Is This Thing Still On...?

Yeah, well, it was this or annoying all my friends on Facebook and Twitter with updates throughout the evening.

So here we are…my mind turns back to a night back in 2006, about 3am in the morning, chatting away deliriously on GChat with a friend. “We’ve won! We’ve won!” And just two years ago, getting seriously drunk on Red and Blue, yelling at John McCain and the cheering, and the getting naked and jumping in the pool….okay, for the record, only some of us did that. It was November, after all, and even drunk, I still retain my British inhibitions. Standards.

Tonight, though, I suppose I should remember a different night. November 2004. The soul-crushing look on Jon Stewart’s face; moving from 112 N. Graham Street to Luke’s apartment and just getting more and more drunk as the returns came in. The ‘Hope Ends; Merge Right’ sign outside The Internationalist the next day. Total abject misery hanging around Chapel Hill.

goes for the vodka

I suppose the lesson is that all things will pass. There isn’t a permanent realignment…and yes, it turns out that being the most obstructionist party in the history of the Union actually can lead you to victory. Who knew? I’m taking solace in that last weekend’s rally was easily as big as Mr. Beck’s, that California still looks quite blue, and maybe, just maybe, the Democrats will pull out a few surprises tonight.

(incidentally, this week’s This American Life has a great piece on the Democrats and how rubbish they are at messaging. I think everybody forgets that most of us spent July and August 2008 yelling at the Obama campaign as they took hit after hit, mind you)

Tomorrow, I’m going to London to look at chocolate bar wrappers. And to get some chocolates. Wouldn’t you?


Ahem. I was asked today if I was still keen on going to America today seeing the impending massacre. Hell yes. Just so I can answer MoveOn and OFA emails in 2012 without feeling guilty that I can’t really do much to help (foreign donations are illegal unless they come from the Chamber of Commerce, don’t forget!). And I don’t know how useful phone banking would be right now.

IAN: Can I ask if you’re voting for David Price this Tuesday? CONFUSED VOTER: Er, is that an English accent? IAN: Well…yes. CONFUSED, BUT NOW SLIGHTLY ANNOYED VOTER: I bet you don’t even live in my district! IAN (flustered): No – but as soon as the Immigration department sorts out my visa – RAGING VOTER: I’M CALLING ICE ON YOUR ASS!

ACORN files for bankruptcy today. That’s how you know this election won’t be stolen.

On Tuesday, Rep. Michele Bachmann, one of the more eccentric members of the Republican Party, put out feelers that she would like to assume the leadership role likely to be vacated by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.).


People are pretty mean to Harry Reid, and God knows, I’ve yelled a lot at him over the past two years, but this is a guy who had no margin of error in passing ACA, unlike Pelosi (who I love, obviously), and he pulled through using every Senatorial trick up his sleeve, passing the most liberal piece of law the country has seen for almost half-a-century. Yeah, he’s not LBJ. But he’s better than his press indicates.


(there’s about five people who’ll get that reference. And two of them are in the band in question)

(HTML5, bitches!)

To bolster my East Coast Liberal credentials, I have switched to Crème de Violette cut with 7up. It’s like drinking liquid Parma Violets. This Is A Good Thing.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited a former Khmer Rouge torture house in Cambodia on Monday and urged the nation to proceed with trials of the former regime’s surviving leaders in order to “confront its past.”


I’m hearing worrying reports about Dem turnout in Delaware. If O’Donnell wins, I’ll have to re-evaluate my support of the 17th Amendment. And I bet Alan Keyes will be pissed…

Rand Paul up 7% on first precinct reporting. No, make that 13% after 3. Oooh, now down to 11%. After 6. I think we might as well give up on that one now.

Indiana returns coming through are staggeringly brutal - one of 538’s races to watch is Indiana-2. If the GOP wins there, they may be on track beat 538’s 59 seat. The Democrat is currently down by 25.

Atmosphere kicks in as the depression starts to take hold. Yes, this is happening. Twice in one year!

Second wave of polls about to close: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. NC closes at 7:30 with OHio and WV.

Oh, and for those of you ready for six years of laughs - turnout was low in Clark County, NV, which means we may be looking at Sharron Angle (R-NV). Dear God.

(I have actually stopped drinking…mainly because I’m a total lightweight)


Surprisingly, Jim DeMint is going to beat Alvin Greene for the Senate seat in SC…there’s a story to be told there in 50 years’ time, I think…

About the only positive sign so far is Kentucky-6. With about 20% of the vote in so far, Ben Chandler (D) has a 7-8 point lead over his opponent. Ky-6 is one of 538’s bellweather races - if the Republicans win there, they may take over 60 seats in the House…

Nothing in from NC-4 yet…

Alvin Greene is getting 30% of the vote in SC. I personally think that’s a triumph.

