April 30, 2007

Eat It, Cultural Studies (Part of a Continuing Series)

What is truth? Fact? How can we separate an objective view of "reality" (better, "realishness") from the subjectivities of each of its observers? Is there ever really one "true" version of events, or do events exist only insofar as they are perceived by onlookers? Do I have tenure yet?

Consider the example of my RSS news feed, in which the following four items appeared side by side:
2 Killed in Kansas City Mall Shooting
At least two people were killed Sunday afternoon after a shooting at a shopping center, fire officials said.

Fire Dept: 2 Dead in Mo. Mall Shooting
At least two people were killed Sunday afternoon in a shooting at a shopping center, a fire official said.

3 Dead in Kansas City Mall Shooting
A shooting at a shopping center Sunday afternoon left three people dead, including the gunman, police said.

4 Dead After Violence in Kansas City
A man driving a dead woman's car shot a police officer, then opened fire in a parking lot and a mall Sunday, authorities said.
As you can see, the interpolation of events, first by fire official(s) and/or authorities (police?), and then by various jour(na)lists, fundamentally changes how we perceive the world. Praxis differance superstructure dialectic.

Seriously, tenure? Anyone?

April 27, 2007

April 26, 2007

A Wee Pun

From BBC NEWS | UK | Education: Unisex toilets to tackle bullies
Unisex lavatories - with blurred glass walls - could help in the battle against school bullies, government guidelines for England suggest…

The guidelines received a warm welcome from the charity Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence (Eric).
Yeah, but come on, those childhood incontinence folks give a warm welcome to everything, if you know what I mean.

I really just wanted to make that one joke. Please continue with whatever you were doing.

April 25, 2007

Just Don't Ask Where He Keeps His Refried Beans…

From WFTV Orlando: Captain America Arrested With Burrito In Pants
Doctor Raymond Adamcik, 54, would probably rather forget about the weekend when he was arrested on charges of battery, disorderly conduct, drug possession and trying to destroy evidence. It's not what you would expect from a doctor or Captain America.

The Palm Bay family physician was at On Tap bar as part of a pub-crawl with other medical professionals. It was a sort of costume party on a bus that would take them around from bar to bar.

Everything was fine until, witnesses said, Captain America started getting too forward with a burrito he kept tucked inside his blue tights, a burrito that ultimately landed him in jail.
While I have to admit that there is sort of a genius mother lode of Mexican-food-related double entendres that could be made while having a burrito stuffed in one's pants, I'm not sure any of them would really be appropriate as pick-up lines (and they certainly wouldn't be appropriate for me to list on the blog that my family reads, so I'm afraid you'll have to get your sophomoric kicks elsewhere).

The story, in any case, gets even better.
Police said Adamcik had a burrito stuffed below the waistband of his costume and was asking women if they want to touch it. When one refused, he allegedly took out the burrito and groped her.

The woman called police and, when they arrived, the officers wrote in their report "there were so many cartoon characters in the bar at the time, all Captain Americas were asked to go outside for a possible identification."
What, they couldn't just pick out the one with a burrito stain around his crotch?

I can't even begin to come up with anything that's funnier than this story by itself. To be honest, I'm still only 90% convinced that it's not a hoax. Especially considering how well-documented the arrest was. There's actually a picture of the burrito. It is freaking hilarious.

Ahem.

April 24, 2007

Idol Pursuits

From Newsvine: Sanjaya: 'I'm Not Just a Musician'
NEW YORK — Sanjaya Malakar is so famous, he can't walk anywhere without getting noticed… [On] Monday on "Live With Regis and Kelly," [the 17-year-old "American Idol" cast-off said:] "It's really weird. I mean, I'm just Sanjaya from Seattle."
Malakar added, "I used to have a little, now I have a lot," explaining, "No matter where I go, I know where I came from (from Seattle!)." He also warned critics not to be fooled by the rocks that he has, a reference to his nationally renowned collection of geodes.

