Welsh words for rain

February 11th, 2013

From Joe Moran: Welsh words for rain. Something of an epic, including…

bwrw – to rain
glawio – raining
dafnu – spotting
brasfrwrw – big spaced drops
sgrympian – short sharp shower
Mae hi'n brwr hen wragedd a ffyn – It's raining old women and sticks


22 years

February 10th, 2013

Why My Bloody Valentine's 'mbv' Has Come Too Late To Stop The End Of The World:

Thanks Kevin. Thanks a fucking bunch for taking 22 years to make a record that could have saved the world. All you had to do was make a bunch of songs that sound like being hit on the head with a shovel after doing poppers while listening to a melancholy whale sighing. But you couldn't be bothered and now we're all going to die in planet wide nuclear annihilation.

[Via The Null Device]

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That same day, Last.fm will record a sudden surge in popularity for Elvis Costello's 'Tramp the Dirt Down'

January 14th, 2013

@currybet:"What Twitter will look like on the day that Thatcher dies:

Link to original image - What Twitter will look like on the day that Thatcher dies

[Via Slacktivist]

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'Truckload of mimes just pulled up and they ain't talking.'

December 18th, 2012

A nice little Xmas present from the schedulers at ITV: the second and final season of Bryan Fuller's glorious quirkfest Pushing Daisies has just started a repeat run on ITV1.1

Although I enjoyed the first season quite a bit, for some reason I never caught up with season 2 the first time round, so it was lovely to get reacquainted with the show's highly stylised world. It shouldn't work, but somehow it just does. Having a particularly able (and adorable) cast2 all of whom can keep it all just the right side of too sweet for words probably helps quite a bit.

Is it escapist, romantic fluff? Yes, in the best possible way.

As I did when I first saw the show, I can but endorse Gary Farber's thoughts after he'd seen the first episode:

IJWTS that Pushing Daisies is very strange, very different, and not particularly like any other American tv show ever done.

If I compared it to, say, Twin Peaks, you'd be misled into thinking it was different in a way similar to David Lynch, which it isn't; the only similarity is in that each was fairly different from any other American dramatic network tv fare.

As such, it's definitely not for everyone, and maybe not for you, but you might want to check it out.


There's a faint hint of Addams Family, as filtered through the Coens and Tim Burton, with a touch of Robert Altman's version of Raymond Chandler, and a dash of Princess Bride. Or something.

If you're in the UK, set your DVR and give it a try.

  1. In the wee small hours of the morning, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This week's episodes have been starting at 3am, whereas next week's start shortly before 2am. That's what DVRs were invented for.
  2. Led by Lee Pace, Anna Friel and Chi McBride, with Kristin Chenoweth, Ellen Greene and Swoosie Kurtz in support, plus Jim Dale as the narrator of the story.

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It shouldn't be allowed

November 23rd, 2012

I think my favourite part of the newspaper report about a Pervert caught pleasuring himself in slurry for third time (From This is The West Country)

A man found naked in a field amongst cow dung and mud had been sexually pleasuring himself, a court has heard.

It was the same farm he had returned to over a period of seven years.


When police officers arrived soon after, they found him covered in a large amount of slurry and mud, in a quagmire, surrounded by tissues.

This is the third time that he has appeared in court for this kind of behaviour. [...]

… is that the first comment on the article is from a reader objecting to the fact that the newspaper's web site filed this story under 'Devon'1 when the incident took place in Cornwall and the offender was from Cornwall. After all:

Readers unfamiliar with the geography of Britain may inappropriately be led to believe that this sort of thing could possibly be allowed to happen in Devon.

[Via Blood & Treasure]

  1. I don't currently have a cornwall tag on the site: I suppose in the circumstances I should create one.

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Mad. Not Mad.

November 23rd, 2012

Roy Greenslade has fond memories of time spent at London's Speakers' Corner:

By far the most memorable of the speakers was Donald Soper, the Methodist preacher, because he didn't rant and he dealt so equably with the hecklers. Even those who disagreed with his message seemed to respect him.

Some time later I heard him tell an anecdote about the time a heckler defeated him.

A gesticulating, anxious man kept screaming: "You're mad". After a dozen such interruptions, Soper finally addressed him: "Look friend, this is getting you nowhere. It seems to me as if you might be mad yourself."

The man replied: "No I'm not, and I can prove it." He ran forward to the soap box and, with a cackling laugh, handed Soper a piece of paper.

After reading it, Soper smilingly handed it back and told the crowd: "I can confirm that this man is not mad. That letter, dated yesterday, is his official discharge from a mental institution."

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Turning the map pink

November 5th, 2012

A new study reveals that the British have invaded all but 22 of the world's countries:

Every schoolboy used to know that at the height of the empire, almost a quarter of the atlas was coloured pink, showing the extent of British rule.

But that oft recited fact dramatically understates the remarkable global reach achieved by this country.

A new study has found that at various times the British have invaded almost 90 per cent of the countries around the globe.

