“UK TV viewers will not get to see an episode of South Park which shows Nicole Kidman and fellow Scientologist John Travolta attempting to coax a fictional Tom Cruise character out of a closet, with Kidman saying: “Don’t you think this has gone on long enough? It’s time for you to come out of the closet. You’re not fooling anyone.”” (The Register)

Finally, it seems record companies are catching on to the idea that some people just want music to be available, they don’t need a Greatest Hits package with a huge advertising campaign.
“More than 100,000 deleted recordings, including music from the likes of Jacques Brel and Marianne Faithfull, are to be available to download.” (BBC)

“The Federal Government has moved to obstruct gay couples wanting to get married in countries that recognise same-sex nuptials.
The Attorney-General’s Department last year told at least two of Australia’s embassies in Europe to refuse help to citizens requiring proof of their single status for a same-sex marriage.

It stated: “Following the advice of the Australian Attorney-General’s Department we herewith certify that Australian law does not allow the issue of a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage to persons wishing to enter into a same-sex marriage.”” The Age
How DARE John Howard let his personal beliefs affect Australian citizens overseas?

Poor Jordan. I really really want to go there, and information like this Lonely Planet rave doesn’t help:
“Bible stories, lost cities, Lawrence of Arabia – Jordan has romantic associations up to its eyeballs. It’s a country that ought to be awash with tourists, but the Middle East’s bad reputation has kept them away in droves. Don’t be fooled: Jordan is, on the whole, peaceful.
More than that, it’s one of the most welcoming, hospitable countries in the world. Where else could you leave your belongings on the street for hours at a time, and find them there when you get back? Where else do total strangers with nothing to sell invite you into their homes?”
But on the same page:
“Terrorism Warning
The closures of Western embassies in Amman represent high-level warnings to travellers. Unnecessary travel should be postponed until the security situation relaxes. Western intelligence agencies have suggested terrorists may be in the final stages of planning attacks on foreigners. Sixty people were killed and more than one hundred injured by bombs planted in three Amman hotels in 2005. Travellers to Jordan should be informed at all times and avoid visiting areas known to be frequented by Westerners.”

In the US, annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime.
Well, you can still annoy them, but you must disclose your identity. So, not much use in the lesbian world, then, where you’d generally know who’s annoying you.
God only knows how they’ll interpret ‘annoy’, and no idea what impact it might have on internet usage in the rest of the world.
In other news, I’m going to have to ditch nedstats because they seem to be putting a pop-up in their code.

To balance out my excitement over having a TV (and University Challenge again), I’ve decided to keep a record of the books I’ve read this year. There’s an excellent library in the flat I’m minding, and I’ll have to be careful not to stay up late reading every night.
So far I’ve read Amy Tan’s “The Hundred Secret Senses”, which was much better than I thought it would be. Slightly less sentimentality, and I like the way she handled characterisation. It might not be terribly subtle, but it worked.
I’m currently reading Alan Hollinghurst’s “The Swimming-Pool Library”, which I’m enjoying, but it does seem to be an early version of “The Line of Beauty”: handsome Oxbridge graduate with a bit of a thing for black guys sleeps around a lot and enjoys the privileges of the British upper class.
I’ve also read Judith Butler (“Imitation and Gender Insubordination”) for a theory reading group, which has been great fun. I can feel my brain getting used to thinking about critical theory again.
I read “The Mill on the Floss” just before moving, but that probably doesn’t count.

I have a TV in the new place, and Freeview so I’ve got basic cable. No doubt I’ll get over-excited and blog a bit about the shows I’ve watched.
I really enjoyed the dark humour of “The Thick of It” on Monday night. It’s like an updated version of “Yes, Minister” or “Yes, Prime Minister”. I think these shows fundamentally affected my view of politics. It would be interesting to know how it affected my generation as a whole – if your first introduction to politics is deeply cynical, are you doomed to eternal cynicism?
Anyway, with that in mind, I bring you, 2005 Top Ten Tactics to Influence Negative News and Seventeen Techniques for Truth Suppression.