Easy answers to simple questions, #423

From the comments on Charlie Brooker’s excellent Guardian piece on the insane fuss over the not-a-mosque not-at-ground-zero:

How many Saudi’s would object to a Church being built in one of their cities if they were asked and polled? How many Americans object to a mosque? How many in Switzerland recently voted against minarets? Are they are all reactionary, sexist, homophobic, racist, xenophobic, nationalist, fascist, intolerant bigots?


Well, except for the ‘sexist’ and ‘homophobic’ bits – while those are closely correlated with the other attributes listed, they aren’t directly relevant to the case in hand.

Bonus extra stupidity:

One never knows, there is a definite possibility that an Islamist atrocity may once again occur on UK soil and also an outside chance that a member of Charlie’s family is in the wrong place at the wrong time. I wonder if Charlie, or any of the others supporting this prospective mosque near the Ground Zero site, would have such a positive attitude to this proposed development, if this came to pass.

Yes I bloody would. Because I’m not an appalling, stupid bigot, I’m fully aware that moderate Sufis would have had absolutely nothing to do with such an attack, that Islamist extremists hate moderate Sufis even more than they hate America, and that the best way to combat the ideology that created Al Qaeda is to build bridges with moderate Islam.

Digressionally, Cordoba House would have been a good name for the mosque, given that the Andalusian caliphate was the most religiously tolerant government the European world had ever seen at that time (or indeed, at any point before the 19th century). It was replaced by the genocidal mania of the Spanish Inquisition – a welcome reminder that anyone claiming Islam is inherently less liberal than Christianity is deeply, deeply stupid.

