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ABC News: People of the Year

ABC News: People of the Year

Me? One of World News Tonight‘s People of the Year? Surely not…

Well, one of millions I suppose. Their People of the Year are Bloggers. Not that I’ve done anything myself spectacular on this blog, but some are of significant value in the Information World. There’s a blog for everything. And blogs like this, for nothing in particular. They’re everywhere. And there’s a new one every seven-and-a-half seconds. Quite scary, actually.

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Technology.

The Southport Visiter: Reader Letters

The Southport Visiter: Reader Letters

This is, by far, the most entertaining section of the local paper (which suffers a masthead spelling impairment). I look forward to reading it, because it always provides a little humour on a Friday morning (except when I’m at university, and so don’t get to read it). The best of this week’s selections…

First off, the kind encouragement given to the local amateur dramatics society:

IT was a wonderful relief to read your theatre critic’s report on the latest play at the S.D.C.

For a terrible two and a half hours, I was beginning to wonder if my powers of concentration had deserted me, in an effort to follow and understand this production.

Thank you, I cancelled my appointment with the doctor and I feel quite well again, which is more than can be said for some of the recent plays produced at the Little Theatre.

If the play selection committee and some of the actors wish to see this theatre survive then they will have to ‘pull their socks up’ and be quick about it.

‘DISAPPOINTED’ Name and address supplied.

And secondly, the furious Margaret Wyatt has fired up the old pea-sea, because she really has to get this off her chest…

I RECEIVED an illegal penalty notice on Thursday for £30. I had a ticket in the window and was well within my time limit.

The penalty notice was stuffed down well under my screen wiper and wasn’t found until I reached home. If the wind had blown it away I would have known nothing about it until the summons. This in my opinion is “stealing.”

I have issued the Strata Security Co with my own invoice of £15 to pay for the phone calls, time spent in writing and photocopying and the recorded letter to them. I do intend to carry my threat out of Court Action if they do not pay.

Needless to say I won’t be visiting Southport again.


Let’s hope she’s calmed down a bit now. Southport really is the best place for hilarious local newspaper letters. You should come and visit just for that one reason. Some how, that got left out of The Guardian’s review of the town. And The Idler’s

This post was filed under: Miscellaneous.

Go figure

Go figure (Guardian)

Some of the particularly interesting bits:

Number of times Peter Mandelson resigned from government amid allegations of sleaze before reappearing as European commissioner in August

Mandelson’s annual salary (not including $1,900 a month housing allowance)

For me, this is one of the worst aspects of Blair’s government. People are forced to resign if they get caught (unless your initials are TB – well, AB actually – how did he ever become ‘TB’?), but you don’t have to resign for long. Disgraced ministers should not be rehired if you want a “whiter-than-white” government. But Blair doesn’t want that… He wants a government that will, to all intents and purposes, let him do what he wants unchallenged. It’s very wrong, and bad for the country.

Number of racist jokes Tory MP Ann Winterton has told at after-dinner speeches

Number of times Winterton has been sacked from prominent positions in the Tory party as a result of her fondness for racist jokes

…but then the Tories aren’t much better. But at least they don’t seem to have done it quite as often in recent years.

Maximum number of civilian deaths in Iraq since the war began (Source: iraqbodycount.org)

Minimum number of civilian deaths in Iraq since the war began (Source: Lancet report)

Which ever figure is right, it’s far too high. There was no need for an immediate invasion, and even if a case had been made for regime change (which would have been illegal anyway, but let’s just suppose) then time could have been taken to plan an acute strike to kill of Saddam and a minimal number of his aides. There was no need to go and destroy much of a beautiful country, leaving children as orphans and families as homeless.

Deaths this year due to the conflict in Darfur

Deaths this year from active smoking in the UK

Deaths from passive smoking in the UK

When faced with figures like these, even my opposition to a public smoking ban begins to waver. But I stand firm. I agree that there is a case for banning smoking in many public places, but I don’t see why the government should deny people the liberty of going out and having a smoke now and again. However much I dislike it, and however much harm it is doing to themselves. It should only be banned in places where it causes significant harm to others (such as poorly ventilated restaurants).

Grams of fat in a McDonald’s chicken Caesar salad with dressing and croutons

Grams of fat in a standard McDonald’s hamburger

It’s popularly known, but worth mentioning again in the light of the recent campaigns attempting to portray McDonalds as a healthy option.

