Saturday, December 29, 2007
I'm a fairly wide guy... I tend to spread my legs when I lower my pants so they won't slide.
Senator Larry Craig
Welcome to Scotland
The exciting new slogan greeting visitors to Scottish airports, created at a cost of £125,000.
In Iran, we don't have homosexuals, like in your country.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at Columbia University.
I want to be like Gandhi and Martin Luther King and John Lennon – but I want to stay alive.
I've had worse press than a pedophile or a murderer and I've done nothing but charity for the last 20 years.
Heather Mills, Paul McCartney's former wife, attacks the news media.
The planet is in distress and all of the attention is on Paris Hilton. We have to ask ourselves what is going on here?
Why don't you just shut up ?
— King Juan Carlos of Spain, to Hugo Chávez after the Venezuelan President called former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar a fascist.
I gave her my all-American smile, where I show wall-to-wall teeth and said, pathetically: 'Hope you like your trip to America'. I was quickly moved on like some old wilted tuna on the conveyer belt at Yo! Suchi.
Ruby Wax on her meeting with Britain's Queen Elizabeth.
This is Glasgow, we'll just set about you.
Airport worker John Smeaton, with a message for terrorists threatening Scotland.
Muslims know that if they attack a woman they will burn in hell.
Some people sing opera, Luciana Pavarotti was an opera.
Bono on death of the Italian tenor.
It wasn't a fortune. It cost me the price of one-and-a-half Hermes handbags.
Anne Robinson on her cosmetic surgery.
Today, society does not talk about hell. It's as if it did not exist, but it does.
Pope Benedict XVI
Less Dressy? What do you think this is?
Queen Elizabeth II after photographer Annie Leibovitz suggested she remove crown for photo shoot.
The guilt that we feel will never leave us.
When I'm looking for something I've dropped on the carpet, I have a bit of a problem.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying energy-saving light bulbs are not bright enough.
I used to act dumb. That act is no longer cute.
This House has noted the Prime Minister's remarkable transformation from Stalin to Mr Bean in the past few weeks.
Liberal Democrat stand-in leader, Vince Cable, turns the knife in Gordon Brown’s wounds.
Have you got anywhere with McDonald's? Have you tried getting it banned, that's the key. Prince Charles suggests cure for obesity on visit to United Arab Emirates.
We don't airbrush to that extent.
Hugh Hefner scuppers Kelly Osbourne's chances after she admits in an interview that she would like to be a nude Playboy pin-up.
Friday, December 21, 2007
"I met the Dalai Lama in my office but I meet everyone in my office. I don't know why I would sneak off to a hotel room just to meet the Dalai Lama. You know, he's not a call girl."
Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, showing why he didn't enter the diplomatic service.
From the New Zealand Herald.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
The editors subjected the data to intense scrutiny, applied general principles, built prototypes, tested hunches and gathered evidence.
And the winners are:
Would there be any resistance if I asked to take you ohm?
Would kissing you increase global warming and damage the Arctic irreversibly, or is it just enough to break the ice?
I’ve had my ion you.
Hello, I’ve just taken part in a clinical trial of a new drug to help memory loss; could you tell me, do I come here often?
Your are definitely the woman of my REM phase.
Not much I can add to that. Apart from, of course: Is that a test tube in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?
Monday, December 17, 2007
"...their glittery set left me feeling empty. In spite of the flashiness and energy, it lacked life."
Going on to describe each of them as "differently bad", he reserves his barbiest barb for Posh:
"Victoria Beckham, skeletal in voice and body, was cheered each time she sang. Perhaps intended as sisterly solidarity by fans, or appreciation of her will to fame, the cheers had the happy effect of drowning Posh out."
What with this and a weekend story suggesting the sub-prime mortgage crisis has parallels with the Harry Potter stories, it looks as if the FT is scrambling for a younger demographic.
What next, I wonder? A campaign to bring back the Teletubbies?
It's a sad tale of drink, debt and despair, but according to Mitchell, he's far from being the only "white collar tramp", and the worst may be yet to come:
"There is a tsunami of bad debt about to hit this economy," he said."Pandora's box has been opened."
In the meantime, Mitchell survives on the kindness of strangers and a philosophical outlook on his new life.
"Now I look at each day and think 'what is going to happen today?'," he said. "It is an existence that makes you appreciate small luxuries and kindnesses." On Thursday night he returned to his bench to find a wrapped Christmas present containing a bar of Dairy Milk, hat, gloves, a razor and deodorant."
Saturday, December 15, 2007
That's the question on webzine 10zenmonkeys. And answers came there many:
We're drowning in yak, and it's getting harder and harder to hear the insightful voices through all the media cacophony. Oscar Wilde would be just another forlorn blogger out on the media asteroid belt in our day, constantly checking his SiteMeter's Average Hits Per Day and Average Visit Length.
The web enables us to write in public and, maybe one day, strike off the shackles of cubicle hell and get rich living by our wits. Sometimes I think we're just about to turn that cultural corner. Then I step onto the New York subway, where most of the car is talking nonstop on cellphones. Time was when people would have occupied their idle hours between the covers of a book. No more. We've turned the psyche inside out, exteriorizing our egos, extruding our selves into public space and filling our inner vacuums with white noise.
The internet has made research much easier, which is both good and bad. It's good not to be forced to go libraries to fact check and throw together bibliographic references. But it's bad not to be forced to do this, since it diminishes the possibility of accidental discovery. Physically browsing on library stacks and at used bookstores can lead to extraordinary discoveries. One can also discover extraordinary things online, too, but the physical process of doing so is somehow more personally gratifying.
