Monday, April 28, 2003

About five years ago the entity that jots down these messages for you stopped listening to music radio stations and turned to news and chat. Its music collection and that of its friends was more than sufficient to supply it with all the musical excitement it would require and the only rhythmical meanderings the entity fed itself via the airwaves was the odd John Peel show or live broadcasts of Orbital gigs or similar. Despite this, the entity's music tastes have expanded hugely during this supposedly barren period.

Then, a handful of months ago, a new mobile phone came into the possession of the entity. And with it came a quirky little feature that allowed it to listen to FM radio on the move. So it has slowly been manoeuvring itself back into the realms of music radio. And this entity has to report that radio has not changed one little bit. In fact some stations (namely Virgin Radio) still appear to be using the same play lists and inane chatter that they were when the entity departed them half a decade ago. Which makes it realise that, even though radio remains a magical medium, the wireless has barely progressed at all.

Unlike the Internet. Which writhes and struggles upwards; much like the shoot of a cannabis plant. Young; ridiculously fast growing; slightly threatening to the established order; and destined to be distributed widely. And television might therefore be the hugely popular drug that is alcohol (let radio be cider). Good but flawed, with danger and confusion if consumed in large quantities. And with good cross breeding the Internet can only get better. At Charging Through The Midfield we aim to take the prettiest cuttings off the most potent and fully flowered branches and offer them to you for free in nice resealable baggies. All with symbolical niceness of course.

But since this discussion concerns the past and the present, let this entity reminisce back to a story it witnessed being widely reported on the Internet during its formative experiences of the World Wide Web. OMNI Magazine asked its readers to expound a new scientific principle or experiment. The winning reply was (and is reproduce here with blatant disregard for copyright):

"When a cat is dropped, it always lands on its feet, and when toast is dropped, it always lands with the buttered side facing down. I propose to strap buttered toast to the back of a cat; the two will hover, spinning inches above the ground. With a giant buttered cat array, a high-speed monorail could easily link New York with Chicago."

Another reader then expounded upon this:

"I've been thinking about this cat/toast business for a while. In the buttered toast case, it's the butter that causes it to land buttered side down - it doesn't have to be toast, the theory works equally well with Jacob's crackers. So to save money I think you just miss out the toast - and butter the cats. Also, should there be an imbalance between the effects of cat and butter, there are other substances that have a stronger affinity for carpet. Consider that the probability of carpet impact is determined by the following simple formula: P = S * t(t)/tc where P is the probability of carpet impact, and S is the "stain" value of the toast-covering substance - an indicator of the effectiveness of the topping in permanently staining the carpet. Chicken Tikka Masala, for example, has a very high S value, while the S value of water is zero. tc and t(t) indicate the tone of the carpet and topping respectively - the value of P being strongly related to the relationship between the colour of the carpet and topping, as even chicken Tikka Masala won't cause a permanent and obvious stain if the carpet is the same colour.

So it is clear that the probability of carpet impact is maximised if you use chicken Tikka Masala and a white carpet - in fact this combination gives a P value of one, which is the same as the probability of a cat landing on its feet. Therefore a cat with chicken Tikka Masala plastered on its back will be certain to hover in mid air. Contrastingly, there could be problems with buttered toast as the toast may fall off the cat, causing a terrible monorail crash resulting in nauseating images of members of the royal family visiting accident victims in hospital, and politicians saying it wouldn't have happened if their party was in power as there would have been more investment in cat-toast glue research. Therefore it is in the interests not only of public safety but also public sanity if the buttered toast on cats idea is scrapped, to be replaced by a monorail powered by cats smeared with chicken Tikka Masala floating above a rail made from white wool shag pile carpet."

I think the readers of OMNI magazine should feel proud of themselves. See the entries here.

Of course these aren't the only madcap ideas floating around on the Internet. You may find a whole site full of them at Half Bakery.

And if you want to see the early days of the Internet, visit the Internet Wayback Machine

The Web's most pissed off Cat.

