almostwitty: (monkey)

So it’s been twenty-five years since the mass shootings of civilians by soldiers from the Chinese Army. 25 years since I saw the strange footage on the news. 25 years since I was naively asked by my secondary school science teacher if I knew anyone in Beijing.

You’d have thought that having TV cameras and eyewitness accounts would be enough to ensure that some version of the truth would remain.

But no. The Chinese government doesn’t really talk about it, while keeping a very close eye on who goes into Tiananmen Square today. There’s a constant “disagreement” over whether those protesting were students hoping to change the way China worked, or counter-revolutionaries determined to overthrow the state. However, you’d have thought there was a general consensus that those protesting wanted to change *something*.

Unless you’re this Tumblr blogger, who asserts that the students were “resisting their country ‘modernizing’ in the age of Reagan, the godfather of neoliberalism”. Which is an explanation that seems to come so out-of-left-field for me, it beggars belief.

So much so that I had to blog about it, without actually having anything to say. Which is very bloggy, really.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)
I happen to think that forcing Internet companies to keep track of every Internet service, website etc. that people have been using, so that the police can interrogate said database on request is a bad idea, and not really going to work. Discuss ...
almostwitty: (evil)

According to the Media Guardian, BBC News executives lived in fear of a major breaking news story during the Royal Wedding – and that any decision to break into said coverage would have to come from the very top. I’m guessing they’re rather relieved that the US didn’t move against Osama till Monday as opposed to Friday…

On the slightly annoying front, we’re off on a plane to the United States next week. Oh boy….

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (evil)
Student protestors at Regent Street on 9 December 2010

Protestors at Regent Street on 9 December 2010

HyperHam and I were headed into Central London last night (for a thoroughly enjoyable Airplane! Q&A, as it happens) when our bus hit gridlock around Oxford Circus. I’d assumed it was general Christmas shopping traffic, until I saw the cars on the other side of the road replaced by a crowd of protestors waving placards and marching headed in the other direction.

Once we turned the corner and were headed down Regent Street, the marchers seemed to get a bit more demonstrative, and some of them started throwing orange barricades into the road, presumably to impede the progress of the police vehicles ahead and behind them. But given there were a pile of bricks on the road, they could have caused much more damage if they’d have wanted to.

Thankfully for us, they didn’t. Although since Prince Charles and Queen Camilla were apparently down a side street heading for the theatre (which we didn’t know at the time) maybe their attention was elsewhere.

Anyway, here’s some blurred shots of what little action we saw on Regent Street around 7.25pm.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (evil)

Ob. disclaimer: My views alone

Wikileaks released a bunch of war logs. Nobody really cared.

Wikileaks released more war logs, essentially stating for the record what everyone suspected. Nobody really cared.

Then Wikileaks released the US diplomatic cable logs, essentially stating what everyone suspected.

Suddenly, domain names, servers and services are being attacked and shutdown on ever-more spurious criteria. Julian Assange is enemy no.1, hunted across Europe and arrested in the UK – and you’d have thought it’d be easy to find an Albino Australian.

It’s interesting how this is the first major real confrontation between a global Internet and a global government system, and the resultant manhunt is from every paranoid thriller that emerges from Hollywood.

It’s also interesting how the world governments didn’t react or kick into gear when they released the US war logs, but did kick in over diplomatic cables.

While wikileaks has revealed interesting things, so far most people have seemingly just shrugged and moved on – and the revelations have caused people to lose their jobs in democratic countries – goodness knows what the effects will be in less “progressive” places.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (evil)

He even manages to quote the Pet Shop Boys in this Hansard release:

Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab): Where will these unqualified teachers be required to teach? I have here the document containing the Government’s list of places where they want free schools to be able to open without any planning permission. It includes hairdressers, travel agencies, sandwich bars, dry cleaners, undertakers and—you could not make this up, Mr Speaker—pet shops. Actually, the Secretary of State and the schools Minister, the hon. Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (Mr Gibb), looks a bit like the Pet Shop Boys, but does their vision of 21st century schools really consist of our children being educated in the abandoned premises of “Reptiles Я Us”?

Michael Gove: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that well rehearsed question. I know that he is a brilliant musician, but in the words of the Pet Shop Boys, he’s got the brains and I’ve got the looks, and together—I suspect—we could make lots of money.

Who said our politicians are out of touch?

(spotted on Twitter by @imnotscared)

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)

Sarah Cameron not quite standing by her man, David Cameron
 


So… on the night when David Cameron finally became Prime Minister, HyperHam and I had the following conversation:

HH: “Why is Mrs Cameron standing at the back, pregnant and far away from her husband?”
AW: “Well, we’re living in Tory times now.”