Used to be I sat at an alphabet keyboard (called typewriters in my day) when I had an assignment or inspiration. Now it's all I do. Go to a library? Why? You can get what you need on the internet. Which means I've been suffering from Acute Cabin Fever since 1999 (when I tragically signed up for internet access). Sure, I could get off my ass and go to a library, but the internet is like heroin. Why take a walk in the park when you can boot up and find beauty behind your eyelids or truth from the MacBook? (Interesting that the term 'boot-up' is junkie-speak.)
My own feeling is that while the internet offers a huge amount to the writer - especially in terms of fact checking and communicating with other writers - it is immensely distracting. And on that note, excuse me while I go and play online Scrabble.
Friday, December 14, 2007
There's been a right old stooshie in the Czech Republic over the design for the new National Library. The work of Jan Kaplicky and his London-based design team, it follows the new free-form style sometimes known as blobitechture. Not surprisingly, the radical design has ruffled some feathers in the baroque old city.
Many of the city councillors don't want it so close to the revered Prague Castle, preferring a site out in the suburbs. But others say the national library of a country should be close to the centre of the capital.
As is the way of these things, the decision's been outsourced to a committee of "experts". So, it will be a while before this blob on the landscape sees the light of day.
In the early days of Radio 4's World at One programme, reporter Sue McGregor was asked by presenter Bill Hardcastle to do a story about the sizzling heat that had been enveloping Britain that summer. But he wanted a different angle for the story, and insisted she take some eggs out to Piccadilly Circus and attempt to fry them on the pavement. Of course, nothing happened, apart from a gloppy mess.
"So I nipped into Boots and bought a bottle of meths and lit it and then fried the egg. It made a splendid noise, and I remember at that point there were rather a lot of unwashed hippies gathered round the base of Eros and they got very interested in all these eggs and scooped them up and ate them. And when Bill discovered that I'd cheated he was furious. He reckoned we'd let the listeners down. I thought it was rather funny."
You can imagine the furore such subterfuge would cause now. The papers would be in uproar over the great fried egg cover-up. "Is this why we pay our licence fee?", Mr Angry from Tunbridge Wells would rant, while The Guardian would worry about the waste of food and the Financial Times about the waste of money. And I can just see the headline in The Sun: "You Must Be Yolking!"
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Her story is recounted in Justin Wintle’s book, “The Perfect Hostage”. It’s truly a tale of suffering and sacrifice. But her plight has not gone un-noticed in the outside world. The great and the good, from the Dalai Lama to Desmond Tutu have made continuous appeals for her release, and the book includes this quote from Madeleine Albright following her meeting with a SLORC (Burmese government) leader.
"Khin Nyunt expressed the belief that the SLORC had broad public support, and observed that the Burmese people smile a lot. I said that it has been my experience, in a lifetime of studying repressive societies, that dictators often delude themselves into believing they have popular support, but that people often smile not because they are happy, but because they are afraid."
Sunday, December 9, 2007
I am delighted to let you know that your submitted photo has been selected for inclusion in the newly released fourth edition of our Schmap Copenhagen Guide
Tusind tak, København!
My first, and probably only, photographic prize. All the nicer because I'd forgotten all about it.
“...it is common for young men and women who have had years of education to know nothing about the world, to have read nothing, knowing only some specialty or other, for instance computers...We never thought to ask how will our lives, our way of thinking, be changed by the internet, which has seduced a whole generation with its inanities so that even quite reasonable people will confess that, once they are hooked, it is hard to cut free, and they may find a whole day has passed in blogging."
“I think it is that girl and the women who were talking about books and an education when they had not eaten for three days, that may yet define us.”
Next morning we're up at 3am. Yes, three! How else are we to get down to the harbour in time to sit in the bus in the pouring rain without breakfast and wait till 7am for the first ferry to Stromboli? Ah, Stromboli is the mountain of God, Luca tells us, though he adds that because of the stormy conditions there's a slight chance we might end up in Naples. Not for nothing is the Aeolian Sea named after the god of preposterous winds. Sure enough, we are soon pitching and rolling and all the other descriptively colourful heaving movements that make you ill. Hours go by. Are we nearly there, yet? No, not until we've stopped off at every other island on the map.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Au contraire, say the incrementally annoying Briscoe and Aldersey-Williams, ‘while bird flu has yet to claim a single human victim in Europe or the Americas, and has killed fewer than 300 people worldwide, it is perhaps worth adding that the familiar winter flu that nobody panics about claims at least 30,000 American and 12,000 British lives each year.’
Hmmph. How about terrorism, then? It’s clear if you go in a plane there’s every chance you’ll end up dead. There are security alerts everywhere and our governments are spending millions in an uphill struggle against the certainty of terrorists murdering innocent millions. No, say the out of order authors of Panicology: ‘In England and Wales, annual deaths from terrorism have been much lower than deaths from transport accidents (3000), falls (3000), drowning (200), poisoning (900), and suicide (over 3000) . . . It is pretty clear that, so long as you stay away from the world’s insurgent hotspots, the chances of being caught up in a terrorist event are minuscule.’
Sunday, December 2, 2007
1. Mockin’ Bird Hill
Performer Patti Page
2. Moon River
Performer Audrey Hepburn
Performer The Eagles
4. Maybe This Time
Performer Liza Minnelli
5. You and Me from the musical Victor/Victoria
Performer Julie Andrews and Tony Roberts
Performer K D Lang
7. The Heart of Life
Performer John Mayer
8. The reprise of Wicked Little Town
Performer Tommy Gnosis
Record: Wicked Little Town
Book: The Cole Porter Song Book
Actually, his chosen luxury was a cannabis plant, but Kirsty Young got all BBC about this, so he had to go for the vaporiser (with cannabis extract). Honestly, Kirst, lighten up! It's only a kid-on island.