What I’ve been up to, week ending 2010-03-07

  • Shocked by the price of books in Australia – UK-published paperbacks with gbp8.99 printed on the back go here for $25, over 2x as much #
  • …possibly this explains certain highly unfair local stereotypes about learning / culture…? #
  • Reading UK blogs for the first time in several weeks, people seem to be seriously considering the prospect of a Labour win – wow, also WTF? #
  • Separately – there is nothing I find more bizarre than the attitude of *anyone* who believes Argentina has a claim to the Falklands #
  • They've been British as long as Argentina has existed – and (unlike Argentina) the settlement didn't involve whites slaughtering natives #
  • Having had an annoying call with my bank, I'm in need of some #ebz therapy http://fallenlondon.com/c/27151 #
  • OBVIOUS -> http://bit.ly/b7BnsU (via @adambienkov) – although I really need to start fretting about my new hometown's transport policy #
  • More than I would -> RT @pressgazette Lebedev will pay £1 for the Independent, claims report http://bit.ly/cT0L0G #
  • GEEKQUESTION: anyone know a good way to access iPlayer from Oz? I'm guessing a UK-based proxy server, but any other subterfuge would suffice #
  • It's pleasant to be job-hunting in a country where the main economic qn is "are we being foolish to think everything's peachy"? (real quote) #
  • Banks still annoying. "No, we can't give you a receipt for the large foreign money transfer you've just done, just trust us" – hmm. #
  • RT @nauiokaspark: Inside the Excruciatingly Slow Death of Internet Explorer 6 | Popular Science http://bit.ly/d4K7OD (via @felixsalmon) #
  • When I left PwC (not the world's ropiest shop) in October 2008 my laptop was still running on IE6, and IE7 broke some internal software… #
  • No -> RT @DaveHill Has stop-and-search really reduced knife crime in London? http://bit.ly/aL6s4A #shortanswerstosimplequestions #
  • Did touristy things yesterday morning. Internetted this morning. #ebz http://fallenlondon.com/c/28081 #
  • Ryanair often gets into trouble w/the ASA for lying. Now Easyjet is in trouble w/the ASA for saying truth about Ryanair http://bit.ly/96Aet0 #
  • If Easyjet ran an ad saying "Ryanair are scum and everyone who works for them should be boiled alive", that would still be too moderate #
  • Meanwhile, it may be time to boycott Apple for being evil fair-competition-hating, court-abusing bastards: http://bit.ly/9uPEfO #
  • Off to (allegedly) collect keys to new flat. Will be either delighted or very pissed off in 90 minutes' time #
  • Am very delighted. Hurrah! I've never had a swimming pool before, or a balcony… #
  • Shame, I was hoping he'd outlast Mrs T: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/8547228.stm #
  • #ebz I'm sure it's not been 24 hours, but OK… http://fallenlondon.com/c/28932 #
  • A gentleman named Ben is bringing furniture tomorrow. Then we'll have furniture. This will RULE. #
  • Glad I'm not in the UK for Jon Venables circus. "Kid does bad thing, is punished, is released; 9 years later does unspecified thing" – and? #
  • Off to #ikea – if I don't return, I've probably been arrested for Ikea Rage. #
  • Survived IKEA, $800, one slightly scratched car and two slightly traumatised us later. FULLY FURNISHED HOUSE WOO! #
  • Damn, it's nice to have my own room. I can stay on the Internet until 0100 and listen to Canadian indie without anyone complaining #
  • #ebz Yes, I'll get up shortly and do something useful with my Saturday… http://fallenlondon.com/c/29875 #
  • Icelanders opt for arrogant stupidity and failing to face up to their own guilt. Unsurprising; most people generally opt for the same #
  • Iceland's a democracy; the people voted for deregulation and supported the boom. They are to blame (unlike 3rd-world debtors) #icesave #
  • For background, the Iceland saga up to January 2010 as morality play – time to write the next act… http://bit.ly/5Zv53I #icesave #
  • CROWDSOURCING: which of these cables do I need to use to plug in an 18-month-old MacBook Air to a TV: Mini DVI or Mini DisplayPort? #
  • Airport/customs docs remarkably addictive. Dunno know why "jobsworths try to ruin people's holidays/lives and usually succeed" so gripping #
  • Specific msg from Aus docusoap Air Ways is that Tiger combine operational skills of Aeroflot with customer service of Ryanair. WILL AVOID #
  • #ebz Sunday night, 1AM, no job yet, of course I'm on t'Internet http://fallenlondon.com/c/30876 #
  • As usual, David Mitchell is right: BBC *is* one of the things the UK does best, and Tories *do* plan to cripple it http://bit.ly/dm6t6V #
  • Don't see a problem with VAT on food tho'. This isn't the 1930s; anyone, no matter how poor, can afford to eat, and most eat too much anyway #
  • Reading the comments on the Mitchell piece. Some ppl suggesting HBO matches up to BBC. Rubbish: the Wire excellent; everything else shit #
  • Oz TV has some half-decent docs & talk shows, but *absolutely all* good drama is either BBC or Scandinavian state TV #
  • …although probably as a result, a much better range of movies shown on free-to-air TV. #
  • In "utterly terrifying" news – a wholly sensible and excellent Jeremy Clarkson column: http://bit.ly/cLvueA #

