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August 9th, 2010


05:34 pm - No words can suffice.
From today's Times:
Three Taleban mullahs condemned a pregnant widow to be flogged and shot in public, in a remote part of western Afghanistan on Sunday, after convicting her of having an affair.

Mullah Daoud, a senior Taleban commander contacted by this newspaper, said that he had sat on the panel of three judges which reached the decision, in an area of Badghis province firmly under militant control.

“There were three mullahs that passed this verdict. I was one of them,” he said. “We gave this decision so that in future no one should have these illegal affairs. We whipped her in front of all the local people, to show them an example. Then we shot her.”

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10:48 am - Lamest edit wars
Information is Beautiful has an especially-entertaining graphic today: Articles of War: Wikipedia's lamest edit wars
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August 5th, 2010


01:53 pm - Really? Why not "teh IntarWEBS?"
Dear me... I'm reading the ruling from the California judge who overturned the state's same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8, and I'm entertained, frightened, and unsurprised (all at once!) at what the case revealed about some Prop 8 supporters:
Hak-Shing William Tam testified about his role in the Proposition 8 campaign. Tam spent substantial time, effort and resources campaigning for Proposition 8. Tam testified that he is the secretary of the America Return to God Prayer Movement, which operates the website 1man1woman.net.

1man1woman.net encouraged voters to support Proposition 8 on grounds that homosexuals are twelve times more likely to molest children... and because Proposition 8 will cause states one-by-one to fall into Satan's hands...

Tam identified NARTH (the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) as the source of information about homosexuality, because he "believe[s] in what they say."
...and the best part:
Tam identified "the internet" as the source of information connecting same-sex marriage to polygamy and incest.
Well, gosh. I can't see how anyone could dispute his sources: I mean, if you Google same-sex marriage polygamy incest, I'm sure you'll get results...


Addendum: Discussing the testimony of another Prop 8 supporter, the ruling notes:
Blankenhorn's... opinion is that recognizing same-sex marriage will lead to the deinstitutionalization of marriage. [He] described deinstitutionalization as a process through which previously stable patterns and rules forming an institution (like marriage) slowly erode or change.

Blankenhorn identified several manifestations of deinstitutionalization: out-of-wedlock childbearing, rising divorce rates, the rise of non-marital cohabitation, increasing use of assistive reproductive technologies and marriage for same-sex couples.
You see it already, don't you?  :-)
To the extent Blankenhorn believes that same-sex marriage is both a cause and a symptom of deinstitutionalization, his opinion is tautological.

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July 28th, 2010


11:18 am - Say it ain't so...
Plastic Bertrand didn't really sing on "Ça plane pour moi"?

What next?

Edit: Today's Times has a leading article on the story... entitled "Oooh Oooooh Oooh Oooh". Nice.  :-)
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July 18th, 2010


02:13 pm - I think the lobes of my brain just collided.
Michael Moorcock is putting out a Doctor Who novel, The Coming of the Terraphiles. The mind boggles...
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July 2nd, 2010


05:34 pm - YOU ARE IN ERROR. NO ONE IS SCREAMING. THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION.
I have laid my mitts, at long last, on a copy of John M. Ford's "gala 48-page adventure extravaganza" The Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues, for Paranoia. Lovely.
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July 1st, 2010


12:06 pm - Good-bye, Little Frank...
RIP Frank Sidebottom (a.k.a. Chris Sievey), 1955–2010:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/manchester/10370480.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/manchester/hi/people_and_places/newsid_8752000/8752639.stm

The Trouser Press Guide entry sums it up:
At first glance, Frank Sidebottom is just an idiotic soccer fan from Timperley (a town just outside Manchester) who performs inanely nasal renditions of popular songs — accompanying himself in various musical modes, from rock to acoustic piano to a rinkydink synthesizer approximation of '20s ragtime — while wearing an enormous painted papier-mâché head. But what Chris Sievey (former leader of the equally prolific punk-era Freshies) has done as Frank Sidebottom is so completely over the top, so singlemindedly weird, funny and charming that one has to marvel at the wit and intensity with which he pursues his bewildering career.
Well, quite. And anyone who puts out an album entitled Frank Sidebottom Salutes The Magic Of Freddie Mercury And Queen And Also Kylie Minogue (You Know, Her Off Neighbours) earns a place in my book.

That's not even counting his bloody-hysterical covers of "Summertime Blues" (as "Timperley Blues") and "Last Train to Clarksville" ("Next Train to Timperley", of course), or his "indie medley" which smooshes "Love Will Tear Us Apart", "How I Wrote Elastic Man", "Take the Skinheads Bowling", and "Bigmouth Strikes Again" into a single... uh, edifice.

The world will be less funny and less strange for his passing, and that's never a good thing.

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June 29th, 2010


12:47 pm - What's 12-and-a-half years between friends?
Back in January 1998, before I ever embarked on the Great DVD Experiment, when I was still a laserdisc collector, I made a brief wishlist of four brilliant films that either had sub-par laserdisc releases or else weren't available on disc at all in the USA. This was my "Criterion wishlist", since Criterion have made a long-standing habit of releasing films that bigger labels don't think are moneymakers (and of re-releasing other labels' films in superior licensed editions, à la their fantastic versions of Brazil and Ran).

Over the years, as DVD took a foothold in the market, three of these four films saw worthwhile releases on the new format, all of which I snapped up: Mike Nichols' Catch-22, Jonathan Demme's Stop Making Sense, and Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. (None of these DVDs actually came out under Criterion's aegis, either, but I was content just to have decent-quality versions of the films.)

And now, a mere 12-and-a-half years later, the last film on my list is finally coming: Criterion is releasing Nagisa Oshima's brutal and brilliant Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence on Blu-ray and DVD in September. Hot *damn*.
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June 24th, 2010


05:24 pm - And people say politicians have no sense of humour...
David Cairns (Inverclyde, Labour):
For more than 20 years, Sky News has provided an excellent source of impartial news and analysis. Can the Prime Minister give a guarantee that, whoever ends up owning BSkyB, it will not be allowed to turn into Fox News, and that there is no room here for shouty, reactionary propaganda passing itself off as fair and balanced news?

David Cameron (Prime Minister; Witney, Conservative):
The very idea of shouty, reactionary propaganda being passed in the House of Commons is an appalling thought.

Prime Minister's Questions, 23 June 2010

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June 17th, 2010


09:15 am - "Beam me up!"?
I wonder whether this Parliamentary answer from David Cameron marks the first mention of Star Trek in Hansard:
...what we are all enjoying on the Government Benches is the Labour leadership election, although it is by day beginning to look more like a Star Trek convention — beam me up!

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