And lo, the switch was made

Finally, I’m ready to roll out the coded-by-me version of Shot By Both Sides to the world. I know the visual design isn’t perfect… I got so frustrated by eNetation eating my comments that I decided to move over anyway. And it’s only the stylesheet and the header that need radical change to create beauty and prettyness.

So, welcome. Hopefully this will be more reliable and generally groovier than before – I’m also looking forward to being able to view my referring URLs. I think this makes me officially a “sad case”.

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Content management

For no reason other than sheer bloodymindedness (well, sheer bloodymindedness and the desire to remember at least some web development skills), I’ve written my own content management software for Shot by both sides, rather than using an off-the-shelf system like Moveable Type. Imaginatively, this software is called SBBS.

The first release of SBBS appeared at the very end of October 2003; incremental updates since then have improved its functionality to be on a par with the leading software packages as of May 2004 (purely in terms of my needs; it can’t do multiple authors and various other complicated things I don’t need).

If you’d like to run your weblog using SBBS software, despite the fact that it has no significant advantages over MT, feel free to drop me a line. If you’d like help developing your own content management system, then for the love of God get in touch with Chris Lightfoot or someone else who knows what they’re doing. Failing that, feel free to drop me a line. Finally, if you spot any bugs or flaws or other things in SBBS that impair your reading experience, feel free to drop me a line.

Finally, the nasty bit: unlike the verbal content of Shot by both sides, which can be copied for non-commercial use under the Creative Commons License, the SBBS software is entirely not in the public domain. Any attempts to use it without my permission will result in great vengeance, furious anger, and other negative adjective/noun combinations.

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Incestuous blogging commentary

1) The new SBBS is so nearly ready that I feel slightly guilty posting this on Blogger instead of using my own beautiful engine (fnarr fnarr, etc). Now, prettifying-type design is an issue – any feedback will be listened to with great interest, and then rejected.

2) “Big ups” (or some other equally horrible phrase) to Beatnik Salad, What you can get away with and Simon the Postboy for sticking me on their blogrolls. Although Si – it’d be even better if you included a link (insert twee icon of your choice here to indicate lack of malice). Particular thanks to Beatnik Salad for his post celebrating (amongst other things) my return to bloggage – I’m sure this was due entirely to the quality of SBBS (and not due to the fact that I sit opposite him at work).

3) Also, many thanks to Google for making me the number one hit for “Shot by both sides“. Sorry, Howard and friends… I guess this does illustrate Andrew Orlowski’s point about blogs dominating Google more than they really should: I suspect that the average Googlist typing “shot by both sides” will be looking for Mr DeVoto’s finest, rather than my rantambulings. Unless they’ve just come from Si’s site, of course…

4) Blogs I’ve been impressed by recently include Black Triangle, which is extremely good on the insane misreporting of medical issues that goes on almost everywhere. Although Anthony does link to Melanie Phillips, which is always a little worrying. I’ve also been impressed by Adam Smith, a new right-leaning Scottish blogger with some interesting ideas on economics. And honourable mention goes to a new anti-BBC site, whose author seems to have stolen not only the Samizdata Collective’s entire supply of tinfoil, but also Charles “Doctor” Johnson’s dictionary (that’s the one where “antisemitism” is defined as “not agreeing with Ariel Sharon”). I haven’t been updating my links list for reasons connected with point 1 above, but these will be added Real Soon Now.

5) This’ll be my last “isn’t my paper pretty, what a lovely typewriter I have, and here are some newspapers I like” post until the new site launches. Promise.

Update 4:16pm – Simon now links properly… that’s what I call service…!

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On average, you’ll be comfortable

…boil in the morning, freeze in the afternoon – then everyone’ll be happy. Genuine work email from yesterday, reproduced intact for your delectation:

—–Original Message—–
From: X
Sent: 28 October 2003 15:10
To: London
Subject: Heating policy

As you may / may not be aware the whole of the (Building X) heating system is one large system – Unfortunately we can not set each floor with an individual temperature, It is more the case of whatever is set on the system is the constant for the building. We therefore have to take into consideration both those who complain of the cold and those who complain of the heat.

Whilst the current mild weather remains we are going to use a strategy of turning off the system at 2pm – The heating can only be powered up once a day as the process is both expensive and time consuming and therefore we need to ensure that enough heat is retained for the building to remain sufficiently heated for the rest of the day.
We as a department have to be careful that a minimum temperature is met throughout the building to meet health and safety legal requirements

Apologies for any inconvenience


Assistant Operations Manager, Operations Department

Don’t you just love admin staff? Accounts departments, HR departments, IT support, operations departments… they’re all so attuned into keeping the productive employees, err, productive.

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Social insight on a stick

I’ve recently been working with a very large spreadsheet, which contains far more information that anyone could ever want or need to know about the world market for ice cream. Particularly the most popular brands…

“Acid” is a popular choice in Colombia. The Robin Hood Company’s fine lollypop, of course: Colombians wouldn’t dream of getting involved in dubious druggage. Meanwhile, the Poles prefer “Slime” (maybe it’s an unfrozen brand).

Some more surprising brands come from the Anglosphere. Both the Australians and the Americans enjoy “Eskimo Pie” (I’m sure this was criminalised around the turn of the century); while Down Under they also enjoy “Golden Gaytime” (an ice cream for older queer males?).

I’m going to gloss over the popularity of “Fanny” in Vietnam (it might interfere with my later plans of barrel-based fish shooting), and leave you with South Korea’s “Three Colour Joanna”. References to cockney rhyming slang, Krzysztof Kieslowski, above-average mid-90s punk, playground insults, and about 1000 B-movie characters – all within the name of one frozen dessert. Stand up, Lotte Confectionery Co., Ltd – Shot By Both Sides salutes you.

