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Welp, it’s Steam Sale time again, that Amok Time when Valve cuts prices so low you buy a ton of shit you don’t need and somehow believe you’ve saved a bunch of money. Ninety percent off Goat Simulator? Sign me up!

So I was browsing titles and came across Castlevania — you play an old and weary Dracula, yearning to retire. But first you have to fight your boss, Satan, to get out of your contract. It is rated 17+ for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, Nudity.

The punters loved it. The critics, not so much. In fact, it got a mysteriously low Metascore of 58 (user votes are excluded from Metascore). A halfway decent game is always going to be 80+. Then I noticed the disclaimer above.

For those who haven’t been following this particularly complicated internet shit-storm, the simple version is: pro-#GamerGate = people who love videogames just the way they are. Anti-#GamerGate = people who think today’s video games promote violence and sexism and would like to see that change. Much of the professional gaming press — like our lefty betters in journalism everywhere — are firmly in Column B.

See the little #GamerGate recommends icon? Yeah. Steam is promoting games off of the back of the #GamerGate controversy. Gabe Newell is a sooper genius.

Hells yes I bought Castlevania.

And, um, Goat Simulator, too.

Good weekend, folks. Assuming you’ve shaken off the tryptophan coma yet.

November 28, 2014 — 10:06 pm
Comments: 20

T-day marathon for thee, not for me

MST3K is recreating their good old Turkey Day Marathon online this year. I’ve been looking forward to it all week. Got the notice, tuned in and…”sorry, the owner has not made this stream available in your country.”

Oh, boo. I mean, I can spoof it and watch it on my computer, but I wanted to stream it to the television.


Anyhoo, the turkey — not a whole turkey, but a generous slab of the finest from Marks and Spencer — is all set. The fixin’s. A bottle of schmoo. We do Thanksgiving as an evening meal, but we damn well do Thanksgiving in this house.

You guys are among the things I’m grateful for. This blog has gone a long way to keeping homesickness at bay — real Muricans to chat with! Hope everyone has a splendid day, and a chance to shop until your brains run out your ears tomorrow.


November 27, 2014 — 6:45 pm
Comments: 23

Poison in the body politic

The length of one of the most aggressively monitored borders in the world runs for 3,145 km (1,954 miles). The iron pillars, concrete walls, security cameras and drones that make it virtually impermeable today were partly triggered by just a tiny bit of paper during WW1 – a telegram.

Recognize that? It’s the BBC’s description of the US/Mexico border! It was an aside in an article today about WWI. (With socialized medicine, the crazy pills are free!).

I can’t tell you what a problem the BBC is in this country. I know US media is corrupt, but we’ve got nothing as pervasive, as ubiquitous as the BBC. Depending how you count, they control half a dozen TV channels and a dozen radio stations. It’s not at all unusual for a typical Brit to consume nothing but BBC from morning to night.

And they talk complete shit.

Beautifully produced and often clever and highly entertaining shit, but shit nonetheless.

After the Boston Marathon, a neighbor of mine — a solid conservative gun-toting Americanophile — sidled up and asked “so — Tea Party?” Because that’s the only suspect he knew. I’ve had two people in the last few weeks congratulate me in casual conversation on dodging that horrible Palin woman. No doubt, they had never heard a single good thing about her until I hissed, “well, actually, she’s a bright and articulate woman who was the most popular governor in America when she was selected to run.”

Truth is, I consume as much BBC as anyone. Mostly radio. Mostly Radio 4. I swear, they can work a George Bush joke into the cooking program. The can make flower arranging positively Marxist. Lately, I’ve taken to playing a little game with every program I listen to — Spot the BBC Hook.

Our next guest is an eminent British composer — who is from an immigrant family. Let’s get a legal opinion from a senior judge — who is militantly gay. Our science program this evening is about women scientists who rose in their professions despite gender discrimination.

I promise you, the number of programs without such a social justice hook is vanishingly small.

Tell you what, though — I stole that image off the internet and I’m’a call bullshit on it. Why would a BBC logo be centered over North America?

