Ball Busted

Growing up is a long process. For most of us it starts in late teens, and finishes in early forties. A few lucky (some would say unlucky) souls begin before they're out of puberty, and a very few excellent individuals don't stop till they die.

I think it happens in distinct moments - when things happen to make you you realise something, understand something, understand it more deeply...or see that everything you've been told for years is not just false, and not just obviously false, but obviously impossible.

And a lot of the time, these are moments of disappointment, as when some public figure you admired as a child turns out to be a pillock. Or a fraud, a sellout, a nutcase, a hypocrite or a bastard.

David Bellamy, for instance. He was an infectiously enthusiastic, Kris-Kringle-like TV scientist. A botanist who presented documentaries on biology for kids, and never once patronised his audience. I remember sitting around the family early-evening meal, with Bellamy on TV explaining the digestive system of a transparent worm, or the reproductive cycle of the whelk.

Like a lot of naturalists, he was also an ecologist, joining campaigns to save forests years before the media started treating such causes sympathetically.

So what does he do now? He's a climate change denialist. Read that again to let it sink in.

His ecological "campaigning" now is funded by oil companies, so he now writes articles on how glaciers aren't shrinking, CO2 isn't "really" a greenhouse gas, and windfarms can't possibly work.

Then there was Richard Feynmann, who may indeed have been "the best mind since Einstein", but spent vast amounts of time and energy trying to give the impression that he was "the best mind since Einstein". As well as being something of a sexual predator - the kind who wants women but doesn't really like them.

Incidentally, Einstein himself took care to preserve his image as the endlessly compassionate, lovably eccentric and humble-but-infallible grandpappy you never had.

James Burke turns out to be a sometimes shoddy researcher as well as purveyor of strained "Connections".

Even Stephen Jay Gould (who I still read and admire greatly) went off the rails towards the end of his life. As he realised he wasn't going to beat cancer a second time, he started turning out blurry, wordy essays trying to reintegrate religion into his scientific worldview. I suppose a lot of people start hoping for an afterlife when they see the end of the current one in view.

Well, today I reckon I grew up just a little bit more, beacuse I've found out what happened to Johnny Ball. He was a TV science populariser in the 70s and 80s, like Bellamy. Now he tours the UK, presenting fun science to schoolchildren. And he's turned into a climate change denialist like Bellamy too.

Oh, and he's a religious nutcase. From his blog:

One thing that really annoys me is the idea that the Pope and Galileo had a row. They didn’t. With his telescope everyone could see that the moon had mountains like the earth and was not a perfect sphere as suggested by the bible. Galileo knew the church couldn’t accept a theory that conflicted with the bible. So he went out of his way to find a middle ground, writing explanations that gave both points of view. However, someone suggested that Galileo was mocking the Pope and brought a charge of heresy. This set a problem. If Galileo was found “Not Guilty”, then the church, (i.e. the Pope himself) would be guilty of heresy. So Galileo had to admit the charge. His punishment was as light as could possibly be. He was placed under house arrest, but could choose where and which house he lived in - he moved three times before he died. Could it have been more lenient?

Okay. The bible doesn't "suggest" the moon is smooth, or not. It says the moon makes its own light (Genesis 10) and doesn't move (Isiah 182) but if I recall correctly, the notion of a smooth moon comes from Aristotle.

Galileo didn't try to find a "middle ground". He wrote a treatise in debate form, in which the representative of the church was completely defeated by the evidence.

"Someone" "suggested" Galileo was "mocking" the pope? Who is this "someone", and why did this "suggestion" lead unavoidably to a trial?

Galileo recanted under threat of torture, not to save the pope the bizarre inconvenience of being a heretic in his own church - which he wouldn't have been anyway.

And lifelong imprisonment is lenient?

Ah well, another childhood memory bites the dust.

They'll be Calling You a Radical

Welcome to the forth and final installment of "Things I said to people on the net before I realised they weren't listening".

The theme: Politics.

"War is human nature"

Oh I see, humans are genetically programmed to be greedy and stupid. Except when they're not. And history doesn't explain why you get centuries of peace then suddenly war - it's just human nature.

"Wars happen for economic and religious reasons, not historical"

So history excludes economics and religion. Then what exactly is history the history of?

"Counter-culture is just fashion these days."

