Archive for March, 2005

Or the Fulfillingness Foundation?

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

Priceless stuff: Diana ponders FI style titles for Back Seat Drivers in an alternative universe:

Otherwise we would have changed the name of the site to something like the ‘Enlightenment Brigade’ or the ‘Truth Battalion’, or why be so coy? ‘The Fabulous Institute’.

Why be so coy indeed?

Meretricious Monuments

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

Great question from Ciarán, inspired by Dan Cruickshank’s Around the World in 80 Treasures (incidentally, this week’s programme featuring Samarkand, Bukhara, Isphahan and Damascus was excellent), who asks:

I was speculating about what a programme specifically on crap treasures would include. So I thought I might ask you to suggest some and see if we can get a curmudgeonly world tour going.

The only rules are that the treasures must have had some original intention other than modern tourism (so that’s Disneyland out, unfortunately) and that they must have some claim to being a tourist draw

“Around the world in 80 trinkets” would surely have to include Niagara Falls. I have never been there myself but am reliably informed that it is exceedingly rubbish. I’m sure there are plenty more candidates…

Update: Better add Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace to the list – There are plenty of genuine treasures in London but some of the most-visited sights are a bit crap, including “BuckPal”.

Update II: How about George’s Docks in Liverpool? In the immortal words of Brookside character Barry Grant, back in the late 80s, squireing his Canadian squeeze around Scouse-ville – “See them tiny windows there? Thehh sound aahn’t theee?”

Price discrimination

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

I’ve been trying to figure out the rationale for this puzzling price discrimination: I noticed the other day in Tesco that for my preferred range of kitchen towels, Bounty, the best value pack (at about €2.01 per 100 sheets) was the smallest, two roll pack. Researching it a bit further I notice that the “Bounty Fat” brand which promises “50% more sheets”, charges quite a bit more than 50% for this privilege (about €2.26 per 100 sheets). Now, the facile explanation is that people are stupid enough to be dazzled by that “50% extra” splash and ignore the price hike but I find it hard to believe that people would be reliably and consistently stupid enough for this strategy to be stable. Is it really possible that the convenience of changing the roll 33% less frequently is worth that 12.5% premium?


Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

Talking about names over at Foreign Dispatches it occurs to me that the president’s daughter possesses a damn fine pornstar name. I mean, if she didn’t already exist, it’s hard to imagine that the name “Jenna Bush” wouldn’t have been bagged by some prospective starlet. I was prompted to ponder which is the most popular pornstar name. There is a widespread impression that such names are colourful improbable pairings – hence the (erroneously conceived) parlour game which seeks to derive your pornstar name by adding your first pet’s name to your mother’s maiden name. Such contrivances might sound plausible to those whose familiarity with the world of, ahem, adult entertainment extends no further than the film Boogie Nights, but I have it on good authority that chosen names fall into a fairly narrow spectrum. So, I attempted a little search at the Internet Adult Film Database to determine the most popular. You might be surprised, results inside:


Advanced wishes

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

Great post from Jane Galt which gets at one of the problems I have with the Terri Schiavo case:

Consider a hypothetical: during a rash of acid attacks on fashion models, one model tells a friend, “I’d rather die than be disfigured like that”. Should we take into account those wishes, and kill her before she wakes up?

How about if your (very athletic) spouse tells you, and some friends, “I’d rather die than live like that”, where “that” is Steve, the quadrepalegic down the street. If a car accident severs his spinal cord at the neck, should you tell the doctors not to give him food or water

What if he wrote it down before the accident: “Don’t let me wake up if I’ll be on a respirator for the rest of my life”. Should the hospital honor this directive?

This is what I had to say about it at Abiola’s blog:

We seem to all share this assumption that the wishes of pre-vegetative state Terri ought to take precedence, but that “person”, or at least that particular version, is no longer here and it might not necessarily be in the best interests of 2005 Terri to carry out the wishes of an earlier version of herself. Imagine a person terrified of, say, being confined to a wheelchair who expresses a wish that in the event of being paralysed from the waist down he be allowed “die with dignity”. Now, in the event that he is paralysed, nobody would seriously argue that those previously expressed wishes ought to take precedence over what he can actually tell you he wants now. Why is it different in this case? One might attempt the argument that it’s in the interests of 2005 Terri to “die with dignity”, but this an entirely separate argument to “what she would have wanted” and ought to based on inferring her best interests here and now. Another example – I’d hate the thought of developing Alzheimers. Ask me now and 2005 era I will say that I’d have no problem being euthanised in that event. But, if I did get Alzheimers, I might not be completely competent, but I’ll wager that I wouldn’t actually want to be euthanised. I don’t see why some old man should die to save the earlier version of himself from worrying about a future loss of dignity.

Patience of a Saint

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

Mick Fealty has to be the most tolerant blog-proprietor out there. Not only does he spurn the option of permanently banning persistently offending commenters in favour of a two week spell in the sin bin (after a yellow card warning to boot!), now I learn that he even tolerates the use of sockpuppets and will only ban the sockpuppet “false false identity” but allow the “real false identity” to keep posting!

One of the sad things about Internet discussion is the reluctance of people to use their real names. In the context of Northern Ireland it is eminently understandable why people choose to remain annonymous. However, Sockpuppets take annonymity a step further. They are false, false identities if you like, often used by someone who is already posting under a ‘proper’ identity.

They can be fun and entertaining. Occasionally they can be vicious, often being used as an attack vehicle: ie, not merely for anonymity. In the context of Slugger, sockpuppets are not against the rules. However should a sockpuppet character be seen to serially play the man not the ball, you may find that your alter ego is suddenly (and without warning) curtailed from play.

While we are at it, I’ll just confirm my own policy. My view on anonymous posters is that anonymity comes at a cost to credibility. I have no problem with anonymity but I will tend to be more tolerant of those posting under real names. Hitherto, I’ve only had to ban or delete spammers, but I reserve the right to delete and (permanently) ban anyone guilty of persistent trolling. Sockpuppetry will only be tolerated, a) for satirical purposes or b) if the purpose is not to simulate ersatz agreement or disagreement with something already written by the puppeteer.

Go Nuts!

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

Got an unkempt garden, perhaps your nails need doing, or maybe you want to add comments to your blog but would prefer someone else took care of troll patrol? Avowed “commie” Back Seat Driver Diana gets in touch with her inner capitalist with a modest proposal: a recruitment agency which (literally) promises poor immigrants peanuts (and the odd scrap) to come and work in Ireland:

So, lads, here is the crunch, do you endorse my ‘non-protectionist but caring deeply for immigrants’ best interests walnuts and scraps paying scheme’? Naturally I will have to come up with a catchier name when recruiting abroad, so far I have thought of: ‘The answer to your problems in a nutshell: come work in Ireland!’ and ‘You don’t want this job? You’re nuts!’ but I am open to suggestions.

Free Market Protection Agencies or Warlords?

Tuesday, March 29th, 2005

Following up on the discussion with Scott Scheule in the post below, I have a post over at Samizdata on anarcho-capitalists and free market protection agencies.

F.A.Q. off to J.F.G.I.

Thursday, March 24th, 2005

A very useful pointer for those persistent, annoying but lazily conceived queries.

[noted at Slugger]

Update: Mirror site here (boom, boom), or for an Irish slant to your search, check here

Bloglaigh na hEireann*

Thursday, March 24th, 2005

Alan has drawn my attention to his neat aggregator of Irish blogs, in beta mode at the moment, titled, aptly enough, Now, if I could only shake that blog-torpor, rediscover my blog-muse and write a few posts worthy of aggregating.

[* to borrow Richard Delevan‘s memorable coinage]