Saturday 31 March 2007

Music Shopping Spree

I apologise for two music based posts in a row.
But myself and a female acquintance went on a shopping spree to Cheltenham today, which involved a trip to HMV for me. Kind of a hobby for me.
Sales were on, so a lot of good bargains.
First, it should be mentioned that I had tried to 'educate' the girl in qeustion in quality dance music in the car on the way down; Reactivate 16. (2000)Not the best of the collection- that has to be 14 (1999) , which I lent to The Baker and is still lent.
I was trying to get her to see the pure sense of adrenalin, the total liberation, that you get from good dance Music.
She's not ever been in to the hard dance culture, so I tried to explain to her the sense of euphoria of dancing on a stage in a club that's just about white T-shirts, glowsticks and the sense of energy- and emotion- that this music gives.
A room full of love, where there is a sense that the crap we have to put up with in the world out there is not all it's about.

Anyway here is a list of the CDs I bought. You have to guess which one was hers.

The Beatles- Yellow Submarine.
Tubular Bells- Mike Oldfield.
Kaiser Chiefs- Yours Truly, Angry Mob.
Kasabian- Empire.
Pulp- Different Class.
Skunk Anansi- Paranoid and Sunburnt.
Ultravox- The Collection.
ABC- The Lexicon of Love.
Radiohead- Hail to the Thief.
The Stone Roses- The Stone Roses.
The Doors- Morrison Hotel.
Duran Duran- Rio
Japan- Adolescent Sex.
Daft Punk- Human after All.
Cascada- Everytime you Touch.
David Bowie- Aladdin Sane.
Dire Straits- Brothers in Arms.
Orbital- The Altogether.
Armin van Buuren- 10 years.
The Best of Bonkers.
Hed Kandi Classics.
Gatecrasher Live in Moscow.

One of those CDs is NOT one I would voluntarily listen to. Can you spot it?

Friday 30 March 2007

Have a listen. Surprise yourself.

Abvout to be very civilised and go for a meal with the attached/partially so for now.

Just thought I'd recommend ten good Album/Not singles tracks whch should, by God, have been singles.

1. Halo- Violator, Depeche Mode
2. Lucky- Radiohead.
3. Temple Girls and Geisha Boys- Heaven 17
4. Working Class Hero- John Lennon.
5, Love Island- Fatboy Slim.
6. Life full of Nothing- Human League.
7. The Trouble with Andre- Shakespeare's Sister.
8. The Immigrant Song- Led Zeppelin.
9 Wish you Were Here- Pink Floyd.
10. New Dress- Depeche Mode.

See you when the drum beat starts again, people.

General Update

We've decided to be pro-active here.
No posts likely here over the Easter weekend. Possible week after, unlikely week after that. That relates to my social life.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Thursday 29 March 2007

A Vice I need to Lose.

The Tin Drummer confessed recently to a former vice of his.
It's his tale, so I recommend you read it.

Mine is a vice I need to lose. People comment on it.
Everyone has songs they sing regularly, without thinking.
Fo me, 'Riders on the Storm' is one. That's permissible.
Another is 'Enjoy the Silence. Again, as a Mode fan, that's OK.
Another is 'Monkey Magic,Monkey Magic' from the Japanese children's programme, Monkey.
I sing this to myself a lot whilst at work, or at the bar waiting to get served, or shaving.

Need to stop this, don't I?

We do want to be at the Euros

Steve McLaren is either the worst manager since Taylor, or he has a great trick up his sleeve, we're all going to love.

I'm not sure yet.

When he sacked Beckham, I could see why.

In many ways the last World Cup was one of the best I've seen. And I'm a World Cup nut. I take my holiday and watch the lot. So many great games.
Australia-Japan, what a brilliant hat trick.
France-Spain, bye-bye my cash-backed dark horse.
France-Switzerland, shows you how a bad referee can really threaten the team who justly won.
The Final- possibly the best International I've seen in a while.
Yet none of these great, worth watching games involved England.

Simple reason why. England had got in to habit of not actually playing football, just wait to be awarded a free kick.
To be taken by Beckam. Result, England 1, AN other 0.
Doesn't work of course, it's a lousy game winning plan against say, Portugal.

The only way to solve this problem is to remove the temptation for other players to run round the pitch hoping to get fouled rather than looking for the ball.
Remove Golden Boots.

So in a sense, it was kind of removing a benign tumour that was just holding up the bloodflow of the passion of 66.

Problem is, it's taking time for the operation to heal.

I think there are some good moves at work here- I'm glad to see Owen Hargreaves being used more, he's quality. Nice to see ex-blues Andy Johnson being recognised as well.

Bnd time is running out.
Sacking McLaren costs the FA 3.5 mill severance pay.
If we don't make the Euros, 100 mill in sponsorship is lost to the FA.

Wednesday 28 March 2007

A Short Game of Join the Dots.

