This is a pretty good description of my friends list and feed reader this morning:

How about you? Taking Jennie to work for an eight hour shift in abit, then back here—got a bit of a grotty cold so don't want to sit in the pub given we're doing that tomorrow for her birthday anyway. So, come on people, post stuff, amuse me!

OK, how about a meme. Um, Most expensive Xmas present? Most annoying? Most useful? Why?

For me, all three are one. We got a Wii. Well, when I say we, what I mean is Jennie got one and I grudgingly said OK. Obviously most expensive, and obviously, it's a Wii, it's annoying. But most useful?

Can we say babysitting service? Shrub's got the idea I'm completely useless at it already, so accepts that I don't want to play it lots. So as long as I make sure she takes regular breaks and go down to talk to her a bit, I can keep my sanity when she's off school. Yay!

Also? Worms: Space Oddity is cool, even if I can't aim for toffee, and it makes Jennie smile. Making Jennie smile is always fun.
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.
Sir Isaac Newton, [livejournal.com profile] draich_goch, Humphrey Bogart, [livejournal.com profile] blacktone, Quentin Crisp, Ismail Merchant, Rick Berman, Shane Macgowan, Sol Invictus and Helios.

Those being people picked from the list of birthdays I either like or that have had some impact on the world. Remember, if anyone tries to "remind" you that "the true meaning of Christmas" has something to do with the birth of some kid just over 2000 years ago, remind them that, well, it's got nothing to do with that and true Christians wouldn't celebrate a pagan festival anyway. So eat, drink and be merry, because that's what it's all supposed to be about.

I'm about to turn in, having wrapped all our gifts and decorated the tree, busy day tomorrow—the joys of a 4-year-old. Still, there's more chocolate than she can possibly eat, and we're off to the pub for lunch. G'night all, and Happy Christmas.
Heh. Want to hear me singing?
Tim recorded our attempt at an anti-Carol concert last night ([livejournal.com profile] bloggerheads):
Bah, Humbug!
(to the tune of 'Jingle Bells')

Ebenezer Scrooge
Wasn't all that dumb
Until he met the Ghost
Of Christmas Yet to Come
Then he lost the plot, and woke up with a scream
Then foolishly made life decisions based upon a dream!

Oh, bah-humbug, bah-humbug, bah-humbug, I say
We are demonstrating here
Protesting Christmas Day... hey!
Also present included Justin ([livejournal.com profile] chickenyoghurt ),Gareth ([livejournal.com profile] d_notice_fd), Davide ([livejournal.com profile] nether_world_fd), a bloke called John with a saxophone from the Strawberry Theives and most impressively Garry ([livejournal.com profile] bssc_world), who'd travelled down from Aberdeen for the occasion—his first time in London as well.

We have succesfully established that SOCPA is an arse, the police think that demonstrating in favour of something doesn't require permission, but to demonstrate against something does. This is interesting to know, and Tim is working on ways to test this in the future, because, well, we're in favour of keeping the detention-without-charge limit to 28 days or lower, right? We're in favour of getting the Govt to change its policies on a large number of issues.

After the event, naturally, we went to the Westminster Arms which, scarily, doesn't have a menu—it has a Food Agenda. Much beer was consumed. Much much beer. I think I should've eaten more food earlier.
Right then, last year, you lot voted that Best Xmas song lyric ever is:
You scumbag, you maggot You cheap lousy faggot
Well, this morning, BBC Radio 1 decided this was offensive to some listeners but then later on in the day saw sense and backed down. I agree with [livejournal.com profile] pickwick, it's a damn shame that the BBC manages to tie itself into hoops as often as it does. Naturally, someone disagrees, and [livejournal.com profile] bagrec doesn't like the song and suggests alternatives. But he's a freaky morris dancing types so you don't want to listen to him ;-)

Elsewhere, it's the Arsehole of the year grand final over at [livejournal.com profile] publicansdecoy's place, and [livejournal.com profile] hullfire already covered the other main stories of the day:
So, Nick Clegg is the new Lib Dem leader and in a monstrous piece of stupidity the Government has lost more of our stuff, but in really important news, RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE ACTUALLY EXIST!
I do have to say I do share some of Jennie's concerns about the potential of Clegg's leadership but I'm nowhere near as cynical about it. He has at least hit the ground running, complete with YouTube appearance filmed on cheapskate handheld already. Although the town meeting idea does sound like it might have some legs.

What, you expected analysis? Don't be silly, I've been reading stuff about it all day, besides, I didn't end up voting, I couldn't make a decision between the two of them, they're both nice blokes. We'll be fine. Right? Someone tell me we'll be fine. Damnit, they need to do better, else the damn country's doomed FFS, that's why I joined them...