The aspects of counterculture which get shown in mainstream media are music, clothes, food, drink and slang. The politics gets edited out. Hence the appearance that there is no politics, just fashion.

"These people are all completely crazy... and in no way representative of most Americans."

The point is not that they're a minority, or that they're stupid. or that they're a bit mad. That's obvious. The point is that they're in charge.

When isn't armed rebellion criminal?

If the government lies to it's people, they are right to protest and demand the truth.

If the government tortures or kills it's people, they are right to destroy it.

"12 year olds are vulnerable. 20 - 30 year olds are adults."

Compare these two statements:
* 20-30 year olds are legally adults.

* 20-30 year olds are completely sorted emotionally, and are in possession of all the facts [...] enabling them to make an objective decision. They don't make mistakes and can't be conned.

"Anti-war groups were infiltrated by the KGB"

And the CIA. And MI5. And sometimes each other.

The best way to deal with the possibility of infiltrators is to ignore it. If you start suspecting that this or that person's a spy, you get locked into a spiral of suspicion, accusation, counter-accusation, and paranoia.

If you just treat them like people who are what they appear, then - if they're agents - they'll soon work out they won't learn anything from infiltrating that they wouldn't learn from reading your publications. And sometimes you convert them in the meantime.

Occasionally someone will join with the intent of sowing discord. To destroy a group from within, it needs to trust you, which means you have to spend months insinuating yourself, before starting to play psychological games. At which point, you have maybe two months before you're recognised and asked politely to leave.

"Blacks are more criminal than whites."

There is a correlation between being black and being poor. The reason, obviously, is that racism creates ghettos, which having become established can persist even after the racism has lessened.

There is a correlation between poverty and crime. The reason, obviously, is that poor people have more incentive to steal, and less reason to play by the rules which leave them at a disadvantage.

[So] the black man in a citysuit is less likely to steal you wallet than the white boy in the tracksuit.

"How Should we remember 9/11?"

The event that triggered WW3.

The world's greatest excuse.

A meticulously planned and completely counterproductive act of resistance.

A small demonstration of why terrorism doesn't work.

The day it became impossible to have an intelligent discussion about politics.

"Is it sexist to screen woman for ovarian cancer when men can't get it?"

To treat unequal people equally is to treat them unequally.

[Other, less restrained responses did spring to mind.]

How to think clearly about religion

Faith in Allah is just as idiotic as faith in Yahweh, and Muslims are just as capable of being good or bad people, in spite of or because of their faith, as members of any other religion.

When Muslims are attacked, we defend them. Why do we defend them? Is it because they're Muslim? No, it's because they're being attacked. Understand? To defend a Muslim is not to defend Islam.


And now the third installment of Kapitano's Klever Komments - some of the better things I posted in discussion forums in 2004, and have just rediscovered. Seeing as there's nothing exciting happening in my present life.

Today's theme...Science.

"My IQ is 156"

And you're still gullible enough to think that's meaningful?

"Brains or looks?"

Looks are for looking at. It's all they're good for.


'Complexity' is loosely quantifiable in terms of 'heterogeneity of parts'. A worm has a lot of parts - segments - but most of them are all the same. A crab may have less parts - leg, big claw, small claw, eye, stomach etc - but they're all very different.

And yes, it's perfectly true that adaptation can take place by losing complexity.

'Advancement' is not quantifiable, or indeed meaningful, for an entire organism. It is possible to say that the sense of smell of one animal is more 'advanced' than of another, in the sense of being able to detect odours from fewer molecules entering the nose. In this sense, dogs have more advanced noses than humans.

Dyslexia (Part 1)

A child falls behind in school. They're diagnosed as dyslexic. They get extra tuition. They end up reading better than their classmates who didn't get the extra tuition.

Now read that paragraph again, but omit the second sentence. What exactly has changed?

Dyslexia (Part 2) - "As a child I was great at maths and terrible at reading."

You were good at some things and bad at others. Just like everyone else on the planet.

At age 7, I was extraordinarily good at reading, and almost completely unable to do maths. At 13 I was top of the year in computing and science, but didn't get GCSE maths till I was 20.

Am I discalculate? Am I superlexic? Do I have this week's fashionable condition? No, I just enjoyed reading and had no interest at all in mathematics. I'm currently studying sound DSP algorithms, which needs a fair grasp of calculus, and lo and behold, now that I have a use for maths I can do it.

