Tuesday, October 09, 2007


I was watching the American version of Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares tonight. I love kitchen nightmares, it's great! But the american version is just like all American reality TV - complete shlock. I just do not understand how the American style of programme has persisted. First there's the sound track - not one second of silence or wild track, constant music, and dappy sound effects.

Next there's the editing - it's cut to ribbons! It flits forward and backward in time all over the place, things from days before are put in the wrong time frame, and it's really obvious! They're wearing different clothes! There are no people in the background anymore! What do you take me for? No "crowngate" in the states, no sirree bob. I noticed these two sentences at the end of the programme in a kind of "how that's alright then" nod to their sly production techniques.

OK. Then there's the very expensive and therefore used again-and-again jib shots. In Kitchen Nightmares, it's the front of the restaurant. They had the crane for one day, so they shot the restaurant from every angle in every light - with the blinds down so you can't see the people inside. They speed it up, slow it down, reverse it... whatever, they've got to get their money's worth.

After that, there's the constant re-capping. Now there are a lot more ad-breaks in American TV, probably about 7 per hour I think. They're each about 3 minutes long, which is why an American hour is actually 44 minutes. Now, before each ad break they have to trail ahead to what's coming up in the next part, and after each ad break they have to recap what's previously happened. Assuming they take 1 minute to trail ahead and 1 minute to recap, that's another 14 minutes-per-hour wasted. Add that to the ad breaks, and you get a programme that's really only 30 minutes long. And watch that programme without the ads (like I do, cause I download it) and it's really.effing.irritating.

The other things they do, which is actually really offensive, they put subtitles on people that are completely audible! Often this is for accents that they think people won't understand, or where there's half a decibel of background noise. They need to credit the audience with a bit more intelligence.

And finally (this one's particularly relevant to Kitchen Nightmares) they do not like swearing at all. The word "fuck" is clearly forbidden by the FCC, which is a problem with Gordon, but I reckon they add a few more beeps there for words like crap or bloody. It reminds me of watching Jerry Springer, where they just used to put a beep on for about 30 seconds because it was too much like hard work to pick out usable words.

I'd love someone in the American TV industry to explain to me why all these programmes are made in the same way. The Apprentice, Supernanny, Hell's Kitchen, Big Brother ... they are all the same! Americans make drama like nobody else - British TV drama is almost universally crud - but their documentaries are laughable.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

John Peel quote

What with the Radio 1 birthday an' all, I was trying to get hold of a copy of Blood On The Carpet, the tv documentary based on Simon Garfield's book The Nation's Favourite. I couldn't find it, but I did find some extracts from the book (that I also just bought on Amazon). It's actually a compilation of interviews with John Peel that Garfield put together after John died. As with the whole book, they're intensely readable. As I lie here listening to Vernon Kay interviewing old Radio 1 greats for the special birthday show, the following strikes me as my favourite quote from those Peel interviews:
"People like Mike Read and DLT would often complain that they couldn’t go anywhere without being recognized, but of course would go everywhere in a tartan suit carrying a guitar, so they would have attracted attention in a lunatic asylum. "
And I've just noticed, in a beautiful bit of precient web surfing, and merciful logical TV scheduling, Blood on the Carpet is on tonight at 11pm on BBC Four.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Some new TV shows I've watched

Tonight I watched a bunch of the new American TV pilots doing the rounds on the naughty illegal internet.

First I watched Reaper. This can best be described as a new Buffy, but with blokes instead of girls. A guy wakes up one morning to discover his soul is beholden to the Devil, and that his job in life is now to return souls that have escaped from hell. He does this using kit he's thrown together from the hardware store where he works, and by sucking them up with a dirt devil and depositing them at the DMV (department of motor vehicles office; 'hell on earth'). It's funny, and it's got lots of potential for fighting with demons whilst cracking American Pie-style gags.

