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By TheophileEscargot (Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 04:22:11 AM EST) Reading, Watching, MLP (all tags)
San Francisco. Reading: "Squeaking Cleopatras". Driving. Watching. Web.

Me: San Francisco
I'm going on a business trip to San Francisco to attend the Twitter development conference. I've extended the stay over the weekend, so I'll be there and free from Friday 16th April to Sunday 18th.

So, anyone want to meet up? I'll have an innocent civilian co-worker with me on the Friday.

What I'm Reading
Finished Squeaking Cleopatras by Joy Leslie Gibson. Informative, accessible book about the boy-actors who played women on the stage in Shakespeare's day.

The information about them is a bit scanty. In particular we know very little about the actual individuals: they don't seem to have been celebrities like Richard Burbage. However, Gibson reckons that they were pretty skilled actors: they'd been trained in rhetoric and voice projection since a young age. Also, the relatively meager diet of the period meant puberty arrived later than it does now, so they could have had more emotional maturity before their voices broke.

Gibson also has some interesting analysis of the lines given to them. She points out that their speeches have many more places for breath, since they wouldn't have had the lungpower for very long speeches; and their appearances are rationed out to give them time to recover. For, they often recite lists of comparisons, which allow for frequent breaths. She also thinks that the analogies and language they use were designed to fall within their emotional range, so that they often describe womanly activities in metaphors that are familiar to children.

The book also has some fascinating background on the Elizabethan stage, and even Elizabethan society. Gibson points out that there was a fashion for androgynous dress in mainstream society in the period (much criticized by the Puritans) where men and women would often wear similar garments. There are a couple of chapters on the "Boys Companies": two theatre companies made up entirely of boys, who did a mixture of normal plays, and satires that partly depended on the incongruity of having children speak the lines.

Overall, interesting to me, but a bit specialized. The book's written in a popular style though, not like an academic treatise.

Me: driving
Had a driving lesson as a refresher. Hadn't driven for about ten years before that, hadn't driven a manual in more like twenty.

Don't think I did too badly. The instructor thinks I'm basically OK to drive, though he says I need to slow down and not be in such a hurry. Don't think he liked it when he pointed out a bus as we were driving down a narrow road, so I floored it to tuck in quickly. Apparently it would have been better to stop and let it pass.

The gears weren't a problem in normal driving, though I did stall a couple of times during the hour. We didn't do much slow speed manoeuvring though, and what we did I found quite tricky. Parking is going to be a problem: found it very hard to aim and judge when to straighten while reversing, especially when trying to balance the clutch too.

Also, I found it quite stressful going through London's narrow car-lined streets, where there's only width for one car, it's a constant game of chicken, and you never know who's going to dash out or open a door.

Anyway, I've applied to join City Car Club rather than Streetcar, as they seem to have an automatic near me and their cars are mostly smaller.

Need to think of somewhere to drive to now, to get some more practice in.

Bought a Samsung N140 netbook. Been wondering whether to buy one for a while, and this conference thingy prompted me to make a decision.

Seems OK so far. Quite light, but still comfortable to type on. Even the trackpad's a lot easier than I remembered, though will probably buy one of those mini-mice.

Any laptop tips? Haven't used one in a while. Might get one of those USB dongles if I have trouble tethering it to my G1.

What I'm Watching
Saw Thank You for Smoking on DVD. Odd little film about a tobacco lobbyist. based on a book by conservative scion Christopher Buckley.

Fairly entertaining, and nicely cynical for a satire, with all sides depicted unpleasantly. Even so, it seemed to pull its punches a bit: wasn't quite willing to make the lobbyist an actual hero. Also some of the plot elements didn't seem to go anywhere, the kidnapping and the you-can-never-smoke-again thing didn't seem to have consequences, and the laziest Hollywood father-son-relationship clichés get yet another airing.

Also, the slut-shaming of the female journalist who sleeps with the lobbyist to get a story seemed a bit distasteful. They seemed to want to make a moral equivalent between them, but nobody forced him to pillow-tell her all his secrets.

Overall, not bad, not brilliant.

One notable thing is that nobody ever smokes in the film: seemed a bit ostentatious to me but I knew in advance.

Got some nice light on the walk home the other day.