Dyslexia (Part 3) - "There are bits of my brain-and the brain of every dyslexic-that are physically different from non-dyslexics. That's a known fact."

It's a common assertion. Put it with all the other 'known facts' and 'scientifically proven truths'. Like the one about how the left-brain is logical and the right-brain emotional, or the one about how women are better at multitasking than men.

Or the currently unfashionable one about how the brains of black people have large motor cortices and small anterior cognitive sections. These have all been 'proven', until the evidence was investigated and found to be pitiful.

Once upon a time, 'Possession by Demons' was a respected diagnoses. Then it was discovered that demons don't exist. In Freud's time, women who were unhappy, eccentric, or adulterous were labeled Hysteric. Until the 1950s, homosexuality and prostitution were commonly called 'sexual disorders'.

In the 1970s, the fashion was for Multiple Personality Disorder. Tens of thousands were diagnosed, then it was discovered the number of people with actual multiple personalities was vanishingly small, and possibly zero.

In the 1980s there were two really wierd trends - Alien Abduction and Satanic Abuse. The lack of aliens or satanists took some time to be noticed. In the 1990s, children whose boisterousness annoyed parents were labeled 'hyperactive' - it's still uncertain whether there is such a thing, and whether it's triggered by food allergies or not.

In the late 1990s, drug companies desperate for a new market invented Attention Deficit Disorder - previously known as 'kids bored by school and ignoring parents'.

And in the new millennium, any form of social awkwardness or eccentric behavior is put down to Asperger's Syndrome. For which there is no real test, and no neurological or psychological cause posited. The behavioral test is laughably vague.

Dyslexia is, at best, a very vague term describing a range of symptoms. What these might be symptoms of is completely unknown. Saying a person has trouble reading because they are dyslexic is like saying morphine causes sleep because it's a soporific.

"Science is just another religion."

With prayers, a revered founder, miracles, a moral code, and an afterlife, yes?


Planets tend to be oblate spheroids.

Yes, that's right. Squashed balls.

I Believe in Miracles

More stuff mysteriously saved from my days on internet discussion forums.

Today's theme...Sex!

"Bisexuals just haven't made up their mind yet."

So people with dual nationality don't know where they live?

What kind of kisser are you?

I'm the kind who sometimes gets kissed but never gets to kiss back.

"A man faced an Australian court yesterday charged with having sexual relations with a rabbit."

So, when a man mutilates and kills animals, what is he charged with? Sexual perversion.

Straight men who want you to "relieve" them because no woman will

Ah well, you know how these things go.

They love to think they're keeping you on tenterhooks with teasing and promises, then they finally let you do it and they have to be in control, and immediately afterwards they come over all embarrassed and gruff, muttering things like "That was just a one-off right?"

Straight blokes. Who needs them?

Ex-gay therapy (Part 1)

Oh yes, I used to hang around with a bunch of 'ex-gay' christians. Well, I was writing a thesis on wacky cults at the time but they weren't to know that.

You put most gay men in a room together, and they talk about whatever straight blokes talk about. With a bit more Abba and Dr Who, maybe. This lot couldn't wait to tell each other in exquisite detail about the last time they succumbed to temptation. It was meant to be a six month project - I gave it up after six weeks because (apart from the 'bible study' classes) they did nothing but talk about sex.

As for the thesis, it was eventually about Scientology, Objectivism and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. [Ex-gay groups] Exodus and NARTH got a footnote.

Ex-gay therapy (Part 2) - "So how Ex Gay were they? Were they more like Still Gays?"

Still Gay But Self HatingTM.

Or as they put it "on a long journey from the gay lifestyle (sic) to the light of Jesus (sick)". Or sometimes "struggling with same-sex attraction".

So far as I could tell, they believed that the journey from 'hellbound' to 'normal' was an indefinitely prolonged obstacle course of temptation and doubt, full of setbacks and (so to speak) slippery poles. No one had yet made it through to the other side, but anyone who did would be cured not by their own efforts but by Jesus.

The chief sin was 'pride' or 'lack of submission'. If you failed it was not so much through lack of emotional strength, but because you hadn't subdued your own desires to those of God sufficiently. Some of the literature spoke of how you had to be 'broken' by God, like a rebellious horse.

