What do you mean, he’s not Richard Petty?

I would totally vote for Richard Petty. I think this nominative confusion, perfectly understandable in all American Southerners, is going to be the cause of a lot of awkwardness between now and November 2012…

…of laughter.

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Meanwhile, apologies to all for the recent falta of worthwhile posts. I might have written something yesterday, but I went to the Derby instead. Not what I might call a profitable day overall, but tremendous fun and those £2 I put each way on At First Sight at 80-1 really paid off when he came second.

In other Derby news, I hope nobody placed any bets based on the tote tips. Of seven races, they got one right.

Favourite horse name from yesterday: Seeking the Buck (B g Seeking the Gold – Cuanto Es). Clever.

Also, I am thinking that it’s time for karma or whatever to change. The past year has felt like one tremendous uphill struggle, so surely the world and I are due a little plateau of contentment. To that end, I am humbly asking everyone who reads this post to leave lulz in the comments. Failbooking, Lolcats good; hectoring bombast will result in personalised poison-pen character assassinations from yours truly. These days, the bitch-blade goes snicker-snack almost of its own accord, so don’t even think about whiffling and burbling through this tulgey wood…

The musical refuge of British political bloggers is now coming online.

The brainchild of Neil of the Bleeding Heart Show, its purpose is to take some of the strain off us beleaguered partisans as the election approaches and allow us to come together to talk about something else which is dear to our hearts: music.

I encourage all of you poli bloggers out there (or semi-poli bloggers) who are interested in writing something here and there to visit the website and send an email to let us know you’re keen. It’d be great if loads of people joined in. We’ve already got posts in the dock and we hope to go properly live this weekend!

And if you don’t want to write but you like music, please add Heaven is Whenever to your blogroll/RSS feed. You can also follow on Twitter.

Neil Robertson of the Bleeding Heart Show has had a great idea to take some of the unceasing election pressure off us poor exhausted political bloggers:

We are in the midst of an election campaign which would try the patience of a saint. Though blogging is necessarily combative, we would do well to remember that one of its joys is the space it creates to interact with opposing points of view. In the ongoing campaign for our own utopias – our own visions how Britain can be made better – we should not lose sight of this, nor forget that behind the psedonyms & avatars are real people.

So how do we preserve, and even build upon, the fledgling community that this election campaign threatens to coarsen? I have one idea.

We create a space where everyone – regardless of party or ideology – can write about the music they enjoy; our favourite albums, overlooked artists, most memorable gigs or cherished social experiences. We write not as esteemed political bloggers with our gripes and demands and agendas, but as music fans.

For this to work, there should be but three rules:

  • You should be a political blogger.
  • You should write about any aspect or genre of music.
  • Your writing should not be party-political.

Here’s the catch: I can’t do this on my own. As you might’ve noticed, work constraints mean that I’m not currently able to keep my own blog ticking over as much as I’d like, so running two is an impossibility. I’ve already had some kind offers of contribution and admin, and I would be happy to receive more. I would also be delighted if those of you who believe in the concept could promote it within your own blogging communities – the experience will only be richer for having a multitude of voices. Naturally, all contributors would have a link back to their own political blogs, and a spot on the blogroll.

If you would like to contribute, or have any ideas/suggestions, do feel free to leave a comment either here or with LeftOutside, or leave an email at bleedingheartblog at gmail dot com.

I’m doing it. You should too.

Ah, the things people will Google – and the many and varied paths by which they arrive at this blog! Lately, we have these:

evan harris wanker

Fair enough.

is phil woolas pissed

If he were, that would explain a great deal. But I suspect he’s just a sinister, moronic little creep.

truly whipping extreme free

Delicious on pancakes and as a topping for ice cream.

And finally, this plaintive cry into the ether:

i want my internet turned back on virgin

Good luck, random Googler. I hope they came through in the end.

Find it here.

Joe Wilson yells something –> Do two shots
Obama yells back –> Finish the bottle


(That’s ‘thicker’ in the American blues sense, meaning amply proportioned but shapely.)

Scientists say: big bottoms and thighs protect against cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Big bellies… don’t.

Lead researcher Dr Konstantinos Manolopoulos, of Oxford University, said: “It is shape that matters and where the fat gathers.

“Fat around the hips and thighs is good for you but around the tummy is bad.”

He said in an ideal world, the more fat around the thighs the better – as long as the tummy stays slim.

Coolness. I shall continue to cultivate the figure of a pre-agrarian fertility statue* secure in the knowledge that it is excellent for my health.

*Pub quiz question: What is the Greek-derived term for this type of female figure? (Archaeology buffs, sing it with me now…)

From Anna Raccoon, a timely parody of one of my all-time favourite poems:

“O Voters!,” said Old Cyclops,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be voting Me again?”
But answer came there none–
And this was scarcely odd because
He’d pissed off everyone.

