You're no good for me

Doesn't Keith Flint look funny with long hair?

(around about 1.30 and 2.20 in embedded youchoob vidjo)

Popular on the web

I'm not entirely sure what happened, but suddenly I am getting lots of search engine queries ending up here. I used to get a steady trickle of two or three queries per day, usually looking for some obscure celebrity that I had mentioned plus the keyword "naked". As of today, it seems to be ten or twenty. Here's the latest batch, since I haven't done a "Your Search Queries -- Answered" spot in a while.

30 Jan
soda on the side
my date with the president's daughter big band song (a popular question. It's 'Moonlight Magic')
l1740 portrait mode -- it's really good
pdflatex letter sig-alternate -- highly recommended
jamie kane' mother's maiden name -- is anyone still playing that arg?
maidstone curious facts -- Maidstone is very curious
scary movie hidden message, illuminati
e.m.m.a dum dum lyrics -- anyone got any idea?
aeliens -- coming from spaece!
clemence posey nude -- it begins
kelis nude
camelot theme park phone number -- it could be you!
bush bloggs 2007 -- I don't think he does
l1740 portrait mode
clemence posey nude

29th Jan

music bloggs
kelis nude
massage bloggs
fred bloggs
hash dubia -- dubai? dubya?
lays crisps uk -- why would you want them? Just try some walkers, they're near enough
shrek nude -- ewww?
videolan older version nt
kelis nude
housegate10.house.gov -- the government is watching us

28th Jan
josh lyman et la toyota prius -- c'est magnifique!
robin statz -- who?
i'm a little tiny fish in the deep blue sea wont somebody help me -- no
keira nightly official website -- I dream of Keira, Nightly.
numb chucks robot chicken
song lyrics hillman minx -- you can actually find the answer here, amazingly.
fred bloggs
clemence posey nude
verizon dsl no dial tone -- call the customer support line. Oh, you can't. Email them?
lolly stick crap jokes

27th Jan

9's reliability -- we aim for 1 9's reliability on this site
westwood idiot -- you might very well think that...
sitting on a fat wallet -- painful
fred bloggs
frequent flier bloggs
lena headey torrents
kelis nude
clémence poésy nude -- always the same...


Cheap skate corner

Quick tips in "Things to make and do". A while ago I bought some "noise cancelling" headphones. A common misconception is that these are useful for reducing ambient noise, like conversations. But, that's not how they work. Rather, they analyze various regular background noises (ideally, low frequency), and attempt to cancel the *next* instance of these. An ideal application is on an aeroplane, where there is a continual rumble of engines and air conditioning. I tried these on a few flights, and although the effect was noticeable, there still remained a fair amount of rumbling not removed. So I stopped bothering to bring the headphones with me on trips.

On a recent flight, I instead improvised my own replacement. I often carry earplugs with me. They help me sleep through all kinds of annoyances, such as telephone calls, alarm clocks, fire alarms and the like. I especially recommend them for long flights: the aforementioned rumbling of the plane often leads to headaches, and the earplugs are quite effective at reducing this. On this flight, I still wanted to listen to the inflight movie. Instead of bothering to remove the earplugs, I just left them in, and put the airline provided headphones on over the top, and cranked the volume up. This turned out to be quite effective: I could hear the film fine, and the rest of the noise was mostly blocked out. Score! Now you too can make your own noise-cancelling headphones for a fraction of the price!


Dreadful phisihing attempts

This shouldn't fool anybody, surely?

THIS MESSAGE IS REACHING YOU FROM Smile Co-operative Bank plc,

Notice to all our customers.
Congratulations, we have resecure all our online customers account in our
database against fraudulent activities and money laundering .
To apply for our new standard account security update.
Please click on our link below to review your account.

Watch around your environment carefully .

