Thursday, July 28, 2005

Some genuine names

Some genuine names:

Amanda Rider
Bradley Bastard
Roger Mashiter
Flex Plexico
Ben Dover
Steele Means
Dick Trickle
Chew Shit Fun
Jihad Ballout
Linda Minger
Mary Mincer
David Pfister
Reinhardt Adolpho F*ck

I'm serious. Google any one of them you like.

What WERE the parents thinking?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

An answer to Africa?

Watched a particularly harrowing report about Niger last night. As a scientist, it frustrates me greatly that people seem to refuse to address the basic ecological iussue; that famine is inevitable in a desert area, and most of Africa is a desert. There are too many people and not enough food - any environment has a finite carrying capacity (the amount of biomass it can support.) Food aid is a temporary stopgap. There really is only one solution - freely available birth control and compulsory education on how to use it, so people can control the sizes of their families, keeping the population below the carrying capacity of their environment. Thoughts? No doubt there will be Catholic objections..... and of course there will be technical problems with implementation but if we can ship thousands of tonnes of grain there, I am sure we can get some condoms there. Am I being naive? Has this even been tried before?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Where has b3ta gone?

Does anyone know?

A nearly lost gem/holidays in hell

I recently managed to uncover, after a few weeks of searching, a nearly lost gem of recent rugby history - a report on the match programme from the Neath v Aberavon September 2003 game. The rivalry between these two sides is nearly an hundred years old and VERY bitter. Back in the sixties they were cajoled by the WRU into putting out a combined side against a touring NZ side. Fighting broke out in the tunnel before the game - between Neath and Aberavon members playing on the same side....

Anyway, Neath's ascendance through the leagues kept the two sides apart for a good few years in the 80s and 90s, until 2003, when they finally played again. As ever, both coaches were invited to put a few words in the programme, and usually they write a few magnanimous words about the warm welcome, looking forward to a good game etc.
Not this time.
Oh no. The Aberavon coach decided to vent his real feelings about the Welsh All-Blacks (from a cached Ananova Sport report):

Neath report 'insulting' Aberavon to WRU

Neath have reported Aberavon's rugby director Chris O'Callaghan to the Welsh Rugby Union after claiming his comments about Neath were insulting and could have incited violence.
The old rivals met in a Welsh Premiership game on Saturday and in O'Callaghan's programme notes he said: ''When I die I want to be buried face down on a mountain, overlooking Neath with my arse poking out.''
He said: ''I blame Neath for ignoring us, for voting against us, for the rain, for the wind, for my cat crapping on the carpet and for leaving 30 uneaten meals in the club kitchen.
''My blame has no rationale and it manifests itself as pure hatred. It's right to hate Neath, it's a part of what we in Aberavon are all about. I hate them so much that I've changed the colour of our kit to get rid of all the black.
''I was born in Neath but I won't admit it, lived in Neath but want to forget it and when I die I want to be buried face down on a mountain, overlooking Neath with my arse poking out.
''Let the hatred wash over us, let's wallow in it for one afternoon - the Blacks are back and I for one have missed them badly.''
But Neath's chairman and chief executive Geraint Hawkes is not amused and in a letter to the WRU chief executive David Moffett, he said: ''During the week leading up to the game, Mr O'Callaghan continually tried to revive perceived "hatreds" between the two clubs - presumably in a vain attempt to motivate his players.
''We feel it would be appropriate if the WRU were to call Mr O'Callaghan to task for his unprofessional and disrespectful remarks.
''In addition to the offence caused by the insulting nature of the comments towards our club, we also view the remarks as both inciting and condoning violence, thus bringing the game into disrepute.
''We are also concerned that such comments might have provoked a violent response on the pitch or on the terraces, but fortunately discipline was maintained and the final scoreline of 43-18 in our favour was probably the best answer we could give.''

Magic. THAT'S rugby history. If anyone out there has a copy of this programme or even a .pdf thereof, I'd love to see it.

My other topic of the day is holidays in hell. It seems that, for some people, a week in Ibiza or a fortnight in Florida is just not enough. Some people want to be shot at, eaten alive or risk kidnapping by political insurgents. Some want to visit the Axis of Evil, some want to go to Antarctica, Palestine, Chechnya, Colombia, etc. You can learn where (not) to go and how to survive it here. If you are happy to blow the money and time on it fair enough, but I for one prefer my time off to be peaceful.

The question is, where is left to go? Armenia? Bhutan? Easter Island? Pico Iyer has written several excellent books about places other people wouldn't think to go - Iceland, Patagonia, etc. Where have you been that's a little off the beaten path?

Monday, July 25, 2005

The wrong man

I am sure everyone's sympathies go out the family of Brazilian man shot dead on Friday on suspicion of being a terrorist (here, and pretty much everywhere else too). Quite how this happened has yet to be uncovered but I am sure heads will NOT roll at the Met as this poor man is written off as a casualty of the War on Terr-ur (TM, GW Bush, 2001). No doubt the arse-covering has already begun. It could have been anyone - hell, it could have been me.

Also, a sad goodbye to Sir Richard Doll, a man whose research has probably preventted thousands, if not millions, from an early, painful death. Bless you, Sir Richard.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Breaking news

Am I the only one to have noticed this? Interesting that a public body is looking to branch into ID based commercial technology. The Oyster is a marketing and surveillance dream - as it's tagged with your name, they'll be able to track where you go AND what you buy when you get there. I see the list of preferred bidders includes well known IT cock up merchants EDS and Accenture, of tax credits and pensions infamy, respectively.