I think they think we're stupid...
Let's see if you are...
1. What were they doing there?
2. Is this not very convenient?
3. Is a legacy involved here?
4. Could this be Brown's Iraq?
5. They couldn't do it again, surely?

It's not a candle, it's a lighthouse

Elton John.
Walkng past the telescreen the other day(I try not to watch it), when I see Elton John shamelessly promoting his televised birthday bash in New York or London or somewhere.
I shook my head in disbelief. Here is man who has gone to some producer and said 'Pay for my birthday party, televise it and invite a loads of celebrities. You get good TV, I get a free birthday party and loads of free publicity. Every celeb you invite will come, so as to assert their A-list status.'
And the dupes agreed...

This man has no shame.

But come, we already knew that.

Let my tell you a story.
Back in 1997, I finished work at aout 4 AM. It was a summer job and worked for a local hotel. I tuned on the TV expecting Beavis and Butthead, and got the tale end of some story about a car crash. No Beavis laughs tonight.
Perplexed, but not interested, I went to bed.

Next day I heard the news.
What interested me most was that The Sun, who If I remember right had a headline that week before centred on the Dodi, Do Di, pun, was now running a black banner.

The nation went mad for a fortnight and I just cringed in shame. I now saw how Blair had got his landslide.

At that time, any sense of patriotism died within me. I felt ashamed to be a part of such a twisted nation of hypocrites.

And to see Elton milking this bizarre bout of 'guilt about being tabloid reader's' hysteria, was not pleasant. Yes mate, you sold a lot of copies of your revised 'Candle in the wind'.

How the Queen knighted you for stiching her up like that, I'll never know. She must have gritted her teeth as she said 'Arise, Sir Elton.'

Not impressed with your life philosophy there, mate.

Tuesday 27 March 2007

A Place to Grieve.

Me and my friend spent a good after match chat in the churchyard of what I'm guessing was the Protestant Collegiate church in Shrewsbury on Saturday. We came upon a whole pavement of headstones. This got us thinking.

Most of the engraving on most of the stones was gone. Got you thinking, I said, about eighty people buried in front of us and in most cases the engraving was gone. As I pointed out, for about a year each one of those entombments would have been cried over, flowered over etc. till one day it just wore off and now we can't even read who's buried there.

Got us into a discussion about the dead.

My grandfather died in 1989. I can remember when he died and his grave was flowered ever week.
Now I'm not sure if anyone ever goes there.

Maybe, I thought we just need that time to continue talking to someone who filled a vital role in our life before we can accept they'll never answer back.

That's maybe why Burial has always provided answers Cremation never can.

There is wisdom in the way people did things, sometimes.
Even if they didn't know it.

Monday 26 March 2007

Bye, Bye Gay Meadow

This Saturday was one of the last opportunities you will have had to have seen a real old fashioned football match in the stands in a real old fashioned ground.
It was one of the last games at- don't laugh, please- Gay Meadow football grounds in Shrewsbury.
Myself and a mate, The Chimney Sweep, went to watch it.
Shrewsbury is a lovely old market town with some very quaint pubs which received both before and after match sampling.

Now it is always a trusm that any match live pretty much beats any match seen on TV. You just don't get the emotions through on the telly. Football grounds are like Hollywood stars- they're much smallr in real life. But there is something special about the sensation of a ground filled with people who follow their teams, not for the glory, but for the passion.

Neither I nor my mate are Shrewsbury fans, but ten minutes in we were cussing the linesman with the rest of them.
I even got quite vitriolic. His flag was going up way too much for my liking. I was starting to feel he just loved his flag too much....

Great day, great company, nice ambling walks through old graveyards, nice Czech girl to flirt with on the train back.

These are the days you remember in years to come...

Friday 23 March 2007

Work related stuff of no interest to people not in Sales and Marketing

Don't much like back stabbing, me. If you don't like something I do, have the decency to tell me. Not that anyone reading this would.

In the pub just now with a work colleague and they told me what another work colleage had said about me. They had been quite upset about it, and wanted me to know.

Apparently, I am an 'unprofessional cowboy', who doesn't undertstand that 'there is a professional way of dealing with people in business.' This because, I am very much myself with clients, down to earth, chat football, flirt with the female ones, etc.
I retorted that if this person thought that, they were working in the wrong sector. We don't work in the civil service or banking. We work with people. So talk football, holidays, flirt, do anything to get your business. It's about people and it's about human interaction. Basically, we are paid to make people like us, and that ain't done by preserving 'professional barriers.'

If I'm dealing with a female client, I put extra curls in my hair and talk slowly, in a low voice. If I'm dealing with a Rugby Club member, It's manly talk time. That's the difference between a paid salesman and someone who loves marketing. Call me a cowboy. I don't care. I am. But that's my style. Like it or lump it. It gets results.

I asked my informant 'And what did you say?'

