Sunday, October 31, 2004

England's orchards are in a bad way

Great piece from the Guardian about the decline of England's orchards. Supermarkets demand standardised apples and a change in EU subsidies mean that the few orchards that continue to grow older varieties of apples will be under greater pressure to burn the trees and turn to a more lucrative form of agriculture.
Then you see it. It's the names. The names of the fallen. Foxwhelp, Sheep's Snout, Hogshead, Duck's Bill, Black Wilding, Brown Cockle, Monstrous Pippin, Burr Knot, Broadtail, Hagloe Crab, Eggleton Styre, Peasgood's Nonesuch, Tom Putt, Bitter-scale, Slack-my-girdle, Bastard Rough Coat, Bloody Turk. The list runs into thousands. It is a history of rural England, a poem in pomology, rough and bitter and sad.

Sprouting from every name is a tree of knowledge. Before I read this book, I thought an apple was something you picked and ate some time around October. Now I know the best dessert apples are those that must be stored for a month or more. There are some that aren't ready to come off the tree until December; others that are unfit to eat unless they've been in the cellar from October to March. There is one variety, the Winter Greening (Shakespeare's Apple-John), that can be kept for two years. There are apples that taste of aniseed, banana, pineapple, caraway, and apples that can't be eaten in any state, but are grown for making cider. Some are the size of walnuts: the smaller they are, Hogg and Bull contend, the better the cider.

Common Ground is a charity dedicated to preserving orchards in the form of Community orchards with a series of events to increase awareness of the treat to orchards. Whole pile of links here

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Opinion piece pulled from the Telegraph about Kenneth Bigley

A piece by Mark Steyn which was pulled from the Telegraph. It's easy to see why as it is not mawkishly sentimental about the tragedy of the death of Kenneth Bigley in Iraq. I have to say that I have been perplexed by this latest example of DI-death-syndrome where Britain goes into an irrational frenzy of emotionalism.

Now that's not to say that I don't feel sorrow for Bigley's family, I just don't see why the world must stop for this one guy when I doubt it's possible to find a list of the names of the innocent Iraqui dead.

The article goes further in suggesting that if anything, this overdose of emotionalism makes it more likely that people will be kidnapped and murder now the insurgents know what an easy target for emotional manipulation the British are.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Don't like the jacket? It will grow on you, literally!

Scientists are developing a way to grow leather like clothing from tissue cultures. The tissues come from so-called immortalised tissue cultures where, like with cancer, the cells continue to grow unimpeded. I guess the idea is that it shouldn't offend the prolifers and the animal liberationist; you know the people, the rational caring ones that bomb the houses of people they suspect of being abortionists and vivisectionists. Just one thing though, being a bit nit-pickking, presumably, even a coat that grows itself is a living thing, sure it may not be sentient in any way we know, but where do you draw the line?

Veronica Lake's ashes reappear

Veronica Lake was one of the biggest stars of the 1940s, who died penniless in her fifties.

She was so broke, apparently that there was a dispute over her ashes which were assumed to have been scattered. Recently they have reappeared in an antique store in Miami.

My favourite movie of hers is I married a witch, in which a beatiful 17th centruy witch returns to life to plague the descendant of her persecutor who had her burned at the stake. You can see a trailer here - unfortunately only in the dreaded WMF format (is that a weapon of Mass Frustration?)

What are Apple and U2 up to

Speculation is mounting about a special Music event that is happening on October 26th. If memory serves me right, that would be roughly the 3rd anniversay of the release of the original iPod - Sources suggest taht maybe there iwll a special edition U2 iPod pr-loaded with all U2's previous material and maybe their new one in advance of it's going on general release.

Is this a nifty way to put pressure on Apple Corps to accept a gentle settlement with Apple and release the Beatles back catalogue through iTunes?

The Google Bible

"Just for fun (and no offense) I replaced the following ten words in the King James Bible …

Book 01 Genesis

001:001 In the beginning Google created the Googleplex and the web.

001:002 And the web was without form, and void; and darkness was
upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of Google moved upon
the face of the waters.

001:003 And Google said, Let there be search: and there was search.
001:004 And Google saw the search, that it was good: and Google divided the
search from the darkness.
001:005 And Google called the search Day, and the darkness he called
Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

George Bush Bulges

But not in the right places

Photographic evidence of the bulges under Bush's jacket during the debates that everyone thinks were to power the earpiece that was prompting him

Why didn't Kerry ask him up front or take off his jacket to make the point?

Friday, October 08, 2004

Talk about a biased press

A news station has run a web page announcing the George Bush has wond the election - obviously American news organisations don't believe the American electorate has any say in the matter.

Oh of course, I forgot, they don't

Well, surprise surprise!

