Saturday, December 22, 2007

Kylie in Smash Hits

This Christmas sees Kylie Minogue appear in Doctor Who (squee). A mere 20 years ago she was a pop star (and soap actress). Smash Hits was the greatest pop magazine of the 80s. I once used to keep a stack of Smash Hits next to my pile of NMEs. Kylie appeared on the cover of Smash Hits 5 times in the 80s, although I could only find the four you see above (click on the picture to see a bigger version).

Smash Hits specialised in asking stars stupid questions, like, what kind of sandwich they liked. Kylie answered:

A chocolate sandwich. That's my favourite food! I try to stay away from chocolate but I like things like flake bars. I don't like too many sweet things generally but I do like chocolate. When I was at school I sort of rationed myself to buy a little chocolate something and I'd nibble it really slowly so it'd last through lunchtime. Have I got any fillings? I haven't got any actually.
Which kind of sums up Kylie: only human, but perfect.

How to build a Cathedral, part 11

Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, California, December 2007

Here we see the Omega window. In the picture above the rectangular pieces are all in place. Each piece has a straight diagonal line, but the way they are placed together creates an illusion of a curve. Below we see the window with one piece missing (at the top).

Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, California, December 2007

Below we see the Alpha window which now has some glass. The steps here will form the main entry to the cathedral.

Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, California, December 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

New Year wishes

Dear Politicians...

I am not afraid of terrorism, and I want you to stop being afraid on my behalf. Please start scaling back the official government war on terror. Please replace it with a smaller, more focused anti-terrorist police effort in keeping with the rule of law. Please stop overreacting. I understand that it will not be possible to stop all terrorist acts. I am not afraid.
Dear Apple...
I would like an iPod Touch with a hard disk please.
Dear David Tennant
Please keep playing Doctor Who. Hope you get a good rest doing other stuff this year
Dear Will Wright
Please try to get Spore done this year. But if it's not ready I'll wait.
Dear World...
Er... can we get this global warming thing sorted? Lets start with a painful carbon tax.
Dear Led Zeppelin...
Please don't tour. If you do I might have to go to a reunion concert in a stadium.
Dear Music Industry...
Amy Winehouse is really cool (apart from the drugs). But that doesn't mean we want to see a whole boatload of soul revivalists.
Dear Google...
look, I love you OK? We all do. I really believe you want to avoid evil. But you're just so big, I feel squashed. I just feel this is going to be a hard year for you. Try to be a bit humble.

Stairway To Heaven played by a Beatles tribute band

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Soviet Christmas Cards

My Faves of the Year part 1

Best concerts:

  1. Patrick Wolf. Why isn't this guy a huge star?
  2. SunnO))) In some ways hugely annoying but a fantastic experience.
  3. The rest.
Worst concert was Built to Spill at the Independent. This was depressing, so average that I could not even blog about it. Do the band hate each other or what? Is it a crime to be entertaining?

Best films (all watched on DVD on a pathetically small TV):

  • The Lady Eve (1941)
  • Army of Shadows (1969)
  • Black Hawk Down (2001)
  • Children of Men (2006)
  • The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)
  • This Is England (2006)
  • The Lives of Others (2007)
  • Knocked Up (2007)

Most disappointing films:

  • La Vie en Rose (2007)
  • Hot Fuzz (2007)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Daleks in Panto

I've got a friend whose friend knows someone who works with the people who are doing panto with the Daleks. Someone asked about getting a photo of the friend with a Dalek, but sadly...

The truth is the BBC made the producers and the Theatre sign a contract that no Dalek photos are allowed to be taken, and that the Daleks are not allowed to be brought into disrepute. Clearly we're all taking this very seriously.

Sadly we expected the Daleks to be pretty well made: after all, they want to take over the Universe. As it is, fibre glass and batons of 2"x1" seem to be in order

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ike and Tina Turner

This is from the movie The Big T.N.T. Show.

Update: read Donald Fagen on Ike.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Don't worry about the government

BAE Systems is a British defence and aerospace company with a market capitalization of 16.39 billion dollars. It is so big that the UK government stepped in to stop investigations of blatant bribes to members of the Saudi royal family and government officials. At the time the Attorney General said:

This decision has been taken following representations that have been made both to the Attorney General and the Director concerning the need to safeguard national and international security. It has been necessary to balance the need to maintain the rule of law against the wider public interest.
Doesn't this clearly say that for enough money the rule of law will be ignored? This is so pathetic that now even the United States Department of Justice is investigating the bribes.

