“Suddenly, one day in your forties or fifties, everything becomes clear…
And then it goes away again!”

Irvin Yalom
Thursday
Apr122007

End of 'this' blog

This blog has been moved to archives (that’s here really) and I’ve set up a new front page.

Use the Frontpage link or click here.  

 

mikepower.net will link to the new blog.  

 

mikepower.squarespace.com links to this archived site. 

 

Thursday
Apr052007

Break

Thursday
Apr052007

One man went to mob...

spiked - One man is not a mob
The British media claim that an ‘Iranian hate mob’ has demanded the execution of the 15 captured British seamen. Really?

So was there a ‘bloodthirsty mob’, a ‘hate mob’, baying for the beheading of the captured British servicemen in Tehran last week? Hardly. Morteza Nikoubazl, the Iranian photographer who took the pictures of the ‘mob’, says there were 11 students in an orderly line outside the foreign ministry in Tehran. Eleven students do not make a mob, which according to the Oxford English Dictionary is ‘the disorderly and riotous part of the population, the rabble; a tumultuous crowd bent on lawlessness’.


Thursday
Apr052007

OK Stinky, imagine I'm HMS Cornwell...



 The Spectator
Friends with military experience ponder two questions about the Iranian kidnap of the 15 British sailors. The first is, ‘Why didn’t they put up a fight?’ The answer seems to lie with the rules of engagement. This was effectively confirmed by Sir Alan West, until recently the First Sea Lord, who said that the rules were ‘de-escalatory’, and part of the British attempt to be a ‘force for good’ (the government’s cant phrase about our armed services). ‘Rather than roaring into action and sinking everything in sight we try to step back and that, of course, is why our chaps were... captured,’
Actually the answer lies largely with the fact that they were completely outgunned. Perhaps they didn't feel Blair's little adventure was worth dying for. Let's club together and buy Charles Moore a tin hat and a dinghy and he can show us how it's done. Arse. Had he spent a moment or two on Google he might have found some more answers, like this one:
The Iranians had three to four gunboats armed with 3" Guns and heavy machine guns. The thought of going up against these craft while in two Zodiacs type semi-rigid craft make it seem that surrender was the best course of action. In fact boarding parties are required, even the USN and Coast Guard, to surrender and to allow diplomacy to run it's course.
Back in the olden days, says Moore,...
Another change since the Falklands is the growth of the idea that the British media are being unprofessional if we display any preference for our own country’s cause over that of its enemies.
What the fuck? Haven't you read the papers?

I do know one thing that's changed since the Falklands and that is the quality of the Spectator. It used to be worth reading. Now it's largely crap. And, in spite of repeated attempts to get it right, the website still stinks.

Thursday
Apr052007

Hallelujah!

GodTube.com
GodTube, is a YouTube like Flash video sharing site focusing on using “technology to connect Christians for the purpose of encouraging and advancing the Gospel worldwide.” So when they say God, they specifically mean Jesus Christ and Christianity and not just any God that someone might believe in.

Don’t try to upload non-Christian video to the site. GodTube relies on the “vigilance” of members to quickly flag inappropriate content. That, combined with their “proprietary technology” helps them enforce their community standards.
Via Techcrunch

Thursday
Apr052007

Now this is what I call blogger abuse

The Josh Wolf Case: Blogger Freed after Giving Video to Feds
Josh Wolf, the blogger whose record 7 1/2 months in federal prison stirred debate about who qualifies as a journalist and what legal protections journalists should receive, was freed Tuesday after releasing video footage sought by prosecutors about an anarchist protest.

Wolf, 24, held in contempt by a federal judge last August for defying a grand jury subpoena, walked out of the federal prison in Dublin at mid-afternoon after his lawyers and federal prosecutors reached a compromise during a mediation session Monday before a federal magistrate.  Wolf posted the uncut video on his Web site, gave prosecutors a copy and denied under oath that he knew anything about violent incidents at the July 2005 protest. In return, his lawyers said, prosecutors agreed not to summon him before the grand jury or ask him to identify any of the protesters shown on his video. Prosecutors’ withdrawal of their demand for his testimony was the key to the deal, Wolf said outside the prison gate. “Journalists absolutely have to remain independent of law enforcement,” he said. “Otherwise, people will never trust journalists.”

