Friday, 22 August 2008

Just what have I let myself in for?

I'm going to The End Of The Road festival in about a month and I just received the following message from their facebook group:

PEACE INTENTION at End of the Road

As the theme of our healing field this year is Peace, we thought we'd take part in this, and you're welcome to join us by signing up:

The Global Peace Intention Experiment

A Live Aid of scientific experiments will test the power of group mind to lower violence around the world

If all of us send a good thought for peace can it actually work to restore peace in a war-torn area?

Lynne McTaggart, author of the best-selling book The Intention Experiment, is asking thousands of participants to join together, via The Intention Experiment website, on Sunday, September 14, for the first of a series of ‘Peace Intention Experiments' to send an intention to lower violence in a particular war-torn city. The actual location will be revealed on the day. The experiment will likely run for a week and involve 10 minutes of intention a day.

McTaggart is working with a prestigious team of top scientists and philanthropic organisations to devise a strict protocol and measure results. Thousands of participants from 80 countries around the world have already signed up.

To participate in the Peace Intention Experiment, please register on

You will then be sent instructions about what to do on the day.

At End of the Road, we are gathering in the healing field in the Secret Garden, where we will send the intention together. But you must sign up in advance as above, and be sincere about carrying through.

*facedesk* *re-read* *facedesk*

Are they fucking serious? They not only think they can affect something by thinking about it, but they're going to pretend its a serious scientific experiment with a measurable outcome? How are you supposed to measure the outcome, is there a "war-torn city" out there which is able to provide reliable data on just how much violence there was during a specific 10-day period? How do you define violence in the first place? Who are these "top scientists" who are involved and what the hell is a "top scientist" in the first place? Is there an international premier league of scientists I've never heard of?

I sincerely hope the rest of the festival isn't as infested with woo, its supposed to be a nice relaxing weekend listening to some amazing bands and clearing my head, I don't want to have to spend the entire time dodging quacks and resisting* the temptation to argue with new-age weirdos. The EotR website gives no suggestion of any sort of woo element to the festival and the inclusion on the line-up of Robin Ince, Britain's greatest (only?) skeptic comedian, is certainly a good sign. I really hope he hears about the above "experiment" in time to include something about it in his set, it would fit in perfectly with the stuff he did at Latitude and if it educates a few of the people who would otherwise have taken part it has to be worth doing.

*Who am I kidding, I'll never be able to resist. Better get re-reading The Demon-Haunted World so I've got my basic arguments down. I know its a pretty much pointless exercise, but sometimes you just can't help yourself.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Bone-cracking Quacks

It would appear the British Chiropractic Association are a bunch of deluded, litigious cunts.

From the look of Gimpy's breakdown of the article the case is never going to get anywhere and with any luck will massively backfire by showing up chiropractic for the complete nonsense it is. I for one was completely unaware just how totally full of shit it was until the above posts started appearing, there had been the odd mention of it on bad science blogs before but I'd never really looked into it. The 'offending' article is a fantastic introduction to just how batshit-insane this stuff really is, while the original has been taken down by the spineless Guardian it can still be found here, on a russian server well out of the reach of the BCA. Time to forward it to everyone I know who has ever visited one of these weirdos...

Monday, 18 August 2008

Lou Barlow's Amazing Website is a truly astonishing place. Described very accurately on the front page as Lou Barlow's vast and confusing website, it houses a whole host of interesting Lou related bits and pieces including the usual news, gig listings, videos etc but also a huge gallery of cat photos (never a bad thing) and probably about 5 whole albums worth of music, mostly available for free download with the remainder being streamed on the site. There are some incredible songs up there and it is really worth the time to click around the place to track them all down, or at least the ones not available on CD. You might as well skip the original Sentridoh mp3s and just go straight to the merch page to buy it, if you've got any sense you'll end up paying for a CD even after getting the mp3s, its worth having in a permanent form and something that good deserves to be paid for.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

I must be doing something right

Get in, the blog is less than a month old and I've already had the first comment calling me a cunt. Despite it being anonymous I think its safe to assume it was from one of the bands I was less than complimentary about, which makes the part about being creative particularly amusing as the phrase "wank yourself silly over a picture of Judy Finnigan" is more creative than any of the derivative shit they were playing that night.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

I just ate a squirrel

No, really. Fucking tasty it was too. Does this trump alligator as the strangest animal I've eaten? I can't decide.

Linguine with Prawns

This was originally going to be a comment here but it was going on way too long for a single comment and since everyone* seems to be doing cookery based posts all of a sudden it seemed more appropriate to make a real post out of it

*well, these two anyway. Apologies for not linking to the specific post on Twonilblankblank but its either down right now or (more likely) our office network is playing silly buggers again. [EDIT: ha, got it]

So, Dana has asked for people's favourite food. I could go on for pages and pages about a perfect beef ragu but for everyday eating (i.e. things which take less than 3 hours to cook) my current favourite has got to be linguine with prawns.

(measurements are mostly guesswork)

1/2 a medium onion, finely chopped
1-3 cloves of garlic, according to taste, finely chopped
~300ml tomato passata
~100ml vegetable stock
220g fresh shelled prawns (because thats the size of the packs of taste the difference prawns from Sainsburys. A few more would be preferable. )
However much linguine 2 of you will eat (as I live with a pasta addict this is often as much as 400g dry weight in our house)

Put water on for pasta. SLOWLY cook onion and garlic in 2-3 tablespoons olive oil. Strangely, I find a wok is the the perfect pan for this - the base is small enough that the onion and garlic sit in enough oil not to burn but because it flares out its big enough to use to mix everything together at the end. Once the water is boiling and the pasta is in, add the passata and stock to the onions and garlic and bring to a simmer. If you happen to have any white wine lying around, you could do a lot worse than add a splash of it before this step (sadly I'm a cider drinking heathen and my housemate only drinks red so we rarely do) 3-4 minutes before the pasta is cooked, add the prawns to the sauce along with a tablespoon or two of the pasta water and check for seasoning. Top tip: add a touch of sugar as well as salt and pepper, supermarket passata in the UK is always too acidic and this helps balance it out. Drain the pasta when it is still slightly underdone, add it to the sauce, keep the heat on low and stir together for the final minute of cooking to ensure the sauce properly coats the pasta.