In the Guardian today there is a compelling story of how BAE employed people to spy on the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), a small peace group. A trusted friend, activist and officer within the group secretly forwarded emails that ended up at BAE. Fortunately this case did not involve a £43 billion arms deal and in court BAE admitted that they had been paying for CAAT to be spied on.

BAE Systems has undertaken "not to intercept by any unlawful means ... [and] not to solicit, voluntarily receive or procure any confidential communication or document" belonging to CAAT. The big picture is that a multimillion-pound arms firm has been humiliated, it has been caught and forced to admit to paying for spying on a peace group comprised primarily of students and Quakers, and has promised not to do it again.
If you are an activist you have to suspect that the government is spying on you. But companies may be spying on you too.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Evel Knievel R.I.P.

Evel Knievel

Evel Knievel has died at age 69.

All the money in the world can’t buy your way into heaven, it can’t buy your way out of hell, it was made to be spent right here. And I’m gonna have the best clothes, best boots, best diamonds, best cars, trucks, motorcycles, booze and women on the face of this earth, just as long as I can keep going.

Below, the crash at Caesar's Palace that put him in a coma for 29 days

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

A new computer class

Bell’s Law for the birth and death of computer classes says that a new class of computer comes along every ten years or so. Outside of these revolutionary periods the computer makers keep price constant but add more features. So, today's laptop is somewhat cheaper than older laptops but it is much more powerful. We are now seeing the dawn of a new class of computer, the ultra cheap portable. One example is the One Laptop per Child project, another is the Asus Eee. These computers are revolutionary because they offer less functionality (small screen, Linux based software) at a much lower price.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Family Portrait in Boots

Click for a bigger picture.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

How to build a Cathedral, part 10

Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, California, 9 November 2007

They have started to put glass in to form the Omega window. It is plain green glass which matches exactly the colour of the office building I work in. In the original architect's drawings and on the cathedral's own web site the glass is shown as white. At present I don't understand why they chose this green colour. Another new feature is the spikes that have been added at the top of the sides. They look as though they are continuations of the metal framework but clearly they are an ornamental addition. Also new is the tempting ladder that ascends the side.

Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, California, 9 November 2007

Flight of the Darned

Very silly but wonderful mix of doctor who stuff.

Oracle 1: Oracle 1

Oracle did well yesterday, offering me a free print subscription to the Economist. I was pleased. I like that magazine, but never quite enough to pay for it regularly. So I was feeling benevolent towards Oracle until I went to bed last night. There was a loud thumping noise. Was it our annoying neighbours with whom we have a feud? Nope, it was the Oracle party at the Cow Palace, two and a half miles away. It must have been horrendously loud. Lots of other people heard it too, but it's OK as we all live in the unfashionable south end of the city. And who was performing at the party? Lenny Kravitz? Of all rocks stars I may despise him the most for his blatant ripoffs of dead heroes .

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Björk & PJ Harvey duet on Satisfaction

This is from the BRIT Awards 1994.

Ads on BBC news page

There are now ads on if you are outside the UK. I hadn't noticed them as trusty adblock was filtering them out in Firefox. There is an ad for Hublot watches and a link to an explanation of what's going on (at the right hand side). Both are evil flash, which at least makes them easy to block.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Nightwish @ Slims, San Francisco, 2 Nov 2007


If you look at this evil flash tool from Gracenote you can see what music people are actually listening to. This reveals that, whoa, the Beatles are very popular and that Pink Floyd have not been destroyed by the punk revolution. If you look at Finland you will see that the number one band is Nightwish. They are a sort of symphonic goth metal band. The keyboardist is the main writer but the focus of attention is the female singer. Two years ago their current singer was fired by the rest of the band using a not very subtle open letter. Now they are touring with their new singer. I'm not a big fan but I thought it would be fun, so I went to see them.

The support band was Paradise Lost who reminded me of Sisters of Mercy, perhaps it was the singer's Yorkshire accent. Then a long wait for the main act was made bearable by old film of Iron Maiden from the 80s. This caused great amusement for the guys behind me who marveled at the youth of the band. Metal crowds are so friendly (despite what they look like), however I did not reveal my dubious credentials of having seen "Maiden" in 1980.