It’s now time for a nice cup of tea. And about 19 more states.

It’s looking touch and go for David Price (NC-4). But Durham County is beginning to count its votes, and we bleed blue…

There’s now fewer than 1000 votes separating the two candidates in KY-6. But on the brighter side, Dems hold DE, CT, and most likely WV in the Senate,

And now, a song:

When the smaller picture is the same as the bigger picture you know that you’re fucked And you’re trading paper cuts for splinters you’re out of luck

More votes coming in from Durham County - a 1% deficit is now almost a lead of 8% in NC-4. TAKE THAT, RALEIGH!

Soon, though, we’ll get to witness the fall of Feingold. Thank you so much, Citizens United.

Other news from NC - it looks like felons will be prevented from elected sheriff! The 14.3% of current votes against the proposal obviously have something they’re not telling us.

All the networks are calling the House for the GOP - around the 239-196 level…

NC-4 is called for David Price…wwoo!

Polls now closed in NV…Sestak doing quite well in PA…

…except now he’s not - pretty much tied in PA with 11% reporting still to come…

Are they actually planning on counting the votes in NV? I’m starting to feel sleepy…


Okay, so Hawaii is called Dem, which gives us 50+Biden (NEVER FORGET THE BIDEN). Reid is currently not doing too badly in NV, and Bennett is still up in Colorado. We’re pulling ahead in WA too (though that depends on the Seattle vote holding up, I think). Plus, nobody knows what’s going to happen in Alaska (I predict a few court cases if the write-in vote is close). So, GOP House, Democratic Senate. Oh what a fun two years we’ll have…

Fox has just called NV for Reid. Time for bed…

First They Came For The Comments, Then For The Posts;

So, I switched the comments off a few days ago, which is the first time I’ve thought much about the blog at all in a while. Looking back through the archives, it’s clear that the past year has been something of a failure, and I don’t see much change coming up in the next few months.

Once I get to America, the blog will amusingly turn full circle, once again recounting the tales of a (slightly less, this time, I hope!) bewildered British person in America. And I think that calls for a new look and a new approach to the site (maybe moving over to tumblr, perhaps?).

For now though, consider the blog to be on an indefinite hiatus. Have a song in the meantime:

From The Comments, Part 2

The Distractions are back with their 'Black Velvet' EP available for digital download with a limited number of CD promos. See Occultation Recordings website ( for details of how to order, and keep an eye on for news of the forthcoming 12" EP and CD album due in 2011.

The Distractions wrote FAC12: Time Goes So Slow, one of the greatest singles on Factory Records. Go support them!

A New ZX Spectrum: <canvas>

"The computing A-level is about how computers work and if you ask anyone how it works they will not be able to tell you," said Doug Abrams, an ICT teacher from Ousedale School in Newport Pagnell, who was one of the first to use the machines in lessons.

(BBC — Tech Know)

Having had some experience with teaching a Computing A-Level (and by experience, I mean sitting in a few classes and helping to describe the basics of DS programming to a group for a couple of weeks), I think he's selling the course a little short (though it might be from a different exam board). I also think the idea of using digging out BBC Micros isn't particularly practical, but a lot of today's programming languages do lack the immediacy of programming back in the days of Acorn and Sinclair, when every computer came complete with a BASIC interpreter and children spent many an idle hour issuing drawing commands to draw obscene things on the screen.

However, a similar simple coding environment exists right now, on every computer running a HTML5-compliant browser.

The <canvas> element allows you create a 'screen' on a web page of arbitrary dimensions, and through a JavaScript interface, it lets you draw lines, curves, rectangles, circles, and access each individual pixel in the canvas display.

So rather than forcing students the hardships of the BBC Micro, why not give them a grounding in JavaScript and allow them to run riot in the browser? Just as much fun, a little more forgiving, and actually useful in the real world!

(admittedly, I am currently building a recreating of BBC Mode 7, so I can appreciate playing with the retro machines. Though if we really want to get tough, we should try and get them producing something for the Atari 2600…)

101 Ways To Use A Blackcurrant - Marshmallows

A bit of a change in recipe format this week. The Internet is all very well and good, but it doesn’t beat a good bit of Teletext.

Yes, while I should have been doing more important things this weekend, I instead built a Teletext simulator. Complete with FASTEXT and REVEAL support (it has a few glitches, and there’s hardly any pages in it yet, but I’m working on a markup tool…anyway…). I’m quite proud of page 999 (Teletext purists: yes, I know).

The page you’re looking for is 531!

