Not Saussure

June 16, 2007

Blogpower and the delights of Second Life

Filed under: Blogroll — notsaussure @ 10:58 pm

Apologies for the lack of posts over the last day or so, but I fear I’ve been exploring the extraordinary virtual world that is Second Life. The Blogpower Award Ceremony is to be held there on Sunday 1st of July, courtesy of Tom Paine, at 0900 New York time (1400 in Britain, 1500 Central Europe Time, 1700 in Moscow and 2200 in Australia), so I thought I’d better go and check the place out.

It really is great fun; being show the ropes by an established resident, like the extremely hospitable Mr Paine, certainly helps, but it’s all pretty intuitive and before long you’re happily strolling, flying and teleporting around, just exploring this dream-like and, at times, rather surreal virtual world. I’ve succumbed to its charms, and have rented one of Mr Paine’s virtual apartments there as a base — you don’t need to do such a thing, but it’s more convenient that way and being a resident of this virtual world means you get to do many things that visitors can’t, like decorating and furnishing your apartment and start virtual businesses and so forth.

I’ve just spent a very entertaining afternoon with Mr Paine and Ruthie Zaftig, who has taken to Second Life like a duck to water, learning how to fly, sitting on the roof terrace of Tom’s (literal) castle in the air, while smoking virtual dope and eating virtual hash brownies (the last I manged to be given as free samples, during a lone exploration of some of the more disreputable neighbourhoods). We also took Ruthie on a virtual shopping expedition, from which she emerged with some shoes to die for; one of the great things about Second Life is that the exchange rate with real-world currencies is quite advantageous at the moment, so you can be absurdly generous to your friends (or at least Mr Paine can, since he’s the only one with a bank account there at the moment) for less than the price of a cup of tea.

I’ve been trying to work out what it reminded me of, and the whole thing was vaguely reminiscent of going shopping in the Moscow currency shops in the early 90s. only in this case we were, effectively, paying in black market roubles rather than valuta.

Anyway, I highly recommend giving Second Life a whirl. The software is easy enough to install on both Windows and Linux (though apparently there are supposedly some problems with Windows Vista — it does work on it, from what I read, but you may need to fiddle around with some of the Windows settings). The Linux install is a piece of cake, provided you don’t neglect to read the ‘Read Me’ text first, which tells you to ensure you’ve got the correct video drivers installed — not a problem if you haven’t, since it tells you where to get them from and they’re simple to install, too.

I really would suggest people give this strange alternative world a visit; the Blogpower awards would be a perfect opportunity, since people will know each other, or at least someone else there, or will at least know people from reading their blogs, so there will be people there to talk to. I’d suggest, though, paying a couple of visits beforehand, just to orientate yourself, play around with your appearance there (you can change your appearance, and even species, to your heart’s content), learn how to move about and so forth. My virtual residency should be set up in the next few days — when it is, I’ll post something about it and will be happy to entertain visitors there.


June 14, 2007

Blogpower Awards, a Second Life party, and an entry for next year…

Filed under: Blogroll — notsaussure @ 3:25 pm

The results of the Blogpower Awards are now out; many congratulations to all the winners and many thanks to everyone who voted for me in the various categories. And special thanks both to James Higham for organising and running the contest and to Tom Paine for organising the Awards Ceremony, to be held at 2pm (London time) on Sunday 1st July at Mr Paine’s luxurious Second Life residence. This, I think, is an extremely imaginative idea, and I’m very much looking forward both to the virtual party and to exploring Second Life.

For details of how to download the necessary software, register a second life account (both free) and of the bash itself, see Tom’s post here.

I’ve already filed one potential entry for next year’s competition, for the category Most Unintentionally Humorous post, but since a year’s a long time and my memory isn’t what it used to be, allow me to share it with readers right now. The back-story to this is that Jon Swift (who narrowly won the Blogpower Best North American Blog or Column, after a nail-biting photo-finish with Lord Nazh and Zaftig — many congratulations to both of them; Jon Swift is tough competition, indeed, and coming within a handful of votes of him really is an impressive feat) wrote an obituary of the late Don Herbert, an American broadcaster who was better known as Mr Wizard, the presenter of a Children’s popular science TV show.

