Ann Winterton

I believe she embodies everything that is bad about rural Britain. Little more needs to be said than her quotes below:

– Two sharks were fed up with tuna, so they thought they’d nip over to Morecambe Bay for a Chinese (in reference to the Chinese cockle-pickers who died in high-tide)
– A joke about Pakistanis which can be found here (would rather not quote directly)
– The UK is…thankfully a predominantly white, Christian country.

The saddest thing about her views, which echo those of Prince Philip, is that she doesn’t know any better, nor does she learn from her heinous mistakes. Who on earth is still inviting her to do after-dinner-speaking?

1,234,657

I was lacking some imagery at the top of the site, so I decided that I’d do something about it. After some futzing around with GIMP (an open source graphics package as opposed to any other connotations), I finally managed to get the above image together. It has significance for two reasons; let me know if you know either.

Words we should borrow

Some words in other languages that we should anglify:

– bakku-shan (Japanese): a girl who appears pretty from behind, but not from the front
– Kummerspeck (German, literally meaning grief bacon): the excessive weight gained from emotion-related eating
– uitwaaien (Dutch): walking in windy weather for fun
– plimpplampplettere (Dutch): to skim stones.

And one that we perhaps shouldn’t:

– koshatnik (Russian): stolen cat dealer.

Football, football

A couple of great games of Saturday night football in the last couple of weeks.

Things had reached a bit of a head a few weeks previously, with some overly aggressive participants getting a little feisty. They’ve now left the field of play, and a new group of people has taken their place, so we have some old timers and some newbies.

Last Saturday saw a great nine-a-side game, with post-match revelries at the Ear. The highlight (from my point of view) was being provided a fantastic long-range assist (thanks, Judith) leaving me to beat the goalie. Also, an outside-of-the-foot shot swerving that bit too much into the right post drew some gasps from the few onlookers. Last night’s highlight was an even longer-range assist from Paul the goalie, one touch to control and one more to lob the floundering keeper.

The level of competence is good, and with the addition of a couple of kids, it brings a healthy balance of competition and fun. So, if you’re interested and local, pop on by to J. J. Walker Stadium, every Saturday night from 9-11pm. $20 per person for the September through December season can’t be bad.

Starbucks, Newcastle and hurricanes

Work has kicked off again, meaning that I’ve had less time to pontificate on the minutiae of life, and even less time to write about them.

Starbucks has changed its coffee lids of late, opting for a flat plastic lid as opposed to the raised one of old. While this may be environmentally friendly in using less plastic, it has adversely affected the coffee-drinking experience.

The flat lids allows less room for sloshin’ about, increasing the risk of spillage. Also, the peel-off spout is not sufficiently well-scored to allow for a clean break. Must try harder.

Hopefully, Michael Owen’s arrival at Newcastle will spark something. So far, he’s contributed to a 2-1-0 record compared to a 0-1-3 record before his arrival, taking us from a dismal 19th to eleventh.

It seems that Hurricane Rita swinging to the east before hitting the coast was a blessing for Houston, although some reasonably-sized towns on the Texas and Louisiana coastline look like they’ve been hit quite hard. Nothing in comparison to Katrina, although the levées have been breached once again in New Orleans, courtesy of Rita.

I’ve been reading with interest the whole subject of hurricane naming. It looks like this will be the first year in which they will get through the entire alphabet (with the exceptions of Q, U, X, Y and Z which are not used) and have to resort to greek letters. Stan, Tammy, Vince and Wilma are next in line. With the hurricane season continuing through November, it looks like Hurricane Alpha is a certainty.

Each region of the world has its own names and rules for naming and retiring, as described here. It looks like Katrina and Rita will be retired from use this year, adding to Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne that were retired last year.

New look and feel

I got a bit bored of the cab and the mustard, so I opted for a change at the weekend. I did quite a bit of futzing around re-skinning an existing template, and here’s the result.

The comment link is now above the post rather than below, so please use it to let me have feedback and comments. I’m keen to get something more interesting floating across the top, but I’m largely happy with the spacing and positioning, thanks to some UE help from Elise.

Ich bin ein Berliner

It’s interesting to see the Guardian’s new look and feel, along with its Germanic size, which was launched on Monday. In the past, broadsheets and tabloids have been able to share printing presses, as the broadsheet (597mm x 375mm) is the same width as the tabloid (375mm x 298mm) is tall. For example, the Telegraph (broadsheet) and the Express (tabloid) used to be printed on the same presses in Westferry.

However, in a market where many of the traditionally broadsheet UK newspapers have downsized to tabloids (with the exception of Sunday editions, the Telegraph and the Financial Times are the only remaining significant broadsheets), the Guardian has bucked the trend by going all European, choosing the Berliner (470mm x 315mm). It’s a size somewhere in between the two, shared by France’s Le Monde and Italy’s La Repubblica, although oddly enough not by Germany’s Berliner Zeitung.

It has an area 32% larger than that of its tabloid competitors, 34% smaller than the broadsheets. (I like the fact that contrastingly, tabloids are only 25% smaller than the Berliner and broadsheets a gargantuan 51% larger. I’ll let you mull that one over.)

Although I’ve not seen it firsthand, I like its radical approach. As well as moving to a new size, it’s changed significant elements of its look and feel, introducing a new typeface (Guardian Egyptian) designed by Christian Schwartz, a revised masthead, a radically new layout and some neat navigational devices. Even subtleties like having right-ragged (nice name for left-aligned) format for commentary as opposed to justified formatting for news are highlighted in this annotated image on Flickr.

Looking at its online sister offering makes me think it needs a drastic overhaul. It’s cluttered, narrow and bitty, with little sense of branding either within pages or across the site. There are about 210 pixels in width dedicated to news articles at the top of their homepage, which strikes me as a heinous crime. Even at the 800 x 600 resolution to which web standards still refer, this allows only 26% of the screen’s horizontal real-estate to news. Take it up to my resolution of 1280 x 800, you’re down to 16%.

We’ll wait to see whether the revised hard-copy format helps to fend off its declining circulation.

Ground Zero has moved

After playing a very tough game of soccer last night, I ‘bladed home down the Westside Highway, with the two spears of light representing the World Trade Center shooting up further down the street. For a while, the lights were a semi-permanent memorial to the events, but for the last couple of years, they have only been turned on on the night of each anniversary.

So, I decided to grab my camera and head down to Ground Zero for a closer look; only to find that they weren’t there. Instead of beaming up from Ground Zero itself, they’re positioned atop a multi-storey carpark four blocks south of Ground Zero. Slightly disappointing, but impressive nonetheless.

The Ashes

Bring it on!

It’s somewhat lost over here, in a country bereft of cricket. However, the interweb means I’ve been able to listen, and a fellow British client means I’ve been able to share the enthusiasm.

I wish I was in London to savour the victory and the post-match euphoria.

Revelations, chapter 1

I love revelations. Not the chapter in the bible, due to my atheist ways, but finding something out for the first time (is there any other time to find something out?), particularly when the fact is clever, subtle or slightly geeky.

Notable revelations include tapping the 57, the solution to the Locked Lockers problem and the negative arrow in the FedEx logo, in both Latin and Arabic character-sets, to name but a few. The FedEx one has enthralled me, and here is an interesting interview with the brains behind the now eleven-year-old logo, Lindon Leader. My fascination is probably in some part related to my early days at Ogilvy.

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