Thursday, 21 May 2009

Odd little things

1. I've been toying with the idea of online backup, though I probably won't buy any in the end. The one I'm looking at right now offers storage locations with bullet-proof walls, and NSA-approved encryption. Why would I want NSA-approved encryption? Doesn't that mean encryption it won't cost them too much money to break if they decide it's worth monitoring me for anti-American activities?

2. I have mixed feelings about good music being available for free. The new Dragonette song can be got here and the Kleerup song here. Both are excellent. But shouldn't I have to pay for this sort of thing? Here's Sophie Ellis Bextor and the Freemasons, not free.

3. I don't quite get the hugeness of the MPs expenses scandal. It does make them all look like childish prats, but I'm bored of it now, even though I was away for most of it. Are the journalists really shocked, or are they just chuffed to have caught some people out? Journalists are a pretty unattractive bunch of characters. Now I'm getting tons of UKIP and BNP stuff through my letterbox, as if a suspicion that all mainstream politicians are on the make will send me, with relief, to people who are just going to pour all their energies into making life unpleasant for foreigners and those who look a bit foreign. The BNP promises, with lots of WWII imagery, to protect our British soldiers from insult by Muslims on our streets. I'm very sorry that anyone's insulting anyone on our streets. Also these putative BNP electees will give ten percent of their putative salaries to a fund to pay for people to celebrate St George's day. I could help them with suggestions for what St George's day celebrations might entail -- I'd vote for lots of fantastic Middle Eastern street food in honour of his origins, probably Greek or Palestinian. Falafel in pitta breads, and slow-roasted lamb on mounds of yellow rice. It would be a nice occasion to share with people from other places where he's the patron saint -- I know Palestine is one of them, and wikipedia has just told me that Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece and lots of Spanish places also have him as a patron. The Eastern Orthodox, for whom St George is very important, hold that icons of him fighting the dragon represent the spiritual struggle against the evil within; also it's often held that the dragon in the story was actually the emblem of a particular legion in which George was a soldier, and that the legend of the dragon fight grew up around his refusal to give in to the demands of normal legion life (specifically to sacrifice to the tutelary deities), so St George's day could be a day of protest against excess militarism. That would be nice. It's actually sounding like quite a fun day.

4. I just got the proofs for a note I'm publishing in a Belgian (French-speaking) journal. They have changed all my colons to semi-colons. I love colons. It's possible that I use them too much, but I think I use them correctly. Either I put them between two halves of a sentence which balance and oppose each other, like the fulcrum of a seesaw, or I put them after an introductory phrase which is followed by three related examples or explanations, separated by semi-colons (of which ideally the third is the longest). I hate the look of semi-colons in their place. I suppose it's a French language thing, like little double angle brackets for quotation marks, but it seems a shame to me.

5. This Guardian story must have caused some blushes at the Guardian and elsewhere. Well done journalists. I think this is at least as shocking as getting the public purse to pay to have your moat cleaned -- given that the allowance is for maintaining a second home then at least you haven't done anything against the letter of the rules, even if you do look like an idiot, whereas using unverified stuff you got off a notoriously unreliable website undermines the entire point of journalism. Maybe we shouldn't bother with newspapers at all any more, if we're all better off making our own intelligent judgements on the accuracy of the material which we find using a google search.

6. This looks very sub-early-Britney and sounds very post-Duffy. I suppose one should feel sorry for someone called Pixie, but she must be old enough to change it if she wants. But I do like the bit at the end where they all have some sort of girls vs boys pat-a-cake contest.

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