Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Austin Powers In Goldmember...
Marky, Jo and I went to see Austin Powers in Goldmember last night. And we were all in hysterics throughout.

Maybe it's the fact that I had Victorian parents that makes me now laugh out loud at jokes about guffs, wee and willies. They were things that were never mentioned at home.

The film follows on from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me but in some ways is better. Actually, this outing from the shagadelic sleuth could have been renamed Carry On Bond - for that's what it was. A melee of a Carry On film and James Bond (in the same vein as, but much funnier than, say, Carry On Spying). In fact funnier than most Carry On films (which from me is really saying something). It was crammed full of knob gags, boob gags, post modern gags, visual gags and Hollywood gags. It's hard to find fault with such a well observed and written piece of pure comedic entertainment. Sure it presented nothing new - but since when did a good time have to be original? You know precisely what it is you're going to get and that is exactly what is delivered.

The list of cameos all playing themselves was amazing: Tom Cruise, Danny DeVito, Gwyneth Paltrow, Quincy Jones, Ozzy Osbourne, Kevin Spacey, Burt Bacharach, Britney Spears, Steven Spielberg and John Travolta. The casting director needs an Oscar. It reminded me of the ending of that titanic God of a film Pee Wee's Big Adventure.

If forced to choose my favourite scenes from Goldmember they would have to be the subtitles scene (parts of subtitled words get blocked out by white items on the screen leaving just the rude bits of words displayed), when Mini Me gets beaten up (just a riot) and the submarine sick bay shadows (old gag, even cruder twist). And I almost wet myself when a chocolate cup cake hit and stuck to Dr Evil's head.

My 12 year old nephew wants to go and see this film. And I think I'll go (again) with him.

Yeah, baby, yeah!!
Who are you?...

I'm David!

I'm David, who are you? Six Feet Under Quiz by Turi.
What are the chances of that?...
1. Happy Birthday, Ben (thanks for the meal last Saturday - you'll make a veggie of me yet)
2. Happy Birthday, Paul (looking forward to seeing you later tonight)

I seem to know two people with a birthday today. What are the chances of that, eh? Well it's quite high actually.

Does anyone remember their maths or stats teacher showing them the proof to the question: what is the minimum number of people needed to be in a group before there's a 50:50 chance of any two sharing the same birthday? I remember the answer being really low. Just 23. But I can't remember the proof. Can anyone else remember it?

And just to muddy the waters even further I know someone else who has a birthday today...
3. Happy Birthday, Nick (not seen you in ages - hope the recording career is going OK. Not seen you on CD:UK yet!)
Now what are the chances of that!?

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Tory MP Alan Duncan is gay. Big deal...
Hugo Young, as ever, makes a lot of sense in today's Guardian.

"Almost everything you need to know about the Tory party is encapsulated in the revelation that Alan Duncan is gay. A banal detail is elevated into first place in the news. A dreary social commonplace is treated by both the party and the media on a par with the discovery that the Pope has a secret wife. How much further behind the curve can an organisation get than feeling obliged to declare its 21st-century relevance by means of this amazing item? How devoid of content does a party have to be if the best way it can think of proving its openness, its revolutionary departure from type, is by showing its tolerance for Alan Duncan being gay?

The only interesting thing about this disclosure is that it's the big thing the Tories have to say about themselves. It underlines rather than diminishes their predicament. It is a headline they could do without because it distracts from everything to do with their real problem.
In the pink...
Ever wondered why lobsters go pink when cooked? Well it appears that when cooked a protein in their shell gets 'denatured' so that it turns from blue to a pinky-orange colour. Hence the colour change in the shell when it turns up on your plate. So now you know.
Rain, rain...
The London weather forecast was for rain today. Thunder, lightning and rain. 6cm of it. So far it's been sunny and bright. Come on then. Bring it on!
Six Feet Under...
Six Feet Under just goes from strength to strength. Last night's was episode #8 in series 1 where brothers Nate and David decide to rent out a room in their funeral home to make some extra money. A line dancing class turns up - with (surprise, surprise) a gay dance caller, Kurt. There is a great scene later when Kurt and David go on their first date and are sitting in a crowded restaurant. Kurt gets straight to the point:
Kurt: So, David, are you a top or a bottom?
David: (nervously) Er, a what?
Kurt: (makes a poking gesture with his finger)
David: Oh. (in very small voice) I'm versatile.
Kurt: (smiling) A bottom? That's great. We'll get along just fine.
Very funny. And so true.

As a coda to this scene later on in the episode we get a quick flash of them in bed and Kurt says to David, "boy, you ARE versatile!"

