From while I was in France last week

Futuroscope, c’est fantastique! Situated in the middle of fricking nowhere, this appears to be some sort of amusement parc, though I feel that aliens must have dropped it on France in primitive times to bring their culture up to the 1970s…Because it is the 1970s embodied, or perhaps 1950s; Sleeper is the bet example. Great perverse shapes serving no discernable purpose, mostly containing enormous strange cinema screens… outlandish vehicles for kids to ride, walkways supported by water jets floating over lakes that alternately belch fire and water 100 feet up… an odd little garden, peeling wood, with raised timber walkways between great hoardings depicting famous cities and scenes each with dissonant music that clashes as you walk between, all of it sunk in a great tub of water in green lawns… and this, the press centre, with it’s accompanying auditorium.

Here the elite of world games have met, to do what? Sit in darkened conference halls, like the usual nerdology? The lower levels, perhaps. But the elite sit in an imax theatre facing the audience. There are two teams of five and in front of each man is a computer with two monitors; one facing him, one, larger, facing the audience. Behind them, on the Imax, is a Shoutcast internet broadcast of the match they’re playing. It features webcams of the team captain’s faces, a top-down map updated in realtime of where the players are in the enclosed space, and footage of two of the protagnist’s screens.Over the top is French commentary (with English provided by infrared headsets ditributed to the 1000-strong crowd.)

This is CounterStrike, a shooting game where players play terrorists versus counter-terrorists. The game is strongly tactical, and the commentators talk about it with the same incomprehensibly specialised but truly simple language that you get from American Football. There’s terms like ‘Creephacks his natural’, a WarCraft III phrase, meaning to steal an experience-garnering kill from near an opponents base after the opponent has weakened it.

And this feels like sport. I feel like a proper journalist, for the first time in my life, attempting to cover a story, sitting in the press centre, watching the english commentary on the widescreen and typing. And it’s more enjoyable than most sports, and it feels like it involves more talent than simple physical prowess; it requires brains, the ability to recognise the constraints of the arenas and the engine, and to exploit them in spectacular fashion – to watch one of the strategy player’s hands move over the keyboard like lightning, running on automatic, is fantastic.

I’m normally something of a fan of Tony Blair, mainly through a vitriolic hatred of all things conservative. I’ve been a quiet defender of him But, as with everyone, my turn has come. I will not stand by while he denigrates liberalism. Today he has announced the end of the 1960s Liberal Consensus. I understand he means no such thing, that nothing will really happen; this is what we have come to expect from him and from the entrenched bulwark of the civil service. I at least hope he isn’t tending to the stupid, reflexive authoritarianism of the people in power; Britain is a country that could slip into a happy Singaporean police state all too easily. I see what he’s saying as just a vote-winner for future elections to appeal to conservative voters, without having to do anything concrete.

However, even this language offends me. He is doing down liberalism, the mind-set that, all things equal, progress (ie alteration of the status quo) is good. Liberalism is already a dirty word in the Untied States, because of their predominantly christian conservative mindset; why make it so over here? Even if he doesn’t mean what he says, he is turning liberalism into a perjorative term for his own temporary political advantage. Through the mainstream politician changing the sense of the word Liberalism, he makes it acceptable to do it down and stokes unthinking conservatism (already a strong unwanted trait in the British), much like mainstream politicians using the language of invasion when referring to asylum stokes racism and gives parties like Pim Fortuyn’s, Jorg Haider’s or the BNP a veneer of sense they do not deserve.

As I went to sleep last night I looked up at the ceiling, and saw an outline of my monitor burnt into the ceiling, the wardrobe, my paintings on the wall… everywhere I turned my burnt retina I saw a glowering grey square.

Am I spending too much time on the computer? Nah…

Thought occurs though – if I get so absorbed in my computer I start dressing like it, does that make me a Tronvestite?

You can have that one for free, Dov.

I’ll put up more about my France Jolly when I remember to get it off my laptop, but meantimes I’ll just bitch about work.

Ooh, just remembered an old university recipe of mine. Very simple; shred some cheap onions, and chuck on some chilli powder. Fry up on a middle heat until nicely softened, then break a load of eggs over the top. Mix up rapidly, so the egg isn’t setting yet, then stop and let cook. Eat on thick-cut crusty white bread. Mmm.

Lil Bro Dov (Hi dov!) came along for the weekend (though he only meant to stay the night, he stayed his welcome and not beyond.) Reminds me everytime how perverse it is to call a six-foot hairmonster ‘little bruvver’. Even if I fell into a semi-heuristic synchronistic infundunbulum, and reappeared several years younger than him, I’d still consider him my little brother. This is nothing to do with age, this is because I am *enormously* patronising. And don’t think anyone here wants to disagree with that, mm-hmm?