Blog Archive — Page 33

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  • In Which I Disparage Great Works of Literature

    To follow up blog posts on gun control and police brutality, back to my normal standard of blogging: In The Night Garden.

    So, the Pontipines and the Wottingers. Stuck in their houses in the middle of nowhere, miles from any other member of their species. All they have to do with their time is wander around the Garden, angst about their loneliness, go around to the other family’s house, and presumably, interbreed.

    Which is all very well and good, but unless I’m very much mistaken, THIS IS WUTHERING HEIGHTS.

    The fic must be written.

    Bonus point: Greatest Mary-Sue writers in history, Jane Austen or the Brontë sisters?

  • On the Right to Bear Arms

    My last blog post got me thinking about how much worse the whole protest could have been if anyone was in any way armed. So why (hello America) the right to bear arms? As far as I can tell, there’s two arguments:

    To protect my home

    Does having a weapon deter burglary? Does, for example, the US have a lower burglary rate than the UK? Does any potential thief hold off on breaking into a place on the off-chance that he’ll get shot? My guess: No.

    As a last resort, for the citizens to defend themselves from their government

    Now this one does vaguely appeal to me, but it really doesn’t work. Maybe it did when GI Joe had a horse and a musket, and Joe the Plumber had a horse and a musket. But are you allowed to strap a Phalanx on the back of your pickup and stock your basement full of anti-tank rockets? My guess: nope.

    So why does the Right to Bear Arms still exist? Am I missing something?

    EDIT: On the other hand, I just remembered the Jeremy Clarkson programme about these guys, so maybe the second point isn’t a *complete* loss…

  • On the Subject of Ian Tomlinson

    Beware, here lies ranty and possibly-controversial opinion.

    I’m sure this hasn’t escaped your attention this week, but a video emerged showing a police officer assaulting a man named Ian Tomlinson, who shortly after died of a heart attack, at the G20 summit. He wasn’t a protestor.

    Now obviously that’s horrific. But what I don’t get is the feeling in the liberal media that Something Will Happen because of this. Sure, something will happen - the officer will get fired, there’ll be an enquiry, and it’ll be decided that the individual officer had a momentary lapse of judgement under stressful conditions. In six months, the results of the enquiry will be released and we’ll all go “Oh yeah, that happened, didn’t it?” And a year from now WE WON’T REMEMBER IT HAPPENED AT ALL.

    Because, much as I’m a fan of these blogs I linked (and of the Guardian), they have such little influence over the public consciousness. Who do we remember, years after the event? Princess Diana. Madeline McCann. If the tabloids care, and keep caring, then the public will care. Otherwise, it’ll be forgotten within months.

    This will not be the start of some major public stand against police brutality. Because we don’t care enough, because we’re scared of the police, because we’re scared of being seen to support a weaker police force, or because deep down we know that compared to the simple act of voting, protesting is too much risk for too little reward.

    I suspect it’ll take the likes of Tiannemen Square before the public will make a collective stand over this issue. And that’s sad, but it’s only human nature. And the police officer’s action was a mere result of human nature too - no amount of training can make any person an infalliable avatar of justice.

    This nature being unavoidable - at least, for now - means that this sort of thing will happen again, and the most we can hope for is to remember it amidst the media onslaught of everything else we should be caring about instead.

  • Now, Hyper Ninja Baking Soda!!

    Is it wrong that every time I see an advert featuring a woman in a burqa advertising something, I mentally replace her with the “Ask a Ninja” guy?

    Answers on a postcard to A. N. Infidel, Jubail, KSA.

  • Highway Lolcode

    Thus far, I have discerned the following differences between driving in the UK and Saudi Arabia. They are presented here for your edification.


    Saudi Arabia

    Turning left(right) at a red light is…

    Dangerous and illegal

    Dangerous, legal and actively encouraged

    Flashing your headlights means…

    I am here

    Get out of my fucking lane, bitch!

    Speed bumps mean that you should…

    Slow down

    Try to ramp off the top of them at high speed

    Driving without a licence is…

    A criminal offense


    Undertaking is…

    Illegal unless in slow traffic or approaching a junction

    Essential in order to get anywhere

    Mobile phones to be used while driving


    Two or more

    U-turns on motorways are…

    Illegal and usually impossible

    An essential skill

    …if you’re in an articulated lorry…


    +20 points

    …with no side or rear lights…


    +30 points

    Men’s general approach to women drivers…

    Wish they were banned

    Wish they were legalised

  • Square of Britain

    In here, behind the twenty-foot walls, the razor-wire and the cheerful-looking chap with the 50-cal machine gun, there is a square of Britain. There is a restaurant, which is functionally British. (Today’s lunch was chicken, chips and broad beans.) The villas have 240V plugs. There’s a bar, and a bowling alley, a pool table, and a library stuffed full of Andy McNab and Mills & Boon books, all threatening to separate from their spines.

    And yet, there are a few reminders of where you are. There are two pools, one for bachelors and one for families. Toilets have hoses as well as toilet roll holders. And there are servants’ quarters, separate from the main site. Needless to say, none of the servants are Saudi.

    Today is Friday, the Muslim day of rest, so I woke up at midday, spent most of the afternoon in the pool, and am now on the internet. I am happily tanned and unhappily mosquito-bitten.

    Oh yes, the final sign of being outside the Western world? I am using Tor.

  • Alas, Poor Culture

    As you step out of baggage reclaim at Bahrain Muharraq, the first smells that assault your senses are cinnamon and coffee, exotic spices from the lands of “Cinnabon” and “Costa”. We drove through the eternal traffic jam that is Bahrain, spotting the BHS, the Debenhams, the Carrefour. We drove across the causeway to Saudi Arabia, its passport control presided over by the twin golden arches of a McDonalds. I drank Coke on the way to the compound.

    I am not sure whether I should be mourning the loss of individual countries’ culture, or rejoicing in the fact that the vast homogenous human monoculture that the 20th Century spawned has reached every corner of our planet. Our world may be far off social and economic equality, but at least we share the same memes, and that’s probably where it starts.

  • Inbound

    I have watched the sun set over Iraq, seen the lights of cities glow beneath me, and further out the flourescing military bases, square and uncomfortable amidst the desert. I have watched the first stars come out over Kuwait, reflected in the orange plumes of oil platforms in the Gulf below.

    I am sitting in an aeroplane 33,000 feet from the sea below, eating salmon and cucumber sandwiches, and I’m on my seventh cup of tea.

    And, in thirty minutes time, I will land in a country that doesn’t speak my language or even use my alphabet, where I am alone, three thousand miles from home.

    My wanderlust is sated, and I am loving every minute of this.

  • To Arid Pastures New

    In just over 12 hours’ time, I’ll be off for two weeks of joyous business trip to sunny Saudi Arabia. I’ve no idea what I’ll get by way of an internet connection out there, but I’ll try to pick up mail if I can.

    So if I’m forcibly out-of-touch for a while – have a nice rest-of-March, internet peeps!

  • A Question for DS / PSP Owners

    Dear lazyweb,

    I’m off on a business trip on Tuesday, which involves amongst other things a couple of 18-hour plane/taxi trips on my own. I’m not sure I can read a book for that long straight, so I’m thinking of buying a DS or PSP to pass the time.

    First question: What’s the battery life of each like?

    Second: Can anyone name me a good time-sink game for either? Ideally RPG, Strategy or the combination thereof. Caveat: I’ve played Disgaea, Advance Wars, Fire Emblem, and most of the Final Fantasy series to death already. I haven’t played FF Tactics Advance though - any good? Are there any non-Disgaea Nippon Ichi SRPGS for handhelds?