November 26, 2014 — 10:46 pm
Comments: 8

and the message is…?

I dunno. Give in to mob justice or we’ll burn our own houses down and bankrupt our neighbors?

Eric Holder’s right: we are too cowardly to have that conversation about race. But he’s wrong to think he’d like it if we did. And I suspect we eventually will.

Meanwhile, we figure we can afford to rebuild their neighborhoods from time to time, as long as they continue preying exclusively on each other.

Oh, hey, the Ferguson riots have now officially killed as many unarmed young black men as Officer Wilson.

November 25, 2014 — 9:55 pm
Comments: 12


Can someone explain to me why Obama’s power grab is not a huge loss for immigrant activists?

■ it potentially applies to only five of the ten to twenty million total illegals.

■ it requires a lot of paperwork. Don’t discount this one. As someone who’s been through the immigration mill, lemme tell you the time, money and angst involved in pleasing a bureaucrat is terrifying.

■ coming out of the shadows requires coming out of the shadows — identifying yourself, giving your location and confessing to lawbreaking. Maybe confessing lawbreaking on behalf of associates and employers, as well.

■ the deal is only as good as long as Obama’s in office. I can’t imagine any Republican president would be so delightfully cruel as to deport they asses after they come clean, but that doesn’t mean the terms of the deal will stay the terms of the deal. With the backlogs that are sure to happen (good luck getting extra money out of Congress to add capacity), it’s likely the typical applicant won’t make it through the whole process before O and his travelling circus of executive orders is long gone. Who buys a pig in a poke?

and the big one…

■ delivering a giant Fuck You to the Republican base in their moment of triumph kills any chance of serious GOP cooperation over anything in the next two years — but especially on immigration. Boehner and our RINO betters would love to have given O the kind of comprehensive immigration suppository he supposedly craves, but that’s out of the question now. If they pass anything at all, it’ll have to look a whole helluva lot tougher than what might’ve passed before.

In fact, the whole thing is such an enormous shitburger for the left, I have to wonder — for the umpteenth time with this guy — is he truly this incompetent, or is there some diabolical hidden lefty advantage I’m not seeing?

November 24, 2014 — 9:35 pm
Comments: 16


Meet Ann Dally of Fairview Close, Walthamstow. She suffers from mobility problems, depression and Third Degree Bitchface.

I call this expression Daily Mail face. This wasn’t in the Mail, it was in a local London paper, but y’all know the phenomenon: some tragic looking bugger holding up a crumpled object in a pokey room. The Union Jack afghan tossed over the sofa is a nice touch. Cue Emmett Kelly with sad trombone.

Anyway, her toilet needed work and she waited sixteen days before she got it. She put in a formal complaint was compensated £70. That’s not the story.

The story is, when she got the paperwork back (why her toilet needed a gas safety certificate, I cannot imagine) her name thereon had been changed to “@@@@ U Mrs A Dally.”

“It felt horrible. To know that someone had done that to me, someone who has access to my home. I suffer from depression and it just made me feel awful, like I am a joke.”

Now from the breathlessness of the article you could be forgiven for assuming, as I did, that the certificate had actually been changed to say “fuck U Mrs A Dally”. But no. There’s a picture. It is literally four ‘at’ symbols followed by a U.

So it’s like an interpretive hate crime.

It’s Friday. I’m tuckered. You know what? I’m going to let you build your own right-wing rant based on this story. Good weekend, everyone!

November 21, 2014 — 9:18 pm
Comments: 22


Britain’s first ‘poo bus’ has gone into service. It runs a dedicated route between Bristol and Bath. It’s powered by a methane/propane mix, methane generated by anaerobic bacteria fed a mix of human and food waste.

The engine design is not much different from a diesel bus. The gas is stored in that bulgy bit on the roof; it’ll go 186 miles on a tankful.

Well. I dunno. I’m not opposed to things like this on principle, just on account of I’m a heartless gaia-h8r. I’m opposed to things like this because every time you look closer, it’s a shell game. Wonderful clean free energy comes out one end, but grubby wasteful things go on behind the curtain first.