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What I’ve been up to, week ending 2010-02-28

  • #ebz Melbourne is cloudy, and daytime TV here is unspeakably bad. Hence: http://fallenlondon.com/c/23971 #
  • Sydney is awesome, in the "excellent" sense of the word. Sydney rents are awesome, in the "inspiring terror and fear" sense of the word #
  • Flat-hunting is rubbish. New area exploring is fun. At least we get to combine the two here. #

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What I’ve been up to, week ending 2010-02-21

  • Wow, Perth is like all of the best aspects of western civilisation combined. #thishappenswhenyouspendamonthinAsia #
  • Western Australia features quite astounding amounts of nothing at all. Pretty nothing at all, mind. #
  • Internet connection too poor for full-scale review of 8-hour wine tour. Short review: DRINK! Bonzer. #
  • Off to see how Perth celebrates Carnival Brazilian-style. Arriba, etc. #
  • On a borrowed computer using IE6. Wow, IE6 is rubbish. #
  • I wonder if racists (sorry, "profiling advocates") will be adding "middle-aged anti-tax white men" to the no-fly list? http://bit.ly/9FWm4P #
  • It's depressing when you realise there's no option but to agree with George Galloway: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8521246.stm #
  • #ebz Perth has good Internet, even if it has poor browsers… http://fallenlondon.com/c/22493 #

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What I’ve been up to, week ending 2010-02-14

  • Bali is nice. Just spent 2 hours bodysurfing. Possibly a real board may be called for tomorrow. Now – COCKTAILS! #
  • As @TheBuddhaSmiled says, the hotel is pretty dire: there aren't any pellets in the automatic bug-killer, and wifi only works in the bar #
  • Also, the bar and massage service in the pool doesn't stay open 24 hours. And the hot tub doesn't have a jacuzzi #
  • Excellent temple of thieving monkeys, who successfully removed one friend's glasses and one friend's hairclip #bali #
  • Apparently, swimming, drinking beer and taking underwater photos until 3AM, although excellent fun, makes mornings slightly slow #
  • Luckily #ebz is helping ease me into normality http://fallenlondon.com/c/18193 #
  • Slightly sunburned. Unrelatedly, have almost removed my beard, via various ludicrous styles I wouldn't try if not on holiday #
  • Balinese traditional music is pretty awful. Unlike Khmer pop music, which is unimaginably excellent #
  • No sympathy for Iraqi grumpiness about US throwing out Blackwater prosecutions – due process infinitely more important than revenge #
  • From this, we can conclude Jonathan Mendel is a prat http://ow.ly/168OD – it's PR to get kids into science, not a sodding thesis #
  • #ebz Yes, I'll stop buggering about on the computer and get in the pool shortly http://fallenlondon.com/c/18691 #
  • Not being at all cultural. Hell, I've been to India and SE Asia, surely Balinese culture is just a blend of the two, right? #
  • Last night was this: http://www.cool.asia/?p=98 – about as excellent as anything gets #
  • FACT: even if someone runs you a bath of rose petals, it neither turns you into nor allows you to go to bed with Mena Suvari #
  • #ebz yes, this again http://fallenlondon.com/c/19232 #
  • Based on a study of Balinese monkeys, socialism leads to cuteness and excellence and private enterprise leads to meanness and thieving #
  • (subsidised monkeys in govt monkey park well behaved and sweet; free-enterprise monkeys at tourist sites hit people and steal their things) #
  • #ebz it may be 35 degree sunshine, but that isn't going to stop me playing silly online games http://fallenlondon.com/c/20065 #

