it was -7˚C outside.

It was great fun. Especially on the way back, when I finally had my soup in a bread bowl (it’s a long-running family joke, don’t worry). The snow hadn’t frozen at all, so it wasn’t too hard getting there, except when the wind picked up. Then it got very cold indeed. Anyway, I managed to get all the food for the weekend without succumbing to frostbite.

I had lots of plans for today; I was going to get started on my marking, work on some of the coursework, but my stomach had other ideas. In the end, I did nothing. Hopefully, I’ll be feeling better tomorrow…

currently playing: Saint Etienne - Etienne Gonna Die

Disassemble Your Discrimination

Firstly, I would like apologise to everybody. For some reason, I have been convinced that the children in the Narnia stories died at the start of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. That isn’t true. Their first visit to Narnia was in 1940, and the train crash was in 1949 (presumably at the start of The Last Battle). So I’m sorry if I misled anyone with my faulty memory. Though I still can’t believe that Susan was prevented from entering Heaven because she wanted to grow up. Lipstick is evil, children.

Listening to Radio 1 through the RealPlayer feed is a frustrating experience. I wish they’d hurry up and implement the Ogg streaming that they’ve been promising. On the bright side, I managed to hear part of the new Meanwhile Back In Communist Russia record before I lost the connection, so it wasn’t a total waste of my time.

Richard: Yes, it was rather a rambling post. Thanks for taking the time to post all the legal information. We’ll put you in the “Lawyers who we’ll spare when the Revolution comes” pile…

David Munns, chairman and chief executive of EMI Recorded Music North America, called Rosen “a tremendous advocate” who has been “extremely influential in both transforming the music industry in the digital age and in fighting piracy.”
But if we’re to believe the RIAA, Internet piracy has been the scourge of the industry for the past six years, and it’s getting worse by the day. So, she’s not exactly been successful, has she?

currently playing: The Beatles - She’s Leaving Home

Ernest Saunders Swears He's Elvis

Every day, I fully expect somebody to barge into my office and shout “Fraud!” Today was no different; I spent this afternoon in a wireless meeting desperately trying, but failing, to form coherent sentences.

It’s stupid, I know. I graduated with a First from Manchester, close to the top of the class. I got decent A-Level grades, and my GCSE results weren’t bad either. Despite all this, I still don’t feel clever. Or even reasonably competent. Ho-hum.

But enough of that, as it’s boring, and you’ve heard it before. I spent last night watching Bonnie and Clyde and The Good . Yes, I’ve never seen Bonnie and Clyde. Would you think less of me if I admitted I’ve never seen Apocalypse Now either? Or Raging Bull? Thought so. Just ignore the last few sentences, and we’ll be fine. I liked them both, although they weren’t exactly uplifting…

Well, that answers that question about next season’s Buffy. And yay for Xander! I’ll stop here, before Bonnie attacks me with a chainsaw.

Nobody wants to play with George. Aww.

currently playing: Yo La Tengo - Tears Are In Your Eyes