Yearly archives: 2002


Innocent Pictures

On the wall of the living room at home, my parents have the obligatory childhood pictures of my sister and me. One of these photos is of me as a toddler, on a campsite in France, taking a bath in a washing up bowl. It’s unbelievebly cute, catching me mid-splash. It’s also the sort of simple shot that parents are afraid to take these days, whether for the photo album or a display, for fear of the busy bodies who cry paedophile at the slightest hint of naked children. With this and the whole culture of fearing single adults, particularly men, around children I’m nervous of taking pictures involving kids for my daily photos, no matter how innocent.

But there are other issues here. The most dangerous is that the overblown ‘stranger danger’ fear blinds people to family abuse. But almost as important is that there is a whole generation growing up now whose parents don’t have embarassing bathtime photos to show to future girlfriends. It’s just not right.


Go to work and don't work – Get promoted!

Ok. This is the strangest thing! I finally believe in management wisdom. I have been sitting in my office for the past month hardly working and living vicariously through non stop internet surfing, and lo and behold, I get a backdated raise and a new remit! Fantastic! Excerpt fromboss’s email this morning:

“In the meantime I have agreed with Steve to increase your rate and have contacted xxx. Hopefully I will have some feedback tomorrow and can let you know the score.

Please dont be demoralised. We wouldn’t have got where we are without your help and its not gone unnoticed by me. I think the project will gain momentum in the new year under xxx remit.”

God I love corporate some days. This undoubtly will provide Ian with enough ammo to revert to the Dilbert principle and his excellent book regarding corporate affairs.


Electric Six

After having found a fair few dodgy sites searching for “Electric C”, I can now save you the trouble. The band I was looking for is “electric six”. The track I was looking for is Danger High Voltage. Fortunately, there’s even the video online so I was able to check out whether it was the correct band. And then there’s a lower res version.


Another day.

Even though we all love to mock the infamous GW Bush, the states right now is in a grip of Trent Lott fever. For those of you who don’t know the name, Trent Lott is the Senate majority leader for the Republicans and is a complete right wing fanatic who advocates the needs of the very rich over everyone else. His claim to fame recently is during leaving party for outgoing Senator Strom Thurmond, he said if Strom would have won the presidency in 1948 on a segrationist platform, the country would have been much better off.

The story has become huge at home and it looks as though my favourite man to hate is finally going to see his last day. He was even desperate enough to appear on Black Entertainment Television (BET) last night to explain how his remarks have been misinterrepted. What a relief. It might not be as good as removing GW, but it is a huge coup that will go down in history, as Trent is currently one of the most powerful men in politics.

On a side note to Ian’s post regarding Seattle hempfest, I was there in 1995! It takes place in a former gasworks converted into a public park and is a success every year although it must be noted the police don’t care for it….My favourite memory, no comments from the peanut gallery please, is having a joint rolling competition all through the night with 2 kilos of sponser ganja in a makeshift tent with 10 other peace loving hippies, err, I mean deadheads. The jays were thrown out to the crowd throughout the Sunday. I didn’t win the contest per say, but came in first at girls house with 25 spliffs and a huge buzz! The joy of youth. The next weekend was Bumbershoot festival, where I watched Courtney Love take her you-know-whats out and shout to the crowd, “This is what you really came to see”. Err, no Courtney we didn’t and it wasn’t impressive.


Larf?

Apparently,the British aren’t funny any more. I have to take issue with the columnist on a few things.

-Not even an article slamming British comedy is allowed to tell the truth about The Office- that it just isn’t funny. So unfunny, in fact, that it is actually offensive. The only person I ever met who liked The Office is the subject of well deserved international mockery.

-90% of everything is crap. For every Black Adder there are a few ‘Allo ‘Allo’s. There will always be popular comedies that are appalling and brilliant comedies that are overlooked. The great thing about nostalgia is that you get to remember the bits you liked and approved of and edit out the dross.