(Note to older readers: The above joke is a pop culture riff on the song "Jenny From The Block" by Jennifer Lopez. Lopez is a popular actress/musician who made her debut on Nineties sketch comedy show In Living Color.)
Malakar was voted off the Fox talent competition last week after a long and unlikely run in which he outlasted better singers and captivated millions of TV viewers with his goofy charm and ever-changing hairdos.
"Pffft," said Jim Carrey when reached for comment. "It's been done." Mr Carrey then descended into a string of meaningless but vaguely funny sound effects.

(Note to older readers: The above joke is a reference to the standard repertoire of Jim Carrey, who has also captivated millions with his goofy charm and ever-changing hairdos. Mr Carrey is a Canadian actor/comedian who made his debut on Nineties sketch comedy show In Living Color.)
On Saturday, he attended a White House correspondents' dinner in Washington as a guest of People magazine.

"It was really weird because the governor of New York came up to me and said, `I'm a fan, I vote,'" Malakar said.
Because the governor of New York was not at any point affiliated with the show In Living Color, I am unable to make a joke about him.

April 21, 2007

Time Out

Man, does anybody else find it intensely depressing that The Simpsons turned twenty years old last week?

Other cultural milestones that will make you feel old (apologies if you've heard some of these before, I continue to be flabbergasted by most of them):

1. The original Austin Powers movie (not to mention Men In Black and Titanic) were all released ten years ago.

2. The original Bondi Blue iMac will turn ten next year; the first consumer-marketed digital cameras do so this year.

3. OK Computer (plus debuts from Blur and Portishead) were also released ten years ago; Dr Dre's seminal The Chronic, a whopping fifteen!

4. Media circuses of days past: Monicagate and Princess Di's death (both 10 years ago); the OJ Simpson trial (12 years ago); President Bush Sr barfing all over the Japanese Prime Minister (15 years ago).

5. And, honestly, this one really bowls me over: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was published ten years ago in June.

April 20, 2007

April 18, 2007

Vice Precedent

From Reuters: Two Secret Service officers injured at White House
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two Secret Service officers were injured on Tuesday after a gun held by another Secret Service officer accidentally fired inside the White House gate, according to a spokesman, Darrin Blackford…

One officer suffered a shrapnel wound to the face, and the other was wounded in the leg.
The White House later released the following picture of the officers:



Also, man, what is up with this administration and gunshot wounds to the face? It's like a Tarantino film in there.

April 17, 2007

Badvertising

A couple of weeks ago posters like this started appearing all around London (photo courtesy of a randomly selected Flickr user):


They came in a variety of shapes and sizes, and in all manner of locations – on the Tube, on lampposts, on billboards, even on pavements – and generally gave the impression of a well-organised and passionate campaign, though against what it wasn't totally clear (this perhaps should have been my first tip-off that they were not quite what they seemed).

Every time I saw one, with the increasingly familiar www.information-revoution.org scrawled along the bottom, I thought to myself that it sounded interesting and that I should remember to visit when I got home. I figured the target of protest would be DNS monopolies, or something that, you know, is an actual problem (turns out the evil conspiracy is Google) – but I never knew for sure because I never got around to checking out the site.

At least, not until last week, when a new round of posters, with a subtle change on them, started appearing. See that apparently random red oval in the picture above? It's not, as you might have assumed, meant to represent a splatter of the innocent blood spilt by the Thought Police. In fact, it's the main component (sans text) of the logo of another search engine that may or may not have been fronted at one point by an indentured Englishman of questionable sexuality, and the new posters put the text back in.

Yes, it turns out that the weeks-long "guerilla" campaign was all geared towards the final, subversive denouement: Ask.com is also a website that allows you to search for things.

What I don't understand is who they thought they were appealing to. Certainly the whole 'revolution' things seems geared towards the cynical youth of today, but those are also exactly the sorts of people who are going to be instantly turned off and bitingly critical as soon as they find out a big corporation is actually behind it (viz. the number of comments on the site along the lines of "I will never use Ask.com again because of this," "What a bunch of crap," etc.). By setting themselves up as (falsely) revolutionary, they are guaranteed to disappoint anyone who actually buys the whole revolution thing – the entire campaign is just another one of those painfully point-missing attempts at counterculture that, for reasons obvious to everyone except the bright sparks down at the advertising agency, can never truly be counterculture.

