Friday, June 29, 2012

Ilkley's olympic torch relay from the van of

Here's the video from the man himself ! Jim Robinson, official sponsor of the London 2012 Olympics !

I'm just out of shot to the right at 7.13

Tour de France Rules

The Stakes

Whether leaders of a team or merely a team-mate, the riders on the Tour de France try to excel, either individually or as a team. According to the stage profiles, changes in the general standings or some unexpected circumstance during the race, each rider adapts his objectives to the situation. The winners of the various prizes eventually share the honours and the money at stake with their team-mates. Enough to make (almost!) everybody happy.

Stage victory

 Les 20 stages and 1 prologue Tour de France 20120are divided up as follows: 9 flat stages, 4 hilly stages with 1 summit finish, 5 mountain stages with 2 high-altitude finishes and 2 individual time-trial stages.
Prize money: € 8,000 to the winner of each stage (€ 475,000 in total).

The Yellow Jersey

 It is worn by the leader of the general individual time classification.
Prize money: € 450,000 for the outright winner (€ 1,000,000 in total).

The Green Jersey

 It is worn by the leader of the points classification. The points can be won on intermediate sprints and at stage finishes.
Prize money: € 25,000 for the outright winner (€ 125,000 in total).

The Red Polka Dot Jersey

 It is worn by the best climber. Points for best climber classification are awarded at the top of any classified slope.
Prize money: € 25,000 for the outright winner (€ 107,000 in total).

The White Jersey

 It is worn by the best young rider aged 25 years or less in the general individual time classification.
Prize money: € 20,000 for the outright winner (€ 65,000 in total).

Most aggressive rider

 This distinction is awarded at the end of each stage by a jury made up of eight cycling specialists. An outright winner is designated after the last stage of the Tour.
Prize money: € 20,000 for the outright winner (€ 56,000 in total).

The team classification

 This classification is determined by adding the times of the best three riders of each squad in each stage.
Prize money: € 50 000 € for the winning team (€ 178,000 in total).

Best climber classification: double points for the final climb

Since the 2004 edition of the Tour de France, the competition for the Red Polka Dot Jersey includes a detail that adds a certain amount of spice to the race: for the final climb on a stage's profile, the points are doubled for Category 1, Category 2 and Top Category climbs. So the riders who lead this classification are undoubtedly the most courageous ones and the prize goes to those who remain out in front in this classification for the longest period of time.

Helmets must be worn at all times

All riders must wear a helmet for the entire duration of each stage and on each stage.

Falls in the last three kilometres

As has been the case since 2005, riders involved in a fall in the last three kilometres of a stage are given the same finishing time as the group which they belonged to. This rule is not applicable in time-trial stages and stages that finish at the summit of a climb.

(taken from the official Le Tour site)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Happy Birthday Inma

Inma Cuesta is 33 today, and what lovely eyes she has.

Inma shares a birthday with celebrity druggie George Michael and polemic journalist and author Eric Arthur Blair, better known as George Orwell. Neither of those two beat Inma in the lovely eyes stakes though.

Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial, Vienna

"The Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial also known as the Nameless Library stands in Judenplatz in the first district of Vienna. It is the central memorial for the Austrian victims of the Holocaust and was designed by the British artist Rachel Whiteread.

The memorial is a steel and concrete construction.  The outside surfaces of the volume are cast library shelves turned inside out. The spines of the books are facing inwards and are not visible, therefore the titles of the volumes are unknown and the content of the books remains unrevealed. The shelves of the memorial appear to hold endless copies of the same edition, which stand for the vast number of the victims, as well as the concept of Jews as "People of the Book." The double doors are cast with the panels inside out, and have no doorknobs or handles. They suggest the possibility of coming and going, but do not open.

The memorial represents, in the style of Whiteread's "empty spaces", a library whose books are shown on the outside but are unreadable. The memorial can be understood as an appreciation of Judaism as a religion of the "book"; however, it also speaks of a cultural space of memory and loss created by the genocide of the European Jews. Through the emphasis of void and negative casting rather than positive form and material, it acts as a "counter monument" in this way opposite to the production through history of grandiose and triumphal monumental objects.

