David wins Fame Academy!
Mix Big Brother with Pop/American Idol and you get the Fame Academy
, where 12 gorgeous
under-30s are thrown into a glorified stage school
for a few months, and only one emerges an idol. The prize? Supposedly the 'biggest TV prize ever.' A £1 million recording contract, a fancy apartment in London, a personal shopper, chauffeur, and more. All is not lost for the 'losers' though, as they've all gained professional management and Mercury Records
is considering them all for solo careers.
In contrast to the 'Idol' shows, being couped up for weeks on end has caused even the wackiest
contestants to grow in their singing and songwriting abilities. So will this show reach the US? Probably, given these other crossover shows.
Entrances to Hell
abound throughout the United Kingdom. Who knew?
I recently rode the Falkirk Wheel
, perhaps the least well known of a number
of UK projects marking
the Millenium, which fuse stunning design
with ingenious engineering
. [more inside]
has been voted as the Greatest Briton
in a BBC survey. Yes, he gave some great speeches when he needed to, but who gave him the language to make them
? Who is missing from the list
1901 Back on it's feet again...
At last it's the 1901 show!(the date not the time) and the UK Public Record Office 1901 Census
is up and testing again after having crashed due to overdemand earlier in theyear. And it works! I've discovered my great grandfather was a wheelwright and that his eldest son was a labourer at the gas works (I saw my first naked girlfriend in a bedroom in the shadow of that very gasworks!) and that I had a great great Uncle Percy!
Moors murderer Myra Hindley is dead
The serial killer was serving her 36th year behind bars at nearby Highpoint Prison, Suffolk. Hindley and Ian Brady, 64, were jailed for life in 1966 for the sexual abuse, torture and murder of three youngsters. In 1987 they confessed to two more child killings.
Fresh in from the 'perfect timing' department - not even 24 hours after the fire brigade
goes on strike
, the south west of England goes on flood watch
and a Fireworks factory explodes
. For some added fun, the army are banned
from driving the modern fire engines
and instead drive famous 'green godesses
Even ignoring the lack of cover (644 GGs replacing 4,311 normal engines) and lack of equipment
the army fire teams have, should emergency services be able to strike?
Hate crime police raid 150 homes
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'
R.I.P. Squirrel 2002-2002
He lived a short, productive life. Some guy finally shot and killed him to end his reign of terror over Chesire. I'm sure that with a good taxidermist, he will be stuffed and live on in the hearts of all of England. He also spawned an unintentionally funny caption
to a picture: "A squirrel, similar to the one shown in this file photo, is spreading terror in a Cheshire town where it keeps attacking people
I dub thee "Chester the Crazy Squirrel". May he live his afterlife like he lived his life, by attacking people at random.
"The oldest profession in the world"
gains a whole new meaning with this 57-year-old woman's spirited account, in The Spectator (est. 1858
) no less, of her successful new career as a prostitute. I must admit a part of me said "Hooray! There's hope for us thirtysomethings yet" but the rest remained highly suspicious or (to be honest) whispered "How pathetic!" Is this ageism or are (much) older women really more attractive nowadays?
If being a student wasn't hard enough,
now they want us to sit in a pub/bar, day and night, and all in the name of an education. Its a hard life, but someone has to do it!!!
Queen's intervention leads to acquittal in Regina v. Burrell.
Princess diana's butler, Paul Burrell - her 'rock' - is acquitted of theft from Princess Diana after Queen Elizabeth admits her knowledge of his 'caretaking' of Diana's property. This case has always smacked of a class divide - surely we shouldn't let the hoi-polloi be so close to their uppers and betters? Surely Diana wouldn't really let a mere butler have her precious momentos?
Is this farce one more nail in the British Monarchy's coffin? Or, as the popular weakness
of the movement towards the abolition of the uk monarchy
attests, will the Windsors ride this out, as they did the opposition they encountered after the death of 'The Queen of Hearts'?
