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February 1, 2003

Space Shuttle Breaks Up

News is just coming in now that the space shuttle has broken up over Texas, while coming in to land in Florida. Seven Astronauts on board. Terrorism not suspected at the moment, though if they can think of a way to blame it on Saddam Hussein, they will.
Embarressingly, the Washington Post reported the shuttle's successful landing. Space shuttle debris is up for auction on eBay.

February 2, 2003

Bush Philosophy

In true irony, Bush has just appointed Microsoft's former security chief, Howard Schmidt as his new cybersecurity "czar." The fact that Microsoft have proven they don't have a clue about fundamental security concepts doesn't seem to matter.

Colin just sent me these classic quotes from George Bush...

"Welcome to Mrs. Bush, and my fellow astronauts."
...Governor George W. Bush

"The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history. I mean in this century's history. But we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century."
...Governor George W. Bush, 9/15/95

"I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy -- but that could change."
...Governor George W. Bush, 5/22/98

If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."
...George W. Bush

"Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child."
...Governor George W. Bush

"Mars is essentially in the same orbit...Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe."
...Governor George W. Bush, 8/11/94

"One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'."
...Governor George W. Bush, 12/6/93

"Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things."
...Governor George W. Bush, 11/30/96

"I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future."
...Governor George W. Bush

"The future will be better tomorrow."
...Governor George W. Bush

"We're going to have the best educated American people in the world."
...Governor George W. Bush 9/21/97

"People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history."
...Governor George W. Bush

"I stand by all the misstatements that I've made."
...Governor George W. Bush to Sam Donaldson, 8/17/93

"We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe."
...Governor George W. Bush

"Public speaking is very easy."
...Governor George W. Bush to reporters

"I am not part of the problem. I am a Republican."
...Governor George W. Bush

"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls."
...Governor George W. Bush

"When I have been asked who caused the riots and the killing in LA, my answer has been direct & simple: Who is to blame for the riots? The rioters are to blame. Who is to blame for the killings? The killers are to blame."
...George W. Bush

"Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms of not having it."
...Governor George W. Bush 5/20/96

"We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur."
...Governor George W. Bush 9/22/97

"For NASA, space is still a high priority."
...Governor George W. Bush, 9/5/93

"Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children."
...Governor George W. Bush , 9/18/95

"The American people would not want to know of any misquotes that George Bush may or may not make."
...Governor George W. Bush

"We're all capable of mistakes, but I do not care to enlighten you on the mistakes we may or may not have made."
...Governor George W. Bush

"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."
...Governor George W. Bush

"[It's] time for the human race to enter the solar system."
...Governor George W. Bush

February 4, 2003


Just getting the last of my things packed for catching my flight tomorrow. I'll probably be travelling for the next seven months or so and it's quite hard to decide what to take as well as trying to keep my luggage as light as possible.

February 6, 2003

Bombing the Dutch

After not getting much sleep the night before, I was looking forward to some rest as I flew out of Copenhagen yesterday. As usual, however, I was surrounded by more screaming children than Michael Jackson. Behind me they fed a young child stinking salami, then it continued to scream and howl so close to me that it felt as if it was inside my head. Its parents had obviously trained it to kick the back of my seat, and it did this simultaneously while it screeched for the entire trip.

Chris was recently telling me about the number of people killed by blue ice, which is basically the toilet waste from aeroplanes which sometimes freezes into a big lump as it drops towards land. When I was cycling in Holland a year or two ago, everyone stopped and laughed at my cycle helmet. I'm not talking about the occasional smirk, I mean, old ladies were falling over laughing in the street pointing at me - I don't know why, it must be a Dutch thing. So as we were now flying over Holland, I decided to take a break from the convulsing child behind me, visit the toilet, and try a little bombing in the form of retaliation. Now they'll wish they were wearing helmets.

Wi-Fi in Glasgow

After spending hours war-walking around Glasgow, I've finally found a cafe with wireless coverage. Unfortunately, it's Miss Cranston's Tearoom, and there's an old woman at the table next to me who just drank all the cream directly out of the jug on the table then tried to chat me up - "Are you from Glasgow? I can tell by your hair!" Glasgow doesn't have nearly as much wi-fi coverage as Copenhagen and there are virtually no cafes that are covered, so it's taken a bit of work to find this place.

