Saturday, 30 October 2010

Have You Ever Wondered How Epic Modern Poetry Might Sound if Read by Stephen Hawking?

Wonder no more with Alan Ginsberg's Howl:

Next: Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner followed by John Milton's Paradise Lost.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Daily Mash in cultural reference missed opportunity blunder

The Mash had a news briefly about this article speculating on the possibility of one day being able to record your dreams.
Moran Cerf, a researcher at New York University who is currently working in the field of consciousness and emotions, believes he has a system that could one day detect and record the subjects of your dreams.*

However, as any fule kno, the correct auteur to use in this reference is Wim Wenders:
As this linear chase snakes itself around the world, the nuclear satellite is shot down, causing an EMP effect that wipes out all unshielded electronics worldwide. The characters wind up in a hidden cave in the Australian Outback, where the recordings are played back. After the death of the hitchhiker's mother during the transition between the first and second phases of the plot, his scientist father discovers a way to use the device to record human dreams; by this time the second phase of the plot has fully commenced. Several of the central characters become addicted to viewing the playback of their own dreams

No need to thank me, I'm just happy to be of service. I do recommend you see it if you ever get the chance, it's one of the strangest and most beautiful films you'll ever see.

But before you get too excited about playing back last night’s slumber-vision in high definition, Cerf’s system is far, far more humble, and is a far cry from the systems seen in science fiction movies. Instead of watching your dream on a display like Red Dwarf's "dream recorder", the method simply monitors neural activity in your brain.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Sky News in admirable lack of bias outburst


For a slightly more useful take on the current dispute see here and here.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

... and the award for 'Least Convincing Definition of "Everything"' goes to...

Also works for 'triumph'.

And 'treat'.

'Musical' also too. [That's enough "also"s - Ed.]

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


With apologies to Simon Munnery (and Stewart Lee, who directed).

Monday, 18 October 2010

Will Britain's Lingering Xenophobia Save Multiculturalism?

The Germans are a little behind the times. Over here, racists have been claiming that 'multiculturalism has failed' for ages - ever since racist attacks started being taken seriously by the police, in fact.

Still, since a quick visit to the Mash today I have a message for everyone who's worried about the rise of the far right in the UK. In the words of i was a cub scout, I want you to know that there is always hope.

Since the immediate reaction of satirists to quotes like:

The comments come amid rising anti-immigration feeling in Germany.

A recent survey suggested more than 30% of people believed the country was "overrun by foreigners".

was to reach for the big blood-red button with a swastika on it,

perhaps anti-racists can break the seal on the 'you know who else thinks multiculturalism has failed?' bottle.

What I'm saying is, whilst this story's given the morons a field day,

it does seem that the anti-multiculturalism crowd have just permanently godwinned themselves. Nice.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

I forgot just the one thing...

At the time of the Terry Jones Qur'an burning idiocy I was a bit blase about it. He was so obviously a massive wanker that there didn't seem to be anything much to say about it. In fact I was fairly thoroughly agreed with the Daily Mash on the subject.

But I forgot. The most basic lesson. The one that anyone who's had contretemps with racist organisations should remember.

Idiots. Copy. Each. Other.

One man in a grey Adidas tracksuit and white trainers, who has a blue cloth wrapped around his head as a burka-style mask, makes a series of obscene gestures towards the book as it burns.

Laughing, the tracksuited gang shouts “This is for the boys in Afghanistan. September 11, international burn a Koran day, for all the people of 9/11.

“This is how we do it in Gateshead, right.”

One man then attempts to add more fuel, but instead sets the plastic petrol can on fire. He then kicks the book across the yard, leaving a trail of flames which he is forced to hastily stamp out.

For the record: no it isn't, you twunt. That's why you got arrested. For an encore, the EDL turned up to an SWP branch meeting to try and assault my comrades, and assaulted two Irish Centre members of staff for good measure.

What a bunch of twunting twunty twuntbags.

In short: copycat crimes are a symptom of people who haz teh dumm in the worst kind of way.

Exciting new bloggertunity

The brilliant, acerbic and rather lovely Siobhan Schwartzberg has started a new blog. I reckon it'll be well worth keeping your peepers on.

That is all.

Although it is on wordpress, so expect much FYWP in coming months...

Friday, 1 October 2010

Look, it's over there! Insists Gove.*

The so-called "no touch" rules that discourage teachers from restraining or comforting schoolchildren are to be abolished as part of a "new deal" for teachers, the education secretary, Michael Gove, said yesterday.

Personally, I didn't get into this job to hug kids but to teach them. If I can support pupils, that's fine, but I don't want children to see me as part of their extended family either. I'm a professional with a job to do, not a babysitter.

Slightly less callously, and more in tune with what I most especially dislike about this idea, it's important to have a clear 'don't touch the kids' policy for several reasons. An atmosphere where pupils need to fear the teachers physically is a bad atmosphere for learning. It erodes trust between teacher and pupil. Also, kids can be very antagonising and badly behaved - pretty much every school I've worked in has been in a deprived or inner-city area and had behaviour issues of one kind or another. The last thing a stressed teacher approaching the limits of their temper needs is to feel that there is some leeway around physical contact with the kids. It's better for us as well as for them.

I know of schools - heck I've worked in them for brief periods - where there are panic buttons on the walls and teachers carry walkie-talkies. There was one school in Newcastle (not one I've worked in I'm afraid, although one I did visit on one or two occasions in my previous professional life) with metal detectors and an on-site police officer. There are serious behaviour problems at these schools.

(a) there is no miracle solution to this - bringing back the birch will not make the pupils better, in fact I'd say that it would be more likely to prolong the cycle of violence.
(b) violence in schools is always found in the most deprived parts of the community, those most suffering from joblessness and poverty. The very problems, I should point out, that Gove and his government are doing their level best to exacerbate.
(c) this is a tiny minority of schools. In most schools teachers do not feel threatened by their pupils. Certainly I never have. And even if this should change in the future, and some pupil does sincerely make a threat against my personal safety, any putative moves back towards corporal punishment will be a terrible backwards step. How can we teach children that violence solves nothing if we are prepared to use it ourselves?

* I can't help but feel this is the first salvo in an attempt to blame bad behaviour and school problems in the coming years on pupils, as schools are sapped of vital resources, much-needed refurbishments are shelved and class sizes grow.