On the one hand, they're severely damaged people in need of affection. On the other, they're a bunch of hypocritical tosspots.

Ex-gay therapy (Part 3) - "What if the men being 'altered' don't want to be gay?"

You're missing the point.

What is it about being gay that's so unbearable for some and not for others? Answer: other people's reactions. Unless you think there's some other reason why the only gay men who enter these groups are those who are hated for their sexuality.

No. I've seen people move from one preferring gender to the other, and indeed back again. They did it because they were curious, and they enjoyed the experience.

The issue is not whether someone wants to try playing for the other side. That happens all the time. The issue is what makes them want to do it.

Where do babies come from?

When I was 4 I wanted to know where puppies came from. So I asked my parents. They lied to me.

I wonder what they thought they were achieving?

"Are you ever envious of the opposite sex?"

Women find it so easy to meet gay men. So yeah, I'm envious.

Tomorrow's theme...Science. With or without an exclamation mark.

The Haunted Fishtank

A few years ago I went through a phase of discussing stuff on internet forums. Then I realised it was an enormous waste of time and stopped. But I saved some contributions, which I've just rediscovered.

Here's a selection. The theme is...Television

Tonight's TV

0700: A forgotten detective drama from the 70s.

0800: Two blokes in flares and fringe haircuts, named after US presidents, shouting, firing guns and driving too fast. Watch out for the cringingly sexist bit.

0900: More of the same, but with a better theme tune. This week's villain is a fat black man with a HUGE afro haircut.

1000: Are You Being Bloody Served. Don't ask, just don't.

1100: A remake of something from, er, the 70s.

1200: News

1205: Some sitcom from the states.

1300: Another sitcom from the states. Or it might be the same one, I don't know.

1400: Something about how guns are made. Very macho. Honest.

1500: Yet another fucking sitcom from the states. Same jokes as the other two.

1600: Afternoon movie about some police detective who spends a lot of time in strip joints. Something about political corruption and prostitutes being murdered.


2100: Tonight's "erotic thriller". Three snogging scenes, a woman taking a long bath before being stabbed brutally to death, and one hilarious scene where a gay man wearing a dress gets shot 27 times.

1100: Our pretend reality TV show. Really a lot of porn starlets in bikinis walking around somewhere in Spain.

0000: The crap sci-fi hour. Conspiracy theories, woman with red hair, ambiguous ending. Usual stuff.

0100: A show about a man in a very long scarf who lives in a phonebox. We've got it because UK Gold were too stupid to keep it.

Annoying TV Cliches

The tart with the heart. American prostitutes are ridiculously glamorous and happy. British prostitutes have fishnet tights, a mass of dyed blond hair, a perpetual cigarette and loads of bonhomie.

The criminal psychologist who dresses up trite observations into psychobabbling generalisations. "He kills women slowly so...he needs to be in control. He's a driven personality."

The young schoolteacher/priest who goes cruising and can't tell his annoyingly naive wife.

The hard-as-nails superbitch assistant investigator. It's her job to bully suspects and make snide remarks. She always has a troubled personal life - usually a senile mother who goes missing.

The detective who 'bends the rules' but it's okay because he always gets the bad guy in the end. The bad guy is an incidental character you meet near the beginning, then forget about, until a chance remark from a witness reveals him to be the unsuspected psychopath mastermind.

Empires in Science Fiction

Buck Rogers had a benevolent government with a peaceful empire that was threatened by outsiders driven by greed and sometimes insanity.

Farscape had a corrupt and murderous empire, threatened by another, equally bad.

Star Trek, in all it's forms, had a good empire threatened by a collection of bad empires.

Blake's 7 had a single corrupt government and military empire, threatened by outsiders (the heroes) driven by a desire for freedom.

TV Executives

What is it about TV producers makes them think they can do creative stuff too? It's like the chairman of the board who thinks he can relate to customers.

In Britain, we deal with our idiots by putting them on TV as chat show hosts or political pundits. In America, they make them TV executives.

And sometimes presidents, but mostly producers and scriptwriters.