A thriving and prosperous 2010 to you all.

DK has tagged me to do this meme; I turned sixteen in 1997 and was, frankly, a bit of a jackass. Receiving this letter probably wouldn’t have changed that, but hey, you never know.

My dear,

Having been invited by others to advise you about the twelve years to come, please find below a few tips and reassurances. I won’t say too much – time paradox and all that – but I hope you’ll find the general thrust of my advice useful.

My first tip: broaden your ambitions. I know you harbour vague thoughts about going to a small liberal arts university and becoming an English teacher. Abandon those. You’ll realise soon the virtues of anonymity amongst the hordes and warm weather – not to mention that, just in the nick of time, you’re going to realise that it’s not the ‘literature’ part of English literature you enjoy. Go with that instinct – it’ll make you happy.

You also see ahead of yourself, whenever you bother to think about it, a pretty unremarkable lifestyle, living the American dream. Well, you’re living it at the moment; think about how much you enjoy it now, and imagine what it’ll be like when you try it on your own in a couple of years’ time.

My second tip: avoid becoming materialistic. I hate to break it to you, but you’re destined for the life of a nomad. I won’t horrify you with the details of how many times you have to pack up your shit and move it. Just take my word for it that acquiring more stuff than you need is going to cause you more trouble than it’s worth.

My third tip: when, in a few years, you decide to pursue your further academic career, ignore the cost and do it. It’s not going to turn out the way you think, but it’s going to lead you to interesting places. There will be ups and downs, but persevere through the downs: the ups are more than sufficient reward.

My fourth tip, which follows on from the third: when you encounter other obstacles to your wishes, don’t give up. This isn’t an inspirational platitude; I’ve seen time and again that when you bust your ass, you succeed. In time, you will come to regard this quality of yourself as a kind of mystical power. Just remember the converse is also true: when you don’t bust your ass, you fail. And you will fail. More than once. The greatest of those failures will come in November 2000. Ride it out: it’s your threshold to adulthood, and between you and me, you dodged a bullet there.

Finally, a word about men. You go out with anybody who asks, and you aren’t afraid to be the pursuer. People will frown on this, but keep it up. Every loser you date because you like the look of his cheekbones, or because he made an intellectual remark about philosophy, is going to provide you with valuable learning experience. And one day, via a series of random and unlikely-in-retrospect events, you’re going to come across a man who combines the best in cheekbones, intellect, and various other qualities you’ll come to value. When circumstances bring you to his attention, remember my fourth tip.

Oh – and in 2002, keep your eyes open for a conjunction of Latin and libertarianism. You’ll know it’s coming up when a total stranger insults you gratuitously in public. That incident will change your life.


Funniest thing I’ve seen all day:

What is that thing they say about a prophet in his own land?

H/T Bishop Hill.

We highly recommend it to you.

Brains — Let’s face it, as a class medievalists are just plain smarter than other people. Academic medievalists can often read more dead languages than most people can read living languages. We know what happened between the fall of Rome and the discovery of the New World. We know art, philosophy, you name it. You’ll never find conversation with a medievalist dull.

Apocalypse — If civilization collapses, who would you rather be with: the National Guard, or the Society for Creative Anachronism? I’d go with the SCA, because as soon as the gasoline and ammo run out, you’ll need guys who can fletch their own arrows and pierce a zombie’s eye at 50 yards. Never again have a date go bad because of unexpected apocalypse.

Plenty of other good reasons there, too.

H/T A Commonplace Book.

I’m so doing this. My favourite:

Drink Three Fingers If:

Nick Griffin moans about how television isn’t as good as it used to be. What happened to ‘The Black & White Minstrel Show’ and ‘Love Thy Neighbour’?

He breaks into a version of ‘I Will Survive’

Down All Drinks If:

He attempts a comedy foreign accent.

Roland Emmerich (of Stargate and Independence Day fame) is doing a new movie called 2012, again about the end of the world. This guy smashes up so many little models of the White House that he’s single-handedly keeping the miniature manufactory industry in business.

I’ve been looking at the trailers, and they’re done in exactly that sort of coy style that promises a garden of visual delights but doesn’t show them in a way that is at all satisfying. There are little flashes – what looks like a giant Brazilian statue of Jesus cracking into pieces; the dome of St Peter’s toppling over; an entire city sinking into the ocean – which then cut to John Cusack looking scared, but not nearly as scared as an actual human would be when confronted with, e.g., dozens of car-sized meteors hailing down on his Winnebago.