Economics. David Smith and Anatole Kaletsky on the upcoming budget. I think Kaletsky's pretty insightful on the Tories' problems

The Tories made three closely related mistakes in devising their economic and electoral strategy at the nadir of the financial crisis in the winter of 2008-09.

First they assumed that the economy would continue to deteriorate despite the enormous stimulus administered by the Government. Then they therefore reasoned that Labour’s Keynesian policies of expanding public borrowing would be perceived as a dismal failure by the time of the election. And that in turn convinced the Tories that fomenting public panic about a government debt crisis would be sufficient to win the economic debate.

All three of these assumptions have gone wrong...

...The loss of control over public spending is the issue on which the Tories should be fighting the general election, but to do this they would have to identify specific Labour policies that they would reverse. The Tory high command believes that such specificity would frighten the voters, Their hope is simply to stand back and watch Labour lose the election, goaded on by bogus hysteria about bankruptcy and personal attacks on Gordon Brown. We, therefore, face an election in which the Opposition will try to distract attention from the very issues on which the Government is most vulnerable.

Video. Tortoise versus dog. B3ta magenta penises (NSFW).

Random. Pink Stinks "challenges the culture of pink which invades every aspect of girls' lives."

Pics. Pencil sculptures.

< My wife won't be around tonight. | Rereading "Titan" by John Varley. >
Narrow squeak | 26 comments (26 topical, 0 hidden)
Have to disagree on Thank You For Smoking by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #1 Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 08:07:46 AM EST
I think the main character is treated as a hero (anti-hero hero, or whichever). When we saw it at the cinema that was also the audience reaction I saw ... I wonder if it comes across differently on DVD. The Rob Lowe character was also great, though he might be funnier in retrospect after seeing the West Wing.

Jason Reitman is an interesting director, witty, which is all the more surprising when you consider his father is Ivan Reitman (Twins, Kindergarten Cop, etc).

Iambic Web Certified

Offtopic by Herring (2.00 / 0) #2 Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 11:54:56 AM EST
Seen this? OK, I am a cynical like that but I would suspect some police of EDL leanings.

Ontopic: I have Thank You or Smoking sitting on the Sky+ box. Might get around to watching it now.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

Yes by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #4 Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 12:18:41 PM EST
I didn't go to the demo, but I followed it online. Was going to post about it but the diary was getting long and I'm getting tired.

I'm surprised after this, but that police chief seemed to be siding with the EDL, and the journalists are happy to make a lazy equivalence between the EDL and UAF.

First, it's insane to accuse Weyman Bennett of exhorting violence. He's always just urged peaceful protest at every other demo. He's about 50 and 5'2'', he's not exactly a thug.

Second, the police casualties were one fractured finger, and a bite from a police dog. If 1,500 people attacked with extreme violence, there'd be a bit more damage than that.

Third, with cameras and camera crews all over the place, any violence that happens is on camera.

Also what's annoying is that I was following it on Google News, and it was obvious "churnalism": all the press were just regurgitating the same wire story (probably Press Association) which lazily trotted out the line that the EDL are "accused" of extremism but deny it.

Some accounts from the UAF side: Jobbing Doctor, Socialist Worker Manchester UAF, Lenin's tomb. If I'd done a post I'd have looked up EDL accounts but really can't face it now.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Not sure if you saw it by Herring (4.00 / 1) #5 Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 12:51:09 PM EST
but there was a piece by a woman on Newswipe about how many reports in the British media are uncredited. Examples from the Tomlinson and De Menezes affairs were given such as "Police sources say that de Menezes jumped the barrier and fled" or "was wearing a bulky jacket". It's always "sources" rather than "Det. Chief Insp. Bob Lyingshit". Similarly "sources close to Downing Street".

No-one is ever personally held responsible for the crap that they just make up to save their lying arses.