Monday, July 29, 2002

Tom gets everywhere.
Drew and Steven...
Last weekend our nephew Drew came over for Sunday lunch and a games afternoon with his new beau, Steven. Steven is quite a charming man and if our approval were to be sought (which it wasn't) then we would have to say: "We approve!"
That's Drew on the left, Steven on the right

Friday, July 26, 2002

Spider-man gets a group thing going......

You may remember Spider-man had a solo thing going a few weeks ago. Well now he's got a group together. Work it, girls!
[Thanks to Elle for the file]
George Michael - up and down...
George Michael's new single Shoot The Dog is getting precious little radio play in the UK. It has been categorized to only be on Radio One's C playlist. It is therefore unlikely to have a very high UK chart entry next week. His charm offensive in the States hasn't faired much better either.

This fuss over Shoot The Dog (and to some extend over Freeek! too) reminds me a bit of Madonna's Erotica/Sex phase. It all seemed to be to shock rather than to entertain. Such periods in artists lives rarely produce their best work.

In other (slightly cheerier) news George has been asked to write the theme song for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Apparently George (of Greek extraction himself) was asked as he is considered a near deity in Greece. So what are your going to call it, George? Shoot the God?
Big Brother: The Live Final...
As an official BB3 boycotter naturally I won't be watching tonight.

Oh no, I won't be watching Big Brother's Little Brother on E4 at 7pm.

Or Big Brother on C4 at 8:30pm

Or Big Brother (again) at 10:30pm.

Or indeed Big Brother's Little Brother again at 11:40pm

And I certainly won't be voting for the lovely Kate to win*. Oh no.

*(But if she does I shall be very happy as she's my favourite)
Tony Alley...
Guy and I share a lust for the British swimmer Tony Alley. What is it about a swimmer's build? :-)

Commonwealth Games...
Last night was the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Old cynic that I am I was ready to pour scorn on the feeble attempts of emulating the Olympic Opening ceremony. But actually it was quite good fun. Lots of cute bodies to watch, a bit of camp nonsense with S Club 7 S Club, a very impressive firework and lighting display and a full fifteen minutes of people dressed like a fruit salad dancing to the Bee Gees. What more could you want?!

But hang on, since when was Jersey, Cook Islands, Falkland Islands, Isle Of Man etc al separate countries? I half expected to see The Isle of Dogs march past!

Thursday, July 25, 2002

I have been lusting after this for some months. And as part of my generous pay settlement two weeks ago my company bought me one. To say I was/am ecstatic would be putting it mildly.

The XDA is basically a small, light, brightly-lit colour pocket computer that combines the functionality of a high-end mobile phone with that of a PDA i.e. e-mail (POP3/IMAP4/HTTP), SMS, WAP, web browsing (inc Javascript), GPRS (fast, always on internet access), Outlook (contacts, calendar, notes), Word, Excel, Windows media player (MP3, WMA, AVI etc), RealPlayer, Flash, Street maps, Windows Messenger, remote control by a PC, remote control of a PC, Dictaphone, speaker phone, full syncing with desktop apps and games. And there are heaps of other goodies to download and install - just like for a regular PC.

The memory is 32Mb ROM / 32Mb RAM but I've got some large capacity SD cards inserted so storage isn't a problem. Copying music to it is automatically recompressed/resampled to use the bit rate of choice. That way I can decide whether to go for higher quality or higher quantity on the fly. I'm planning on putting Spider-man on it!

The BBC seem to like it too.

You can see a demo of the XDA here.
Iwan Thomas...
Woof! Woof!The Commonwealth Games start today in Manchester. Iwan Thomas MBE will be competing. He is currently the British and European 400 metre record holder, who is also an Olympic silver medallist and a true ambassador in the sport of athletics.

Oh, and he's pretty damn cute! He lives in Southampton is 6' 3" and has gorgeous blonde hair and freckles.

Go Iwan!

[Thanks to the ever horny Guy for the heads-up]

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Rumour has it...
According to Popbitch, Kate Bush has covered Soft Cell's Youth and has been described as 'sublime'. If true, can't wait.
Riddle me this...
I want to seen me but I don't want you to see me
There were no rushes - yet I was thrown together
I've been waiting for months on the shelf
I make a day turn into five minutes
I am weak and yet too strong for some
I am now going to be later than planned and yet earlier than planned at the same time
I am no longer digital
I was finished off ages ago
I am the future

What am I?
To the observatory!...

There is a real chance that the earth is about to be hit by a large space rock that is hurtling through space towards us. And it's going to hit us very soon.