Next I watch Pushing Daisies. Stylistically similar to Amelie, with a running voiceover that you'll recognise from Desperate Housewives, this is about a man who has the power to bring the dead back to life with a single touch. Bad news is, if he touches them again, they die instantly, for good. However, if he doesn't touch them again, someone else in the vicinity dies instead. So what does he do with this gift/curse? Why, he starts a crime fighting detective agency of course, and he runs a pie shop. Funnier and smarter than it sounds, it features Anna Friel has the love interest, with a great supporting cast.

Finally, I watched the new Jimmy Smits vehicle, Cane. Set in Miami, this show is the new Dallas, except with sugar instead of oil. In the opening episode, which moves around ridiculously quickly with a million characters, known of whom I really remember, we see Jimmy take control of the family business, wrestled from the grip of the enemy family who own the adjacent field, and whose matriarch is sleeping with his brother. There's a murderous feud that goes back generations, political intrigue, lots of money to be made, and lots of rum to drink at parties. Expect people to wake up in the shower before long, but I doubt this series will have people wondering "who shot Alejhandro" in years to come.

Still to watch, sci fi comedy drama Chuck, and the second series of Heroes that starts tonight. Already watched, the leaked pilot of Bionic Woman starring Eastender Michelle Ryan (I liked it) and the rehash of Flash Gordon starring the quarterback from Smallville (it's appalling).

TV update over.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Cover version backlash?

I'm really loving the Radio 1 cover versions that are being played for the 40th birthday celebrations, but I'm starting to get worried about a cover versions backlash. Yesterday I was listening to Jo Whiley, and in the space of her 3 hour show, she replayed a 40th birthday cover from yesterday, played a previously unheard 40th birthday cover, had a live lounge cover from Jack Penate, and also played Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse's cover of the Zutons' Valerie. Is programming more than one cover per hour a good idea?

The other night, I was working on a radio programme's chat room, and we were asking listeners to tell us their favourite BBC sessions that they've heard throughout the years... the chatroom audience (most likely a fairly young audience) saw the word 'session' and interpreted it to mean 'cover'! The answers coming back were all along the lines of "oh I loved so-and-so's version of thingy". There are so many covers on the radio, that it seems it's now expected for a band to perform something other than their own work when they play live on the radio.

Three of the best selling albums of 2007 are looking like being Mark Ronson's Versions, Radio 1 Established 1967 (out october 1st) and Jo Whiley's Live Lounge album (out 22nd october). I'm thinking, and kinda hoping, that 2008 could be the year of the covers backlash.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Sensible talk about participation

I read an old Time Out this morning (I have a collection of them in the bathroom) and read an article about the Cultural Olympiad for London 2012. I found myself agreeing with Claire Fox's position on participation -

"Why are the key mantras of the Cultural Olympiad “engagement and participation”? These buzz-words may sound harmless, but beware. It is clear that no barriers to participation – such as having no artistic talent at all – will be allowed to get in the way of everyone joining in. The public is asked to prove it is engaging in the arts, by being dragooned into frenetic activity – all-singing, all-dancing marionettes. We are told that engagement “should be more than just being an audience member”. Quietly contemplating a piece of music or silently watching a play is derided as passive. This seems less about enabling people to appreciate the arts per se and more about trumpeting participation as an end in itself."

Well said that lady.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Guns are bad, mmm kay?

This is a new anti- gun crime cinema advert made by Choice FM (Matt blogged this before me)

The remarkable thing is that, as jaded as I am, I actually found myself thinking they really were going to show what it looks like when you shoot a kid. Obviously, it would have been done via CGI rather than actual homicide, but I was still really expecting it. When the kid's head came up, I actually drew breath. Clever stuff. Oh, and I like the way the skin of the fruit sort of splits itself into little segments - that's neat.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Big Arm, David Jordan, and Envy Corps

Went to a gig at Water Rats tonight, and saw three great acts, for the bargain price of £6.