Nightwish eventually appeared. In many places they are a stadium band and they had a funny stage setup with two screens at the back of the stage behind which the band would occasionally retreat. They have a good drummer, the aforementioned pretty boy keyboardist, a fork-bearded bass player and a shortish guitarist. New singer Anette looks relaxed and bounces around gleefully. Basically I found this band very agreeable. Maybe it's the Nordic connection but they remind me of Abba with their pleasant natures. Although they play a longish set I would have happily heard more. I would like to hear more of the guitarist, and even the bassist's support singing was pretty good. Anette has an unenviable task of replacing her classically trained predecessor, but she looks totally at home on stage. She is that goth girl who looks fierce but is fun to be with. She hugs the other members and they look like they can't believe how long they put up with the previous prima donna.

Nightwish aren't exactly my favourite type of band but I had a good time seeing them. Like the Donnas their professionalism makes for a fun night out.

Read a nice report from a real fan.

Eisenhower on planning

Dwight D. Eisenhower said:

Plans are nothing; planning is everything
or, to paraphrase in the modern vernacular:
Planning is important, plans not so much.
In the software world a lot of time is spent making plans, which are carefully written down and stored safely. After that they are not often referred to. Pretty soon circumstances have changed and a new plan is required. So I agree with Ike.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween 2007

So what did I do with all that blood I made? I was a Halloween Zombie (click on the above picture to see a bigger version). I had a good time walking around with a young witch. I think she was a little disgusted that I got a lot of attention. It can get pretty tiring doing that lurching zombie walk for a long time. A few people wanted to have their photo taken with me, though the guy who put his arm around me found that blood can be sticky.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Making blood for Halloween

Take a a quarter cup of corn starch

Take a a quarter cup of corn starch

Add a quarter cup of water

Add a quarter cup of water

Add 8 drops blue food coloring

Add 8 drops blue food coloring. Green may work as well

Add 3 teaspoons of red food coloring

Add 3 teaspoons of red food coloring

Add a pint of light corn syrup

Add a pint of light corn syrup

Stir well

Stir well. It seems very dark, but on flesh it looks good.

Put back in the bottle for later use

Put back in the bottle for later use

Obituary for a terrorist

Sammy Duddy died on 17 October 2007 aged 62. The Independent says:

In the 1970s, he was by day a propagandist for the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), the extreme Protestant group which was responsible for the killings of hundreds of Catholics. By night, however, he appeared on Belfast's limited but vibrant cabaret circuit, presenting a ribald act in loyalist pubs and clubs dressed in fishnet tights, wig and heavy make-up.
The Torygraph says:
But in 1981, after the Kincora boys' home paedophile scandal which implicated senior loyalists, Duddy was ordered to abandon his drag act by the UDA's supreme commander Andy Tyrie. "Son, grow a moustache and drop your voice, because we don't want your name in connection with this thing," Tyrie told him. Duddy did as he was told: "It was a pity, but I guess it had to end sometime," he reflected.
The Irish Independent says:
After the RUC broke up the gang, arresting most of its members, the north Belfast UDA became less and less capable of targeting and killing republicans, increasingly killing innocent Catholics. A joke among loyalists at the time was that if the north Belfast UDA had you on its target list, your next door neighbour was in deadly danger.
The Torygraph adds:
[...] in 2002 Duddy paid the price for taking sides in the dispute when two masked gunmen fired shots at his front door. Although he escaped unharmed, his pet chihuahua, Bambi, was killed by the gunfire. This summer Duddy was reported to have moved out of his home in the Rathcoole estate due to continuing internecine tensions between rival UDA factions.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

How to build a Cathedral, part 9

East side of Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, California, October 2007

The glass wall on the east side (above) is complete. There are 36 x 10 = 360 glass panels on each of the long sides. The glass for the roof (below) is almost complete. There is still no glass for the Omega window.

Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, California, October 2007

The glass wall is less attractive than the internal wooden ribs that were previously visible. In some lighting you can still see the ribs but most of the time you cannot. The west side (below) does not give much to look at except the two different orientations of the panels.

West side of Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, California, October 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

Picture Caption Competition

What is Arnie thinking/saying here?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dalek stamp

Original is here. Dalek was supplied by This Planet Earth and photographed by Lord Snowdon.