On a Doctor Who charity special

Unmitigated fartblowing shitspray. Absolute brainmelting tripe. Eyestabbingly teethgrindingly hideous. A pissshakingly sofamunching whoremother of a fistbiting atrocity. A cowmutilatingly coprophagic rank spit gobbet of goretwisting glopchurning satanwank.

Actually, I switched off after five minutes. It was boring.

Babylon 5

B5 urinates upon Trek from a great height. Farscape does the same to B5. As does B7 most of the time.

For a long time, B5 was 'brilliant' simply because it was so much better than almost all of Trek. The thuggish original series, the wimpy TNG, the occasionally tense and insightful DSN that sold out, the soapy Voyager and finally the execrable Enterprise, which made TOS look sophisticated. Now we have Buffy, Firefly and, well, Doctor Who.

It was impressive at the time. Now, B5 looks cosy and naive. The edgyness of it's characterisation is blunted by the knowledge that, however badly the characters behave, they're still fundamentally decent people who do the right thing. Unless they're the bad guys, in which case they're just always bad.

Oh yes, and it reinvents human national stereotypes as alien races, with humans - as bloody usual - representing America, which is always in control and always in the right.

So who are the Brits in the Star Trek universe?

Vulcans. Logical, cold, sexually repressed, and encased in the delusion that Starfleet didn't own them.

The first season of New Who

It's about this bloke right, except he turns into this other bloke who's scottish but talks like a southerner, but anyway this bloke and his girlfriend right, well actually she's not really his girlfriend because it's like their relationship is enigmatic and anyway she's got a boyfriend except she left him and her mother to go off with him and she's a bit of a slapper anyway but it's okay because she's got a heart of gold and she swallows the vortex at the end and puts bad wolfs everywhere.


"It was not symbolic of anything.
This isn't that kind of movie."
- Orson Welles, "F for Fake"

About thirteen years ago, I'd just started living with a guy, and we were out on a romantic walk.

We stopped at a petrol station shop for drinks, and he asked me if there was anything else on the shelves which we were short of at home.

I said we were out of cheese, he said chose a package, I asked which he wanted, he said just chose whichever one you feel like.

There was one which was his favourite, but I chose another because we hadn't tried it yet. He sighed, and behaved the rest of the day as though I'd deeply disappointed him.

He spent the whole afternoon waiting for me to apologise. I spent the whole afternoon chatting breezily about random stuff, as though oblivious to his stony silence.

From his point of view, he was patiently waiting for the moment when I'd crack and do the right thing. From mine, the fact that I'd done nothing wrong became unimportant - because I'd discovered what fun it was to punish him for being an arsehole simply by pretending I hadn't noticed he was furious.


I seem to spend most of my free time with socialists. We just don't talk about politics much.

What's the Hungarian word for amphetamine? There is one, and being Hungarian it's nothing like the English word and I can neither pronounce nor spell it. But that doesn't matter because no one uses it - they say "speed".

How would you translate an idiom like "heavy water" into Hungarian? Actually, you'd do it literally. The people who measure beverages in decilitres and sometimes play songs in a musical mode not used anywhere else in the world...use an anglicism when talking about deuterium rich hydroxillic acid.

How do you say "goodbye" in Hungarian? You wave and say "Halo!", which I think is pretty great.

Yes, my friend Paul T - flamenco skatepunk guitarist, long time teffler, and the man who signed me up to the SWP - is visiting England with his Hungarian girlfriend, also a teacher.

We sat on the beach, ate pizza, drank styrofoam tea, and talked about the British love of heroic failure, battleship design, and how the Spanish call some red wine "black wine" but the Portuguese call some white wine "green wine" - even though what we call white is actually yellow.

Not a word about the 1956 revolution, G20 summit, or the deepening crisis of world capitalism.

Comrades and computers don't seem to get along. There's a number of fellow local lefties who regularly call me up with technical troubles.

Sometimes it's "I can't log onto my email", sometimes it's "The printer's beeping at me", occasionally it's "can you fix it so it'll understand my voice", and quite often it's "The flashing thing won't switch on anymore".

Don't get me wrong - I like to feel needed and appreciated, I enjoy solving problems, and they generally cook nice things for me. Today it was spicy spaghetti followed by baked banana and ice cream, yesterday it was roast chicken and potatoes.

But I have to ask: Is everyone so technically inept, or only those who describe technology as "means of production"?