First up were Big Arm, the spin-off project from Happy Monday Paul Ryder. It was alright stuff; very poppy beatsy indie, with repetitive choruses of chantable lyrics. Paul had surrounded himself with bright young things who seemed quite technically minded (you can always tell this when the band all wear headphones), whilst he stood there looking leathery, wearing a tracksuit top and a man-bag, singing his lyrics of a sheet on the floor. The tracks all seemed ripe for remixes and the indie/dance crossover crowd (shades of Mint Royale in some of the rhythms). It's not going to change the world, and he must be feeling happy that the Mondays have reformed, but it was a good start to the evening.

Next up was David Jordan, the act me mate Tom reckons is "one to watch" over the next year or so. And rightly so; he had a beautiful voice, with incredibly tight control and a wide range. He had a very soulful, retro-pop sound, a great falsetto, and very tight trousers. It crossed over into hair-rock a few times, which is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when he was supported by a suitably hirsute guitarist. The obvious comparison here, which I suspect he is fed up of hearing, is Terence Trent D'Arby, but there were also shades of Dangerous-era Michael Jackson (the GnR rock sound helping that), and maybe a little Prince and Lenny Kravitz in there for good measure. He's being produced by Trevor Horn (whose pedigree I had to have explained to me) and it surely destined for mainstream success. I'm not sure if the youth market will embrace such a straight pop sound though - they seem to like their pop a bit more kooky (Mika) and their soul a bit more edgy (Timbaland), and I think it could be more of a Radio 2 sound than Radio 1. A bit of remix action could work wonders though.

Finally, The Envy Corps. Geek chic American indie rock, it was right up my street. Really tight guitars, keys, and an amazing drummer. It was reminiscent of Doves and Bloc Party, with no pretensions and no egos, just really ordinary guys who liked their music. The band looked fantastic too, from the Napolean Dynamite-esque drummer, through to the Jack Black lead singer, they all looked like they were ready to rock. They're doing a four-week residency at Water Rats, of which this was the first night, and I might even go to see them again. Oh, and Edith Bowman was there with Princess Leia hair, running around taking photos with a Digital SLR. Which was nice.

Colbert on Wikiality

I keep losing this clip, and I always want to show it to people, so I thought I'd embed it here.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

December Boys

I went to see a free filum tonight, so I feel I should write some things about it (cause when you get free stuff, it's only fair). The filum was called December Boys and it starred Harry Potter and three other kids as the four eponymous Australian orphans (all born in said month) who, for no apparent reason, get to go on a summer holiday to the beach and live with a dying woman. Life-forming incidents occur, and before you can say Stand By Me, Cobber, the boys have gone through a rite of passage and come out the other side ever-so slightly more grown up.

It was alright. My friend Annie thought it was poo, but I thought it was alright. There were a few bad things about it. Harry Potter is still a rubbish actor, and he still has an irritating speech impediment that means he can't say SH or CH sounds (this film was made between HP4 and HP5, and since he also had it in HP5, I'm not surprised). He also has a a weird head-bigger-than-body thing going on, which can be excused since he is still growing, but he has very little physical acting ability and looks like a gallumphing idiot when he tries to run.

Other bad things; it was very twee, nothing really happens very much, and it's difficult to think who it's pitched at - it's from a book, which I can imagine being too simple for kids, and not interesting enough for adults. So, I don't really know who's going to like it, to be honest.

Good things about it; it looked spectacular, though I give more credit to Sheila Nature for that, than I do to director Rod Hardy. The adult performances are good, especially from their benevolent host, the dying Skipper. And there's an interesting mix of music, from original score to 60s pop tracks. It's moving in parts, not too shmultzy, and the other three kids have definate potential as actors.

It's a kinda 2/5 to 3/5 on the old star rating - it's nowt special, but I didn't look at my watch or wish the lead actor was on a broomstick at any point, and that's an achievement for the lad.

Monday, August 06, 2007

I really wanted to like the Kate Nash album...

...but I don't. And I'm kinda disappointed in myself, because it's just soooo trendy to dislike her and I wanted to buck the trend.