The asteroid in question is called 2002 NT7 and is on an impact course with Earth. It is expected to strike the planet on 1st February, 2019.

From its brightness, astronomers estimate it is about two kilometres wide, large enough to cause continent-wide devastation on Earth.

It has a rating on 0.06 on the Torino Scale - the first object to have a positive rating.

So whose fault is this? Who do we blame? Why, it's the astronomers of course. It's all their fault. I say we kill all the astronomers! Now! To the observatory!

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Chase The Name (again)...
Mike has come up with some great entries (with pictures!).

I'd also like to extend his a bit (oo-er missus)...

Pam Ayes Rock DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince Edward Heath Cliff Richard James Dean Martin Luther King Arthur Lee Harvey Oswald Mosley

and mine too

Mark Antony Wedgewood Ben Elton John Boy George Michael Jackson Browne

Can you make either any bigger?
Let's talk about sex...
Dave is talking about sex and raises some interesting questions about what is it that drives people in their lives. Is the sex the prime motivator in life?

He's my take on things:

Sex is first (thirst?). Everything else is a distant second. To begin with...

Why is sex first? Because when you're young sex it easy. Especially if you're cute (which Dave is). Sex gives you quick and climatic returns for very little effort. It makes you feel good and (despite the risks) is good for you. It's a basic part of what (gay) men are, it fulfills a basic need and let's face it, it's bloody good fun (!) It's short term pleasure. A quick fix. Then you can go out for more.

Your career is something different altogether. It's a bit like love. You can spend years getting nowhere with it. Sometimes you need to work at it very hard. It's a long term thing. The rewards aren't nearly as obvious or as guaranteed but boy when it comes good it's worth it in the end...

At the end of the day people have a need to be remembered. To have made their mark on the world. Ten years after you're dead no one will remember whether you were good at sex or not. But if you have a hit with a song, a loving relationship or make your mark in some other way you'll live forever.
City Hall...
The Queen opened the new City Hall this morning on the South Bank. It's a beautiful building and I'm looking forward to the Open House Weekend in late September when we'll be able to have a good look around. The building was designed by Norman Foster who also involved in designing the Reichstag in Berlin which is resembles in some ways. It has been decribed by some as a big glass tit. Fnah.

This as news arrived that Ken Livingston isn't to be readmitted to the Labour Party - rejected by 17 votes to 13. Ken was drummed out when he ran against the official Labour Party candidate (Frank Dobson) last time. The next Mayoral election is in 2004.
Oldies but goodies...
For those who haven't seen it (where have you been?), we'd just like to point out the internet's best archive: The Wayback Machine. It has loads of pages archived, so you can surf circa 1994, or uncover old versions of classic websites.
Chase The Name...
I've just thought a good game. Perhaps it's been thought of before but I've never seen it. I call it CHASE THE NAME. You think of two famous names that share a common first name and second name. You then join the names together.

So "Boy George" + "George Michael" becomes "Boy George Michael"

You can then daisy chain another name on the end (or the beginning)

So "Boy George Michael" + "Michael Jackson" becomes "Boy George Michael Jackson" and so on.

You can't be too pedantic of spelling but the closer the better. You can work backwards or forwards.

The ones I've come up with so far are:-

Ben Elton John Boy George Michael Jackson Browne

Kiki & Herb Albert Gore Vidal Sassoon

Jacqueline Susan George Harrison Ford Prefect

Can you extend these or indeed think of any more?

Monday, July 22, 2002

May the paper be with you...
Get into that stationery cupboard, friends and liberate as much paper as you can because we're here with Star Wars Origami.
The Psychiatric Hotline...
The wonderful News Guru Guy sent this out as an APB on Saturday but I thought it might be worth repeating here. As it's so funny.

The Psychiatric Hotline:

Hello. Welcome to the Psychiatric Hotline.

If you are obsessive-compulsive, please press 1 repeatedly.
If you are co-dependent, ask someone to press 2 for you.
If you have multiple personalities, please press 3, 4, 5, and 6.
If you are paranoid-delusional, we know who you are and what you want. Just stay on the line until we can trace the call.
If you are schizophrenic, please listen carefully. The voices will tell you which number to press.
If you are borderline, it doesn't matter which number you press - no one will answer.
If you are manic-depressive, please press 7 as fast as you can for the next 24 hours, and then crash for the following 24 hours.

Thank you for calling the Psychiatric Hotline.