What I’ve been up to, week ending 2010-08-22

  • I've eaten more Subway and KFC on this trip than in the previous 2 years combined. Curse, and yet bless, Finchley. #
  • Excellent hangover day with family. Impressively, I wasn't even the most ruined, despite being highly ruined #welshgenes #
  • LHR T3 isn't a great terminal, but the champagne bar is jolly enough. Next stop: Hong Kong! #
  • UK trip was brilliant, reminded me how much I love my friends… but also how it really isn't my home anymore. #
  • Hong Kong: beautiful. My brane: fuxxored. Valium didn't help this bitch. Well, it shortened this bitch's flight I suppose… #
  • Jesus but HK is beautiful. Green mountains WIN. #
  • Don't take valium and champagne on long haul flights. #donttakevaliumandchampagneonlonghaulflights #
  • I keep pressing the "what's happening" button on snaptu, but it doesn't seem to tell me. #whatshappening? #
  • Fantastic view of the Macau hydrofoil from my hotel room. It is a silly vehicle. HK harbour is cool. I wish I didn't feel like death… #
  • Sun setting on the harbour. Looks amazing. I refer readers to my previous tweets about my unfortunate headstate… #
  • Free gift for spending gbp20 in pharmacy was 3 750ml boxes of, erm, something Cantonese. Possibly cat litter? May not make it home with me. #
  • Now I has toothpaste, bed. Tomorrow will be Much More Excellent. #
  • Bloody jetlag. Should've stayed up all day, got drunk and gone to bed at 2am, instead of dozing/passing out all day and soberish bed by 10. #
  • What's the difference between Spurs and the Catholic Church? Spurs got buggered by Young Boys… #
  • Had a fucking excellent daytime with @emeraldbile (and I like walking round graveyards with sweaty birds). Hong Kong is awesome. #
  • Then had an awesome night out with non-tweeps. Jesus. I could seriously live in this town. Would need a silly job / rich missus, though… #
  • In other news, I'm amazed you can buy a really quite decent camera for HK$1390 = GBP139. GBP175 for same chap at duty free. #
  • I recognise I was still probably extorted, but needed a camera for the bus home from Stanley. Views is amazings. #
  • Apparently, nobody's retweeted me since Jan 2, 2010. Would be reasonably if so, but nonetheless #twitterfail #
  • Apparently, nobody's retweeted me since Jan 2, 2010. Would be reasonable if so, but nonetheless #twitterfail #
  • And that, Tony Harrison, is why we don't fly on recently-invented-airlines named after ropy 1970s rock bands: http://bbc.in/8ZQQDm #
  • I'm not normally up for hanging, but hanging this truckie would be fair play: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-11008584 #
  • For those of you (ie, 95% of geeks who use Twitter) love Dr Who, I need to take a photo of the "Ood Jewellery Shop" I passed today… #
  • This is bad. I've finally managed to make my phone and Mac talk to each other, so online feels like normal. Except at $15/mb. #mustshutup #
  • Internet browser writers: if people write 1000 heartfelt words of email, why not randomly delete it if the connection fucks up? @viztoptips #
  • In a very Cantonese cafe indeed. Have ordered some food. Have absolutely no idea what it will be. But it only costs USD2, so that's OK… #
  • Well, let's be honest, I've ordered *something*. I'm hoping it'll be food. #
  • Hooray: it is food, and it's quite good. If Snaptu wasn't made of pants, I'd stick a photo on Twitpic for y'all… #
  • Literally everything is sold in HK backstreets – except noise-cancelling earphones. I guess silence is a concept nobody here understands… #
  • Just went into Chinese medicine shop, asked if they had anything for jetlag. They sold me extract of pineal gland. I *am* Dr Raoul Duke.. #
  • Am glad that @chrissiem's excited that I'm home tomorrow. I'm excited too. Although kind of sad to leave HK. Will definitely be back! #
  • Having almost used up the (good value) HK PAYG SIM I bought today with a few hours' Snaptu, I'm dreading my next UK mobile bill. Eek #
  • Yes, I know that using a non-local SIM for data connections abroad is INSANE, but my brain wasn't working properly when I arrived. #
  • Immi cleared, now in the quarro queue. So I might escape the airport by lunchtime… #
  • And quarro cleared in under 10 mins, thanks to @chrissiem's lollies. JB is back…! #
  • I iz on ur eastern distributor, distributing ur eastern. In a cab, obviously – am not feeling suicidal right now… #
  • So, I've been out of the country for 2 weeks – am I right that if the ALP lose, it'll be pretty much Kristina Keneally's fault? #ausvotes #
  • If anyone knows a commercial building that's more full of WIN, don't tell this one. http://twitpic.com/2gc4ky #
  • Crikey on #ausvotes: "The culture war has become personified. The candidates represent something not by what they do, but by who they are." #
  • I'd agree with that. And I'd add that for all JG's flaws, if you don't identify with her more than with mad Tony, you ain't my friend… #
  • Aww. @firstdogonmoon's "the federal election" cartoon today is terribly sad and sweet. #ausvotes #
  • Christ on a bike. The area of the Pakistan floods would cover pretty much the whole habitable area of Australia: http://bit.ly/9iXtIo #
  • (yes, I know people claim to live in Adelaide and Perth, but you don't really believe them, do you?) #
  • More Pom accents in Bondi Jn Westfield than in bloody London! #sendusback #
  • RT @drueyjay: RT @anildash: Because of their track record of killing Americans, I can't support the construction of a Ground Zero McDonald's #
  • Freaky. Just minutes after that last tweet, I got an (apparently unrelated) email from Westfield Bondi Junction… #
  • Support Democracy! Vote 1 Bandicoot, add a #twibbon to your avatar now! – http://twb.ly/9DWjFx #
  • The biggest population of illegal migrants in Australia by nationality is British @roooney83 @TimMav27 #
  • NB I won't *actually* be voting Bandicoot, as I'm a wicked job-stealing foreign & don't get a say. Even though you lot can vote in the UK… #
  • "The great Labor party machine has failed", says Joe Hockey – I'd love to see @firstdogonmoon draw this occurring… #
  • #ifabbottwins I'll probably be deported… #ausvotes #
  • If Labor lose because of the swing in QLD, then Mr Rudd will be Australia's Smuggest Man… #ausvotes #
  • Gash FOR THE WIN #gilmore #ausvotes #puerilejokes #
  • Labor retain #Batman. Coalition retain #CaptainAmerica #Ausvotes #
  • Glad I researched the independents last week – assuming the two NSW guys'll support Labor and the QLD guy will support Coalition? #ausvotes #
  • Pleased to see the Libs have put up a redhead candidate in Lalor #battleoftherangas #notaveryconvincingbattle #ausvotes #
  • When @chrissiem says 'election party', she's not being euphemistical. We really are that geeky. #ausvotes #
  • #unlikelycouples Farmer & Ewan McGregor #
  • Diane and Tony Abbott #unlikelycouples #ausvotes #
  • Bandt wins. #melbourne #fuckyeah #itspronouncedthesameandhasthesameroot #ausvotes #
  • OMG! Poor hypothetical Mischa… RT @manipillai: #unlikelycouples Mischa & Joey Barton #
  • RT @nickjbarlow: The and John Band? #unlikelycouples #
  • If my calculations are correct, @beaugiles can just about beat Wyatt Roy to youngest ever MP at the next election. Bring it on, Mr G… #
  • This is the best election night party EVER. And not even the worst election result I've experienced this year. #ausvotes #dualloyalties #
  • According to @chrissiem's mum, 6.5% of votes in Lindsay were informal. The current split in Lindsay is 50.3/49.7. You stupid cunts #ausvotes #
  • 100% true -> RT @krs133: The ABC coverage urinates from a great height on any of the broadcasters' coverage of UK elections. #ausvotes #
  • My and @chrissiem's election party now on bottle 2 of tribute wine – we've finished White Australian and movingon to Ranga (well, Rose) #
  • LIES! RT @theday2day: plenty! > RT @spikester: what's wrong with drinking alone? #
  • YES WE CAN RT @politic_animal: Can we now tell ppl who said Gillard shows UK Lab shld have dumped Brown for D Miliband to shut up? #ausvotes #
  • This is sport! RT @hungbunny: Lots of political tweets coming out of Australia today. Why? Is there no sport on? #ausvotes #
  • Some people say 'individual votes don't count;. LIES. Am hugging the person whose 3rd-preference vote could decide the election. #ausvotes #
  • 69/69 ALP/LNP. Australian Sex Party sadly not on 69. jb78 and @chrissiem election party briefly distracted #ausvotes #toomuchinformation #
  • .@michaellund coalition is a massive improvement on majority Tory (=L/NP) government, which was the UK's only real alternative #ausvotes #
  • Hockey sticks #obvious #ausvotes #
  • Ashamed to read so many leftwing tweeters rating "obvious vile conspiracies" vs "must be PC about all rape lies" and coming down for #2. FFS #
  • Woohoo, the racist party probably wins, but at least we've got a token blackfeller in the house. Representing the racist party #ausvotes #
  • Dr Kelly killed himself; people who believe otherwise are loonies. The government did, however, kill thousands of Iraqis based on lies. #
  • #whilenooneisincharge let's promote the irresponsible service of alcohol. DRINK LOTS OF GIN THROUGH A STRAW! #
  • "Rather than a climate change denier, the bogan is simply a change denier." < @thingboganslike describes the entire CC 'sceptic' mindset #
  • Re the #BirminghamThree: if 3 BNPists were sacked for not being bigoted tits, saneworld's reaction would be 'welcome to saneworld'. #

