Monday, 30 November 2009
First thing's first - change my picture! Current Gmail pic is about 5 years old, and I have a pair of straws in my mouth a la 'woolly mammoth' style..!
So I've now changed my picture, and have no idea how to use this thing?! What is going on?! I think I have just sent a message with 'la la la' for content to two of my friends - are they even on Google Wave themselves?!
Apologies for this incoherent post. Let's move on.
Seems like a good place as any to do some blogging re: technology.
Technology has no doubt revolutionized the world we live in. The Internet is one crazy place, you can find whatever you want - and I mean WHATEVER you want - if you know where to look. Whatever Googling you might do, it in no way gives you all the web's results. Here I will refer the interested and avid reader to this article - http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/nov/26/dark-side-internet-freenet from G2 the other day (supplementary bit in The Guardian). Now, I feel I have no need to use 'Freenet' just yet - but with the controversial new Digital Economy Bill, I reckon it must only be a matter of time before we end up having to resort to anonymous web browsing. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing to hide in terms of my Internet use. Anyone who knows me will know the only websites I tend to go on are BBC News (and a few other news websites), Facebook, occasionally Twitter and Wiki, and Radio Times when measures are reaching desperation 'cos I have no TV guide to hand. I don't even have time to go on iPlayer or 4od at the moment (though, if I am back to part time work soon, I'm sure I'll get to catch up on the months worth of missed Home and Away and Neighbours). But one thing I am not happy about is the 'crackdown on filesharing'.
Inevitably, the only thing that this Bill will do is promote the evolution of filesharing in a different manner. And that is why I think it utterly pointless. Ok, so the music industry and (probably to a much lesser extent) the film industry are taking a bit of a battering, what with all of us crazy kids swapping music like marbles in the school playground. But, more than anything else, this is just a sign that these industries really must move with the times. I read recently that some old crooner - the name escapes me at the moment, but I assure you he and his band were big in the 70s - was rather complimentary about filesharing, in the sense that it promoted his music to an audience that may not otherwise have come across it, if it wasn't for it being freely available to download. Cut a long story short, the band were happy to have new, younger audiences at their gigs, and increasingly happy at merchandise sales courtesy of aforementioned filesharers. So, really, I think it's up to the music industry to work with the times and get over it.
I realise this post has no real structure, but I think I'm getting my point across.
And one final note - if you're just downloading music using your BitTorrent client, there's no real way your IP address can be tracked down. So you're only in danger if people are uploading from you. Of course, I realise this does pose a problem - if we all adjust our settings to being 'download only', who will provide the uploads?! That's where I leave it to the geeks :) - and many thanks to them too. One day, I might just join you. Just let me get my hands on this baby....
(I hope the link works.)
Sunday, 8 November 2009
Thursday, 15 October 2009
On a quite unrelated topic, I am anticipating with great interest the upcoming Question Time, next Thursday I believe, with BNP leader Nick Griffin, Jack Straw (justice secretary), Chris Huhne from the Lib Dems, and Bonnie Greer and Baroness Warsi (the latter two of which I know nothing about). Whether or not the BNP actually deserve to even be given a platform on QT has created much heated debate and I have to admit, rather reluctantly may I add, that the only logical conclusion I have come to is that they should be allowed to air their views. It would be hypocritical of us as a nation and as a democracy to deny them this...privilege. It might be worthwhile to note, however, that Griffin has effectively been ordered to change the BNP constitution, which discriminated (until today) against potential members on the grounds of their race and/or religion.
[... ... hmm, yes I'm sure that will make the masses flock to the far right! ]
Well, if nothing else, hopefully Griffin's appearance on QT will highlight just how ridiculous his party policies are. I think we have to trust that the large majority of this country is open-minded. If I had the time or the political prowess I would launch an attack on BNP policies, but I will leave that to the experts - at least for the time being.
I have been told that my blog paints a picture of arrogance. I quite like that idea, I feel it contrasts greatly with how I present myself in person. It's all the things I would say if I had a flair for verbal linguistics in the real world!
Thursday, 8 October 2009
Since my last post I have also installed Google Maps app - will never again be lost! The novelty has worn off now though, I don't really tend to stray into unknown areas of London without first planning a route out anyway.
Currently, I am VERY annoyed with Royal Mail because I think they are taking the piss with this postal strike thing. We need our post, people! We also need our rail cards to get a discount for cross-country travel! All I want to do is get away to York for the weekend, but how can I justify forking out £70+ for a train ticket?! I guess you can't put a price on fun...
I have had a really bad week and as much as my optimism wins through most times, I am dreading whatever it is that fate has lined up for me tomorrow. So far this week I have:
- had fraudulent transaction carried out on my debit card
- been served dog-meat in a bun under the pretence of a vegeburger
- spent two hours in the rain killing time before meeting up with someone, only to have to wait another two hours (so that's four in total!) for them to show up
- thrown away my umbrella because it broke, the day before all the aforementioned rain
- lost more blood in the last 24 hours than during the length of any other period of my life [apologies for just sliding that in without any notice, but it's true!]
Not to mention all the countless other little niggles that have been pushing me further and further to the edge in the last few days.
So many parts of my life need sorting out but it's hard now that I'm at work 5 days a week!