Saturday, July 20, 2002

A bunch of seven of us went to a new art exhibition last night in an old church. The art was fine but nothing really worth buying. Then it was all back to ours for a roast meal and to watch Tim getting kicked out of Big Brother, Will & Grace and Graham Norton. Gary brought his new screen projector round so we could watch the night's TV in not only 16:9 format but actually as a 16" x 9" image. The light was so powerful we even successfully projected on a tree, a van in the street and on the house next door. Way cool.

Gary left it here overnight so this morning I've been playing PS2 games with the volume up high and immersed in a giant image on the wall. I want, I want, I want!

Friday, July 19, 2002

Google Doodle...
Keep track of Google's changing logos with Google Doodle.
Cat cut...

We all know that during the World Cup, Japanese people became pretty obsessed with David Beckham. But we didn't know it was this bad... did they have to give their cats haircuts like Becks?
The Trials of Joanne Lees...
A British backpacking couple (Peter Falconio and Joanne Less) were attacked last year in the Austrailian outback - just north of Alice Springs - in the middle of the night. Last night's Cutting Edge programme on TV followed the aftermath of the disappearance of 28-year-old Peter and the subesquent hounding of Joanne Less by the media. The did she/didn't she stories said more about the media's (over)reaction to the events than about the events themselves. Because Joanne didn't want to talk to the press created a vacuum into which were pulled all sorts of sinister plots.

One fact about Australia that emerged was rather startling though. The claim that Adelaide is the murder capital of the world. (And I thought it was either Washington DC or South Africa!)
Doctor, doctor...
Dr Harold Shipman killed at least 215 patients making him Britain's biggest serial killer, it has been confirmed.
You can play Battleships online. It brought back memories of playing the game with my brother when we were kids. Fun and only takes about 5 minutes to play.

Thursday, July 18, 2002

Poisoning myself...
I felt a bit of a tingling on my lower lip yesterday and thought I might be getting a cold sore. Over indulgence at the weekend was probably the cause. So immediately I took some Acyclovir. Not those wimpy 200mg or 400mp tablets but the full strength 800mg ones. One when I got up, one four hours later at lunchtime and one four hours after that around mid-afternoon. And what a big mistake that was. It was far too high a dose. By 5pm I had started to feel tired and was having slight stomach cramps. By 6pm I had a headache and was feeling dizzy. I got home somehow and went to bed. By 9pm I was up again and throwing up. I was spending more time on the loo than off it. I was exhausted and yet my tummy cramps were too painful to let me lie down. Eventually I managed to get to bed but had a dreadful night. I feel such at idiot for what was effectively poisoning myself. Thank God for the tube strike today that let's me stay at home.

UPDATE: [Thanks to Marky for the info]
Acyclovir side effects (reduced if take with meals)
Short-term therapy: nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, fatigue, skin rash, edema. inguinal adenopahty, anorexia, leg pain, medication taste, sore throat.
Long-term: nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, headache, vertigo, insomina, irritability, depression, skin rash, acne. accelerated hair loss, arthralgia, fever, palpitations, sore throat, muscle cramps, mestrual abnormalities, lyphadenopathy.
Two strikes and I'm out...
There was a council worker's strike in the UK yesterday, and a 24 hour tube strike from 8pm last night. So today I'm 'working from home' as they say. Thank God (more of that later). As far as the strikes themselves are concerned it's interesting to see how reports by the BBC and in the media at large still use expressions like, 'Angry union leaders demand...' while those nice 'Managers offer...'

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Archives (again)...
I've changed my archives so they appear on a separate page now. Rather than how I really want them to appear (and how they always used to appear) which is in my side bar. It appears that the problem I have is that the javascript/text thingy doesn't want to display it even though it exists (and the URL is correct).

Oh, OK let's be honest. I don't know the first thing about Java or (HTML) so I'm stummbling around in the dark!