People compare her to Lily Allen, and in many ways she is like her - they're both from London, they both have the Notting Hill posh-set accent, they both did the whole myspace thing, they both write observational lyrics (which, when you're just turning 20, are inevitably about going out, failed relationships, drinking cheap wine with your friends, and thinking your boyfriend's mates are much fittaaaah).

But if she were like Lily Allen, I'd really like her, cause I love Lily Allen! She's got a great variety of musical influences, she has a sweet voice, and lots of melody. And it's musically that Kate Nash is nowhere near Lily Allen standard. Kate's heard the Regina Spektor album, thought that it's acceptable to make plinky plonky noises with the piano, and chatter over the top, squeaking every now and then for effect. For Regina, it works to sublime effect, but for Kate it just sounds a bit playdays.

The album is repetitive and a bit dull, and doesn't even feature Caroline is a Victim for which she was held in good underground repute before the excellent (and really only Lily-esque track) Foundations moved her into the mainstream. But Foundations is as melodious as the album gets - you can barely notice a chorus in any of the other songs, which you just implore to kick in at some point, but never do. I've owned albums before where you never bother listening past track 6, but this is the first one where I would recommend stopping after track 2.

Bad luck Kate. And sorry for the Lily Allen comparisons, that I expect you hate, but hey ho.

PS - since writing this above, I have discovered the chorus in three more of the songs. But they're not as good as foundations'

Killing in the name of Mr Oizo

LOVING this at the moment-
Mr Oizo / RATM - Killing In The Name [visit the MySpace]

and the DJ Clumsy remix is amazing too
Mr Oizo / RATM - Killing In The Name (DJ Clumsy Remix)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Songs Prince didn't play

Raspberry Beret
Little Red Corvette
When Doves Cry
Diamonds and Pearls
My Name is Prince
Sexy MF
Gett Off
Money Don't Matter Tonight
Most Beautiful Girl In The World
Nothing Compares 2 U (woulda been nice!)

silly purple tosser

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

New combined RSS feed

Nerdy indeed, but I've combined my several blog feeds into one feed, so you only have to subscribe to one thing (yes you, loyal reader). I've combined the three blogs, flickr, and my facebook status updates.

I did this using Pipes, a service on Yahoo that let's usually visually program your feed data to combine it into one output, manipulating the data along the way with Regular Expressions, etc etc. Very neat.

Here's my pipe You can click on the subscribe button on that page to get an RSS or other feed

Saturday, July 28, 2007

iPlayer doesn't work

Tried to install BBC iPlayer, didn't work. Some random error message that caused some background process to fail to work which caused the iPlayer application to not be able to load. Or something. I'm sure they'll sort it one day, or they won't sort it at all, or something.

They really should have managed the press a bit better with the iPlayer launch, because the expectation is WELL high. All the news reports on Friday were of the BBC "launching" its new service that lets you download TV. It's not really their fault that when people go to the site and find its a Beta, and their application to use it has to be approved, they get disappointed. Well, it probably is their fault, but maybe not really.

The installation process was very complicated, even if it had worked. Go to a website, login with a password, accept an ActiveX control (but they didn't tell you about that part), install an EXE application, go back to the browser and refresh, sign in to bbc.co.uk with a different password (create an account if you don't have one, which is four screens of questions), then go back to the browser again and hopefully download the WMV file. I got as far as the EXE application, and it wouldn't run, so... meh.

I wonder if the BBC are really that geared for "delivering product". For the brief moments it lived before it was axed, the BBC Jam platform was ruddy awful. Should a corporation whose background is in making content really be trying to make computer programmes? Mind you, in both the iPlayer and Jam cases, they contracted out to Microsoft, so maybe that's their mistake right there.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Doing the London Bikeathon tomorrow. Been plotting the route on Google Maps. It's a double marathon, in two sections. The first marathon is a loop around West London, and the second marathon is a double-back loop around The City.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Quotes from The Thick Of It this week

"that's easy for you to say, he threatened to shove an iPod up my cock"