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What I’ve been up to, week ending 2010-02-07

  • Trying to find things to do in Siem Reap that don't involve drinking or going to Angkor Wat is surprisingly tricky… #
  • #ebz yup, more of the same http://fallenlondon.com/c/14140 #
  • Angkor Wat is an amazing feat of art and engineering. However, I now entirely understand the meaning of the phrase "templed out" #
  • Waiting for a bus to more or less nowhere. Hurrah! #
  • #ebz …and while waiting for a buss, one plays EBZ http://fallenlondon.com/c/15084 #
  • Wow, Pnomh Penh is DARK. In an "absence of visible light" sense rather than a metaphorical sense, although perhaps the metaphor fits #
  • For all its darkness, Pnomh Penh is quite a fun place to go out, in a nice-food-and-cocktails kinda way. Can't speak for ropier sorts of fun #
  • #ebz wherever there's good wifi, I'm playing this. The Jockey Hotel in PP has good wifi http://fallenlondon.com/c/16183 #
  • Killing fields were, erm, intense. Unsurprisingly. Now intend to drink enough that we don't think about them too much. #
  • FCC at Phnom Penh is proper excellent – @antonvowl is a correct man. Londoners: lobby your FCC to be more like the Cambodian one #
  • Young Tory makes inept comment; dickheads get offended: http://bit.ly/bsNEzJ – he needs slated for his beliefs, not WWII-era PC nonsense #
  • I hate the way that, even though I'm logged in as me, Google defaults to the homepage of whatever country I'm in. No, I don't speak Khmer… #
  • KL is OK. Staying in soulless airport hotel, but oddly it's surrounded by fun plastic seat bar-restaurants solely frequented by locals #

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What I’ve been up to, week ending 2010-01-31

  • Saigon seems clean and orderly. I think I've spent too much time in India. #
  • Comedically, Facebook is blocked in Vietnam (for Subversive Activity reasons), but Twitter isn't #
  • So I can incite the toiling masses to twevolution, but I can't post my holiday snaps for my mates to see #
  • Current trending topics include #Haiti, #NowThatsGhetto – yes, correct. #
  • Aha, my skills triumph: Vietnam's evil genius censors have blocked http://www.facebook.com, but not lite.facebook.com #
  • RT @libcon: Constituent harassed by Telegraph readers after sending email to Tory PPC http://bit.ly/8XFTTW #
  • #ebz obligatory Echo Bazaar plug. It's a really good game, honest http://fallenlondon.com/c/12001 #
  • Massage for $4, laundry for $2, entry to the world's worst museum for $1. Prices reflect value. #
  • Vietnam, S-S-Saigon. Vietnam, S-S-Saigon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3LdMAqUMnM #
  • Needed that as respite from the Americans Are Bad museum. Which was harrowing, and surprisingly accurate for a totalitarian regime's museum #
  • …but didn't quite get the point that the people who need hanged are Kissinger, Nixon, Schlesinger, not the poor buggers in the trenches #
  • #ebz yes, I'm an addict http://fallenlondon.com/c/12530 #
  • A day of hangover. Nothing achieved. Expecting early bed. Quite fun afternoon of lazing over recovery beers, after the AAGH subsided #
  • Tomorrow, a riverboat to the coast, should we manage successfully to get up in the morning… #
  • #ebz and again, sorry http://fallenlondon.com/c/12941 #
  • 90-minute river trip on Soviet hydrofoil, 2 hours of pretty seaside, and 150-minute return on slightly buggered Soviet hydrofoil. A good day #
  • Unrelatedly, this – http://bit.ly/bhcgbK – on why opponents of public sector targets are probably wrong #
  • #ebz I really am enjoying travelling the world, but I can't stop playing this blimmin' game http://fallenlondon.com/c/13354 #