But here's a question anyway for any java savy people. Does anyone know why
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.overyourhead.co.uk/archives/overyourhead_archive.html"></script>
doesn't work for embedding?
The sound of silence...
Can you copyright silence? Apparently so.
Fifty innovations that changed the last 50 years...
This Saturday an exhibition at Birmingham's new museum of science and technology aka Thinktank will display what it believes are the 50 things that have most affected our lives in the last 50 years. What do you think?
1952 First fare paying passengers in a jet airliner
1953 CinemaScope
1954 TV dinner
1955 Non-stick saucepan
1956 TV remote control
1957 Sputnik carries the first living creature into space
1958 Ultrasonic image of unborn child
1959 Mini rolls off the production line
1960 Implanted pacemaker
1961 The Pill goes on the market in the UK
1962 TV satellite relays live pictures
1963 Cassette tape and birth of portable music machines
1964 Home kidney dialysis
1965 Packet switching - essential for the internet
1966 Satellite provides the first whole-earth viewing of the weather
1967 Breathalyser used on drivers
1968 First supersonic airliner, the Soviet T-144
1969 Moon landing
1970 Watches with liquid crystal displays go on sale
1971 CAT scan
1972 Pocket calculator
1973 Cars with airbags
1974 Barcodes on supermarket products
1975 Birth of the home computer
1976 VHS and Betamax
1977 Maiden voyage of space shuttle
1978 Birth of Louise Brown, baby conceived by IVF
1979 Graphical-user interface developed
1980 Ghetto blaster and Sony Walkman
1981 Compact discs on sale
1982 Video keyhole surgery
1983 Synthetic human insulin cleared for sale
1984 DNA fingerprint
1985 First registered dotcom
1986 Laptop computer
1987 Prozac goes on to market
1988 First internet worm unleashed, disabling 10% of computers on the fledgling network
1989 Toaster becomes the first machine to be controlled over the internet
1990 First gene therapy, on a four-year-old girl with an immune system disorder
1991 Internet browser developed
1992 Text messaging
1993 Global Positioning Satellites
1994 Genetically modified tomatoes
1995 Toy Story is the first entirely computer generated feature film
1996 'Deep field' photographs of our universe show how it looked 10 billion years ago
1997 Dolly the sheep is the first mammal cloned from an adult cell
1998 First section of the international space station launched
1999 Electronic, reusable paper invented
2000 Scientists discover how to remove genes from pigs, paving the way for xenotransplants
2001 Microchips inserted into the damaged retinas of three blind men to restore their sight
2002 Iris scanners installed at airports for security
Why do my Archives keep bumming out? They just don't seem to get the .../archives/ bit added at the beginning despite me setting them to do so in my archive template AND in the actual template code. Grrrr.

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

So you sit your PDA on it's cradle. It automagically sucks down up-to-date text versions of all your favourite web sites to read off line. It's easily configurable by a web interface. You can get the entire Guardian, the FT, BBC News and any other web site you care to point it at. How cool is that? It just works. If you have a PDA go check out AvantGo. Oh, and it's free.
Brum, Brum...
Roger and I had a fabulous weekend in Birmingham. The weather was delightful, the show we went to see was great and the bars, pubs and clubs we went to were busy, fun and exciting. The last time I went to Brum was years ago when the Jester and the concrete Bull Ring were about all you could expect to see. Now the transformation has been amazing. There are huge pedestrian walk ways and squares with theatres, museums and places to eat and drink. The gay area is full of fun places to sup and shuffle and I definitely want to go back for a another visit soon.

Naturally the weekend was made even more fun by the very fact that I was with Roger. We shared a room this time and we got on very well. We seem to share exactly the same definition of what makes a good night out i.e. a bit of this, a bit of that and a bit of the other. You can see the full set of photos here.

Monday, July 15, 2002

World Cup footballer looki-likies...
Click on any picture for a larger version.

Friday, July 12, 2002

Just desserts...
As regular readers may know I've had a tough time at work recently. Not going into gory details, it had resulted in me at times doubting my value to the company at times. I've been fighting my corner fiercely and I've had to explain myself to the MD on more than one occasion.

This week I had my annual performance review and I wasn't sure how it was going to go. I needn't have worried. My boss gave me an overall rating as OUTSTANDING (the highest grade possible). This grading is directly linked to the pay structure and dictates, within a small range, my salary increase. And yesterday he told what it was going to be. He simply came into my office and sat down and told me.

And when he did I shouted back at him across the desk, "FUCK! Really?! FUCK!"

Now, my boss is a devote Christian and this perhaps wasn't quite the response he had anticipated or was used to. The two people in offices next to me popped their heads round the door to see if I was OK (maybe they thought I was angry or something). I apologised to them and to my boss for swearing. He smiled. "That's OK. I thought you'd be pleased!". Too bloody right I was.

