"What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote
in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes
his own self-interest as he sees it... which for the majority translates as 'Bread and Circuses'."
- Robert A. Heinlein

In Roman times, free Bread and Circuses entertained the masses. I hope you find your time
here both entertaining and informative.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A great book...

Just finished reading Fatherland by Robert |Harris. It's an excellent "what if" look at Germany in 1964 had Hitler won. Check it out.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Talk like a Buccaneer Day

I wish I knoo who ever created this rubbish excuse fer a "holiday". hold on 'un minute, tar ter the power of wikipedia, I can. john baur an' mark summers, yaouw wankers 'ad be'ah hope ar paths never cooss, or I shall gid yaouw a roight proper walloppen. i fink it's abart as noggen yedded an idae as possible. an excuse fer grownups ter terk loike lung john silvers moy be crack, but really, the point agen? so i've decided ter foight the trend with this "talk loike a brummie" post. We are not chuffed.

Also... Bugger
and... Bollocks

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Yearbook

So I brought my senior PHC yearbook with me to the UK. I have been going through it with various friends.

Invariably, there are several responses:
1) Man, alot of these people look rather odd.

Maybe this is just a reaction to the Hollywood picture of America that most Brits are exposed to, where everyone has perfect teeth and looks somewhat plastic. Then again, alot of the people who went to PHC do look rather odd. Is there a reason that some homeschoolers look like they are the inbred spawn of a bunch of cousins?

2) Damn that guys looks like an alien.

Name removed to protect the guilty. Surprisingly, this same person got the same reaction from everyone who saw the yearbook. Curious.

3) They laughed at our American names. Names like Tobin Duby. And "Randy" got a good chuckle, but that's only because it's the British equivalent of naming your child Horny.

4) You actually have hoedowns?

The image of Americans in plaid clothing and ridiculous hats is just painfully colonial to their eyes. They're right.

5) Where are all the non-white students?

America may be the melting pot, but maybe conservative evangelicalism didn't get the message. Our friend Eva was particularly surprised by how pasty and Wonderbread our student body was. I had to go through and point out that yes, we did have some non-Anglo students.

Pictures



This is what passes as a beach in Birmingham... a pile of sand, some lawnchairs and a giant screen that alternates between the BBC news and ocean scenes. All in the square in front of the Library. It's also a very multicultural area, you can see Sikhs in traditional garb, Muslim women wearing head scarves or the full hijab, and Arab men in their traditional robes, as well as the usual cross-section of Anglo/Celtic peoples.








The UK recently implemented a far-reaching smoking ban. Not only can you not smoke in any indoor public areas, but that also includes bus stops and train platforms. Right....

BTW, the silly orange knapsack contained the kids lunch for the day, and they were tired, so I got drafted to carry it. The Don King hair was a result of a windy day and roller coasters.

















This was a more or less random English bloke we met in the pub, mugging for the camera with our gay-sian friend Adam. (In Britain, Asian refers to people from South Asia, not Oriental nationas like China and Japan. For example, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, or Sri Lanka.) Another note: Oriental -- as applied to a people group -- is the accepted nomenclature in much of the world for the peoples of East Asia, and carries none of the slightly racist perjorative overtones that the word has in the US. For my American readers, Oriental should only be used to refer to objects, like a vase or rug, and the term Asian applies to peoples from Japan, the Koreas, etc. Sociology lesson complete.






Monday, September 17, 2007

A Bit of the Rugger

So I've been watching the Ruby World Cup of late. Now there is a game. None of the pads and 10 second plays (or complex penalties) of American football. Lots of running, these guys are as as fit as European footballers without all the poncy dancing around a little round ball. For American football fans who love watching a long run back with a couple of well executed laterals, that is the bread and butter of rugby. These guys are fit and built, they can run like receivers and running backs, and block like defensive ends.



