Specialist subject, the bleedin' obvious.

It's not just software patents that are dubious… someone's applying for a US patent on the stunning and not at all obvious idea of having a testing system "wherein the test is privately conducted and testing results are anonymously reported without revealing a person's identity".

How is this miracle achieved? By – get ready for the shock – giving people a personal code number.

It's application #20010012611, and will doubtless be granted soon.

She can do some good after she's dead at least

What made me particularly appreciate the Mitch Benn song is not just my loathing of the Mail's racism, but also that one of Lisa's brothers lives in Newton, one of the proposed sites, with his wife and kids.

A tiny development based on the married quarters accommodation for the old RAF base, it's not racism or NIMBYism that's driving the opposition there, it's common sense. Sticking 300-odd asylum seekers in the middle of nowhere, somewhere that doesn't have any of the facilities you'd expect in a village, never mind a city, is madness.

Doing the washing up, it occured to me that the solution is obvious – house the refugees in the palaces made vacant by the death of the Queen Mother!

Refugees could have the choice of an inner city or large estate. It avoids the scandal of tax payers coughing up £5 million to 'renovate' Clarence House for Prince Charles to live there – just how much damage can a 100 year old woman to do a palace? And it's not as if the Royal Family are exactly homeless or unaware of the plight of being political refugees… they should jump at the chance to help in this way.

To the tune of 'Dedicated Follower of Fashion'

Asylum seekers here, asylum seekers there
In Throckmorton, and who knows where
Their story's been splashed all over this week's Daily Mail
In which they're designated foreigners for bashing

They'll rob our homes, they'll nick our jobs
Though paradox-ically we think they're slobs
And the local lads will hang around in Union Jack t-shirts
Looking for anybody swarthy with a 'tache on.

Oh yes they will, oh yes they will,
And we don't believe their tales of persecution
We'll stick them in an old air base at thirty to a room
With just a desicated matress there to crash on

They come from near, they come from far
Hanging from planes and Eurostars
They're bogus and they're scroungers,
Look for god's sake, man – they're brown
And we're all educated swallowers of fascism.

by Mitch Benn

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/comedy/nowshow.shtml
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/comedy/rams/nowshow.ram

What I missed

… by not watching the Queen Mother's funeral:

(courtesy of the BBC, ITN, Sky News and CNN).

1.) "The people in the amassed crowds have come from all over the world. I was speaking – just this morning – to one woman who'd flown over from Western Ireland two days ago. She said she needed to pay her respects to the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother; who, as you know, wasn't Irish."

2.) "And of course, Tom, she had a great sense of humour. Prince William spoke, the other day, of the time when his great grandmother amused dinner guests by complimenting the Queen on the dinner and ending with the word Respec', made famous by Ali G. Respec' is a shortened way of saying Respect."

3.) "And there you can see, being pulled by six black horses, the gun carriage that will carry the coffin of the Queen Mother as it journeys to Westminster Abbey. As you can see, it's empty at the moment. That's because the coffin isn't on it."

4.) "…and you can hear an official making a statement, over the loudspeaker, asking everyone in the Abbey to turn off any mobile phones or pagers." (said just after the statement booms out so loudly that even the deaf viewers have to avert their eyes).

5.) "…and the public have all braved this bitterly cold night. Even though three people were taken to hospital with hypothermia, the rest have not been put off." Was he expecting the one million others to say en masse: "Shit! Three of us got hypothermia. We'd better not risk it…"?

6.) "And you can see the King of Norway there. He's the monarch of Norway."

7.) "…the organist there, playing a piece by Bach. Of course, that's the organist's role – to play the organ."

8.) "And so the funeral procession heads out of London, through streets quite full with traffic. Of course, that's because this funeral has taken place on a Tuesday – which is very much treated as a day of the week, here in London."

9.) "The Duke of Kent, there, carries his Field Marshal's baton, which denotes his status as a Field Marshal."

10.) Anne – "So, Tom, I understand that the Royal Family will be sitting in a part of the Abbey called the 'Lantern'. For the benefit of our viewers in the United States, can you just explain the special historical significance of that part of the Abbey?"

Tom – "Yes, of course, Anne. The 'Lantern', as you say, is a place of very special historical significance – particularly today, because that's where the Royal Family will be sitting."

Two sources is research…

The Tory candidate in Harrow West this time, following the defeat of the sitting Tory in 92 (an ex-junior minister most famous for his adultery) was Danny Finkelstein.

Danny was once known as Yet Another Reason to Hate the SDP before he left – hmm, odd word to use that for Danny – to join the Tories. He ended up running Hague's office, and fully expected to win the seat back. Indeed, in 1992 Labour had been amazed when they won it and their candidate had to say 'sorry, I have to resign' to the school he expected to be back teaching at on Monday.