It's not just the money though, it's the huge vote of confidence it gives me. It is full, tangible support. And to say I am happy would be putting it mildly. Last night I took Mark, Nikki, Colin and I out to Frederick's in Islington for a posh meal to celebrate. And I stuffed my face with the sweetest, richest chocolate mouse I could find. Savouring my just desserts.
I use antlers in all of my decorating...
Tonight Roger and I are off to Birmingham for the weekend. The reason for the trip? We're going to see Beauty and the Beast. Don't laugh. Roger originally tried to persuade me to go with him on a ticket of a wild and frantic weekend tickling the seemy underbelly of Midlands low-life. But to be honest it was a plain and simple love of light musical theatre that swung it for me. Because as you all know, I'm a good clean-living boy, me. (Again, enough with the sniggering!)
Guardian A-List of British Blogs...
Yeah! I'm made the Guardian A-list of British blogs. As does the ever-readable Ian. (A big thanks to Terreus for pointing this out to me).
Clean bill of health...
Regular readers may remember I went to the clinic for a health check a couple of weeks ago. Well, I went back on Wednesday to pick up my results. All clear for both the little and the big diseases which is good. But not totally unexpected. I'm a good clean-living boy, me. (No sniggering at the back, please).

Thursday, July 11, 2002

Sadie and the Scrubbers...
Here is another two minutes of perfect pop from delightful Sadie and the Scrubbers with their latest track I Love You 'Cause You Look Like Jim Reid. Check out their web site too for the latest gossip and news.
The cost of living...
Refuse collection: putting out the rubbish may soon cost you an extra £1 a bag - it used to be free.
Post delivery: getting your post delivered before 9am may soon cost you an extra £2 a day - used to be free.
Julie Birchill Is Away...
Last night we went to go and see Julie Birchill Is Away at the Soho Theatre. Jackie Clune (described by the Sunday Times as "an Essex version of Jodie Foster after she'd seen off Hannibal Lecter") gave a wonderful performance as the now slightly aging Birchill who started as the 'hip young gunslinger' on the NME and went on to be the 80's highest paid hack. Birchill is an iconoclast - notorious for taking cocaine and drinking like a fish - and has been described as 'the cleverest woman in Britain' (Radio Four) and 'Britain's Worst Mother' (Daily Mail). The latter comment referring to her unsuccessful attempt to keep her children - after a failed £50,000 lawsuit.

The play (written by Tim Fountain) was very well written and sees Julie Burchill musing about life, her past and her current job as controversial columnist at the Guardian. She is staunchly working class, curiously snobbish about the oddest things and dramatically self-opinionated. And also very, very funny.

I'll never forget years ago being at some posh dinner with Katherine Hamnett and she suddenly pipes up saying, 'I think the young working class are much better dressed than the young middle class.' I said, 'Yes, that's 'cos they can't afford your clothes.'

She could also be poignant too. She didn't care about being popular. She didn't care what people thought. She didn't want people to like her.

I had a shortage of friends, but I didn't mind 'cos I wasn't looking for friends. It's a bit of a taboo to say that isn't it? You can say you don't want a boyfriend or a wife or even your parents but you can't say you don't want friends.

And full of gossip too.

I had to read Derek Jarman's diaries a while back 'cos I was reviewing it... Only person who comes out of it well is Neil Tennant. Apparently Jarman was going to to see Jimmy Somerville and he asked Neil if he had a message for him. Tennant said, "Tell him "Piss off, Mary, I'm Head Fairy!"' I like that!

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

It's enough to turn your hair grey...
This is a joke, right? Wrong.
"If a user group contains more than 500 users, the hair color of the "person" icon for the group changes to grey. This does not affect the functionality of the group or the users for whom the hair color of the icon changes. This issue affects built-in groups, local groups, and global groups." Q281923
Getting tough...
I've heard of a tough password policy but this is ridiculous.
"Your password must be at least 18770 characters and cannot repeat any of your previous 30689 passwords. Please type a different password. Type a password that meets these requirements in both text boxes." Q276304
Today's news: The Government has said that moving cannabis from a class B to class C drug, where possession is no longer an arrestable offence, would give their drug policy greater credibility among young people and help police direct resources towards heroin and cocaine.

So what do you think? Is reclassification a good thing? Should dope be legalised completely? Not know too much about dope (honest!) I've been doing some reseach.

Some background information

Street names: Dope, blow, smoke, hash, puff, black (usually for cannabis resin); grass, ganja, marijuana (i.e. mary jane), weed, pot, bush (usually for the leaves and buds of the plant) but some of these names are interchangeable. Nowadays 'skunk' is also popular, a variety of grass grown to be particularly potent, which has stronger hallucinogenic properties.

Official names: Cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, cannabis ruderalis

The current law

Class B Drug: meaning 'mid-range' penalties.

Simple Possession: The maximum penalties available are three months, £500 fine or both if dealt with in a magistrate's court, or five years, unlimited fine or both if dealt with in a crown court.

Possession with intent to supply: you do not need to possess a huge amount to be charged with this; a small gift to a friend can render you liable. A large amount for purely personal use might also be taken as obvious proof of intent to supply.

