Google to host WikiPedia?

Interesting post on Wikimedia here.

Google Inc. has made a proposal to host some of the content of the Wikimedia projects.

The terms of the offer are currently being discussed by the board. The developer committee has been informed of some of the details via email. A private IRC meeting with Google is planned for March, 2005.

Please note that this agreement does not mean there is any requirement for us to include advertising on the site.

More details will be put here when the offer is allowed to be made public.

Could this be a case of Google taking the fight to Microsoft? MSN Search, of course, offers recourse to Encarta.

Apologies

I haven’t touched this thing for ages. Apologies all round. Have been shockingly busy at work and at home recently, and the PC at home just hasn’t been turned on for days now.

Am also neglecting Palimpsest, which is naughty of me.

Been doing a fair amount of reading today about organisation and suchlike, both personally and for at work. Here’s some of the stuff I have come across.

Moleskine notebooks – these seem cool, if pricey. Loads of links about them here.

43 Folders – this seems to crop up all over the place. Originally based on David Allen‘s book Getting Things Done. It’s a title that has been picked up and used on this blog describing various tricks and stuff to help keep efficient. There’s a Google group too.

[The] title, 43 folders, refers to the number of manila folders required to build a physical tickler file system.

Twelve monthly folders and 31 daily folders are used to build a rotating, one-year “look ahead” system. Maintained daily, it’s a powerful lofi hack for never forgetting to do something (and, consequently, not having to worry about forgetting to do something).

It beats (or at least complements) your electronic calendar in at least one way by letting you store hard-copy items like cards or bills in the folder associated with any day between now and a year from now.

Cornell note-taking system – as described here. This seems like something I really need to take up during meetings:

So Now Who Do We Vote For?

Read this over the weekend. Here’s my review for Palimpsest.

So Now Who Do We Vote For? is a 160 odd page ‘book’ from John Harris, erstwhile editor of the excellent but now sadly defunct indie magazine Select and occasional Newsnight Review-er.

It details his discontent with the current Labour government, and asks the question of whether it would be a good idea for disaffected Labourites to take their vote elsewhere, for one election only, to try and force a change in the party’s thinking.

The reasons for Harris’ loathing of New Labour stem largely from Iraq, which is barely touched upon, because, as Harris says, we all know the arguments already anyway. The main thing that raises his ire, though, is PFI, especially in schools and hospitals. Those two subjects get a chapter of their own, in between Harris’ examinations of the potential suitors for Labour protest votes.

Those two chapters make the book worth buying alone. Harris tells the story of the first PFI hospital in qhich during an operation a window blew open(!). Why weren’t the windows clinically sealed? The contractors found it was cheaper to install normal double glazing, glue them shut and, er, take off the handles. Great. It soon becomes clear, as if it wasn’t already, that there is no room for profit in a universal healthcare system.

In many ways, the problems facing schools are even more frightening. Harris focuses on the ‘City Academies’ set up by a Christian Evangelist car-dealer, called Peter Vardy, whose schools teach creationism and ban Harry Potter from the school library. What makes things worse is the way that local authorities and the government collude in getting these academies foisted on communities when they are really not wanted.

Another chapter focuses on the current state of the Labour party, and here Harris interviews an unnamed ex-Minister, who advocates voting for the Lib Dems to shake Labour up and force Blair out. But what, asks Harris, if that means the Tories get in? The response is to question whether that would really be any worse than a third New Labour term. Because, as the ex-Minister points out, a vote for Labour out of loyalty, or out of the lack of an alternative, will still be considered by the leadership as a vindication of the New Labour project. Harris also talks to Hazel Blears, who he used to know as a young party activist. She doesn’t come out of it very well at all, sounding like the sort of Blairite robot we have come to know and love, completely missing the point on various occasions. At one point she genuinely sounds like a bitter old Tory hag, and I will look this up when I get home and quote it in full – it is bewildering that it comes from a Labour MP. Roy Hattersley is next up, and while he is hardly in favour of Blair, his advice is to stay loyal and hope that Gordon takes over soon.

Of the targets for protest votes, the Lib Dems come across as wishy washy as ever, Charles Kennedy’s prevarication and inability to give a straight answer is telling, though Lembit Opik comes across as a sound guy. A ‘rising star’ in the party, Mark Oaten, is more right wing than Michael Howard, and professes not to have had a political philosophy until after he had already been an MP for some years. Wha’???? The Lib Dems don’t seem to be opposed to PFI, and are even a little woolly over their opposition to the war. Harris comes to the conclusion that in trying to capture the votes of disillusioned Tory and Labour voters, the Lib Dems find themsevles covering the same old ground as the other two main parties.

The SNP, Plaid Cyrmu and the Respect Coalition get a brief going over, the latter the most amusing as Harris harbours an all to obvious loathing of ‘trots’, or headbanging socialist militants who had made his life in the party in the ’80s such a nightmare.

In the end, Harris concludes that you have to vote tactically. If your Labour MP voted against Foundation Hospitals, Tuition Fees and Iraq, then vote for them – at least they have some principles. If you have an arch-Blairite evil MP, but the challenge comes from a Tory, then vote Labour – don’t risk it. But if the challenge comes from anyone else, ie the Lib Dems, then give them your vote to shake Blair up a bit. Likewise, where Labour is third to Tories and Liberals, you should vote Liberal as a form of tactical voting.

To aid all of this juggling of votes, opinions and figures, a website has been created here.