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Finding a new Foster home

So there’s an interesting piece on Bloomberg quoting the Sunday Times saying that Fosters Group, the Aussie wine and beer company, might sell its beer operations (branded Carlton & United Breweries, confusingly enough) to SABMiller.

This makes sense. Since I was working as a drinks industry reporter getting on for ten years ago, I’ve been saying Fosters should flog off the beer business. They’re a combination of a global premium wine company, a low-margin domestic beer business, and one mysteriously popular global beer brand – which, oddly enough, has almost entirely disappeared from their home turf. Being a global wine distributor, while providing a global beer company with a global brand, and an opportunity to distribute their other brands into Australia, was always going to be a better call.

I’d always taken a British take on ‘appropriate buyers for CUB’, on the basis that Heineken (formerly Scottish & Newcastle) owned the EU rights. Obviously, that would’ve been a good fit. But I’d forgotten the fact that the USA is the world’s largest beer market, that Foster’s is a popular import brand in the USA (“throw another shrimp on the barbie”, etc), and that Miller owned the US rights to the brand.

Meanwhile, SABMiller – which, like Kraft Foods, is part-owned and heavily cash-backed by Altria (= Phillip Morris) in a desperate attempt to stop all their shareholders’ money going to compensate lung cancer victims – has fallen way behind Anheuser-Busch Inbev in the “being a serious global brewer” stakes.

