Tuesday, 19 June 2012

another dull and monotonous barrage of games in front of advertising hoardings

Big spoiler for everyone who thought they knew me: I don't like sport.

That said, I accept that it happens as presumably someone likes it and therefore do not wish for it to be abolished.  Actually, let us not get too hasty with this idea - maybe we could ban it.  I mean it would be brilliant; all that wasted money that usually gets spent by the BBC buying TV rights for the Um-Bongo Pro Amateur East Northern Super Division ™ could be spent on something awesome like science documentaries or journalism.  Actually, they'd probably spend it on some terrible talent competition or yawntastic period drama.  Okay, I will allow sport to continue on the understanding we don't get more Colin Firth in a girdle lisping away the national anthem while swimming in an eel infested lake.

However, I offer two options as compromise so I do not go on a murderous rampage.

First, I ask that it get shoved on a channel I'd never intentionally switch to.  Channels like EuroTiddlywinks HD or, maybe The God Channel.  You see, one thing I hate more than sport is the fact my regular viewing habits are interrupted without apology by it; Pointless (BBC One, 1715 Mon-Fri) is sometimes the nicotine patch that keeps me conscious through the early evening schedule.  This has been missing on regular occasions of late and thus I have become irritatingly aware of how much of the national and regional news is devoted to further in-depth coverage of the latest developments in the Calgon National Indoor All Weather Championship™ mid-late-April transfer window.  If all the sport was transferred to dedicated sports channels, I'd allow some of the precious state-funded broadcasting time to be given over to re-tweets of the latest press releases from SportsDroids for those people who have a passing interest.

Alternatively, all the sport should be held and broadcast simultaneously.  Tennis, golf, cricket, football, darts, snooker and athletics all must happen in one period, so it can all be over quickly.  Not nicely spaced out so that as soon as one (seemingly misnamed) final ends, another dull and monotonous barrage of games in front of advertising hoardings starts.  Let's choose December.  I can happily sleep through December and awake on 1st January refreshed and a whole eleven months to enjoy a sport-free existence.  To save money, football can take place at the same time as a marathon in a big stadium somewhere.  Cricket only uses a small bit of turf in the middle, so perhaps tennis courts could be set up each side. I suppose javelin is difficult to be held simultaneously with other sports, so perhaps you might consider combining sports - so maybe javelin mixed with the 100 metre sprint, there's some extra incentive to be the fastest.  I don't know, I'm not an expert on sport, so I'll leave you sports fans to work out the finer details.


Thursday, 2 June 2011

A fix, potentially

There's some rumblings going on in anonymous Twitterverse.  There's the suggestion being virally passed that Britain's Got Talent's Ronan Parke (known as the good little camp gay kid in our house) has been lined up by Simon Cowell's SYCO company.  There's an entire ream of allegations [here] and seemingly being spread by a user by the account @ukLegion.  In it, it is suggested:

  • The whole contest is a sham
    The entries we get to see promoted to the later stages are always pre-screened and the general public simply make up the numbers of oddities the show and other Simon Cowell vehicles like it, are famous for.
  • The winner is picked before any auditions
    Britain's Got Talent is a show case for potential performers already on Simon Cowell's books.
  • Ronan Parke is already the winner
    Allegedly, the school boy has already had a track recorded for him ready for release after he wins.
  • Ronan Parke has been intensively trained, manicured and airbrushed
    His performance was managed (including 'fake tears' on receipt of the judge's comments) and he also has been styled to be camp, and after attracting complaints of 'sexualising' the young lad, the gay-ness has been toned back.

the good little camp gay kid
There's many ways to look at all this: it could be driven by those related with a rival of Ronan's, it could be used as a ploy to attack the whole show by a competing record company or perhaps it is an employee who saw the camping up of Ronan as the final straw?  These are but a few explanations, and I'm sure you'll have your own theory.  I'm going to be deciding on my continued, albeit already abstained from voting, viewing.

However, it has thrown up an interesting situation, once again.  The internet has become a living, breathing rumour spreading machine, especially in the dawn of the social networks.  The freedom we have with information and speech on it is flying in the face of privacy once again.  I'm no big fan of Simon Cowell, and I tend to have sympathies with the view that everything he does is a fix - he's a very smug, clever guy: he has no time to leave anything to chance.  That said, he should be given his chance to prove these allegations wrong.

In the world before the internet twittering, the world would have spread this by leaflet campaigns, attempting to bring the Globo-Corp to account over a perceived injustice.  The Globo-Corp lawyers would be able to obtain a flyer, prove their innocence or pay a lawyer to make the problem go away.  This has been replaced by the current trends to prevent discussion of a subject completely.  I'm uncomfortable with this, too.

Freedom to speak through twitter, facebook or blogger, is something that I should be able to do.  The problem here is the media: they rely too much on people generating stories for them.  It's too expensive to hire good journalists, so the journalists just print rumour, supposition and accusation.  This isn't investigative, it isn't reporting.  It's gossip spreading.  A whistle-blower, exposing some shady business practice is something we all should hear about, but there should be method to prove they known what they're talking about: a judge in these cases should certify that the claim has some basic grounding in reality.  This would allow the whole thing to be played out to the public, safe in the knowledge that this claim has a basis for discussion.  This would have a two-fold effect to businesses, both forcing better business practice and keeping workers happy.

Until then, the internet will be fair game for any gossip to spread unopposed.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Muffin base recipe

  • 2 eggs
  • 250ml milk
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 200g sugar
  • 400g plain flour sieved
  • 4tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp salt
  • flavour to taste
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6 and prepare about 12 muffin cases (normally I use the giant cases) in trays, and grease the tray around each of the muffin receptacles: it'll help if you create monster muffins that decide to form an ad-hoc MuffinNetwork™.

It is important to keep the wet and dry separate to the last minute. Mix the dry ingredients well in a bowl.  In a jug (1 litre) preferably, or another bowl, mix the wet ingredients well.  Add flavours to the relevant container: bananas are tricky and can go in either, but I tend to blend some banana in a little of the milk/oil and add it to the wet, while using some chopped banana in the dry for texture.

Make a bowl in the dry ingredients and add a bit of the wet to the dry, folding in and ensure to keep the wet ingredients in their container mixed throughout; the oil will tend to separate.  Adding more wet, some at a time, the mixture should form a smooth batter, which is easy to work - I find that folding air into the mixture adds lightness.  Eventually it is pour-able, or very nearly, depending on your flavourings.

Share out the mixture evenly in the muffin cases, I tend to leave at least 1cm from the top of the cases.  Put the trays in the oven for about 15 minutes and then check them regularly.  They should have risen, and forming dome-tops that may split.  When deciding if they're ready, pick a volunteer at random and run him through with something like a knife or a long toothpick: if it comes out 'clean' they're ready.

As soon as possible, get the muffins out of the trays and onto airers.  Eat when cool.

  • Change the level of wet ingredients, or lower the oven temp and increase the time if they come out heavier than you'd like.
  • You can use self-raising flour, but if you do it's difficult to 'play' trying to get them to rise to your liking.
  • Play with levels of things: increasing the oil amount will make them gooier, like those Starbucks ones.
  • When using chocolate chunks, you might like to add these when the batter is in the muffin cases: for one it'll ensure they don't all end up in a few cases.
  • I tend to always add a little nutmeg and cinnamon to mixtures to give it a nice warm flavour.
  • Try dusting the mixture in the cases with cinnamon, as well as mixing in.