Smile Co-operative Bank plc. We are making our possible best To keep our
Customer's account securely


Best. Literal. Themesong. Ever

I have been literally whelmed by the no interest flooding in after my description of the staggering awfulness of the themesong of "My Date With The President's Daughter", and so in reponse to this I have been moved to make available a short segment in the spirit of fair use, and non-profit educational/critical purposes. Thus:

Warning: contains brief scenes of nightwear.

[Alternative direct link]

On my phone

I was out last weekend, and when I got back, I found this message on my answering machine, which I transcribe in full:

[10 seconds of silence]
Male voice:
"Do I have... do I have... hold on do I have what?
nope, my... this binder was sitting right over there, I switched.
'cause it didn't have all the... actually he handed to me the binder.
I switched with the desk over there.
Yeah, I would have seen... I didn't see nothing like that though."

Is this your message? If so, please leave a note and I will endeavour to return it to you.

So special, so unique, I don't forget it

I visited my local bizartshouse multiplex to watch a double bill of movies principally concerned with the daughter of the US president dating: "First Daughter (2004)" and "My Date with the President's Daughter (1998)". So here's my capsule summary of the two:

Plot described in terms of other movies and TV shows that the lead actors have been in:
FD -- Joey from Dawson's Creek leaves the sleepy rural idyll when her father is elected President. Four years later, it is re-election time, and she is about to start college at 'Redmond University' (which is presumably some kind of special Microsoft training academy). There she runs into Riley Finn from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who quickly woos her. But he hides a dark secret: he is part of a secret government agency, known only as 'The Initiative' dedicated to fighting the vampires and demons that stalk the night. When she discovers the truth, will their relationship be able to survive?

MDWTPD -- The brother of the kid from 'Boy Meets World' is something of a loser, hanging around the mall with his friends and practicing magic tricks. But then he accidentally gets himself a Date With The President's Daughter, which leads to all kinds of crazy hijinks and escapades in a G-Rated, Disney produced kind of way. But he hides a dark secret: he has a bet with his friends that he will have a date at the dance that night and, apparently having never seen any of the dozens of teen romantic comedies which use exactly the same plot point, explains this to his date. When she discovers the truth, will their relationship be able to survive?

Quality of the opening title sequence
FD -- A fairy tale like scene, as the voice over intones the story of "a little girl who lived in a big white house".

MDWTPD -- Hallie wakes up and complains about how much she has to do that way as the camera pulls back to reveal... her bedroom is in the White House. We then break into quite possibly the worst movie song ever. I later discover that rather being the shameful work of a passing session band, this is actually the work of genuine nineties band 'Presidents of the United States of America' (ha! do you see what they have done there). It's hard for me to describe quite how awful this song is. Until and unless I can be bothered to work out how to upload vidjos to youchoob, you will have to settle for just the lyrics:
My date with the President's daughter
My date with the President's daughter
Oh, yeah
My date with her

So happy
It took all night
I felt so good

We took the Oval Office by surprise
You should have seen the Secret Service agents' eyes
His jaw must have dropped about a hundred yards
When we stole her daddy's big, bad car

My date with the President's daughter
My date with the President's daughter
Oh, yeah
My date with her
So special
So unique
I don't forget it
My date with the President's daughter

Although, nit-picking fans will note that in the film is the boy's father's car that is stolen.

Level of ease with which the Secret Service is evaded:
FD -- Unlikely
MDWTPD -- Implausible

Frequency of jokes about how the secret service guys all wear black suits all the time
FD -- High
MDWTPD -- High

Secret Service code name for the First Daughter
FD -- Lucky Charm
MDWTPD -- Snow White

References to FBI running covert background checks on principal characters
FD -- Several
MDWTPD -- Several

Character there solely for Comic Relief
FD -- Amerie, who plays the unsuspecting fun loving college roommate of the president's daughter. You know, Amerie, as in "It's just 1 thin' that got me trippin'".
MDWTPD -- The food obsessed, sassy talking, younger sibling of the kid who played the brother of the kid from Boy Meets World.