The reply says it all. 'Yes, but he gets results.'

So Lesley, darling, don't forget.
You work with people, hun. Keep on the right side of them. If you'd said what you said to my face, darl, it would have been forgotten by now.
But now I know you're not on my 'to be trusted list', maybe you should compare my track record to yours and start pondering on your future...

Thursday 22 March 2007

Just for Jessica.

Jessica, special post just for you.
Please go down to the post you visited last time and see if you agree my comment.

Not for Cats

I was talking to a girl who I seem to be entangled with last night and was a little disconcerted to find she fed her cat salmon.
First I just shook my head in stunned disbelief, but when it became clear that I was far from impressed she began to probe me as to my annoyment.
I explained to her that for a large section of this country- one of the richest in the world- salmon is considered a luxury. We won't even mention what people in Somalia would see it as. Bearing in mind that Whiskers, Kit eKat and people make perfectly good cat food, designed by cat experts for-er-cats. We don't have special human food designed scientists for humans (or if we do, we don't eat it), so the cat's got it good as it is. So it don't need no salmon.
Specially not when salmon is a luxury.

She still didn't see it. I, of course, have got a little irate, being up on my soapbox. Here goes;
'Have you ever heard of Nicolae Ceaucesceau? No?, well he was a Rumanian Dictator, on the other side of the Iron Curtain, killed in1989 when they overthrew the bugger. Christmas, and I can remember it, so surely you must. He was there over twenty years.
'Well this dude, he built the biggest palace ever built in the world [don't know if this is true], bigger then Versailles, this in a Marxist state, where appropriation by the oppressors is supposed to be a thing of the past. Anyway, him and his missus, they say, used to have five different meals cooked every night and have them brought in. They'd then choose one. Do you know who got the rest?
'The dogs. Their f***ing dogs. This in a country where the produce at the annual agriculture displays, to show off how great life in Soviet Rumania is, half of it is just painted wood, painted wood darling, because they ain't produced enough real food. That's how f***ed up it was, and while this is happening, Ilyena f***ing Ceaucesceau's dogs are eating enough food for four in the biggest palace in the world. Don't you think that's pretty messed up?'

She didn't get the parallel. Maybe there isn't one. Maybe I was just on my high horse again.

Let's just see if she buys salmon for the cat again...

Wednesday 21 March 2007

Forcing women to live up to male ideals

I see they are trailing something on the telescreen about Ulrika Jonson dealing with her 'sex addiction'.
Maybe I've lost the plot here.
I find myself asking what is a 'sex addiction' (think most of us have that) and why is it a problem?

I suppose the reality is it creates problems for her because of the way others judge it.
It is still much more of a scandal for a woman to be promiscuous and- God forbid- enjoy sex. Therefore it hits a woman's career much harder if she is seen in this way.

Put it this way, I remember reading an article in the Telegraph about Russell Brand (not someone I have much time for, I'll be honest). The writer was basically saying that if his reputation as a womaniser was built purely on his conquest of Kate Moss, then that meant nothing because Kate 'wasn't exactly picky'. In other words, what would make Russell Brand heroic, would make Kate Moss slutty.

This is complete hypocrisy. If we really have been through the feminist revolution, then it is time women were judged the same as men in that respect too. If a male celebrity is considered sexually attractive, we expect to hear endless tales of his sexual conquests. Why should the same not be true of sexually attractive female celebrities?
Why do we not regard a woman highly for behaving the way a well thought of man would behave?

Deep down, we still seem to be stuck with the idea of sex as 'dirty' and women who practise it a lot with many partners as 'dirty' too.
How medieval.
Yet isn't it perfectly NORMAL for an attractive woman to attract much male attention?
And doesn't a normal woman- as opposed to one kept down by archaic male hang ups- enjoy sex for its own sake, just as men do?
Look at older cultures- their embodiments of womanhood, Aphrodite, Freya, were hardly paragons of chastity, quite the reverse. Personally, I have come to find that a more attractive ideal. I guess party because that's how we are meant to be. Have a look at the Bonobo chimp. That's how we are programmed and that is our route to happiness.

Instead of condemning women for expressing their sexuality without restraint, it is time we celebrated it. This is the last bastion of male supremacy and it is the one for wich the rest of male supremacy was developed to keep in place.
When it has gone, the war of the sexes will be over and men and women will not face eachother as adversaries fighting a war of standards.

Stop judging women for something they should take pride in.

Tuesday 20 March 2007

Fair play, the Civil Service way

Here's a good cash saving ruse I came upon recently, given to us by those caring guys in Whitehall.

There seems to be a major batch of restructuring going on across the board. I knew it was happening in Primary Care Trusts, but I have since discovered it is going on across local government as well.

What is happening basically, is smaller service bodies are being merged in new combinations to form larger ones with slightly different frames of reference to the bodies they replace.
Nothing wrong with that, you say. Cost savings to the taxpayer, surely?
And you'd be right. I don't really have a problem with that.