A leading position in a mature but profitable beer market (yes, oddly enough, selling beer to Australians is popular. See: selling crack in Baltimore; selling expensive houses in Mayfair) is nice from a cash-generation point of view. And for some utterly mystifying reason Foster’s is a much-loved beer brand everywhere except Australia, and as brand promotion becomes global it’s becoming important to have the rights to your most important assets, rather than having them owned by some comedy convict jokers [*].

So if the news is true, then it’s a good call on SABMiller’s part, as well as a bloody relief to Fosters Group (who’ll presumably have to rename themselves to ‘Australian Wine Company’ or a made-up name like Geadeo or something). And some kind of deal with Heineken to sort out the global rights would probably also be sensible.

And no, none of my alcoholic drinks market wisdom would have made the slightest difference to share-tippery at any point ever. If you want to make money on markets by thinking you know more than people about fundamentals, horse-racing is still a better bet. Stock analysts are still voodoo-merchants; my skills are only worthwhile if you actually want advice on what to do if you’re trying to market grog.

[*] dear the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship: I don’t believe that all Australian businessmen are comedy convict jokers. As the owner of an official certificate of being an Australian Businessman, I take Australian business very seriously. And mentioning Alan Bond and John Elliott at this point would be deeply unfair, and the fact that Mr Elliott used to own CUB isn’t even slightly relevant.

And the JB returns

Apologies for complete lack of recent content: I’ve been assortedly in the UK and Hong Kong, trying to squeeze a year’s worth of catching up with people, a wedding and a stag do into two and a half weeks.

I’m now planning to chain myself to the desk for a couple of weeks and do some fairly serious work. This will almost inevitably lead to bloggage; aren’t you lucky?

In other news, Cathay Pacific are an excellent airline in economy as long as you have short legs, which luckily I do.

What I’ve been up to, week ending 2010-08-15

  • Good: fun stag (buck/whatever pre-venison term you like) party. Bad: more than a week of no @chrissiem. She's officially addictive. #
  • Actually, I'm not that up for partying. Maybe a cup of tea and a book? #thingsAndrewWKwouldneversay #
  • Note to self: #mlf is the Melbourne Literary Festival and has no affiliation with #milf #
  • Just passed the world's longest (former) rail platform; now travelling on the world's oldest proper railway. #whereami? #
  • Idiot driver. But more importantly, 'D'Marion'? RT @msgracefh RT @MENnewsdesk: Breastfeeding mum is ordered off bus. http://ow.ly/18wlDj #
  • I'm using 'proper' to mean 'passengers & freight between towns' – pit lines don't count… #
  • Now at the site of the first recorded fatal passenger train accident… #
  • Twitteratifail! Manchester to Liverpool, via Newton le Willows, where the first train on the line in 1830 ran over the local MP… #
  • Longest platform is the one that ran between Man Victoria and Man Exchange stns. Insert 'man exchange' joke here. #
  • RT @minifig: RT @mattuk: How many SEO specialists does it take to change a lightbulb light bulb light-bulb? #
  • Now on the Isle of Man ferry. It's grey and the sea's rough. This could be the best 3 hours of my life. #not #
  • My boat's called the Mananan. This may be because there are only 3 letters in the Man alphabet… #
  • Chap opposite me is from the Falklands. Clearly he has some kind of weird affinity toward cold, remote, British-ish islands… #
  • RT @TheFagCasanova: Apparently at his time of death, Jean-Paul Sartre was working on a children's book called 'Why's Wally?' #
  • Ferry leaving the Mersey now, leading to an unwanted remembering of Gerry & Pacemakers… #
  • Purser is very Scouse. The fillim today is "wharr the wailed things arrrr", apparently. #
  • I was wrong; we're *now* leaving the Mersey. #bouncybouncy #
  • Assuming T-NoSignal will fail shortly. At sea, hurrah! Doesn't seem as rough as feared; there are even signs of sunshine… #
  • RT @duckorange: Rupert Murdoch to sue Murdock from the A-Team over a crime he didn't commit #
  • RT @WiredUK: EMI reveals (yet again) why numbskull-run music labels really do deserve to be left to their slow, unlame… http://is.gd/ecSzP #
  • On the isle of man. Oddly, foot passengers forced to wait on boat and listen to bad r&b for ages while cars disembark – outrage! #
  • On a steam train. Hurrah! I didn't even choose or know about this one… #
  • RT @thejimsmith: I just ate a venison sandwich. Can only top with with a swan omelette. #
  • RT @each1teach1: Building a mosque at Ground Zero isn't insensitive to victims of 9/11 … but threatening to bomb it *is*. Do you see? #
  • On BE163 to the glorious holiday paradise of Luton. Hurrah! #
  • Trekking from NW London to SW London is taking even longer than normal, thanks to #tubefail. Currently on a bus c.nowhere (Cricklewood Ln) #
  • Approaching office where I used to work several jobs ago. It's still above a strip club. Whole building appears to be empty & to let. #
  • Evening timing FAIL. No matter how much you love all the ppl involved, never schedule more than 2 events for the same night. #
  • What a beautiful wedding. #mustnotmakePanicAtTheDiscoreferences #
  • My girlfriend and I are not entirely the same: RT @chrissiem Morning already. Who switched the sun on? As usual, I don't have a hangover. #