Calm. Now I tag this entry. Um, is there a limit to how many you can use? Appears not. Oh, wait, I forgot a link. Be very glad she's going to be a Doctor of paleontology not medical stuff, medical doctors play with gadgets much more scary than microwaves.
Someone on my reading list linked to this but I unfortunately didn't note who. To whoever it was, thank you for eating up a fair chunk of reading time. Regret the Error » Crunks 2007: The Year in Media Errors and Corrections. Genius, the best of the daft mistakes made by the media. I especially like the Titanic story, Teh Grauniads misspelling of misspell and the LA times fire hazard map.

Also? Tim at [livejournal.com profile] bloggerheads is organising another demonstration 'anti-Christmas' Carol Service in Parliament Square next Thursday. I'll be back down next week (travelling tomorrow) to do some packing and move planning, and hopefully meeting up with people, etc. Anyone want to join us?
Public Carol Service

Bah, I see it's getting close to That time of year again. You know the one, the traditional pagan/secular festival that got hijacked by some Roman religion, and people are complaining about attacks on a misperceived majority faith that this poll showed us you lot don't really believe much either. But it did show that most of us are "culturally Christian" even if we don't believe. Hmm, seems we're in good company:
"This is historically a Christian country. I'm a cultural Christian in the same way many of my friends call themselves cultural Jews or cultural Muslims. So, yes, I like singing carols along with everybody else. I'm not one of those who wants to purge our society of our Christian history. If there's any threat these sorts of things, I think you will find it comes from rival religions and not from atheists."

~~Professor Richard Dawkins, author of the God Delusion
Although I dispute his "everyone else" bit—I never did, carols are mostly godawful songs—it's nice to know that he's got a sense of perspective. (thanks Richard).

But, y'know, for the record, I'll update my contact details post at some point, but I still don't plan on sending any cards out, and share with Jennie a fair distaste for receiving them, so if you were planning to, do something a bit more useful with the cash, [livejournal.com profile] strictlytrue has the right idea.

Bah Humbug to the lot of you ;-)

[1] Technically he's no longer my MP, but as I'm not settled in Wimbledon really and am moving on, plus I've been campaigning and supporting him since I was a kid, he's the one I consider my MP until such time as I'm settled somewhere formally.
Well, I'm back online properly, and a quick glance at friends page and feeds. A lot to catch up on. If I've missed anything of personal import let me know as I'll be scanning not reading for the most part.

Spent most of the week either at my parents, Rob's or in bed with a book or a DVD. Didn't buy any electric cards last weekend, so couldn't use much that required power until Anne upstairs came back, me silly fule. Got some book tokens from my sister (she's learning), some Dr Who DVDs from my parents, and chocolate plus some cash from both grandmothers. Went and bought myself Dr Who series II and Torchwood Pt I boxing day, natch. Also bought myself the [livejournal.com profile] grrm paperback, which I'm halfway through, rather good so far. [livejournal.com profile] autopope's second novel is, I think, better than his first, and definitely the sort of SF I want to be reading, made me think and entertained. This is good.

Torchwood? Will do a proper review style thing when I'm caught up, but initial reaction? OMG yes. More please. Flawed, at times the plotting is daft, and a bit too twee in a few ways, but overall impressive, and better than 90% of other stuff out there. Also, Gwen has a rather nice arse, shame they took her out of the uniform. And Tosh is cute as well. Sorry, I'll, um, go back to reading my feeds and friends list...
Originally posted using [livejournal.com profile] sms_to_lj...

So, read the new book (Stross, Iron Sunrise) watch Dr. Who DVDs or post to LJ? How about climb into bed and use the phone to do all 3?
So, I should celebrate Christmas because it's a Christian festival (wrong) and because Britain is a Christian country? ORLY?
Britain's generally tolerant attitude to religion is underlined by the small proportion who say the country is best described as a Christian one. Only 17% think this. The clear majority, 62%, agree Britain is better described as "a religious country of many faiths".
In fact, following on from earlier discussion, it would appear that I'm in the clear majority:
Most people have no personal faith, the poll shows, with only 33% of those questioned describing themselves as "a religious person". A clear majority, 63%, say that they are not religious - including more than half of those who describe themselves as Christian.
Regarding those who describe themselves as "Christian" but don't believe? Charlie puts it best:
this is more of an ethnic or cultural definition than a spiritual one
So, it's December 23rd, I'm up and about, had a shower and a bit to eat. I'm off to celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas. Shopping. With my family.