Harris closes with a brief discussion of the merits of proportional representation. Like that will ever happen…

Back … Kinda

Well, I’m back at work now, yesterday’s abortive attempt notwithstanding. I’m also obvious back in the mood to keep this thing updated again, no doubt there was wailing and knashing of teeth the world over at my continued silence…

Howard woos TalkSport…

Over on the Boris blog, the exciting debate continues on the comments section.

Someone calling themself ‘Monkey’ commented that:

Howard has made several intelligent manouvres in the past few days. Appearing on Talk Sport (the UK’s most popular radio station, (with a major demographic of working class men) was a great idea. He’ll be back again next week on the ‘james whale show’ (contreversial, populist right wing shock jock), which should be interesting. All of the Talk sport pundits are now rooting for the tories. Not a bad days work eh?

Errrr…. Intelligent move? As I responded:

Have you ever listened to Talk Sport? They’re the biggest bunch of swivel-eyed crypto-fascists on the airwaves. The Tories are attracting votes from the BNP. Woo-hoo!

This article by Steven Wells (a writer I’ve always loved since I first started reading him in The NME) in The Guardian sums them up nicely:

Back in March, I went to the Millwall-West Ham game. I didn’t see many black people down the New Den. But neither did I hear any racist chanting. Not a sausage. Not a dicky bird. Not a single solitary Sieg Heil. They’re very touchy about racism down the New Den. When some of the visiting West Ham fans – 4-1 down and ringed with riot plod – tore down a Kick Racism Out Of Football banner in frustration, it seemed as if every Millwall fan in the ground turned to the press enclosure and pointed at the naughty East Londoners. Some of them were frantically scribbling in imaginary notebooks. Others were pointing theatrically and miming – Them! It’s them! Not us! Get it right!

It was good to see. Not just the prominence the club hierarchy gives the anti-racist campaign – but also just how keen some Millwall fans are to distance themselves from their racist reputation. I very much doubt that racism has been eradicated at Millwall. But it has been made unacceptable. Even better, it is now considered embarrassing. And I think that’s brilliant. I think Kick It Out is brilliant. We all do – don’t we?

So why is it then, that when the UK’s most popular commercial sports radio station (with a claimed listenership of over eight million, nearly all of them football fans) gives a platform to nationalist bigots, quasi-fascists and racists of every strain, nobody blinks an eye?

When the Hutton report was published, TalkSport had a bit of a dilemma. For the two institutions TalkSport hates most are the Blair government and the BBC. What to do!? What to do!? The station’s single brain-cell hive-mind was nearing meltdown. The knee was primed and all set to jerk. But in whose bollocks? The crypto-communist BBC? Or the grinning Stalinist jackanapes, Tony Blair?

But one elderly female caller was in no such a quandary. She cut through all the silly shilly-shallying by pointing out that the BBC pursued an agenda of – wait for it – “internationalism, multi-culturalism and political correctness”.

“Internationalism” – as you probably know – is one of the code words Nazis use for Jews. Or Jewishness. Or, more usually, the international Jewish conspiracy (see also “cosmopolitanism”).

The woman then went on to say that the BBC pursued this agenda “despite the fact that the majority of people in this country aren’t multi-cultural”. Now this was a new one on me – the use of the word multi-cultural to mean non-white. As in “I’ve got nothing against your multi-culturals, I just wouldn’t want one marrying my daughter. Or living next door. Or reading the news. If you catch my drift.”

Now TalkSport’s presenters – as fanatically anti-union, savagely pro-Tony Martin and hysterically xenophobic as they are – are not Nazis. They make this clear whenever a Nazi caller makes a Nazi point. Which happens quite often. Because TalkSport might not like the Nazis – but the Nazis love TalkSport.

This is evident from even a casual trawl through the UK’s far-right websites. Debates about immigration on TalkSport are flagged in advance and later, Nazi callers boast about their performance in chat rooms.

But how could the Nazis not love a station that debates (seriously) whether the word “paki” is more offensive than the word “brit”? Where a presenter can claim that regional accents are disappearing because of “too many immigrants”. And that a boat full of asylum seekers “should be sunk”. And where, on the 12th of September 2001, the question was asked, “I wonder how all those politically-correct people are feeling this morning?”

And where one presenter – the unlovely Mike Dickin – has banned trade unionists from his programme.

Our only hope is that some day the sports fanatics who run the relatively sane part of TalkSport – the sports bit – will get together with the right-wing morons who run the utterly insane part and say – hang on, these footballers, tennis players, golfers, boxers and track athletes we keep banging on about? You do realise that a lot of them are, well, black, don’t you?

Maybe someone at TalkSport – maybe even Mr Kelvin MacKenzie himself – will make the connection between his station’s consistent stream of hateful refugee propaganda and the attacks that take place on asylum seekers (and other randomly selected “foreigners”) whenever anti-immigrant hysteria in the media reaches one its increasingly frequent crescendos.

And maybe, in the mean time, all those soccer clubs – and other sporting institutions – who so proudly boast of their anti-racist credentials, could boycott TalkSport. Until it cleans its act up. Until it stops giving sustenance and succour to racists who would destroy our sports if they ever achieved power.

Because TalkSport – as it operates at present – is an obscenity.

Ill

Not much fro me today – sorry. As if anyone is reading anyway! Have the ‘flu and it’s vile.

Okay, probably not the ‘flu. But a very nasty virus. I am at the same time freezing and sweating, which isn’t nice – and probably more than anyone wnated to know.