The genius of Rafael Benitez

After last weekend I feel like a finally understand Rafa a bit more. The substitution of Saint Steven of Gerrard in the Everton game was the turning point. Why would any manager hook his only player who would walk into any other premiership team? Rafa says he took of Gerrard because he had too much passion. At first I found this hard to understand. Managers like Lord Ferg and Mourinho love to see passion. Rafa however in some way was foreseeing what would happen later, when Carragher committed a blatant foul which should have resulted in a penalty. It seems clear that some sort of Red mist had overwhelmed him and he was lucky to get away with it. I think this is what Rafa wanted to avoid. He is a cold blooded genius. It just doen’t make him very likeable.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

San Diego Firestorm 2007

Time lapse images of the view from Lyons Peak at the Harris Fire from the East, then again from the West. My brother in law's family were evacuated but are now back home.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Quote of the day

Phineas Nigellus Black [portrait]:

You know, Minister... I disagree with Dumbledore on many counts... but you cannot deny he's got style.
[After Dumbledore overcomes the Minister for Magic, Dolores Umbridge and two other Aurors, and escapes]


I actually physically remove the caps lock key from any keyboard to which I have exclusive access.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Vintage ads


Great blog of vintage ads includes the above masterpiece.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

WoW tacoma toyota commercial

MMORPG are now mainstream.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Ronnie Hazlehurst

It is not really fair that some people are musical geniuses. When Ronnie Hazlehurst wrote the theme tune to Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em he spelled out the name of the programme in Morse code with the musical rhythm. Why did he do this? Because he could. I've heard this theme millions of times and would never have guessed. You can hear the theme in the embedded video and also see Elisabeth Sladen in one of her first TV appearances.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Marvin Gaye sings American National Anthem

The Star-Spangled Banner is famously hard to sing. I think this just shows that Marvin would be sexy reading the phone book.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Siouxise Sioux Mantaray Cover

Click for big picture...

What will be this year's worst adaption of a beloved fantasy book?

The winner in 2006 was Earthsea. The front runner in 2007 has long been His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass. But now a new candidate is coming up fast. The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising is the big-screen adaptation of part of Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series. You can hear/read a really dismaying interview with Cooper at NPR. The script is by John Hodge who did the screenplay for Trainspotting. He is admirably honest about the changes that were required:

One of the things I didn't want it to be confused with was Harry Potter, because I just think the world doesn't need another English boy involved with fantasy adventures.
I don't think even Christopher Eccleston as The Rider (a baddie) is going to be enough to get me to see this one.

Go Equipment

go set

This is my Go set. The board (goban) is made of spruce. The pieces are glass and the containers are, er, plastic. This set come from Korea, via The other side of the board is a very useful 13 x 13 board. Go equipment can be very beautiful and very expensive. I'm glad I've got at least a respectable level of quality.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Early Halloween decorations

Early Halloween decorations

A house round the corner has Halloween decorations up at the end of September.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Hikaru no Go

Hikaru no Go

Hikaru no Go is a manga about a Go player. Because this is a comic things aren't quite that simple and our hero Hikaru (on the right above) is sharing his consciousness with an ancient Go master. I am learning to play Go and so I am perhaps biased, but I find the whole thing very charming. I am not the only one and the success of Hikaru has led to a revival of Go in Japan. Managa is very popular with the kids here in San Francisco and I am hoping for a similar surge in interest here.

Because the stories are written in Japan they read right to left so you read the both the speech balloons and the panels in the revers of the normal direction. That's also what the 'read this way' thing is at the top.

It's also nice that, unlike some manga, these are suitable for all ages.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A nice coffee table book

The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss by Claire Nouvian

I borrowed The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss by Claire Nouvian from the library. It has loads of cool photographs of deep sea creatures. They are alien, strange and very different from us. There are 220 of these. The only trouble with the production of the book is that it has a bit of a chemical smell. Here is the caption for the picture at the top:

Up until 1979, whenever one thought about worms, the image of a colorless earthworm came immediately to mind, but the discovery of the giant, sublimely colored creatures living around hydrothermal vents in the eastern Pacific abruptly changed that view. These astonishing creatures live in symbiosis with the chemosynthetic bacteria that provide the worms with their meals. It took the specialists a while to understand the functioning of the animal, which at first they believed to be a filter feeder. Robert D Ballard remembers their incredulity: "With no eyes, no mouth, or any other obvious organs for ingesting food or secreting waste, and no means of locomotion, it was no worm, snake or eel, but no plant either - the strangest creature we had ever seen".