So, anyway whenever I hear "police say that protesters" I think "wearing a bulky jacket". And it also reminds me of my pet-hate term at work "The Business" - as in "The Business say that this has to be delivered my the end of March". I want to know who said it and why.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Well by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 3) #6 Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 01:18:26 PM EST
This time the claims seem to be from a specific person, Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, who was the Gold Commanders of the operation. He doesn't sound like a natural EDL supporter though:
Garry Shewan was born in Sunderland, moving to Manchester in 1981 to study Sociology. It was here that he first became interested in the study of policing systems. His degree focused upon the use of discretionary policing methods and their impact upon inner city tension in the early 1980s. Garry then went on to achieve a Masters degree in Criminology exploring the impact of the 1984-85 miners’ strike on the political and operational independence of the police. Following a period working as a lecturer, Garry joined Greater Manchester Police in 1987. Whilst with GMP, Garry obtained a wide experience of policing which included his design of a ‘township’ policing model in 1993 – a forerunner of Neighbourhood Policing and Bury Divisional Commander. In 2000 Garry was appointed as Commander for Manchester City Centre where balancing the operational needs of a major city with the development of partnerships shaped his policing vision. He was the architect of City Centre Safe tackling alcohol related violence and was a key commander during the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Between 1997 and 1999 Garry was seconded to HMIC. Garry was appointed ACC with Cheshire in July 2005 where he has responsibility for territorial policing and partnerships.
My guess is that he's a paper-pusher who panicked when given actual responsibility.

This is just a guess, but I suspect that from his cosy headquarters office (Gold Commanders are not on the scene) he thought it would be a great idea to order his men to send squads into the crowd to capture the guy Google told him was the ringleader.

This was a really bad idea. It antagonized the demonstrators, put his men at unnecessary risk as they weren't behind a shield wall, and left the demo uncontrolled as the leaders with the megaphones were all under arrest.

So naturally, the most urgent priority for a modern senior police officer is to start spreading the blame. So he phoned the press and told them it was all the fault of the evil, violent UAF demonstrators.

I wasn't there though: this is all just guesswork.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
UAF is following wrong strategy. by Tonatiuh (2.00 / 0) #18 Mon Mar 22, 2010 at 06:23:50 AM EST
The game of the EDL is clearly to cause disruption. The UAF, by showing up on every demonstration of the EDL are playing on the home turf so to speak, and are beginning to appear to the media (love it or hate it, that is how the game is played) like the oposite side of the same loony coin.

What German anti-fascists groups are doing is to name and shame these people: where they gather, where they study, where they work, trying to catch them unawares, by surprise, and being absolutely exemplary in their nonviolent intentions.

Lose the high moral ground and the game is over.

Some other organizations ridicule and satirize them.

Demonstrating against them on the day they demonstrate is a god sent to them, Those people thrive in confusion...

[ Parent ]
Disagree by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #22 Mon Mar 22, 2010 at 02:53:01 PM EST
First, a slight digression.

If you remember back in the George. W. Bush era, there was an irritating meme going round the liberal websites claiming that he was a fascist, based on daft checklist of vague philosophical tendencies. As I kept pointing out, this was ridiculous. The crucial element of fascism is getting a private mob of thugs (brown or black shirts preferred but not essential) to work alongside a political party. That way they can combine violence and intimidation, as in Kristallnacht, with political harrassment of the groups they hate.

That never applied to George W. Bush, but it does apply to the EDL. Their aim is to intimidate as much as it is to demonstrate: they abuse and sometimes attack any non-whites they encounter; vandalizing non-white owned businesses too.

So, it needs to be demonstrated that they don't own the streets. The police can draft in an impressive show of numbers for a few hours in the daytime: but then they all go home and after dark there'll be only a dozen or so response officers covering a large town. It's a lot better in the long run if it's clear that ordinary people in Britain won't tolerate violence and intimidation; not just a handful of cops during the duration of their orders.

You weren't in Britain back in the early Eighties when the National Front were active and powerful. I think you greatly underestimate how quickly an atmosphere of intimidation can be created.