On the other hand, I got head hunted for an investment bank. Apparently, it's in my best interest to go to a networking dinner with them. We'll see.
Saturday, 3 October 2009
If anyone comes across an app or other useful info, please let me know. In the meantime, I will spend my journey times today (going present shopping, going brithday celebrating) trying to set this up. Probably unsuccessfully.
Monday, 28 September 2009
1. Gilmore Girls
This is the sort of telly that is great for any time of the day or night, with a cuppa and a biccie, or a coffee and a smoke, or a sandwich and an OJ... goes well with anything, really. The characters are so well-formed and articulate that it is a pleasure to watch. Having ploughed through the whole of Season 1 in less than 72 hours is my personal accomplishment this month. I have even re-watched a few, when my sister was catching up with me. Now am (im)patiently waiting to borrow the second season - which I will hopefully get tomorrow - so it'll be another 72-hour lockdown (...or lockup?!)...
2. My BlackBerry
O.M.G. I'm turning into one of those. Those people who are never seen idly sat on a bus or train, always frantically tapping their fingers on the keypad, accessing (in my case) copious amounts of BBC News, returning 'pokes' on Facebook as instantaneously as I receive them, and generally embracing the technological age. This makes me a little sad, but at the same time, I do genuinely enjoy having access to whatever takes my fancy at the touch of a button! Only this morning I was scrolling through Rudyard Kipling's poetry; (here's a favourite: Cupid's Arrows)
3. University Challenge
Watched religiously, every week. Personal top score: 11 thus far this series. Sadly, York suffered a humiliating defeat tonight by St George's of London. It was painful.
4. Jason Mraz - I'm Yours
One of the feel-god hits of the summer, this still brings a smile to my lips. I just love the melody and the guitars, and have even found this brilliant acapella version: Del. It's not great audio quality, but I especially like when the beat-boxing kicks in. Sweet!
5. The Gatehouse
Ah, my local, how well you have served me in these last few weeks! If I ever have to suggest anywhere to meet up, it seems to always be at The Gatehouse lately. There's even a theatre upstairs, I will be checking out Twelfth Night when it comes along.
Ok, so this one might be a little weird, but I'm somewhat alarmed by my sudden (very) broody nature. Every time I see a baby, I just think, 'awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!'
I put this down to having spent such a large amount of time with my baby cousin this summer, who is just the sweetest thing to have ever graced this world.
7. Milka Chocolate
At this time in my life, my perfect job would be Chocolate Tester for Milka. I love them all. The biscuit-ey ones, the yogurt-ey ones, the nutty ones... I stay away from raisin-ey ones to be fair, I can only eat raisins plain.
I'm sort of in two minds whether or not to admit to this pretty compulsive behaviour of mine...I update my Twitter probably a bit too regularly, given that so few people actually reply to my 'tweets', but I find the self-indulgence very satisfying! Is that wrong?! ...probably not.
9. My Hair
As in, trying to see how long I can go without washing it. It's not really anything disgusting, I just want to see if it's true that the less you wash it, the less greasy it is. So I'm sort of going for the 'wash every 3-4 days' thing, but it's difficult 'cos sometimes when I step in the shower I just forget... Anyway. Maybe too much personal information...
10. Kettle Chips
Just can't get enough. Every time there's an offer - and sometimes when there isn't - I buy a couple of bags. Recently tried the Honey BBQ flavour, and Thai Red Curry, but nothing so far compares to Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper. Mmmm....
Hmm, in retrospect, maybe 'obsession' is too strong a term to use for all of these, but the above have pretty much shaped my life in the last month. I think I need to get out more.
Sunday, 20 September 2009
My first bit of opinionated ranting -
You might have heard in the news recently that there's been a proposed alcohol advertising ban in the UK. It would include the axing of 'Happy Hours', 2-4-1 deals, special offers, TV advertising, the list goes on. During one of their reports, ITV news interviewed the mother of a 23-year-old who was in hospital with liver failure. The mother thought the ban was a great idea, suggesting that without such promotions, her son wouldn't have been hospitalized in the first place. However, the news report also mentioned that her son had started drinking at the age of 11, during the time when his parents were going through (what I imagine must've been a pretty messy) divorce.
My point is, no young person, let alone a child, should be drinking at that young age, and certainly not to the extent that, a decade later, they're suffering from serious liver damage with only a small chance of recovery. Furthermore, that 11-year-old was hardly able to take advantage of the aforementioned special offers. And I will refrain from ranting about the responsibilities parents have to take care of the welfare of their children, but suffice it to say that something must've gone very wrong somewhere along the line if one's child is hitting the bottle even before the 'terrible teens' have hit.
The problem in this country isn't going to be solved by a blanket ban on alcohol advertising. Our cultural acceptance of binge drinking, which for most 14-year-olds is akin to a rite of passage, is what adds fuel to the fire. Until we change our very attitude towards alcohol, not much will change.