Action which the male lead must perform in order to prove his manliness
FD -- Riley Finn makes sure Joey gets in a car when their is a minor traffic accident in their general vicinity.
MDWTPD -- The kid who played the brother of the kid from Boy Meets World has to beat up a motorbike hoodlum who is trying to kiss the president's daughter against her will at a sleazy party.

Precise moment at which the female lead learns the dark secret of the male lead
FD: 1:06 / 1:44
MDWTPD: 1:07 / 1:28

Single point of greatest implausibility in the whole movie which is pretty damn implausible the whole way through
FD -- Riley Finn (who was playing a TA in Buffy in 1999) is enrolled in a Freshman English class (he's 32), starts dating Joey who also a frosh (she's 26) with her roommate Amerie (who is also 26).
MDWTPD -- the President and the dad of the kid who played the brother of the kid in Boy Meets World sneak out of the white house dressed as waiters in order to try to find their kids (and then someone mistake another couple for them because this couple are wearing similar clothes to what their children are currently wearing despite the fact that those clothes were brought subsequent to when they last saw them).

Re-election prospects of the president
FD -- Throughout the movie we see groups of protestors complaining about the incumbent's social policy; his daughter's JennaBushish antics cause a three point drop in the polls, but at the end he is re-elected and gives a victory speech influenced by the homespun wisdom of his daughter.
MDWTPD -- Throughout the movie, we see groups of protestors complaining about the incumbent's social policy. After all the antics and adventures, the father of the kid who played the brother of the kid from Boy Meets World decides to switch his vote. So, er, that's one extra vote. We don't get to see the result of the election, but I'd say there's pretty poor prospects for a second term.

Not to be confused with:
FD -- Chasing Liberty
MDWTPD -- Every teen comedy ever made ever.

Desperately Seeking Cilantro

Occasionally I like to cook a Mexican. Of course, I don't mean cooking a person who comes from Mexico. That would be ridiculous. No, when I say Mexican, I refer to a dish inspired by the cuisine of Mexico. It's quite a common linguistic usage, so I'm rather surprised that you seem to be unaware of it. Perhaps a little disappointed at your unworldliness as well.

A vital ingredient in the Mexican kitchen is cilantro, the leaves of the coriander plant. For a while, I was using a small container of frozen chopped cilantro. This proved to be very convenient for someone such as myself who only rarely requires a dash of the herb. However, I recently exhausted by supply, and in casting around for a replacement, was unable to find any in my local supermarkets. I wonder where I should look for some more. Perhaps I purchased in a local ACME store (they really do exist outside of cartoons), which has since closed. Buying it fresh seems too much hassle.

Also: in entirely unrelated news, the movie world has been abuzz this week with the news that Aishwarya Rai (one of the stars of Dhoom2, which I still haven't seen...) has announced her engagement to Abhishek Bachchan, her co-star in D:2 and the newly released 'Guru'.


Did you hear the one about the overworked postman?

The New York Times, on their website nytimes.com, has a habit of posting correspondence to the paper. Nothing odd about that. Except that they tend to post a link with a suitable title, which the first time I saw it I thought was a cryptic crossword clue. Problem is, I can't seem to solve any of them. Here are some recent examples:

The Latest Thing in Child’s Play (6 Letters)
Keeping Tabs on Our Kids’ Weight (6 Letters)
Show Some Respect for Long Island Wines; Having a Drink on the Way Home (5 Letters)
Who’ll Pay for Health Care for All? (7 Letters)
Sad Truth About Ramen (2 Letters)
Stepping Up the War: Will the Bush Plan Work? (13 Letters)

Anyone got any ideas?

Warhol, what is it good for?