It's kind of sad, too, because their marketing people used to be a lot more cynical-youth-savvy. When they realised how much they had lucked out by creating a mascot so ridiculously lame that he became cool to a world of ironic hipsters, they grabbed that opportunity and went with it. That's why you used to be able to Ask Jeeves "Is Jeeves gay?" and have it redirect to a special page with a picture of a clucking (figuratively) Jeeves and the text "I prefer the term jovial," or something similarly tongue-in-cheek. As far as viral marketing on the internet went, that was an early gem: I was asking Jeeves about his sexuality at least seven or eight years ago, and telling all my friends about it, too. That's the kind of mindset they need to tap back into if they really want to attract their internet-savvy demographic.

Also, it might help if they had a search engine that was mildly useful. But I think we all know that would be harder work.

April 16, 2007

Pedantic Pundigrions

I have reams of interesting posts I want to write this week but, alas!, no time to write any of them. Instead, today, I thought I'd draw attention to this rather appalling how-to-be-a-better-writer type article called "20 more writing mistakes that make you look stupid", which is, ironically, rather full of stupid writing mistakes itself.

Item:
12. I/Me: We had several different takes on this, with one correspondent nailing it thus: "The correct choice can be seen when you finish the truncated sentence: He's bigger than I am. 'He's bigger than me am' actually sounds ridiculous and obviates the mistake."
WHAT?! Okay, apart from the fact that 'obviate' does not mean "to make obvious", this is a complete crock of bullhonky.

In the sentence "He's bigger than me" you are comparing 'him' to an object ('me') in the same way that you might say, "He's bigger than a mouse" – so 'me' is the correct pronoun to use.

In the sentence "He's bigger than I am" you are introducing a second verb that, natch, requires a second subject ('I'). You can't then drop the verb and have the sentence remain the same. I mean, Christ, this is such a basic subject/object distinction, I can't believe that someone claiming to be able to improve your writing could get it wrong.

(Ex-editor, care to add anything and/or snipe at my own mistakes so far?)

Item:
7. Do/Have: David B Wildgoose nails it thus: "There used to be a Head & Shoulders advert in which 'I didn't know you had dandruff' is said to a girl — and she replies 'I don't'. Aaaargh! You don't 'do' dandruff, you HAVE it. The correct reply is 'I haven't'". 'Nuff said.
Look, [REDACTED], though it is true that one HAS dandruff, it is also quite possible to say that one DOES HAVE dandruff, and equally that one DOES NOT (have dandruff). Yeesh!

David B Wildgoose also [REDACTED] [explains] this one [REDACTED]:
And one more, pedants who think that "data are" is correct. They're wrong. "Data" is a "mass noun" like, for example, chicken. One chicken, two chickens, some chicken. One datum, two data, some data.
Do I even need to explain this one? It's actually quite hilarious how wrong these self-appointed grammarians are, and how much more wrong they make themselves sound when they try to explain things:
"Data" is a collective noun that should be used in the singular. We don't say "the weather are good today", or "the traffic are bad today", we use the singular tense, "the weather IS good today" and "the traffic IS bad today".

As a final proof of the matter, let us consider the use of the word "information" as an alternative word for "data". I've yet to hear anyone say "the information we have ARE good". It not only sounds wrong, it is wrong. The correct form is, "the information we have IS good".

The use of "Data are" also sounds wrong. In English it is a collective noun and is used in the singular sense. Oh, by the way, did anyone notice the use of "English" as the collective noun using the singular tense, or should I have said, "In English it ARE a collective noun."
[Andrew's head explodes]

This is why I feel it is my duty to become an English teacher.

April 15, 2007

Howardice

From BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific: HIV migrants call for Howard ban
Australia should refuse to allow John Howard to enter the country, migrants and refugees with HIV have said.