Offering to supply: The offence happens if an offer to sell the drug is made, whether it is accepted or not.

Supplying / Producing: One person buying on behalf of a group can be charged with supplying. The maximum penalties available for the above three offences are: six months, £5,000 fine or both if dealt with in a magistrate's court, or fourteen years, unlimited fine or both if dealt with in a crown court.

What is it and how will I feel if I take it?

Cannabis is a naturally growing plant that prospers in equatorial regions, and is most commonly exported from Thailand, India, Morocco (where the bulk of the UK's cannabis originates), Lebanon, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, although it can flourish in the wild in any sunny environment such as the west coast of America. Cannabis comes in two common forms. Resin is a black/brown substance, sometimes soft and sticky, sometimes hard, which in its natural state is exuded from the flowering tops of the plant and is called hashish, while what is usually referred to as grass is the leaves, stalks and buds of the plant. There is also a thick oil variety of resin called hash oil, which is five times more potent weight for weight than resin. Average prices are £15 for 1/8th of an ounce of resin, or between £15-£20 for 1/8th of on ounce of grass.

Resin is the most widespread form of cannabis in the UK, coming in slabs, chunks or balls. It is usually mixed with tobacco and rolled into a smokable 'joint' or 'spliff', or the mixture is put into a pipe or a (often home-made) construct called a bong. Resin can also be burnt neat and the fumes inhaled. In America grass is far more common and is smoked neat rolled in a cigarette paper or in a pipe. Both resin and grass can also be drunk in a tea concoction or eaten, either neat or baked into cakes, biscuits, chocolate etc. The main active ingredient in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinoil, or THC.

If smoked ('toked'), it shouldn't be longer than five minutes before the effects are felt. These include a heightened awareness of sound, colour and textures, a desire to 'get deep into' a discussion (as is the case with most other drugs, a non-user sat with a bunch of dope smokers will find it extremely tedious) and a dreamy and light-headed floating sensation. Music or TV may suddenly seem endlessly fascinating or unusually moving; fits of giggles are the standard, as is the desire to stuff your face (known universally as 'the munchies'). This all depends, of course, on the strength of the cannabis. Fresh skunk weed, as well as giving off a thick pungent aroma that will stink out the surrounding environment, can cause mild hallucinations and make it difficult to have a discussion, let alone move around. A light resin joint might just make that CD sound better than it did previously. Resin tends to have a more 'sleepy' effect, while grass can sometimes have a 'speedy' quality that some say aids artistic creativity. You may lose track of time, and short-term memory can be temporarily confused. Performing simple tasks can seem quite complicated, albeit sometimes amusing; sudden occurrences can be scary or 'freaky'. Some people find cannabis makes them immediately nauseous, while others say it has no effect on them whatsoever.

If eaten, cannabis can take up to 90 minutes to produce any result, but the effects can be much stronger than smoking - all the above effects but multiplied until the user is hugging the toilet bowl. It is harder to regulate how much you consume - a smoker can just stop when they've had enough.

Its Effects

Whether cannabis is 'safe' or not is the issue that dominates every discussion about legalising it. In terms of risks to general health, cannabis is 'safe' - no one has ever died directly from consuming cannabis, and nor are they likely to, which makes it safer than any mind-altering drug, legal or otherwise, currently available. Yet cannabis is at least psychologically addictive, albeit mildly so in comparison to other drugs. A World Health Report in 1981 on cannabis concluded that the main risk was lung cancer - hashish smoke/cannabis tar is more harmful than cigarette smoke - and seeing as most European dope smokers combine the two, the potential for harm is obvious.

Aside from this, the main effect of cannabis was said to be on 'intellectual function'. Long-term users face 'impaired functioning on a variety of cognitive and performance tasks during marijuana intoxication'. In other words, memory, sense of time, reaction time, motor co-ordination and attention would all be impaired to some degree. But the main complaint from regular cannabis users is the general sense of apathy, tiredness, and sheer 'can't be bothered' attitude that it brings on. Getting up is harder; sleep is erratic and dream-free (or at least dreams aren't recalled as well); short-term memory loss is common; and some hardened smokers told how they would start things (e.g. work projects, reading a book etc.) but never finish, as they found it harder to concentrate and were easily distracted, with the mind wandering from random thought to random thought. They also found they tended to stay in more, slumped in front of the TV with no enthusiasm for life.