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What I’ve been up to, week ending 2010-08-08

  • Slept for 12 hours. Now feel very nearly human. Who wants to come to the pub tonight? #
  • Odd that Gillard is ahead by 15pts on 'preferred PM', but Libs/Lab neck & neck on voting intentions. Scope for Lab to pull back? #ausvotes #
  • This Daily Mash anti-BBC piece might work if a) Rover 200s were awesome b) all other cars available anywhere were shit: http://bit.ly/9BWMSB #
  • Fucking hell, I've only been gone 2 days and #AustraliaWantsJBback is already trending :-) #
  • Don't worry, #AustraliaWantsJBback types – back on Aug 20. You can meet me at the airport if you like. Especially if you give me a lift home #
  • Did Tony Abbott *really* just quote Eminem? #ausvotes #boggle #
  • Walking down Albert Embankment. Is pretty. Anyone know of a Twitpic or similar uploader for Symbian/Nokia? #
  • RT @qwghlm: RT @edent: you know how to find your Estate Agent name, don't you? Take your full name, then add "is a cunt" #
  • Quite impressed. Friend's 3yo just picked up a copy of Universal Soldier in the library and said "this is a bad film". CORRECT. #
  • At the Carpenters Arms on Whitfield St W1. Why not join me? #
  • None Of It's Coming Back To Me Ever #oppositesongs #
  • I miss @chrissiem :-( #
  • Days In Black Sackcloth #oppositesongs #
  • There Are Many Possible Ways Of Life, But None Of Them Are Unique To You #oppositesongs #
  • Finally am on a real computer and not a mobile – have dealt with a week's worth of backed-up half-read unsorted email, yay! #
  • A fine piece from @angryyoungalex on the 'harm' done by illegal immigration: http://bit.ly/b1FH3Q (spoiler: 'none, you stupid bigot') #
  • Better to bribe Catholics w/stupid baubles vs abortion bans, but still LAME RT @abcnews Gillard pledges $1.5m for M MacKillop's canonisation #
  • Phil Collins: No Ahmedinejad Required #dictatorsongs #welldictatoralbumsreally #
  • Alabama 3 – Mao Tse Tung Said #dictatorsongs #missingthepoint #
  • Struggling to work out why it matters at all whether LFC is owned by some Americans rather than a Chinese investment fund – anyone? #
  • There's a case for 'all football clubs should be fan-owned mutuals', but if you accept private ownership, why worry about the nationality? #
  • Amin the Mahmoud for Dancing, surely? #dictatorsongs @duncanstott #
  • "Papa Doc's got a brand new Bagaza", surely? @dontgetfooled #dictatorsongs #
  • Wow, the East London Line is awesome. Like a train from the future or some crazy Asian city. Then you end up in Dalston, which isn't. #
  • Dalston escaped, in another magical future train. Quite impressed all the tracks for Highbury ELL extension seem to be in place… #
  • Made me think of #ausvotes RT @quotestanhope: Everybody's angry. They've got nothing to be angry at, so they're angry about nothing. #

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What I’ve been up to, week ending 2010-08-01