And this is what always bugs me about Roland Emmerich films. He presents me with the idea of fascinating disasters, but either his imagination is not as good as mine or I’m one sick puppy, because my vision of said disasters is always more interesting than what he comes up with. To give one example: part of the 2012 eschatology is predicated on the idea of ‘polar shift’ – an amusing amalgamation of geomagnetic reversal (a real scientific phenomenon) and the theory that some weird celestial catalyst might tilt the earth on its axis so that the poles become equatorial and the equator becomes polar (not a real scientific phenomenon, or at least not since the Precambrian era). Apparently ‘polar shift’ will cause earthquakes, tsunamis, etc., etc., and in the 2012 previews we are treated to some frankly dull imagery of a Los Angeles motorway collapsing, some buildings falling down (hey, that doesn’t impress me, I’ve seen that in real life now about, oh, eight years ago), and aerial views of flaming buildings collapsing into giant crevasses. The closest we get to ‘wow, that’s kinda awesome’ is a scene of ocean waves cresting over the Himalayas and exploding the obligatory Tibetan monastery.

What Emmerich doesn’t seem to get is that pictures of disasters aren’t that compelling unless they really show the scale of the thing. Polar shift? Forget Los Angeles, which isn’t very pristine even on its best days. Show us the whole earth, twisting around like a mad tennis ball in mid-space, oceans sloshing, volcanoes erupting. St Peter’s collapsing? Forget hairline cracks in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (which isn’t, by the way, in St Peter’s). The dome of St Peter’s is absolutely enormous – why not show it rolling down the hill and squashing Ostia? The trailers also show more than a few shots of wildly escaping airplanes slicing off the pinnacles of various buildings with the tips of their wings. I think we all know that when a fibreglass wingtip runs into the Washington Monument, it’s not the monument that’s going to crash and burn.

The rest of the film looks pretty predictable – professionally unsuccessful main character trying to save his children and ex-wife (why is it always an ex-wife in this guy’s movies, by the way? I know 50% of marriages end in divorce in the US, but the whole ‘I’m sorry I’m a nerd, I still love you’ routine was already lame when Jeff Goldblum’s cable guy/computer genius did it in ID4). The noble president struggling against the inhumane advice of his slimy advisers. Humanity uniting in a small space (in this film, Noah’s Ark aircraft carriers). No doubt there will be a heart-wrenching and self-sacrificial fatality. Perhaps even a lovable pet (‘Boomer!’). I’m sure at the end the characters will emerge into the wreckage to start building their new world, because it’s altogether too much to hope for that the film will conclude with everyone dying slowly of starvation in the clusterfuck that is (a) global farmland now covered in salt water and (b) suburban Californians with no agricultural skills.

The reason I started writing about this film, however, is entirely unrelated to the eye-tease visuals or mechanical plot. It was this teaser-trailer, which made me laugh out loud. YouTube won’t let me embed it, so here’s a description:

An elderly Tibetan monk is running up a mountain, sandals flapping, red robes, twisting in the breeze. He finally reaches the tiny temple at the summit where, huffing and puffing, he enters and sees another monk ringing a bell. Interspersed with these scenes are black screens bearing the words ‘How would the governments of our planet prepare six billion people for the end of the world?’ in stark capitals.

Creepy marimba music, oddly in time with the winded monks’ bell-ringing, plays in the background. Cut to distant view of snow-capped Himalayas. What’s that behind the mountains? More mountains? No, it’s water! Some of it begins to pour down the snowy slopes. The temple, in this aerial view, looks very tiny and vulnerable. Inside it, the monks can see the water bearing down on them, but they keep on ringin’ that bell. They don’t look particularly concerned, and are still ringing when the water engulfs the temple, breaking it into tiny pieces. In the aerial shot, you can’t even see the distant mountaintops any more – they are entirely underwater now.

Black screen again: ‘They wouldn’t.’

Then: ’2012. Find out the truth. Google search: 2012.’

By the time we’d got to ‘They wouldn’t,’ I’d forgotten who they were and what it was they wouldn’t do. Oh yeah, they were the government, and they wouldn’t prepare us for the end of the world. I’m not sure whether Emmerich is implying that governments are untrustworthy bastards and we’d be better off preparing ourselves, or if he was snarking on them for not looking after our sorry asses. Either way, I laughed, because we all know there’s sweet fuck-all the government can do when all of Washington has been crushed under the rolling hull of the aircraft carrier USS John F Kennedy and bits of the Kremlin have washed up on Mt Everest.

In the last two days, I have been led to believe, by the search terms that lead people to this blog, that the hardest word in the English language to spell is ‘Australian.’ Here are a few of the variations since yesterday:


Oddly enough, these orthographically-challenged Googlers all seem to be searching for websites that feature Australian women having sex.

