Wednesday, October 29

Music to resuscitate to

The story about the Bee Gees "Staying Alive" has been going around for the past couple of weeks, to the extent of cropping up on a popular news quiz on the BBC.

The NY Times article on the topic has a little more information than the BBC article I first read about it in. Those studying the idea - find a track that is sufficiently well known and has the right beats per minute to match the suggested chest compression rate - clearly had added a third requirement, which is applicability.

Or, to put it bluntly, if someone *has* to sing along while trying to resuscitate you, the Bee Gees "Stayin alive" at least gives a more optimistic slant on the chances of their success than Queen's "Another one bites the dust" does.

The great intellectual conspiracy

In what can hardly come as a surprise to Republicans, that intellectual Obama has been endorsed by a total of 76 Nobel Prize winners in Chemistry, Physics or Medicine.

Of course, as the Republicans don't appear to be in favour of wasting time and effort on careful consideration, investigation and study and prefer the fast action that is only possible by going with gut feelings - how can you be a DECIDER if you'll change your mind just because mere facts and evidence suggest you've made a colossal mistake - then they'll hardly be bothered by this 76-0 lead that the Obama campaign has in some of the greatest scientific minds alive.

And yes, this is my business. I'm in the free world, and Americans can't say it's not my business if they're going to keep using this "leader of the free world" line.

Monday, October 20

Stormy Weather

Why exactly is the BBC's weather forecasting so bloody awful?

OK, British weather isn't the easiest thing to predict, but given that there's been a great big giant band of rain slowly crossing the country all day, to be continuing to say it'll be dry in Nottingham is just complete rubbish. It's been chucking it down for hours.

Plus I'm also annoyed at myself for not going into town on Saturday and buying the rewaterproofing spray I need to get my waterproofs waterproof. D'oh.

Too much slime, even for a pitbull?

The Rovian slime machine has already proven far too much for Colin Powell, who has thrown his weight behind Obama, and John McCain himself has shown his discomfort at some of the negative emotions stirred up by the Republican Party campaign.

So who's the latest to express disquiet at Republican tactics... Sarah Palin.

Um. When the "pitbull in lipstick" starts second guessing the smears, it appears that even the Republicans have realised that Republican tactics are rather unpalatable to the US public...

Thursday, October 16

Throw them out.

Here's a simple test for UK political parties wanting my vote - do they agree to this:

Article 12.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

It appears the Labour party does not.

Italy deems the future to be too expensive

Italy has decided to take from the Universities to fund the bankers. In practical terms, the subjects that will suffer most are those which require a large number of support staff - in other words, technicians in the research labs.

Italy suffers distinctly in that research staff there are civil servants rather than appointed by the Universities themselves, and the past decade has seen almost no permanent recruitment. Instead, the labs are maintained by short-term contract staff. In Italy, these are nicknamed precari, acknowledging the precarious position of such a post.

Now they want to get rid of thousands of them. This is no way to run research. Italy is already well behind the likes of France and Germany in research expenditure per GDP. This will not help. I hope the Italian government enjoys the whooshing sound of Eastern European countries overtaking them.

Astroturfing forums

Now, I'm a cynical sort, so I may be prone to seeing things that aren't really there, but I tend to find that when I'm searching the web for comments on a product, I can often find forums that I find suspiciously eager to declare their love for one particular brand. While some brands are able to gather fanboys who will declare their love of the product of their own genuine fanaticism for it, others are otherwise so functional (e.g. a waterproofing spray) that you can't imagine them inspiring devotion.

So when I find a forum that discusses a brand only in the most worshipping terms, that uses the full product name repeatedly, and that links and promotes their website at every opportunity -

"BRANDNAME have a great competition on their website (link)!"
"I went to the BRANDNAME website (link) and registered straight away!"
"BRANDNAME is great!"
"BRANDAME is a friend, and it's a companion, And it's the only product you will ever need"

etc (alright, that last one is from a Tom Waits track), it doesn't look like the grass roots devotion that some brands have inspired, it looks like the astroturf of a company trying to fake it. And now I'm not going to buy their product either.

Thursday, October 2

MTV gets rickrolled

Broadcasters who let the public vote for who wins awards often come up with a problem - the public just doesn't take them as seriously as the broadcasters think they should.

This trend ranges from BBC Sports personality of the year (which has also had rumours of Aussies voting for non-winning Englishmen to avoid ones who beat them getting the nod) to the religion section in the UK census getting the Jedi vote out.

Latest victims are MTV, who have found a surprise nominee for best ever act in their latest pointless vote.