Dead simple, done in 20 minutes and bloody fantastic, if I do say so myself.

Recipe inspired by Linguine with Lobster from Giorgio Locatelli's Made In Italy, but simplified (and budgeted) down to where I can face cooking it after work. A slightly more faithful, but still affordable, version of the original recipe could be made by buying unpeeled prawns and using the shells and a pinch of saffron to make the stock but this is more effort than I'm usually willing to put in.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

New release: Conor Oberst by Conor Oberst

Right then, time for my first album review in about seven years*, in what will hopefully become a semi-regular feature assuming I actually manage to continue listening to new music and notice when things get released.

Ok, I give up. Wrote the introduction to this post about 5 days ago and keep coming back to it but I just do not know what to say about this album. Its Conor Oberst, if you've got the last Bright Eyes album you know exactly what to expect. The production is a bit more stripped back but that's no surprise - the whole reason it wasn't released as Bright Eyes in the first place is that Mike Mogis, one of the other two permanent members and responsible for recording every previous album back to Fevers & Mirrors, wasn't able to take part in the recording. Its a great album and if you're already a Bright Eyes fan you're bound to love it, if you're not then I'm sure you've got your reasons and you should probably leave well alone.

*Rings Around The World by Super Furry Animals was the last one** if I remember rightly, for a dodgy magazine someone was putting together in 6th form. With any luck, there are no copies still in existence...

**Looks like its still the last one. Oh well, probably for the best.

Friday, 8 August 2008

The enemies of reason: Mail shows sympathy for migrants

The enemies of reason: Mail shows sympathy for migrants

I don't know how Anton does it. How can he possibly spend so much time reading the Daily Mail (or as I think he has conclusively proved it should be known, the Daily Fail) without his brain melting and dribbling out his ears? Today's effort can't have helped with his state of mind, I still can't quite believe the Fail has produced a pro-immigration story even after reading the damn thing.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Bohemian Jukebox - 05/08/08

Sadly there was no sign of The Baron at last night's gig so it looks like I actually need to do some sort of review for this one:

Headlining was some cunt with a guitar (or some cunts with instruments, I think it was listed as one guy on the Bohemian Jukebox website but there were several of 'em on stage) Another guy who doesn't deserve a mention by name, or rather isn't worth the effort of checking what his name actually was. I can only assume he was given the headline slot purely on the amount of people he brings along to gigs since his music made Snow Patrol sound exciting. Sadly the people he brought along were just as bad as the arseholes at the Toby Goodshank gig, talking through all the other bands, not giving a shit until their mates were on and then suddenly discovering they could not only clap but cheer, whoop and generally ensure the talentless gimps on stage got the impression they shouldn't just go home and kill themselves.

Mr Plow, probably the world's only country singer named after one of Homer Simpson's business ventures, was the real star of the night. Great voice and fantastic downbeat country music, he mentioned that he was recording a session for Mark Lamarr's radio show on 23rd August which should be worth a listen. I think my housemate managed to collar him for one of the free 7" singles he was giving away after the set, I'll see if I can 'borrow' it and report back (I was too busy getting a quick dose of nicotine after his set, by the time I got back uptstairs they'd already packed up and buggered off - I think they must have caught the headliners soundchecking and realised it was probably a good idea not to be around when they came on)

Sadly the chattering hordes were out in force for Theatre of the Absurd so please bear in mind that this is my impression of a gig I was struggling to hear properly. I'd previously seen him joining in with both Dizzy Spells Martian and Toby Goodshank at the rainbow a couple of weeks ago (a fact I completely forgot to mention at the time) which gave him a lot to live up to. If he'd actually managed to remember the songs he might have managed it too, there was definitely a really interesting singer-songwriter hiding somewhere under the lack of preparation. He also gets bonus points for ambition by attempting to cover The Postal Service's Nothing Better, most noticable for being a boy/girl duet with a distinctive keyboard part, on his own with an acoustic guitar. It didn't work for one second, but it was nice to see him try.

The whole night was kicked off by The Great Plain, presumably a last minute addition as they weren't listed on the posters/myspace. Decent local duo, two guys both playing guitar and singing. Nothing revolutionary but they had some good tunes and a nice contrast in singing styles. If its possible to find reasonable local acts like this at the last minute why in the fuck did we have to put up with the turgid shit on offer from the headliners?

Overall it was a good night in terms of music but despite this being a seemingly well-established night at a really busy pub there were barely any people there who didn't seem to know at least one of the bands. Why are Brummies so hard to get to gigs?

Friday, 1 August 2008

Google Reader

What the fuck is wrong with this piece of shit website and where can I find an alternative web-based RSS reader? It is completely refusing to show up the blogs I have listed on my blogroll (you know, the ones I actually want to read regularly...) unless I change it to show everything in one giant list, and I can't even get to the settings page to try and change this. Ok so I am on IE6 (and windows 2000, our office is THAT modern) but it shouldn't be this fucked even so.

Third Hand Hilarity

I have no idea what the etiquette regarding 'borrowing' amusing stories from other blogs who have already taken them from somewhere else is but there is no way I could fail to mention this story. Again, its a british article brought to my attention by an american blogger, cheers Dana. Maybe its time I started checking some proper websites as well as blogs, what difference can another half hour make when I already spend less than half my day actually working.