The migrants were asked about the issue during a recent visit to Victoria state, which has seen a sharp rise in cases of John Howard.

The migrants, on a visit to Melbourne, told a local radio station they wanted to seek more advice on the issue, but said their gut feeling was that John Howard should not be allowed into the country.

Victoria's public health officials have blamed the rise in John Howard cases partly on ignorant douchebaggery, but also on bone-headed conservatism relocating from other parts of the country.

Solicitor David Puls of the New South Wales HIV/AIDS Legal Centre said the law allowed John Howard to be denied access where there are public safety concerns.

He added that John Howard should not be compared with a good Prime Minister as the latter is cognisant that better sex education is a more efficient prophylactic than knee-jerk immigration policies, while John Howard is in power but not too bright.
Urgh.

April 14, 2007

I May Not Know Much About Art, But…

Some of you may have heard of artist Marco Evarissti when he exhibited, a few years ago, a blender with live goldfish swimming in it that, by the end of the exhibition, were made decidedly less live via a fairly obvious and inhumane method. His latest show puts even gingerbread Nazi guy to shame.

From the Santiago Times:
Another controversial piece consists of six fake faeces covered in gold taken from the teeth of Jewish holocaust victims.
But if you think using Holocaust victims' teeth to make turds is bad, wait until you hear about this doozy (from Evarissta's website):
The photo 'Trinity' show[s] the artist himself, half-naked and thereby revealing his religious background with the star of David and the word 'jude' tattoed on his breast. Standing in a Christlike position he is getting a blow-job [from] an arabic woman, naked except for her veil. The photo unites three religions in one.
Unites them against Evarissti, presumably.

Seriously, no matter how many times I read the description of that photo, I just can't help but laugh at how gratuitously, absurdly offensive it is. It's more like a caricature of art – it's what Trey Parker and Matt Stone would have an artist on South Park do if they were trying to satirise how ridiculous 'shock' art is (schlock art, more like).

Ugh.

Has someone linked to this on Sillytech before, or something? I'm getting some deja vu about it.

April 13, 2007

Conversations With Greatness CXXVI



Go well, Mr V.

April 11, 2007

...And Now A More Familiar Approach

From BBC NEWS | UK Politics: Navy media deal was wrong - Blair

A few government officials weigh in on the Iran/hostages/media/scandal scandal:
Mr Blair said: … "The navy was trying to deal with a wholly exceptional situation in which the families were being pursued by the media to tell their stories. The navy took the view that it was better to manage the situation.

With hindsight was that a good idea? No."
"Does that make it any more excusable? Not really. Will I continue to talk mainly in rhetorical questions? Absolutely. Is charismatic public speaking a meaningful way to make up for past mistakes? I'd like to think so! Has anyone seen my car keys? That one is a real question."
Mr Browne [the Defence Secretary] … Referring to his earlier decision to give the go ahead, [said], "Clearly with hindsight… I could have made a different decision."
"You see, we are living in just one out of an infinite number of universes. Somewhere there is a Des Browne who stood his ground and did not allow the stories to be sold. Somewhere, there is a Des Browne who isn't even Defence Secretary. Somewhere, there is a Des Browne who is wearing underwear."
Mr Cameron [the opposition leader] responded to Mr Browne's statement by saying there should be a full Ministry of Defence inquiry, to allow lessons to be learned.
Mr Cameron also pushed for a full Ministry of Education inquiry, to allow shit to be blown up.

April 09, 2007

But Seriously

As I'm getting geared up for my return to the writerly life, I've been having various existential thoughts about my potential careers, and my future in general, and all that kind of boring stuff. It's beginning to dawn on me that my strategy up until now ("just keep blogging until I am discovered and win the Pulitzer") is pretty unlikely to pay off – so I've decided to start sharpening up my formal writing with a view to actually submitting things to places again.

So, as a dry run I produced this pretty snotty op-ed piece about the scandal surrounding the Iranian hostages and their dealings with the press since returning home. The idea was to see if I could turn around a decent piece of writing on a time-sensitive topic, but in a slightly more, ah, mature way than I usually do here. Let me know how I did.
“I heard flashbulbs and one of the guys, who could see under his blindfold, said the Iranian press were taking pictures of us. It was all about the Iranian authorities making themselves look good.”