[More republican links here]
How gay panic gripped 1960s Royal Navy One sailor reportedly picked up a prostitute who he believed to be female. Realising he wasn't who she appeared to be, the sailor reportedly declared: "Blimey, you're all there!" Nevertheless, he apparently became "infatuated".
This kind of incident led admirals to argue that most of the men accused were only inadvertently homosexual, rather than dangerous "perverts".
Just-released documents from the UK Public Records Office
show some interesting attitudes among the Navy hierarchy at the time. The rationalising of the various activities uncovered is actually quite creative, and weirdly more tolerant than that in subsequent decades, when gay activity got people summarily thrown out of the forces. Even this particular 'crisis' eventually triggered a new 'education' programme on the evils of homosexuality though. In this instance, the pendulum seems not so much to have swung as to have careered wildly in all directions. A bit like the sailors.... (sorry).
City of London Churches
'The ‘Square Mile’ that constitutes The City of London is a world financial centre where 300,000 people work and nearly 500 foreign banks have an office. Less well known is that amongst the largely uninspired office blocks are hidden around 50 current or former churches and other places of worship, either complete, converted into offices, or in ruins. Once there were nearly 100 parish churches within the City boundaries but the Great Fire of London, the migration of residents to the suburbs, and Hitler’s bombs have done most to reduce that figure. Many of the surviving churches are, famously, Wren churches. After the Great Fire he had the unique opportunity of designing over 50 churches, and he gave full rein to his imagination ... '
A guide to 55 churches in London's financial district; best seen on a weekend, when the City is virtually deserted. Whilst the majority are Wren churches, there are some exceptions - St Bartholomew the Great
, which dates back to Norman times; the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue
, the oldest surviving synagogue in Great Britain; and the Dutch Church
, which was drawn by van Gogh
and important to the Huguenot community. Particularly worth a visit is St. Bride's
, the journalists' church; the design of the wedding cake is based on the shape of its spire.
Trial by Tabloid?
Top BBC presenter Angus Deaton
has been sacked after a sex & drugs scandal
. He has presented comedy news quiz Have I Got News For You
for over ten years. So, is ti right for him to be sacked after trial by tabloid? Do we actually care what our T.V. presenters get up to after the cameras are turned off?
Secure Beneath the Watchful Eyes;
Big Brother goes retro. In the artistic tradition of classic London Transport poster art comes this sinister-looking campaign. Reminiscent of these parodies
, but the art is better and they're not kidding
One of Our Inflatable Tanks is Missing.
The UK has been returning to normal operation today after our latest storm (apart from the power, oh, and the trains but a state of disruption is
'normal' for the trains).
The saddest story is of Christopher Vince
, who died saving his brother. The silliest is that of the army and their lost inflatable tank
Actor Richard Harris dies
"Don't let it be forgot - that once there was a spot - for one brief, shining moment - that was known as Camelot..." Such a sad day all around. R.I.P., Richard.
Centre of Great Britain
The BBC (God bless 'em) are running a series of "Centre of ..." stories. No-one in the UK seems to care, do other nationalities care more about their country's centre of gravity?
, one of the UK's finest ever sports writers has retired from the Guardian. Mathew Engels appreciation concludes with links to ten of his finest pieces. This is brilliant writing which happens to concern itself with sport, so there is no need for any "doesn't this belong on Sportfilter" type snideness.
Blue man runs for Senate
Stan Jones, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate in Montana suffers from argyria
, a condition in which the skin becomes stained a permanent shade of blue. How do you come down with it? You drink lots of colloidal silver
. Jones started mixing his own shortly before Y2K to help boost his immune system in the antibiotic-short apocolypse he was sure was coming. No word if he is now engaged in weird behavior
involving metal tubes.
Anyone go to the anti war protest in London today?
The number of the people has been estimated from between 3000 (by the police) to 350,000 (by the organisers
). I reckon 200,000. Either way, its the largest peace protest ever in the country. Me and my friends sign was a great success, with many people commenting on it/photographing it. It was the only black one we saw, so easily stood out. It said 'Its all about the oil' on one side, and on the other there was a picture of Bush looking stupid, and 'No to War'. The protest was peaceful (or was when I left) and on the whole, a success. The only question is, will Bush and Blair take any notice?