To me, this was so amazingly funny and of-the-moment, that I immediately posted it on Twitter and Facebook. After all, what’s a joke if it’s not instantly shared to as many people as possible?

While a couple of friends graciously shared the joke with credit, another friend of mine reposted the joke without attributing it towards me. Indeed, when I pointed out that I wrote the joke, she deleted the comment, and then we had a slight disagreement before she decided to delete the joke to begin with. But she genuinely thought she was in the right to just copy a joke without any form of attribution.

Record companies and artists everywhere bemoan how we now live in an age where people copy works without even thinking of paying for it. But at least we all know a song by Lady GaGa is by Lady GaGa. How soon is it going to be before people can’t even be bothered to acknowledge that someone else wrote that song or book or joke?

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)

Sarah Cameron not quite standing by her man, David Cameron

So… on the night when David Cameron finally became Prime Minister, HyperHam and I had the following conversation:

HH: “Why is Mrs Cameron standing at the back, pregnant and far away from her husband?”
AW: “Well, we’re living in Tory times now.”

To me, this was so amazingly funny and of-the-moment, that I immediately posted it on Twitter and Facebook. After all, what’s a joke if it’s not instantly shared to as many people as possible?

While a couple of friends graciously shared the joke with credit, another friend of mine reposted the joke without attributing it towards me. Indeed, when I pointed out that I wrote the joke, she deleted the comment, and then we had a slight disagreement before she decided to delete the joke to begin with. But she genuinely thought she was in the right to just copy a joke without any form of attribution.

Record companies and artists everywhere bemoan how we now live in an age where people copy works without even thinking of paying for it. But at least we all know a song by Lady GaGa is by Lady GaGa. How soon is it going to be before people can’t even be bothered to acknowledge that someone else wrote that song or book or joke?

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)

So it’s been two weeks since my last update of what the election candidates seem to be doing in the 78th Tory target seat of Hammersmith. So this is what I’ve been observing locally at least:

Labour

Labour have definitely gone for a personal approach. Aside from a couple of flyers stuffed through my letterbox (one of them on the day of the launch of the Labour manifesto), I’ve spotted candidate Andy Slaughter twice at White City station (again, on Labour manifesto launch day).

To top all that off, he even paid a visit to my road. Naturally, in advance canvassers knocked on everyone’s door in advance to see who wanted to speak to him and only one household took him up on his offer. And his Twitter feed at least took the time to acknowledge one of my tweets.

Conservatives

By contrast, Shaun Bailey’s team have been relatively quiet after their initially strong showing. I’ve had a couple of leaflets through my door – saving money by combining his election pledges with the local council’s Conservative candidates pledges – but I’ve not seen him or his team anywhere on my travels.

However, you can’t move in the constituency without seeing some Conservative billboard – ironically with Gordon Brown’s smiling face. I’ve not seen any Labour billboards in the area.

Liberal Democrats

Alas, nothing directly from the LibDem candidate Merlene Emerson – although her team did email me direct. But that doesn’t count for the purposes of this comparison.

I may have gotten a leaflet from her or her local council colleagues vying for my vote in my ward.

Other candidates

Again, nothing at all from the other candidate. While I don’t particularly want to hear from the UKIP or the BNP candidate, I do wonder where the Green candidate is. And what Stephen Brennan is standing for.

Still, there’s seven days to go…

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)

So it’s been two weeks since my last update of what the election candidates seem to be doing in the 78th Tory target seat of Hammersmith. So this is what I’ve been observing locally at least:

Labour

Labour have definitely gone for a personal approach. Aside from a couple of flyers stuffed through my letterbox (one of them on the day of the launch of the Labour manifesto), I’ve spotted candidate Andy Slaughter twice at White City station (again, on Labour manifesto launch day).

To top all that off, he even paid a visit to my road. Naturally, in advance canvassers knocked on everyone’s door in advance to see who wanted to speak to him and only one household took him up on his offer. And his Twitter feed at least took the time to acknowledge one of my tweets.

Conservatives

By contrast, Shaun Bailey’s team have been relatively quiet after their initially strong showing. I’ve had a couple of leaflets through my door – saving money by combining his election pledges with the local council’s Conservative candidates pledges – but I’ve not seen him or his team anywhere on my travels.

However, you can’t move in the constituency without seeing some Conservative billboard – ironically with Gordon Brown’s smiling face. I’ve not seen any Labour billboards in the area.

Liberal Democrats

Alas, nothing directly from the LibDem candidate Merlene Emerson – although her team did email me direct. But that doesn’t count for the purposes of this comparison.

I may have gotten a leaflet from her or her local council colleagues vying for my vote in my ward.

