Friday, October 31, 2003

I was following up my earlier comments about Lego, and I was simply unaware of the huge amount of Lego related stuff there is out there - just acres of it. While on one level finding all this unbelievably cool and having to fight the urge to download and install enormous great Lego CAD programs and libraries (not to mention the urge to go and buy vast trugs of the bricks) it also seems perhaps just a tad obsessional.

I mean if I wanted to create Milhouse or the Linux Penguin out of Lego I would like, you know, try and keep quiet about it. Not these guys tho. I mean if you have the time money and energy to create this, you abviously have a lot of talent and committment. Is all this really the best outlet?

Escher's "Balcony" in LEGO by A. Lipson 2002

Don't get me wrong here - I think what these guys are doing here is basically pretty cool - approximately 200 times more valuable than going to see any major sporting event as a pastime for example and about 1000 times better than sitting in the multiplex watching The Matric Reloaded / X-Men / A.N.Other lunkhead dumbass cash-extraction-maxed advertainment masquerading as a movie.

In fact anything like this is way cooler because it's an active rather than passive pastime, which is nearly always better because when it's done you have something to show for your activities, you most likely learnt something about the way the world works and you also now have memoreis of something real you did rather than something fake you watched (qv Bill Waterson). For some reason though at school this sort of creativity generally got you singled out for special punishment by one's peers - perhaps the urge to be creative is beaten out of us at school by the destructive shitheads that seem to thrive there (and indeed any non-democratic hierarchically arranged establishment).

So I guess my point is that if these people can achieve all this with lego what could they achieve with achitecture, painting, industrial design, sculpture, pottery, urban planning or any of a hundred other industrial and engineering artistic disciplines?

Check these out.

Reading all of the above I sound a bit like a summer camp motivational speaker, whereas the only artistic thing I can really do is throw pottery. Plus note I said 'nearly always'. If you're going to write 300 pages about the hot love affair betweem B'elana Torres and 7 of 9 then seriously - turn off your computer and go to a ball game. Cast off thy literary cloak and on with the antic pants.

I am this Pixie's song:-

Where is my Mind?
You're smart, shy, and often nonsensical. You have dreams of being famous, and you're quirky enough that you just might pull them off. Some would call you a genius, others would call you insane, but in reality you're pretty well-adjusted. Take a vacation once in a while- it'll help take your mind off of your troubles.
Which Pixies song are you?

Actually I've never quite got the Pixies. A bit like I never got The Cure. Or Echo & The Bunnymen. But still - that's a pretty good quiz result. Of course many people would have to say What? WHAT!!?? The Pixies are nothing like those other groups! DUDE!!!

The answer is that they are in my head. Why? Who knows. Other things I know aren't true but still believe are true:-

1) Guyana is in Africa.
2) If you leave your back door open hedgehogs will come in to hibernate.
3) Carole Bouquet is really a lovely person.
4) If the wings of a plane snap off they will fall down not up.
5) Ewan MacGregor will achieve his full potential.
6) Michael Portillo is alright really.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

My fish health thing didn’t quite work out as planned. No problem with the fish buying, and I totally impressed the fish lady in Waitrose by telling her I could gut my own Mackerel. Which I can.

So two Mackerel guttings and a tuna slicing later I’m cooking the sushi rice, and it doesn’t work properly AGAIN. What am I doing wrong? It’s starting to yank my chain. This batch wasn’t sticky enough and too sweet, tho I think that was cos I added too much sugar. It did however taste more like sushi rice . . . well a bit.

After that I kind of lost interest in the whole thing and instead of delicious and nutritious sushi what I actually had for my tea was 6 pieces of La Viche Qui Rit mainlined straight from the packet, half a bottle of white wine and 3 cans of Grolsch. YAY!

And - for reasons that escape me now - I’ve agreed go out for a meal in Walkern this evening with my colleagues so I won’t be eating it tonight either. Yet again the fridge is starting to fill up with elderly poisson - it’s just sheer waste and I’m annoyed with myself. Maybe if I make it into soup this evening when I get home (will be about 11.30 I guess) then I can have it for lunch tomorrow. Except I haven’t got anything to put in it except fish and garlic. Fine if I was a Roman but as it is . . .