As a work of art, the memorial was not intended to be beautiful and as such it contrasts with much of the Baroque art and architecture of Vienna. A member of the design jury had noticed a resemblance to a bunker and the military fortifications of the Atlantic wall were later confirmed by the artist as a source of inspiration for the project. There is an aspect of discomfort in the monument that was meant to provoke thought in the viewer through the memorial's severe presence. It was intended to evoke the tragedy and brutality of the Holocaust and in the words of Simon Wiesenthal at the unveiling, "This monument shouldn't be beautiful, It must hurt." - from Wikipedia

Susie West adds this "[the] Holocaust Memorial, a cast of spaces around books on bookshelves, to signify books not written, not read, and not loved by citizens who were Jewish." in Contexts A151 Book 2, (2012) Solid but unstable: the early modern book, Milton Keynes, The Open University.

Ilkley's Olympic Torch Relay

Work was closed due to flooding so went uptown to watch the Olympic torch being carried through Ilkley. 3/4 hour before the torch is due and people are gathering in some numbers.

It won't be often that the police get a huge cheer just for turning up.

People getting high 5's from the bike cops.

Drink Pepsi, or neither, Scroobius Pip teaches "Don't buy Coca-Cola products, don't buy Nestle products."

Pretty girls, no other reason.

The main Olympic sponsor is of course Jim Robinson Decorators, here is Jim's van in the middle of the Olympic convoy.  You can call him for a quote you know. Still, I think he should have made more of an effort, even one of those plastic torches on the ladder would have made all the difference.

Huzzah! Hooray! Here is the torch.

Followed by a few minutes of friendly anarchy as people wander around on the road.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Moving Tribute To Pets I Have Lost

Jim Davidson Writes A Blog

Best of the Jim Davidson blog

It is pretty much as you would expect, poorly written, filled with hatred for others, stupid comments about skin colour and hilarious for all the wrong reasons.  Jim doesn't know how to turn the spell check on and displays only a fleeting grasp of punctuation.

"Talking of the Olympics… Let’s hope that our black people beat all the other black people!" - Jim Davidson.

I am now so old I can remember when Lenny Henry used to funny, I can't say the same about Jim Davidson though.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Former England Star Makes A Fool Of Himself

Flintoff questions Atherton's ability to commentate in expletive filled attack

Flintoff is wrong, just as Pieterson was wrong to have a go at Nick Knight.  The argument that only someone with equal or better skills to the person being criticised is illogical and fatuous.  I do not have children of my own, yet I can tell the difference between well behaved and badly behaved children.  I have never played football to a decent level, yet I can still see the difference between a really good team, Real Madrid for example, and a fairly average side, such as Bradford City. I do not need to have played Premiership football to be able to criticise Leeds United's defensive shortcomings last season, I just need a basic understanding of the game and some experience of watching it. Flintoff's argument is one that would preclude the overwhelming majority of us from being to talk about anything at all.

'Freddy' was a good cricketer, and had moments of glorious greatness on the field of play.  Off the field though his alcohol inspired buffoonery is as much a part of his reputation as his sporting prowess is. When it comes to criticising fellow players, whether ex or not, perhaps Flintoff should have kept a lower profile, in abusing the 37.69 test average Atherton for criticising the then form of the 48.54 average Cook, perhaps Freddy should kept in mind the fact that his own test average was only 31.77. Whatever Flintoff felt about Atherton's on-air comments, he should have presented his case in a much more measured and calm fashion, calling a former England captain a "fucking prick" at a public function is very poor form and does Flintoff's personal reputation no good at all.

The Significance Of Our Belongings

"People do not necessarily understand the importance and significance of the things they own."

"It is often the case that observers from other countries or cultures notice things about our behaviour that we do not see because we are so accustomed to the behaviour that we cannot recognise its significance."

 - Arthur Asa Berger, (2009), What Objects Mean: An Introduction to Material Culture, Walnut Creek, Left Coast Press.