In the days before the internet, we had to make our own entertainment. When I was a teenager, which was several decades ago, I used to read things called newspapers, which were sort of like blogs, only without the comments. To appeal to the yoof demographic, they would sometimes publish sections specifically targeted at their younger readers. So, for example, The Daily Telegraph published a weekly section called 'The Young Telegraph', and the Sunday Times had a supplement called 'The Funday Times'. These usually consisted of various mirthless cartoons reprinted from elsewhere, with occasional ill-advised attempts at pedagogy. One would occasionally publish abridged biographies of various notables in the form of a comic. Possible the worst, or best (depending on your perspective) of these was "The Life of Andy Warhol". Words cannot really describe the sheer weakness of this realization. The Valerie Solanas incident, for example, was immortalized in a single panel with the words "Calm down Valerie, let's talk about this" being put into Andy's mouth. Alas, all I have to commemorate this fine document is the scan of a single frame, which depicts... well, see for yourself:

If anyone has access to the complete page, or can be bothered to sit down in a copyright library and search through back issues of newspapers from 1993 or thereabouts (perhaps they have scans on DVD-ROM by now?), well, that would make my day.


(Don't) Panic

Wow! Thanks for the magic of the internet you can now send your details to MI5, and they will personally email you whenever the UK terror level is changed. So, always know when to panic (or not), thanks to those spiffing chaps in Military Intelligence and your favourite email client.


Inane Sound Bites

From the news this morning: "98% of new businesses in the US are small businesses."


Kannans to the left of me, Kannans to the right of me: some passing thoughts on travel

These incoherent notes were compiled in the afternoon of the completion of a 36 hour return journey from a week long trip to India, and as you might imagine consequently are somewhat coloured by the freshest events. It could probably be edited into something of a coherent essay with points and arguments, but I think I prefer to leave it as it stands.

Anyway, travel. Or possibly, being away. Travel is something that I'm now quite acclimatised to. The physical transportation of the corporeal being, from plane to plane, and from bus to train to taxi, is all quite rote and near the same the world over. I can tolerate journeys of somewhat extended duration, although the process does tend to leave me fatigued, subdued, and more full of emnity to the world than usual.

Being away, though, has its own issues. We spend so much of our time making our places of dwelling comfortable and convenient, attuned to our own tastes, and efficient machines for living in. When travelling, we temporarily divorce them, a trial separation that makes no one any happier. Unfamiliar beds, unpredictable bathing facilities and other uneven features. Tied in with this is the knotty problem of laundry: to pack enough to last and endure the added bulk, or to plan on finding a place and time to launder.

I always seem to get ill while being away (perhaps brought on by travelling). This usually manifests as tiredness and generalized pains, and sometimes an irascible stomach which complains with little provocation. Thus my appreciation of the delights of being away are often tempered with a dull throbbing background level pain, or a more pressing concern with which I shall not trouble you. My latest trip was a reasonable example: on my first day, I felt bloated and groggy. Then later, after delivering my talk, I was struck by a quite bizarrely fast cold: immediately on completing my presentation, my nose began running. That night, it turned into a sore throat and sniffles; over the next day the symptoms went through aches and pains, and by the night, the whole thing seemed to have worked itself through. None of these concerns are particularly disabling, and indeed occasionally visit me when I am at home. However, at home I feel better prepared to cope, and am nearer my methods of escape and comfort should they be needed.

Being away affords the opportunity to be a tourist. I'm not sure that I quite see the point of this. It's pretty interesting to see some monuments and vistas, and I'm all in favour of doing this occasionally. But I have no great desire to go out of my way to do so more than on a limited basis. Surely just watching a good documentary on TV is just as good an experience? In fact, surely watching an HDTV image on a 42 inch LCD screen is twenty-one times preferable to the wobbly low res view of the world through a 2 inch LCD lensfinder as some choose to do.

I return with a few mementos of my trip. In particular, six mosquito bites, all on my left arm. I don't know what is so appealing about my left arm. Perhaps it was the only one uncovered at the time. Although December was pretty warm, I could still get away with wearing long sleeved shirts.