Other candidates

Again, nothing at all from the other candidate. While I don’t particularly want to hear from the UKIP or the BNP candidate, I do wonder where the Green candidate is. And what Stephen Brennan is standing for.

Still, there’s seven days to go…

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)

So, Gillian Duffy from Rochdale reportedly says: “All these Eastern Europeans what are coming in – where are they flocking from?”

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in a private conversation with one of his aides shortly afterwards, describes her as “bigoted”.

What do you think?

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)

So, I happen to live in the 78th Tory target seat, in a seat that’s currently held by a Labour MP (who couldn’t be bothered to discuss the Digital Economy Bill in the House of Commons). My council ward is a top target for the Liberal Democrats. Let’s see how much effort they’re putting into getting my vote (apparently currently worth 1.46x the UK average), while I live my daily life in this constituency. Note that I am, like most people, not going out of my way to attract the attention of candidates.

Conservatives

They’ve been stalking my local tube station, exhorting me to vote for the local candidate by shouting “Vote for this remarkable man!”. What, no policies? No manifesto? I should just vote for Shaun Bailey because he’s a “remarkable man”? I think the local barman is a remarkable man for all sorts of reasons, but I wouldn’t vote for him.

At home, I’ve had three letters from the Conservative party – it’s gotten to the point when I can spot the letters. They look like formal official letters, and – according to the back of the envelope – seem to come from CCHQ. Which uncomfortably reminds me of GCHQ – ironic, considering the last letter asked me to consider Labour’s erosion of civil liberties versus what the Tories would do.

Liberal Democrats

Not a word from the LibDem candidate, which seems a bit of a shame. But the prospective LibDem councillors have stuck a leaflet through my door, extolling their attempts to get London Transport to improve a bus route. Given the road it goes through has a bunch of closed shops and a recently revitalised library, I’d have thought that particular area needs more than an improved bus route.

UK Independence Party

There’s a rather offensive poster down the Goldhawk Road screaming about how 5000 immigrants a day move to the UK, and what a terrible thing this is. Never mind the Goldhawk Road tends to be one of the more diverse roads in W12.

Labour

Absolutely nothing. Which seems bizarre.

I wonder if this’ll improve next week…

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)

So finally, at long last, America has joined the rest of the world in offering near-universal healthcare to its’ citizens, instead of relying on a hodgepodge of private health insurance coverage. And about bloody time too, if my brief peek into the world of American healthcare was anything to go by.

Last summer, [livejournal.com profile] shove_this_job and I were having breakfast with her mother, when she started having a mild cough. By the time we’d left the restaurant, it had become a coughing fit and by the time we were in the car, it had pretty much developed into a full-on coughing attack, and [livejournal.com profile] shove_this_job starting to panic. So we rushed to the hospital’s “emergency ward”, only to be confronted with a counter that had nurses deep into administrative paperwork, and one elderly volunteer sweetly asking how she could help. So I blurted out “She’s choking!”, only to be told “Oh dear… I’ll see what I can do” before the elderly volunteer shuffled off trying to attract the attention of one of the admin nurses.

Somehow, a wheelchair arrived and I vaguely remember being told to go this way please – at which point, I wheeled that wheelchair to wherever the nurse was amiably ambling. (With [livejournal.com profile] shove_this_job inside – I’m not that stupid). We arrived at some kind of place where there were machines that go ping, where they stuck a probe on her. Frowning at the number, we were then directed to an emergency cubicle where [livejournal.com profile] shove_this_job was wired up to a bunch of more machines that go ping, and a couple of nurses fussed over her while we all anxiously looked on.

At one point there was a bit of an almighty flap when the machines that go ping started to go ping-ping-ping-ping, there was a bit more frenetic activity and [livejournal.com profile] shove_this_job looked close to panic. Fortunately, the machines managed to settle themselves down – but while we were recovering from all this, the hospital administrator decided to wheel herself (and her laptop trolley) in and ask us a bunch of questions. Not useful stuff like her medical history, but things like her name, and WHO HER INSURANCE COMPANY WAS – ie who was going to pay for all this. I’m surprised she didn’t just point-blankly ask for my credit card.

Then we spent the next few hours waiting in A&E while the nurses subjected her to a battery of slightly pointless tests – an X-Ray machine was wheeled in, an oxygen pump was brought in – “just in case”, or more likely as [livejournal.com profile] shove_this_job remarked later, to bump up the amount they could charge back to the insurance company. While all this was happening, [livejournal.com profile] shove_this_job’s mother tried to point out how nice American healthcare was, and how most people were covered anyway. Those who weren’t covered, she explained, were mostly illegal immigrants anyway. So that’s alright then.

