Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year's Resolutions 

I won't be posting much in the forthcoming year at all, but I'll take an official pause for the while as I prepare to relocate back to Oxford. So this is a last post for a while.

I never seriously make resolutions, but this year I vaguely intend to do the following:
  1. Read all the books I was given for Christmas for once (unfortunately, this includes the Rights of War and Peace - only £16.99 in Borders! - so this resolution may end up like those ones about giving up chocolate... it also includes trashy Japanese horror novels for a lighter touch, though).
  2. Also reading - start working through Aquinas' Summa Theologica.
  3. Go out drinking more often with people I like but don't see much.
  4. Spend less on pointless forms of gambling (admittedly, this one was precipitated by being ID'd in a supermarket for a lottery ticket a couple of weeks ago. I can handle someone thinking I'm under eighteen - just about - but under sixteen?)
  5. Finish my degree. Of course, I remember making this one last year...

Feel free to post any resolutions you may have made yourself. A happy new year to everyone. May it prove better than the last, on whatever scale you choose.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Springer Banned 

Most people probably know about this already, but I'd missed it somehow. Both Sainsbury's and Woolworths have withdrawn Jerry Springer: The Opera from their stores in response to complaints from Christian Voice-type bigots. Sainsbury's is beginning to say that it was planning to withdraw the DVD anyway due to poor sales, but that sounds like crap to me.

There are Pledgebank pledges to do with this here, here and here. For the more standard complaint strategy, you can go here for Sainsbury's and here for Woolworths.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Exciting news! 

This is officially the 'shittest website in the world'. Thank you Google!

Throwing money at a problem 

Okay, so David Cameron has obviously spooked the government more than they'd care to admit. Labour members have had two mailings in one week on the subject. Obviously Ian McCartney, with the first of them, didn't convince people to donate enough to fend off the new threat. So now we have Jo Brand writing to us to tell us to donate 6 times in one e-mail, because a 'hard-hitting' comedienne will obviously drive the message home:


I'm Jo, a Labour supporter and you may have seen me on telly. Have you noticed the big news this week?

David Cameron (Dave to his friends), an old Etonian distantly related to the Queen, has been elected leader of the Conservative Party.

At last, it has dawned on Tory members that they need to be in touch with the reality of the modern world and the lives of the majority of British people!

As his first step, Dave is bringing back that icon of the new century William Hague to the front bench.

Biting satire...

And that's about as funny as it gets. The rest of the e-mail just points out what should be obvious to anyone, which is that behind the flashy modern veneer David Cameron is just the usual Tory scum. He's been pro-hunting, pro-privatisation, against maternity leave and against NHS spending increases. Well, none of that is terribly surprising. What's both surprising and annoying is that we're supposed to think that putting more money into the party is a good response to these facts.

Strangely, I don't think that it takes a lot of money to show that however young and flashy David Cameron is, he's still an arsehole. Surely all it takes is to remind people that he is, after all, a Tory. No, what we need is for the Labour party leadership to wake up and realise that with the Tories playing Blair's game, the net effect of 'charismatic leadership' is zero, and we should finally get back to making some vaguely left wing policies by which we could be distinguished from the Conservatives.

Of course, what will more likely happen is that the style game and the "Punch and Judy politics" will be notched up even further, while both sides cry out against it. After all, what could be better spin than denouncing spin?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Let them sing it for you 

This is great. You type in any words of your choice, and the programme will "sing" them for you, by taking them from songs already in its database. I decided to try some real lyrics, using "heaven knows I'm miserable now", which wonderfully includes both Fred Astaire and Chris Isaak singing in their version. "Let's spend the night together" also sounds quite fun and familiar...

In some ways this is even more fun than the wonderful Music Genome Project, but not as useful, since the MGP has actually introduced me to a lot of new bands, and made me realise how much I like twisted folk music (and apparently almost any music from Portland, OR).

Siblings and civil partnerships 

Tomorrow is the day when same-sex couples will be able to register for civil partnership in England for the first time (with the first ceremonies happening on the 21st December). Under the terms of the Civil Partnership Act 2004, certain groups of people aren't allowed to become partners. The prohibitions listed are pretty much the same as for marriage, so that you can't get partnershipped to your (adoptive) child, (adoptive) parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, half-sibling, parent's sibling or sibling's child. All the prohibitions are listed here.

Leaving aside the parental and grandparental relationships, where there are pretty good arguments to be made concerning power differences and all that sort of thing, I wonder what justification there can be for forbidding sibling incest in civil partnerships. I'm assuming here that 'it's disgusting' isn't a good enough basis for legal prohibition, and wouldn't be even if every single person in the country thought this.

The issue's murky enough when it comes to heterosexual incest, since it seems easy enough to avoid, or at least calculate, the risk of birth defects in the offspring of incestuous relationships. But when there's no question (at least with present technology) of the relationship producing offspring, as with gay couples, what argument can there be for prohibition, other than a misguided notion of equality with heterosexuals - equality which gays aren't really being granted anyway?

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