Dick Cheney is a liar

He claimed he'd never met Senator Edwards yet there's video evidence of the two of them together

The arrogance of these people - they completely forget just how many people want to expose them as the liars they are and prevent their getting re-elected.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

did Bush cheat and use an earpiece?

quite a bit of traffic on the net questioning whether Bush had an earpiece and was being prompted during the first debate
And he's always cheated when he could. He believes in cheating and dirty fighting as much as he believes in anything. Still, I suspect that it's been a slippery slope for Bush and Rove and Karen. First they gave him an audio prompter, so he wouldn't have to read speeches and stumble on words. Nothing wrong with that -- it's like a teleprompter for a dyslexic. They should have 'fessed up to it, though. When he started using a human cue card in his ear for press conferences, that's when it became very wrong. Taking it into the debate was outright fraud, a "fuck you" to truth, justice, and the American people.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The lying liars keep up with their lies

So despite the fact that the report quite clearly states that there were no WMDs in Iraq, Blair and Straw are attempting to spin it that he was a greater menace than previously imagined. The logic of it goes like this

The Iraq Survey Group report published on Wednesday said Saddam was "doing his best" to get round the sanctions, according to Tony Blair.

He said Saddam "never had any intention of complying with UN resolutions."

Mr Blair said the report made clear that there was "every intention" on Saddam's part to develop WMD.

Which translates as "he had no weapons, but would have liked some weapons therfore he was a greater threat than if he had had the weapons in the first place"

Jack Straw takes a similar approach:
Earlier, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the report showed Saddam posed a bigger threat than previously imagined.

It was now no surprise the Iraq Survey Group had found no WMD, he said.

But Mr Straw, speaking in Baghdad, said "the threat from Saddam Hussein in terms of his intentions" was "even starker than we have seen before"
So by this logic, the fact that I harbour fantasies about ruling the world means that there is a very good possibility that Blair will send in the army.

Why don't these useless liars just admit they lied. Blair claims he wants to win the trust of the British people back; how, by spinning more lies for us. How stupid does he think we are.

Some people will do anything to get on tv

Rebecca Loos, David Beckham's former PA/shag bit wanked a pig off last night on Channel Five's the Farm. Apparently there is a storm of protest about it but as far as I can see, if she's so desperate to be on tv she'll do that, why not let her humiliate herself!

Whose side is Dick Cheney on?

Not content that Donald Rumsfeld dropped the bomb a few days ago that he'd never seen any evidence linking Al Quaeda with Iraq, Dick Cheney in an attempt to bypass allegations about his ties to Halliburton directed people to when he really meant to direct people to Now this wouldn't normally have been a problem excepte the the redirects the browser to George Soros' website with a huge banner announcing "Why we must not re-elect President Bush"
President Bush ran on the platform of a ‘humble’ foreign policy in 2000. If we re-elect him now, we endorse the Bush doctrine of preemptive action and the invasion of Iraq, and we will have to live with the consequences. As I shall try to show, we are facing a vicious circle of escalating violence with no end in sight. But if we repudiate the Bush policies at the polls, we shall have a better chance to regain the respect and support of the world and to break the vicious circle.

Soros' website claims it is not responsible for the redirect, but I'm sure George Soros must be rubbing his hand in glee at the vice-President's mistake. Handy too as Soros is embarking on a nationwide tour to talk about how the wr in Iraq is making America less safe

Desperate Bush tries to improve on last week's performance

George Bush has used a rally to try to win back some of the ground he lost it his lacklustre performance at the first presidential debate
The president tried to redo the debate from last week by giving a speech full of untruths he couldn't say on stage with John Kerry because he knew Kerry would knock them down,' Kerry spokesman Phil Singer said.

The Guardian goes further, questioning whether Bush is slipping into a substitute reality - as if we had to ask. Mind I thought we slipped into an alternate reality back in 2000 when a monkey allegedly got elected president of the United States

EU investigates Microsoft's attempt to control DRM patents

The recent acquisition of ContentGuard by Microsoft and Time Warner is being investigated by the EU.
The reason for the EC's concern is that ContentGuard owns key patents based on early 1990s work by Mark Stefik, a researcher at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center, on DRM technologies. These include machine-readable markup languages to attach rights to content so that, for example, an article could be read but not printed, or a rights-holder could specify how many times a song could be played. The technologies also include the ability to attach fee-charging mechanisms, and other such basic DRM ideas.