To be fair, it could have been a lot worse – I suppose they could have refused to give us any help if we didn’t look like people who could afford to buy the healthcare or if we didn’t have the right insurance card – but in all the times I’ve spent in British hospitals, I don’t remember being asked to quote my NHS number verbatim, or to have to carry a card with my NHS number around. But it seems you have to do that in America, just in case.

The doctors and nurses were very nice, very efficient – as they would be. But to this day, we don’t know what happened or sparked off the attack.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)

So finally, at long last, America has joined the rest of the world in offering near-universal healthcare to its’ citizens, instead of relying on a hodgepodge of private health insurance coverage. And about bloody time too, if my brief peek into the world of American healthcare was anything to go by.

HyperHam and I were having breakfast with her mother, when she started having a mild cough. By the time we’d left the restaurant, it had become a coughing fit and by the time we were in the car, it had pretty much developed into a full-on coughing attack, and HyperHam starting to panic. So we rushed to the hospital’s “emergency ward”, only to be confronted with a counter that had nurses deep into administrative paperwork, and one elderly volunteer sweetly asking how she could help. So I blurted out “She’s choking!”, only to be told “Oh dear… I’ll see what I can do” before the elderly volunteer shuffled off trying to attract the attention of one of the admin nurses.

Somehow, a wheelchair arrived and I vaguely remember being told to go this way please – at which point, I wheeled that wheelchair to wherever the nurse was amiably ambling. (With HyperHam inside – I’m not that stupid). We arrived at some kind of place where there were machines that go ping, where they stuck a probe on her. Frowning at the number, we were then directed to an emergency cubicle where HyperHam was wired up to a bunch of more machines that go ping, and a couple of nurses fussed over her while we all anxiously looked on.

At one point there was a bit of an almighty flap when the machines that go ping started to go ping-ping-ping-ping, there was a bit more frenetic activity and HyperHam looked close to panic. Fortunately, the machines managed to settle themselves down – but while we were recovering from all this, the hospital administrator decided to wheel herself (and her laptop trolley) in and ask us a bunch of questions. Not useful stuff like her medical history, but things like her name, and WHO HER INSURANCE COMPANY WAS – ie who was going to pay for all this. I’m surprised she didn’t just point-blankly ask for my credit card.

Then we spent the next few hours waiting in A&E while the nurses subjected her to a battery of slightly pointless tests – an X-Ray machine was wheeled in, an oxygen pump was brought in – “just in case”, or more likely as HyperHam remarked later, to bump up the amount they could charge back to the insurance company. While all this was happening, HyperHam’s mother tried to point out how nice American healthcare was, and how most people were covered anyway. Those who weren’t covered, she explained, were mostly illegal immigrants anyway. So that’s alright then.

To be fair, it could have been a lot worse – I suppose they could have refused to give us any help if we didn’t look like people who could afford to buy the healthcare or if we didn’t have the right insurance card – but in all the times I’ve spent in British hospitals, I don’t remember being asked to quote my NHS number verbatim, or to have to carry a card with my NHS number around. But it seems you have to do that in America, just in case.

The doctors and nurses were very nice, very efficient – as they would be. But to this day, we don’t know what happened or sparked off the attack.

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)

would they want to charge overseas tourists $10 to register for the privilege of visiting America. So they can fund a travel tourism promotion group aimed at … getting overseas tourists to come to America. And explain to tourists why they have to be fingerprinted and give away lots of their personal details.

Nothing like being scanned for fingerprints and asked if I was involved in a Canadian drink-driving incident in 1994 to make one feel welcome when entering the land of liberty and freedom. Looks like I’ll have to pay an extra $10 for the privilege soon…

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)

would they want to charge overseas tourists $10 to register for the privilege of visiting America. So they can fund a travel tourism promotion group aimed at … getting overseas tourists to come to America. And explain to tourists why they have to be fingerprinted and give away lots of their personal details.

Nothing like being scanned for fingerprints and asked if I was involved in a Canadian drink-driving incident in 1994 to make one feel welcome when entering the land of liberty and freedom. Looks like I’ll have to pay an extra $10 for the privilege soon…

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)

Remember Drop The Dead Donkey, the seminal UK sitcom set in a news-gathering organisation? And in particular, unscrupulous cameraman Damian Day, who would go so far as to punch a child in a war zone to get the crying shot he needed?

Look at this Associated Press photograph from the site of the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash in Beirut

Mirrored from almost witty.

almostwitty: (Default)

Remember Drop The Dead Donkey, the seminal UK sitcom set in a news-gathering organisation? And in particular, unscrupulous cameraman Damian Day, who would go so far as to punch a child in a war zone to get the crying shot he needed?

Look at this Associated Press photograph from the site of the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash in Beirut

Mirrored from almost witty.

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