Pic - Cabinet of Curiosities of Bonnier de la Mosson, Library of the Museum of Natural History, Paris

English Summer Rain

Well this is thoroughly depressing. We are supposed to be hosting Men's Invitation Day today here at Ilkley Golf Club, but due to two days of very heavy rain the course is heavily flooded and it is still raining.  The time sheet was full today with around 140 golfers signed up to play, plus we have two events scheduled for tomorrow (Sunday) and on Monday we are supposed to be hosting an England Golf Captains event for 100. It isn't looking good at the moment.

Yesterday's service was rather chaotic due to the torrential rain interrupting the two visiting parties we had booked in.  Congratulations are due to the gentlemen of Headingley Golf Club and the Spreadeagle Golf Society who braved the conditions to play 18 holes in a constant, wind lashed downpour.

Thanks also to my staff for the day, Rob, Ellie, Callum, Fred and Laura who were all great and responded to our calls for rapidly changing shifts as events changed through the course of the day.

Due to insomnia I've been up since 4.30am, and the river hasn't dropped at all in that time.  Looking out from the clubhouse I can see that large areas of the 1st, 2nd and 18th holes are flooded, and of course this means that the lower lying areas of the course will be a lake this morning.

It looks like a homework day then, I may as well take advantage of the sudden lull to catch up on my A151 work.  Target for the day then; finish the chapter on the history of books, make a start on the history of museums and collections chapter, and then read the rest of the essay Metaphor, Materiality and Interpretation: The Metaphorical Tranformations of Wala Island Canoes, gripping stuff I assure you.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

British Olympic Babes - Jodie Williams

"Jodie Alicia Williams (born 28 September 1993) is a British sprinter of Trinidadian descent, who specialises in the 100 and 200 metres. She is the former World Youth Champion over both distances, the reigning World Junior and European Junior Champion in the 100m and European Junior Champion in the 200m" from Wikipedia.

British Olympic Babes - Stef Reid

"Stefanie ‘Stef’ Reid is a Paralympic sprinter who competes for Great Britain in the 100m, 200m and Long Jump. Stef competed in the 2008 Paralympics for Canada and won a bronze medal in the women’s T44 200m. Switching allegiance, Stef began competing for Great Britain in 2010 and broke 3 World records in the space of 2 months. She’s Britain’s only female amputee sprinter and a strong a multi-medal prospect for London 2012." - from Stef Reid's website

Stef has been featured as part of BP's carbon offsetting campaign for the 2012 Olympics

With fellow Olympian Jonnie Peacock


Sunday, June 17, 2012

"The essence of fashion consists in the fact that it should always be exercised by only part of a given group, the great majority of whom are merely on the road to adopting it. As soon as a fashion has become universally adopted, that is, as soon as anything that was originally done only by a few has really come to be practised by all - as is the case in certain elements of clothing and in various forms of social conduct - we no longer characterize it is fashion. Every growth of a fashion drives it to its doom, because it thereby cancels out its distinctiveness." - Georg Simmel, The Philosophy of Fashion, The Consumption Reader, (2003) Clarke DB and Doel MA (eds), Routledge.

What We Own Controls Us

Max Weber
"Material goods have gained an increasing an inexorable power over the lives of men as at no previous period of history." - Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 2002 translation by Peter Baehr and Gordon C. Wells, Penguin Books.

"...we are locked into a situation in which we can never stop yearning for new and better things because we are always comparing ourselves with others who have more than we do." - Arthur Asa Berger, (2009), What Objects Mean: An Introduction to Material Culture, Walnut Creek, Left Coast Press.

Conspicuous Consumption

"As fast as a person makes new acquisitions, and becomes accustomed to the new standard of wealth, the new standard forthwith ceases to afford greater satisfaction than the earlier standard did." - Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929)

Advertising and Marxist Economic Theory

"Advertising's immediate goal is to sell artefacts and various kinds of products, but its long range goal is to turn people's attention away from their exploitation and justify the existence of a capitalist economic system." - Arthur Asa Berger, (2009), What Objects Mean: An Introduction to Material Culture, Walnut Creek, Left Coast Press.