-There is a British comedy series that is everything the columnist wants, but she chose to ignore it- Coupling. Coupling’s primary purpose is to be funny. It doesn’t have any ludicrous ‘sit’ which can only provide jokes for half an episode, it is about the silliness of everyday life amplified into hilarity. The writer isn’t afraid to experiment either, with episodes in split screen or replaying conversations from different viewpoints. It slips below the radar of most reviewers, who are too busy lauding ‘clever’ rubbish like The Office to see something that is intelligent and, first and foremost, absolutely hilarious.

Coupling- Series 1, Series 2


The Drugs might work

1. A date for your diaries. August 16-17 2003 sees the next Seattle Hempfest, where 175,000 plus (based upon this year’s figures) people campaign for liberalisation of dope laws.

2. Tomorrow I’m going to start taking St. John’s Wort, supposedly good for seasonal depression and with the knock on effect of clearing up thought processes and helping memory. I’d have started taking it today, but I forgot


Ghost Towns (2)

British villages are dying from the inside out, as are many smaller towns and the satellite districts of larger urbs.

It’s all part of the same thing, this decay, transport, the environment, the disillusionment. If you can improve one, then the gains will feed into the others, but if you ignore one, or neglect it, it will drag the others down with it. This seems to be an obvious point the politicians and pundits are all missing, possibly because it’s too much like the ‘Joined up Government’ we were promised, but more likely because it doesn’t make for such good headlines.

What sort of schemes could work in such a holistic way? Centralised planning certainly isn’t going to solve the problem, what looks good in Westminster usually proves pretty ugly in the wild. You can’t entrust the task to private industry because the need for long term plans doesn’t sit well with the need for instant share price gratification. And the public sector tends to underfunding and inertia. The answer is to give the people you want to help the power to help themselves. The answer is co-operatives.

My local bike shop is a co-operative, and you couldn’t hope for a more professional and courteous bunch. None of them is marking the time until the end of the day simply for the wage, as they each have a stake in the success of the shop. The desire to keep customers in the long term, and the understanding of how vital this is, shows in the after sales care and shop based cycle club. In a rural or small town setting the ideal co-operative would be a bit more fuzzy in its aims. A shop with Post Office and internet cafe that could serve as a drop off point for the larger parcels ordered from amazon and distribution centre for the cheaper food the elderly and carless can’t get from the supermarket. If the loop could be closed and produce sourced locally then the community benefits even more.

So give co-operatives a chance. The initial investment can be quite high, so give tax breaks to companies that redistribute income, and delegate control, amongst the employees. Existing butchers, take a look at your neighbours the grocer and bakery and work out how to take your produce to the doors of the people who would normally waste their time driving to Tesco. Find local farmers and offer them an outlet that won’t take such a huge cut from the price of their products. Individually, we’re all a bit apathetic, but together we could make such simple schemes work.


Uplift and all that

Second time to try and write this since the machine’s just crashed.

I see that Ian’s started reading Brightness Reef. I wonder if he’s found out that it’s the first book in the second trilogy of the Uplift saga. With Ian’s way of doing it, you start on book 4, with some aliens including talking apes, big space battles, nimble craft and massive behemoths of space cruiser. All you need is the “Dark Side” and some overgrown torches and you’d have the makings of a decent film.

Question for the day: Just how long is “too long” when shaking at the end of a visit to the urinal. With the sensitivity to motion in the peripheral vision and all that, you can’t help but notice when the guy next to you is putting a little too much effort into it. Must have got windchill with the speed he achieved.

Thought for the day: Fake orgasms in pubs do not attract as much attention as you think they should do.

Just how intelligent are squirrels?

Saw a good video yesterday of what sounded to be a modern Kraut-rock band. Think they were called “Electric-G” but therein lies my problem. I can’t find that name anywhere. Found some other stuff as you do. The question is, has anybody made one of these to sell? I just wonder how many people have the same thoughts and what’s the market like for those gadgets? Back to the video, it had glowing codpiece, glowing breast coverings (sort of Barbarella like, but if that’s the only reason you’re going and found the video, you’ll understand when I recommend you not to!) and a glowing Moose’s udders and thereabouts.