There are clues in the article. It says the fuel burns with 30% less carbon emissions, for example. But it says earlier the methane is “upgraded” by removing carbon dioxide and adding propane. So, is the carbon comparable but simply unlocked during manufacture rather than use? Not that I object to a bit of good old CO2, y’unnerstand, I’m just doing a veracity check here.

It says one person’s annual food and personal waste will fuel the bus for 37 miles, so five people for a whole tank. A year’s worth of solid waste from five people for one refueling. That sounds like a big process. I mean, big tanks, big mixers, big energy consumption. Big investment.

The Bristol sewage treatment plant processes 35,000 tonnes (that’s a fancy British metric ton) of food waste and 75 million cubic meters of shit every year. In the process, they make 17 million cubic meters of this here biomethane. So, eh. Maybe they have figured out a way to do their sewage treatment job and squeeze some free energy out of it in the process. If so, good for them.

But I wouldn’t mind seeing some numbers on that.

November 20, 2014 — 5:55 pm
Comments: 18


See? Googly eyes *do* make everything better.

What I like best about this one (in Brockley, London) is that the eyes appeared first. Then later, eyebrows. Then later, teef. Meaning either several people had fun with it, or one person perfected his vandalism slowly over time.

Yep, we still do have these iconic letterboxes all over the country, in several styles and shapes. You can tell the era of a letterbox by the name of the monarch cast into it, beginning with Victoria.

I love these things. Uncle B has a special lobe of his brain devoted to the location of post boxes. Which is impressive, as they are sometimes stranded in the damnedest places as neighborhoods have changed.

They never move them, I guess because it’s hard to. Sometimes they’re in spots that would be suicidal for motorists to stop.

Sadly, thieves move them rather a lot. We’ve had a wave of post boxes lost to scrap metal collectors in the last few years — including, I’m sorry to say, the one closest to us. We all made a point to use the local one because a posting point makes us a proper village. They promised us they’d replace it but they haven’t and I don’t believe they really will.

Metal theft was a terrible issue locally for a while. Farmers were losing gates (and hence livestock) and underground water pipes. Our local church painted all its exterior metal with Smart Water — a forensically traceable, invisible paint that gets all over thieves. Clever stuff. It works, too.

Oh, hey — did you see that the ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign that hung over Dachau got nicked? So either there’s a rich pretend Nazi out there with the sign on his wall, or — and you have to love the irony of this one — Romanian scrap thieves nicked it for salvage.

November 19, 2014 — 11:41 pm
Comments: 5

It’s art

No, really. This guy makes these awful little clay-and-acrylic sculptures that look like unholy mashups of skin, teeth, toenails and secondary sexual characteristics. And hair. And at least one eyeball. And there’s a tongue covered in teeth. Oh, just go look.

They’re like poorly thought out souvenirs from the Mütter Museum.

They don’t fit my idea of fine art, exactly, but I must admit…they have a certain appeal. Okay, appeal is probably the wrong word. They’re very well done and. You know. Interesting.

Though I have to confess, it is my highest ambition to be a brain in a jar some day. Animate or not, I’m not fussy.

November 18, 2014 — 4:55 pm
Comments: 15

Meanwhile in Tonbridge…

So, somebody is leaving £5, £10 and reportedly even £20 notes under rubber ducks on Tonbridge High Street, with notes that say things like

“I am a duck and I have a present for you. Why not buy a coffee or treat yourself. You can do whatever you want. Keep me in your pocket and when you can, put something else under me and hide me in town for someone else to find and benefit from your kindness. Let’s be nice. Go be nice.”

I find I don’t have anything to add to this story.

Changing the subject, I dropped by the fruiterer for some physalis today. You have no idea how much it pleases me to say that.

They do actually call them fruiterers here; fancy old-fashioned little fruit and veg stores. There’s a nice one near work where signs tell you where it all comes from, including sometimes the actual farm.

They sell local stuff, but also wild mushrooms and fresh herbs and heavy cream and exotic things. I love that shop. But mostly I love saying “fruiterer.”

November 17, 2014 — 8:53 pm
Comments: 17