I'm delighted to say that Danny lost.

But shit floats to the surface, and he's now some assistant editor at The Times.

And clearing up some junk, I've found an article about why we should invade Iraq that he wrote in October last year. The Times website wants you to register, so thanks to google here's another link to it.

Wow, impressive stuff. Let's find out more about that shocking story about the woman journalist who was tortured and hanged for being disrespectful about Saddam's wife.

Hmmm, apart from copies of Danny's article, her name only appears once, in a book written by someone else whose story he gives.

Here's Danny's version:

Let’s start with the story of Amal al-Mudarris, once the best-known personality on Baghdad radio and much admired by the educated elite. She was not, however, much admired by President Saddam Hussein’s wife. Sajida Hussein began calling the presenter, complaining that she wasn’t praising her husband often enough. One day at the radio station, after yet another crude call, al-Mudarris was chatting to some of her friends. 'That woman isn’t fit to be Iraq’s first lady,' she said. Unnoticed, one of her colleagues slipped away and phoned the Ministry of Information. Within minutes the station was surrounded and the presenter was arrested. Amal al-Mudarris was tortured until she confessed what she had said. Then she was hanged. After her execution her tongue was cut out and delivered to her family.

… and here's Khidir Hamza's original, written a year earlier:

Everyone knew the story of Amal al-Mudarris, probably the best-known personality on Baghdad radio, a woman who had covered the news in an especially clear and cultured voice that endeared her to the educated elite. Her insistence on presenting the news objectively won her a wide following, especially among those of us who were aware of the depth of Saddam's lies and repression.

Her demise was instructive. Saddam's wife, Sajida, began calling her with complaints that she wasn't covering newsworthy events mostly those extolling her husband, of course. The calls became more frequent, annoying, even crude. One day al-Mudarris, talking with some longtime friends at the station, remarked that Sajida was unfit to be Iraq's first lady. One of her colleagues slipped away from the table and called her husband at the Ministry of Information. A few minutes later the station was surrounded, and security officers hauled al-Mudarris away. After a round of torture, she confessed to what she had said and was sentenced to death. After she was hanged, her tongue was cut out and delivered to her family.

Hmmm. Spot the similarities. The story of the nuclear physicist imprisoned and beaten for ten years is in there too.

What's that phrase again? Two sources is research, but one is plagarism?

I also find it interesting that according to google, the name of someone who was supposed to be Iraq's most famous radio personality appears nowhere else on the net.

Particularly as the story that swung the US decision to send troops to "liberate" Kuwait – the Iraqi army's fatal looting of life support equipment for babies from a Kuwaiti hospital, as told by someone alledged to have been a Kuwaiti nurse – was a lie.

Yes, Saddam Hussain is a complete shit. But he isn't Iranian, which is why the US and British governments were happy to sell him weapons and the basic materials for what they then complained he used against someone else. Someone else with oil, obviously. Who cares about the Kurds?

If I have a minute over the next week, I'll post some more of the reasons why the US attitude to Iraq is curious to say the least.

"If you can play as if it means nothing when it means everything…"

To some people's amusement, I've long lusted after Stephen Hendry, the best ever snooker player. (How good is he? Well, the most centuries in a season record is his. Who's second? Erm, Stephen another year. And he's third. I think he's still fourth too, and quite possibly fifth.)

I've done so since before his first world championship in fact. Over all those years, he's been in some incredible matches – one against Jimmy White in the late 80s stands out for me, where frames were taking six or seven minutes – but oh what a semi-final! And what a second semi-final to go with it.

Let's hope the final's half as good. Provided Stephen wins 🙂

All your software is obselete

Microsoft have a list of which software they've decided to stop supporting, along with a suggested replacement. My favourite so far is

software: CPM/80 Operating System (erm, just when did MS write that, as opposed to steal from it?)
stop date: 01-Jul-1999
suggested replacement: Windows

Oh and you should replace your Edit for CPM/80 with Notepad, but your Multiplan 1.06 for CPM/80 (a spreadsheet) with Excel… for Macintosh.

Other oddities include Cinemania 94 and 95 being supported for longer (until October) than Cinemania 97 (stopped 1st April), while Win98SE is supported until 30th Jun 2004, the version of IE it shipped with is already unsupported, Word/Win 6 is ok, but not Excel 95 or Access 95…

…and that no version of MS-DOS is listed.

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=fh;en-us;lifecycle

Shackleton

We finally got around to watching this yesterday – good stuff. I remember one reviewer saying the first half was 'boring' but I'm afraid I liked it too.

It's reminded me of why, despite some attempts, games on history like this and the First Crusade don't really work — to reproduce the actual events in a proper sim, you'd have to do the equivalent of roll 6s constantly. If it hadn't happened, you wouldn't believe it.