Price of a 500ml bottle of Dasani, Coca-Cola’s new drink that was withdrawn from sale after it was revealed to come from a tap in Sidcup, Kent

Price of 500ml of tap water

One of my favourite stories of the past year. Finally, a major triumph over corporate cynicism. Though I suppose it wasn’t, really, because it wasn’t withdrawn until it was found to be carcinogenic. But I can dream, and bask in happiness.

Number of times John Peel, who died in October, was voted Melody Maker’s DJ of the Year

I always liked John Peel. Certainly one of my favourite radio presenters, though I admit that I know him more for his Radio 4 work that his Radio 1 work. He was one of the few presenters who seemed interested in his listeners, and a genuinely caring man. A sad loss.

This post was filed under: News and Comment.

British donations top £32m mark

British donations top £32m mark (BBC News)

Following this post, I’m now slightly happier to report that Mr Blair has now increased the amount of aid sent to the affected region to £50m. But that’s still nowhere near enough to rebuild tens of thousands of families. It’s clearly a lot better though, and it does make us the biggest international donors.

I’m astounded at the response from the great British public – over £32m has already been donated. This completely unprecedented level of fundraising begins to restore my faith in humanity.

Just a shame TB’s still on holiday, and not on hand to lead the nation.

This post was filed under: Tsunami 2004.

Tsunami death toll hits 123,000

Tsunami death toll hits 123,000 (Guardian)

I’ve never liked the term ‘death toll’. It’s not nearly sombre enough to communicate the tragedy of large numbers of deaths. Somehow, it is emotionally lacking, and understated. We pay tolls to go over bridges and through tunnels in our cars, or even to drive in Central London, and think little of it. I wish I could suggest an alternative word for people to use instead, but I’ve not yet been able to think of one – perhaps the situation is so terrible for anybody to think of a word that can possibly convey the emotion of the event.

This post was filed under: Tsunami 2004.

Microsoft Train Simulator

I bought this today in the January sales (silly name, when most of the good stuff is gone by January, but never mind) and I really rather like it. It’s a lot of fun. Could this be an important epiphany for me? Could it be signalling a shift from Guardian-reading Liberal Wet to… erm… Geeky Train-Spotting Guardian-reading Liberal Wet? I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think so.

This post was filed under: Reviews.

Messenger Plus!

Messenger Plus!

I thought that everyone had heard of this and used it, but evidently not. If you use MSN Messenger, then this is very good and possibly one of the most useful free add-ins I’ve found in a long time. So download it now.

This post was filed under: Reviews, Technology.

Blair stays on holiday but gives £15m aid

Blair stays on holiday but gives £15m aid (Guardian)

Hundreds of aid workers have given up their Christmas holidays to deal with this crisis – it is unfortunate that our Prime Minister can’t do the same, if only to show some solidarity with those who are giving up the only time of the year they get to spend with their family to travel to scenes of utter horror and try to help those in desperate need. But instead, he’s staying on a luxury, relaxing holiday in Egypt. Lucky him.

And the fact that the British people can outdo their government’s donation within hours shows how pathetic the government’s ‘aid’ has been. If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be laughable.

This post was filed under: Tsunami 2004.

DEC – Tsunami Earthquake Appeal

DEC – Tsunami Earthquake

Please support the official Disasters Emergency Committee’s Tsunami Earthquake Appeal. We all know how terrible the events of the last few days have been for the people living in the regions affected, so please give whatever you can to help support them, and prevent the disaster from worsening.

This post was filed under: Tsunami 2004.

Wave toll ‘could exceed 100,000’

Wave toll ‘could exceed 100,000’ (BBC News)

Yesterday, I was upset, shocked, and lost at the prospect of 40,000 people having been killed. Today, I read this:

About 77,000 people have been confirmed killed in the earthquake and waves.

The tragedy cannot get any greater, however many more people die. I cannot comprehend the idea of 10,000 people, let alone 77,000 people, losing their lives in one event. It truly is of biblical proportions.

I urge you to browse some of the blogs of people who were there (such as Crossroads Dispatches and Moichido), and try to imagine what a terrible event this has been for all involved. And then go and donate whatever you can to the charities seeking to help these poor, poor people.

This post was filed under: Tsunami 2004.

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