So one of the many questions rolling around my head, particularly since living in the United States, has been: why is American beer so bad?
It really is bad. I know Brits get mocked for flat, warm beer (I love it – the taste is terrific), but American beer – your Buds and Millers – really is absolutely dreadful. Tastes of nothing at all, doesn’t refresh or quench or present any of the pleasurable qualities that beer has brought to me many, many times over the past 20 years. In fact, just about the only thing American beer does do is get you drunk – if you can stand to drink enough of it.
Well, I have found out the answer. There was a History Channel documentary on US brewing history at the weekend and it was pretty easy to divine the historical and cultural reasons behind this peculiarity that an entire nation loves drinking rat’s piss while everyone else in the world has spent centuries savouring their beer.
And this is the three-part answer:
Interesting judgment from the United States Supreme Court earlier today: you cannot say the word “fuck” on TV. Well, you can, but you’ll be heavily fined by the FCC. The same goes for “shit”.
Unfortunately, we did not get a Peter Cook and Dudley Moore-style explanation (“What is the point of saying: ‘Fuck! Shit! Tit! Bum! Arsehole!’?“), as the Supreme Court chose to render fuck and shit as “the F- and S-Words”.
Nonetheless, it decided that the FCC decision to remove the one-fuck-for-free rule on TV broadcasts on US networks was neither “arbitrary” nor “capricious”.
It’s not just these two words either – the FCC rules cover anything that denotes “sexual or excretory activity or organs”. Bono has yet to yell out that winning an award made his sphincter vibrate (it was Bono that created the new rules by saying it felt “fucking brilliant” when he won his Golden Globe a few years back) – but it would be interesting to see how the FCC reacted to that.
So after 18 months of retaining my UK phone while living in the US, I finally got tired of paying £30 a month for absolutely nothing and killed the contract. It ends next week.
Why did I keep it for so long? Well, for one, I didn’t expect to stay in the States all that long. I figured ICANN would drive me nuts within a year and I’d move back to Blighty. Plus I didn’t want to rely on just a work phone for contact with friends and family. And lastly I didn’t want to lose my telephone number – 07932 783686 – which I have had for over a decade.
Well, I am still at ICANN and so still in the States and I didn’t use my UK phone because to use it over here was prohibitively expensive. I don’t rely on just my work phone for contact – I mostly use Skype to contact friends and family (it’s free and it comes with moving pictures). And as for losing the number… Well I am the proud owner of a .tel domain name.
In fact, due to my name being slightly unusual, I have kieren.tel.
This may well be old news by now but I’ve only just seen it having got back from a grueling two-week ICANN meeting in Mexico City.
Coldplay – well, its record company Capitol – was granted an extension for filing its response to the Joe Satriani court case where he claims Coldplay ripped off his If I Could Fly single in their single Viva la Vida.
Judge Dean D. Pregerson agreed on 20 February that Capitol would now have until 6 April 2009 to file its response.
Satriani vs Coldplay: court docs and audio links
It’s been six weeks since I last posted here. That can’t be good. And I have a ton of stuff to get out of my mind through my fingers. The one-day trivia brain of Los Angelenos; the US presidential election process; the insane bureaucracy and mind-control of this peculiar and remarkable country. Plus, lots of pics – some with world famous stars of the screen. And the tale of trying to get hold of my possessions after 16 weeks now.
Why is this material still in my brain and not on the page? Because of work. Too much work. Far too much work. This job is a constant invitation to burn-out. I think it is the three international meetings a year that is what really makes the workload impossible: there is never more than a week in which you can get on with all those things that need quiet periods to get done. I thank god that the cycle ride home (along the beach – it’s nice, even in crap weather) is 35 minutes. It’s the one conscious hour of the day I can’t be at my laptop. Although I did take two phonecalls on my way in this morning. How long before I’m balancing the Dell on my handlebars, trying to pick up WiFi signals from the beach houses?
If anyone ever wondered whether the Internet was vital, or if the new Internet Governance Forum suffered from a lack of interest, worry no more.
Next week, a series of events will be held in Geneva covering the follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society and most importantly a preparatory meeting for the next IGF in Rio in November — and there is NOT A SINGLE hotel room available in the entire city. I tried four different online booking sites and nothing. So I found hotels where you can’t book online and called them. Nothing. And I have just got off the phone to the official hotel reservation service in Geneva, part of the tourist information office, and they tell me that Geneva is officially completely booked for 22-25 May.
Where the hell am I going to sleep?
Update: I’ve had to book a villa three miles out of town and actually in a different country (France). At one point I was seriously looking at Lausanne – a 40-minute train journey away. I will call around on Monday and see if there any late cancellations, but it looks like I have a long trip each morning and evening. Lesson learnt: book hotels in Geneva early.
I mentioned about a month ago how I was considering setting up a second blog so I could more easily separate my personal and professional life. And yesterday, twice, I was reminded that there is a bit of an unusual overlap when I spoke to two people: one, the spokesman for a company I regularly report on; and the second, the CEO of a company I also follow closely.
Both of them made mention of my paella (I note with sadness that only one was interested in the actual recipe however). Now this was a tremendous paella, there’s no doubt about that, but I suspect that there may be a few people out there that don’t want to know about my lunch and so I am going to highlight here an easy solution to the problem: separate RSS feeds.
Last night, as I was scrabbling around by the front door in the dark with a torch and a piece of fuse wire, my letterbox started juttering away behind me. Even the postmen manage to deliver before 9pm, so I was intrigued. And sure enough it was the latest newsletter (number 6 this year) from the St Ebbe’s New Development Residents’ Association (SENDRA).
A two-page A4 printout covering what is happening locally for the 100 or so other people in my peaceful little corner of the world, hidden from central Oxford thanks to a hideous car park on the way over, but resting neatly and comfortably on the river.
Thanks to the electricity shutdown causing my modem to commit hari-kiri, and me having to do an early morning rush to PC World and rebuild my entire home network, I have only just now got around to reading SENDRA’s September 2006 newsletter.
I get the feeling that the St Ebbe’s resident’s association is rapidly running out of control.
Here is the third and final part of a favourite childhood story of mine, The Magic Paintbrush, adapted by Fran Hunia from the traditional Chinese tale in 1979, and illustrated by Martin Aitchison.
Here is the second part of one of my favourite two childhood stories, The Magic Paintbrush, adapted by Fran Hunia from the traditional Chinese tale in 1979, and wonderfully illustrated by Martin Aitchison.