Mr Swift, for the benefit of those who haven’t yet encountered his blog, describes himself as

a reasonable conservative who likes to write about politics and culture. Since the media is biased I get all my news from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Jay Leno monologues

and, were it not for the fact we have his own word for it that young people

should be taught to avoid satire, which only confuses people and saps the national will. […] While people have occasionally accused me of having a sense of humor, I strive to be funny as little as possible. I hope that, while I may occasionally slip and make an inadvertently humorous remark, for the most part what I say will be taken seriously

one might be forgiven for thinking some of his posts are a bit tongue in cheek.

One person, however, who didn’t slip into the trap of thinking Jon Swift was writing with any sense of irony when he observed that

It must have been a different world back in 1951 when his first show premiered. Can you imagine good Christian parents today allowing their children to be taught by someone who calls himself a “wizard” and tries to seduce children with the “magic” and “mystery” of science? Parents have enough problems these days trying to pry copies of the anti-Christian Harry Potter books out of their children’s little hands. Yet this man was able to go on television every week and tell children there were easy “scientific” explanations for God’s creation and that they should rely on their brains instead of the Bible.

was a Mr M, who co-writes Comments From Left Field (‘Dear Reader, Comments From Left Field is a Progressive news and opinion blog’; Mr M and his colleagues, I’m happy to note, helpfully link the word ‘blog’ in this introduction to the Wikipedia entry for the term, just in case anyone might be confused).

Having read Jon Swift’s piece, Mr M was so incensed that he wrote a scathing attack, Who The Fuck Is This Whackjob?!?!, on Mr Swift. A sample:

The piece, in its entirety, is wholely disgusting, and regressive, and I’m sorry for the invective, but it was necessary. Case in point:

As parents and their children stroll through the 60,000 sq. ft. museum, designed by a former Universal Studios exhibit director, they can see the terrible cost wrought by Mr. Wizard and other advocates of human reason: nuclear war, drug addiction, gay marriage, abortion, evolution taught in the schools, school shootings, graffiti, and carnivorous wolves. Before Eve gave Adam a bite of the apple from the Tree of Knowledge, they lived peaceably with all of the animals, including dinosaurs. Tyrannosaurus Rexes munched contentedly on grass and leaves, while children played with their pet velociraptors. One bite of the apple sent these loving dinosaurs into a murderous rage.

Know that my reaction to this paragraph alone was, “Holy Shit.” I mean are you kidding me? Gay marriage and teaching evolution are on par with NUCLEAR WAR? And by the way, Mr. Swift, carnivorous wolves? Most definitely one of God’s creations… not ours.

Then, just to make assurance doubly sure, he went on to Mr Swift’s blog and left a lengthy comment in a similar vein. Oops.


June 10, 2007

Blogpower awards

Filed under: Blogroll — notsaussure @ 11:07 pm

I said I wasn’t going to canvass for anyone in these polls, not even for myself, and I’m still not going to. However, they’ve introduced me to some excellent blogs which I hadn’t come across before, particularly Visions of Bradford, who is a strong contender in the categories Most Politically Incorrect blog and Best Ranter.

His announcement of his candidacy possibly gives a flavour of why he’s in the first category, and this exchange with someone rash enough to argue with him gives a good idea of why he’s doing well in the second.

Well worth a read.

Blogpower, Blogrolls and feeds

Filed under: Blogroll — notsaussure @ 10:34 pm

I’m sorry I haven’t mentioned this before, but the excellent Tom Paine, proprietor of The Last Ditch, has made all the Blogpower blogs available as feeds on a PageFlakes page, so if you want to see what the various Blogpoweristi are up to without visiting everyone in turn, there’s a way to do it.

Inspired by his example, I’ve tried to put my blogroll onto Bloglines in a similar manner. I find that it’s a lot easier to skim them in a reader like that than it is to visit individual links, so I’m rather hoping that people who’ve vaguely wondered what such-and-such a blog on my blogroll is about, but have never bothered to go there — I rarely explore people’s blogrolls in any great detail, I must admit — might take a quick look at unfamiliar titles via Mr Paine’s and my online feed readers and perhaps find a couple of unfamilar blogs they find interesting.

June 6, 2007

Blogpower Awards

Filed under: Blogroll — notsaussure @ 9:34 pm

Voting has begun in almost all categories of the Blogpower Awards, and the polls will remain open until 19:00 (London time) on Wednesday, June 13th. People can vote as often as they wish for as many candidates as they want in each category, but can only vote in each category once a day. Links below will take you to the individual polls.