Defragging, cache clearing, firewall, virus scan, not clicking on spam offers of free porn? Basic care of equipment, but no, they can't quite see the point - and still can't see the connection when the flashing thing won't switch on anymore.

My beloved Socialist Workers Party has finally started discussing, fifteen years after everyone else, that the internet might be a good means of reaching people.

But anyway, that's the other reason why I spend my free time with socialists, not discussing politics.

T-wit t-wo

I woke up to find two new people following me on Twitter.

The first was "Winfred Delaney", who despite living in Ennis, Texas, runs a women's clothing shop in East Village, Manhattan. She also has exactly one tweet:

I don't believe it, I just got a free iphone. Here's the link:

The link, like her credibility, is down. So, someone has found a way to set up spam accounts in Twitter. Oh deep fucking joy. She's got 61 following her - some of who seem to be real people. Obviously not very bright real people.

She's blocked, reported, and hopefully soon history.

I read somewhere that around 80% of internet traffic is spam. Whether that means 80% of communications or 80% of bytes transferred I don't know, and I'm not sure how anyone could gather such a statistic anyway.

But I take some small comfort in the three gentlemen behind the famous Nigerian scams now being behind bars - for the next seven years. And the surprising thing is, two of them actually are Nigerian.

My other, um, "follower" is billMaintsuper, who seems to be an actual flesh and blood person - and a plumber. Plus painter, decorator, electrician, locksmith, paver...and demolition man. A renaissance man of the building trade.

I'm not sure why he's following, but seeing as he's following 976 others, I'll try not to make too much of blogging about it, or anything.

I was wondering why Twitter wasn't posting my SMS updates. Turns out it's not the result of following their confused instructions as written, or one of their increasingly frequent "busy" periods - it's just a feature that doesn't work for a lot of people.

My Twiter profile, in 140 characters or less:

Musical philosophical immoral orthogonal. Nonsmoking tealoving dogowning something. Artist atheist esperantist sodomist socialist.

Join the Pod People

Have you ever thought of trying podcasting? You've got your blog at, and you'd like to include audio - commentary, music, interviews, or you just prefer to speak rather than type.

If the answer's yes, this post may help. To podcast, you will need:

(1) A microphone
(2) A voice
(3) Some audio software
(4) Something to say
(5) A place on the net to store the sound files, and
(6) A way of getting them to stream from that place through your blog

I can't help you with the first five, but might be able to reduce your headaches about the sixth.

There's two basic approaches:
(1) Embed a player into posts as and when you need to.

This is the better way if you're going to post infrequently or irregularly - for instance, when you've recorded a new song.

It's also advisable if you're going to post long audio - for instance, an interview that lasts an hour - because embedded players are easier to pause, rewind and fastforward.

(2) Set up your blog template to treat any and all URLs of audio files as streamable.

This is better if you're going to post lots of audio - for instance, whole albums at a time, or long recordings cut up into managable bits.

Google provide one audio player. To use it, just paste this code into your blog post...

<iframe style="border: 1px solid rgb(170, 170, 170); width:400px; height: 27px;" id="musicPlayer" src="[URL:audio]"> </iframe>

...replacing [URL:audio] with the full address of the audio you want to stream, eg. The result looks like this:

Click play and It'll stream.

A different player is provided by Odeo. They're a podcast host themselves, but helpfully you can stream stuff not held on their servers with their player.

This is the code...

<embed src= "" quality="high" width="300" height="52" allowScriptAccess="always" wmode="transparent" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" flashvars= "valid_sample_rate=true&external_url=[URL:audio]" pluginspage=""></embed>

...and this is the result:

Yahoo also provide a player.


<embed src="" width="400" height="40" wmode="transparent" flashVars="playlist_url=[URL:audio]&skin_color_1=-145,-89,-4,5&skin_color_2=-141,20,0,0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"></embed>

...and result:

That's the first approach. What about the second?

Log into Blogger, go to the Dashboard, then Layout, and Edit HTML. You'll be presented with the CSS code of your blog template.

Scroll down till you find the </head> tag, insert a new empty line immidiately before that, and paste the javascript code - which I'll get to in a moment - into that space. Click Save Template.

Now when you make a post to your blog, you can include links to your audio files like this...