I am mixed race myself, and as a child I remember getting verbal abuse in the street, the cries of "go back where you came from", the National Front graffiti everywhere. If I can help can prevent that happening to kids today I'm damn well going to do it. If the police would rather have a quieter life by letting intimidation go ahead, tough luck.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Meets by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #3 Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 12:07:58 PM EST
I am definitely up for one.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
What day do you prefer? by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #7 Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 01:34:04 PM EST
I think you said Friday. I can still do that, but my co-worker might be freaked out at the idea of meeting weird people from the Internet, so the weekend might be easier.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
I can make either happen by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #10 Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 02:54:06 PM EST
Friday is easier for me because I work downtown, so but  Saturday is likely workable. I have no idea what various other crazy internet people like better.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
either day works for me by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #14 Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 05:37:11 PM EST
earliest I can make it Friday evening is 730 or 8pm due to a long train ride, but if you guys end up setting up dinner or something earlier that's no problem.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
aren't the conference people by garlic (2.00 / 0) #20 Mon Mar 22, 2010 at 10:27:51 AM EST
going to be weird people from the internet?

[ Parent ]
I'd also by garlic (2.00 / 0) #21 Mon Mar 22, 2010 at 10:28:43 AM EST
recommend trying to rouse up MNS. He's pretty awesome.

[ Parent ]
Here's a perfect place to practice by ks1178 (2.00 / 0) #8 Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 01:34:28 PM EST
Google Maps

Street View

Met some one in the bar the other day, and they were telling me about these types of roundabouts in the UK.

Whoever designed that, and whoever approved it, all deserve to be shot.

An I really can't believe that after the first one was designed, they went ahead and designed more in other parts of the UK.

Pah by Herring (2.00 / 0) #11 Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 03:14:28 PM EST
I did the Magic Roundabout on my driving test. It's no hassle once you know how to work it. And we will never share that information with tourists. Not that there are any tourists.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Tourists in Swindon! by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #13 Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 05:28:54 PM EST
I actually LOLed.

[ Parent ]
Last autumn by brokkr (2.00 / 0) #16 Mon Mar 22, 2010 at 04:22:10 AM EST
the missus and I drove from Stansted to a B&B near Glastonbury, and as we passed Swindon I briefly considered making a detour just to navigate the magic roundabout. I decided against it as I judged the wife might have an apoplectic fit when she saw it.
Deyr fé, deyja frændr, deyr sjalfr it sama,
ek veit einn, at aldrei deyr: dómr um dau∂an hvern.

[ Parent ]
perhaps by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #19 Mon Mar 22, 2010 at 06:32:08 AM EST
They were looking for dodos?

[ Parent ]
Nope. by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #24 Tue Mar 23, 2010 at 07:55:49 AM EST
Ad posters of Melinda Messenger, I reckon.

[ Parent ]
Thank You or Smoking by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #9 Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 02:03:56 PM EST
Loved the book. Chris is very different, politically, than William.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Any time is good for me by fluffy (2.00 / 0) #12 Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 04:30:56 PM EST
I live in the city proper and it is very easy for me to get downtown. 
busy bees buzz | sockpuppet revolution
SF meetup by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #15 Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 08:53:32 PM EST
what's your schedule for Sunday?

I have a mock trial on Saturday, which wipes out Saturday for me and Friday night as well. (It's actually the only reason i'm even in town that weekend).

But I could do something on Sunday. :)
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

I'm free every day so far by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #23 Mon Mar 22, 2010 at 03:03:03 PM EST
Looks like either Friday or Saturday are best for the others though, maybe could do something separate for Sunday.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
London streets by Dr Thrustgood (2.00 / 0) #17 Mon Mar 22, 2010 at 06:22:34 AM EST
I learned to drive through horrible, narrow streets like that, so know exactly what you mean.

The trick is to look for spaces between parked cars on the left. If the nearest space available is on your side, duck in, otherwise let the oncoming car go in their own space while you pass. If there are no spaces, the car with the most scratches and knocks wins ;)

Thank You for Smoking by duxup (2.00 / 0) #25 Tue Mar 23, 2010 at 10:09:10 AM EST
I thought they did try to play the lobbyist as a hero and thus why I thought the film was kind of weak.  Dude gets off lightly because he is funny and attractive seemed to be the moral there.

I agree about the journalist.  I just plain didn't get what that was supposed to be about except a sex scene for the actress.  His solution to the problem wasn't witty or surprising, just obvious.  Nor should his solution seemingly been embarrassing / surprising to her based on the film.

The photos are lovely. by muchagecko (2.00 / 0) #26 Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 12:11:42 PM EST
You should do a whole series in that color scheme.

A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
My Name is Earl

Narrow squeak | 26 comments (26 topical, 0 hidden)