Comment is free

A bit late with this one, but I wanted to note the launch of the Guardian’s Comment is Free blog.
Aesthetically, the design of the site is great. It’s a bit hard to navigate around, though, and that great big image in the middle of the page — which differentiates the editors’ picks from the rest of the blog — is not very intuitive. I’d have expected to see it either on the left or the right of the page and not the middle.
Overall, Comment is Free is overwhelming. There is, however, a great deal worth reading (as well as some not so worth reading).


Fusty and outdated

Following a busy and long weekend of work, arbitrary constant returns to discover that “wigs may be trimmed from judges’ and barristers’ kit” because their headgear is seen as creating a fusty and outdated image.
The cause for concern extends well beyond that of tradition, though:

Many judges who preside over criminal trials want to keep wigs, arguing they stop criminals recognising them at supermarket checkouts.

Which is an excellent way of thinking about things, is it not? Especially since it gives rise to the somehow perculiar notion of a judge at the supermarket.

Wembley Stadium will be late

It was finally admitted today that Wembley won’t be finished in time for the FA Cup final in May. That’s disappointing, but nothing to get much worked up over. I mean, these things happen and it’s not related — in any way — to how the Olympic site will be built.
Actually, it’s probably more to do with the British, as Jon Snow pointed out in his Channel 4 Newsletter as follows:

Boy do the Brits like it when a public building is finished late. Never mind that the Wembley Stadium might prove to be a success, let’s concentrate on the fact the Australian company has failed to deliver on time and the FA Cup final is to be played in Cardiff. I fear this story tells us more about the Brits rather than the stadium itself or Australian builders.

Personally, I’d have preferred it if there had been a German constructor responsible for the new Wembley but I suppose they were too busy getting their own stadiums ready for this year’s World Cup. Still, anything would be better than a laid-back Swedish constructor with no passion — the place wouldn’t have got anywhere with such a group in place.

What crisis?

Private Eye isn’t the sort of publication to let anyone off the hook. And it’s not known for letting something drop, either, which is especially great news if you’ve been following the difficulties of the Liberal Democrats of the last couple of weeks.
Here’s a couple of satirical headlines from the Eye this week:

‘YES, I’M LIB DEM’ Admits Gap MP

Two further articles deserve more than one line, though:

Letters to the Editor
Sir — Like many of your readers, I was shocked and appalled by the story of Mr Mark Oaten and the rent-boys. How the standards of public life have fallen! In my day, a rent-boy could be relied upon to maintain a discreet silence regarding the identity and predilections of their clients… Things have come to a petty pass when a man cannot even indulge in an afternoon of innocent homosexual dalliance, without the news reaching his wide and children courtesy of the popular press.

That’s pretty close to the bone but still funny enough to be repeated here. This next article is funnier:

IS IT fair that we as a mature sophisticated nation allow the Liberal Democrat Party to kill themselves in a painful, protracted and humiliating way? Surely we should permit this elderly and weak party to terminate themselves in private with some modicum of…

I’m not sure about that — I’m quite enjoying it. I’m also quite willing to take this sort of treatment if and when other major political parties start to hit the rougher times.

Lucky hucker

Spotted in last week’s Rise supplement in the Guardian:

Will my passion for ultimate frisbee look good on my CV?
I’m in my second year and my free time at university so far has been spent socialising and playing ultimate frisbee. Will that sound OK on application forms or should I start doing something more impressive?

Far be it for me to start handing out careers advise on arbitrary constant. What I would say, however, is that if you can huck better than the next person, you might stand a good chance of landing a decent job. Hucking, after all, is about as impressive as it gets (well, almost).

Star sigh

Offered with no comment, here is a recent letter from that poor excuse for a newspaper, the Metro:

For the past few weeks, my horoscope (Taurus) has predicted nothing but doom and gloom. Seeing as these things are complete fiction anyway, could your astrologer not ‘predict’ something positive for a change?
M Haynes, London EC1.

Because they’re worth it

The letters page of the Metro always cheers me up of a morning. Why? Let’s look at a prime example from today’s “newspaper” to see:

So Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry is “staggered” that his manager and players were not honoured by the Queen for their Champions League success. Is he mad? They’re footballers, for heaven’s sake. Have they risked their lives, as our Armed forces do in conflict every day? Do they nurse or police? Do they clear up after suicide bombers or fly to disaster areas with little regard for their own safety? No!
Colin Page, Essex.

As I recall, the rugby World Cup-winning team didn’t risk their lives in conflict, England’s Ashes heroes have never nursed or policed anyone and Ellen MacArthur has very rarely cleared up after a suicide bomber. But were they honoured by the Queen for their respective successes? Yes!
It’s not Rick Parry that’s mad: it’s clearly the Queen!

Roy Carroll’s own goal

Plenty of news concerning Roy Carroll’s serious clanger for Manchester United against Tottenham Hotspur two nights ago. It’s all very well talking about introducing a “fifth” official and instantaneous camera evidence &c. into the game, though all that would do is confirm players’ dishonesty or otherwise.
I’m well aware this is as likely as the Gerry Adams having a shave, but wouldn’t it have been nice if Roy Carroll admitted his error – in the face of obvious evidence – and, instead of attempting to hook the ball out of the goal and look guiltily towards the linesman, say that the ball crossed the line?
The answer is, of course, that it would have been very nice if he’d have done that, but given the enormous pressure on clubs to perform in the league and to secure prize money for finishing positions – and a place in the Champions’ League – no single player is every going to admit he’s just lost the game for his club.
You will note as well that Carroll’s jersey number is 13; I’m expecting a big welcome back to Tim Howard for the next Manchester United game. Unlucky for some, eh?

Him indoors

I enjoy Simon Carr in the Independent on Sunday review every week as I enjoy his sketch every weekday during parliament. The her outdoors/him indoors feature was moved to the end of the section during the Sindy‘s redesign a few weeks ago and sits better there I think. It has taken the place of the lost world of Michael Bywater, which is now the opener for the review and much better placed for it.
Anyway, from him indoors:

We are intensely self-aware, are we not? We have seen ourselves at odd angles, reflected in windows, and in the looks of those who love us most (that can be the cruellest view). We know what we are. What could there be that could change our whole sense of what this could be?

In the same week’s review, Michael Bywater is also on good form:

What we need is the Pink Pound, rolled out nationwide. What we’ve actually got is the Dog Dollar. The place is full of them, howling and barking and fighting and slashing in doorways and carking up bucketloads of cut-price laaaaaaaaaaager and snout kebabs and crisps, porn cocktail flavour and cheese-‘n’-arse flavour and roast-feet flavour…except that, unlike dogs, this lot have guts: not beer guts but stupidity guts that flobble as they strut, pork-belly lips flapping as they squirt out long, honking phonemes from no known language, roaring about laaaaaaaaaaaaaager and foopbaaaaaaaw and yow phaaaaaaaaaaaakn kaaaaaaaaaaaant OI’M PHAAAAAAAAKN WAIAIAIAIAISTID, wuuuuuuuur…

And the women. Dogs. Dog dogs. Even to dogs they’d be dogs, blurping pallifly out their chain-store slag-wrappings, mottled thighs, wind-whipped, lurching bandily on their crappy heels, slappers, worse than slappers, no fun at all, just pouches of loosel assembled protoplasm with only an extra ragged X-chromosone to show for their sojourn to Earth, for all those millions of years of evolution; only the accidents and outpouchings of their genetic heritage to trade with.