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There ought be be a law against them…

Before I write the rest of this post, I’m going to pause to don a KKK robe, browse some computer-simulated bestiality porn, and light a Cuban cigar with a dollar bill (take that, foolish Miami-ites!).

Mmm, that’s better.

If you don’t think I should be allowed to take part in any of the activities above, then the title of this post applies very much to you. It’s depressing, if unsurprising, that the people agitating for hardline state control over individuals’ actions are now often the liberals, not the traditional anti-gay anti-sex hang-em-and-flog-em-unless-they-enjoy-it social conservatives.

The key issue here is smoking in public (the latter term is used by anti-freedom activists in more or less the same way as by English schools… how is a private establishment with rights of admission reserved ‘public’?). Perry at Samizdata has taken off his tinfoil hat for just long enough to make one of the most sensible, liberal and articulate statements of opposition to nannying antismokers, ever.

In a similar vein, great respect to Harry Hatchet for getting newly-svelte neocon Stephen Pollard to revise his knee-jerk support for a smoking ban.

It’s unreasonable to expect people to have to share their public spaces with smoking smokers, fully-attired Klansmen, masturbating bestialists, or revolting undergraduate revolutionaries. But if any of the latter want to meet in a private place to indulge in their filthy habits (obviously as long as the Klansmen are merely going to drivel on about white power rather than going lynching) it’s hard to come up with a compelling reason to stop them.

Those who do want to stop them need to accept that (irrespective of the merits of their argument) they’re placing themselves in the tradition of authoritarianism and big government scaryness.

Update October 28 2:46PM – it’s not big and it’s not clever, but it’s certainly fun to smear your opponents as Nazis.

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Tycoon railroaded

It’s difficult to decide what to think about the current spate of arrests of Russian oligarchs. On the one hand, Mr Khodorkovsky has been a crook (and I say this fully aware of UK libel laws…); on the other, so has every other successful businessman in Russia.

The biggest problem is that the arrest appears to have been motivated not by Mr Khodorkovsky’s criminal past, but by his Putin-opposing present – not helped by Mr Putin’s belligerent anti-Khodorkovsky speech immediately following the tycoon’s arrest. Like other oligarchs who’ve used their wealth to fund opposition, Mr Khodorkovsky is being presented with the choice of leaving the country to enjoy his riches and leave the government alone, or (approximately) the gulag.

In general, enforcing laws selectively based on political disagreement or personal prejudices is as bad as (indeed, is almost equal to) locking people up for their political views or for being black/gay/a young man. Otherwise, police and/or prosecuters and/or the executive (depending on exactly how your political system works) end up having the power to jail people they don’t like for things that most sensible people would consider acceptable.

Going back to Russia, the only honourable options open to Mr Putin are to arrest and try absolutely everyone in the country with any money, except possibly tATu (although come to think of it, I wouldn’t object to administering the punishment… err, sorry), or to declare an amnesty and make clear that all future dodgy business dealings will be heavily punished.

Instead, the government’s current actions are making Russia look even more like a corrupt banana republic than it already did, which is impressive.

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Back, deathlier than before

Sorry for the absence, my loyal readers (I wonder if I have any loyal readers?). I’ve been a combination of ill, working myself to death, drinking myself to death, and vaguely aware that I should be building databases and websites whenever I get on a PC at home.

What’s up at the moment…? Well, in the absence of reasonable things to write about, the BBC’s critics have gone stark raving mad. Actually, the last example is a BBC critic going mad about the (notoriously communist) AP, but never mind.

We’re also waiting on tenterhooks (what are tenterhooks? I imagine I don’t want to know) to discover whether Mugabe’s syphilis has finally put him in hospital (fingers crossed…), and whether the bean-counting zombies at the treasury really will royally stuff London up.

Meanwhile, the Iraq attacks get progressively viler. It’s almost as if Al-Qaeda were trying to prove to the fluffy left that they really do hate humanitarianism, liberalism and democracy, rather than just American occupiers. Hopefully the message will sink in.

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More American justice

If there weren’t a man’s life and broader principles of innocent-til-proven-guilty at stake here, the opinions of Washingtonians concerning their sniper would be even funnier.

When defence lawyers surveyed potential jurors around Washington earlier this year, all but one said Mr Muhammad was guilty and should be executed. The sole exception was someone who did not know whether or not the defendant was guilty but said he should be executed anyway.

Admittedly, this news has had a significant deterrent effect on me: I have no intention of being accused of any crimes in Washington DC or Virgina. Or ever going there. Or pissing on them if they were on fire. Trial by jury relies on juries not being filled with barbaric hatemongers – and it looks like there’s a surfeit in the area…

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Sorry we ate your grandad

I’m broadly in favour of Evil Western Colonialists apologising to indigenous people for the horriblenesses they committed. Particularly when the horriblenesses involved mass slaughter, rather than railways and cricket.

It seems unneccessary, but quite funny, when the same thing happens the other way round. So it’s with great glee and general amusement that I read about Fijian indigenous types apologising to the descendants of the Reverend Thomas Baker, who was cooked and eaten after trying to touch a chief’s hair.

Actually, maybe they’re not really planning an apology at all. “So, modern day Bakers [I wonder if Tom Baker will be present], you may be wondering why we brough you here… and why we’ve bound you, seasoned you, and made you sit in very large cooking pots…”

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