Thursday, 29 November 2012

truly great

I am not talking about Warhorses of Letters, that is not for me to say. I will say that I absolutely loved this promo. I hope you liked it.

V. busy. Here is some other stuff:

1. About ten years ago, as I have written here before, Charles Spencer gave four stars to a 'truly great' production of Shakespeare's 'masterpiece' Midsummer Night's Dream. Here is Kim Newman in Empire giving four stars to, 'A truly great documentary'. I think it is perfectly possible that the stars were an editorial decision made over the reviewers heads, but however these things get into papers, they get their via idiots.

(The documentary, by the way, is Hoop Dreams, and it's worth five of anyone's stars.)

2. I strongly urge you to read Warren Buffett on tax. It is hard to read this and then take seriously the weasel excuses from self-interested people not wanting to pay more.

3. Ditto Michael White's piece on Leveson in the Guardian on the transparent self-interest of newspapers who think everyone should be independently regulated apart from them. It is forensic (via @drearyagent).

Friday, 23 November 2012

new wheels?

I am a famously massive fan of dazzle camouflage. Not as famously as Roy R Behrens's smashing blog Camoupedia, which has new pictures all the time. This one is of this incredible model of the RSS Mauretania by a guy called Jim Baumann - click on his link if you want read how he made it.

Puma have released a limited edition razzle dazzle boot - Sergio Aguero has been wearing it. Soccer Bible is excited.

A certain type of historian will know exactly what I mean when I say that a fact is like a sack. Here's a very interesting review of a book about how facts work at the WSJ.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

newts of letters

In news of news:

1. Tall Tales is next Thursday at The Good Ship. It's got Benet Brandreth, Toby Davies, John Finnemore, Kate Ferguson, Susannah Pearse, Marie Phillips and Mike Westcott. Please email if you want to come.

2. Before that, though, Warhorses of Letters is back on Radio 4 next Wednesday at 11pm with Stephen Fry, Daniel Rigby and Tamsin Greig. Either make a date or be a square, as the expression goes. It is a horse expression. As the BBC says, 'Their letters speak eloquently of love, loss, jealousy and nuts.'

In news of closing tabs:

1. This is very good - it's about how the age of the password is, basically, over, but we don't realise it yet. It seems plausible at least on the level that, well, when you think about all the passwords you need to remember, it does seem like a system which is straining at every seam.

2. My feelings on War with the Newts are well-known. (Seriously, read it.) So: Wow.

Friday, 16 November 2012

current affairs

At the end of the payment aisle at one of my local supermarkets the other week. Not near any other magazines. Not part of a general magazine area. Just a place where they put some magazines to give them as high a profile as they could have anywhere in the ship. I mean shop. OR DO I? Was it Iceland? I am near an Iceland. Was it Sainsbury's? I am quite near a Sainsbury's. Was it Waitrose? Which? Guess!

I presume I am the thousand billionth person to use today's headlinepun. Anyway, in case you didn't read how Chuck Klosterman - a quite famous American my English readers will very likely never have heard of - got accidentally involved in the Petreaus kerfuffle, it's a really fun read. Highlight / spoiler: he learned nothing useful from his experience.

On the subject of tax: you don't need my help to make up your mind about tax. Politics is faith now, right? It's a holy war?

Still, I find tax incredibly interesting, and here are some things:

1. This American Life did a cracking podcast where they got politically-disagreeing economists to do a blue sky platform on things they ALL agreed with.

2. The platform was politically unviable. Partly because you can't tell the middle class that they are benefiting from massive hidden tax breaks (mortgage allowances and health insurance) which are very regressive because they benefit the richest the most. Partly because you'd have to implement them properly and all at once.

A great explanation of real world problems comes from one of those very economists, saying why he was worried to have his name associated with the idea of eliminating corporate income tax.

3. TAX IS INTERESTING. This is a great, very clear account of the mess Amazon, Starbucks et al made of trying to explain their obviously dodgy tax dealings. For e.g.:

Google tried harder but they had created one insurmountable obstacle for themselves. Their argument was profits should be taxed where they are earned and they said US technology drove their European profits. But for their admission that the payments made from Europe for that technology never reach the USA and instead get parked in tax-free Bermuda ended whatever shred of credibility they’d tried to create.

Monday, 12 November 2012


The Asylum is a film production house which specialises in cheerily lunatic straight to video movies - they call them mockbusters. Some are based on big budget releases. For example: Almighty Thor, Transmorphers: Fall of Man, Sunday School Musical, and Titanic II.

Some are just crazoid. The plot of this one, as described by Bleeding Cool News, via the Inquisitr, is: When a freak hurricane swamps Los Angeles, thousands of sharks terrorize the waterlogged populace. And when the high-speed winds form tornadoes in the desert, nature’s deadliest killer rules water, land, and air.


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

A couple of weeks ago I watched It Always Rains on Sundayat the BFI. I had never heard of it.

It's brilliant. Not I had never heard of this film and it's much better than you'd imagine of a film you'd never heard of but actually, properly brilliant. It's a slice-of-life. My favourite character has huge furry gloves, and is played by a guy who went on to present Pinky and Perky.

It stars Googie Withers. When I looked her up on Wikipedia, I vaguely feared the kind of wildly colourful and troubled story I got from Margaret Rutherford and Sterling Hayden. But actually Googie Withers had what seems to have been a lovely life with John McCullum, who is one of her co-stars in this film, and who she married shortly afterward. He was an Australian who later wrote, directed and produced Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. She spoke Urdu and her mother was called Zitette, unlike mine. In 2004, Coronation St used the line 'Googie Withers would turn in her grave,' and Granada had to apologise because she was not dead. I say 'had to' but Googie sounds like the kind of class act who didn't give a stuff whether Granada apologised or not. She died in 2011 in Sydney. McCullum died a year earlier.

Friday, 2 November 2012

big local landmarks

This picture is obviously pointing to something important, right?

You decide (I know it's a bad picture, but seriously this is what the sign is pointing at):

Following links on Wikipedia news:

1. Touch the Truck only happened on Channel 5 once. The winner lasted over 80 hours. The winner, Jerry Middleton, sold the truck to fund the formation of a political party which got 54 votes out of 49,000 in the Kingston & Surbiton constituency in 2001. Other contestants started speaking in their native Kosovan and hallucinating that the truck was an ocean liner.

2. Have now watched the second House of Cards. Gosh, it's good. Preferred it to first series, I think. Partly because the main actress, Kitty Aldridge, is really good (Ian Richardson and Michael Kitchen, obviously, are brilliant, and I really enjoy Colin Jeavons). 'Why has she not done a billion other things?', I wondered. Too busy being married to Mark Knofler and being a successful novelist is the answer.

Netflix is making a US version. I am looking forward to it. (Netflix is also making more Arrested Development. Go, go Netflix, I say.) IMDB currently has the lists as follows: Sakina Jaffrey - Linda Vasquez; Michael Kelly - Doug Stamper; Gilbert Soto - Hispanic Congressman and so on. The precis reads: Francis Urquhart is Chief Whip. He has his hands on every secret in politics - and is willing to betray them all to become Prime Minister. I think not.