Of course, this all depends on how much cannabis is consumed, the way it is consumed and how often. Someone who enjoys a joint every weekend is unlikely to experience many, if any, of these ill-effects, whereas a heavy user who smokes for several hours every evening will soon find they've slipped into a pattern of use that obscures much else in life. Cannabis intoxication - getting stoned - produces the same results as having a drink; it temporarily pushes problems aside and relaxes the soul after, say, a hard day at the office. In this way it is addictive, just as anything pleasant could be said to be addictive. Cannabis does not always mix well with alcohol - just one joint and a can of lager can produce immediate nausea in some people who would have been fine if they'd stuck to either substance on its own. Horses for courses.

Medical opinion is still split on whether cannabis is physically addictive. Most cannabis users agree that it is a 'mind' thing rather than a 'body' thing, and users who regularly take a break from the drug report no more than mild cravings that are just as likely to be nicotine withdrawal as anything else. Also, these cravings would often only occur at the time they would normally take cannabis - for example, if they were used to having a joint when they got home from work at a particular time, or every Saturday night, etc.

Some pro-cannabis campaigners argue that this puts cannabis on a par with alcohol in terms of use in society, even that it is far safer than alcohol in addictive terms. Just as millions of people who enjoy a drink in the evening wouldn't dream of having a vodka and tonic with their breakfast, so many who enjoy an after-dinner spliff don't have any trouble leading a normal life, and certainly don't reach for the rizlas first thing in the morning.

Another controversial issue is that of 'cannabis psychosis', or long-term mental derangement bought on by cannabis use. There is no real convincing evidence for this, yet it was cited as one of the main anti-legalisation arguments for years. Temporary mental imbalance can and does occur, characterised by paranoia, irrational thoughts and actions and general confusion, although, again, cannabis consumption has to be large and constant - not the case with the majority of casual users. This will usually clear if cannabis use is halted.

In 1988, the American Drug Enforcement Agency reported that 'Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects, but marijuana is not such a substance. Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care.' Not that this stopped the DEA spending millions of dollars every year on trying to combat cannabis use.

There is a whole other field of cannabis research - its beneficial effects when used as a medicinal substance - that is too huge to go into here, but sufferers of various diseases, particularly those with MS, have cited cannabis as the only drug that brings them a satisfying measure of relief from their pain.

So the bottom line is that using cannabis is not at odds with an active, happy, healthy lifestyle if taken in moderation. As my grandfather used to say, "moderation in all things."

But it can also take over your life if you let it.

[thanks to various sources: BBC, LCA, the Met etc.]
The idea behind a pension is quite simple, yes? You save money now and then spend it later when you retire. If only things were that simple.

Should you have a personal pension, a group personal pension, a money purchase plan or a final salary scheme? Should you contract out of Serps? Should you top-up your plan with an AVC or FSAVC? Or even, if you're wealthy enough, a FURBS, a SIPP or a SSAS? Which company should it be with? A life company, unit trust provider or a bank? How should the money be managed? Indexed, active or hybrid? and so on...

Two recent reports suggest that things should made simpler. I agree!

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Luck Star...
Have you seen the trailer in cinemas or on TV for the new film Lucky Star? It stars Benicio Del Toro and is directed by Michael Mann. The plot centres around a man who is so lucky everything goes his way - money, girls and a fast car.

Only here's the rub. There is no film. It's simply an advert. For said fast car. The new Mercedes SL. A case of product placement gone too far or a very clever marketing device? You decide.
eBay take over PayPal...
Not too surpirsing a move I guess as PayPal is one of eBay's biggest customers. I quite like PayPal and use it to pay for my Blogger Pro service, my new Tag-Board and a few other internetty things. I've never really been into eBay - too scared. But then I could never muster up the courage to put an ad in the local paper to sell my bike either.
Depressing news from 14th International AIDS Conference, Barcelona...
"For the foreseeable future no cure and no effective vaccine". Anti-retrovirals suppress but don't eliminate the virus. The vaccine due in 2005 may protect less than one third of those inoculated.
Real-time message board...
Thanks to Peter for the for the heads-up about tag-board. You can now chat to me (and others) in real-time! Yippeee!
Tannoy message on Victoria Line southbound platform at 8:53am this morning...
"Due to points failure and subsequent signal failure at Warren Street the southbound Victoria Line has been suspended. We apologize for any delays this may cause you this morning and suggest that you continue your journey at street level where as tickets will be honoured on any appropriate London Transport bus service. I also suggest you all make any feelings you have clear to the station master who is currently sat in the ticket office. Thank you."
I'm guessing the tannoy guy might not have his job by tomorrow!

Monday, July 08, 2002

Pride 2002 (in pictures)...
Click on any image for a bigger version.

You can also see a full slide show of Pride 2002 as seen through my eyes.