In the new LRB
, a pretty good attempt to answer the pressing question - why do the Bush people want to attack Iraq so much?
Finally released, The British Government's Dossier On Iraq
appears, after two hours of reading, to be quite remarkable in it's - well - unremarkableness.(.pdf link from mainpage)
Cooking the Books
The Office of National Statistics feels that the UK population is a little too small - so they're inventing one million people to fill the gap. Why did they do a census if they were going to make it all up?
Earthquake hits the UK.
'Big one' too, 4.8 on the Richter scale, so not quite California standard. Anyone want to share their experience?
have been talking about it for a while, but this Music Identification Service for British
(nyt) mobile phones is finally here. For 50p, you can place your mobile phone next to any machine playing groovy unidentifiable music, and within a minute, it'll text and tell you what's playing. So far, I've worked out that it's great at identifying Sheryl Crow and Bush tracks, but it's not so good at identifying
traditional Greek folk music.
The Bolan Tree
Today is the 25th Anniversary of the accident in which folk-singer turned glam pioneer Marc Bolan died. The tree
his car hit - driven by his partner, soul singer/producer Grace Jones
- has been purchased by a fan group [T-Rex Action Group], who have also contributed a bust sculpted by Canadian Jean Robillard
(with Quebec Government Cultural Attaché to Great Britain attending the unveiling today).
You may not think you know his music, but if you've seen Velvet Goldmine
or Billy Elliot
, watched the NBA Playoffs on TNT [using 'Get It On/Bang A Gong'
], or ever wondered where the ubiquitous '20th Century Boy'
[with the definitive power chord + squeal opening burst] comes from, now you know.
Marc inspired devotion in his fans, and respect from the likes of Bowie, the Damned and Billy Idol in his own lifetime - and influenced musicmakers like The Strokes & The Red Hot Chili Peppers [according to this article in The Philidelphia Enquirer
Dandy's in the Underworld, indeed.
MOD Selects The Carlyle Group as Preferred Bidder for QinetiQ
. In a move that seems to be going ahead with very little coverage, Britain's military research agency is being sold off to a foreign company. Given the important role Qinetiq
plays in Britain's Defense, and the type of business The Carlyle Group
is, this is perhaps surprising...
A hot rod hamster
caused quite a stir when he was caught racing along the promenade – in his dragster car.
More Friday Funny.
Stalin, Hitler, Guilt, Finger-Pointing And Friendship: Timothy Garton-Ash
reviews, a trifle superciliously but fairly, a very lively and soul-searching polemic between two consummate, consuming and irresistible writers, Martin Amis
and Christopher Hitchens
- who also happen to be old friends. Funnily enough, I'd suggest reading Hitchens's review in the Atlantic Monthly first
; then the three
] extracts from
] Amis's book
] and, finally
, Hitchens's reply to them. All in all, it's that rare thing: a long, juicy, well-written and passionately argued polemic with plenty of insights into how generations come to terms with the honest indiscretions and oversights of their youth. Oh and there's a lot about communism, nazism, totalitarianism and the Sixties too...
The British Empire in Colour
-- a three-part documentary series from the producers of the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) award-winning Britain at War in Colour
will air this month. The series is supposed to include "a treasure-trove of early colour movies filmed before 'technicolour' transformed film making in the 1930s. Unique colour footage of the Edwardian splendour of 1906 British India, soldiers of the First World War and class divided Britain in 1926 as seen for the first time by a modern visually sophisticated audience."
Apparently, it also includes Horrifying footage of last days of Raj
Amina Lawal Must Not Face Death by Stoning
says UK Amnesty International. Nigerian woman, divorced & single, with 3 kids, to be executed by a Sharia Court for giving birth outside of wedlock. Other pregnant unwed mothers, such as this computer student
, are seeking asylum outside of Nigeria to avoid being stoned to death by a Nigerian Sharia Court in accordance with Islamic law principles.