Pic - Statue of Karl Marx in Addis Ababa.

Berger's Methods of Gratification Provided by Artefacts

To have beautiful things.

To find diversion and distraction.

To imitate models we respect.

To affirm aesthetic values.

Arthur Asa Berger, (2009), What Objects Mean: An Introduction to Material Culture, Walnut Creek, Left Coast Press.

Pierce's Trichotomy of Signs

Iconic signs - those that signify by resemblance

Indexical signs - those that signify by cause and effect

Symbolic signs - those whose meaning must be learned

Charles Sanders Pierce (1839-1914)

Torquemada's Proof of God's Existence

How History Teaches Us

"History does not produce definitive answers for all time. It is a process." Margaret MacMillan, (2009) The Uses And Abuses Of History, London, Profile Books.

"Lost golden ages can be very effective tools for motivating people in the present."

TV Review - Dead Set 9*

This is by the way of being a double review, as well as watching the excellent Channel 4 mini-series Dead Set I viewed it via a free month's introductory subscription to Netflix.  I don't watch much television, and I hardly ever get to the cinema, largely due to being at work when anything worth watching is on.  The Netflix advantage of being able to watch programmes on my laptop without being tied to recordings on the Sky box at home seems like a good idea.

So far I have seen a selection of films; The Devil Came On Horseback - a harrowing documentary about the Janjaweed in the Sudan, The Woodsman - Kevin Bacon stars as a convicted paedophile struggling to adjust on his release from prison, Black Sheep - horror and laughs as flesh eating mutant sheep run riot in New Zealand, Ghost World - a nicely quirky and offbeat drama where Thora Birch's high school drop out becomes increasingly infatuated with oddball Steve Buscemi, and Dead Set.  Netflix is currently priced at £6 a month, rather less than a single visit to the cinema and pretty good value.

Jaime Winston as Kelly in Dead Set

Charlie Brooker wrote the script for Dead Set and set the tone for the rather extreme gore fest when he said "There's no point making a 15-certificate zombie flick. Money shots, that's what you want. And that's what you'll get. I sincerely hope some of you vomit."  Dead Set is violent and gory, incredibly so, from smashing a zombie skull in with a fire extinguisher to seeing Davina McCall getting her throat ripped out, it's a full on bloodbath all the way.

There are two sorts of accepted zombies now, the stumbling and slow Dawn Of The Deaders, and the much more terrifying running, screaming, tireless 28 Days Later monsters, Brooker has opted for the latter. The relentless zombie horde, which appear with no explanation, are truly scary in their unstoppable quest for fresh flesh.

Although the scripting for Dead Set is mostly very high quality, there are one or two moments that let the series down a little.  The incident with the armed policemen felt like a pointless and arbitrary caricature of the police, Kathleen MacDermott's endlessly stupid character Pippa became a bit wearing, and Andy Nyman's portrayal of Big Brother director Patrick was a little over the top in places.  On the positive side though, Jaime Winston as Kelly was great throughout and Liz May Brice, Riz Ahmed and Warren Brown provided very believable supporting roles.

The action comes thick, fast and gore drenched, Brooker inverts the whole ethos of Big Brother from having (to the contestant's minds) the whole world looking in they become an island amidst the horror, looking out for salvation. Brooker has his characters muse on the fickle nature of talent free fame, sometimes in darkly comic style and as the zombie horde closes in on the Big Brother house we are reminded that even with the world reversed in the throes of a zombie holocaust the Big Brother contestants are in demand not because they offer anything special, singular, intellectually stimulating or creatively exciting, but just because they are alive.  Fresh flesh for zombies or fresh faces for the easily amused watching public, Dead Set neatly underlines the nature of these forgettable and fleeting celebrities.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Copper Wire

After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, French scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 200years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 150 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the French: in the weeks that followed, American archaeologists dug to a depth of 20feet before finding traces of copper wire. Shortly afterwards, they published an article in the New York Times saying : "American archaeologists, having found traces of 250-year-old copper wire, have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network 50 years earlier than the French."