The inevitable Rate My Kitten.

Er....Bonsai Kitten: "Dedicated to preserving the long lost art of body modification in housepets."

The Internet's full of far too many cat-related sites. If you navigate your browser to here, you will bear witness to an early Charging list of various cool and ridiculous cat sites. Worth checking out this entity assures you. And yet there are not enough. This entity (it asks you now pardon the imminent pun) has seen cat sites with every available Internet theme yet, amazingly, it is still to come across a site dedicated to cat pornography...

The comment hung in the air like a freshly buttered cat.

Since the term "charging through the midfield" originates from football, Charging thought it might do a football-related bit of writing. This entity thought that what it wrote was very much like those emails that tend to do the rounds. So it is wondering if what it writes here is going to get sent around the email circles that connect us all together is such a wonderous way. Although the entity is not sure if the quality of the piece is quite good enough to see it become a piece of writing that thousands will end up sending to their friends.

But still, this entity is genuinely upset at the way the footballing world is becoming filled with Nancy boys and rich kids whose every whim and fancy is pandered to by worshipping lackeys around them. And besides, footy has become sterile, so this entity wants the FA to mix it up a little bit more with some new rules that bring the game back to its roots...

If a ball is lost, every effort should be made to retrieve it. If the ball cannot be found, another may be used, but only six balls can be used in a single match. If all six are lost than the game will stop until one of the six is found. If it cannot be found than the game is ended with the score standing as the final result.

The goalkeeper must wear the same kit as the rest of his team but with his jersey turned inside out.

Only one kit will be supplied to each player for an entire season. There will be only one spare kit per team, but should more than one player fail to bring his kit on a match day he will have to play in a t-shirt of similar colour to his team-mates (the goalkeeper may be chosen to wear the t-shirt instead). The player's team will then be deducted a point. If more than two players forget their jersey than one point for will be deducted for each player not wearing the correct jersey. Shorts and socks do not matter as any may be used. If a team's entire set of kits is lost, than they may, upon application, apply for a new set of kits without deduction of points. This is done on the discretion of The FA. Please note that this rule will mean the swapping of shirts is banned.

Clubs are not allowed to take responsibility for the cleaning of kits. The players may chose to arrange, among themselves, to take turns in washing the team's kit. However there will be no penalty for wearing dirty or soiled kits during a match.

Players will not be allowed access to a mirror for two hours before a game or during the half time interval.

At half time, the two teams will not be allowed to return to their dressing rooms. Team talks and refreshments should be provided at the side of the pitch. The home team should supply refreshments for both teams and all players should take their cups of tea/orange segments off the same tray.

A panel of non-FA judges will award extra points for interesting and entertaining goal celebrations. The distribution of these points will be announced only after the final game of the season.

The managers of the Premiership clubs will meet at the end of the season to decide where each referee will spend his holiday that summer. The referee will meet all travel costs.

Should the referee judge that a player has been exaggerating injury then the player who committed the supposed "foul" will be asked to give the diver one kick in the legs below the knee caps to try and provide the pain that should have accompanied the rolling on the floor in feined agony. There is to be no punishment should the injured player suffer a genuine serious injury as a result of this rule.

Physio's will only be permitted to take a bucket of water and a sponge onto the field of play.

Penalties for dissent will be removed from the rules.

If a defender finds himself as the last man between an opposition attacker and a free run on goal, that defender may legally use any means at his disposal to prevent the attacker scoring.

The entirety of FA video panel meetings will be videoed and made available to the public for scrutiny.

About that cat porn comment. Charging Through The Midfield stands corrected: Kitty Porn.

Oh dear.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

The whole point of a weblog is, I suppose, to keep a regular chronicle of one's life, thoughts and findings. Apologies then for my basic uselessness at being regular. (And now I feel the urge to include this aside here to stop those of you who may wish to leave a comment encouraging me to drink prune juice - although any comment is better than none you silent moody bastards). It has been a week away from the online world for this entity. But excuses are for wimps, so I stop here.

