more big brother

and I’m not talking about BB4 on Channel 4 at the moment. Two articles from CNN that I noticed recently on different subjects along the theme.

1 – The Language Police is a new book on the words that have been banned in US textbooks. Newspeak comes to mind when are work such as Yacht can’t be used cos it’s elitist and blind because it’s offensive. How are these kids going to learn anything?

2 – Jay Walker wants people sat on their computers to monitor webcams of infrastructure that could be attacked by terrorists, in order to protect the “homeland”. The ‘spotter’s would see static images – if they spot someone suspicious, they can click on the image and it gets referred up the chain. To keep them on their toes, some suspicious images are fake and if the spotter misses it – they are suspended for a few minutes. The scary thing is the webcams can have a speaker attached. It reminds me of the scene in 1984 (the film) when they go to the countryside away from the cameras. But in this scenario, you could be walking through a forest, say near a power plant. You might hear a voice “What are you doing here” – now if that isn’t Orwellian, I don’t know what is. You could have a small proportion of the population watching multiple screens and compromising freedom of movement…. (just like CCTV but on a bigger scale)…

no photo in starbucks

It seems like starbucks has a problem with people taking photographs in it’s stores. Well the corporate policy appears to allow it, but some managers have been acting like little hitlers and going to great lengths to stop this. BoingBoing picked this up. There is now a site (Starbucks Photos) where you can post photos you’ve taken there… Not that I’ve ever been in one, apart from (**gulp** hangs head in shame) Ko Samui in Thailand, but it was the only place with air-conditioning…. (i know it’s a poor excuse, I didn’t go in the tesco though and I only had an iced coffee so I didn’t take too many profits away from the local shops…)


Barcelona – such a beautiful horizon, as was sung over 10 years ago now. I agree with them too, from Park Guell, Montjuic or on the cable car, it looks fantastic. The mix of the Mediterranean, low rise cityscape with 3 million inhabitants and the mountains in the distance – it’s a perfect setting.

Not that we saw too much of it. The problem (or not?) with Barcelona is the night life is one of the world’s best. How do you fancy going out for dinner from 9-12, going on a little bar crawl until around 3, then going to a club until 6-7 then maybe (ok I flaked out but well done to JA, JHob) for a few more drinks (they stayed up til 10am one night…).. I think overall we managed 3am (Moog), 7am (Drum N Bass club on Nou de la Rambla), 7am (The Loft – Techno) and 3am (‘just’ bars..) which wasn’t bad.

We still managed to get up around 2pm each day for some lightweight tourist action (Ramblas, Montjuic, Park Guell, Cable Car, Pedrera)

I’m still not 100% sure about Tapas – it always seems to be some day old meat or fish thats been reheated, or a plate of Potatoes and tomato sauce… Give me Paella any day 😉 (which was very nice infact)

I honestly can’t thing of a better city to live in (really), less developped than Paris/London. Better weather, very musical/art culture and a beach! It’s also really cheap, we were surprised how cheap drinks were even in clubs (€6 for vodka/lemonade but they were triples) People also have their own identity more there – very refreshing considering the McDonalds-isation of our own society (Food/Drink/Clothing) – we really should try to reclaim our own destinies back from the multinationals, but thats of course for another day….


Not wanting to go on about how much I think other countries are fantastic (I still love you, UK!…) Paris has reminded me once again the quality of life in foreign lands. I didn’t leave the office after a day of speaking and listening to French and after booking into a dubious hotel opposite the Gare de l’est I set out to explore Paris.

Ok, well maybe not explore but I walked down Rue de Strasbourg through the 10e, until I eventually hit the Pompidou centre, and hit tourist Paris. Still full of Americans I hasten to add. I then walked down to the river, to the Louvre, past the Pyramids, through the park (yes it’s predictable), Champs Elysee (where there was a relatively interesting SNCF exhibition), Arc de Triomphe.. blah…blah…

Then I walked back along the back streets, where I noticed a lot of police and then I realised I was walking past the American and British embassies. Not quite as drastic reinforcements as the US Embassy in Mayfair but nevertheless it was protected.

I kept walking past the Opera, and final managed to find somewhere to enjoy my favourite french foods; Snails (still I there shells having to pull the critters out is quality), and Moules-Frites..mmm… I also managed to have a thimble full of coffee for €3.60 which is quite possible the most I’ve ever paid…

So what else in my 36 hours here.

Good Stuff: Clean streets, double decker trains, cheap metro tickets, nice weather (luck?!), the architecture (both old – tube stations, and new – CDG2 Airport), Tete dans les nuages (of course) and Pyramide sur France 2!

Bad things: the traffic at 8am, the fact every bus is always rammed, getting lost, dodgy hotels, Americans being rude to waiters, rough areas, drunkards everywhere, expensive beer/coffee, waiters being rude to Americans….


Having been on British soil for less than 36 hours, I now find myself in a small hotel near “la defense” in Paris. I am getting fed up with Terminal 2 in Heathrow and also eating airline food for dinner….

Well I’m here until about 5pm tomorrow when I’ll be stepping back on an Airbus A320 for the 4th time in a week and back to Blighty. At least I got to experience going 170km/h in a taxi in the rain around the “boulevard peripherique”! Doesn’t quite beat motorbike taxis in Bangkok but it was close (The film Taxi springs to mind again….)

The decor in this hotel is traditional turn of the century France, wooden panels, thin doors and toilet/shower room..

Anyway Barcelona was wicked but I’ll have to write about that another time… I’m sure i’ll be back there soon enough anyway! (The moblog was not a real success due to low batteries and lack of Nokia charger in Spain)