Amina's whole convoluted and horrible story is laid out nicely here
. Sharia Courts, and their ilk, punish sexual and "moral offenders" through stoning, amputation
, crushing the victim with walls
or even rape
Meanwhile, in another universe, the Nigerian 419
scam has mutated into Amina Lawal's "barrister" spamming the net with pleas for cash.
Instead of that, sign the open letter to the President of Nigeria asking that death by stoning be stopped.
is the New Jersey of England, but is trying to change the public perception of my beautiful home county. Not all Essex girls
and it's not all industrial wasteland
. But why tell the rest of England about our beautiful secrets
Lobsters, caviar and brandy for MPs at summit on starvation.
Is this really a scandal? Or typical tabloid pabulum? Yes, it is hypocritical, but is it worse than rich people who don't claim to give a damn about the poor eating caviar and swilling champagne? Matt
thinks it's "sick".
Holidays cut into UK growth...
Wow, so much for National Slacker Day being a good thing! Although honestly, I cannot see where they have more National Holidays
than the US
Must be all our 40 plus hour work weeks.
, who once assured us that "ridicule is nothing to be scared of"
, admits pub affray
& has been remanded on bail, after using a fake gun to take revenge on pub-goers that took the piss out of his clothes!
Adam seems to have suffered quite a lot - both before
and after - his heyday, and his behaviour has led to him being compulsorily detained on at least one occasion.
Quite apart from the fact that Police do not seem shy of killing anyone
who could be a threat and might be armed with a pistol
, has there ever been such an exact fall from grace for a celebrity - whose personal 'philosophy' came back to haunt him like a Shakespearean tragedy?
Can Dumbing Down Save Our Libraries?
An intersting story from The Sunday Herald
that says libraries are facing a stark choice: modernize or die.
The author say we just can't win, if we put in a bank of computers
we are accused of dumbing things down, if we demand silence
in the reading rooms and purchase books that aren't "popular" we find ourselves charged with elitism
He says the public library has an altruistic purpose of making knowledge freely available through the printed word. The trouble is that those high principles
were undermined by the librarians
themselves. Facing a revolution in communications, they tried to become all things to all people
He focuses on England, but I think many of these issues are international. Are public libraries out of date?
The UK Parliament Site
gets a new design, with live webcasting. They want it better to serve "grazers" as well as "hunters"
. For comparison, the US House
, and the French Assembly
Big Brother is here!
Close to a thousand Brirish schools have collected their student`s fingerprints via library scanners; all this without the consent or knowledge of the parents. Please commend my success in refraining from oversentionalizing the story. YES!
The Burqa Incident.
British freethinker Sarah Lawrence
dresses in a burqa to make a point at the US Libertarian Party Conference, and causes a hotel-wide security alert. Looks like one of those systemic sense-of-humour failures that conspire to spiral out of control these days. But isn't it a bit
worrying when even Libertarian Party
officials start threatening to report their own conference speakers
to the FBI for suspicious dress sense?
Best British Blog.
The Guardian has launched a competition to find the best British weblog. Is this another case of the mainstream media not really understanding what blogging is all about?
Britain to Relax Laws for Millions of Dope Smokers.
The theory is that this move will free up officers and money to deal with more serious drug problems. As far as the classification goes, cannabis will now be grouped with anabolic steroids and growth hormones, two substances that I think are more dangerous than pot. What was it grouped with before?
Have the anti-Euro lobby shot themselves in the foot?
A video promoting opposition to the UK joing the Euro has been critisized for including a spoof of Hitler praising the currency. It's attracted publicity for the campaign, all right, but has it unmasked the "No" campaign as anti-Europe "little Englanders"? (Guardian link)
Stranger is as stranger does
Lets see, the older I get, the more eccentric I become. Boy, am I in trouble.
seem to be the only place we can find out what goes on in the US these days. Probably has to do with the liberal media, wouldn't you say?