However the hiatus has given me room to reflect and the question that springs to mind concerning this weblog is what is this particular blog for? Charging Though The Midfield started its existence as a chronicle of websites and images excellent enough to rouse some happy emotion within the mind of the entity that writes it. But recently political matters have driven their way to a bubbling surface of more opined interactivity. So where does Charging go from here? What is worth avoiding of course is the sort of lengthy winding prose that rattles on about something of little interest to anyone except the writer and possibly the writer's mother. So perhaps now is the time to cease this particular thread of thought. But perhaps not - what else can be the point of a personal weblog?

Media is changing. The days that a media organisation is controlled by the government are increasingly fading into memory. Although still too many broadcasters and publications around the world are state controlled, people increasingly have access to media that is influenced either by some rich bloke (namely Rupert Murdoch) or by an agenda based on the audience at which it is aimed. And in this last way, the media has come full circle. No longer does it do what it is told (as much), but rather what it thinks the audience wants. Which, to be honest, isn't that much different. CNN in America and Al Jazeera in the Middle East report the same stories differently because the audience wants to see them differently. And the media is so influential in today's world that its reporting of the news is news in itself. The most interesting stories are often those about how other viewers see the stories in their country.

So while the media eats itself, perhaps the personal view of the world that is the weblog is the pure honest reflection of the world we need. For the universe can only be understood through our own subjective views of it. And the most in depth version of subjectivity can be found via your modem. So I guess the opinions should continue; although so must the linkage fest...

Mad Japanese Cat Headwear

For these are important times; what we are seeing in the world is a forging of a new world order. Uncertain times lay ahead and closely bound with uncertainty comes anxiety. So doubts are inevitable; however the doubt in Europe lies deeper within the consciousness of the European people. In the last century Europe has been ripped apart by religious strife, evil warfare, political extremism, and bids for world domination. European attempts to close together have come because common policy means peace and security - a move propagated by the need to stop centuries of bitter warfare on the continent. Even top Tory Churchill was in favour. US' recent foreign policy can be regarded as a move to maintain its reign at the top of this world order that insulates it further from the world. As human kind matures, many Europeans feel nations of people should come together. American and British unilateralism challenges the very foundations of that ideal. But it goes much deeper still. US foreign policy can also be seen from a spiritual viewpoint. After World War II and the Holocaust, Europeans have become much less religious. They have seen how policies that touch the issue of religion and race can be a force for evil. So when Europeans, asked before the Iraq War, regarded George W. Bush as a greater threat to world peace than Saddam Hussain, it was possibly not just because he appears to divide the world into good and evil but also because he is an Evangelical Christian who represents a great many very odd views of the world in the United States. According to a recent Time/CNN poll 17 per cent of Americans think the world will end during their lifetime; 59 per cent believe the prophecies of the Book of Revelations will happen sometime and a quarter think the events of 9/11 were predicted in the Bible. This branch of thought includes our Mr Bush - although we do not know whether he thinks the world is ending soon. When most Europeans read this sort of thing, they do not exactly feel a great affinity with our American cousins. For if you don't believe in all this fire and brimstone stuff you might be of the opinion it is not good that those that do are going into bits of the Middle East (where the brimstone is due to appear first) with guns ablaze using words like good, evil and morality in their language.