What makes me a little disappointed is the shabby way these synergies are being carried out. Because the new employers are slightly different and have different frames of reference to the old ones, all posts are being advertised anew.

This means that if three Human Resources managers in three PCTs are replaced by two Human Resources managers in two PCTs, it isn't true that two are safe and one gets a redundancy cheque. No, all three have to reapply for their own jobs (against competition from their own colleagues). This means that 'unsuccessful applicants' are owed no redundancy pay, and those who are not fully systemised can in practise be demoted and others promoted over them with no explanation needed.

I've never worked in the public sector, but as life goes on, I pity those who do. I've worked for some unprincipled charlatans in my life, but the ones Public sector employess work for, is on a whole different level.

Monday 19 March 2007

Unemployment- Are you sure there's nothing to do?

Now this his occurred to me, I can't see any other way of looking at this realistically.
I don't really see how you can ever say there's no work for people.
I can see we have unemployment, but that's not the same thing.

Now be honest, Do we live in paradise?

Or are our streets infested with litter, needles and griffiti?
Is it not true that all societies can do with any contribution they can get?

And yet apparently, we have whole swathes ofpeople for whom we cannot find anything to do with their life energy.
So it's not true that there is nothing for people to do, merely that we can't find someone to pay everyone to do something.
Only that's not true. Since we are a (marginally) civilised society, we try not to let too many people starve in the street. So those who cannot be 'found' work , get paid by someone. They get titbits from the rest of us. So someone is paying them. Everybody else is.

So what we have here, is not a lack of work, or a failure to provide for everybody, merely a failure to utilise all the energy available to society.
That makes us a very wasteful, inefficient society, wasting the greatest resource we have.
Human energy.

Something wrong somewhere, surely, when we write off a certain proportion of our own people as having nothing positive to contribute?

Surely the biggest waste of energy there is on this planet?

Friday 16 March 2007

Gone to my own birthday party

I reached the ripe old age of twenty eight this week.
Something of a minor miracle.

I've gone to Manchester to party like it's (still) 1999.

I've booked Monday off, so won't be back on the bloggosphere till then.

By that time, I will have been involved in many intellectual, post initiating discussions, so good will come out of the whole caboodle.

Enjoy your own weekends.!!!

Thursday 15 March 2007

I'm too stupid to post anything tonight

Why does it lead you to make such stupid mistakes?
I'm off to spend another evening making stupid mistakes.

Wednesday 14 March 2007

Time to accept our share of responsibility.

This is something I feel so strongly about, that I don't much care who I offend here. Tonight you're getting the full works, ladled on with a spoon.

I have just seen Morgan Tsvangirai's battered face.

I have heard the usual muttered insinuations about Africans running their own affairs and I'm angry, really angry with the crap people talk about africa, the lack of understanding and the way we write off a whole f**king continent and blame it's problems on the inhabitants.

So let me tell you a story which will offend left and right alike.

Back in the 1880s European countries got into africa in a big way. Some of the reasons were laudable, some were not. Here a few;
1. Rising middle class living standards, demanding luxury foods and pianos in their drawing room, caused a demand for Ivory, Coconut oil and other products.
2. The spreading of the liberal vision of progress meant that there was a general wish to 'enlighten ' tribal peoples from disease, starvation, tribal massacres and all those things that look great when confined to the Andaman islanders, but are in fact not so much fun for people who actually live like that- Livinstone's 'Conmmerce, Christianity, Civilisation', in that order, but they did mean it.
3. A realisition that to really end slavery, you had to end it at the source- by ending slave economies like the Sultanates of Sokoto, Kano, Zanzibar and the trade empire of Tippu Tip.
4. The need to find fresh markets for trade goods as the european economy had reached saturation point and capitalism needs growth to provide the finance for material progress.

And so, in 1884, in Berlin, the European nations gathered round a map of Africa and drew some lines on a map. These lines wouldn't have meant much to the people who lived in Africa. They took no account of ethnic or religous divisions. They were drawn to suit Western economic interests. They even made up some names for their colonies- Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Tanganyika- names of no historic significance to the people who lived therein. There are Hutus and Tutsis in every East African country. The peoples of Northern Nigeria are racially Akin to the peoples of Niger, Chad and North Cameron, the people of Southern Nigeria are akin to those of Benin.

There actually was a belief, a heady romantic belief, that we could all make a profit AND make Africa a great place to live. In this vision, after a hundred and fifty years or so of white education and benevolent despotism, the natives of Nyasaland would be black versions of the inhabitants of Surrey, living in semi detached houses, wearing suits and reading the Times as they commuted by rail to Dar-Es -Salaam.