Here's an interesting article...
Penises have higher bandwidth than cable modems

February 7, 2003


Waking with my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth and a thumping headache, I couldn't remember what had caused it. Andrew and I had only gone to the pub for a few beers then come back to the flat, so surely I shouldn't be feeling so bad. But then I recalled the whiskey we sat and drank when we got back and then Andrew going to bed and leaving me drinking it, and then I realised why I was feeling so bad.

Chris flies in tomorrow morning and we're going over to Edinburgh to meet up with Ged and visit my house in Fife. In the evening we plan to go out in Edinburgh but unfortunately Ged won't let us stay with him so Chris and I will just have to drink all night.

February 9, 2003

Edinburgh Weekend

Ged getting down
On Saturday we visited my house in Fife then planned to have a walk around Dundee, but as we drove in I desperately just wanted to leave and be anywhere else but Dundee. I'd never realised just how much I hated the place until then. So we returned to Edinburgh, went out drinking then stayed in a bed and breakfast close to where Ged lives.

February 11, 2003

Pub Lunches

I had a pub lunch in Wetherspoons with Ged today, and it felt wonderfully decadent. I would never really have gone for a pub lunch in Britain when I worked here and as there aren't really pubs in the other countries I've been in since, it felt like something that I'd been missing out on for a long, long time. Must remember to go to the pub more at lunch time while I'm here.

The other thing I didn't realise that I missed is the natural wit that's so much a part of a life in Britain. After lunch I was sitting in Starbucks listening to the banter that was going on in the conversations around me when I looked up to find a pissed old man staring into the window smiling at me. I looked at him and he blinked when I blinked then he made the sign of the cross, stared some more, and finally moved along to stare at some Japanese girls who were also looking out of the window. One of them was putting on make-up and jumped back terrified, streaking lipstick across her face as he appeared inches away from her on the other side of the glass. He gradually moved along the row of seats that looked out of the window and everyone, including myself, who had just been stared at found it very funny to watch someone else getting the same treatment from the wierdo outside. Maybe he'd been for a pub lunch as well.

February 12, 2003

Our man in Arabia

Colin on a mission
I've been looking into flights to go over to visit Colin who's in Oman at the moment. Air Kuwait have a special offer on right now which includes a free stop-over in Kuwait city, which could be exciting, though I hear the Territorial Army are offering free flights out to the area.

Colin also sent me this map of the world according to the USA.

Wi-Fi Trains and Transportable Homes

Sweden continues to push wi-fi coverage forward with the world's first broadband train connection. Passengers from Gothenburg to Copenhagen will now have wi-fi access onboard for the entire journey for about $9.

Could this be the return of pre-built homes? The Rocio Romera vacation home will come pre-built for around $30,000. I'm a big fan of the Futuro house, designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in the late 60's as a moveable holiday home - after all, who wants to live in the same place for the rest of their life? Unfortunately, the 1973 oil crisis forced up the price of plastic and only 20 were ever built.

February 14, 2003

Make Love, Not War

George & Tony get it on
Well, as it's Valentines Day, I thought I had to put this picture in.

Whilst not kissing, the Bush administration has apparently been putting some pressure on Taiwan today to finalise purchases of billions of dollars worth of warships, aircraft, and anti-missile systems from the US.

February 16, 2003

More Lunches

Just about to go out for Sunday lunch with Andrew, Cathy and Alice and tomorrow evening I fly down to Bristol to see Chris. It's been really pleasant being back in Scotland, however, and the weather's even been lovely (at least for February, that is). I met up with Ged and Kevin in the Bier Halle the other night and drank a bit too much. The following morning I felt fine, having just the slightest hangover that made me feel fragile rather than in pain. That was until Andrew and I went out for a big lunch of haggis and more beer. Then I didn't feel too well at all.

Google buys Pyra

In a move that should really take blogging mainstream, Google have just bought Pyra Labs, one of the companies which developed some of the first weblogging tools, and which I used to build this blog with. Well done to Evan Williams, who scraped through the tough times to keep the Blogger service running when all the dot-coms were collapsing around him.

Are You Ready?