Thursday, April 10, 2003

Nice to see the scenes of Iraqis celebrating the fall of Saddam in Baghdad. However along with this thought I would like to add a word or two of caution. Reality is not black and white, good or evil, up or down, or if you will, Superman and Lex Luthor. Reality states that the ousting of Saddam Hussain, as a standalone fact, is fantastic news. Reality might also lead some to say that not all becomes well simply because a good thing occurs. Some would have you believe that all those who oppossed a thing that has an element of good must therefore represent un-good (for want of a better word). Ah ha! Its the "with us or against us" mentality! Or put more simply: Hollywood playwriting. As the sapient and slightly less-Hollywood wizard Gandalf the Grey once remarked, "Even the very wisest cannot see all ends." Or rather the very un-Hollywood Professor Tolkien did. And it was a very erudite observation indeed. For instance, the US employed the principle of pre-emption in its justification for attacking Iraq. If the sheriffs of the world can claim pre-emption as a legitimate defence than why shouldn't, say, North Korea latch on to the same thinking? What say you regarding the complete disregard for International law? Or the way the UN, the only long-standing international diplomatic body in human history, talking-shop or not, has been swept aside in a brazen display of unilateralism? How does the use of cluster bombs and depleted uranium alter that black and white picture? Time to break out the grey-scale...

Pitching America's and Britain's military might against the threadbare Iraqi army was always likely to produce these excellent scenes. Hmm, okay. But let's not sit back and happily gulp down everything that gets shoved down our throats from this point onwards. The true challenges start here. As Iraq becomes a vacuum of power the military must impress control without turning itself into a permanent fixture. And looting and revenge could become a merry backdrop to the global fallout of this one.

A truly representative Iraqi government would reflect the 65 per cent Shiite Muslim majority of the population. Incidentally, neighbouring Iran, a fully paid up member of Bush's Axis of Evil, also has a majority of Shiite Muslims. Read: Iranian factor of Iraq War. Will the US allow an Iraqi government sympathetic to Iran? Or will Iran seek to defend their Iraqi Shiite neighbours from political repression if America seeks (as it has done oh so many time before) to exert its influence on the politics of the region it helped "stabilise"? It is worth remembering that the US tried to meddle in the affairs of these two countries before. The US actively encouraged Saddam Hussain, then friendly with the US as a nice big oil producer and arms customer, to invade neighbouring Iran which was under the grip of the Ayatollah Khomeini because the Carter Administration thought the action might encourage the release of the U.S. diplomatic hostages held by Teheran. A noble cause many would say. So Saddam invaded, encouraged that he was receiving American help. But he, er, didn't quite get as far as the Americans had advised. Despite intelligence and arms the Iranians were winning. In hindsight the reason for this might have been that the US was also arming Iran. The US was oficially neutral and providing arms to any side let alone both was just a tad illegal. (We'll look over Operation Staunch which was a US-led attempt to dry up the weapons supply to Iran by pressuring allies to stop them selling arms. Ironically this meant the US arms dealers made even more money. But, as I say, we'll let that one pass without comment.) And providing Iran with intelligence was another American trick. Er, well actually the US was providing real and false intelligence to both sides. In the North of Iraq meanwhile, the Kurds were not exactly siding with our Mr Hussain. So he gased a village or two to show the fighters that he didn't stand for any shit. And so the US, er, how do I say this? Well, basically they gave Saddam Hussain a billion dollars after this.

A million died in the conflict. Read: The US and the Iran Iraq War.

The Iran Iraq War was not good versus evil. Black and white does not apply. Both were repugnant regimes.

Notice how reality is grey.

And now cease wondering why the Middle East is so bothered by American intervention in the region.

Charging and its team of researcher entities has uncovered a delightful conspiracy theory which adds considerably difficult economic figures together to achieve the proverbial one and one equals two. The Iraq War, it claims, is an oil currency war with the US' goal being to prevent OPEC converting to the Euro as its currency standard for shifting barrels of oil. A change that might bring with it devastating repurcusions to the US economy. I'm no economist but it's really fascinating stuff... In September 2000 Iraq did indeed shift from selling its oil in Dollars to selling it in Euros. North Korea also decided to start trading in Euros recently. Read: The real but unspoken reasons for the Iraq War - OIL U$ Dollar vs. Euro.

Yet the delightfully rewarding sites do not stop there folks. Feast your eyes upon the genius offerings of The Temple of George W. Bush. I bow in the general direction of this marvelously witty slice of the Internet.