Two world wars killed that vision. The pwers were bankrupt before the project got off the ground.
Oh, they had made a start.
They had destroyed the native cultures.
They had a transport system designed to take resources from the interior to the coast and then on to Europe.
They had educated a few sons of chiefs at British Universities.
They had trained up native thugs in how to use firearms.

In the 50's the handful of Western educated African's made the right noises about oppression, as did our own left. They pointed to India- hardly a parallel, Britain had done all the developing to be done in India and India was an ancient culture anyway. African colonisation, if there was to be any altruism there at all, had to be about making it as much a part of the civilised world as could be done. That hadn't happened. Where were the secondary schhols, the modern hospitals, the universities, the public transport systems, all the things the home counties offered.

But the West siezed the chance. These colonies were too expensive. And now they had an excuse to scarper- but not before playing a cynical blinder.

Any moron can see whast was happening- a great project abandoned half cock.

And so the African nations recieved a pretend independence. Pretend, because with such hugh illiteracy levels, such ingrained tribal loyalties and no real sense of loyalty to the colony (now a pretend nation) there could be no real commitment to democratic processes, or any way of making it work.
But for European economies, as long those trains still brought the Diamonds, the Bauxite, the Gold, the Oil rumbling to the coasts and then on to Western factories, all was OK. We'd even give them our decommissioned weapons so they could keep their people in check.
Who cares what these thugs do to their own people as long as those trains keep running on time? and the best thing was, since these places are now 'independent', the west doesn't have to pay for them any more and it's their hard shit if it goes tits up.

Put it this way- Zimbabweans don't vote here, but Companies who invest in Zimbabwe make lots of money. They can choose who to donate this to. They can even give it to Western political parties.
So if an African leader wants the support of Western governments, what does he have to do?
Simple. Leave western interests alone.

I saw there were riots in Zimbabwe two weeks ago- it's only just hid yhe headlines, because now business is getting worried, They think Mugabe can't run the show any more and he must go.

When are we in the west going to open our eyes? This continent is on our doorstep. You can moan all you want about asylum seekers, but have you ever stopped to think why it is that people would rather sneak in to a country and be a permanent part of it's underclass, hated, despised living on subsistence levels- by our standards- than stay in the land of their birth?

We can't keep our heads in the sand. Africa's problems will be ours if we let this go on.
At least, let's have some integrity and go hold out our hands to the peoples we forced to become our brothers over a century ago and show them we mean it this time.
And let us be wise enough to go, not in a Paternalistic, our way or the high way, give us your gold and we'll give you mission schools way; but in working out solutions together way. Let's help Africans make a land they are proud of and happy to live in, not a land of fake western parodies of nations.

Let's wake up and realise that we all live in a very close knit world now and we are not living up to the ideals we used to pretend we represented.

Monday 12 March 2007

Hatred- Why does it come so easy?

I was having a conversation with someone the other day which made me think.
They happened to be referring to Myra Hindley and used the words 'I hate her'.
I asked if this person knew Myra Hindley.
They didn't.
I asked if Myra Hindley had harmed them personally.
She hadn't.
'So..' I asked 'Why do YOU hate Myra Hindley? Why do you waste emotions that eat you up on someone you don't know who has never harmed you?'
Because of what they had done, was the reply.
I agreed, what Myra Hindley had done was evil. Whether that makes her an embodiment of evil is another matter. Even if it did, there are people who have a right to hate her. But not me. And not the person I was talking to.

I put to this person that hating people the media raises as hate figures allows us to focus our own bitterness and our own deep seated resentments of people we know are not evil, but that we personally have grievances with, and focuses these resentments on to a target, somewhat like the two minute hate in the book that gives this blog it's name.
I put it them that hatred is a pwerful emotion that we often focus on to objects to disguise to ourselves what it is and who it is we really hate.

I put to them that if I said I was in love with Jodie Foster, I would rightly be seen as slightly unbalanced. Why? Quite simply, because I have never actually met Jodie Foster.
So how then, can it be accepted as normal to passionately hate someone you do not know.

Worse, how do we allow ourselves to stand idly by whilst such base sentiments- hate- are allowed to create whole political creeds.
Hardship, Fear, Unemployment, Social Change, these disquieting elements time and time again create political movements which transpose these anxieties on to human targets who can blamed and hated, and it is this unthinking logic of hatred that makes it possible.
Catholics, Protestants,Jews , Muslims, Black people, Freemasons, the list of people you can hate and blame is endless and it seems to work better when you do not really know them.

And it's still happening here and now.
And it's not just the BNP who exploit these fears and hatreds.
Even 'respectable' political parties do it.
And Labour are becoming the worst offender.

Think before you hate.
It's a nasty destructive emotion that eats YOU up as well.
It wastes your life, your emotions, the amount of happy thoughts you will have in your life.
Think- Is it worth hating X or Y? what have X or Y done to YOU?

Is your hatred worthy of you?