I am dismayed at the way we seem to be overfishing the oceans. Deep trawling can do lots of damage to the ecosystems that contains these marvels.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Lives of Others

Crowne Plaza hotel in Prague

It is no secret that I like Soviet stuff. When I went to Prague I delighted in staying in the Stalinist Crowne Plaza hotel pictured above. I ignored Prague's pretty European stuff which my fellow travelers from the US were enjoying and went seeking out the brutalist Sov monuments. I also liked that movie Goodbye Lenin. I obviously suffer from some weird form of Ostalgie.

Fortunately there is a cure. The Lives of Others is a superb film about life under the Stasi. I will never be able to be quite so flip about communism again. I unreservedly recommend this movie. You should try and see it before there is a Hollywood remake.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Henry Winter on Jose Mourinho

Although Henry Winter writes for the Torygraph he is a great football journalist. He knows his stuff, has great contacts, and writes beautifully. Here is the start of his opinion on Jose Mourinho's sensational departure.

Jose Mourinho's stay in English football felt like having a truculent but wonderfully talented teenager around the house. Any irritation over occasional spoilt-brat tantrums was offset by Mourinho's immense charm in private, his humour and undoubted brilliance as a football coach. English football is a quieter, more monochrome place without this Portuguese peacock.

I certainly hope Mourinho returns to English football one day. He raised the standard in the Premiership: the top teams have had to make themselves better to compete with Chelsea. I don't think they'll be the same team without him.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Onion mocks its own advertisers

American Apparel often advertises on the back page of The Onion. Now the Onion is biting back.

The models, who range in age from 18 to 22 but appear to be 12 to 14, were taken to an emergency safehouse where they were given food, clothing, and access to soap. Officials said they were conducting tests to determine whether the girls were subjected to brainwashing during their captivity.

For a good account of American Apparel's strange business practices read here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Should one read a fantasy series that has not yet been completed?

If you were reading The Wheel of Time fantasy series by Robert Jordan then you are unlucky as he has just died. Eleven of the twelve books of the series were completed. I read the first volume and judged it not interesting enough to continue but this is a best selling series. In the thrift store on Friday they had many copies of his books, maybe someone had a premonition?

I have read two books of the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. I like these books, they are complex without being overwhelming. If you think about the plot too much you can guess what will happen, but they are great books for the plane. But the series is not complete. The author is 58 years old (the same age as Jordan). I wish he would just finish those books so I can feel safe reading some more. I get annoyed when I read on his blog about the time he spends not writing and making deals, but then I feel mean when I hear about him missing worldcon so that has can do more writing. Basically I should never have started an unfinished series. Another reason not to do this is that you end up buying hardback copies of the books as they come out.

Obviously Harry Potter was an exception to this rule, but it's finished anyway.

Friday, September 14, 2007

How to build a Cathedral, part 8

Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, California, 14 September 2007

This is the framework for the north window which will be called the Omega window. To the right you can see the roof area between the outside glass panels and the wood structure is made of green glass which is similar to that used at the sides, but without ceramic frit.

Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, California, 14 September 2007

Two views from the Lake Merritt side.

Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, California, 14 September 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A soviet poster a day

A soviet poster a day

Who says the internet is useless? If you are feeling unwell, take a soviet poster a day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

You were searched on Rapleaf

Have you got an email with subject line: You were searched on Rapleaf? I just got one.

Thanks to Nicholas Whyte's excellent investigations (main entry here, all articles here) we can see that Rapleaf is a pathetic opportunistic company. They even have the nerve to have a tag on their homepage saying it is more profitable to be ethical. They can surely never recover from this.

Phil Collins

A gorilla drums along with Phil Collins in an ad for Cadbury's Dairy Milk.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Football quote of the week

"I think Peter Schmeichel will be a father-figure for Kasper." -- Jamie Redknapp

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Led Zeppelin set to reform

Can it be true? Fortunately it is 5,000 miles away.

Trains and more trains

It’s nearly Labor day and Summer is nearly over. I haven’t done my homework blog report. The subject of my report is trains.


