Monday, October 28, 2002

Oh, bloody hell...
There's a suspect device outside the offices of The Belfast Telegraph in Belfast City Centre. This comes a few days after other security alerts in the city, and already I'm thinking that it's going to be another Continuity IRA-attributed event. Why do paramilitary or terror groups think it's a good idea to plant devices in or near the offices of newspapers? Easy. They don't particularly care about bad press. It's the disruption they want. Last week, a similar alert inside the Telegraph building disrupted production for several hours. There's nothing like that to steal headlines and publicize their activity.

However, there are no online reports about it at the moment. I only found out because as I was leaving town, the staff radio on the bus was reorganising traffic through central control. What has shocked me, however, is a story about gross mistreatment of kittens.

Sunday, October 27, 2002

The USA is cowardly and ham-fisted in its attempts to tackle terrorism and present any convincing arguments about them to the world, as well as possibly guilty of deliberately allowing 9/11 to happen, according to Gore Vidal in today's Observer Review. Usually, I think he enjoys the sound of his own voice too much. But his 7,000-word article was very good indeed, in my view. Unfortunately, until some kind soul posts it to the web somewhere, you can't read it unless you can get hold of the print edition.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

First off, nearly 70% of Americans feel that a war against Iraq would make America safer. Hmm. Where the hell do they get that idea from? Now, having said that, this result did come from a site which sells really paranoid stuff. Their informational courses on such matters as nuclear, biological and chemical attack last only 45 minutes each - just enough time to either get the essentials across - or go for bust to give lurid details with a bare minimum of useful, balanced advice. Which do you reckon it would be?

About the one thing they sell which could benefit most people is a first-aid kit. But you can also choose from items such as this. Sigh.

Does anyone remember that in the days immediately after September 11th, 2001, manufacturers of nuclear bunkers were maxing out on orders? Within a few weeks, the demand died down. I began to think that maybe everyone was getting a bit more balanced again. However, as the presence of this quirky Christmas gift emporium shows, there must still be demand somewhere. They have an outlet in Manhattan. What happened to the concept that New York was famous for being almost non-American in its outlook?

Oh, and "They had given the price of Booker of the man to 'the duration of the unit of elaboraciĆ³n'." (Which means they've given the Man Booker Prize to 'The Life of Pi'.)

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

:o(I downloaded this because I thought it looked nice. Then I had second thoughts. Why the hell put ice in the bloody glass? And why such a miserly amount of the good stuff? Shame. Shame.

In other news, Northern Ireland is now back to direct rule after a rather nasty spat over the results of a raid on - among other properties - a Sinn Fein office in Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

Go here for more on this - or more on anything NI.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Memory - Reality
Jonathan cooking, GreenwichThis is Jonathan, my... friend, for want of a very much better word, in Greenwich. I took this picture earlier this summer, saw the scene through the window, and had to capture it. It sums things up perfectly. Or disturbingly. Sometimes it's like he's blurring so much I'm not sure he's there. But I can always see him, so he always is. But blurring. Oh, god. Listen to me. Missing friends always gets to me. Now, for minor artistic effect:
Plates. So many meals eaten off these. The foundation of any good meal. :o)

Bananas. Snipped from another picture for no other reason than they look nice. I like bananas. Especially from the other side of a misted window, when I'm outside on a summer night.

Dammit. I miss this London life. Well. This bit of it.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Oh. My. God.
Conservative MP leaves Westminster for Ian Paisley's DUP. Congratulations to Andrew Hunter, who claims this week's "Tory Masochism" prize. Now we know there can never again be a Conservative Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Everyone here would revolt.

What really made me laugh was that Ian Paisley Jr., Big Ian's son, said it was "probably one of the most significant developments within unionist politics for several decades". Yes. It is! It's like piling more shit on top of an already huge pile of shit!

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Whirling water
The most dangerous whirlpool in, possibly, the whole world is to be found between Scarba and Jura off the west coast of Scotland. The page linked at the start describes a typical dive there, with obviously no approaching the whirlpool!

Another great place I'd love to dive - partly because I've done no diving *at all* so I'm just more excited than scared - is Scapa Flow. Van der Vat's book The Grand Scuttle provides an electrifying story of how the wrecks of Scapa Flow came to be; this site gives more info on the experience. When I worked at Waterstone's Piccadilly, London, I spent many happy afternoons reading Dive Scapa Flow which contains great pictures of the wrecks as they are today.
I've never been one to believe this sort of thing, but this is just plain weird. Someone recorded a strange appearance in their home and put it on the net. The weirdness is in the sound so a soundcard and speakers may be handy.
Taking sides
"I was never a member of the IRA" states Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein's President. Okayyyyy, right. We believe you, Gerry. The book which alleges otherwise is doing nothing new. But the SDLP's leadership are reacting as if it's the first they'd heard of the matter, with leader Mark Durkan saying it "raised questions about his credibility". What balls. Everyone *knows* he was an IRA member. But does it really matter anymore? Think 'greater good', people.

Meanwhile, SF compatriot and Belfast Lord Mayor Alex Maskey has been snubbed by the UUP and DUP who are refusing to elect a deputy lord mayor. They are clearly unhappy about having a Sinn Fein member as their council leader. But acting childish isn't going to do anything but cause them to wither a bit faster.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Breaking up?
Hear'Say have called it a day. Now, I'm not going to say "thank god" about this, as I haven't ever heard anything they produced and I don't really give a crap about this sort of thing usually. What strikes me about this case is the state of mind of the people concerned. Here's a snip from the BBC story:

The break-up was confirmed by their management company as well as record label Polydor, with the group blaming public hostility and the rigours of music industry life for the break-up. In a statement, Polydor said the group felt "they had lost the support of the public and Hear'Say had come to a natural end". "The group's first plan is to spend more time with their families."

I think two things: one, the band probably never got away from the public awareness, and its own awareness, that it had been mothered (and fathered) by a TV programme in the first place; and two, why the hell are Polydor still calling these people a group when they've split up? The hard-done-by darlings' statement about public pressure suggests to me that they have leant on the embracing support of big companies too much. A successful musucuan of any kind doesn't sit back and let a TV station make them visible and successful. They fight for that. And now, the onetime band's members have to go back home. Whose fault is that?

No, really? Whose fault is it? I'm having trouble figuring that one out.

The Eden Project, St Austell, CornwallOn a calmer, more hopeful note, the Eden Project is to build another dome. It already has 2 giant plastic constructions but wants a third biome dealing with drier, more arid environments. Hopefully, seagulls won't be able to peck through the plastic like they're doing with the current buildings.