My other rant, also to do with advertising, is the drug-driving advert we're all subjected to during prime time television:
Think! Road Safety Advert
Firstly, no one's eyes become the size of saucers, no matter what they're taking! Secondly, given that it's one's pupils that dillate under the influence of alcohol, the police will be hard-pressed to notice such things unless they stop the car. And finally, it seems a little illogical to me to impose the same penalties for drink-driving as for drug-driving, given that the latter substance(s) are illegal! Aside from that, different drugs have different effects on the body - some make you more alert, others act as a sedative. Far be it for me to suggest that taking one substance over another might improve your concentration on the road, as with all things it's apparent that we only ever get one side of the story. Check out this site for more on the subject:
How Drugs Affect Driving
On a final note, I am by no means advocating drink- or drug-driving, but rather giving some food for thought. Should the penalties be the same? Caffeine is a stimulant drivers often take when on the road, but no one writes of the dangers of 'crashing out' (excuse the pun) after a few too many coffees, though it is widely reported that caffeine withdrawal can cause effects such as anxiety, nausea, headaches, and an inability to concentrate.
Monday, 7 September 2009
It's Your View
and, to a lesser extent,
The former sends you a cheque for £50 every time you reach 50 points (I am on 19 after 8 months or so, but I have not taken full advantage of the surveys sent to me), and the latter has various rewards, e.g. Amazon vouchers, free CDs, ...
Also, every once in a while
has some cool free samples, cinema ticket offers, and general competitions (which I don't suggest you enter as it seems you just get spammed, and I don't trust most of those sites anyway).
The Graduate Panel
The Student Panel )
pays for your survey time in Amazon vouchers.
As Tesco says, every little helps.
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
Due to the timing of my shifts, I only managed to watch The Prodigy on the first two days of the festival. I found them unnecessarily rude to the crowd, and didn't particularly enjoy their set, though that could have been because of the fear of being drenched in what I can only hope was beer in flying paper cups; I am compelled, however, to think it was bodily fluid. The less said about that the better.
I was very fortunate to have the whole of Sunday off, and there were many good bands to be seen. Somewhat regrettably, my musical education did not really extend much further than to be able to say I had heard of all the bands before - apart from Madina Lake - but I hadn't really listened to their music. Nevertheless, this is my opinion on their efforts:
Sonic Boom Six - very enjoyable, very upbeat, great vocals. A good kick start to the day on the main stage, they did very well to engage with a very hungover crowd.
Madina Lake - flattery gets you everywhere, guys! Musically a nice, tight set, they were continually expressing their gratefulness at being there.
Alexisonfire - boring. Quite forgettable, I don't seem to recall thinking much at all during their performance.
New Found Glory - similar to Madina Lake, but in retrospect they haven't made too big an impression on me.
Funeral For A Friend - didn't pay a great deal of attention to them, I spent most of their set trekking to and from the loo, and trying to find people in the crowd.
Deftones - definitely way too depressing for me, and I couldn't understand why the singer was screaming so much?! Perhaps because he looked like he was gonna die on stage.
Fall Out Boy - genuinely impressing performance, a good few singalongs, wholeheartedly recommended.
Placebo - amazing. They kept me interested and listening throughout, despite me knowing only one song (Every Me and Every You). I was somewhat bemused by the blond girl they had on stage, who first played the electric violin for a bit, and then proceeded to sit at a huge piano and every once in a while play five notes, but they inspired me to download their music, which can only be a good thing.
Jamie T - is a chav with a guitar. I don't get the hype at all, the tent was packed and so many people were singing along but he was, at best, average and, at worst, bad. Particularly disappointing was when he played an (acoustic I think) bass for one of his songs...I use the term 'play' very loosely, he was essentially playing one open string over and over again.
Faith No More - certainly converted me! (I've been wanting to use that pun for what feels like forever!) They put in an incredible performance. Mike Patton, the lead singer, injected such enthusiasm and energy into the set, you couldn't help but 'rock' along. I especially enjoyed the EastEnders tribute (very well received). It felt like this was exactly what we'd been waiting for all weekend, and I couldn't think of a better way for my festival to end.
Other than the music, there isn't really a huge range of things to do at Leeds. There were a few fairground rides and a Guitar Hero tent, but the main arena shuts sometime between 12am-3am and most people then must just make their way to the campsites. It has a certain corporate feel to it, and though I had a good weekend, I can't say that I'll be rushing back any time soon - unless it is to see my friends or a few bands that I really really like. However, now that Leeds Festival is out of the way, I don't really feel like I have anything left to look forward to. My summer is well and truly over.
Tuesday, 11 August 2009
So, other than that, I have been watching films. So here is my round up of the last few weeks' entertainment -
The Wicker Man: Weird, but entertaining. Make sure to watch the Scottish original. Funny 'sex' dance. Plot really keeps the intrigue going, and I loved the hare masks (though they were terrifying).
X-Men trilogy: Worthwhile for the story, but helps if you don't keep comparing it to the cartoons/comics (as I did). In any case, it doesn't match up to those. And obviously I am annoyed Storm does not have a major role in the films (though she's more prominent in the third one).
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: AMAZING. Best film I have seen in a long time. Just watch it. So many themes covered.
300: Only good for the special effects. But SFX do not make a film! Ridiculous 'baddie' in the form of a camp Persian with an unearthly deep voice.
He's Just Not That Into You: This is just not that good a film. In fact, it's awful. Its only 'saving grace' is Jennifer Aniston's character. The rest of the women are depicted as neurotic, slutty, or just plain pathetic. The guys are not very likable either.