Duck tape and tinned foods (always two of my favourite items!) are flying off shelves in the USA at the moment as people prepare their homes to withstand terrorist attacks. ABC ran a home improvement segment on preparing your home for terror attacks and provided these handy tips on what to do. Apart from sealing up one of your rooms with plastic sheeting they also recommend having a disaster supply kit at work and one in your car.

February 17, 2003

Off to Bristol

Just about to head off to Glasgow airport to catch my flight down to Bristol to stay with Chris for a bit and catch up with Bristol pubs.

February 18, 2003

The Young Ones

Just arrived in Bristol and was picked up at the airport by Chris (thankfully, not on his bike). I'm staying in Kryn's place at the moment, which is really central, and amazingly seems to be architecturally identical to the house in The Young Ones. I feel like Vyvyan wandering around here.

Wi-Fi in Bristol

After some intensive war-driving this afternoon in Bristol city centre, I've found some nice wireless access at the top of Corn Street. Oh, and cheap coffee!

February 19, 2003

Zen and The Art

Chris rides again
I knew it would happen. Chris took me out for a ride last night on his new bike, a Kawasaki ZX6R. It has to be the fastest thing I've ever been on. Thundering down the motorway at 130mph (210kph), my legs numb from the cold, barely hanging onto the back, and hoping we didn't hit any ice, it was incredible! The acceleration and adrenalin rush you get is phenomenal. So now I'm thinking about doing my motorcycle licence here in Britain and getting myself a bike. I will of course kill myself if I do, but I do have to die somehow.

Top 10 reasons why bikes are better than women
1. You can ride your bike whenever you want
2. Your bike doesn't mind if you ride other bikes.
3. You do not have to keep sending money to your old bike when you get a new one
4. Bikes do not mind if you read bike magazines
5. You can let your friends ride your bike
6. Your bike only whines if there is something really wrong
7. Your bike doesn't sulk if you don't ride it for a few days
8. Your bike will never leave you for another cyclist
9. Other people can fix your bike for you if it is giving you problems
10. You can change the bits that don't work or look good on your bike

February 20, 2003

Breaking and Entering

We got back from the pub last night and after lots of searching through all of our pockets several times, realised that we'd locked the keys inside the flat. So we had to break into it. The neighbours took it very casually, however, as if pissed people breaking into a flat late at night is perfectly normal.

Tehran Travel

I'm planning to visit Colin in Oman sometime and I've discovered that I can get a ferry from Dubai across the Gulf to Iran, so I'm thinking about making a detour and doing some travelling there. I'm trying to find out about getting an Iranian visa, which doesn't appear to be too easy if you're British or American at the moment for some reason, and can apparently take a month to process. Unfortunately, the website of the Iranian Embassy in London has exceeded it's bandwidth limit and so it's just giving a 509 error "The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit." Lovely. It's the same embassy which the SAS famously stormed during a siege in 1980.

February 21, 2003

The Bushopranos

The Village Voice is running the Bushopranos, a cartoon based on the theme of the Bush Crime Family. Also, Duct tape factory sees 5000% rise in orders in light of federal advice that people use it to prepare for chemical or biological attack.

The latest source of all this panic advice is the Dept of Homeland Security's new website, ready.gov. Unfortunately, there are already people out there who are not taking it seriously enough and have made parodies of the site like this and this.

February 22, 2003

Aibo Psycho

I had a bizarre dream last night that I was being sexually assaulted by an Aibo. What does that mean? I think it means that I should really should cut down on the cheese.

Simon is in Bristol for the weekend so we're heading up to Birmingham to an exhibition in the NEC.

February 23, 2003

Broke Up

Nina and I broke up today.

February 24, 2003

Chris' Birthday

It's Chris' birthday today, though as you can probably imagine I'm not the happiest person in the world to go out celebrating with at the moment!

February 26, 2003

Don't Run

In a momentary rush of energy and temporary insanity I went out running this morning for the first time in almost a year. I soon regretted it though as I tasted blood in my mouth and realised that I'll be walking around like a cripple for the next few days.

Gizmodo has a page of photographs of the current gadgets on sale in Tokyo's famed Akihabara electronics district. Some cool, some already here in Europe.

February 28, 2003

I Chose Vodka

Blue lemonade for one
...and blue lemonade. Feeling a bit rough today due to drinking far, far too much last night then being very ill.