Archive for December, 2005

Merry Yule and Happy New Year

Nongyaw, Marina, James and I wish you a splendid holiday. May the Green Man dance naked in your fields to make your crops abundant.

To those readers who’ve we actually met, you might notice that we haven’t sent you a card. Don’t be miffed; no-one received one from us. I got fed up with filling the coffers of Hallmark and the like so they could commission more in-card doggerel.

Last year, we wasted loads of cash on cards and postage, sending bits of cardboard by air across the world – so I decided to donate that to Medecins Sans Frontieres and Islamic Relief so they can save a life, instead of sending you some extra roach material.

Whether we’ve met you or not, and whatever you celebrate at this time of year (if anything), we wish you a prosperous and happy 2006.

Tim Berners-Lee starts blog

.. and nowhere does he deny that he was the covert hero known to millions as Johnny Wankmag.

Let’s look at the evidence. Tim Berners-Lee was born in 1955, making him 24 when he was active as Johnny Wankmag in the West Midlands – easily old enough to source the material and drive a car for distribution.

Also, TBL has two surnames and went to university at Oxford, proving incontrovertibly that he was very rich and had loads of money to buy all the necessary magazines.

And finally, he is on record as saying: “The power of the Web is in its universality”. It’s almost certain that, pre-Web, he believed that access to porn was as important as access to the Web, regardless of newsagent nosiness or pocket-money levels.

And now, on his blog, he conspicuously chooses not to deny what many have called “The worst-kept secret on the Internet”.

Speaks volumes, doesn’t it?

School xmas plays and fatherhood

four year old boy on stage, all in white, with white tinsel trimmingsNow James is four and a half, he’s at school, and this is the time of year when all parents take an hour or two off work to watch their children in the school christmas play. So today I went to watch James sing and dance with others in his class. As I watched him confidently walk onto the stage, perform his dance moves and sing along, concentrating and trying so hard, then looking so proud, I unaccountably developed something in my eyes that caused them to water, requiring a surreptitious wipe with a tissue. I noticed a similar effect on Nongyaw and many surrounding mothers.
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Snakeoil salesmen: sickwebsite.co.uk

newspaper ad offering free diagnosis of 'sick' websitesI saw an advert in a magazine for a company offering “web-doctors” to diagnose bad websites – ironically called sickwebsite.co.uk, which redirects to some firm called byteart. A quick glance at their site shows that they promise a “free review of .. accessibility and legal compliance” as well as “Search engine visibility”. Given that a good Google rank is intimately related to accessibility, I thought I’d check on their accessibility for five minutes.
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Happy Birthday, King Bhumibol

middle-aged Thai man dressed casually, wiping a bead of sweat from his noseDecember the 5th is the 78th birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand and is therefore Thai Father’s Day.

To Thais, the King is the father of the Thai nation. He’s been King longer than India has been independent, and has seen the country change from a rural backwater to a major developing economy. Through fascist military coups and brutal repression, he’s been the steadfast figurehead and is genuinely loved by the entire Thai population. You expect portraits of monarch and presidents in government buildings – but in Thailand, every private home has a portrait of the King, high on the wall so that his head is higher than anyone else’s. This is my favourite picture; he’s hiked into the countryside to visit some remote village, and he’s wiping sweat off his face. Thais love this picture, too; it shows how he cares about his subjects.

Ratchadamnoen Avenue will be thronged with hundreds of thousands of Thai people, sweltering but glad to be there to wish him happy birthday.

Behind the celebrations, however, is a worry that every Thai feels but few discuss. The King is 78, and a heavy smoker and can’t last forever. An old prophesy says that the Chakri dynasty, of which this king is King Rama 9, will end when its ninth member dies. And the problem is the succession.
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