Except for the one visitor who spelled Australian correctly, whose entire search term was perfectly capitalised, punctuated, and somehow managed to convey the author’s sense of incredulousness: “Do Australians really fuck sheep?”

Occasionally, a confluence of events in pop culture seems so elegant, so mathematically perfect, that my heart cannot help but swell in gleeful appreciation.

‘Yo Patrick, I know you just died…’

The appeal was easy to see: If you can’t whittle a toy horse, knit a blanket, write a poem or play an instrument, at least you might be able to destroy some amount of the free time possessed by the people that can. If the productive members of society who are usually out there creating something–no matter how small or trivial–instead used their time yelling at you for slights that you put absolutely no effort into, then they were also not producing. And if they were not producing, and you were not producing, then voila! You’re suddenly just as valuable to society as they are! Instead of simply being “lesser than” the average person, now you’re finally “lesser than or equal to“! You’re no better, but at least they’re a little worse! And thus trolling was born. It was easy, it provided a largely illusory benefit (but a benefit nonetheless) and best of all – you’re ruining something! They always say, “It’s easier to destroy than it is to create,” and while most people saying that intend it to be a bad thing, you, the troll, see it as a benefit.

They’re totally right! It is easier, isn’t it? Aren’t easier things better?

It’s like you practically have no choice but to type “meh” or “fag” or better yet (and I’m only giving this to you because I love you) you could combine the two.

You could type “mehfag.”

A pack of dogs, a pride of lions, a murder of crows, a parliament of owls…

And now, via Samizdata: a stupidity of voters.

Someone arrived at this blog by searching “nice true sex photos only”.

(a) Why would anyone search for that?

(b) How in the world did this blog come up in the results?

(c) Given that it did, it must have been pretty far down the list – what sort of person patiently sorts through innumerable search results and then clicks on something so unlikely as this blog?

Flatmate: [watching Terminator 3] What’s phenobarbitol?

Bella: [paying no attention] It’s truth serum, isn’t it?

Flatmate: Why would a vet’s office have truth serum? To get information out of recalcitrant puppies? “You there: did you poop in the corner?

The World’s Greatest Pun.


But if I find one man feathering his own nest by so much as one bent penny, I will destroy him.

Why can’t we have a Gene Hunt in Parliament, eh?

Sitting in my bedroom with the window open, enjoying the cool of the evening and the smells of spring, I half-heard what sounded almost like church bells ringing.

Instantly, my entire being tensed up like an aerobics instructor – heart pounding, eyes widening, chills ebbing and flowing along the spine – which is exactly how I used to feel all the time when I was living in Oxford where the bell-ringers, like maddened over-zealous robots, practise their craft day and night. For a moment, I was back in that hell-hole: miserable, poor, stressed, and foreign; bleak bleak bleak, despite all the dreaming spires and golden sandstone.

Then a child darted past the window and I realised it wasn’t church bells at all. It was an ice-cream van.

…who arrived at this blog by searching, ‘Did St Paul approve of marital rape?’ :


The scene – bella and flatmate are discussing full-serve toilets, as featured in today’s Guardian.

Me: Those toilets don’t sound so bad, the way you describe them.

Flatmate: And you know what – the Japanese-style ones, they’re like Continental toilets in that there’s a little shelf for inspecting your output. It’s weird; there’s like this little Viking longship poo sitting there, and then you press the button, and whoosh, it sails out. I feel like I should salute as it goes past.

Me: [dies laughing]

I suppose not much is happening in the great wide world today (apart from the ‘special relationship’ and those poor cricketers), because these were the top stories in the Telegraph this afternoon:

Gordon, only a new face can help you at this stage.

Everything you always wanted to know about your navel (but were afraid to ask).

South Korea and Springfield Lake: what do they have in common?

Someone arrived at this blog by searching ‘fucking.’

A quick reccie into the wilds of Google reveals that, in the first 30 pages of results, this blog does not appear.

How far into the results pages did this poor visitor go? Further than I’m willing to, at any rate…

Via A Commonplace Book, Lord of the Rings as written by others.

My favourite:

“Fascinating, Captain. It appears to be an unknown creature that lurks in the pool waiting for passing strangers. Ecologically implausible, captain.”

“Do you know what it is?”

“I believe I said it was unknown, Dr Gimli. Logically, if I knew what it was, then it wouldn’t be unknown.”

The source of the link is the Astronomy department at the University of Maryland. I do so love astronomy types…


Great commentary at 18.14 from ianrthorpe:

I don’t see how Queen can be blamed, Freddie is dead and Brian May is an astrophysicist now.

As to the article itself – yea, verily, I loathe the Guardian. There is no more to be said.

In all fun and affection, m’dear, via my flatmate:


bella, Simpsonized

Simpsonize yourself.

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