Premonition: One of Sandra Bullock's less-known films, and I'm not surprised. Runs a bit like Memento, in that the order jumps around a bit. There are a couple of obvious plot-hole failures, but it's vaguely interesting 'cos you've no idea what's going on for the first half. Don't rent it, but it's watchable enough if it happens to be on the telly at some point.
Coco avant Chanel: Audrey Tautou puts in a spectacular performance, but the film lacks any real substance. It's got some charm to it though, perhaps that is just a natural consequence of it being French.
The Proposal: Liked the pairing of Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Some chucklesome scenes, but really is just-another-chick-flick. Hated the pretty cringe-worthy ending.
So those are my 60-second previews. Fairly accurate methinks!
Monday, 20 July 2009
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
1. What the fuck is the point of 'Nightwatch with Steve Scott'?! The only times I have ever watched this are when I have been too stoned to switch off the TV.
2. On a similar note, how is ITV still alive and kicking?!
3. Why do the Masterchef judges insist on shouting at the contestants and each other throughout the show?
4. Which idiot, or group of, decided that 'He's Just Not That Into You' was a film worth making? There are many bad films out there, but this will take a while to top.
5. Why is Gambit (and, to a lesser extent, Jubilee) not featured in the X-Men films (Wolverine Origins notwithstanding)?
6. Is swine flu really something to be concerned about, have the media just hyped it up too much, or is it some more elaborate form of propaganda designed to line the pockets of pharmaceutical CEOs? I honestly can't figure it out.
7. How will the necessary changes in social policy be made in order to realistically and effectively be able to help those in society who need it most? Too much pen-pushing goes on behind too many closed doors and too little gets done.
8. How battered do my converse have to be in order for me to accept that I have to invest in a new pair? This is an ongoing dilemma.
9. As is the question of will I ever be able to wear high heels comfortably? I used to think this came with age, but clearly not. The problem appears to lie in the fact that I think it insane to spend an evening drowning my feet in pain, and yet practising this inane act is the only way to overcome the issue.
10. What about the children? Will someone please think of the children?!
Hmm, I do appear to be quite angry tonight. Everything seems better after a night's sleep though. Fact!
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
On the other hand, my few days at Glastonbury were bloody brilliant! Working the Oxfam stewarding shifts was less work than I imagined, though it tended to get quite boring quite quickly; often there were too many people doing too few jobs, which just caused more frustration than necessary. Overall, however, I would highly recommend Oxfam stewarding as a means of getting into festivals. A few free meals, decent showers, safe campsite, what's not to love?
As for the Festival itself - well it just blew my mind! Hundreds of thousands of people and about a million things to do and see and notice, it leaves all the senses reeling. Glasto is about so much more than just the music, though the line ups were spectacular. I have to admit to feeling a certain fondness and, dare I say it, respect for Lily Allen who, for so long now, I was very much indifferent to. The girl really does know how to entertain her crowd, and she even had a subtle tribute to Michael Jackson in the form of a single white glove on her hand. I read in the Glastonbury Review that some of her set was mimed... that really did surprise and somewhat upset me, and I wouldn't know the truth of it really.
Other notable acts - Regina Spektor for starters, whose name I have heard bandied about in recent times, but never took a great deal of interest in. She came across as such a lovely creature of music and poetry, her lyrics really tugging at something beyond the mundane, material reality which has been enveloping me far too often lately.
Ray Davies - what a legend! Working his way through The Kinks' back catalogue in the intimcay of the acoustic tent, there was no other way to spend Friday night! (Apart from to go see Neil Young...) It was so packed that in the two hours I did not once manage to catch a glimpse of him! The crowd got restless at times, when he played his 'new' or 'solo' stuff, but we were won over only too quickly with the likes of Waterloo Sunset and Autumn Almanac.
I have never seen so many people in one space as the crowd that gathered for the demigod that is Bruce Springsteen. He played a set that lasted for over two and a half hours! Apparently Michael Evis had to pay a £3000 fine 'cos The Boss went ten minutes over the curfew. I must admit to only knowing about a dozen or so of his songs, but nevertheless his sheer energy and showmanship were enough to keep me entertained. I so would!
Another of my favourite middle-aged men put in an appearance - Mr Tom Jones! He sang all the classics, and we sang them with him! I think even people that 'don't really like' Tom Jones still like him somewhere in their hearts, you can't help but sway along to the likes of It's Not Unusual (let's face it, we all learnt those Carlton [Fresh Prince of Bel-Air] dance moves) and Delilah.
I can't really fail to make a mention of Sunday's headliners, Blur, who despite their prolonged absence from the music scene had a very tight set. I was never much into the whole Brit Pop scene (though I do have a soft spot for Oasis), but I surprised myself with how many Blur songs I already knew. The last decade has made an impression on the boys - Damon no longer embodies the youthful cheekiness I imagine to have propelled him to pin-up status - but they resurrected their sound with vigour and success. I did leave half-way through their performance though, and went to watch the personal (and perhaps slightly embarassing?) highlight of my weekend -
The Black Eyed Peas! I can not describe how amazing they were and how much energy they reflected back to their audience. They spent a good quarter of an hour or more performing a Michael Jackson tribute, full of mixes and remixes of MJ's tracks. (I can't really remember properly now, it has been a couple of weeks...) I don't know why people insist Fergie 'can't sing live', I thought she was great! I don't know if it was just the atmosphere or what, but I genuinely think their songs were made to be performed live. I implore you to go and watch them for yourselves, it will be worth it!