Blackcurrant Marshmallows (teletext version)

(you might need a computer though - Mobile Safari is not playing ball with a few things)


Look, I know you’re upset about the recent surveys that indicate that college freshmen are switching to Macs in droves, but really, is this the best you can do?

You can't get a Mac that ships with a Blu-ray player, TV tuner, Memory Stick reader, or built-in 3G wireless. You can with PCs running Windows 7.

Translation: Good, strong opening. Of course, you can buy most of these things separately, but definitely a valid point.

Most of the world's most popular computer games aren't available for Macs. And Macs can't connect to an Xbox 360. PCs are ready to play.


Most Macs can't hook up to your TV unless you buy a converter dongle. Many PCs running Windows 7 are designed to connect directly to TVs, so you can watch movies and see photos on the big screen.

Translation: Yeah, this is a bit weak. But it's just a throwaway - we've got plenty of material!

Things just don't work the same way on Macs if you're used to a PC. For example, the mouse works differently. And many of the shortcuts you're familiar with don't work the same way on a Mac.

Translation: Yes, we are really trying to claim that switching to the friendliest GUI in the current era is going to be a struggle. You have to admire our brazenness. Now, go away…we're trying to put one more option onto the Start Menu for SP2…

Windows 7 was designed to make it simpler to do the tasks you do every day, with features that the Mac doesn't have. For example, the new Snap feature makes it easy to view two documents side by side.

Translation: We're really hoping you don't squint at the non-sequitur here.

Unlike Macs, many PCs running Windows 7 support Touch, so you can browse online newspapers, flick through photo albums, and shuffle files and folders—using nothing but your fingers. PCs with a fingerprint reader even let you log in with just a swipe of your finger.

Translation: Multitouch? Never heard of it, mate.

If you use Apple's productivity suite, sharing files with PC users can be tricky. Your documents might not look right and your spreadsheets might not calculate correctly.

Translation: iLife can import Office files, but we suck at importing iLife ones.

You'll have to buy a separate hardware dongle to plug your Mac into a standard VGA projector. Most PCs with Windows 7 hook up easily.

Translation: We're really fixated on this dongle thing. Say it with us: 'dongle'. Yeah, it's a strange word, isn't it? Buying a Mac will make you say 'dongle' in front of others! JUST SAY NO!

On a Mac, out of the box, you can only encrypt your home folder. With Windows 7 Ultimate, you can encrypt your entire hard drive and even USB drives. So your stuff can be safer wherever you go.

Translation: Come to our pricing page where we'll charge you $220 for the privilege!

With a Mac, it's harder to set up secure sharing for your photos, music & movies, documents, and even printers with other computers on your home network. With HomeGroup, it's easy to connect all the computers in your house running Windows 7.

Translation: "You can join a homegroup in any edition of Windows 7, but you can only create one in Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate, or Enterprise" It's easy! Just follow our wizard!

On a Mac, you have to manually set up photo sharing, manually set up music and movie sharing, manually set up file sharing, and manually set up printer sharing. It's easy to automatically and securely network with all the computers in your house when they're running Windows 7

Translation: Just wait for the first zero-day exploit! [seriously, is ticking a box in iTunes that difficult?]

Apple's productivity suite file formats won't open in Microsoft Office on PCs. This can be a real hassle for Mac users sharing work documents with PC users.

Translation: Somehow, this is Obama's fault, too.

If there's a Mac version of a program you need, you'll have to buy it again and relearn how to use it on a Mac.

Translation: If anybody mentions Final Cut, we're revoking your Windows 7 Ultimate Enterprise Professional key.

You can't get a Mac with a Blu-ray player, TV tuner, Memory Stick reader, or built-in 3G wireless. PCs running Windows 7 often come with features that aren't available on even the highest end Macs, including Blu-ray, eSATA, multi-format card readers, Touch, and mobile broadband.

Translation: Sometimes, they even work! [I can seem to buy eSATA cards for the Mac Pro, and every Apple laptop comes with a multitouch device, but I may be missing something here]

Macs only come in white or silver. PCs are available in a full spectrum of colors across a range of price points.

Translation: Seriously, we're desperate. Did you know you have to get a dongle to plug them into a projector? DID YOU?

With PCs running Windows 7, you can play the videos and music stored on your home PC while you're on the go, for free. Apple charges $99/year for its online service.

Translation: Apple's online service doesn't let you play music or video either, come to think of it. We should probably have mentioned that. Did we mention the dongle thing yet?

I Can't Wait Until Popular Gets Here

101 Ways To Use A Blackcurrant - P&acirc;te de Fruit


Blackcurrant Pâte de Fruit

Jon Stewart, Do The Decent Thing!

101 Ways To Use A Blackcurrant - Blackcurrant Vodka

When all else fails, turn it into alcohol.

Blackcurrant Vodka