Wednesday, November 30, 2005

City Information Group (Christmas) Hug

I popped into the Kensington Roof Gardens on Monday night for the 2005 Information Christmas Party the place to be for the creme de la creme of the UK information world.

OK, it was a load of librarians drinking and jiving with their information vendors but I didn't let that put me off. Everyone looked very nice in their smartest clothes and to begin with there was a real buzz about the place as we chatted with ex-bosses and business card-toting salesmen. A slightly shambolic raffle (gallon bottle of Baileys anyone?) added some excitement although it was a bit of a mystery as to who was actually allowed to enter. The drink flowed and the food - well it occasionaly appeared. The rumour was that the catering cost £12,000 so they must have been the most expensive ham butties in history, even if they were made with focaccia. As the night wore on though, the event began to feel like a certain kind of office party with some inventive movements on the dancefloor and the weary loitering around the edges. It's a shame that more didn't venture into the actual gardens as they were the true star of the party. One party veteran suggested that this year's wan't as raucous as 2004 although that may have been due to the fact that many people were heading to Online the next day.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Online Information 2005

And so to Online information 2005at the cavernous Olympia Grand Hall. I went along on Tuesday, the first day of the event, so at least the exhibitors still had a bit of enthusiasm. That is apart from the people on the Information Today stand who seemed a bit jaded even by lunchtime. Or perhaps it was just me not looking like a potential customer. Anyway, there are two ways to approach the whole thing. You either select one or two vendors that you're interested in, speak to them and hopefully do the business, shake hands - then clear off asap. Or, you wander around aimlessly only visiting stands that grab your attention - you know, pretty colours, ladies dressed as fairies/men not wearing suits etc, tasteful bags full to tat. Ah yes, the giveaways. As far as I could see (and I may have missed something) the LexisNexis USB and the John Wiley bags were the best gifts on offer. Lots of useful magazines available.

The seminars are always worth checking out and I sat in on one about Succesful contract negotiation. One of the points made though was that you shouldn't waste vendors' time by showing an interest in a product that you've got no intention of getting. Well, hang on a minute. Surely you need to try and test something before making a decision and what about all the hours wasted by vendors hassling you to 'talk business'? I clapped at end of the talk anyway.

Librarians: all books and no looks?

Love it or hate it (and I'm all for embracing it - tweed is very in this season), the cliched image of librarians is still alive and kicking. As well as Sharon Osbourne's (admittedly amusing) rant at Madonna (repeated below for those of you who missed it), I've spotted these librarian references in the press over the last month:

"Her outfit (another disappointment) is more librarian than vampire: a sharp white collar poking out of a neat blue tank top. I glimpse a striped purple cuff. The look is completed with a large, oval brooch, worn in the centre of her neck. I wonder if it is pinned directly into her flesh. She smiles. I think I see blood."
Anne Rice: Interview with the former vampire, Chris Ayres, The Times, Nov 5 2005

"It used to be the preserve of stuffy librarians but, thanks to a Marks & Sparks ad starring Twiggy, the humble cardie is back."
Amber Morales, The Mirror, Oct 28 2005

"Take away the ovation for Dado Prso and this Saturday afternoon Ibrox gathering could have been mistaken for a particularly quiet convention of librarians . Sshh..."
Rangers v Motherwell: Prso presence lifts the blues, John Greechan, Daily Mail, Oct 24 2005

"It's like dressing up with her. One day you're in fucking gun gear, then you're in horsing gear, then you dress like a fucking dyke, then you dress like a hooker, then you're in a flowery dress reading kids' poetry looking like a fucking librarian - then you're back looking like an old hooker again. For fuck's sake, who are you?"
Sharon Osborne, Word, Nov 10 2005

Of course, if you want to know what real librarians look like, then go here

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Drink? How about a deer? (or even an elk).

Forget about the gross misrepresentation of women as binge drinking jezebels, what about the poor elk?

Recently reported in the binge-watch section of The Guardian a drunken party of elks surrounded an old people's home in the town of Ostra Goinge, near Malmo, after devouring high numbers of fermented apples, Swedish paper Dagens Nyheter reports. Police with dogs had failed to scare them off, and the animals only ran away after hunters with guns arrived on the scene.
"It's not unusual for elks to get drunk," forester Fredrik Jonsson told the newspaper. "They don't recognise the difference between fermented and not fermented and stuff themselves down to the last apple."
There have been previous problems with elks: a female elk recently attacked three joggers in Norway. Last year another elk in Sweden stole a bicycle from a garden, which it regularly visited to eat the roses. An elderly couple had used the bike to fence off their garden; the elk disappeared with the bike hanging round its neck. The bike was later found bent and damaged beyond repair.