The best thing about Glastonbury is that while you're there, the rest of the outside world feels very remote. It's not that you stop caring, but there just isn't that need to worry about anything. You do what you feel like, there's no set agenda, and everybody else is just as easy-going as you feel. I would highly recommend the Glasto Festival experience to all who don't oppose the idea of camping. With the only potential issues being smelly toilets (though there are those few and far between that are remarkably clean) and mud (BRING WELLIES! I CAN NOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH!), there is no reason why this exeperience should pass anyone by.
Thursday, 11 June 2009
After a minute, I started thinking, 'hmmm, not being funny, but I haven't understood a word so far...'
And finally, one long, confused and embarrassing moment later, it dawned on me... it was all gonna be in Spanish!! The whole frickin' movie was dubbed!!
So no only was I disappointed, I was also forced to confront my own naive stupidity.
My goodness, there is most certainly a lot of that.
Bringing me nicely onto my next point -
Deep Blue Something sang a song, also named by the aforementioned title. Before I had discovered the wonders of www.letssingit.com I was under the impression that the chorus lyrics ran:
And I said what about Breakfast at Tiffany's
She said I think I remember the film and
There's tarragon, parsley, and all kinds of spices,
And I said well that's one thing we've got.
The mind boggles.
Tuesday, 9 June 2009
1. The Tayto crisp was the first crisp in the world to be seasoned (with something other than salt).
2. Peanut Butter does not actually contain butter.
3. Audrey Hepbrun died in 1993.
4. I will never be able to fully fathom why I was so obsessed with 5ive. I guess being 12 had something to do with it.
5. The Apprentice was originally aired in the US in 2004, with Donald Trump, and not in the UK with Alan Sugar (as I mistakenly assumed and incorrectly informed other people of).
6. Hare Krishnas, broadly speaking, have their origins in Hinduism.
7. Floyd Rose tremolos are more hassle than they're worth!!
8. The lethal dose of caffeine equates to drinking around 80-100 cups of coffee (depending on body mass) in a short space of time.
9. I will always suck at Mario Kart.
10. One will always have far too many staples than one could use in a lifetime.
Thursday, 4 June 2009
Anyway, just a brief rant for now, to remind myself I have this blog and to express my disdain at MPs' expenses - what a fucking joke! The government send out TV ads warning 'benefit thieves' that they're going to be caught - and hung, drawn and quartered presumably - for 'cash in hand' jobs, etc etc, when half the government is claiming for mortgages already paid back, carpet cleaning, and duck houses. And the ones under pressure are now 'stepping down due to family commitments'.
I'm fully aware that quite a few MPs have made quite justifiable claims, but then there are those who have tried to defend themselves by maintaining they were 'acting wholly within the rules'. It's just a case of one rule for them and a different one for everyone else. Don't get me wrong, I know every job (arguably) has its perks and I would quite happily walk away with a free guitar from work if I could. But I can't, and I don't, and even if I did, I certainly wouldn't walk away with £27k worth of musical equipment.
Anyway, I don't want to go on too much about it because I'm sure everyone has expressed an opinion on the topic, or at least knows someone who has.
I do hope everyone votes wisely today...(By which I do not mean 'punish the pigs by voting BNP' lol.) And if you don't want to vote - feel free to cast one on my behalf. For the Lib Dems perhaps. Viva Nick Clegg! (& Vince Cable!)
Saturday, 16 May 2009
I have to admit, I do take the Eurovision contest *somewhat* semi-seriously. Perhaps it is due to the small, still-surviving European part in me. I can't remember missing any of the contests in my living memory, I even remember watching one while I was still in Croatia, and it has got to the stage now where I can quite accurately predict how a country will distribute its top 3 points. That does look set to become slightly more challenging now, what with having a jury deciding 50% of the voting. Nevertheless, the good old Balkan countries still mainly stuck together. "We may have fought a bloody and useless war, but here's 12 points! Zivjeli!"
Denmark's entry, performed by Brinck, sounded like the poor-man's Danish version of Ronan Keating (though I guess that is hardly surprising given that Ronan wrote the song). That cracked me up good and proper! It was nice to see Britain finish at the top for a change though. I was looking through past performances, and it is only really since 1999 that the UK has been consistenly bad, with the exception of Jessica Garlick in 2002 - she got to 3rd place. But before that they have pretty much always been in the top 10 since 1957, bar the performances of1978 and 1987. So it can't be the case that the UK has always been 'hated by Europe'. Either they have been coming out with crap songs for a decade, or Tony Blair was good at losing allies. Incidentally, it was in 2003 that Britain got 'null points', the year that the war was declared on Iraq. Though that was the year that the female twin from Jemini sang the whole first verse out of tune... I'm sure that had more to do with it!
Anyway, I am going to cry myself to sleep now that I have 364 days to wait 'til Croatia, or any one of my other adoptive countries, have another shot at the Eurovision crown.