He said later that he had offered to turn over his videos last November on the condition that he be excused from testifying, but prosecutors turned him down. U.S. Attorney Scott Schools’ office did not respond to a reporter’s question about why prosecutors accepted those conditions Tuesday.

Asked about his imprisonment — the longest-ever for a U.S. journalist for withholding information — Wolf said, “Absolutely, this was worth it. I would do it again if I had to.” He also said his case showed the need for a federal shield law that would protect journalists, including bloggers, from having to disclose confidential sources or unpublished material.

California and most other states have shield laws, but they do not apply to proceedings in federal court.
Listen to The Josh Wolf press conference


Thursday
Apr052007

One man's taunt..

The Sun News: Freed 15 taunted by captors




NO!       THIS is what being taunted ...



...by your captors looks like.


Thursday
Apr052007

Tory split planned

Revealed: the Tories’ plan to separate

Fraser Nelson in The Spectator
The slide towards extinction in Scotland has persuaded the Tories to draw up a blueprint for separation. The Scottish Tories would split off - and Cameron's Conservatives would become the English party
 
Francis Maude's officials have been secretly drawing up the outline of a 'velvet divorce' with the Scottish Conservatives, which would give the Scottish Tories a new name, a distinct identity, and make the Conservatives officially as well as in practice a party exclusively devoted to seeking power in England and Wales. Such a split would mean the final Tory retreat from Scotland, a historic fissure in British Conservatism, and the death of a party defined by its One Nation Unionism.
Article available here


Wednesday
Apr042007

Ashes to ashes, dust to nose

Stones star 'snorted dad's ashes'
Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards has claimed he snorted the ashes of his late father during a drugs binge. "He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow," he told NME. Richards' father, Bert, died at the age of 84 in 2002.
Although Richards now says he was joking I think it's perfectly believable. I've snorted plenty of different substances in the past. Cigarette ash was a favourite when the coke had run out. Barrett's sherbet fountain, various white powders found in the kitchen and, my all time favourite this, a cruched up Nice biscuit. Now that really blocked me up but everything smelled of vanilla for several days afterwards. You do silly things under the influence, the silliest usually being running up a fucking huge bill for your night of indulgence. It was the prospect of financial ruin that made me give up in the end, not any moral arguments about dead Columbians, health warnings or the ''Frank' campaign .


Tuesday
Apr032007

Were the sailors set up?

Conspiracy theories bubbling under
An Iranian proverb maintains that if you trip over a pebble, you should remember it was put there by a Briton. It is hardly surprising that the crisis is proving fertile ground for Iranian conspiracy theorists.“It was a British trap that we fell into,” a well-travelled and multilingual Iranian businessman sighed with conviction.

Britain, according to the theory, wants to put Iran under pressure on one of its most sensitive territorial issues – the Shatt al-Arab waterway, which forms the historical, racial and religious divide between Persians and Arabs and has been disputed for centuries.The Royal Navy had deliberately used the 15 as bait for the Revolutionary Guards naval units, according to the theory.


Tuesday
Apr032007

What an offensive...shi(r)t

Update to this post -

Don't mind you dressing up as me, says Mandela
A Tory councillor accused of racism after blacking his face to appear as Nelson Mandela at a fancy-dress party received backing from the most unexpected of sources yesterday. Mandela himself. The former South African president revealed that he had heard of the controversy - and had not taken the slightest offence.

The 88-year-old statesman urged against seeing racism at every turn. His only objection was councillor Brian Gordon’s choice of shirt, which he said did not match the quality of his celebrated wardrobe.


Tuesday
Apr032007

Can Hillary Be Bought? (That's Clinton not Benn*)

...Never! Not For a Mere $26 Million!  - Tony Hendra -  The Huffington Post:
Does anyone share my vague unease at all the crowing coming from Hillary-on-the-Hill about the $26 million she's managed to prise from the populace in just three months? Pretty good sugar for sure, but isn't it a trifle well, unseemly, or to use the synonym my thesaurus comes right up with - Republican - to make this much racket about it?...