Sunday 11 March 2007

Well worth his Oscar

I rarely go to the cinema, mainly because I just never seem to get round to it , but also no doubt because two hours plus is a long time to go without a cigarette. The last thing I had seen at the cinema before yesterday was Casino Royale (The best Bond film since View to a Kill, in my opinion)

However, yesterday we caught one of the last showings of 'The Last King of Scotland', a film I had wanted to see for a while.
It exceeded my expectations.
Firstly, Forrest Whitaker IS Idi Amin. I don't know how long he spent watching film footage of the Ugandan dictator, but he captures his likemess perfectly. He captures Idi's voice, his mannerisms and the tortuous mixture of jocular humour and paranoia that characterised that entrancing figure.
Secondly, the film wins, beccause it pulls no punches. It tells it like it was, with suspended moral judgement, telling a tale of the dynamics of such a situation really hold together.
Without overpoliticising the point, we are reminded throughout that Africa's problems are down to Werstern countries- in this case Britain- putting in power whichever thug serves their own economic interests best. It doesn't matter how many of their own they massacre as long as they run their countries to help western commercial interests. This could be seen in the film, without needing to be stated.
Thirdly, the film worked because it had a real anti-hero in the role of Dr Nicholas Carragher, a young man who goes to Uganda kidding himself he wants to help people, but really is just up for a bit of fun and adventure, who is flattered to become the friend of a dictator. And we can see the attraction of Amin at first acquintance; crass, vulgar, but a fun loving party animal. The other side we see later- as Nicholas sees it. I knew watching the film, that I would have been much the same. We can see him burdened by his own moral cowardice, knowing that he has become accomplice to atrocities, seeing how we would have done the same. He is young, he wants a good time and some very VERY sexy african women come his way (I'm partial that way myself, so I guess I'd have ended up with the same problems he ended up with, though I would say, when you have just discovered that your boss is a paranoid homicidal maniac, seducing his wife may be unwise; he may not see the funny side).

It was also nice to see Gillian Anderson in a minor part, one of my teen crushes. Nicholas has a try there too, but gets a brush off.
This a real story about real people, with no complete happy ending- except to tell you at the end that Amin was eventually overthrown, which you already knew. It is a tale about people, about hope and the bitterness of realising it was false, of youthful exuberance and realising that you are out of your depth, of the reality of life in much of the globe since decolonisation.
As I said afterwards to the girl I was with. 'It makes you realise, we're run by a w***er, but there are worse w***ers we could be run by.'

This is one of the best films I have seen for a long time. See it at the Cinema if still can. If not, get it on DVD. This will be one of the greats.

Friday 9 March 2007

Something I wouldn't normally do.

Just posting this before I shower, shave and do my hair. Listening to 'Get a rush' by Steve Blake on ReactivateEnergise Album.
Meeting this girl tonight who I'm slightly apprehensive about meeting.
Basically, I was given her number yesterday by a work colleague together with a phorograph and told she knew who I was- she'd seen me- and wanted to meet up.
I'm always fairly resistant to this sort of thing, I usually meet women out and about, so to meet someone you don't know in a 'romantic' context isn't really me. A friend of mine does speed dating, but I won't do it on principle.
To be honest it's not as if I don't have other irons in the fire.
Anyway, I felt I had to do this 'date' as it would be rude to my colleague if I didn't so I did ring this girl last night and arranged to meet her tonight.
Since then she has been texting me since two saying she is worried about what to wear and worried she won't look good enough. I have given all the appropriate answers, but problem is, I'm good at giving the right answers. Her texts have been gaining an increasing amount of 'x's at the end.
I know she has been hurt in the past and I also know that I have hurt of lot of women without meaning too.
Problem is I love female attention, always have done and I seem to attract needy women quite easy. She seems a lovely girl and I have an uneasy feeling that we are really going to get on and like eachother.
But she is looking for someone to solve her problems, I just like having a fan club.
This isn't new to me in that respect, but it's like an addiction and I have no willpower.

I'm sick of hurting people.
Just so you know, I never have sex on the first meeting on principle.

Still, what will be will be.

Thursday 8 March 2007

Breaktime almost over in the North of Ireland

We should soon know the full results for the elections taking place in the six counties.
It will come as no real shock when the DUP and Sinn Fein both make further advances.
How any in their right mind thinks a devolved executive is going to formed in these circumstances is beyond me. I don't see Paisley changing the habit of a lifetime and becoming a convert to reason and compromise. I can't see the Republican Community accepting Gerry Adams making a deal with Paisley either. If they do, then hardliners will defect further to the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA.
The polls put the DUP on 25% and Sinn Fein on about 22%. The SDLP trail on about19 and the UUP are on 16%. Bearing in mind Six counties polls always underestimate support for the extreme parties, the real results will probably be a lot worse for the centre ground.