Incidently please note that the only elk referred to by gender was a female.

Patrol music . . .

A shop in South Wales, reports icwales, is using a new alarm system called Mosquito, “which is only clearly audible to under 20s”. It emits a noise that annoys the kids so much that they stop hanging around the shop. Fantastic news! Unless of course you’re an innocent youngster who’s been sent round the shop for milk by your parents, because then it'll just piss you off.

It’s only a matter of time before the technology is usurped by a bored, computer-adept, Spar employee. Then the kids will have a way to communicate at frequencies that the elderly can’t hear. Then they can cause some real trouble...

Reminds me of a story on the bbc back in January. Tyne and Wear Public Transport installed speakers in their bus stops and train stations to belt out classical music. However, not just for the overall enjoyment of their passengers –but to stop young hoodie wearing hoodlums from hanging about and intimidating people. And guess what? It worked.

Studies proved that trying to show off you latest Jamster ring-tone to your mates, and generally acting like an arse just isn’t cool when accompanied by Mozart or Beethoven. So the kids left, deciding to intimidate people in the park instead.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Warning: Smoking can cause lack of cabin pressure.

With the government considering a total smoking ban across Britain, it’s interesting to note how Australia deals the problem of people smoking on public transport.

A BBC news story tells how a French tourist recently admitted that she tried to open an aeroplane door during her flight to Brisbane, to have a cigarette. The 34 year-old woman, who suffers fear of flying, had drank alcohol with sleeping pills to cope, and could not remember the incident.

Fortunately, the memory was still fresh in the minds of her fellow passengers (who I suspect now also have a fear of flying ) leading the Brisbane Magistrates Court to issue her with a £429 good behaviour bond - which she will only have to pay if she commits another offence. I wonder what the penalty would have been if she had actually lit the cigarette.

It seems that on a holiday to Australia you can be drugged up to the eyeballs and endanger the lives of a plane full of people and pretty much get away scott free. If anyone can find the name of the tour operator she was using, I’d love to give them a go.

The story finishes off by saying that the woman was travelling with her husband, who was obviously too busy reading the instructions on the vomit bag to keep an eye on what she was doing.

So nearly a candidate for an esteemed Darwin Award - where the most stupid smoking-related death seems to be when a group of soldiers in the Ukraine decided to take a fag break while guarding a, wait for it, ammunition dump. The result was a series of explosions that lasted a week, debris tossed 25 miles away and amazingly only one fatality. Read more here.

I drink therefore I am . . . a woman.

Over the past few weeks we've noticed a real misogyny attached to the reporting on extended drinking hours. Almost every article you see, even in the more liberal press, is accompanied by a photograph of a woman lying down in the street, looking the worse for wear. Pretty lazy journalism, aside from anything else.

I picked up the Standard on the tube last week and spotted another little trick - juxtaposition. An article on licensing hours was placed next to a small piece about an elderly man killed by a "drunken yob" who had drunk "at least seven pints of lager". The suggestion presumably being that if pubs are allowed to serve alcohol 24 hours a day, lots of little old ladies will be stabbed to death. Not very subtle but can be effective.

Here's some examples from The bbc, The Mail on Sunday and The Daily Mail.

Women are criticised in the press for their drinking habits much more often than men. Recent stories have included health warnings "Epidemic of liver disease hits women drinkers", and suggestions that women are to blame for being sexually assaulted "Third of young women assaulted while drunk". And true to form, The Sun stated its position clearly on October 3 with the headline 'Women drink hell'. And finally, an article in the Observer "Bingeing women fuel crime" even suggested that women were to blame for male violence: "The days of women exerting a civilising influence in pubs may be fading...".

Here's a bit of analysis:

Number of articles about alcohol and women in the UK nationals (not FT) over the past year: 162
Number of articles about alcohol and men in the UK nationals (not FT) over the past year: 102

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

World's most visited blog site

Modestly described as a "directory of wonderful things." - has become the
world's most visited blog site - it get's more hits than - below, an entry from today's front page:

.......The Fretboard Journal: debut issue
I just received issue no. 1 of The Fretboard Journal, "A magazine for musical instrument players, collectors, and builders." It's lavishly produced with full color photos throughout

The crazy frog and the crazy 80s

During the Falklands conflict, Mrs 'bonkers' T coerces Mr Mitterand to give him secret codes of French made missiles sold to Argentinians, by threatening to drop an atomic bomb on Argentina. Mr ' bonkers' Mitterand comforts himself with the thought that he will get his revenge by building a tunnel under the Channel which will destroy Britain's island status.

Fuller blog treatment here.

If you hate the French, find friends here.

If you hate Thatcher, find solidarity here.