As a great fan of stupid interlingual puns and the Tube map, imagine my delight to see the two combined. Never let it be said that the Austrians have no sense of humour.

Relatedly, have you noticed that if you view the geographically accurate Underground map, it looks almost exactly like the Harry Beck map drawn by a drunk and then stretched round the inside of a crater?

Not that I’ve ever made a drunk draw the Harry Beck map and then strech it round the inside of a crater. That would be wrong.

(via ein Englischmann’s Schloss)

Update: as Horst points out in the comments, I’ve been confusing my Franks and my Harrys – fixed now…

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Lies, damned lies, etc update

Online IT rag The Register has discovered yet another way to rig opinion polls: create an online poll using multiple radio boxes which appear to cover several different categories, but which actually only allows a single vote. So when you vote in the final pseudo-category, you don’t notice that you’re clearing any previous attempts at voting.

This meant that Rush and Heart (the two contenders in the Unpleasant Canadian Pomp Rock pseudo-section at the far bottom of the poll) were voted IT professionals’ favourite rock bands, alongside the less suprising likes of Metallica and Radiohead.

I’m sure Diebold are taking notes – so US voters should be wary if their presidential voting screen is divided into several categories, and the bottom one appears to feature a head-to-head choice between GWB and Osama Bin Laden (and yes, I know that Chimpy’s people are already trying to spin the contest as if it were…)

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In the press

Hooray – I’m on the BBC!

It almost makes up for staying up til 2AM working on a database about chilled food. D’you know how boring chilled food is? Very.

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I do not need this shit when my acupuncturist is out of town

I believe that if you mention the Onion on a blog, it’s compulsory to point out that it used to be good and is now just shrill and unfunny. Or is that the Poor Man? – it’s so easy to get these things confused.

Nonetheless, the Onion still prints excellent articles. Anyone who knows or works with rich PC types will, I trust, find this one true and extremely funny.

Incidentally, you miserable bastards, what’s with the lack of blog-birthday congratulations? Everyone else gets them… [sulk]

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The other stupid ‘war on’

Before the ‘War on Terror’ became the most popular way for incompetent and dishonest politicians to cower idiots into voting for them, there was another, similar campaign.

Like the ‘War on Terror’, the ‘War on Drugs‘ was not a war, did not target all (or even the most harmful) drugs, did nothing to stop the drugs it did target, and chiefly involved taking very poor people in extremely fucked countries and making them even worse off. It also involved suspension of the rule of law, indefinite detention of people who’d done little or nothing wrong, and (least importantly, but still rubbishly) imposing futile restrictions on western people’s ability to live their lives.

As fat gaylord Johann Hari points out, although John Kerry is likely to be slightly less appalling than Dubya in War on Terror terms, he’s a big fan of the War on Drugs. This is worrying and bad, especially given the deranged puritanism that’s taking hold on this side of the Atlantic.

Nonetheless, it seems reasonable (if distasteful) to endorse drug stupidity over blowing-up-the-entire-world stupidity.

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Congratulations to Norm and Tory Boy, on reaching the grand old blog-ages of one and two respectively (I was hoping to coin the phrase ‘blog-years’, but apparently someone has beaten me to it).

In a similar but more self-indulgent vein, congratulations to myself for reaching my first blog-anniversary. One year ago today, SBBS got off to a poor start and went downhill from there… Still, 1000 people a week can’t be wrong (and other demonstrably counterfactual assertions).

Also, thanks to the perenially interesting Harry’s Place for blogrolling me. Although I disagree strongly with Harry’s comments on comments, at least until someone creates a trackback protocol that works properly. What’s the point of replying to someone if you don’t know whether or not they’re going to read it?

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Stop this witchy menace

According to the Indo-Asian News Service, 4000 people were killed by witchcraft in the UK, Ireland and Australia between 1999-2003. My first thought on reading the article was that this rate – 1000 witchy deaths per year – seemed rather high, so I thought I’d do some analysis.

For the sake of comparison, I’m assuming that the deaths are spread evenly between the three countries by population, meaning the UK sees 720 witchy deaths a year. I’m also assuming that all witchy deaths are inflicted via injury and poisoning, since a witch who merely inflicted death by natural causes would be not only tedious but hard to detect.

The National Statistics Office says that the total number of deaths inflicted by accidental or deliberate injury or poisoning in 1998 (the most recent year with full data available) was 62,670, or 1.04 deaths per 1000 people. So witchy deaths make up barely 1.1% of the total pool: already, it seems more plausible…

Out of these deaths, 3614 were from suicide. If it counts as a legitimate witchy death when a witch induces you to top yourself, we seem to have an entirely plausible scenario here: only 20% of suicide deaths are witch-induced, which is surely lower than the number of suicides that entirely perplex the perpetrator/victim’s friends and family. “But he had everything to live for”, they say. Indeed he did – until he was killed by a witch.

However, I imagine the National Statistics Officers know better than to be fooled by the agents of darkness; I’m sure ‘suicide’ scenes are regularly inspected for telltale signs of dark magik. But there are some other promising areas where these witchy deaths could go instead.

For one, the higher homicide rate in the second half of the 20th century (from 1900-1950, the annual average was 243; from 1951-1998, the average was 323) is highly likely to be due to witchery: laws against witchcraft were repealed in 1951, and the death rate rose almost immediately. What better example could their be of the terrible toll on the British people of misguided post-war do-gooding? However, these 80 deaths a year barely account for a tenth of the full witchy death toll.

No, the majority of those killed by powers unknown are accounted for under a special code that could almost have been devised for the purpose: ‘injury undetermined whether accidentally or purposely inflicted’. 1933 unfortunates met their end this way in 1998 – and it seems highly likely that 640 of them were victims of witchcraft.

The remaining 1293 will have been killed by diverse causes including but not limited to warlocks, wolverines, orcs, dragons, and being dragged directly to hell by Satan’s agents.

I’m sure my readers agree that the only possible solution to this terrible witch problem is to reintroduce proper, proportionate punishment. As CS Lewis says, “if anyone deserved the death penalty, then [it’s] these filthy quislings…”

(thanks to Josh Chafetz for info on witchy laws).

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If you’re aged 11-17, the Internet doesn’t *just* mean that you can play computer games all night, write viruses, look at bizarre and extreme porn, and meet exciting older men.

With the help of your Solo card you can also get into online betting, which sounds like something kids might enjoy and therefore has caused a terrible fuss among the usual nanny-tastic suspects. Interestingly, the online retailers of strong cider and budget alcopops also seem to sell to holders of Solo cards, providing an ideal teen evening in – although you do need to buy a case of 24.

Sometimes I wish I’d been born 10 years later. And I was going to make an obligatory comment about ‘at least the music was better when I was 15’, but having looked it up I’m really not convinced

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Air security success

I came late to the story of paranoid Annie Jacobsen, and the delusions that led her to mistake a Syrian folk band for a chapter of al-Qaeda.

While this debacle says ugly things about how many educated, professional Americans view Arabs (perhaps not surprisingly, given the vilification that brown persons have received in the media since the beginning of the ‘war on terror’), it does have a silver lining.

Until poor Ms Jacobsen wrote the article for a small website, and various like-minded clowns and rabble-rousers forwarded it around in true Urban Legend style, nobody in authority took her claims particularly seriously.

Ideally, this means that airline anti-terrorist security is being based on intelligence and threat analysis; at worst, it means that it doesn’t exist. Either would be better than random victimisation based on skin colour…

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