The Good Friday agreement was nine years ago and the deadlock drifts on. Fact is, that the two communities both want peace, but no one wants to pay the price. For both sides, it is too much to pay. Myself, I never saw it working back then- look at history. Sunningdale was the same false dawn in 1973.
If Sinn Fein move further away from their traditional position, then the breakaway Republican groups WILL take their place, just as the DUP has replaced the UUP.
NO SURRENDER will always be a powerful cry in the North of Ireland to both Loyalists and Nationalists.

This is just the calm before the storm.

Wednesday 7 March 2007

Just a quick one.

Nothing of any real complexity today. Time management meant I had to go visit other people's sites and I am due in the pub shortly. (Her name is Donna by the way and No, it most certainly is not a date, she is attached still I think, though we'll see..)
Just thought I'd leave you with this.
Australia isn't a continent
It's part of the continent of Australasia or Oceania, depending on your view.
The world's largest island is always listed as Greeenland.
Australia is much bigger than Greenland.
So clearly, by that description Australia is NOT an island either.
So if it's not an island and not a continent.... what the f*** is it?

Or is it only a continent for the purposes of NOT being an island?
And vice versa.

Solutions, please, on the back of a postcard to Mr J Howard, Canberra, Australia.

Tuesday 6 March 2007

Giving your soul to Cyberspace

Two things i have read today in different places have led me to some musings. Though the two things are apparently unconnected, there is a connection, and oddly, it is the Tin Drummer's blog.

The first point is the bizarre post I have read on Ellee Seymour's page about Second Life. If you haven't read it already, I recommend you do, it's very strange and not something I suggest you sign up for. I never thought Virtual Reality Existence would be on us so soon, but apparently it is. Worrying really.
What I thought was interesting was how few comments there were on Ellee's page today- usually there are a veritable horde. It was if people had read the post and been scared off blogging as a result.

That's where we link in to the second thing I read today. It seems, according to The Telegraph, that OBEs (Out of Body Experiences, as opposed to the Gong John Lennon handed back) and NDEs (Near Death Experiences, the whole travelling along a tunnel to a bright light thing) are simply further examples of sleep paralysis, the phenomenon of being asleep and awake at the same time.
Now, for those pf you who've never had sleep paralysis, this won't be much of an explanation, but as it happens, I happened to comment on sleep paralysis recently when the Tin Drummer was expounding on Aliens (I hasten to add, he dooes NOT believe in such things). This is because sleep paralysis is generally agreed to be behind many alien abduction experiences. This has meant that the experience of sleep paralysis was fresh in my mind when I read the article.

I have had about fouror five serious experiences of sleep paralysis in my life- as opposed to the minor jolting incidents everybody gets. One of them should suffice as a warning.
About five years ago, I developed the bad habit of coming in from work and going straight to playing a game called Halflife. It was set in an underground research facility in the Nevada desert after a nuclear accident. Various mutants aliens ran riot over the place whilst maines dropped in to elimiate both aliens and survivors.
After a heavy weekend with no sleep, I had come in from work and ended up forgetting the time again. I was on the game for about six hours before going to bed, physically and mentally drained, but in a state of high tension.

At some point I awoke to see searchlights flashing through my window. I could hear voices, radios, gunfire. There were certainly soldiers outside my bedroom. Some sinister black alien was descending from the ceiling and I could not move. I tried to call for help, but no words come out. I felt like I was mouthing the words, but there was no voice to give them breath. I struggled against all this for about a minute until, like a switch going on, power came back to my limbs and I was alone.

On the other occasions I have had it, they have been scary, but never so intense. On the other occasions, lack of sleep and too much partying have been to blame, but in this instance I really was scared to go back to sleep. Usually I give it two or three minutes of checking I'm fully awake before going back to sleep, on this occasion it was a while before I dared. I realised then that if had been a more suggestible person, I would have thought it was an alien abduction. Luckily for me, the whole thing was just TOO similar to Halflife.

Some of the others I've had have been fairly odd. One, bizarrely enough fitted almost exactly the classic medieval description of a succubus- I even felt the 'succubus' copulating with me, which suggests in some sense that these sleep paralysis incidents tap into some kind of collective subconsciousness. Possibly different types of sleep paralysis work on different sensory organs, hence the fect that so many are similar. That would explain why so many NDEs are basically the same.
But none EVER affected me like the Computer Game related one.

Certainly when I read posts like Ellee's on Second Life, I become uneasy about how much of our minds we are losing to cyberspace.
Not that I'm going anywhere. Just that thereare lines that you have to draw.

Computers can be dangerous, if you give them your soul.
Take care out there, my friends.

Monday 5 March 2007

Cameron's consistency.