So it was told by Royal Marine Danny Masterton – one of the fifteen recently taken captive by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard – over a celebratory pint of lager gleefully described by the Scottish Sunday Mail, in their exclusive interview with the safely home local hero. The characterisation of Iran’s agenda in capturing the British officers was an unusually incisive one: McCluhan’s ghost is hardly a regular fixture at The Crown pub in Muirkirk (a Scottish village best known these days for its trailer park), never mind on the pages of the British tabloids.

The comment was unusual for another reason, too: the Ministry of Defense usually forbids its personnel from signing deals with the media, especially for the sorts of sums that the hostages are reaping for their candour (Faye Turney, the one female among the hostages, reportedly earned on the order of £100,000 for the rights to her story). Although the MoD has always reserved the right to lift its gag order in exceptional circumstances, it has rarely done so in the past, and never with such magnanimity: all fifteen of the released captives were told to feel free to exploit their experience for financial gain. It was a somewhat unseemly accession by the government, and one that has met with a great deal of resentment from the public and the press (those papers not willing to shell out the several thousand pounds required for an exclusive, at any rate).

The reaction is no great surprise. After all, these are the country’s finest men and women; the thrill and honour of serving the Queen is supposed to be reward enough. What is harder to understand is what the MoD was hoping to achieve by encouraging such openness. The majority of the critics charge that the move was designed to exert some positive spin on, and allow the ministry a degree of control over, a story that has widely been labelled an embarrassment for the British: by letting the marines humanise the headlines, the truth behind Iran’s apparently benevolent behaviour would be triumphantly revealed.

If, however, the media circus was intended as a propaganda counterattack, one wonders who those in charge at the MoD thought they were going to win back. Certainly there were very few observers in the West who believed either that Iran’s borders had actually been crossed, or that the captives’ admissions of having done so were made freely and truthfully. Ahmadinejad’s “gift” of releasing the hostages was already being presented in the British media as an artificially engineered publicity stunt. The propaganda war at home was already won.

Meanwhile, the propaganda war in Iran (and, indeed, in much of the Middle East) was already lost, long before Turney and co. appeared on Al-alam, apologising for their mistakes and gratefully enjoying a game of chess. In any case, shoving them now into the tabloids with drunken grins and saccharine nicknames (Turney, we learn, was affectionately known to her crewmates as “Topsey”) is hardly going to convince anyone in Iran that the British are anything other than the feckless simpletons so expertly rendered by Ahmadinejad’s comparatively thoughtful publicity machine.

As it happens, most in the British media were unimpressed with the MoD’s grandiose display, perhaps sensing that too indecorous a pounce on the sacrificial lambs would disgust rather than delight their audience. (It is a fine line, and one that the British tabloids teeter along on a minute-to-minute basis.) The rumoured fees that had caused the scandal in the first place failed to materialise, with only the lone female Turney and Arthur Batchelor, the youngest of the captives at twenty, taking home anything like the figures that had been hastily scribbled and slipped under their front doors (back in Muirkirk, Masterton’s compensation was supposedly little more than his few drinks at The Crown).

And the MoD? They have found themselves the unwitting saboteurs of what should have been a relatively simple media campaign. Bring the hostages home, release a few tantalising quotes from their debriefing, and continue to condemn Iran’s conduct. There was no need for ham-fisted theatrics. Instead the MoD is now scrambling to defend against an angry public, a vitriolic press, and even the specter of a government inquiry – while their ill-conceived spin-doctoring has, it seems, failed to produce even a single extra sympathiser.

The most worrying aspect of the MoD’s quagmire is how much it echoes the broader approach, both in Britain and in the United States, towards propaganda in the Middle East: clumsy, inadequate, and neglected. The other side runs deft circles around our attempts at crafting a ‘message’, while those in charge stubbornly refuse to realise that even if their military victory arrives, they will have suffered a much messier ideological defeat.

