November 2005

When Hoegaarden stoppend being Hoegaarden

Hoegaarden According to Expatica, Belgian brewer InBev is to cut 232 jobs and close their Hoegaarden brewery, which is famous for the Hoegaarden white beer.

Production will be relocated to the Jupille site in Wallonia.

So, will Hoegaarden become known as Jupille, or will this be yet another case of a local product losing its local connection?

Maybe now would be a good time to get aquainted with the Slow Food movement.

Quote of the Day: Dangerous Times

Sadly, for many, the response is to retreat from complexity and difficulty by embracing the darkness of fundamentalist unreason.

- Lord May of Oxford

Give an inch

EUObserver reports the music industry is trying to push the European Parliament extend the scope of EU anti-terror laws, to help them prosecute illegal internet pirates.

A proposed EU directive on data retention, which aims to tackle organised crime and terrorism by monitoring internet and telephone use, could be used to prosecute people who download songs, films and other copyright-protected media, if the entertainment industry gets its way.

The Creative and Media Business Alliance (CMBA) - representing companies such as Sony BMG, Disney, EMI, IFPI, Universal and MPA - wrote a letter to all MEPs last week, asking them to support amendments that would broaden the scope of the legislation.

The group wants to see the directive extended to cover all criminal offences, including piracy, and not just serious crimes, as the original proposal states.

While the UK government, one of the driving forces behind the data retention proposal, has signalled it is sympathetic to the plan to use the powers for tackling internet piracy, human rights campaigners call it an example of the mission creep of draconian new anti-terror powers.

Even the Bush administration is not proposing such a ludicrous policy, despite lobbying from Hollywood, Gus Hosein, a senior fellow at Privacy International, told The Guardian.

The data retention rules significantly extend the the power of the state to routinely monitor the activities of its citizens and are dody enough already - so much so that more privacy-conscious nations such as Germany have have already voiced concerns. The proposals are invasive, intrusive and unnecessary - a study published by Rotterdams Erasmus University that looked at 65 police investigations found that in virtually all cases law enforcement could obtain all the data they requested without a retention policy in place.

The data retention proposals are another case of governments passing laws in order to be seen to be doing something, rather than having a clear idea of what they want to achieve.

They will, of course, be a boon to music industry groups seeking to catch kids on Kazaa, but if thats all theyre good for then the word disproportionate doesnt begin to describe them.

Plan 9 from Madonna

Madonna Id love to direct, says Madonna

Madonna has revealed that the shooting of the latest documentary about her has made her want to follow film director husband Guy Ritchie behind the camera.

I like Madonna. As a singer she has shown a lot of originality and talent and shes someone who I have never found less than listenable.

But her celluloid career to date is - more than anything - a testament to the fact that a talent in one field of entertainment does not infer any ability whatsoever in any other.

Madonna cant act. I seriously doubt that she can direct.

What sort of humanist are you?



You are an atheist, a rationalist, a believer in the triumph of science and of reason over libido. You can’t stand mumbo jumbo, ritual, spiritual nonsense of any kind, and you refuse to allow for these longings in others.

Astrologers, Scientologists and new–age crystal ball creeps are no different in your view from priests, rabbis and imams. They’re all just weak–minded pilgrims on the road to easy answers. Nature as revealed by science is awesome enough for you, but it’s a nature that needs curbing and taming by us on our evolutionary journey to perfection.

Your heros are Einstein, Darwin, Marx and — these days — Gould, Blakemore, Watson, Crick and Rosalind Franklin. Could you be hiding a little behind those absolutist views, worried that, if you let in a few doubts and contradictory ideas, the whole edifice might crumble? Loosen up a bit and try to enjoy the amazing variety of human belief systems. Don’t worry — it’s unlikely you’ll end up chanting your days away in some distant mountain cult.

What kind of humanist are you? Click here to find out.

(via Small Town Scribbles)

Misleading trailers?

Heres a nice trailer for a film about a writer struggling to complete his novel and his cute, but neglected son. If the trailer is to be believed, we can expect a tearful reunion and - maybe - some kite flying inspired family bonding.

If you like this sort of thing, go check out this trailer for The Shining.

(via Culture Vulture)

What you were reading

I like Site Meter. Not only does it tell me how my traffic is doing, but it also lists my top ranked entry pages - which makes for some interesting reading sometimes.

In the case of this blog - and the site as a whole, for that matter - the blog main page is the most visited page on the site.

In the number two spot is the whole of December 2004.

Then it gets fun. My slightly misleadingly titled Daisy Duke Naked post (coincidentally, from December 2004) is the the third most popular page on the blog and the highest ranked single page.

In fourth place is an even older post on the subject of violence and democracy, going all the way back to 2003.

And in fifth place were back to sex again (if the referring URLs are anything to go by) with Hardcore Japan.

And, just in case I hadnt gotten a really clear picture of the people coming here, Jennifer Garner in hot lesbian action is the sixth most popular entry page on the blog.

And in seventh place is the slightly flippant No bums in Israel.

And finally, in the number eight spot, is an unambiguously film related post which links to a film about Wetas involvement in The Chronicles of Narnia.

In ninth place is the whole of January 2005.

And in tenth place an early (at the time) look at The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Ill leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.

Cartoonist Kills Thousands

Check out this Dilbert cartoon before you read any further

And then go take a look at this post on the Dilbert Blog.

Recently I killed thousands more people. I don’t have exact numbers yet. The problem stems from my comic that ran on 11-20-05, implying that retail stores might harvest organs from bad customers and sell them on eBay. I’ve received dozens of letters (long ones!) from very angry people who assure me that the Dilbert comic will reduce the number of organ donors. The concern is that people will think their parts will end up on eBay and so they won’t be inspired to donate.

This would only have an impact on exceptionally dumb potential organ donors. But as you know, that’s a large block of the general population. Now I have to wonder how many people are smart enough to read an entire Dilbert comic and still dumb enough to think that the first person on the scene of an accident might be there just to harvest organs for eBay. It can’t be more than 1%. Let’s see, we estimate 150 million people read Dilbert, so 1% would be 1.5 million. And only 10% of them might have donated an organ anyway, so I’m probably killing 150,000 people.

It’s times like this when “oops” doesn’t seem sufficient.

The post amused me, but I still dont see how the cartoon will discourage organ donors

Unless theres some small print on the store cards I dont know about.

Sick of religion

Polio is still at large

Religous intransigence is still thwarting efforts to eradicate the crippling disease polio.

Ten west African countries are once again polio-free, after a campaign against vaccination by some Muslim clerics in Nigeria in 2003 led to outbreaks that spread as far as Indonesia. Six African countries plus Yemen and Indonesia are still affected. The World Health Organization says it will not be gone from Africa even by mid-2006.

Meanwhile, another polio-free country, the US, has seen the virus surface in a religious community that rejects vaccination. An Amish child in Minnesota was infected while in hospital for an immune deficiency, and passed the infection to three other Amish children. None has fallen ill.

Which just goes to show that religion really can make you sick. It also demonstrates that religious leaders should limit themselves to subjects about which they might know something - which are very few.

The Old Negro Space Program

Loopy Louie: One of the heroes of NASSA The Shocking but False Story of Americas Blackstronauts

This film - or mockumentary, if I may - is absolutely brilliant. Its both funny and moving and the letter home is fantastic.