"don't let him hear you saying that, he'd fuck you like Ron Jeremy- only with less warmth"

"I'd love to stop and talk but I'd rather have type 2 diabetes"

"we are going to ram you up Tom's arse so hard that he has to shit out of his lying mouth"

"you're so badly fucked, his bell end is wearing your appendix as a hat"

"you're about as secure as a hymen in a South London comprehensive"

"if he thinks he's leaking now, wait til I finished with him, he'll be like Mel Gibson's fucking Jesus"

"you don't go and get me some cheese, I'll rip your head off, and give you a spinedectomy"

"it's not like we're The Independent, we can't just stick a headline like CRUELTY and a picture of a whale or something underneath it"

"enough of the pleasantries, let's just oil up and get fucking eh"


"you don't leak, not from the mouth anyway"

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Glastonbury Photo sets

I just wanted a place to host together the photo sets of all the mates I was hanging out with in Glastonbury. So here we go:

Monday, May 21, 2007

My new gimpPod, and, Why iPods actually cost more

Thought I'd post a picture of my new iPod, dubbed the gimpPod because of the black wubber skin I bought for it. Pretty neat the way not one part of the actual pod is exposed, and the way the touchwheel can work beneath the rubber. Thanks to the lovely folks for a great birthday present.

I was surprised when the iPod arrived how much the iPod "package" has been paired down. A while ago I was musing about how cheap iPods are now, relative to when they first came out, and I put it down to scales of production and the iPods popularity. But actually, the accessories the iPod *doesn't* come with any more, more than make up the shortfall in cost. My 3G ipod, which cost about £300, came with -
That little £106 bunch of stuff all came in a really ornate, exciting-to-open, 6-inch cube of packaging, with software CD-ROM and user manual. All those things are missing from the iPod now, which comes in a box about the size of a fat double-CD jewel case. At £240, it just comes with headphones (<1m cable), USB lead, and cloth bag. Most irritating is the lack of mains charger - I now have to find a computer every time I want to charge my iPod.

So, if you do the maths, iPods are actually more expensive now than they were four years ago.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Hilary Clinton loves Jesus (Jones)

Interesting to hear that Hilary Clinton's campaign theme song is Right Here, Right Now by Jesus Jones - I suspect the identity of the artist performing the song is rarely mentioned by campaign staff. Here's a "live" performance of the song, from 1991.

I find the stupid over-performance, which doesn't fit the relatively mellow nature of the song, quite amusing. They think they're big hair rockers, but they're really not. Note especially the stupidly manic keyboard, none other than the self-indulgent prat Iain Baker, who recently left Xfm in a cloud of DLT-esque "I'm not happy with some of the changes around here" (friends in the know make it quite clear he was actually let go, probably for being, umm, a bit of a twat).

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bees, glorious bees

I've got a bee home on my balcony. Here are some photos, and here is a video.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Super Duper!!

I haven't blogged about the US elections in a while, it had kinda gone a bit quiet as far as news reaching the UK was concerned. Couple of things caught my eye today though.

I got an email from Barack last night (he likes to write to me), telling me that he'd raised $25m so far, all from individual supporters (it's a big part of his campaign that politics should be a conversation with the people, and he's not taking contributions from corporates or lobbyists). Quite impressive considering Clinton has raised just $26m, and hasn't made such a pledge. Whether that means Clinton still has that card up her sleeve, and Obama will run out of cash, I don't know.

Then, I read about Super Duper Tuesday. "Super Tuesday" has been around for 30 years or so now; synchronous election days in multiple states, which usually cause the minnows to drop out, but often cause upsets or unheard-ofs to suddenly become heard of (think FA Cup giant killings, but with politics). This year, tired of the demographically-misrepresentative and smaller states like Iowa and New Hampshire shaping the beginnings of all the campaigns, the other states have decided to, practically speaking, make the primaries a general election. 25 states (and maybe more) will now be holding there primaries on February 5th, in what has been dubbed (it could only be so in America) Super Duper Tuesday. This includes California and Texas, who are the most populous and have the most electoral college votes. So, it could all be over and the tickets decided on Feb 5th 2007. This could be a bad thing - those small players without a voice used to rely on the gradual build up through the small states to gain momentum (Bill Clinton for example), and some commentators are suggesting this move will only be a good thing for the well-funded big candidates.