Admittedly winning over the mob of opponents bred by the War on Terror will be an uphill battle – perhaps, then, we should stop throwing down ball bearings in our path.

April 07, 2007

Out-Snobbing the Snobs

From this week's New Yorker:
In July, 2005, a month after arriving at the [World] Bank, [Paul] Wolfowitz attended the annual G8 summit, which took place at the Gleneagles Hotel, the Scottish golf resort… He also attended a "Live 8" concert that Bono and Bob Geldof, the Irish pop singers and antipoverty activists, organized at a local rugby stadium.
At a local rugby stadium?! You mean the one an hour's drive away, over a body of water and in another city altogether?

I can't work out if they really have no clue about Scottish geography or if this is typical New Yorker snobbery of the "anything that's not New York is tiny and provincial" variety. Either way, it's thoroughly obnoxious, and I shan't be reading their pretentiously punctuated publication ("coöperation"? Please, what is that?) for at least another week.

April 06, 2007

April 05, 2007

TV Or Not TV

Here's a neat cultural litmus test.

As you have perhaps heard, the wave of the future is digital TV; both Britain and the US are planning to completely switch off their analogue TV signals in favour of digital ones by 2012 and 2009, respectively.

In the States
the government will help consumers buy the necessary equipment to upgrade to digital -- a converter box that attaches to the TV set.

The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) said it is setting aside $990 million to pay for the boxes. Each home can request up to two $40 coupons for a digital-to-analog converter box. (From SFGate.com.)
In Britain, meanwhile
Equipment, installation and assistance will be provided to people over 75, those with severe disabilities and the blind or partially sighted.

This will cost £40, or those who are eligible and are also on pension credit, job seeker's allowance or income support will get it free. (From The Beeb.)
So, to recap: in the US, free TV for all! In Britain, free TV for old blind people on income support!

I can imagine that the idea of denying television to the poor would be more repugnant to an American than to a Brit (indeed, my American half is sputtering indignantly all over his cheeseburger, while my British half is sipping tea disdainfully). What I can't decide is whether or not the difference is down to the stereotypical ubiquity of television in the States, or the fairly well-documented "equality of opportunity" rhetoric in the States. A better academic case could certainly be made for the latter, but I think without the former there would be less reason to see TV as an "opportunity" of sorts. Can someone please do a study for me?

--

Following a long tradition of dreaming about Presidential candidates, last night my brain cooked up a soporific soap opera about my darling cousin Sarah becoming engaged to John McCain's son. What does it mean?

April 04, 2007

Punchy Prose

A few brief punchlines:

From Newsvine:
CHICAGO — He wears Jesus' robes and a neon blue halo, looks like Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and is causing a stir at a Chicago art school. An undergraduate student's papier mache sculpture of Obama as a messianic figure — entitled "Blessing" — went on display Saturday at a downtown gallery run by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Whoa, first a chocolate Jesus, and now a chocolate Jesus! What horrendous assault will the Catholic community have to endure next? Chocolate rabbits? Chocolate eggs?

--

From Newsvine:
MOUNT CLEMENS, MICH. — In a March 26 story about rapper Eminem and his ex-wife Kim Mathers, The Associated Press reported erroneously that the pair agreed in a court order not to criticize each other in public. The court order only prevents them from criticizing each other in front of their daughter, Hailie, and does not affect what they say in public.
Thank GOD.

--

When the tsunami hit the Solomon Islands the other day, one of the headlines I saw read: "Tsunami hits Solomon Islands; four missing," and I thought, 'Man! How big does a tsunami have to be to wash away four islands?!'

--

From Newsvine:
Both the dogs and the humans on a recent evening at the Seattle/King County Humane Society seemed relaxed and focused for about 40 minutes of "doggie yoga."…

The class was designed to offer a new way for humans to spend time with their pets.

"This is 80 percent fun," said Eve Holt, director of community relations for the Seattle Humane Society.
"The other 20 percent is truly horrifying," she added.