Time was Democrats distinguished themselves from Republicans in being more discreet - even apologetic - about the fund-raising-race, however good they actually were at scooping the stuff up by the handful. The message was: unlike Republicans we don't measure everything by money; we don't plump for property over people, we don't choose corporate prosperity at any cost to life and limb. We don't believe that everything - even basic human rights like shelter, education and healthcare - should be a profit center. We're not in the business of business, we do not believe that government exists to make the rich richer, preferably obscenely so. A very smart message even if - once they got into power - they never acted on it.

I know, 80% of the moolah is supposed to have come from contributions of 100 bucks or less. But a hundred-bucks-a-pop prices out the working poor and the barely-hanging-in-there middle-class. And of course there's that other 20% - a tidy $5 million, for a possible $20 million by year's end - which you can bet are those good old "contributions" from "major donors" Or to use the synonym my thesaurus comes right up with: "bribes".I think the message Hill's sending with her roostering is new (at least for us Democrats hoping for profound changes after eight years of war, mass murder, constitutional rape, corruption, theft, lies and treason):
It goes like this:
Read the rest...

(*Yes,I know, one L, give me a break!)

Tuesday
Apr032007

Death threats, shit-storms, kisses and smiles - welcome to blogworld

Last week I read a piece by Michelle Malkin that I totally agreed with. Today I read something by Scott Burgess that I (sort of) agreed with. Please somebody...HELP ME!

The Burgess post was a dig at Joan Smith, novelist, journalist and feminist who wrote a piece in The Independent about online bullying and abuse. She starts off with a reference to the Kathy Sierra story which I blogged about here and here.
Revealing that she had been the target of vicious personal remarks and death threats for the past four weeks, Kathy Sierra said she had cancelled an appearance at a conference in San Diego and was staying at home, terrified, with the doors locked.
But her main gripe, picked up and dealt with by Burgess is that:
In a world where anyone with access to a computer can give an instant opinion, couched in intemperate or even threatening language, writing is rapidly being transformed in the public mind from a profession to little more than a typed form of speech. It is already having a disastrous effect on the status and income of professional writers, as we find ourselves under attack for continuing to assert the lasting value of what we do...In this pseudo-democratic universe, the novel that has just taken me nearly five years to finish has no more value than a blog that someone dashed off in 10 minutes. The sheer quantity of words available on the internet has prompted a false analogy with the enclosures of common land in the 18th century, in which novelists, poets and historians are cast in the role of wicked landlords.
As Burgess points out, it is GOOD writers on the web not the shit-shovellers that Smith needs to worry about and in any case she's just plain wrong. Book sales are buoyant and there is no evidence that her latest book will fail because of millions of 10 minute blog entries. It is more likely to fail because she writes the sort of tosh seen in her last sentence above.
...restoring respect for the act of writing would go some way towards creating a culture in which novelists, poets and playwrights could once again flourish.
So you see people, let's all stop blogging and give those starving poets and playrights a chance to make a decent living. Sheesh! I'll tell you what. Abuse on the internet might decrease markedly if we could all be spared this kind of nonsense from people like Smith. Of couse, a complete ignorance of blogging hasn't stopped her jumping to conclusions about what is supposedly wrong and how it should be put right. But her choice of the Kathy Sierra case is a rather unfortunate one given recent developments:
WikipediaAfter a couple of days it seems that comments and pictures on other blogs were merely done by internet trolls and not related to death threats.
And it seems Sierra wasn't just a victim:
Dave Winer:  People aren't going to like this, but it's true -- when a woman asks for a riot she gets one, and almost no one comes to the defense of a man who is attacked. Who's more vulnerable? Well, honestly, it's not always a woman. Those who provided the riot Ms Sierra asked for, unknowingly, I'm sure, attacked at least one person whose health is pretty fragile. I wonder how y'all feel now that you know that. I wonder how you'd feel if that person died in the midst of the shitstorm. Someday if we don't change the herd mentality of the tech blogosphere, that is likely to happen. I don't want to be part of the herd on that day, that's why I won't join herds.
Dave Winer's piece is a much better post on this subject and should be required reading for all bloggers, especially those who find themselves leading the charge in blogwars.

