Stick it

I’m glad I’m getting out of Manchester. The useless wankers who run the council are so impressed by the Irish pub smoking ban that they’re planning on imposing one of their own.

Now, if Ken follows suit when I get down south, I’ll be *really* angry.

Incidentally, I think I’ve finally followed Damien and Dave in giving up on the halfwitted illiberal editorial line of the Guardian. OK, I do still buy it on Saturdays, but only for the Magazine, the Guide and the Review…

Posted in Uncategorized

Return of the List

The latest list-meme is a ‘200 things you may or may not have done’-type thing. My total is 83, so my chances of achieving the full quota before I die are reasonable; questions below, with things I’ve done in bold.

1. Bought everyone in the pub a drink

2. Swam with wild dolphins

3. Climbed a mountain

4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive

5. Been inside the Great Pyramid

6. Held a tarantula

7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone

8. Said ‘I love you’ and meant it

9. Hugged a tree

10. Done a striptease

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea

14. Stayed up all night long, and watch the sun rise

15. Seen the Northern Lights

16. Gone to a huge sports game

17. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa

18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables

19. Touched an iceberg

20. Slept under the stars

21. Changed a baby’s diaper

22. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon

23. Watched a meteor shower

24. Gotten drunk on champagne

25. Given more than you can afford to charity

26. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope

27. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment

28. Had a food fight

29. Bet on a winning horse

30. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

31. Asked out a stranger

32. Had a snowball fight

33. Photocopied your bottom on the office photocopier

34. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

35. Held a lamb

36. Enacted a favourite fantasy

37. Taken a midnight skinny dip

38. Taken an ice cold bath

39. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar

40. Seen a total eclipse

41. Ridden a roller coaster

42. Hit a home run

43. Fit three weeks miraculously into three days

44. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking

45. Adopted an accent for an entire day

46. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors

47. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment

48. Had two hard drives for your computer (do I get extra points for four?)

49. Visited all 50 states

50. Loved your job for all accounts

51. Taken care of someone who was rather drunk

52. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

53. Had amazing friends

54. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country

55. Watched wild whales

56. Stolen a sign

57. Backpacked in Europe

58. Taken a road-trip

59. Rock climbing

60. Lied to foreign government’s official in that country to avoid notice

61. (there is no 61)

62. Sky diving

63. Visited Ireland

64. Been heartbroken longer then you were actually in love

65. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them

66. Visited Japan

67. Benchpressed your own weight

68. Milked a cow

69. Alphabetised your records

70. Pretended to be a superhero

71. Sung karaoke

72. Lounged around in bed all day

73. Posed nude in front of strangers

74. Scuba diving

75. Got it on to “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye

76. Kissed in the rain

77. Played in the mud

78. Played in the rain

79. Gone to a drive-in theater

80. Done something you should regret, but don’t regret it

81. Visited the Great Wall of China

82. Discovered that someone who’s not supposed to have known about your blog has discovered your blog

83. Dropped Windows in favor of something better

84. Started a business

85. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken

86. Toured ancient sites

87. Taken a martial arts class

88. Swordfought for the honor of a woman

89. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight

90. Gotten married

91. Been in a movie

92. Crashed a party

93. Loved someone you shouldn’t have

94. Kissed someone so passionately it made them dizzy

95. Gotten divorced

96. Had sex at the office

97. Gone without food for 5 days

98. Made cookies from scratch

99. Won first prize in a costume contest

100. Ridden a gondola in Venice

101. Gotten a tattoo

102. Found that the texture of some materials can turn you on

103. Rafted the Snake River

104. Been on television news programs as an “expert”

105. Got flowers for no reason

106. Masturbated in a public place

107. Got so drunk you don’t remember anything

108. Been addicted to some form of illegal drug

109. Performed on stage

110. Been to Las Vegas

111. Recorded music

112. Eaten shark

113. Had a one-night stand

114. Gone to Thailand

115. Seen Siouxsie live

116. Bought a house

117. Been in a combat zone

118. Buried one/both of your parents

119. Shaved or waxed your pubic hair off

120. Been on a cruise ship

121. Spoken more than one language fluently

122. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone (I’m assuming ‘myself’ doesn’t count here)

123. Bounced a cheque

124. Performed in Rocky Horror

125. Read – and understood – your credit report

126. Raised children

127. Recently bought and played with a favourite childhood toy

128. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour

129. Created and named your own constellation of stars

130. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country

131. Found out something significant that your ancestors did

132. *Called or written your Congress person Member of Parliament…and confronted him…*

133. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over to be with the one you love

134. …more than once? – More than thrice?

135. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge

136. *Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking

137. Had an abortion or your female partner did

138. Had plastic surgery

139. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived

140. Wrote articles for a large publication

141. Lost over 100 pounds (Sterling yes, but I suspect the question means lb)

142. Held someone while they were having a flashback

143. Piloted an airplane

144. Petted a stingray

145. Broken someone’s heart

146. Helped an animal give birth

147. Been fired or laid off from a job

148. Won money on a T.V. game show

149. Broken a bone

150. Killed a human being

151. Gone on an African photo safari

152. Ridden a motorcycle

153. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100mph

154. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced

155. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol

156. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild

157. Ridden a horse

158. Had major surgery

159. Had sex on a moving train

160. Had a snake as a pet

161. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

162. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing

163. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours

164. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states

165. Visited all 7 continents

166. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days

167. Eaten kangaroo meat

168. Fallen in love at an ancient Mayan burial ground

169. Been a sperm or egg donor

170. Eaten sushi

171. Had your picture in the newspaper

172. Had 2 (or more) healthy romantic relationships for over a year in your lifetime (I’m assuming that spending the middle six months of the year not talking to each other doesn’t count as healthy, in which case I’m firmly stuck at the ‘one’ mark)

173. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about

174. Gotten someone fired for their actions

175. Gone back to school

176. Parasailed

177. Changed your name

178. Petted a cockroach

179. Eaten fried green tomatoes

180. Read The Iliad

181. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read

182. Dined in a restaurant and stolen silverware, plates, cups because your apartment needed them.

183. …and gotten 86’ed from the restaurant because you did it so many times, they figured out it was you

184. Taught yourself an art from scratch

185. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

186. Apologised to someone years after inflicting the hurt

187. Skipped all your school reunions

188. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language

189. Been elected to public office (I’m assuming student unions really don’t count here…)

190. Written your own computer language

191. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream

192. Had to put someone you love into hospice care

193. Built your own PC from parts

194. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you

195. Had a booth at a street fair

196. Dyed your hair

197. Been a DJ

198. Found out someone was going to dump you via LiveJournal

199. Written your own role playing game

200. Been arrested

Via Neil’s World, among others.

Posted in Uncategorized

Long view

Pseudopunks Green Day have hit on the best ever scheme for making money in the digital age: selling blank CDs printed with their album artwork, which people can burn downloaded album tracks onto. The cost of the blanks isn’t much, but it’s still more than Green Day would get from a legitimate album sale.

I imagine their record label are deeply, deeply pissed off. And that all new artists’ contracts are going to involve the company owning artwork copyrights… (via New Links)

Posted in Uncategorized

*bangs head against wall*

News from Iraq: the US administration planned to use the CIA to fund its preferred candidates in the forthcoming elections. The plan was only derailed by principled opposition from the Democrats, who felt that some kind of democratic election might be preferable.

Every day we find out more and more about the clowns running the world’s most powerful nation that makes clear they should be impeached, imprisoned and executed. And yet there’s no rioting in the streets of Middle America, and sane, educated Americans who agree that George Bush has lied and cheated still worry about voting for John Kerry because they don’t like his flip-flops. What gives?

Sorry. I’ve just been informed that it’s the liberal professors of political science who hate America and should be imprisoned, not the gang of thugs, crooks and bigots ru(i/n)ning the country. Apologies to the thugs, crooks and bigots.

Posted in Uncategorized

More US polling

Mark Blumenthal knows good opinion polling, being an American opinion pollster with 20 years’ experience. This means that his blog is probably the best place for US opinion poll analysis – making him the transatlantic Anthony Wells, I guess.

Most opinion poll interpretation in the press is nonsense, because most journalists either don’t understand statistics or polling methodologies, or don’t think their readers will. Obviously, most bloggers are even worse (I don’t just mean the mindless idiots here – even those of us who understand what we’re talking about tend to let our political views bias the stats we select, hence my focus on Economist/YouGov and Harris polls and pro-Bush bloggers’ focus on Gallup).

Mr Blumenthal (and/or Mr Wells, depending on your geographical focus) are both strongly recommended if you care about why different opinion polls produce such different results, rather than cheering the ones that put your favourite party in the lead.

Posted in Uncategorized

Ad hominem

The Adam Smith Institute has its failings, such as its willingness to take US$34 million in government subsidy while campaigning against government subsidy. However, its guide to logical fallacies is one of the best such guides I’ve seen.

If you’re particularly bored, you could even use it to come up with a bingo game: pick a source, and see how many of the fallacies you can tick off from the previous week’s articles. Beginners should start at TCS or Medialens, with advanced candidates working the way through the rest of the blogosphere in order of credibility. True masochists should attempt this with someone like Jon Edelstein or Josh Marshall [*].

Alternatively, if you’re Christopher Hitchens, you can do this exercise as a solo drinking game, not very well, and have your columns published in print in exchange for large cheques.

[*] I’m trying to work out whether or not it’s coincidental that the two names that come to mind when I’m trying to think of a credible blogger are both liberal secular American Jews.

Posted in Uncategorized


I haven’t written on British hostage Ken Bigley so far, mostly because the relentless media attention is so out of proportion to the story.

Tony Blair has handled the situation correctly so far: in a place like Beslan, where hundreds of lives are at stake, the decision on whether it’s morally right to make concessions to terrorists to save lives is a difficult and horrible one. In this case, it’s an extremely easy and horrible one. The only question is whether the media’s daft sentimentalism will encourage Mr Blair to give in to the terrorists, which would be wrong but populist. Fortunately, it appears not.

One thought, though. Why does the possible death of a man who went to Iraq to acquire an enormous pile of cash get so much more attention than the deaths of journalists, aid workers or soldiers? Dying for one’s beliefs or one’s country seems a rather more praiseworthy thing to do than dying for one’s wallet.

Posted in Uncategorized

Coke stats

It would be interesting to see some statistics on the usage of cocaine and cocaine derivatives, by country, with value and volume sales broken down by end product, income group and ethnic group.

Why? I’d like to know to what extent the stereotypes of crack being a drug for low-income black people and powder being a drug for high-income white people [*] are true, whether low-income groups pay a significantly lower price, and how much usage of either comes from groups who aren’t stereotypical consumers.

Working out this data would actually be quite a similar project to the work I’m doing at the moment, except that the ‘interviewing people in the industry and asking them to describe market conditions’ side of things would be somewhat less feasible. And to make any cash out of the project, the results would need to be written as a mass-market book, not a database sold to people in the industry. Unless the world is even stranger than I believe it to be.

So… if anyone who isn’t an international drugs baron wants to pay me to spend a year working on this, then I’m open to offers.

(vaguely inspired by some Harry Hutton Killer Facts).

[*] ‘People’ is used purely as a biological descriptor in this context, and shouldn’t necessarily be taken as assigning any of the positive qualities normally associated with ‘personhood’ to the group under discussion.

Posted in Uncategorized