No wonder Sebastien Chabal is nicknamed "Attila"

The scrummages are also pretty interesting to watch. Imagine an American football offensive line three guys deep, pushing towards their opposing counterparts in an attempt to gain posession of the ball. Less of the sudden impact and ponderous players, more sturm und drang. They say the hooker (the center man in the front of the line) experiences 3,000 pounds per square inch. Maybe I like it so much because the scrum is rather reminiscent of a Spartan phalanx, an inpenetrable line of players actually playing as a team, locking arms and protecting their territory.

On that subject, we visited Ben and Renee on Saturday. Ben made a wicked hot chili with some peppers he had grown. Then we had a few Guinness and watched 300. An excellent movie. The historical inaccuracies are allowable considering the beautiful visual style (It looks like a comic book), inclusions of historically inspired dialogue: ie; a paraphrase of the exchange between Leonidas' wife and a foreign woman who asked, "how is it that Spartan women are the only ones who rule men?" The Spartan reply? "Yes, for we are the only ones who give birth to men." Really, the movie could have been absolute shite (it's not) and it would have been worth watching, if only for the experience of seeing the Spartan phalanx in action. Man, when your society centers around training men from the age of 7-21, under punishing conditions, you're going to produce some genuine hard-arses.

And for the ladies who don't usually watch macho war movies, two points:
1:) The movie reflects the considerable respect and freedom Spartan women had in their society vis a vis the rest of Greece and other ancient societies.

2:) Lots of buff man candy. (A major selling point for Renee).

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Misconceptions

I am thinking of doing a several part piece on common American myths about Britain. Here are a few I have in mind:

British TV is crap (you'll definately get this one if you watch 11 hours of .
Life in the UK is like either Fawlty Towers or Snatch.
The average Briton is a middle class, Stiff Upper lip white guy with a posh accent.
British food is bland and nasty.
In Britain everyone drinks their beer warm.

Feel free to comment with any questions or thoughts you would like addressed. I also plan to do a series on typical British myths about America.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Pictures from Alton Towers






We passed this on the way to Alton Towers... At first glance it appeared to be a Chernobyl style nuclear reactor power plant. Turned out to be a farm silo, still cool though.












A picture of the Castle at Alton Towers.



















Another view of the Country House/Castle.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I love Sir Richard Branson, and Rollercoasters


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Friday we went to Alton Towers, a major British theme park. Built on a HUUUUGE Tract of land once owned by the Earl of Shrewsbury in Staffordshire, it is an enormous complex including a ruined castle built in the gothic country house style. It is also, incidently, considered one of the most haunted sites in Britain. What's a gothic country estate without a curse?? We had a great time there celebrating cousin Leo's birthday, which mostly consisted of taking the children around to the kiddie rides.

However, my fiancee and I got to ride on Nemesis, the first inverted roller coaster in Europe. It was an incredible ride, appropos for a coaster considered to be the third best in the world. It boasts a drop of over thirty metres, maximum of four g-forces, and a top speed over 80 km/h. We elected to wait a few extra minutes and sit in the very first row, which made the ride even better. The two corkscrews and the zero-g roll were crazy, making it easily the most enjoyable roller coaster ride I've ever had. Oddly enough for a town containing a rollercoaster, the local zoning ordinances prohibit any rides being built above the treeline, so the design team created subterranian ravines and tunnels for the ride to pass through. It was wicked. Pictures from the trip after the jump.

While on the topic, the British writer Shaun Hutson's book Nemesis is a supreme horror novel. Certainly not for the faint of heart, but definately worth the read. Has nothing to do with roller coasters however.

We traveled to and from the park on the train, operated by Virgin trains. Not only was it cheaper and faster than taking the bus, but it was also cleaner and more fun. Yet another of the great things Richard Branson's company (actually, all 350 of them) do in Europe that Americans only familiar with Virgin's airline and record label would be surprised by. Now if only I could find some of his vodka to mix with my Virgin Cola, for the world's first ever supremely alcoholic virgin drink. On a related note, Sir Richard has long been financing maverick aviator Steve Fossett, whose private plane went missing over Nevada today while searching for a location on which to break the land speed record. Our thoughts are with him.

BTW, while writing this post I was drinking Bulmer's Original Cider. The Brits are crazy about their hard apple beverages.