The analysis of the histories of the almost 200 countries in the world found only 22 which have never experienced an invasion by the British. [...]

That figure turns out to be a bit of a fudge, judging by the article linked to above. It was only reached by including any sort of armed incursion – however brief – and by including attacks by pirates and armed explorers if they were operating with British governmental approval. Surely the term 'invasion' demands a little more than a bunch of pirates shelling a port somewhere in the Caribbean before coming ashore to pillage and rape and burn and what have you.

(This being a Daily Telegraph article, and the subject matter being what it is, it'd be much better for your mental health if you left the resulting comment thread to your imagination.)

[Via The Morning News]

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London's Overthrow

November 3rd, 2012

China Miéville contemplates London's Overthrow:

This is an era of CGI end-times porn, but London's destructions, dreamed-up and real, started a long time ago. It's been drowned, ruined by war, overgrown, burned up, split in two, filled with hungry dead. Endlessly emptied.

In the Regency lines of Pimlico is Victorian apocalypse. Where a great prison once was, Tate Britain shows vast, awesome vulgarities, the infernoward-tumbling cities of John Martin, hybrid visionary and spiv. But tucked amid his kitsch 19th Century brilliance are stranger imaginings. His older brother Jonathan's dissident visions were unmediated by John's showmanship or formal expertise. In 1829, obeying the Godly edict he could hear clearly, Jonathan set York Minster alight and watched it burn. From Bedlam – he did not hang – he saw out his life drawing work after astonishing work of warning and catastrophe. His greatest is here. Another diagnostic snapshot.


'London's Overthrow'. Scrappy, chaotic, inexpert, astounding. Pen-and-ink scrawl of the city shattered under a fusillade from Heaven, rampaged through by armies, mobs, strange vengeance. Watching, looming in the burning sky, a lion. It is traumatized and hurt.

The lion is an emblem too
that England stands upon one foot.

With the urgency of the touched, Martin explains his own metaphors.

and that has lost one Toe
Therefore long it cannot stand

The lion looks out from its apocalypse at the scrag-end of 2011. London, buffeted by economic catastrophe, vastly reconfigured by a sporting jamboree of militarised corporate banality, jostling with social unrest, still reeling from riots. Apocalypse is less a cliché than a truism. This place is pre-something.

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Like a leaf on the breeze

October 26th, 2012

London Heathrow Approach Time-Lapse.

I love the oddly jittery motion as the airliners bob around in the crosswind, lining up their final approach. It's strangely soothing.

[Via MetaFilter]

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Fat and ill

October 15th, 2012

Jarvis Cocker, reviewing The John Lennon Letters, gets to the crux of the matter:

I am so the target-audience for this book that it hurts – but something feels wrong.

Britpop (I can scarcely believe that I typed that word of my own free will) perhaps comes in useful for once at this point. People of my generation felt this obscure pang – this feeling that we'd somehow missed out on something amazing. So we tried to make it happen again – but exactly the same. You cannot do a karaoke version of a social revolution (good fun trying though). What changed in the interim? Why was Br**pop doomed to failure? Too many factors to go into here, but one was: too much information. Too much reverence. Wearing the same clothes and taking the same drugs will not make us into Beatles. It will make us fat and ill. And books like this (along with many others, I admit) are what make that mistake possible. The Beatles didn't know they were the Beatles. The Beatles didn't have a plan or a blueprint to follow.

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October 7th, 2012

Paul Owen looks forward to a couple of the events at this week's Conservative party conference:

Probably the most blue in tooth and claw is tomorrow at 9am, and is baldly called: "Why the public should want hospitals to close." For sheer mad brio "We can't afford roads!" (Tuesday, 5.30pm, their exclamation mark) runs it close.


Stop opt-out 'Adult' filtering

September 5th, 2012

(I meant to post about this days ago, but because I'm an idiot I've kept putting off writing about it.)

The UK government is running a consultation on the introduction of a system of requiring Internet Service Providers to block 'Adult' content by default. This is a horrible idea for all sorts of reasons:

  1. As anyone who was ever used a network with a content filtering system in place knows, they're hopelessly unreliable. They either block far too much, or they block so selectively that they're ineffective. So, in short, they don't achieve their stated aim, and they cause all sorts of collateral damage along the way.
  2. If parents want to block their kids' internet access, there's been software available for years to let them do this. It tends not to work very well (see 1 above), or to be hard to install without the help of their tech-savvy kids – hence the request that governments force ISPs to do the job for them. None of which implies that the standards of the most censorious of parents should be applied to everyone: any such system should be offered on an opt-in basis, not as the default.
  3. Even if you completely trust the intentions of the current government and of the people who like this idea, putting a system like this in place gives a future government the tools to block whatever content they like. This is a (small) step towards our one day having the Great Firewall of the United Kingdom.

The consultation can be found here. There's a response form you can download and complete, or you could use the online response system produced by the Open Rights Group which copies your response to your MP.1

The consultation closes on 6 September 2012 (yes, tomorrow), so if you're in the UK and you care about this get thee to one of the links above and let the Department for Education know what you think.