Finally, in a nod again to my working life, Joe Biden's website www.headtohead08.com is a smart use of YouTube video. Pick a candidate, and you can hear what they have to say about Iraq alongside what Joe has to say. It seems to be only about Iraq, but I'm sure that will change. Neat idea, and another example perhaps of an outsider candidate trying to quietly build support via the interwebs.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Myspace Impacts on Election

Myspace are running a portal page to each of the Presidential candidates' Myspace pages. I'm not sure if the myspace people set up the pages as well, but it's an interesting way to a) get young people interested in politics (the youthful addiction to voting/rating things doesn't seem to spill over into the real world particularly), and b) have a cheap popularity contest, though, I guess the electorate in this vote are much younger than in the real election. Hilary currently has 3,023 friends, and Barack Obama has 74,229.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Me and Tom went to Wembley on Saturday, for the Community Day - the first public opening of the stadium, to test their crowd management. Their was a couple of celeb football games, but mainly it was a chance to walk around the stadium and take photos (here are mine, on flickr and here are Tom's) and go WOW.

P1030514.JPG P1030519.JPG P1030564.JPG P1030520.JPG
P1030554.JPG P1030557.JPG P1030561.JPG P1030567.JPG

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Amusing cock-up of the week.

The Terry and Fearne show goes off the rails on the Eurovision Making Your Mind Up show. God knows what went wrong (earpiece faults? Maybe the lead changed at the last minute? Maybe Terry's a doddery old fool? Who knows), but it was hilarious and rounded off a great day of drinking and celebrating.

Fearne Cotton seems to have become one of these "safe pair of hands" presenters - she was on Comic Relief the night before, she did the Oscars for sky - she's quite irritating, but can always keep a programme on track, always finds something to say to keep things moving (even if it is something banal and vacuous). I quite like the way she "wheeled" Terry around the programme last night, sort of acting like the tour guide to his septuagenarian tinsel-and-turkey weekender. Come on grandad, it's time to read the winner out. Werther's original? Bless.

(ps, my mate Zoe built the Scooch website, way back in 2000 and it's still live)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Tony Blair ain't bovvered

The highlight of last night's Comic Relief show, Tony Blair appearing in a sketch with Catherine Tate. Little tricks like this can do wonders for a politician - Tony Blair is fairly universally disliked in this country at the moment, and seen as dead weight hanging on for dear life. I bet anyone that saw this thought kinds thoughts about him for the first time in ages.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday, February 23, 2007

Sky ads highlight Ofcom cock-up

Sky have been censured by the Advertising Standards Authority for publishing misleading adverts in Whitehaven, Cumbria that incorrectly state Terrestrial TV will be switched off there this Autumn. Essentially, they should have used the word "Analogue", not "Terrestrial", which is going to survive quite happily as "Digital Terrestrial" (aka Freeview). The reason these ads have been running in Whitehaven is that it is the testbed for analogue switch-off; it's happening there in October this year.

The most ridiculous thing about that seems to be being over-looked in all this though. Ofcom have chosen to testbed the analogue switch-off in a town which cannot yet receive Freeview or Cable!!! Essentially leaving Sky a complete monopoly on digital television. Not only is this a complete distortion of the market that puts Freeview and Virgin right up the swanny, it is also a completely unrepresentative testbed for analogue switch-off. Bloody numpties, what a waste of time.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

David Palmer never had all this trouble...

I'm starting to become more aware of the discussions going on around America about Barack Obama's "blackness". I first heard about this on the Radio4 programme Feedback, where somebody had written in to protest at BBC reporters' use of the term "black" to refer to Sen. Obama when he's actually of mixed race. A google search for "obama black mixed race" will spit out allsorts of opinion, ranging from the pathetic and racist, up to the more interesting discussions of what being "black" means to modern American society.