So, from the bottom of my heart, this little atheist would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very genuine Merry Christmas, because the whole thing has nothing to do with that little kid who might have been born about 2000 years ago, during lambing season, at the time of a census. Both of which took place in March.
Ye gods, what a silly publicity stunt for a radio show, running a silly online poll in a cheap rip off of some TV show I've not watched. Still, what do we expect from Capital Gold:
The day's match is launched during the Capital Gold Breakfast Shows. You then have 24 hours in which to vote for your favourite song out of the day's choices.

The daily champs will move into the next round until we have the 2006 Xmas Factor Champion. The winner will be announced on Friday December 22.
Thing is? The finalists are some Queen song[1] and Fairy Tale of New York. Given yesterdays discussion, the results should be conclusive, but it appears that there are some fans of that godawful Queen song. As I look, it's exactly 50/50. So go make a choice. No pressure of course. Vote.

[1]Queen may have once been Mat's favourite band ever. He currently denies this having discovered a sense of musical taste. However, there are still a number of songs by them that rate as all-time greats, even if they are cheesy pomp rock. The song competing against FONY isn't one of those greats.

[2] Oh yeah, aside. I mentioned I'm using Deepest Sender to make Braindumps for memes and links I want to write about later, yes? Well, um, I currently have 12 posts in the line up. I'm assuming you don't want them all at once?
Right, it's that time of year. Radios, shops etc are all playing a selection of music that's seasonal, and, with honourable exceptions like my former employers, you can't get away from it all.

So, in the spirit of the season, I have selected a selection of lyrics from those Christmas songs I deem to be not awful. Your mission is to choose the best lyric.

Oh, there's also a 'help Mat make a silly decision' question tacked on so I don't have to do another post...
[Poll #892686]
Lyrics from here, which also has a WAV sample. In memoriam of a great singer.
Meh, down with grotty cold. Concentration shot to hell, so I've been playing Diablo II, having given up on Warcraft II (yes, 2) due to the bloody awful AI. Anyway...

Norwegian judge declares stripping is art:
Striptease, the tantalising dance pioneered by Salome in the Old Testament, is an art form that ranks with opera and ballet, according to a Norwegian court. As a result, strip clubs will be freed from paying the country’s hefty 25 per cent VAT.
A fair amount of the UK media has been writing scare stories about the "war on Christmas" again. The Guardian has investigated:
All of which might be reasonable, were it not for a few awkward facts. Luton does not have a festival called Luminos. It does not use any alternative name for Christmas. When it did, once, five years ago, hold something called Luminos one weekend in late November, the event didn't even replace the council's own Christmas celebrations, let alone forbid anyone else from doing anything. Similarly, Christmas is not called Winterval in Birmingham. The Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Sick Children never banned a Christmas CD for mentioning Jesus. And Chester council's "un-Christian" Christmas card says - as cards have done for decades - "Season's Greetings".
Yup, all bollocks, just as we'd expect. Good news! The more people learn about ID cards, the less they like them; I'm not the only one planning to refuse the damn things:
Hundreds of thousands of people will refuse to sign up to the UK Government's planned identity register, according to just-published research. Around eight per cent of those surveyed said they would refuse to sign up to the database even if they are fined.

The survey was carried out by polling firm YouGov on behalf of the Daily Telegraph newspaper and in a sample of 1,979 people found that a significant proportion were prepared to defy the government over the database.
8% of those surveyed. And that didn't include me, haven't done a YouGov poll for a bit now, can't be arsed. It would be nice if they sent you a message when the results came out, but there y'go. Longest pending retirement in history? Arthur C Clarke still alive, but not writing (again):
Arthur C. Clarke is no longer writing, and has asked dynamic young author Frederik Pohl (born two years after ACC) to finish his new novel. `Talked to Pohl recently, and he was doing it,' confirms Charles N. Brown. It is rumoured that this came as a surprise to Greg Benford, who had rather expected to be called on for the task.
I've got rather attached to the stuff he's done with Baxter recently, but still, proclaiming too old to write then getting a friend two years your junior to do it? I dunno. When building a site, what browsers should you support? All of them, naturally:
In the first 10 years of professional web development, back in the early ‘90s, browser support was binary: Do you — or don’t you — support a given browser? When the answer was “No”, user access to the site was often actively prevented. In the years following IE5’s release in 1998, professional web designers and developers have become accustomed to asking at the outset of any new undertaking, “Do I have to support Netscape 4.x browsers for this project?”

By contrast, in modern web development we must support all browsers. Choosing to exclude a segment of users is inappropriate, and, with a “Graded Browser Support” strategy, unnecessary.
The chart on the next page is rather good as well, lists all the A-listers you should test with. M$ finally let me install IE7 last night, tried it. No thanks, not for me. On the subject of designing, how about a list of all fonts that come as a default install on all common platforms?:
Here you can find the list with the standard set of fonts common to all versions of Windows and their Mac substitutes, referred sometimes as "browser safe fonts". This is the reference I use when making web pages and I expect you will find it useful too.
Not a bad one that. Assuming, of course, you want to use something that isn't Verdana.