  • RT @madeupstats: 2 out of 3 fugitive Serbian warlords is now a social media consultant. #
  • Good morning Melbourne. In posh hotel with lovely @chrissiem: yay. She has to spend day at conference and I have to spend day writing: boo! #
  • Although both parties are a bit lacking on the humane-to-refugees front, not having another debate is a humane-to-Australians win #ausvotes #
  • Crowdsourcing: should I subscribe to Crikey, now my trial's almost over? It's awesome, but it's also $150. And I disapprove of paywalls…. #
  • Down to only 4 'action required' messages in my inbox. Efficiency WOO! And yes, of course I'm putting off real work, how did you guess? #
  • Went up a tower. It was tall. #Vodafail and #Virginfail prevented me from tweeting about it at the time… #
  • Missing @stephenfry right now, but Avalon "airport"'s "bar" almost makes up for it… @chrissiem's presence definitely helps. #
  • Grolsch for $10 per 6-pack at BWS (with Woolworth's card) is a good deal. Shame I don't live anywhere near a BWS… #
  • MP for Penrith (UK) fails hard : http://bit.ly/cao0nS – is there something about place name that makes politicians even worse than normal? #
  • Unsurprisingly, I was right about the Brandweek piece on Old Spice being cobblers: month-on-month sales are up 100% http://bit.ly/bvtXPI #
  • Pleased to see @roooney83 in the Crikey mailout for busting a racist Lib candidate. Good work fella. In other news, yes I'm gonna subscribe. #
  • Dear Heinz. Tins of chicken with chicken legs, dancing to the Birdie Song, is very creepy, and not at all likely to make me want chicken. #
  • Making details of everywhere you go available in realtime to anyone who wants to look you up might not be good: http://bit.ly/bUMYXR #shock #
  • Why you should never rely on proprietary externally hosted software to store things you care about: http://bit.ly/bNnnG #obvious #
  • Correct link for "not relying on proprietary software" tweet. Yes, I relish the irony: http://bit.ly/cAE1J9 (cheers @preachypreach) #
  • Fact for day: the average BP employee gets paid US$120,000 a year. That makes Tony Hayward's salary seem quite moderate, really… #
  • When I worked as an attendant for Shell, I was employed by Shell directly on a permanent contract – wld be amazed if either occurred now #
  • Things the UK does well: TV, movies. Things the UK government wants to abolish: the BBC, the UK Film Council #rightwing=stupid #
  • RT @wolfcat: randomrant: So you’re not going to vote Labor because of #nocleanfeed… http://bit.ly/aoahch #ausvotes #
  • No fan of UK govt, but seeing a western leader both slating Israel for Gaza policy and backing India over Pakistan is distinctly welcome. #
  • Twee but amusant: RT @mpesce: The best of #wookieleakshttp://tinyurl.com/26tk43z #
  • I has subscribed to Crikey. First online content I've ever paid (my own money) for. It was the @firstdogonmoon playing cards that sealed it! #
  • A letter from a real estate agent to "the owner" explaining how much property prices have risen in my district #thingsmylandlordwillneversee #
  • The Facebook 'breach' is an epic non-story: http://bit.ly/c0edU1 – publicly available information made, erm, available to the public. #
  • I'm now checked into CX162 to Hong Kong. The trip's finally starting to feel real. In other news, I'm now officially an Australian business! #
  • The only thing that can kill an IKEA glass is another IKEA glass. Proven by experiment. #terrifyingScandewegianvoodoo #
  • Dianetics. Just, fucking dianetics. #selfhelpfail #
  • I actually love this pic too – RT @ChrissieM: Myself and @johnb78 outside the MCG on the weekend. http://bit.ly/dn1UDf *squee!* #
  • I genuinely rate the UK's film-making talent and would suggest that only the US has a better movie record #filmconfessions #
  • I like this article. The whole point about the UK is *we're not Catholic*, so why're we feting that sick cult's leader? http://bit.ly/9F8CKO #
  • The, erm, 20th-ish plane out of Sydney's almost gone, and in only 10 hours I'll be landing in Hong Kong #barneseylied #
  • Hooray, am in the UK, *and* Twitter's working now. Mild #branefale from flight; not so much jetlag as '42 hours without bed'… #

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The idle musings of John B