Heh. The Honourable Lady Mark[1] mourns the death of Ricardo Montalbán, saying:
[he] is probably best known in this country for his role as the proprietor of Fantasy Island
Which, quite frankly, is probably wrong. So I decided to solve the discussion by science. Well, an LJ poll[2]:
[Poll #1331922]
So, who is Ricardo Montalbán? You decide.
ETA: Yeah, OK, typos in the poll, too late to edit. It's 1am, I did proofread, honest.

[1] He married a Baroness who went on to become a President, what else do you call him?

[2] I studied polling theory. I know exactly how scientifically (in)valid an LJ poll is. But you can vote with an OpenID, so people thinking the self selecting sample of my readership is biased are free to promote the poll elsewhere.
In lieu of propper content, and because I'm a) doing more childcare than normal and b) getting addicted to the damn wii, have some links to posts by others that you should be reading.

Firstly, on the Atheist Bus campaign[1], three scientist bloggers, Dave Godfrey, Debi Linton and Strangefrontier who says:
Dear Christians on my friendslist, when you feel that atheist campaigners are generalising about your whole faith and railing against you, the real target is folks like Stephen Green. The problem is that he and others like like are so damn loud and have such a constant media presence, they drown out the normal, decent and sane* Christians. No matter what positive PR you throw out there, the attention will be given to some cunt shouting, "God hates fags!"
I especially liked Dave's line If he didn't exist I think the atheists would have to invent him, he's launched a case on which the crux is he has evidence of the existence of God. Well, like Dawkins, if you can give me some proof I'll change my opinion...

Anyway, next topic. Woolworths has shut down. Since he finished his degree, [livejournal.com profile] doctorvee has been working for them, in a number of branches, and I heartily recommend his series of posts on the history of the company and the experiences of working there in its dying days. Like him, I loved Woollies as a kid but found them fairly pointless as an adult, they definitely had no clue what they were trying to be as a chain, and Wilkinson's have definitely displaced a lot of their business in Yorkshire. I had no idea that the company had started out as the early equivalent of a pound store, they only dumped their fixed price policy because of rationing during the war.

Sad news however. Number 6 is dead. In an era where his "I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered, I am a free man" speech has increasing relevence, it remains an iconic series and I really hope they don't mess up the reimagined version with Sir Ian as Number Two. RIP Patrick, you were great.

Cool news: Molecular Analysis Confirms Tyrannosaurus Rex's Evolutionary Link To Birds. They didn't die out, they evolved. Next time you eat a chicken dinner, that's one of T-Rex's relatives you're chomping down on ;-)

Want: Trends Are Cyclical: the Asus Eee Keyboard. It a complete fully functioning computer, all inside thin keyboard. How cool is that?

Have to say, I pretty much agree with Tim here, economic protectionism makes us poorer and damages our economy more than it benefits us. Buy British if you want, but if it's not the best deal, buy whatever, the economy benefits from the transaction regardless. ETA: Friday's More or Less is a politics special starring Vince! Yay!

Last up, [livejournal.com profile] innerbrat wants to declared this year as the International Year of True History to commemorate both Darwin and Galileo. She's wrong to call it "true" history of course, everyone knows that real history started at about 1600, everything before that is pre-history, but it's a nice idea.

[1] From which I've taken this icon, I yoinked the LJified version from [livejournal.com profile] strangefrontier but it was designed by [livejournal.com profile] jonworth_eu_fd who coordinated the intial fundraising campaign before it all got a bit bigger than anyone expected. I'd forgotten how good a blogger he is until I found him on Twitter, Labour party members that can actually write well about politics are worth paying attention to, methinks[2].

[2] On a similar line, [livejournal.com profile] blimpish_fd is back, one of the few Tory bloggers that doesn't make me want to shout at the screen at the idiocy and ignorance.
It is a time of year to reflect, to think upon what has come to pass, to learn from the past and thank those that brought us to where we are today. Today, especially, is an exceptional day for these endeavours, being as it is the birthday of one of the greatest and most influential men to walk those green and pleasant lands.

His works, agitation and beliefs revolutionised the world, and there isn't a day that goes by in which we are not all grateful for his work and influence. More on this divinely inspired man )
Merry Christmas
Sharing this day are of course several friends, and before I forget, also happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] draich_goch, [livejournal.com profile] blacktone, Simon and anyone else I've forgotten about. Have a good one.
Jazz legend Lyttelton dies at 86

Humphrey Lyttelton 1921 - 2008
Humph died peacefully with his family and friends around him on April 25th at 7.00pm following surgery.
There are no words I can say.

RIP Humph.
Undoubtedly my favourite author as a teen, and still someone I like to remember now (and who I'll doubtless bring up the reread list now), AP reports that Arthur C. Clarke passed away earlier today. He already had his own tag on here and deservedly so, not only did he predict satellite communications, mobile phones and similar, but he also proved that magic does exist and wrote some of the most iconic moments in SF film history ever. If you haven't watched 2001, do so, I suspect you'll get a chance very very soon. If I get to live to 90 and acheive half what he managed, I'll be fairly happy with my lot.