And Media Whores Online. "The site" it claims "that set out to bring the media to their knees, but found out they were already there." Yes I know I work in the media...

Sunday, April 06, 2003

The Iraq Body Count Database bases it's information on various sources and quotes both a minimum and a maximum reported number, as well as where and how. As a straightforward tool for understanding the scope of the Iraqi War and the variation of what the media knows, it's a fascinating site.

Buty if you want to get away from the Gulf and just want to concentrate on home, let Charging do you the service of pointing you towards a couple of helpful places... Up My Street will help you find find out anything you need to know about a postal code. A site you may be more likely to use is Fancy A Pint?. Although only if you intend to drink in London. A Brief perusal of the site shows its opinion of the various pubs that this entity knows is indeed satisfactory.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

In the spirit of news gathering, check out this site. An extremely useful site which gives access to a huge range of television transmissions from around the world. From this site you can access live pictures of Baghdad as well as Arab and Western news reports. It even has the indespensible Teletext service. Aaaahh!

A London Economist called Paul de Rooij has written a widely published article about Western propoganda. In regard to the piece he says "I can only watch 10 minutes of CNN or 15 mins of BBC, but then I notice that the experience has been detrimental to my mental health. I become fidgety and I talk back to the TV... I needed an antidote! And my solution was to write an article analyzing the current propaganda, and I hope it also will help you keep your sanity!!". Two exclamation marks? I ask you... Anyway, it's worth a read and our Mr de Rooij makes some fine observations and compiles a good legacy of examples for all to enjoy.

Who would make a better president? Bush or a box of Tic-Tacs? An objective analysis.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Prize for the worst example of public misinformation by a news broadcaster during this conflict goes to ITV and ITN. On day 2 of the war on their lunch time broadcast, one of their "imbedded" reporters was doing a live piece which was continually being interupted by another signal. ITN blamed it on Iraqi or US psycops jamming. Psycops means Psychological Operations by the way. Don't be fooled by this, they are distracting you - psycops means propoganda. ITN were in fact covering up their own incompetence; the signal interupting their reporter is known in the industry as the KR553 colour bars and audio line ident which eminates from Granada Television up in Manchester (thanks to my ex-ITV colleague for this info). Ironically then, ITN have performed a kind of psycological operation themselves. An operation designed to make you believe that ITN aren't incompetent shits. If they cannot respect their viewers enough to tell the truth about their own broadcasting, what hope do we have?

All this comes as insurance for reporters in the field has leapt up by something like 4000 per cent; equipment by a lesser but still enormous per centage increase. So expect the 24-hour news channels, who only expected a shortish conflict and have small budgets, to start pulling their men and women out under the guise of safety reasons. Increasingly, broadcasters will have to start pooling their resources. Bad for broadcasting, but can only be a good thing for the Internet's growing importance at the moment and with this in mind Charging is here to provide you with yet more linkage....

First up is the rather worrying New American Century a scary organisation who are working to promote American Global Leadership. Read it and soil yourselves.

Damn Fool Kids is a blog worth visiting with some good links to stories plus the usual fantastic blog musings that an individual given the power of public speech tends to drum out. One of the links he posted was this warmonger versus peacenik argument which I have now stolen to link to myself. Cheers.

Another blog of interest is by the chap who plays Dr. Karl Kennedy in Neighbours (which I don't watch so I'm taking someone else's word on this). He has written a song about the war in Iraq, plus he speaks about much else. He is, as he points out, an Australian citizen. Worth saying as people tend to want not to hear the political opinions of soap actors, but the blog gives a voice to members of the public - which includes actors both famed and non-famed (I include both options as I don't know where to include our Mr Fletcher in the fame hierarchy. Pretty low I should have thought). Check out his site.

Grand Theft Auto 3 as a multi-player game!:
Multi Theft Auto.

One other thing to say: Anyone got Glastonbury tickets?