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What I’ve been up to, week ending 2010-01-24

  • #ebz The snow that falls in the Neath every December is something of a mystery. Condensation from the … http://fallenlondon.com/c/7853 #
  • Bombay wins awards for excellence. Enjoying life far too much to be inspired to poli-blog/tweet… #
  • One exception – the cops involved in this, and anyone who defends them, need their skin removed by cheesegrater: http://bit.ly/5COfiB #
  • Terrorism isn't a threat; if you think it is, you are an imbecile. Authoritarianism is a threat; if you think it isn't, you are an imbecile. #
  • (incidentally, "a threat" here means "causes serious changes to our way of life", not "kills a statistically negligible number of people") #
  • …and *breathe*. Wow, all that carefully-dispelled tension's coming back; need to stick to beer, shopping and playing Echo Bazaar #
  • In Bombay airport awaiting flight to Goa. It's tough, but I think we'll survive. #
  • Who says there are no new ideas left on the Internet? http://cheesesurfer.blogspot.com/ #
  • Meanwhile, am about to see if there are good restaurants in Thiruvananthapuram that serve a) meat b) beer c) not solely coconut sauce #
  • Yes, there are good restaurants in Trivandrum that meet my criteria, although apparently they're all affiliated to posh-ish hotels #
  • Armed police at the London Fire Authority meeting, say @LondonFBU – what, I leave the country for a week and it turns into China? #
  • Spiral coffee houses rule: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Coffee_House – inside it looks like a helter-skelter too #

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What I’ve been up to, week ending 2010-01-17

  • #ebz What we have instead of moonlight, down in the Neath: the uncertain glow from phosphorescent thin… http://fallenlondon.com/c/4939 #
  • #ebz The Masters of the Bazaar – Mr Wines, Mr Spices, Mr Veils and the rest – speak in high-pitched wh… http://fallenlondon.com/c/5342 #
  • #ebz In a city where death can be temporary, lunatic murderers are not treated with especial respect. … http://fallenlondon.com/c/5696 #
  • Everything packed or binned. Bills payed; refunds claimed; addresses redirected. now BEER #
  • …and as I sit with my beer, it occurs to me for pretty much the first time that this is REALLY HAPPENING. from now, i'm not a UK resident #
  • "goan fish curry" sounds more like an offensive imprecation than a lunch menu dish #
  • #ebz These little charmers sneak into the bedrooms of sleepers and bite their eyes off. They take them… http://fallenlondon.com/c/6713 #
  • UK successfully fled. Hurrah! Mumbai is exactly as sunny, loud, polluted and EXCELLENT as it's supposed to be. #

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Reversion to the mean

The BBC has an article based on an interesting House of Commons report on alcohol consumption… well, more accurately, it’s a very bad report on alcohol consumption with some interesting data.

The data shows that, before the global descent into miserable puritanism around World War I that led to prohibition in the US and draconian licensing rules in the UK, alcohol consumption was around its current level.

It then spiked after the war ended, fell during the Depression, rose slightly during the mid-late 1930s and WWII, fell in the austerity period, and then rose fairly consistently from 1950 onwards – accelerating slightly since 1995 due to increased wine consumption [*]. We’re now at about 9 litres of pure alcohol per head per year, compared to 11 litres in 1900.