RIP Sir Arthur.

ETA: More linkage. ) Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.

Thus Spake Zarathustra
I never did get into Dungeons and Dragons. This might seem weird to a lot of you, who either know me through gaming, or know that I am (or at least was) a gamer, but ultimately by the time I tried AD&D I'd played many many much better games (Blood Bowl being my first and favourite "gamers game"), so despite the efforts of friends such as [livejournal.com profile] draich_goch and Duncan, I never did actually manage to get into it.

Having said that, the news that the games creator, Gary Gygax, has died does sadden me a little, for although I didn't like his game, I did like the many many (better) games that came after it. Indeed, I spent 5 years working full time and 7 years working part time for a company that would never have existed if he hadn't created that game. Sure, odds are, someone else would've come up with something similar eventually, but they didn't—he did it first.

[livejournal.com profile] theferrett is doing a tribute post of all the best quotes about his death, from Salon's "final quest" to the huge variants of "failed his save", although I do agree with [livejournal.com profile] pickwick, the best one is undoubtedly Gary Gygax was finally gotten by the gazebo. A joke that either cracks you up or makes you go "huh". I'm not even sure I can explain it to a non-player (here's an attempt), if anyone wants to give it a go in the comments feel free.

Of course, the best heroic(ish) fantasy RPG was WFRP, as anyone knows, and the writer of one of the best adventures there is does I think the best tribute:
Gary Gygax created modern gaming ... The class-and-level system dates explicitly to Gygax’s work ... By today’s standards, after thirty-five years of refinement and polish, the original edition of D&D looks incredibly clunky. But if you look beyond ... what’s astonishing is how much of the game is right. It wasn’t the concept of roleplay in D&D that birthed the genre, it was the way the rules encapsulated the core ideas behind it
Can't say fairer than that. Extra: Order of the Stick has a nice special episode as well.

Gary Gygax. Boat Barge sunk this day, 4th March, 2008. RIP.
John Peel Gravestone
John Peel Gravestone
Steve points us at The Guardian's gravestone meme inspired by the news that John Peel's grave has a line from an Undertones song on it. The mind boggles as to why the Telegraph had a picture of the actual stone but none of the other media sources did, I assume stupidity? Anyway, the questions:
1) Which lyric would you have on your tombstone?
2) Which song has been the soundtrack to your life?
3) Do you have any suggestions for the pop-music epitaphs of world figures?
I answered on his post but, y'know, I was going to link the picture anyway because, well: Dude! John Peel!

And it is a most excellent gravestone. So I guess you want my answers, right?
Tribute to John Peel meme )

Ah well, any more takers?
My paper of choice for the best part of 15 years was The Independent, started getting it when I was 17 and took GCSE Politics to go alongside my A Levels. I got in trouble in a politics class once for sneakily reading Miles Kington's column when I was suppoed to be debating something.

The small point that I was winning the debate anyway was only a little lost on the teacher. I stopped reading his column in later years (and now rarely if ever buy any print newspaper), mostly because they kept moving it around and it stopped residing in the Comment section where it belonged. Mostly always amusing, and I normally enjoyed his radio shows as well (although he could be annoyingly BBC-smug at times). So this headline isn't cheering:
BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Newspaper columnist Kington dies

Ah well, 66 is a bit young, only twice my age. Scary, innit.
Jennie and I met because she and [livejournal.com profile] ginasketch came down to London to attend a recording of the News Quiz, a show we were all fans of. Suffice to say I've a little soft spot for the show that inspired Have I Got News For You and is always worth a listen. So these headlines aren't really welcome.
BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Broadcaster Alan Coren dies at 69
BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Obituary: Alan Coren

RIP mate, you made me laugh many many times
There are times when you don't even know how great someone is until you read their obituary. Sometimes, it's a name you've never heard before, and then you find out what they did. It's weird, but reading a list of the theme tunes that Ronnie Hazlehurst wrote was just so evocative, they came to me, and I don't normally remember music on tap. My childhood, in so many ways. Here's an edited highlights:
# Are You Being Served?
# The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin
# Last of the Summer Wine
# To the Manor Born
# Yes Minister
And, because, y'know, TV tribute time, I bring you the three best (in my opinion, and hey, my journal, so that's what counts.YouTube - Yes Minister Intro: Yes Minister )YouTube - BBC Are you being served? 70s intro:Are you Being Served opening credits )
YouTube - Last Of The Summer Wine:Last of the Summer Wine theme and tribute )
Yes Minister obviously an all-time great show, but the credits to each of the above are so memorable they good in and of themselves, regardless of your opinion of the show. What struck me in the BBC PM tribute was how varied they were. Ah well.
Robert Jordan died yesterday. I'd had him filed under "really must get around to reading" for ages, never quite got around to it. But enough people I know were fans to figure there's something there worth it.

So I guess the questions are: Are the Wheel of Time books good, should I try to read them, how far from completion were they, and will someone else be hired to finish things off?
These days, with the Body Shop owned by L'Oreal and a Lush on every High St, it's hard to recall what a major change the chain was when it started out. (Mostly) ethical products, campaiging against animal testing, good quality shampoo that didn't make me itch all over. Oh, and mostly cute staff friendly staff as well.