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
World cocaine market 'in retreat'
In some ways I guess it is quite reassuring to know that even the drugs market is suffering during this recession. Although that is not what the article explicitly says, I'm sure it could well be a contributing factor. Anyway, the best bit about this is that the agency which has come up with all these figures and facts is called the 'Serious Organised Crime Agency'... seriously?! It makes them sound like a bunch of mumbling men in suits, saying things like "We seriously must find a way to tackle that organised crime, what. Too much cocaine on our streets, what. It's just not serious. What."
Well, that is just the image conjured in my head. I'm sure the more 'serious' among you will think this a silly observation ;o)
One things that did shock me though, was the finding that 30% of seized cocaine was only 9% pure. "My goodness, what am I stuffing up my nose?!" says George Osborne. Of course, I'm sure someone with his status and connections would get nothing but the purest type of coke around, and then add it to his expenses list no doubt, perhaps under "stimulant for long working hours".
On a serious note, this highlights just how little cocaine users know about what their cocaine is mixed with. There is no real solution to this I suppose, and in a lot of ways it is a redundant consideration - if an individual is set on taking coke, they will do so without a great deal of thought regarding what else s/he is inadvertedly taking with it. But I guess such is the price one pays for freedom of choice.
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
Thursday, 30 April 2009
The main argument that justifies such a practice rests on the proposition that, by randomly distributing a good, everyone has an equal chance of obtaining it. It's a "fair method" of ensuring everyone can lay some claim to the good; you don't have to fulfil specific criteria in order to be considered for the process (apart from, obviously, there being an existing reason for you to want/need the good in question). Let's consider an example, that might elucidate this further.
Suppose the good in question is something indivisible, like a human organ - let's say, a liver. Since only one person can have the liver, there needs to be some method of selecting who will have the organ. Now, because there may be many people in need of a liver transplant, a proponent of the random selection process might say, in order to not discriminate against anyone and in order to give everyone a fair shot at this life-saving procedure, we should employ a lottery whereby a patient is randomly selected from all those that need a liver, and hence they are the ones that receive the good.
I find it really difficult to write about this method because there seem to me to be too many things to take into consideration, and also I think I expose myself to the risk of sounding elitist or 'like a right cow', for want of a better term.
But here are my problems with the method:
1) Does everyone really have an equal claim to the good? Suppose a third of the people on the liver transplant list are alcoholics. Do they really have an equal claim to the liver as does, say, a promising tennis star who happened to just get an infection?
Proponents of the theory suggest everyone ought to have an equal, or at least roughly equal, claim to the good in order for them to be considered by the lottery, but what does this mean? How do we judge what constitues an 'equal claim'? On what basis? Surely the whole point is just to give everyone an equal chance...
2) In employing the random selection procedure, are we just ridding ourselves of the moral responsibility of making ethical choices? We can't decide for ourselves how best to distribute the good, so we'll just leave it to chance...
On the other hand, perhaps random selection isn't all bad. Evolution operates on a random mutation 'policy', for want of a better word, so maybe we are just following in nature's footsteps.
Anyway, I am running out of interesting things to say on this topic. But basically, I can't make up my mind whether or not it is good or bad. I think in some cases it is necessary - until we have enough resources to go around I guess someone will always miss out on 'the good', and it is better that a few get it than that none get it. I wish I could just form a strong opinion on it though.
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Every day I get at least 25 emails cluttering up by Junk folder. Now, because I desperately need to feel in control of something in my life, I make it a point to empty my Junk folder almost as many times as I check my mail. I don't know how normal that is, I know some people leave 100s of emails in their inbox unread - I myself could never handle that, a messy inbox just sends all the wrong sorts of shivers down my spine.
Today I couldn't help but notice one quite alarming Spam Subject:
"Make it reach your knee!"
Disregarding the obvious fact that, being a female, I am not a target audience for this sort of thing (and yet I get such services offered to me on a daily basis), I do have to wonder - who on earth would want it reaching their knee?!
These spammers have clearly given their marketing no thought at all. Surely there would be a huge (excuse the pun) logistical problem if, in all its glory, it were to reach one's knee? You'd have to be pretty skilled at yoga to make such a vertical challenge work... And secondly, at the risk of sounding crude, you'd probably be wanting to shag an elephant if you genuinely wanted to be that length.
Alternatively, I may have been too caught up in my own innuendos to realise this was just trying to promote a hair growth product or something.
Monday, 27 April 2009
My housemate just texted me: "What are you doing for dinner tonight?"
I replied: "Sleeping? I would quite like sleep for breakfast, and perhaps lunch, tomorrow."
If that isn't the mark of comical genius, I don't know what is.
It's either that, or lack of sleep and an onset of hysteria.
Saturday, 25 April 2009
I don't know very much about techno music, I'm not even sure if Faithless would count as being part of that genre, but for the sake of argument, I shall assume that to be the case. The song has a lovely calming effect to it, with melancholy undertones, yet is not packed with sentimentality, and I think it's perfect for a bit of a chillout.
In other news, this PC is really taking the piss.
"Windows Explorer has encountered a problem and needs to close."
Yeah, I bet you have. OK, debug.
"DrDebugger has encountered a problem and needs to close."
End BitTorrent Client.
"You have chosen to end an unresponsive program..."