Just got some new books to read yesterday. Couldn’t find the one I was looking for, but Amazon have it. Instead ended up with a couple of David Drake’s books. Probably the best military sci-fi author I can think of. An extremely fluid writing style which works suprisingly well in that genre. I notice that he’s got a few fantasy books out, so I’ll have to see if those work just as well. It you want to start on his works, check out Hammers Slammers about a tank commander. There are a few in the series, but be careful since some are just reissues of stories in different collections, in much the same way has happened with Heinlein’s catalogue and Dilbert collections. Also picked up the third book in the series of the Mote in God’s Eye.


Kyoto who?

The Bush administration is not a puppet of the oil and logging industries, oh no, and they’re only stamping down on California’s environmental legislation for the state’s own good.

From drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to snowmobiles in Yellowstone, the Bush administration argues that they’re only supporting what locals want. But not in California. “Basically their position is, ‘we respect state authority, but only when the state agrees with the oil industry,'”


Star Trek

Yes. I am a fool. It is 7am in the morning and i am at work. Ok so at least i am barely working! Watched the season finale of Star Trek Enterprise last night, and I have to say the show did improve considerably over the first episodes. Time magazine has put together an interesting article about Star Trek – The Business, which highlights exactly how much you can make off sci-fi. We all know that you can make money off of anything these days, but what I really want for Christmas is the talking George Bush doll! Not only does he look as intelligent as the real guy, but speaks 11 phrases littered with those “maloproprisms”, which is supposed to be a sign of intelligence. I wonder.

Back to suburban white kids like myself. Although I am eminently influenced by hip hop culture, for shizzle ‘o the nizzle and be it all gravy and that, there is a web-site some fly tips for all the kids from New Jersey. Very informative and funny indeed. Now another fantastic part of being from the suburbs is that there is always something productive to do. Like steal real estate signs and place them on other people’s houses or the old mailbox baseball gag. But for us more technically inclined gents, working on a wire cube in four dimensions and then projecting it in 2D is much more fun.

Ahhh Ebay. What a fantastic site. Still has a few problems, but the story from this gentleman regarding getting ripped off is an eye opener. Very good story. Finally one of the good guys gets back at the chapeu d’aine.


Bookshelf

Just started- King Solomon’s Mines, H. Rider Haggard

Just finished- Brightness Reef, David Brin This is a well written piece of sci fi, with interesting aliens and a strange but logically ordered culture and neat shifts in emphasis to show which story thread you’re in. But I have some pretty major problems with it. For one thing, it’s part one of a trilogy. I’m not one of life’s trilogy readers , and by half way through the book, it wasobvious that everyone was settling in for the long run.

The other big problem is the whole premise of ‘Uplift’, the phenomenon that links all the races in the book. Uplift is the process whereby super intelligent, glory motivated aliens take a race on the verge of sentience and nudge it along until it can form societies and reach for the stars. They have to do this, you see, because evolution alone cannot possibly result in such intelligence. This looks to me like nothing more than dressed up Intelligent Design, itself a dubious attempt to wrap Creationism up in pseudoscience so that it can be taught in schools.


Not the mouthful Christmas Stuffing the Italians wanted

Lewinsky banned from Italian TV show

ROME (Reuters) – Italian television usually loves sex and scandal, but putting Monica Lewinsky on daytime TV close to Christmas was apparently too much for some. So it was that the former White House intern, who hit the headlines in 1998 over her affair with former President Bill Clinton, came to Italy all dressed up for a TV party — with no place to go. Lewinsky was to have been the star guest on “Domenica In” (Sunday In), a talk show that goes on for about five hours and offers a mix of dancing, sport and interviews with everyone from priests to pop stars. But some politicians were outraged that state broadcaster RAI, which is funded by public money, planned to pay Lewinsky’s expenses using taxpayers’ money for an interview on a Sunday. Rome’s leading newspaper, La Repubblica, dedicated two pages to the debate. Milan’s Corriere della Sera ran four articles. RAI president Antonio Baldassarre expressed concern and network executives yanked Lewinsky off the show late on Saturday. The move was applauded by Communications Minister Maurizio Gasparri.