Then there was the whole putting your money where your mouth is thing, and the outspoken campaigning she put in. That she was ill was known, didn't know she was as ill as she was.

My humanism believes that the impact you have on the world and the legacy you leave is how you should be measured. By my measure, the cup floweth over.

Rest in peace Dame Anita.
*is reading friends list*

I'm guessing that at some point someone will post something that isn't celebrating the death of the stupid bigotted lunatic?

Oh, wait, I'm doing it to. I'm an atheist, I don't believe in an afterlife, and I'm also a proper liberal who believes in free speech and letting the lunatics be bloody stupid. As long as they don't harm me. But he thought he was right. If he was, and there is a hell?

Rot in hell Jerry Falwell

If you've been around here for a bit, you've seen me mention [livejournal.com profile] chrislightfoot a few times. If you've missed it, I'd posit a guess that if you're British, you've been to a site he helped build, possibly without even knowing it. It was announced today on his weblog that he passed away last month. This was followed up by tributes from his two main employers, Tom Steinberg of MySociety and Phil Booth of No2ID.net. If your friends list or feed aggregator has as much overlap with mine as is likely, you've seen many links and tributes already. Here's another.

So, how do I know you've been to a site he built? Easy. How about the Downing Street petitions website (credit)? If you haven't been there, even to simply trawl around, or look at the news story du jure, then you've missed a trick. What about WriteToThem.com , the site that allows you to contact your elected representatives for free online, after a simple postcode search? It's how I first contacted Adrian, and I was very impressed. HearFromYourMP.com has been less of a success, but is still a damn fine idea. PledgeBank? Simply awesome, one of my favourite ideas for a site, and I'm signed up to a few and a couple ongoing relevent pledges, Refuse being the one that first got my attention. And then there's Downing Street Says ([livejournal.com profile] number10says), breaking the lobby correspondent secrecy wide open.

But not only was he am innovative and engaged site builder, without whom many of the more innovative online democracy projects may not have been possible, but he was also a top blogger, with a fine analytical streak. Here's a series of articles debunking the loons at the Association of British Drivers. Those links were via Tim at [livejournal.com profile] bloggerheads, and he has many more in a fitting tribute.

As for memes? Political Survey 2005 was one of the better at the last election (mine from then and one I just did); looks like I've moved half a point into the centre, not that that makes a difference really. As for why he was a blogger's blogger? He paid attention to referrals and commented on my post taking issue with his axes labelling; nice to know we were both right, for different reasons.

Normally, I cut a post of this length. Not this one. I'm a humanist, I don't believe in an afterlife, I believe that all that matters is your legacy, what you've left behind you, what you've achieved, how you'll be remembered. In Chris's case, he did more in 28 years than I'm likely to achieve in my life. He'll be missed. If the comments on the memorial post on his blog read like a who's who of British blogging, the tributes below the cut are indicative of his influence.

A linklog of other tributes, long and short )
I nicked this icon of [livejournal.com profile] snapesbabe awhileback, but it seems particularly apposite now, Urquhart is dead:
Actor Ian Richardson, best known for his role as scheming chief whip Francis Urquhart in the BBC's House of Cards, has died suddenly at the age of 72.
Via Rob at [livejournal.com profile] libdemvoice_fd. I loved that show when it was on, and I even bought the books (which, despite the authors politics, were rather good). I guess we'll get a repeat run now then? May be worth investigating plugging a TV in if there is.

In completely unrelated memeage, Rum and Monkey think I'm 63% similar to [livejournal.com profile] faeriecween, it looks, as usual for one of their things, to actually be a rather good little meme thing.
I'm an apparently intelligent, liberal, not-too-generous, not-too-selfish, relatively well adjusted human being!
See how compatible you are with me!
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey
Also? Empire Magazine has trailers for Hot Fuzz, the new Simon Pegg et al movie, which does look rather nice.
So very cool. mr_esty: R.I.P. Joe Barbera:
Joe Barbera died yesterday, at age 95. In his honor; I propose that everyone who reads this draws a Hanna-Barbera character. You can post your drawings here in the comments section, if you like.
My dial up dumped out on my twice with that page, but it was worth it...
Andreas Katsulas died on Monday. Having recently watched the first four seasons again (thanks to DVD loans from [livejournal.com profile] nadriel and [livejournal.com profile] paulatpingu), this depresses me, he truly made that series, and was obviously a damn fine actor. I think I shall watch an episode again tonight before sleeping, in his honour.

Also, and this scares me, they're remaking Monkey. This seems, wrong, to me. Monkey is Monkey, next up they'll be doing an English language version, or getting the dubbing to actually make sense.

Ah well. Both stories on Murky, really must see if it's syndicated already, impressive reach that site.

Oh yeah, I don't think I mentioned it here. Shiny Thing. When I was talking about StoryCode a few weeks back, it was because I was alpha testing BlogCode, which is very cool. Especially as it no longer thinks my best match is Harry's Place.
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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October 2015


Stuff and nonsense

I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats.

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