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So glad to be blogging about something other than New Orleans for the first time in days... (you do follow the scratchpad, don't you?). 7 things I plan to do before I die: Reinvent the web. Really. Write a novel. Write a play that actually gets performed. Grow old with someone special Produce a professional music video Own my own company Sing one song perfectly, just once 7 things I can do: Summarise things Dance Build web sites Write (sometimes) Cook! Swim Listen 7 things I cannot do: Find time to do any of the things I plan to do Remember anything, especially names Express my feelings without being unnecessarily blunt Sing Lie convincingly Pack a suitcase in less than three hours Drive a car (I'm okay with boats) 7 things that attract me to the opposite same sex: A mischievous smile Sarcasm High cheekbones A prominent jaw Smooth skin Intelligence Ectomorphic Bonus: the ability to use the UNIX command-line interface 7 things that I say most...
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"Oh, and no healthcare"

One of the things I hear bandied about a lot in the UK, whenever the conversation swings to criticism of America (as has been happening a lot recently), is that "and they're fucked because they've got no health care". This is always accompanied by statistics of huge numbers of people without health insurance. So, what exactly does the US provide, and how is it doing versus the rest of the world? Is the richest nation in the world really letting the poor die of horrible diseases at home while fighting wars overseas, providing massive financial aid to the third world and donating record-breaking amounts to ending disease in Africa? Does this really seem plausible to anyone? The obvious truth is that this isn't true. But what's really the case is more surprising. Point one: how much does the US spend on healthcare versus other nations, as a percentage of GDP? That article has a lot of data, but the quick answer is in my snazzy graph over there: the US beats the crap out of us. This is 1999 data,...
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Trapped in the attic

CNN accidentally runs the picture from the rushes of the coming-soon made-for-TV movie instead of the article it meant to run. For a few brief days in the worst of the New Orleans disaster, when Soledad O'Brien was kicking ass, Anderson Cooper was keeping it real, the administration was being attacked from every side, the race issue was being given the attention it deserves, the lies and hypocrisy of FEMA were being properly persued, and even FOX fucking news was giving them a hard time, I thought we might have turned a corner. I thought American media was finally waking up to its responsibility to report the news, not just act as mouthpieces for press releases and official statements. But that brief shining moment has gone, and everyone is reverting to type. Oh thank god, there were some pretty white girls in New Orleans, so we could finally write a human interest story that would play well in middle America. I mean come on, CNN! Thousands of poor black people are dead! All the white...
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Traitorous flesh

I have had the flu since Saturday afternoon. It sucks. I have missed my own birthday meal. SUCKS. Having the flu is very boring.
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Birthday, Part 1

The biological birthday passed mainly quietly, with lots of pleasing text messages from all the right people. Well done for remembering, and if you forgot, you've still got 70 minutes. Text now! Saturday is the next part. If you have my mobile number and haven't received an invite already, then something is probably wrong. Get in touch.
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Birthday, Part 2

The birthday celebration was a great success. The house looks like a hurricane hit it. More of a hurricane Ophelia than Katrina (no mud, fewer bloated bodies), but still, the sign of a good time had by all. I will mainly be attempting to clean up for the rest of the day. Update 8.28pm: Right, well, the house is still a bit of a disaster, but I've thrown away about 6 cubic feet of beer bottles and 8 of miscellaneous rubbish and done all the washing up. Floor mopping will have to wait. Thanks to all who came; I had a great time, thank you, and I hope you did as well. Those of you who disobeyed instructions and brought presents selected very well; geeky and literate and frequently both. The highlight is definitely London with plans & index to streets, by Ward Lock & Co. Tourist Handbooks. This is a beautiful illustrated guide to London, circa 1930 or so (I would love a more precise date, but it doesn't have a copyright date on it anywhere!). Many of the pictures are of important civic buildings,...
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Birthday photos

Photos from the party are up in various places. God, I'm 24. That sounds so old.
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Customer service

A timeline: October 2004: After a month of faffing, I finally buy my birthday iPod. Woo! June 2005: After 6 months of happy podding, disaster strikes. iPod is iBroken. Heart-wrenching wails are followed by sending it off to Apple to be fixed. This is entirely free and done via FedEx, but the round trip still takes about 3 weeks including the repair time. July 2005: Returned iPod is shiny and happy. August 2005: After a month of declining performance, iPod gives up the ghost, again, in exactly the same manner as before. Assuming that I had mistreated it earlier, I had been extremely careful with it subsequently, to no avail. Disappointed, I sent it back to Apple yet again. Another 3 weeks. September 2005: iPod is returned, shiny yet again. This time, however, it fails to work the moment it is taken out of the box, before it's even plugged into my PC. Other iPods plug into my PC without dying, so it's clearly the 'pod at fault. September 22nd, 2005 12:30pm: Annoyed, I head to the Apple...
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"What, not ever?"

So this is a little bit quite a lot of self-interested whining, but then, isn't that why having a blog is useful? If you don't like it bugger off and write your own. So tonight I had dinner at an authentic if somewhat chaotically staffed Korean restaurant with various lovely people, including one new person. When the time came to order drinks, a conversation began which I have had, with only minor variations, dozens if not hundreds of times now: Them: You're not drinking? Me: I don't drink, actually. Them: What, not ever? This is followed by, depending on the bluntness of the party involved, questions about it being "a relgious thing", "for medical reasons", and occasionally "what made you stop?". The answer that I have never really drunk regularly is then almost always followed by an attempt to persuade me to "just try it", with a greater or lesser degree of persistence. And I know each particular party is merely being genuinely curious and friendly, but collectively I am really getting sick...
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New York, NY

First morning in New York! So far I've bought an iPod nano, a snazzy new camera (thanks for the birthday present, family!), had an absolutely enormous burger and seen a bunch of short films by the writers of the Daily Show. And that's just what we did after landing. Woo!
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NYC, Day 2

Today was: Pancakes for breakfast Wandering around Soho and discovering shops don't open until 11, but finding some good clothes and nice cafes after that Getting Internet access at an "authentic" (read: scary) lower east side Internet cafe in Chinatown Cajun food prepared and served entirely by Korean-speaking staff Macy's. And a lot of unnecessary spending. 42nd street, and a lot of Art Deco goodness The Empire State building (not as bad as alleged) Really good sushi Ice cream at Cones Update 2005-03-09: photos here We are packing quite a lot into our days, as you can see. Speaking of which: Day 1: Really fancy french toast for breakfast The Frick Collection Central Park MoMA (for hours) Trump Tower Bloomingdale's Mexican for dinner Wandering around the East Village late at night Update 2005-03-09: photos here
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NYC, day 3

Today was a trip to New Jersey to meet M's grandparents. We also wandered around yet more of the city and did yet more shopping. Flags seen since arrival: 204 Bush voters met: 0 About to: Go clubbing. Update 2005-03-09: photos here
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