Good job too since American regulators have rubber-stamped it. It is cases like this which clearly show why Europe should become more united so that there is at least one body able to scrutinise monopolistic behaviour by arrogant conglomerates

Keep tabs on your MP

Not sure your MP's working hard enough, or maybe not representing your views, now you can check up. They work for you lets you see how often your MP has attended Parliament, what they have said and whether you would like to vote for them next year. It makes for interesting reading.

for instance, my MP, Kate Hoey, spoke in Parliament 49 times last year, she replied to 27% of messages sent to, making her 532nd out of 587 MPs and she spoke against the ban on fox hunting

The Ideal Government Project

An online brainstorming session to come up with ideas for how e-enabled public services should look

Wouldn't it be better if...

You're a web user. What do you think ideal e-enabled public services should look like?

The UK is spending a lot of money and effort computerising government. Let's get a clear idea what we want it to look like when it's done. Dream a little, and help set out the wish list. Otherwise we might end up with something we did not want.

This will be a four-week online brainstorm. Then I'll produce edited highlights, with credits to contributors. I'll send it to five top UK politicians and offer to present the output to new UK government CIO Ian Watmore and government's efficiency review process boss John Oughton.

Send in your ideas

I bet he does

Steve Ballmer claims he doesn't remember branding all iPod users thieves - hmm guess who's learned where the back pedal is?
Ballmer may have decided to soften his view after the backlash experienced after his earlier comments. Silicon suggests that 'within 24 hours, Ballmer's words were coming back to haunt him'.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Steve Ballmer is just plain scary

It's no wonder Microsoft is so evil - they have an insane demon in charge.

Take a look at This - very unpleasant sweat stains - makes my skin crawl

And if that's not enough, have a look at this - the man is crazed.

Steve Ballmer: where is your survey? :: The London News Review

follow-up on the Steve Ballmer story from yesterday
But what's most odious about this non-statement is the word 'most'. None of the iPod-users I know have been surveyed about this. You can put anything the hell you like on an iPod, so long as it supports formats which aren't crippled with corporate padlocks. Recordings of birdsong, stuff off the radio, your own CDs, you friend's band, stuff from covermounts... it's up to you. No-one knows what's on iPods, and a hunch based on what you're most scared of isn't much use to anyone. So let's have none of this nonsensical, unresearched scaremongering guesswork.
But that's not the only way that Ballmer is offending clear thinking.
There's Ballmer's model, which treats all music fans as irredeemably criminal, and wants to constrain their behaviour to a form which fits the way the current, temporary music industry currently likes things. There's the totally free model of transferable files. And there's Apple's model, which treats us a little more grown-up, but allows some free action, within reasonable constraints.
And the most sensible model is not the one in the middle. You don't stop people doing something because they might do something illegal. That's plain bad lawmaking and the record shows that these laws don't work.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Is the Pope mad or what?

the Pope continues to make more and more saints, choosing the beatify a further five today which brings his running total up to 1,340 people beatified.

Among the potential saints are the last Austro-Hungarian Emperor Karl, which has brought condemnation as this 'saintly figure' authorised the use of poison gas in world War One. And guess what is the miraculous basis for his beatification?? A Brazilian nun claims he cured her varicose veins. Gosh that sounds wonderful. I wonder would praying to him cure piles??

One of the other people to be beatified was Anne Catherine Emmerich, a 19th century Nun, whose crazed anti-semitic ravings were used by Mel Gibson in that pile of superstitious clap-trap he inflicted on the world earlier this year

Who does Steve Ballmer think he is?

CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, has the cheek to call iPod users music thieves!
Speaking in London, Ballmer praised Microsoft's own digital rights management technologies, taking the chance to criticise Apple's own implementation. "We’ve had DRM in Windows for years," he said, "the most common format of music on an iPod is ‘stolen'." It's a sign of the increasingly bitter bettle between Apple and Microsoft to create the de facto standard for music downloads.

He described the sector as at "tipping point", and predicted massively increased sales for devices that integrate video, audio and computer functions. "We may get a device that can take on critical mass," he said, according to
Ballmer took a swipe at Microsoft's only significant non-Linux OS competitor, as he talked up his company's dominance of the market, a dominance that is currently before the European courts.

"There is no way that you can get there with Apple," he said, "The critical mass has to come from the PC, or a next-generation video device," he said

All this from the CEO of a company that admits is copied the iTunes music store for its own offering and only entered the legal music download market because it could see there was yet another market it could attempt to saturate with its substandard bug-ridden unsecure software. It must surely be a sign of how worried Microsoft are that they have to resort to slagging off a tremendously successful product

Friday, October 01, 2004 | Media | Ofcom proposes new public service TV channel to rival BBC

OfCom proposes that a new public service broadcaster be set up to offer public service competition for the BBC.

This recognises that the existing commercial channels will have increasing pressures on them to compete for audience shares when the analogue service is switched off in 2012

At least OfCom recommends that the Licence fee is retained and there are no changes in the structure of the BBC