--

I heard this joke at work the other day:

Q. Why did OJ Simpson decide to move to West Virginia?
A. Everyone there has the same DNA.

I appreciate that this manages to zing both OJ and West Virginia. How many other jokes do you know that can do the same?

--

On the other hand, in this post I have managed to zing: Catholics, African Americans (with specific emphasis on OJ Simpson), tsunami victims, Eminem, West Virginians, and yoga enthusiasts. I really need to work on my political correctness.

April 02, 2007

Now Museum, Now You Don't

And Let Thy Feet


Back in November, Chris Dye was visiting London and he suggested we meet at the British Museum to ooh and aah at the desk at which Karl Marx used to work while visiting the Reading Room.

Chris was an hour and a half late (welcome to the District Line), but the place was so captivating that I was happy to wait for him. It was one of those beautiful, crisp, fall twilights, light fading and horizon glowing purple. At first I just sat outside on the steps, people-watching, perched between two of the massive Ionic columns along the main facade. After a while, I started getting cold, so I ventured inside and into the Great Court, where I was instantly and completely enthralled. Its enormous glass ceiling seems enchanted, almost, the way it lets through light – this sort of ethereal incandescence, as if it was being lit from behind by something other than the sky – and the way it captures the acoustics of the hall is really incredible. There's this constant, quiet rumble that is oddly soothing. (If that doesn't tickle your fancy, it also reminds me a lot of the part in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey where they go to Heaven.)

I bring all this up now because since then the British Museum has become one of my favourite haunts when I'm at a loose end on the weekends. Admission is free, so you can turn up, take a quick look at a few exhibits (if you like), and then just loll about in the Great Court inhaling the atmosphere and watching the world go by. It's very relaxing and very fun, and far better than just lolling about at home and watching TV. If you live in or are planning to visit London, it is the one place I would definitely recommend hitting up.

(Chris and I never found Karl Marx's desk, by the way – the woman at the information desk had no idea which one it was, and furthermore gave a pretty funny look when asked, as if no one might actually be interested in seeing such a thing. Go figure.)

April 01, 2007

Martians Are From the UK, Venutians Are From Iran

For those of you who haven't been following Iran Hostage Crisis: The Empire Strikes Back, the Beeb provides a good rundown of the two opposing viewpoints:
IRANIAN VERSION OF EVENTS
1. Royal Navy crew stray 0.5km inside Iranian waters
2. Iran gives set of co-ordinates to back up their claims
3. According to seized GPS equipment, the Royal Navy crew had previously entered Iranian waters at several other points
4. Iran informs Britain of the position where the crew were seized, inside Iranian waters

UK VERSION OF EVENTS
1. Crew boards merchant ship 1.7NM inside Iraqi waters
2. HMS Cornwall was south-east of this, and inside Iraqi waters
3. Iran tells UK that merchant ship was at a different point, still within Iraqi waters
4. After UK points this out, Iran provides alternative position, now within Iranian waters
Are the UK and Iran dating?

--

Iran: Um, what do you call this?

UK: [belch] What?

Iran: This. [Holding up a towel]

UK: It's my towel, baby.

Iran: I know, and you left it on the bedroom floor again.

UK: No I didn't.

Iran: By Allah, are you really lying to my face about this?

UK: Baby, I didn't even take a shower this morning, okay? So how could I have left it on the bedroom floor? Now come on, come over here and give me some sugar.

Iran: I don't care if you didn't take a shower! It was on the bedroom floor, okay? And it didn't just crawl there by itself!

UK: You're so cute when you're angry.

Iran: I mean, are you suggesting I put it there? Why would I do that?

UK: Yeah, sheik it baby.

[Fin.]

--

Some of the captured British soldiers have also appeared on Iranian television to apologise for entering Iran's waters, though experts speculate that these statements were made under duress.

Nathan Thomas Summers appeared on Alalam television and said: "I would like to apologise for entering your waters without permission."

He then continued: "I do not miss Bart at all," while one of his fellow captives remarked: "B'oh!"

--

Where's an Algerian diplomat when you need one?