Meh, I'm off to down some more Beechams. Might be a poll or something daft later.
Christmas isn't Christian.
These attitudes were carried to the New World by English Puritans, Quakers, Baptists and Scottish Presbyterians. In America, reprisals were as harsh here as back in Scotland. In Massachusetts a five-shilling penalty was imposed on anyone found feasting or shirking work on Christmas Day, and in 1621 the Governor of Plymouth Colony reprimanded some “lusty young men” whom he found on Christmas “pitching ye barr, and some playing at stoole-ball and such like sports”.
For the record, my annual attack of grouchyness at Xmas is prompted by people going OTT, enforced frivolity and people going on (and on, and on) about the baby Jesus.

Now, my atheism is well established, and my assertion that atheism is a faith, it cannot be proven thus should be treated and given equal privledges to religion is also something most know about me; I respect those of faith much more than I respect those who "don't know" or "haven't thought about it". But, please. Christians? It's not your festival. It was hijacked from a combination of different festivals by Pope Julius I, it combines Yule, Solstice, Mithras and a few other things. Jesus was most likely born (if we acknowledge he existed, which I'm prepared to but other historians more knowledgeable than me say otherwise) in March apparently. This isn't a Christian festival, in fact, true Christians shouldn't celeebrate it, so say the Church of Scotland.

So I, as an atheist who's quite happy to get stuck in with secular festivals based on the calender of seasons, can quite happily eat drink and be merry. So can anyone else. But can we put the nativity stuff away? I'll let you keep Easter, just accept that it's also Eostre, and I'll be eating lots more than the usual (excessive) amounts of chocolate.
OK, last year, my parents, being the nice people they are, gave my an expensive DAB car stereo with CD player. y'know, the car I spend about half an hour a day in. I love listening to the radio, but mostly I listen to Radio 4, which I can get anywhere in the country on the old analogue thing installed by the manufacturers.

This year, we agreed not much money on presents. My parents weren't going to get each other stuff (right, like anyone believed that), and everyone knows I'm a bit skint (the family don't know how badly, but still).

So, I open my parcel yesterday afternoon. Some shoe polish (yup, from my dad, and even I'll admit it's a good idea), a self inflating lightweight pillow (now in the boot with the sleeping bag and blanket, very useful I think), Louis de Bernieres Birds Without Wings (which I'd never buy for myself but I think I'll like, I think that's what you call a 'safe' book buy; it's good, but it's not what I buy myself, they know half my debt is caused by the bibliophilia). And then, well, a Phillips DA100 portable! It's a third the price of last years gift (not much money they said, right...) and it's GREAT.

Why? Well, BBC Radio 7 of course. It's like Radio 4, but without the dull bits. Last night, I plugged it into some spare PC speakers and listened to Ladies of Letters make mincemeat which was brilliant. Today? Well, it's been Narnia day. Prince Caspian is about to finish, and I slept through Magician's Nephew, and dosed off for Horse and his Boy. So, of the four they've broadcast, I missed the two crap ones. Here's hoping for a quick CD release, go listen again, it's great (oh, tLtW&tW is here).

Thanks M&D. Oh yeah, it's small enough to fit in a trouser or jacket pocket and is completely rechargeable but takes AAs as well. Happy happy joy joy.
On the first day of Cephalopodmas,
Cthulhu gave to me
Histioteuthis heteropsis.

On the second day of Cephalopodmas...


Oh yeah; happy celebration of the axial tilt. From now on, the days start getting longer, and people have been celebrating this for a long time. Personally, I'm in favour of calling it yuletide, but then, I'm pretty sure there's a bit of viking in me. Along with a lot of bits of other european tribes.
D&D character ), a true neutral gnome? I might not play the bloody game, but I know what it all means. Maybe I shouldn't have clicked 'running' as my weapon of choice...

Faerie character ). I even tried to not click all the answers obviously leading to this result. Still, she looks good, can I keep her?

It's December. That meant Xmas decorationsa re going up every-fucking-where. 1) Can we have our non-religious midwinter festival back from both the religious types (he wasn't born in December, the name has nothing to do with him, it's the festival (mas) of the return of the sun god (christ), look it up) and the commercialists?

The shop I used to work in, thankfully, banned decorations and 'holiday' music. MY office colleagues are putting tinsel up in the door windows. Still, I can ban music from the stereo in my office. Simple deal, so far, I put up with what she wants to listen to. If she insists on playing cheesy crap, I demand equal time for my tastes. I quick blast of Ministry of NiN should win the argument for me :-D
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

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Stuff and nonsense

I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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