But there is always hope. Sierra and the main target of her complaints, Chris Locke, issued a joint statement after having a two hour conversation where they got on like a house on fire and had a good laugh!

That's blogging for you. One day it's death threats the next it's kiss and make up.


Tuesday
Apr032007

Parking for women

Pink Parking Spaces
Swiss parking enforcers in the city of Bern are hoping to deter male drivers parking in extra-large spaces meant for women - by painting them pink and adding traditionally feminine symbols, such as flowers.

It comes after complaints male drivers steal reserved parking spaces for women, which are usually close to the car park's exit and under video surveillance.

Bjorn Rohrbach, managing director of a parking lot in Bern, says, "Legally, we can't stop men from using women's parking spaces. And telling them off didn't work either."

Via Reason BrickBats


Monday
Apr022007

Mona Lisa

How to paint the Mona Lisa with MS Paint

Time compressed from 2hrs 30mins to 4mins 45secs.
(Via Kottke)
Monday
Apr022007

Our Mel attacked!

Melanie Phillips’s Diary - Under fire

Jonathan Freedland has devoted his Jewish Chronicle column to an attack on Ms P. As much as I'd love to read it I'm not shelling out £50 for a sub. I wonder if it can be found anywhere else?

UPDATE: Thanks to Dave Weeden for pointing out that the piece is on Freedland's website. And well worth a read:
In the United States, Melanie has a substantial following, with thousands logging on daily to her website or lining up to hear her lectures — several of the leading lights of American Jewry among them. They snap up copies of her book Londonistan, in which Britain — a rotting, decayed island awash with amorality — is on the brink of an Islamist takeover. Above all, they swallow whole her insistence that Europe is back in the 1930s, and that Britain now seethes with Jew-hatred...




Monday
Apr022007

Homecoming

Whatever you think of war, any war, this is a tearjerker. But I just wish the kids watching this over at YouTube had even the slightest understanding of what thousands of other children have suffered in the adventure that this father has been involved in.
Monday
Apr022007

Uncle Tom

LENIN'S TOMB: Dear Professor Makiya...
An Iraqi exile has some words for this Uncle Tom. Makiya, of course, recently told the New York Times - amid a dire bleat about how disappointed he is in Iraqis for their failure to live up to the high standards set by the occupation - that to expect one to apologise for having supported this mass slaughter was "Maoist". About Makiya, you must know that he is routinely lionised as, for instance, "an Arab dissident in the manner of Havel or Solzhenitsyn". I take that from George Packer's The Assassin's Gate: America in Iraq, but I'm pretty sure Nick Cohen said something similar recently.

Packer's book is a prolonged love letter to Makiya and the pro-war Left, whose seductive arguments he claims to have been taken in by. I want to lay some of this on you, as it's a real laugh. Here's Packer upon meeting Makiya in his office, who has declared himself "a universalist" and claimed that he has formed something called Charter 91 (thus practically begging for the comparison with Havel)...


Monday
Apr022007

Energy crisis solved

Dennis The Peasant: My Methane Powered Motorbike...
I spent the weekend in the garage and came up with a hybrid vehicle that uses what is all too unfortunately an easily sustainable energy source.
I love this guy's sense of humour.


Monday
Apr022007

Chew on this

Guide to Cigars




I gave up smoking (pretty much, apart from the odd puff) a few years back but I still hanker after a smoke now and then. So I bought myself a nice cigar yesterday from my local Oddbins.

They had a very good selection, all properly stored in a temperature and humidity controlled cabinet - as well they should at their prices - and the guy was very knowledgable and interesting. We discussed the band, leave it on or not? And why the band is there in the first place. He leaves it on (I prefer to remove it). The band, he said, was to indicate the 'best side' of the cigar for packing. Cigars are not uniform and when the roller places the band on the finished cigar it allows the cigars to be displayed in their box to their best advantage. The cigars are also ranged from darkest to lightest in their box, again to show them at their best.

I chose a MonteCristo No2 from the best selling Havana range. I think I'll wait until the boys get here later in the week and enjoy it with a glass or two of port. Fuck me, I'll be growing a handlebar moustache and wearing a monocle next. Toodlepip!