Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

WARNING: SPOILERS FROM THE START I saw C&tCF on Sunday. It was an absolutely delightful movie. Tim Burton's visuals were predictably wonderful, beautiful and organic and thoroughly believable even when what they were trying to get you to believe in was a chocolate waterfall and edible grass. Even the songs -- something I was, frankly, hoping they would leave out entirely -- managed to be almost totally un-cringeworthy. The oompa-loompas were brilliantly done, and solving the problem of creating a whole race of dwarfs by endlessly cloning the same one was a master stroke. Importantly, they were also not orange with green hair, an absolutely bizarre deviation from the book that really annoyed me in the original movie (amongst a large number of other things I hated about that movie, such as Gene Wilder, Gene Wilder's hair, Gene Wilder's voice, and did I mention Gene Wilder?). The flashbacks to Wonka’s childhood, and the addition of an entire sub-plot about Wonka's father, were however unwelcome....
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The Big List Of Totally Inappropriate Occasions on which George W. Bush has used the phrase "hate freedom"

We all know George Bush talks about terrorism every chance he can get. It's his favourite thing to talk about; it's the only area of policy where he seems to even remotely know what he's doing (which, given the state of Iraq, is a pretty sad commentary on everything else that he's done). So, inspired by a Wonkette post today, I went browsing for all the times Dubya has used the phrase "hate freedom" in an official capacity. What rapidly emerged is that Dubya doesn't mention the threat of global terrorism merely often, he mentions it every freaking time he opens his mouth. To illustrate the point, disregarding the vast number of speeches he has made that are actually about terrorism, I have compiled a list of totally improbable occasions when G.W. has found a way to slip his favourite phrase in there somehow. George W. Bush has mentioned the phrase "hate freedom" while discussing... The Washington State economy (to be fair, a reporter asked him a question about Iraq) Greek Independence (loosely...
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Planet Afterlife: Mirror

Further to Will's general request for assistance, I humbly present: Planet Afterlife: Mirror I put a good 45 minutes into making it look exactly like the original Planet Afterlife. The only differences are there are slightly more entries per page, and it updates every 20 minutes instead of every 5. PA:Mirror will only be around until Will gets back to claim his baby. In the meantime, enjoy!
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Quite Uncommon

Sorry for the huge break in posting. Life's been busy, and I've not had time to blog about anything. The things you take for granted. I've lived in the UK for more than 5 years now. When I first arrived, I was constantly running into situations where my lack of cultural references was confusing. I didn't know the other meaning of "helmet", leading to some unfortunate comments while watching a war film. I didn't know what "ming" meant. I'd never heard of Rainbow (and frankly, I still have trouble believing you all loved a program involving a huge stuffed hippo). Blue Peter is a vaguely defined arts and craft show with a dog for me, not a major cultural institution. I only know Ant and Dec as Ant and Dec, not PJ and Duncan from Byker Grove (and I had to Google to remember the name of the show). I think EastEnders is lame, don't care about Hollyoaks, and only watch Neighbours to see if there's anybody cute in it (and there never really is). I am perfectly happy calling them Starburst, not Opalfruits,...
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7 Million Londoners

Ken's brilliant new One London campaign has it's own website. And they encourage you to steal their logo! I love Ken.
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Cult

L Ron Hubbard publicly stated that people were such idiots that he bet he could invent a new religion and have it turning a profit within a year. He won the bet. So people say scientology isn't a proper religion, that it's a money-making scam disguised as a religion. The thing is, scientology is a proper religion: it exists to make the people at the top rich and powerful by duping others into giving them money, and it is fiercely viral, actively converting new recruits and rewarding members who convert more people, as well as constantly dangling new carrots to retain existing members if they just pray a little harder, give a little more money. Finally, it attacks anyone who questions or criticizes it. People act as if these features make scientology some kind of vicious cult, preying on the weak and stupid. And that's true. But it's hardly unique to scientology: until recently, Christianity also matched the above description. In recent centuries, Christianity has relaxed (some would say slipped...
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Jocks vs Nerds

One more reason not to vote Republican This week's Economist has a fascinating article about a surprising tendency within the Bush administration, and the Republican party in general: Republicans are jocks. I mean, it stands to reason they had to go somewhere, right? Growing up geek, it was the standard self-esteem building exercise to remember that when I grew up, the popular athletic kids who were currently kicking my ass across the hallway would be broke and unemployed, while my fellow nerds and I ran the world. But they can't all be failures. The "jocks and cheerleaders" subculture is just too strong in the USA to die when high school and college end. So when jocks grow up, it turns out they turn Republican. A few examples, all lifted from the article itself: George W Bush himself can bench press 185lbs 5 times in a row (I could never do that, not even at the height of my gym-going, and I'm not a 59 year old recovering alcoholic and drug addict) George Bush senior took part in the 1947 and...
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Gabi and the Whoremoans

The music was extremely loud, and there were about 10 or 15 people in the audience, most of whom appeared to be in the other bands from that evening. I had a seat 10 feet from Gabi. No crowds, a chair, and great, absolutely great music? It was my kind of gig. Loving: Gabi and the Whoremoans Also loving: Body Rockers, by the Body Rockers. Dancey! Reading: The Economist
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Ideas from somewhere else

I'm going to finish this web2 shit if it kills me, if only to stem the relentless tide of cool ideas that it keeps plugging into my brain. It's costing me a fortune in notebooks and pens, and keeping me awake at night.
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Terror Calculus

So, autumn is beginning, and it's getting colder. On the one hand, it means that there's a genuine reason that people could be wearing heavier clothing. So there's less reason for me to freak out every time I see someone wearing a coat on the tube. On the other hand, it means somebody who really is wearing a heavy coat for the purposes of concealing a bomb belt is more likely to get away with it. So, should my net fear be going up or down? I can't decided. Living with terrorism is so complicated!
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Being geeky