I have just read today's paper. (As per usual it's bought in the morning and not read till much later).
I see Cameron has been discussing marriage- as of course has Alan Johnson.
I must confess my views on the subject are much more what Johnson has to say than Cameron. I believe people who bring up children should receive tax breaks, whether they are a married couple or not and I fail to see why a married- but childless- couple should receive a tax break at all.
In fact, I would go a completely different way to the government in their efforts to placate different pressure groups with their civil partnerships and gay marriages.
I would quite simply withdrew the idea of marriage in law. That wouldn't prevent people from having weddings solemnised on church, but it would put the whole of divorce law on far more sensible terms by simply treating a relationship breakdown with the same equity any other division of assets in society would have. Children's rights would be much the same as they are now.
Marriage would be simply a personal celebration between indiviuals, without legal significance.
Might even encourage people to marry.

Yet what has annoyed me most about Cameron recently is the fact that here he is defending marriage, when he wouldn't defend the Catholic Church when it sought an opt out from the new Adoption legislation.
I must admit, I have no problem with gay people adopting.
I do have a problem with the state telling my faith what it should and should not do. Especially when the state attempts to compell the Church to break it's own teaching. What surprised me most was that a Tory leader- yes, a Tory- could not stand and defend Freedom of Religion over what is, even by my standards, an excess of political correctness.

To me his positions here are inconsistent.
So are mine, but my inconsistencies are explainable and I'm not the leader of the Opposition.

This may well be an issue that affects how I vote next time- if I do. I really am getting close to saying 'A plague on ALL your houses'

Passing of a pretty boy

Five years ago, if you saw me, you would still have said I was quite a pretty boy. In my head, I guess I still see myself as being so. And to be fair, at ten O'Clock on a Friday night before I go out, I still am.
Less so at four O'clock Saturday morning.
I saw some photos this weekend taken three weeks ago which almost made me cry.
For on them I like every inch my age- and some.
Admittedly, they are taken in poor lighting, which is why my eyes are red, but the think stubble and the creases of the brow are the those of a man who fighting the tide.
In some I look quite Satanic, in none the fresh faced youth I still am in my head.
Ok, the moisturiser probably washed off my face as I danced. The constant run of the hands through my hair, plus I probably got caught in rain that night, will have destroyed my carefully sculpted curls.
But I was horrified at the photographic evidence.
Christ, in some I looked like Gollum!!
Age, age, age. I always hoped never to see it and now it is come upon me.
How many years, I wonder, do I have left to make hay while the sun shines?

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may...
My mother always used to tell me that one day my looks and charm would run out and then I'd just be a disreputable middle aged spiv.
How soon till that day dawns, I wonder?

I apologise for such introspective drivel.

Life- Why the spark in the first place?

It is often been a quandry that has interested me that ultimately all the laws of biology must be collapsible into physical ones.
Of necessity, the basic laws of evolutionary biology must have a root explanation in the laws of physics.
It is easy to explain the arrival of adaptions in terms of survival of the fittest, but as we return to the source, what advantage did organic compounds have over inorganic ones?

Part of the problem is in finding a satisfactory definition of life, to which most biologists will say that there isn't one. There are the famous seven signs of life we learnt at school, but no biologist would actually stand by them. Partly, this is because they sometimes overlap, are not universal nor always exclusive.
Until we look closely.
Most of the facets of the so-called seven signs (Eating, respiration, etc) can simply be accounted for by the fact that Life is a chemical process and chemical processes need to carry on reacting, or they will cease. Each life is in this sense simply a series of chemical reactions.
But there is one thing that distinguishes life from other chemical processes.
We Reproduce.

Am I being overoptimistic in saying that a good description of life would be;
'Any series of chemical processes which, simply by virtue of their own existance are ultimately capable of intiitiating one or more series of chemical processes, to the degree that in the long term the total amount of such chemical processes will be increased'.

This in essence reduces the whole history of life on earth to a chemical chain reaction. This implies that the advantage of organic over inorganic matter, from the point of view of the universe, is that it allows chain reaction to develop for their own ends.

But what advantage would that be? I submit that there is obviously a preference for chain reactions in the universe. We find them wherever they can possibly develop- all stars are nuclear chain reactions. The universe itself is kind of a series of chain reactions.
But to what ultimate purpose?

I think the answer to this- as in everything- is in the Laws of Thermodynamics. Chain reactions are good because they release increasing amounts of energy. They are a way of speeding the universe up and allowing it to reach heat death with maximum efficiency.
Put bluntly, we exist as a way for the universe to waste energy.

Thursday 1 March 2007

Apologies for Absence

Just a quick apology in advance.
I had a subject in mind for tonight which was going to precede this apology, but work related issues have meant that I'm going to have to leave that for Sunday afternoon.

I have to go out tonight- there's a sexy redhead called Jo I need to seduce.
Tomorrow I am going off to visit my friend who this blog has entitled The Baker.
If any of you are in Subspace in Manchester tomorrow night the 5ft7 guy with brown curls dancing on the stage will be me.

I will be returning to the bloggosphere on Sunday. I am just going to say a quick Hi to all the class people around here and I'll see you all very soon.