<a href="">Demo 1</a>
<a href="">Demo 2</a>

...and the result will look like this:

If you click on the underlined text, you can download the file. If you click on the arrow next to it, it'll stream to you. I haven't actually set up my blog to stream in this way, which is why there's only a picture, not a real link.

So what's the code you paste into the template? You can use the Yahoo media player (not the same as their embedded player) with this code:

<script src="" type="text/javascript"></script>

This will also create an unfoldable track selecter and player at the bottom left of your browser screen. I don't like that, but it's a matter of personal taste.

Delicious also have a player, and this is the code:

<script src="" type="text/javascript"></script>

It works in exactly the same way, but there's no selecter and the buttons are square. You can, if you really want to, use the Yahoo and Delicious streamers together, and each file will get two streaming buttons - though I'm not sure why you'd want to do it.

But hang on a minute, you say. These corporations could withdraw support at any time, or start charging. I've got a little webspace of my own, so why can't I store my own player there?

You can indeed do just that, and the method is something of a cross between the two I've been describing.

Probably the most common self-hosted player, is from 1PixelOut, and is downloadable here. Unzip the two files - "audio-player.js" and "player.swf" - and place them somewhere convenient in your webspace - such as a folder of their own.

In your Blogger template, just above the </head> tag, insert this...

<script language="JavaScript" src="[URL:audio-player.js]"></script>

...replacing [URL:audio-player.js] with the actual address of the "audio-player.js" file.

The following code then goes into your blog post, at the point you want the player to be displayed...

<object type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="[URL:player.swf]" id="audioplayer1" height="24" width="290">
<param name="movie" value="[URL:player.swf]">
<param name="FlashVars" value="playerID=1&soundFile=[URL:audio]">
<param name="quality" value="high">
<param name="menu" value="false">
<param name="wmode" value="transparent">

...substituting for [URL:player.swf] and [URL:audio] the locations of the "player.swf" file and your audio file, respectively.

The result looks like this:

Wouldn't it be easier to store these tiny files on Blogger? Yes it would, but Blogger won't provide a means for you to do so, and they're not alone. Google Sites, where I've been storing the example MP3s, also don't allow you to store javascript files on "your" webspace.

Are there other self-host players? Undoubtedly - I just haven't found any yet.

But hopefully this post has made starting podcasting a little less daunting for you.


Twitter is supposed to be for telling the world what you're doing at that moment.

As in "I'm downloading some porn"..."Wondering whether I can be bothered to have a wank"..."Just got started but bloody mother interrupted"..."Getting back into the rhythm"..."Typing this with one had while staring at fake Ricky Martin pics"..."Sponging down laptop screen". That sort of thing.

Brent Spiner - 80s lounge singer and Lieutenant Commander - has 179,535 followers. You can follow his (facetious and fictional) mental breakdown and bankruptcy.

If you look to your right you'll see what I do with twitter. I've always been fond of quotations and aphorisms, so I've set myself the challenge of coming up with five vaguely quotable sayings (of 140 characters or less) a day.

Maybe not "The Wisdom of Kapitano", but more interesting than what I had for breakfast. Encapsulated minor insights, thoughts that would otherwise slip between the cracks, things to remember for seeming clever and spontaneous later.


Quiz Custodiet...Answers

So, which of the five quotes were real, and which did I make up on the spot? Eroswings and TardisGirl both thought it was number five:

87% of women take 11.4 minutes or more to achieve orgasm
- YouTube clip

But no! It's an absolutely genuine quote from this YouTube video, promoting this website - providing instructions on exercises to make your penis bigger. It probably works for women too.

I love the spurious air of precision. Precisely 87%, and exactly11.4 minutes, as though a team of researchers had got funding to sit by the bed of couples having sex, stopwatch in hand.

The woman starts moaning and the researcher politely asks her if she's having her orgasm yet, and the woman snaps "No! You're breaking my concentration!". A few minutes later she starts moaning louder, then screams in delight, shouting "Now! It's now! Click the watch! This is the exact moment of orgasm!"

What? Well I don't know what women say when the do their climax thing. I've never seen it happen.

What about the others? Well, quote one...

"The Left is a hate group."
- David Horrowitz

...was spoken by David Horowitz in interview about his Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.

He's one of those former leftwingers who sold out - and when lefties sell out, they sell out big time. You may ask "Do right wingers ever sell out?", and I answer "Who are they going to sell out to?".