A geek is a very difficult thing to define. Not only is it tricky to pin down exactly what I think of as a geek, there are also people who disagree with my definition. Like a "hacker", a "geek" is different based on who you ask, and whether they like them or not. So let's get at least one basic fact straight: A geek is a good thing. After that, things get hazy. Geeks are people -- usually. Some stretch the definition of a "person", lacking basic interpersonal communication and hygeine skills, but in general geeks are people. They're not ordinary people, though, and they make no claim to be. A geek is someone who is unusual in some aspect, generally centered around an intellectual fixation of some kind (as opposed to, say, a sexual fixation, which is a fetishist). Commonly that fascination is with some fairly cerebral, abstract subject: these are computer geeks, chess geeks, math geeks, electronics geeks, physics geeks, and the like. But you also get more concrete fascinations, where an interest has...
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Relaxed

Had a great time at a very relaxed barbecue that turned into an even more chilled out 3-hour chat on comfy chairs in the living room. A lovely way to spend an evening. Afterwards, I was in the car when Dom was getting a lift home, via a parent who has not yet been informed of his son's sexuality, necessitating us to play it straight for five minutes. Dom was required to give directions to his house, an activity which seemed to cause him quite a lot of difficulty, even when we were actually already on the street where he lives. Which led to this conversation later... Me: You live in that town, how could you not know how many banks of shops there were to your house? Dom: I don't know! >_< Dom: I was flustered Dom: I'm not used to being straight Me: You don't have to be straight to know where you live. Dom: No, but it's a wonderful excuse Dom: I blame it for most things Dom: Best scapegoat ever Dom: "But I'm gay" Dom: "That has nothing to do with it!" Dom: "HATE CRIME!!" I may use...
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Puddle

A rainy afternoon in late summer in Britain is a watery symphony. Rain drizzles from the sky, running in rivulets down the windows of train, trickling along gutters, pooling in every crack and uneven paving-stone, puddling at street corners, and glistening off of every surface. At no time I can think of is it more obvious that the earth is a bizarre abberration of a planet, the result of endless cosmic coin-tossing that has finally produced a big wet rock, covered mainly but not entirely in water, a bizarre substance that disobeys usual physical rules*, while allowing big chunks of solid rock to poke through the liquid blanket that covers most of the planet, which has risen and fallen as ice ages and periods of global warming have come and go, without ever rising high enough to cover it all. All human existence, all land-based life is a result of this phenomenally unlikely arrangement. Moss, plants, trees, all animals are bags of mostly water held up by trace amounts of more solid materials. We are...
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Google Talk

Google today launched Google Talk, an instant-messaging and VoIP (voice calling) client, but at the moment it's not even in Google's own top 10 results for that phrase, there being several websites also called Google Talk already (even googletalk.com is taken by somebody else, who at least is being nice and pointing all the traffic at a charity's website). So I thought I'd link to them and help them out. At the moment the client is a bit basic, not a patch on Trillian Pro -- but free, unlike Trillian. The technolgoy behind it is Jabber, which has the capability to connect to other types of IM networks, so Google also has plans to allow communication with MSN, AIM and the other networks. Until that happens, though, there's no real killer feature to make you want to switch, especially if all your friends use MSN. It'll be interesting to see where they go with this one, but at the moment it's a "wait and see" thing. More discussion on the Google forums.
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Cooking breeds cooking

On Sunday, I cooked spicy chicken goujons with Bombay potatoes. To my shock, the only ingredients required which I did not already have were the chicken, the potato, and the grainy mustard. This is a turning point: in the past, shopping for a particular recipe has meant buying lots of quite expensive one-off items that I justify by saying I can use them again in future. Stuff like jars of herbs, olive oil, white wine vinegar, and in one case a non-stick frying pan. But I've got all that stuff. I cooked the chicken and the potatoes and, while they were not perfect (without the time management usually provided by M, the chicken dried out in the oven while I was still chopping the potatoes) they were still very nice, and a cut above instameal fare. I'm still quite proud of being able to cook relatively complicated things and not have them be disasters; it's like when you've just learned to read, and so you read absolutely anything you can see. And having good ingredients around breeds more cooking....
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You're it

I've been tagged by Housemate T. Gotta do it! "List five songs that you are currently digging - it doesn't matter what genre they are from, whether they have words, or even if they're not any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying right now. Post these instructions and the five songs (with artist) in your blog. Then tag five people to see what they're listening to." Goldfrapp - Ooh la la (the new album is oh so good) Fall Out Boy - Sugar, We're Goin' Down (a great album) Jamiroquai - Feels just like it should (another good album) Body Rockers - You Got Me Singing (there are a lot of good albums out now, okay?) Art of Noise - The Seduction of Claude Debussy (this is the album) There's a lot of good music going on right now, my ears would be totally happy if it weren't for the fact that my iPod's hard drive is broken. Again. Curse you, Apple! Oh well, I'm going to NYC at the end of September, and since the Apple Expo on the 20th is expected to be the time the new range of...
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Crash into me

Saw Crash with M this evening. A pretty excellent movie, as M pointed out "much more grown-up than anything we usually see". It had a lot to say about race relations in LA and America as a whole. Or rather, it had one thing to say: "race relations in the USA are incredibly fucked up". But it found a lot of ways to say it. Wondering: whether my iPod will be fixed in time for a 6-hour plane ride to New York Annoyed by: how hot it's suddenly got when it was freezing in my house all weekend Deciding: that it's probably okay to skip dinner since I ate two-thirds of a pack of peanut M&Ms, and peanuts count as protein.
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