I’m in several — many thanks to everyone who’s nominated me or voted for me — and there are some truly excellent blogs there I hadn’t seen before. Please get over there and vote early and vote often.

It’s not my intention to canvass for anyone, not even for myself, but I think I must make an exception for Central News, the BNP blogger, who seems to have got himself nominated for an unexpectedly large number of categories. For this he very fairly thanks

all those BNPers that nominated me can be proud that you raised the name of the BNP. If I get a good vote you can be even more proud of the online organisation of the BNP.

One category he most certainly deserves to win, to my mind, is Number 20, where, despite stiff competition from the likes of Councillor Terry Kelly , he has at least one entry for Most Unintentionally Humorous post (the poll isn’t up on that category yet, and I can’t be bothered to count the individual nominations to see if both his entries are there).

His views on the judiciary, though, certainly look as if they’ll make it through to the finals, so I heartily commend this for people’s consideration and votes in Section 20:

Trials cost a lot of money. Judges get paid £120,000 per year but Magistrates (which have no legal experience) don’t get paid anything except for expenses and deal with minor crimes. If I was to change anything I would make a third type of judge. This judge would have legal experience but not as much as a normal judge. Basically they would have the equivalent knowledge of a legal executive. This new judge would be paid around £25,000 per year and deal with moderately serious crimes which would leave the main judges to deal with the serious crimes. It wouldn’t take long. Judges only get 1 weeks training anyway.

If you have ever been to a trial which I have (college trip) you would be able to see that judges are pretty useless because they basically only sum up the trial and sentence the criminal and an administrator could easily do that, infact anyone could do it. This might be different in trials for serious crimes. I don’t know because I only got to see the trial of a wife beater (guilty), robber (innocent) and a drink driver (guilty). I chickened out just as I was about to go and see a trial of a man accused of raping his 10 year old son.

All categories and links below the fold. Best of luck, all. (more…)

De illa ipsa fabula narratur

Filed under: Blogroll, Wingnuts — notsaussure @ 6:01 pm

(I think I’ve got the Latin right there).

Anyway, quote of the week from John Brissenden, of konichiwa, bitches, in a comment on The Flying Rodent’s spoof of Mad Mel Phillips’ latest outburst:

Tricky, trying to parody one who is so far beyond it. Money quote from “Britain’s dhimmerversities” [the outburst in question]:

“From their own mouths, more than half of Britain’s Muslims reveal they believe in demented and paranoid theories, refuse to take responsibility for the part played by their community and its faith in Islamist terrorism, and believe instead that Britain is a giant conspiracy against them.”

Remind you of anyone?

June 3, 2007

BlogPower Awards

Filed under: Blogroll — notsaussure @ 9:45 am

Via James Higham, the first BlogPower Awards. Nominations accepted for, and from, everyone — you don’t have to be a member of BlogPower to nominate or vote and, apart from obvious categories, you can nominate whoever you want to — BlogPower blogs, non-BlogPower blogs and MSM blogs and columns.

James writes:

We came into being as Blogpower precisely because we were sick to death of major bloggers swamping awards ceremonies, where the nominations for those awards were slanted and anything but transparent.Not this time! Every day until Tuesday evening, at 21:00, London time, a revised ‘state-of-play’ will be posted on how people are thinking about the nominations in each category.

Categories — with a couple of pleasingly bitchy ones, I see — are

  • Best Britblog or Column
  • Best North American Blog or Column
  • Best Blog or Column outside North America and the U.K.
  • Best Fisker
  • Best Ranter
  • Best Political Blog or Column
  • Best Blogpower Blog or Column
  • Best Layout and Style
  • Best Blog Name
  • Best Little Blogger [i.e. under 100 uniques a day]
  • Most Articulate Wordsmith
  • Most Under-rated Blog or Column
  • Most Over-rated Blog or Column
  • Most Politically Incorrect Blog or Column
  • Most Sadly Missed Blog or Column
  • Most Consistently Entertaining Blog or Column
  • Prettiest or Tastiest Blog or Column [refers to food or domestic bloggers]
  • Award for Services to Blogging
  • Best Post of All Time
  • Most Unintentionally Humorous post

List of current nominees, plus instructions on how to nominate, at BlogPower.