"You have chosen to end an unresponsive program..."
"You have chosen to end an unresponsive program..."
FUCK OFF AND DIE MICROSOFT, FUCK OFF AND DIE!
And please, for the love of God, take Dell with you!
Thursday, 23 April 2009
First of all, I have never written a Sociology essay in my life, and I will probably not write another one after this (unless I give in to the urge to work for www.academicresearchpapers.com or some such website which is continually advertising itself on GumTree), but that is altogether irrelevant.
No, the fascinating thing about this essay is that, actually, I really am writing about one of my strongest convictions! So far throughout my academic life both at school and at university I have maintained what I would deem as a healthy interest in most essay material. I engage with the topic, think about what's been said, form my opinion and write a couple of pages to demonstrate the above. It's relatively pain- and hassle- free (if you discount any all-nighters pulled to achieve this goal) but this time, I feel like a woman possessed!
"What is the value of science?" Max Weber, the 'father' of Sociology, asks. And then subsequently concludes that it is, in today's culture of "rationalization and intellectualization", meaningless. Pointless. Worthless.
Don't be alarmed, I won't copy + paste all the *ahem* 1800 words (out of 4000...) that I've been slaving over, but I will make a few general points.
1) Weber does not dismiss that science has instrumental value, and in any case an argument against such a view would be hard to come by. We see the effects of scientific advancement all around us, and while it is not my aim here to discuss whether or not science has improved our general conditions of life, suffice it to say that some things at least are easier to do - like vaccinate against a deadly disease like smallpox. (Courtesy of Robert Koch. Or Louis Pasteur, but let's go for Koch. If this is the £64k question and you lose, feel free to track me down and beat me.)
2) New scientific discoveries are constantly being made, and so few scientists' legacies live on - there is simply too much to investigate. (The more I know, the more I realise I don't know, but at least I know something, even if, like Socrates, "I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.") And even those things which survive to be passed down through countless decades of Nuffield textbooks are constantly, in one way or another, being questioned. Everyone always uses the example of Newton's laws, which did so well to describe gravitational attraction for hundreds of years until it was discovered that they did not hold for subatomic particles. The fact that the scientific process goes on indefinitely is just part of what science is about; for the scientist, it is all about the thrill of the chase!
3) At the heart of it, science answers the most fundamental question of all - "why?" Whatever way I look at it, all questions boil down to that, whether they are scientific or not. The fact that science deals with "mere" empirical reality is not (as Weber may have you believe) its downfall - that is simply what it investigates. No one would ask a detective to carry out a post mortem on their dead pet - that is just not what a detective does (unless he happens to look uncannily like Dick Van Dyke, in which case he can do pretty much anything). Science answers our "why?" questions with all it has at its disposal, and what it has at its disposal is physical reality. Science describes reality to us in such a way that we are actually able to comprehend it. Einstein once said, "The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible." I feel we are quite lucky to be living in it.
But despite all this, and in spite of my optimistic manner, there is still a line of thinking that says all human endeavour is futile. A mathematician friend of mine, commenting on this, said the other day, "You might as well kill yourself. I'm not saying that you should. Just that you might as well."* Perhaps Weber was thinking along such lines himself. In any case, it is up to each of us to decide whether or not human activity is futile. That is not a question science has the answer to. But it is more fun to think, or at least pretend, that we're here for a reason; then we can go about answering "Why?"
Monday, 20 April 2009
My sister and I have come round to the opinion that Dame Jo Frost (as she is known in the fantasy world in my head) marched up to the Channel 4 executives in her suit, with that charming London accent of hers, and said -
"I go' an idea for a show! I'm gonna go 'round to dysfunctional families and do the whole of Great Britain a favour by teachin' the useless parents how to control their disruptive, unruly, child-like monsters. It'll be super.
"Oh, and I'll need a black cab."
If you happen to be swayed by this post and do a google search on her, don't click on her homepage because it has a virus. I'm off to remove said malware from the PC.
Sunday, 19 April 2009
During the ad break of (Sunday's repeat of) Brtian's Got Talent, Eric Cantona came on to advertise the Renault Laguna. Here is a link if you've not caught this yet -
Cantona is no doubt one of the biggest names of 90s football, having spent the highlights of his career (arguably?) at Manchester United as well as playing for the French national side. But after his retirement, he mainly still stuck to what he knew, promoting Nike through various football adverts with other high-profile football stars.
Now, despite being an Arsenal supporter and therefore more than willing to undermine Man Utd's greatness whenever possible, I will grant that (as I'm sure most honest people will) Cantona was an exceptional player (and, again, am more than happy to admit that Man Utd has had its fair share of exceptional players). But I know nothing of the Eric that is within the persona of Cantona and, to be frankly honest, it is not something I have ever pondered over. And having seen this Renault car advert, I don't particularly have any further inclination to find out. Not that the advert is marketing Cantona himself, but it doesn't even fulfil its primary task, because I have no further inclination to buy that Renault car either! Granted, I don't have the funds to buy a car, and I can't even drive, but that Citroen Zara Picasso from a few years back did make me stop and think, "hmm, maybe one day I will want to purcahse a Citroen!" (The one with the machines that drew on the car, I can't find the link atm.)