A few weeks later, ‘The British Archaeological Society of Northern England’ reported the following: "After digging down to a depth of 33 feet in the Skipton area of North Yorkshire in 2011, Charlie Hardcastle, a self-taught amateur archaeologist, reported that he had found "absolutely fuck all". Charlie has therefore concluded that 250 years ago, Britain had already gone wireless.""

The Death, Or Possibly Dearth, Of Culture

As I was driving the waiting staff home this week...

Robyn - "What's this [on the radio]?"

Me - "It's Radio 4, 11.30pm, it sounds like a play or a Book At Bedtime."

Robyn (incredulous) - "There's a Radio 4 ?! I've never heard of it."

Me - "Stephen Fry says Radio 4 is just about the best thing about living in Britain."

Maddy - "Stephen Fry is really annoying."

Me - "You both have to shut up right now or I'm dumping you by the roadside."

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Language As a Self-Contained System

Ferdinand De Saussure
"De Saussure was among the first to see that language is a self-contained system whose interdependent parts function and acquire value through their relationship to the whole." - Wade Boskin, translator of De Saussure's books.

Thank You Hater! - by Clever Pie and Isabel Fay

You'll Never Beat The Irish

I am not entirely sure what is going on here, I don't reckon this is actually an Irish junior school.  I got Ireland in the Euro 2012 draw at work though, I'm just grateful I didn't get England.

[Quick bit of interwebnet research] This is a video made by the Good Child Foundation in Thailand, a charity who work towards inclusive education for Down's Syndrome children.

Goodchild Foundation


Mental, and it's not as if they're any more normal in any of their other videos.

Hot Rock Chicks - Yo-Landi Vi$$er

Yo-Landi Vi$$er is a rapper with South African outfit Die Antwoord.

Die Antwoord appear to be completely mental.

Y0-Landi in a coat made from rats, just another normal day in the weird world of Die Antwoord.

Ok, I'm a bit scared now.

This seems like more normal YS Hot Rock Chick fare, but in a moment she'll start vomiting squid.

Mini Rock God

Mr. Moosehead's young 'un Matt plays a stonking cover of Muse on a guiter almost as big as he is!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Obama at the UN

"At the UN, President Obama called on other countries to help us track down and eliminate radicals and extremists. But they told Obama, 'Hey, the Tea Party is your problem buddy' " - Jay Leno.

Book Review : AVSI Judaism - Norman Solomon 7*

I had a bit of an autodidactic spree before starting a degree course and read a few of Oxford University Press' A Very Short Introduction series, and generally they are very good little books, offering a necessarily brief yet reasonably academic view into the topic of each book.

AVSI Judaism is the fourth of the religion introductions I have read after Linda Woodhead's Christianity, Eleanor Nesbitt's Sikhism and Islam by Malise Ruthven. Of the four, Woodhead writes clearly and distinctly and stands back from the subject in a proper academic fashion, Nesbitt and Solomon both appear slightly too close to the religion they are describing, and Ruthven's book is in parts a baffling impenetrable collage of concepts, ideology and phrases that left me little the wiser at the end.

Solomon has chosen to write in a very simple style, perhaps the accusation overly simple could be levelled at some points, his use of language does sometimes come across as a kindly old man teaching a class of six year olds.  Never the less, Solomon explains the tenets, practices and history in a clear and succinct style, albeit shaded by obvious proximity to and love of his subject.

The ongoing tension and clashes between Jewish Israel and the Muslim Middle East are obviously hard to describe for anyone who has a vested interest, and I feel that Solomon did not manage to stand back far enough from this difficult part of the subject.  Solomon talks about the Jewish military concept of tohar ha-nesheq with its demand that soldiers must take care to avoid collateral damage and civilian casualties, but he does not make it clear whether he thinks that Israel's armed forces embrace this concept.

In other places Solomon's love for Judaism shines through, especially in the chapter on home life.  These points aside though, it is a good description of one of the world's great religions, easy to read and understand and gain a basic understanding of the subject in hand.