Far from being about petty semantics, there's a very strong sense amongst some African Americans that calling yourself black means associating yourself with Black America's long struggle for civil rights - "Black, in our political and social vocabulary, means those descended from West African slaves" writes Debra Dickerson, who also says it in this interview with Stephen Colbert.

That distinction between "Black" and "African American" (which nobody can deny Obama is) is something new to me. In fact, Dickerson goes so far to label him with a new label - "he's an African African American" - which is, frankly, pathetic. As Colbert points out, she is asserting his blackness not based on his skin colour, but on the content of his character - "a truly special interpretation of Dr King's words". Is anybody else slightly frightened that when she says in that interview "we're not the same" it sounds slightly... er... racist?

I don't mean to paint myself as a truly enlightened modern multicultural thinker, but none of this should really matter. But of course it does. And while we middle class Guardian-reading white Brits allow ourselves the opportunity to say "yes yes, about time the yanks had a black president or a woman president" we mustn't forget our own pathetic record in that same area. We may have had a woman leader for 11 years (*shudder*), but we only just had our first black cabinet member, let alone party leader or Prime Minister. And as far as I know, despite British Asians making up around 5% of our population, there's never been an Asian in senior British politics.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Obama uses gmail

I really don't intend to dwell on the webbyness of the various presidential candidates but... Obama invited me to a rally in Los Angeles today (when I signed up, I told him my zip code was 90210!) and he invited me via his gmail account, losangelesrally@gmail.com. Part of the web, rather than just on the web; good old Obama.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Obama declares he's running for president...

...and he does it in Abraham Lincoln's Springfield, Illinois webcasting the whole shebang. I think I'm right in saying someone got in a bit of trouble for using U2 as their walk up music in the last election... I hope they got permission this time, else I'm telling Bono.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

My Barack Obama

Oh my. My professional world and my interest in US politics merging into one. Shining light in the American presidential elections Barack Obama has a personalisation/participation/user generated content area of his website - it's called, of course, My.BarackObama.com.

There's nothing particularly revolutionary on there - create a profile, create a blog, get told about events near to your ZIP code, join groups of other supporters, and do some fundraising for your favourite Illinoisan African-American senator. To a certain extent, it reminds me of UselessAccount.com - it's a carbon copy of a million websites where you just create a profile for apparently no reason other than to feel like you belong to that website - but it's the latest example of politics embracing the web. Have a look around the rest of the website too - there's Barack.tv as well, run via brightcove, where you can watch all his little schmultzy telly messages and watch his announcement live later today (and no doubt a million stump speeches over the next two years as well).

Looking through the other candidates websites, underdog Chris Dodd has a section of his website called The Dodd Pod - at first I thought this was podcasts, but actually it's an opportunity for you to suggest songs that he should put on his iPod. Why you might want to do that, apart from to assert your recognition that he's clearly a hip cool daddio, I don't know. Of course, he has a blog, a myspace page, a flickr page, and a facebook account as well. And don't forget to join the Dodd Squad while you're there...

Hillary C's website is a little more reserved; she still has a blog, but you can't be a human being without one of those these days. There's a shedload of video on there, but again that's one-way traffic. Maybe she's still exploring the possibilities of web campaigning, as part of her exploratory committee. Perhaps it reflects the already clear distinctions between her and her more youthful main opponent (that's Obama, by the way, not Dodd). He is appealing to the young, the politically disenfranchised, the opponents of war, the minority groups, pretty much anyone looking for a change - all groups that have turned to the Internet's democratised platform as a way to make themselves heard.