One of the most arresting sites I saw on my travels was in the departures lounge of New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport. There was a gaggle of Austrian Air (or similar) flight attendants in uniform uniforms, mostly blonde and tanned. Off to one side was another, a pallid brunette reading a heavy Ann Rice novel. I don't think that I'd seen a goth air hostess before, and wish I could have taken a good picture without attracting too much attention. But alas I did not. I also saw a laser display departure board that seemed to be running some variant of Windows that had fallen victim to some spyware or other, and was barfing as a consequence. I took some pictures of that, but alas they did not come out, instead all wobbly and blurred, much like my perspective on the world at 4 in the morning local time.

Heathrow could really do with some better signage for the tube. I almost ended up on the Heathrow express instead. They should take down the signs claiming that the tube is closed for repairs, too, since it's not. The fog was a slight pain, a ninety minute delay, and the disconcerting experience of descending through the clounds... and hitting the ground because it was fog, not clouds.

I watched Madagascar on the way out, and Shark Tale on the way back. Gosh, but these Hollywood animated movies are getting as tedious as the normal ones, aren't they?

My current favourite movie. Dhoom 2, is currently massive in India. However, I didn't get a chance to see it, too little time. I wonder if I would have been able to follow it, if they have subtitles for those less gifted in Hindi such as I. Maybe I'll try to catch it on DVD.

Carry your own toilet roll in India. I first learned the wisdom of this rule whilst suffering the cold and hence carrying plenty of tissue for different effluxions. Either that, or use the tap and jug provided.

Driving is something to behold, and the famous youtube movie does not quite do it justice, in that there is nothing remotely remarkable in the scenes shown in the film. It also fails to capture the aural aspect, which is the use of the horn. It's a fairly subtle language. The coarse meaning is simple "here I am", and thus the horn is used much more frequently than in the west. But there are subtlties and depths; a protracted blast usually does mean "now get out of the way you lumbering hulk". For the most part I was not concerned by the driving, since everyone seemed to be used to it. However, being driven from Kanpur station by some IIT students was probably the most implausible experience in my life. The vehicle seemed to spend most of its time in the lane of the oncoming traffic, except when the oncoming traffic has formed into two lanes to avoid some obstacle, and so we mounted the pavement and played a rather unbalanced game of chicken with pedestrians and scooter riders. I don't quite understand the purpose of putting a car chase into a Bollywood movie, since most of the standard moves (swerving in and out of traffic, slipping through impossibly small gaps, heading down oncoming traffic) seem to be standard procedures required to pass the test. Assuming that there is a test, which seems less likely the more I think about it.

It is not possible to get from Kanpur in the morning to Delhi at night, while stopping to take in the sites at Agra, no matter what you are assured.


Fat Wallet

New year, new wallet. I concern myself with the littlest things, because if I take care of them, then I can ignore the fact that the big things are being neglected.

I've had my old wallet for a long time -- more than a decade, maybe. It's falling to bits. But, like many of my posessions, I like it just how it is. New things mean change, and uncertainty scares me. It took a long time to find the right replacement. Previous attempts have failed dramatically when credit cards didn't fit in the putative replacement. You would think that this is something that you should be able to get right, credit cards being a more or less a standard size.

With a new wallet chosen, it was time to make some tough decisions. I needed to slim down my selection of wallet fodder. So, out goes the library card: it's hard to not carry around a library card, but I've never taken a book out from that place. Out goes the airline loyalty card -- I have my frequent flier number memorized by now anyway. Out go the supermarket loyalty cards: so bulky; instead, I will photocopy the bar codes onto a smaller piece of paper. Several other casualties also fell by the wayside.

On the way home someone tried to kill me by driving into me while I crossed on a 'walk' sign. Fortunately, I was on to him before he had a chance. Hah. I win.


In the Messagerie

I got a vacation message from someone in france, saying that they were away from their email. Except that it was also written in french, and the word used for "email" was "messagerie". What a great word!