As if Transport for London doesn't have enough trouble with MetroNet. I met a man recently who is one of a TfL dept of 300, the department's sole function being to get MetroNet to fulfil the obligations of their contract. So we're not just paying for MetroNet, we pay for someone to make sure they;re doing what they're paid for. Welcome to the crazy world of PFI, kids!

As I type another bomb has detonated at Warren St and Oval stations. But the bastards won't stop us winning the cricket! Take care out there, everyone.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Worst rulers

Scaryduck is doing a Worst People Ever poll, so I have decided to look into a specific subset of worst people, of interest to me: the Worst Rulers Ever. Yes, the most ill-advised people ever to sit on a throne.

There have been a fair few dodgy popes, but John XII has to be up there, running a brothel on Church property: here

Being Roman Emperor wasn't enough for young Elegabalus. But he didn't want to be a singer, or a poet, or even a shepherd, like some overburdened potentates. No, he wanted to be a transvestite prostitute.

The Ottomans were generally an oasis of sanity in the medieval world, but the habit of imprisoning heirs to throne fractured a few psyches, particularly Mustafa the Mad here.

You knew where you were with Charles the Mad!

Bringing us right up to date, and keeping up the side for genocidal post-colonial Africans, we have self-proclaimed King of Scotland Idi Amin and, of course Robert 'White men made AIDS and my palace is haunted' Mugabe.

More mad rulers here and here.

Monday, July 18, 2005

All kinds of stuff

Jack keeps the game up by denying the bombings had anything to do with Iraq, but the question I'd like answered is whatever happened to the Chatham House rules? I consider the issue of whether or not Iraq was a motivator for the bombers irrelevant, they've happened and we have to deal with them.

Evolution in action, and crucially, in a multicellular organism with a veeeeery long lifespan. Another nail in the coffin of creationism. Pity about the mechanism of proof though.

Watched Dodgeball last night. Childish genius. I have added it, with Brains SA, cigars, Metallica, and Viz, to my ever-growing list of guilty pleasures.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Dealing with recruitment consultants/Oscar

I am slightly ashamed to say I used to be a recruitment agent. It could be worse. I was never an estate agent, and I have never culled baby seals. But I know it's on that continuum. And, in all fairness, there are some good people doing this job. However, there are also some sharks. So, if you are ever jobhunting via an agency, here's some survival tips.

If they ask you where else you are interviewing DO NOT TELL THEM. They are looking for leads. Be vague. Tell them 'a big telco' or whatever but give them no clues - no matter WHAT they say - or they will be on the phone to that company trying to sell them other candidates in microseconds.

That said, DO make sure they know you are registerd elsewhere, and that you are interviewing, as that will make them work a lot harder to get you to take *their* job, for which they will get commission.

Turn up on time for the interview with the agency, and MAKE AN EFFORT. They are assessing how you would go down with their clients. If you turn up late they will not send you to any of their good clients (if any at all), because your tardiness will reflect on them. Same goes for your appearance and monosyllabic answers.

The mateyness may be real - a lot of people do this job because they like people - but it is just as likely to be fake. These people get training in phone manners. At the end of the day, you are a potential fee. Let's all be honest about this.

They hate being called 'agents.' They like 'consultants.' This is largely an ego thing. If you want to wind them up, bear this in mind.

If they do arrange you an interview with a company, GO TO IT. If you want/need to pull out, ring them. Why? Well, if they arrange an interview for which you stay in bed, the agent (see above, hoho) will get an irate HR director on the phone saying 'you have wasted my time.' And then, at that agency, you will get a big stamp on your file saying 'INT NO-SHOW' in red. Do you think the agency will ever send you to another interview again, and risk their reputation with another company? Exactly.

I no longer work in recruiting. Thank f*ck. But if anyone has any specific questions I am happy to answer them - comment-me-do, as ScaryDuck might say.

And, thanks to Oscar Wildebeest for his comments so far. But, Oscar, I don't seem to be able to reciprocate at your site, old son!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Hysterical reaction

Everyone I know is alive. Thankfully. But it was all scary. Big respect to the police and London Underground staff, who handled it all so well.

The police have searched some houses in West Yorkshire looking for the suspects:
West Yorkshire is really a very, very PC way of saying 'Bradford', isn't it? And whatever you do, DON'T mention the M word in connection with the suspects.....

According to Radio 1 news this morning, the 10,000+ US soldiers stationed in the UK have been advised not to travel inside the M25. So, driving around Basra in a Hummer waving the Stars and Stripes is fine, but a shopping trip to Covent Gardent is just too risky.

Anyway. Have you ever seen some rather acerbically witty stencil art around London? Chances are it was a Banksy. You can see some more of his stuff here. Free art - wonderful idea. Claiming back public space too. One of the joys of travelling in places like Cuba is that there are no advertisements everywhere you look; corporates dominating every vista.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Good morning around the world/total lunacy

Bonjour/bore da/guten tag/marnin' (West Country)/Indemin addersh (Amharic)/pari lusi (Western Armenian)/Mojn (Jutland Danish)/Yadra (Fijian)/Ohayo (Japanese)/Ooglonii mend (Mongolian)/Mu lemele (Zambian Silozi)/Kuzu zangpo (Bhutanese Dzongkha)

Couldn't find Easter Island Rapanui or Pascuense.

Fancy driving across the Sahara? In a car that has to be worth £100 or less? Thought so.

Impeding doom

Yet another government IT cock-up here. It involves Atos Origin, who are one of the manin bidders for the ID card scheme, and they have had three years to get it right.

We're all doomed.

And the Lions got stuffed too. And it's raining. Still, N loves me.