Sixty things you don’t need to know

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  • Twelve things journalists need to know to be good futurist reporters
  • Twelve things journalists need to remember to be good economic reporters
  • Twelve things economists need to remember to be helpful journalistic sources
  • Twelve things grandparents need to know about parental abduction
  • Twelve things you need to know about money – a biblical perspective

Also one thing you do need to know – someone came to my site by googling “pimp words that express love.” Hello you.

Books of 2007 – #7

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  • Recently finished: Judas Unchained – Peter F. Hamilton – Here’s the problem with 1000+ page genre epics – the culmination of the story can’t compete with the journey of reading. And having spent 2370 pages getting there, PFH conducts an intergalactic genocide in a couple of sentences. Ho-hum. Also, once you’re done reading, the plot holes start filling with the muddy waters of doubt, so it’s best just to move swiftly on to something completely different. And much, much shorter.
  • Just finished: Going Under – Kathe Koja – Well, this was shorter. 1100 pages shorter, in fact. With far, far less words on each page, and some slightly sinister design tweaking of the chapter numbers. The writing was lovely, although it’s left me feeling unsettled. Though that could also be down to the cheesey fish bake thing I had for dinner. Also, my Dad came home drunk tonight. Hurrah!
  • Currently reading: Permanence – Karl Schroeder
  • Next on the list: Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami
  • Book of the year so far: Blindsight – Peter Watts

“Whenever I find my will to live becoming too strong, I read Peter Watts.” –

James Nicoll


Peter Watts interviews – 1, 2, 3PW’s website – And if anyone wants to buy me PW’s first novel, Starfish, that’d make me super happy. Or suicidal. One or t’other. Or possibly both. Buy it and we’ll find out…

This is the news.

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I’ve spent most of the day wondering quite how the Daily Express would respond to the publication of the Operation Paget Report, a 3-year investigation into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, which concluded that her death was, in fact, an accident.

The Daily Express is a little obsessed with DianaPoW. This year alone she’s graced their front page 53 times, mostly on Mondays. The Wikipedia article on the Daily Express uses my all-time favourite DE front page:

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I like how it neatly ties together the Express’s two main themes. Love Diana, Hate Darkies.

The Daily Express is truly industrious in its exploitation of the death of DianaPoW. Just when you think they’ve covered every angle of the story, they’ll find an old one to rehash. Even the BBC, a stranger to wit and irony, has found cause to mock:

And what’s this? It’s a Wednesday and there’s Princess Diana smiling prettily from the front page of the Daily Express.

Are they messing with our minds at Desmond Towers? For she was on the front page on Tuesday too. That, thanks to the Bank Holiday, was the first day of the working week, so Tuesday was in effect Monday (a day on which the paper found room for its favourite princess on the front page, as tradition dictates).

So, how did the Express choose to cover the publication of the Operation Paget Report? Let’s turn first to another fine newspaper, The Sun, for some relatively objective coverage:

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And now the Express, bastion of the middle classes, and the first British paper to carry a crossword:

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First, let’s all breathe a sigh of relief that the Express won’t stop asking the key questions. Phew. And then let’s ask one of our own. Why do people buy the Express anyway? My brother has a theory:

There’s probably a few hundred thousand little old ladies living in Greenwich with Alzheimers who buy it every day and don’t even realise it’s a different paper every time. Groundhog Day for middle-class colostomy baggers.

Which reminds of a story a Kentuckian ex-girlfriend once told me, about when she visited her Grandpa who was suffering from Alzheimers, and saw he was reading a three-week old newspaper, and said, “Grandpa, that newspaper is three weeks old.” To which he replied, “It’s news to me.”

*Images kindly provided by the Notwelshman, and his merry band of dribbling idiots.

Nihilist seeks nothing.

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This review of a compilation of LRB personal ads led to the ferreting out of these lovely things, which prove if nothing else that the art of self-deprecation is alive and well:

I wrote this ad to prove I’m not gay. Man, 29. Not gay. Absolutely not. Box no. 2205

Beneath this hostile museum curator’s exterior lies a hostile museum curator’s interior. F, 38. Box no. 13/07

‘Scarface’, ‘Mad Dog’, ‘Pretty Boy’, ‘Baby Face’ – if I had an
underworld crime nickname it would be ‘Screwed by Ex-Wife’s Solicitor
and Currently Sleeping in a Caravan’. Man, 42. Screwed by ex-wife’s
solicitor and currently sleeping in a caravan. Box no. 14/06

My hobbies include crying and hating men. F., 29. Box no. 14/10

All humans are 99.9% genetically identical, so don’t even think of
ending any potential relationship begun here with ‘I just don’t think
we have enough in common’. Science has long since proven that I am the
man for you (41, likes to be referred to as ‘Wing Commander’ in the
bedroom). Box no. 10/11

and finally, compare this three-word classic from the LRB “Misery, seeks company” with a representative example from the New York Review of Books:

“Passionate, stunning, sassy and dynamic maverick with loving heart. Considered adorable and cute. Combines athletic outdoorsyness with easy sophistication. Accomplished consultant and educator, serves on cultural, educational, environmental boards. Willowy, athletic, very physical with slender dancer’s body. Loves entetaining friends, brainstorming, playing with ideas, theater (classical, contemporary, cutting edge), jazz clubs, sailing, skiing, golf, South of France, most of Italy, Australia. Interested in the world – politics, people, the arts, finance, everything on the forny page and more…”

That slice of Italy she doesn’t like must be crying itself to sleep at night (on it’s gigantic pillow.)

More from PKD:

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The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Parmenides taught that the only things that are real are things which never change… and the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus taught that everything changes. If you superimpose their two views, you get this result: Nothing is real. There is a fascinating next step to this line of thinking: Parmenides could never have existed because he grew old and died and disappeared, so, according to his own philosophy, he did not exist. And Heraclitus may have been right—let’s not forget that; so if Heraclitus was right, then Parmenides did exist, and therefore, according to Heraclitus’ philosophy, perhaps Parmenides was right, since Parmenides fulfilled the conditions, the criteria, by which Heraclitus judged things real. I offer this merely to show that as soon as you begin to ask what is ultimately real, you right away begin talk nonsense.

and

Fake realities will create fake humans. Or, fake humans will generate fake realities and then sell them to other humans, turning them, eventually, into forgeries of themselves. So we wind up with fake humans inventing fake realities and then peddling them to other fake humans. It is just a very large version of Disneyland.

via :

Why we worship Charlie Brooker

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Scientology is a spoof religion followed by several high-profile Hollywood stars, every single one of whom is doing it for a bet just to see how long they can fool Tom Cruise.
Advanced followers of Scientology believe an alien ruler called Xenu brought his people to Earth 75m years ago, gathered them round a volcano and obliterated them with a series of nuclear blasts; their displaced souls are responsible for many of mankind’s ills. This is hilariously implausible and richly deserving of open derision, unlike, say, the belief that a man who got nailed to a couple of planks more than 2,000 years ago is your best friend and saviour.
When not being laughed at, Scientology is viewed with suspicion; many members of the public consider it a sinister cult hell-bent on gathering as much money, power, and influence as possible, unlike all other religious movements, every single one of which deserves forelock-tugging respect and unquestioning indulgence of its every crackpot whim.

from The Grauniad

So, yes. The writing thingy.

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I’m going out of my tiny little mind here, and so based on the theory of ‘use it or lose it’, I’m going to try writing something every day or two. If you want to make a suggestion for an up to 500 words long something-or-other – review, article, opinionthing, story, whatever, that would be grand. Pick a topic if you want, or a couple from which I’ll choose. Results will be posted here once they’re done.