Clinton is appealing to middle America, the politically apathetic, the white middle class people who hanker after a bit of good old pre-Bush democratic politics. From 1993-2001 they never had it so good, and they are quite happy for a little bit more of the same please - though, maybe with a hint less blowing up of Americans abroad. Her demographic aren't really likely to use the web in the same ways as Obama's - more turning to it for information and updates, than to actively participate with other voters. That's not to say that Obama's will necessarily provide that, but it certainly provides the illusion of it. And as UselessAccount's irony suggests, sometimes all it takes to make you feel part of something is to create a profile, then to ignore it and forget you ever signed up in the first place.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Snow fall in Clapham

It snowed in London. I set up a time lapse camera over night and during the day to film it falling and then melting again. I used a bit of freeware for the mac called Gawker, and I tried using the camera built into my laptop, but the glare from the screen reflecting on the window was too much, so I set up my camcorder instead.

It's about midnight at the start, and 8pm at the end. It took one frame every 60 seconds. At about 5am it seems like dawn happens, but really it's the light reflecting off the falling/fallen snow making the whole thing brighter. Quite cool. Then the sun rises, and during the day you see various people playing in the snow and then it gradually melt away (boo hoo) before sun sets again. Fun stuff.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A good summary of dates and candidates

As expected, the wikipedia community have pulled off a great one pager about the US elections, key dates, candidates announced so far. It's a bit nuts and bolts, but the facts are all there.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Liz Taylor loves Clinton

My friend Nigel has suggested I start colating, on this blog, the best non-stories about the US election. Given there's more than 18months still to come, I think there's a strong likelihood there'll be plenty that fall into this category. Thanks to Nigel, here's story number one... Elizabeth Taylor loves Hilary Clinton. While Jeffrey Katzenberg loves Obama. Go Hollywood.

John Kerry's not running

Ted Danson lookylikey John Kerry, who managed to screw up beating George W Bush in 2004, despite Dubya only having an approval rating of something like 35%, has thankfully announced he won't be running in the 2008 election. He announced it during a speech to the senate a couple of days ago. Thank god for that....

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sleepy Senator McCain

A leading contender for the Republican nomination for President is Senator John McCain. But, here's a clip of him in the house for last night's State of the Union address, not really showing himself to be presidential material....

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Democratic Governor from New Mexico declares interest

Governor Bill Richardson from New Mexico has declared he's setting up a presidential exploratory committee. So that's a white woman, a black man, and an hispanic man for the Democrats. Go diversity!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

American Presidential Election 2008

I'm planning on following the two-year US election campaigns in as much detail as I can. From watching the West Wing I've started to find US politics and its history really fascinating. Season 6 covered the primary election process, and season 7 covered the general election process - knowing the process, and having seen it played out with fictional characters, I'm really interested to see it play out for real. So, to start with, here's the BBC's piece on each party's top 6 contenders. For my money, I'd love to see a Clinton/Obama democratic ticket fight a Giuliani/Gingrich republican ticket. Barack Obama, has announced he's running, and I find him a fascinating character. Meanwhile, Hilary Clinton's an obvious candidate, not as charismatic. But both would be a first for US politics, and they've definately had enough of "the usual" I think.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Hold your wee for a wii - audio

You probably heard of this.

A woman who competed in a radio station's contest to see how much water she could drink without going to the toilet, died of water intoxication. Ten people have been sacked from the radio station since. Here's the audio of them promoting the competition: it really needs a listen.

"Can't you get water poisoning and like die?"
"Yeah, we're aware of that," one of them says.
Another DJ laughs: "Yeah, they signed releases, so we're not responsible. We're OK."

Monday, January 08, 2007

Fact of the Day (8 Jan 2007)

David Bowie and Elvis Presley were both born on the same day. Today! (though, twelve years apart).

Friday, January 05, 2007

Fact of the Day (5 Jan 2007)

Shocking fourth Christopher Reeve installment Superman IV: The Quest for Peace was filmed on location in.... Milton Keynes. There were a series of budget and logistics problems, including apparently some dodgy lawyers running off with a bunch of money. So, the Argos headquarters was the UN building, the Winter Gardens was the Metropolis Museum, and what is now the LivingWell Health Club was the Daily Planet building. Read more here, and also here