As for quote number two:

"If everyone is a gay, this world will cease to exist in 10 years."
- Ikram ul-Huq, Imam

Ikram ul-Huq is the Imam and Religious Director of the Al-Rahman Muslim Community Center of Bloomington, Minnesota. Which manages to be just about the only religious centre in the town without a website. He was supporting the Minnesota Family Council - who do have a website.

Why is it, every religious group with "Family" in the title is obsessed with gay sex? Not lesbian sex, not straight sex, not threesomes, not kid sex, not even interspecies sex - just man sex. They don't seem to care much about actual families though.

On to number 3.

"A dubiously-competent socialist cult leader is an American president"
- R Hunter

Riley Hunter is a blogger on Big Hollywood - an intriguing blend of fluffy celebrity gossip, movie reviews, hollywood news and...foaming far right political bloggery.

The writers are mostly tired, familiar pundits, with a sprinkling of minor celebrities of TV and film from the 70s and 80s. Did you ever wonder what happened to Dirk Benedict? It turns out he's a bitter old wingnut, and he's got a column here.

He's the actor who played the oily, cigar-chomping philanderer Starbuck in the original Battlestar Galactica, then went on to play the oily, cigar-chomping philanderer Faceman in The A-Team, before going on to one at all.

Now he's writing about how he "created" the iconic Real Man Starbuck over the objections of liberal management wuses, who were so upset by his portrayal they cancelled the show. It's all the fault of "the feminists", apparantly.

He doesn't mention his co-star getting a good role in the new Galactica. Odd, that.

And so we reach number four...

"Evolutionism is part of the homosexualist agenda. They want to say it's okay to behave like crazed animals because we come from chimps."
- Michelle Bachmann, Member of Congress

...which by a process of elimination must be the made-up quote, and it is.

Bachmann is indeed a member of congress, and although she didn't say it, it's not absolutely out of keeping with what she does say - usually while being filmed:

“It isn’t that some gay will get some rights. It’s that everyone else in our state will lose rights. For instance, parents will lose the right to protect and direct the upbringing of their children. Because our K-12 public school system, of which ninety per cent of all youth are in the public school system, they will be required to learn that homosexuality is normal, equal and perhaps you should try it. And that will occur immediately, that all schools will begin teaching homosexuality.”

"Barack Obama’s views are against America"

"I'm very concerned that he [Obama] may have anti-American views...I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?"

"...they [gays] are specifically targeting our children.”

"She [Nancy Pelosi] is committed to her global warming fanaticism to the point where she has said that she's just trying to save the planet. We all know that someone did that over 2,000 years ago, they saved the planet."

"I'm a foreign correspondent on enemy lines and I try to let everyone back here in Minnesota know exactly the nefarious activities that are taking place in Washington."

"We are headed down the lane of economic Marxism."

"In the terms of modern presidency, Ronald Reagan has been a tremendous hero of mine, as has Ann Coulter. I just adore Ann Coulter,"

"...we’re seeing the fulfillment of the Book of Judges here in our own time."

“...a new national curriculum is used that embraces a socialist, globalist worldview; loyalty to all government and not America.”

“God calls us to fall on our faces and our knees and cry out to Him and confess our sins. And I would just ask your listeners to do that now. Cry out to a Holy God. He wants to hear us, He will hear us if we will confess our sins and cry out to Him. Our children are worth it and obedience to God demands it.” (At a 2004 rally against same-sex marriage)

Who needs Sarah Palin now?

Quiz Custodiet...?

I haven't got the strength to write much at the moment, so to keep things ticking over, here's a little quiz.

One of these quotes is fictitious. But which one?

1) "The Left is a hate group."
- David Horrowitz

2) "If everyone is a gay, this world will cease to exist in 10 years."
- Ikram ul-Huq, Imam

3) "A dubiously-competent socialist cult leader is an American president"
- R Hunter, blogger on Big Hollywood

4) "Evolutionism is part of the homosexualist agenda. They want to say it's okay to behave like crazed animals because we come from chimps."
- Michelle Bachmann, Member of Congress

5) "87% of women take 11.4 minutes or more to achieve orgasm."
- YouTube clip advertising a program of penis enlargement

Answers and references in an update.