The obvious conclusion to draw is that, with miserable busybodies out of the equation, 10ish litres per head is the natural level that Brits want to drink, that this is all well and good, and that the puritans should be deported to America on pain of pain, as we did in the good old days.

The House of Commons report instead draws the conclusion that OMG FFS AAAGH the sky is falling. Particular stupidity lies in:

Ten million adults drink more than the recommended limits and between them knock back 75% of all alcohol consumed in the country. More than two-and-a-half million adults (8% of men and 6% of women) drink above the higher-risk levels – more than double the government’s daily guidelines.

…but we know that the daily and weekly guidelines are based on *nothing at all*. And we know that, on aggregate, the only people who show a greater risk of mortality or morbidity from alcohol than teetotallers are those who drink more than 30 units a week, which is equivalent to 17 litres of pure alcohol a year. So we can crank up our national drinking by another 70% before we need to start worrying about health impacts.

Paraphrasing the report’s conclusion:

It was not inevitable that per capita alcohol consumption was only one third as high in the middle of the 20th Century as its natural level. The decline was fuelled by miserable prohibitionists lying about the data, a draconian licensing regime and massive propaganda budgets. Now that we’ve returned to normal levels, let’s bring back the 1950s. Who needs fun anyway?

[*] which, as it’s mostly consumed in moderation and with meals, mostly doesn’t have negative health effects anyway.

What I’ve been up to, week ending 2010-01-10

  • Certain of the Masters of the Bazaar – Mr Stones, Mr Apples and Mr Wines, and possibly others – s… http://fallenlondon.com/c/3522 #
  • Longrider is good on Anjem Choudary: http://bit.ly/5CiYsj #
  • Icelandic president bottles out, bows to public demand to steal our money: http://bit.ly/4F06ax #
  • Remind me not to go on Twitter between 10pm and 11pm weekdays #freakshowtwathouse #
  • Never mention the Second City to the Masters of the Bazaar. Mr Wines will look at you narrowly an… http://fallenlondon.com/c/3735 #
  • Snow whiners put thoroughly in their place by @tygerland – approved. http://bit.ly/7PnAkl #
  • Reading the Gilligantastic river report, I suddenly understand why right-whingers were so upset about taking the Thames off the Tube map #
  • Right, it's time to tie Hewitt and Hoon together, put them in a sack of rats, and throw them in the Thames. Treacherous bastards #
  • (and no, I'm no Gordon fan, but doing this 4 months pre-election is unforgiveable) #
  • (and no, I'm no Gordon fan, or even a Labour supporter, but doing this 4 months pre-election is unforgiveable) #
  • Yanks incapable of understanding Not Everyone Is A Yank, with hilarious 'false accusations of racism' consequences: http://bit.ly/7DBUys #
  • It must be, in part at least, frozen water: when it melts, it refreezes as black ice. Tiny, despe… http://fallenlondon.com/c/3934 #
  • CITV enhanced my life as a child. The ads on CITV didn't blight my life. Therefore, those who'd ban kids TV ads are eejits… #
  • I'm not normally a fan of political executions, but I'd make an exception for idiots who claim we've just had "12 years of socialist gov't" #
  • I'm not sure the Hitler motif adds much, but I like the revised copy: http://bit.ly/5ULSTR #
  • In London's trendy Camden, awaiting London's trendy @devilskitchen, of London's slightly odd LPUK #
  • London's trendy Camden is playing London's trendy Cure, preceded by London's trendy TT D'Arby #
  • London's trendy bar lady is very attractive, although possibly too young for London's trendy @johnb78 #
  • http://fallenlondon.com/c/4184 #
  • Shorter Steve Hilton scandal: man doing nothing wrong gets mugged for gbp80 by evil jobsworths; 2 years later people pretend this is news. #
  • NHS Constitution includes "right to choose to die at home". Easy one: just don't call an ambulance… #
  • #fl With so much business in Fallen London, you can't expect the inhabitants of Hell to go home at th… http://fallenlondon.com/c/4471 #

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The idle musings of John B