  1. As this is a consultation by a government department individual MPs aren't involved in the process yet – their time will come if this all ends in legislation being put forward to implement whatever proposals follow this consultation exercise – but it does no harm for them to know that some of their constituents have views on this topic.

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Not Exactly RoboCop

August 24th, 2012

West Midlands police have had a few problems with a system designed to pinpoint firearms as they're being used:

Police have admitted that gunfire sensors put up in parts of Birmingham have not been as accurate as hoped.

The Shotspotter Gunshot Location System was introduced where there was a high number of firearm incidents in 2010.

Police said of the 1,618 alerts from the system since November, only two were confirmed gunfire incidents. It also missed four confirmed shootings.


At the time they were put up, West Midlands Police said the devices had about an 85% accuracy rate and could detect a gunshot within 25m (82ft).

The best part is why the system performed so poorly:1


Ch Supt Burgess said the system learnt to detect the sound of gunfire after installation.

Part of the reason Shotspotter had "struggled to work", unlike in the US, was due to the small number of gunshots being fired, he added.

So, not all bad news then.

[Via The Yorkshire Ranter]

  1. Other than "Because someone took the statistics in the company's PowerPoint presentation as gospel.", I mean.

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Making mischief

August 19th, 2012

David Hepworth on why the Olympic experience probably won't improve the national character:

I came across this extract from a speech made in the House of Lords by the late Lord Longford:

I asked Sir William Beveridge to come to lunch. I was meeting with Evelyn Waugh, an old friend and famous writer. They did not get on at all well. Evelyn Waugh said to him at the end, "How do you get your main pleasure in life, Sir William?" He paused and said, "I get mine trying to leave the world a better place than I found it". Evelyn Waugh said, "I get mine spreading alarm and despondency" – this was in the height of the war – "and I get more satisfaction than you do".

Beveridge invented the welfare state. Waugh wrote some great books. I like to think of Longford sitting there listening to the pair of them, admiring the mischief of the latter almost as much as nobility of the former. That's the national character. And if it isn't, it ought to be.

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Sexy A-Levels, 2009 – 2011

August 16th, 2012

Why Sexy A-Levels must die:

2) We're all fabulously important people now. Seriously you guys. we're like the 1% these days and this shit does not look good on golf club applications. Or we're just busy.

[Via flashboy dot org]

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As it [happened|will happen]

July 18th, 2012

Martin Belam predicts the tenor of Olympic media coverage by the British media over the next few weeks:

DAY FIVE: After a couple of failed drugs tests, and a fracas in one of the men's hockey matches, nearly all newspapers feature an online poll: "Is the spirit of the Olympics dead?". Except the Daily Express which features a poll "Would Diana have enjoyed the London Olympics?"


THE DAY AFTER: The general consensus is "Wow, that was great. What can we bid for next?"

Three months later: George Osborne cites the Olympics as a "special factor" in worse than expected economic results as the UK hits a triple-dip recession


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Wenlock is Watching

July 14th, 2012

Olympic Mascots Wenlock Policeman Figurine: Amazon.co.uk: Toys & Games:

Technical Details

  • Hello, I'm Wenlock! Don't I look smart in my police officer's uniform?
  • I have the important job of protecting you on your journey to the London 2012 Games.
  • Take this figurine on a journey to the London 2012 Olympic Games – we can have lots of fun together! [...]

The customer reviews are all you'd expect and more…

Screen Shot 2012-07-14 at 11.58.10.JPG

[Via Charlie Stross, commenting at Making Light]

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Mr Twigg said that the timing of the move was premature…

July 12th, 2012

Ed Miliband sends in the Army.

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'If you spill the beans you open up a whole can of worms.'

July 4th, 2012

In the wake of what's turned out to be an … interesting … week for the UK banking industry, a reminder from Yes, Prime Minister1 that this is by no means a 21st century phenomenon:

They've broken the rules.

What, you mean the insider trading regulations?


Oh. Well, that's one relief.

I mean of course they've broken those, but they've broken the basic, the basic rule of the City.

I didn't know there were any.

Just the one. If you're incompetent you have to be honest, and if you're crooked you have to be clever. See, if you're honest, then when you make a pig's breakfast of things the chaps rally round and help you out.

If you're crooked?

Well, if you're making good profits for them, chaps don't start asking questions; they're not stupid. Well, not that stupid.

So the ideal is a firm which is honest and clever.

Yes. Let me know if you ever come across one, won't you.

[Via Flip Chart Fairy Tales]

  1. Broadcast barely a year after the deregulation of the UK financial services industry that was known at the time as "the Big Bang."

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Neoliberal Holmes

June 30th, 2012

Neoliberal Holmes, or, Everything I Know About Modern Life I Learned from Sherlock (BBC 2010):

Every age gets the Holmes it deserves.

[Via Making Light (Particles)]

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