The only trip I took was a long weekend in Portland, Oregon. We went up by Amtrak. We had a small (5'2” x 9'5”) Family Bedroom which spans the entire width of the car and has windows on each side. If you don’t get a cabin it can be a bit cheaper than flying, but it takes a lot longer. You take an Amtrak bus across the bay to Emeryville, and then take the 10pm train. The arrival time is supposed to be 3.40 pm. The evening came and we were still on the train. We were supposed to arrive in the afternoon on Saturday but there were many delays. We got to Portland about 11pm. Amtrak doesn't own the tracks and Union Pacific gives priority to freight trains.

Cleaning our windows

Meal service in a dining car is included in the price (if you have a cabin). There was some sort of vegetarian possibility at each meal. It was fun to sleep on the train in the small bunks. I have now done the whole Amtrak route from San Diego to Portland.

The MAX train

Portland is nice (in the Summer at least). The centre is very compact and the block size is smaller than San Francisco so what looks like a trek on the map is actually a short stroll. In the downtown area all the transit is free. This is Washington Park station. At 260 feet (70 meters) below the surface it is the deepest subway station in North America

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Use your Harry Potter Amazon coupon before Friday!

If you pre-ordered Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows from in the US then you may have got a promotional coupon for $5. If you did then you should use it now as it expires on Friday. You can thank me later.

I liked the book, though I found the epilogue a bit sickly. I liked JK Rowling's other post book comments (summarised here) better.

Friday, August 24, 2007

World War II Games

Boris Kobe (1905-1981) was a Slovenian architect and painter imprisoned in Dachau. He created this full set of tarot cards while in the concentration camp.

The BBC reports on games that were created in Britain during World War II. There is also a gallery of pictures.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

How to build a Cathedral, part 7

Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, California, 14 August 2007

The wooden structure is finished and they are starting to install the glass on the outside. The water in the background here is left over form a flooding that was deliberately done to test the roof of the underground car park.

Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, California, 14 August 2007

So far all the glass sections have the same design, though there are two ways of positioning them as they are asymmetric. It is rather a pity that the wood is being covered up. Some people say the glass looks like shower stall doors. The glass is coated with ceramic frit to form a pattern.

Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, California, 14 August 2007

CIA Black Sites

I felt physically sick after reading the New Yorker's article about CIA Black Sites. I believe that when we degrade others we degrade ourselves. The International Committee of the Red Cross

described the agency’s detention and interrogation methods as tantamount to torture, and declared that American officials responsible for the abusive treatment could have committed serious crimes. The source said the report warned that these officials may have committed “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions, and may have violated the U.S. Torture Act, which Congress passed in 1994. The conclusions of the Red Cross, which is known for its credibility and caution, could have potentially devastating legal ramifications.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Dinosaur Jr.: Live in the Middle East (DVD)

As discussed previously I a have an embargo on seeing reformed bands. Instead I watch their videos. This is a concert featuring the reformed Dinosaur Jr. As concert DVDs go this was pretty good, I hardly used the fast forward key at all. It is a bit like seeing the band in a small venue, which is pretty much all you can expect form a DVD. As well as the music there some fairly interesting interviews with fans, including Kim Gordon, Steve Albini and Kevin Shields. J Mascis has long grey hair now, which as we know is very cool. It is fun to hear J talk, his voice is almost expressionless. In a great story Murph the drummer explains how J used to tell him exactly what to play in the beginning. They would have 2 drum sets and J would teach him the songs measure by measure. I really love the Dinosaur Jr. sound. Their records have stood up well, unlike, say Husker Du, whose records now seem very badly produced.

The Seven Deadly Virtues

roz chast

Roz Chast is the greatest.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Tony Wilson RIP

Tony Wilson has died at the age of 57. He was a cocky bastard, but you have to respect him. When I was a kid he was a presenter on the local TV magazine show Granada Reports. It was always worth watching in case Tony slipped in an appearance by a cool band (who would quite often be signed to his record label, Factory Records). Even when he was famous (he was never rich), he still presented on this regional TV show and he stayed based in the North West.

In the movie 24 Hour Party People Tony is portayed by Steve Coogan. I think this is a great performance in a great film. He really captures the essence of Wilson as a trickster and chancer. He was never cool (look at his haircut in the video above) but he was a true hero.

Update: Click on the NME to read Paul Morley on Tony Wilson.