Thank you, James, for organising this.

May 24, 2007

The Third Annual Satin Pajama Awards

Filed under: Blogroll — notsaussure @ 12:57 pm

A Fistful of Euros proudlly presents the Third Annual Satin Pajama Awards, celebrating the best of the European blogosphere.

Don’t know what I’m doing there (in two categories!), but many thanks to whoever nominated me. I’m certainly in very distinguished company.

May 14, 2007

Heavy Drinkers

Filed under: Blogroll, Russia/USSR — notsaussure @ 5:04 pm

Via a comment in Mr Eugenides’ blog, I see a rather unpleasant story by Iain Dale about the appalling behaviour of a senior Labour politician over a decade ago; Dale’s rightly been criticised by many people in the comments section for failing to mention that, at the time, the politician had an alcohol problem that he’s since acknowledged and that he’s been dry for 10 years at least.   Indeed, I seem to recall reading somewhere that he quit when the late John Smith had apparently told him to choose between drinking and a front-bench Labour post.

Reminded me, though, of a story a friend of mine who I haven’t seen for many years told me at my mother’s funeral.    I can’t vouch for it, but, knowing my friend, it’s almost certainly true, though possibly a bit embroidered.   She’s a London tour guide and, some years ago, was taking a bus-load of schoolgirls round London.   The coach pulled up near the Palace of Westminster, where she was supposed to take the girls off the bus and walk them round the area, take them round the Abbey and so forth.   However, as they were disembarking, a very flustered police woman, wearing a flack-jacket and carrying a machine gun (at least according to my friend) rushed up and ordered them back on the coach.   Panic among the schoolgirls, of course, and there’s my friend absolutely furious and trying simultaneously to calm the girls and find out what on earth is going on.

Then, round the corner comes a group of officials, police officers and so on, two of them carrying a semi-conscious Boris Yeltsin, who was then on an official visit to London.   As she said, clearly he’d had a brief walking tour round the area, or at least round the Palace of Westminster, on his schedule and turned up utterly legless.    What she couldn’t understand though, and neither can, is why on earth no one had the sense to cancel it, but instead decided they’d do the tour even though they had to carry the drunken president.   Presumably Boris Nikolayevich wouldn’t have minded — probably wouldn’t even have noticed — if it had been cancelled..

April 26, 2007

Wikipedia, bloggers and accuracy

Filed under: Blogroll, Internet — notsaussure @ 6:55 pm

Tim Worstall discusses the views of Oliver Kamm and Stephen Pollard on Wikipedia. Oliver Kamm complains that

By design, the most popular reference source on the Web operates by consensus rather than by discriminating between fact and error.

This leads to errors; he writes,

Here is a small example concerning my family, and that I cite because I therefore know the subject and it illustrates what I’m talking about. It would be difficult to name an African country that has suffered war in the last 40 years and whose travails have not been reported by Martin Bell for the BBC. One of those countries, however, is Rwanda. Wikipedia’s entry for Martin, sure enough, cites prominently his journalism from that country – a body of work that no one has seen because it doesn’t exist. It’s the type of small error – something that might have happened, but didn’t – that no amateur editor would feel sufficiently strongly about to check, or sure about to delete. Inevitably, given Wikipedia’s reach and unwarranted use even by serious newspapers, that factoid will make its way into profiles and, one day, obituaries of the man. It’s not important; it doesn’t affect his professional reputation one way or the other; it’s just wrong. By not discriminating between fact and error, the Web and specifically Wikipedia increasingly blur the distinction between them.

Stephen Pollard agrees, drawing attention to inaccuracies in the entry on him,

The entry on me, for instance – probably the only subject about which I can claim to the the world’s leading expert – has so many basic errors of fact that it is laughable.

He then goes on to discuss some of them; his biography of David Blunkett wasn’t official, he’s never appeared on Question Time and so forth. He writes,

I have made a point of never correcting it because once I start, there will be no end to it, as it is forever altered with new errors.

However, someone’s corrected it, and within hours of Mr Pollard’s criticisms appearing. I thought of correcting the Martin Bell entry, but, instead, left a comment in the Discussion section, drawing attention to Kamm’s complaint. In under an hour, someone replied, (more…)

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