Firstly, it is too long. A minute and a half!! Where Cantona just talks at us! AT us! I lost interest within the first 10 seconds! And 20 seconds later, when I glanced at it again, it was still on! Why?!
It's all fine and well to get 'celebrities' to endorse your products, but that can't be the be-all-and-end-all of the advertising stratergy. Cantona was there talking about a button that you can use with only one finger. Well, I can't think of many buttons I must punch in order to get the function started.
Don't get me wrong. This is not an attack on Eric, or Renault, or advert times, just a way of me expressing my opinion that that advert doesn't work.
Get Cantona to do some kick-ups in the back seat, or headers on the bonnet, and then I might be interested.
I do realise that so far this blog seems to consist of various rants about things I see on the telly. Bare with me, I'm firstly blogging about what I (think I) know. =)
Saturday, 18 April 2009
I am not sure that this priceplan is really worth the money now. When I first got it, it was £35/month, with unlimited free texts and 550 minutes, and I could add an Orange Magic Number every six months (free calls to Magic Number any time).
Well, about 30 months down the line and I have added 5 MN's, 3 of those being the people I generally speak to the most on the phone, and usually pay a little under £30/month. So I constantly have minutes in abundance which, if I'm honest with you, means I phone my family more lol.
On the other hand, 2-4-1 cinema on a Wednesday is great, as is the Pizza Express offer =) I have yet to go to Pizza Express though...
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
I will not make a point of blogging about my unhealthy Australian soap obsession, but this just has to be shared. I am unsure if it is as funny to everyone else as it is to those who regularly watch Neighbours, but should you care to indulge in a guilty pleasure of mine, follow the link below to the episode online and scroll to about 16:30 mins:
The last 5 minutes of this Neighbours episode are, unintentionally, perhaps the most hillarious in its history. I'll give a brief summary in case you are not up to speed with the story -
Zeke went missing during a school rafting trip. He was in a small rowing boat that got upturned in a strong current, and Libby blames herself for his "death" (it is unconfirmed that he's dead - in fact, he's blatantly alive, but anyway) because she let go of his hand when they were underwater. Anyway, when Rachel (Zeke's sister) finds out, she gets really mad and says Libby can't come to the memorial service. But as you can see, she turns up anyway.
And then proceeds to SING the stupid SONG written by TY, the guy who can only play 6 chords on the guitar and writes embarissingly bad lyrics (e.g. It's Christmas / For you and for me / It's Christmas / For all to see ... ) ... And there is never any mention of Libby singing anyway! But more so than that is just the sheer cheese of this one moment when the singing begins and you're thinking, "Oh, are they playing a backing track of when Rachel sang this song earlier in the series?" and then you see Libby, fiercly standing up as if to say, "Rachel, I'm gonna save you from your perceived embarassment of 'choking' at this memorial service, to make up for not saving your brother from his 'death'!"
In any other situation, it would be pure comedy genius.
Upon reflection, I am inclined to think that, actually, only followers of Neighbours will find this funny. But anyway, I (probably) won't be writing about Neighbours again. Until I believe it to have reached the greatness it once had. Tuesday's episode came one step closer to that dream.
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
What did I get? A plot that was as well hidden as an oasis in the desert. A couple of times you think you've stumbled on it, but it just ends up being a mirage and you quickly realise your thirst for it won't be relenquished any time soon.
So what happens? The film starts off with some opening text about the historical setting, and adds a note about new evidence having been found relating to King Arthur. I highly doubt any of the events portrayed are in any way meant to reflect the real facts! The first hour shows Arthur and his men coming to the end of 15 years of service for the Roman empire. Having been promised freedom for the loyalty they have shown, Arthur is told to enlist their help once more in saving a famous Roman family living north of Hadrian's Wall. Only, no one is too happy about this because, in the north, Saxons abide! And not only the Saxons, but Merlin's army of hippy, faced-painted warriors, none of whom are too fond of dear Arthur and his pals. Que the saving of villagers, a few scares in the forest, a "battle" on ice (really just some arrows being shot into the sky), and a couple of pious, religious figureheads who are quickly disposed of. Oh, and Kiera Knightly playing the role of Guinevere is found locked up in a dungeon by these pious monks for her pagan ways. She's saved and very quickly shows everyone just how good she is with those fingers of hers using a bow-and-arrow. Merlin makes a few appearances looking loopy and mystical, but his relationship with Arthur (and Guinevere) is never explained. Some more stuff happens, and eventually there is the inevitable "Final Battle" between Arthur and those pesky Saxons.
First of all, there is absolutely no clarity in this film, whatsoever! Why are there cinematic shots of the Round Table every so often? Why are these oddball Scots running round the forests? Why has a mole joined the Saxons, was he just frustrated with his people? Furthermore, there is no character development, whatsoever! The best person to watch on the screen was Mr Gruffudd, and even he was just pissed off most of the time for having to trek around snowy Scotland. Kiera did well to come across as a strong, fiesty woman, but there didn't seem to be a lot more to her character. And Clive Owen was a little wooden, but to be honest it's not like either of them had a lot to work with.
The production was clearly quite high, some nice shots of ice cracking and the battle scenes were mildly interesting, but if you want to watch a film with some heart, I say put on 300 instead.