You would think that what with Mad Cow and all no-one would really want to be selling products that advertise themselves with an insane looking vache:-

‘rit’-ing or otherwise.

But seriously – if anyone is concerned that their hamburgers are infected with BSE they can follow the simple steps described here to discover of there is any danger.

I went to Harlow this morning. In no way do I wish to denigrate Harlow, but . . . No - let me rephrase that. I do not wish to insult people who have had the bad luck to be born and brought up in Harlow or are forced through circumstances beyond their control to inhabit same, but, sadly, yes - I do wish to denigrate Harlow.

Maybe I just saw Harlow's bad side but it seems to consist of nothing but a series of soulless roundabouts, each and every one choked solid with white van man (and his van) endlesly swearing and revving his engine but going nowhere. And even when there is a gap no-one can get to it because there is a 30 ton artic trying to turn onto the A414 and completely blocking the ring-road turning and the M1 approach - oooh it make my blood boil etc etc.

Being the eco-pauper that I am I was not driving but travelling via Britain's beleagured rail network followed by a nice walk around the afore mentioned roundabouts.

If Pan walks for 1 hour 20 minutes around the outskirts of Harlow how many other pedestrians does he pass?

a) 4
b) 14
c) 40
d) None of the above.

Yes you're right - None of the above, which incidentally is exactly the same as the number of pedestrians I passed.

If however you chose to live in Harlow than frankly you have no-one to blame but yourslef.

Q. I wonder what a soulful roundabout would look like?

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

I've just eaten a praline chocolate bar called 'Liaison'. I'm thinking this is not product traditionally targeted at a male audience.

My knee is really hurting. Don't know what I've done to it but it's really aching.

Think I probably need some sort of shopping trip this evening - nothng exciting mind, just to bloody Waitrose. Will get some delicious and nutricious raw fish and chow down on that I think.

Mackerel is really good raw - have gone off Salmon a bit, and once you've had O-toro (fatty Tuna) the normal just doesn't cut the mustard anymore. My other favourite is Hamachi (Yellowtail) but I think I'd be lucky to find that in my local Supermarket.

Who could resist?

Tee-hee. I'm totally enjoying the current Conservative Leadership Aneurysm. They start voting on the future of IDS at 17.30. Watch this space . . .

But seriously - what exactly do they think they're doing. Tony has just fought the least popular war in history and is not considered to be making much headway at home either and still they can't take any advantage from this. If they elect Micheal Howard it'll be the funniest thing ever. Michael Howard, folks, was probably the most detested politician of recent years. When he was Home Secretary people loathed him - he was a hate figure for the whole country - right wing, slimy, arrogant and, of course, utterly and completely incapable of empathising with anyone who isn't a white male tory. Even his own deputy (Ann Widdecombe) famously said there was 'Something of the night' about him.

And this is the Tories top tip. Wow!

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Today is a high soda day - ie 2 x lucozade 1 x Ribena Sparkle, 1 x Lilt Light. Unsurprisingly I was out on the piss last night. Seem to have managed to get rid of a shed load of cash despite only going to the pub (The Dark One Which Is No Longer Dark aka The Horse & Groom). Used to go there in my BBC days - 10 years ago. Nothing much has changed except they now have a bar billiards table. Yay.

Mr C has a bar billiards table as well but his loving partner graciously makes him keep it in the garage wrapped in plastic. I don't know why she doesn't just have done and hack the thing into BBQ fodder.

As you can probably tell I have a BLISTERING hangover. But probably not as bad as MissJenJen's. At least I didn't lose my phone.

Monday, October 27, 2003

I hate Islington Council. The woman on the phone just told me that liability orders are printed up and sent out in advance of people being in default. What?? WHAT!!!!

The spirit of Kafka lives on - utter and total farce. I really wouldn't give a shit but every time this happens it costs me £85!!!

I hate them I hate them I hate them. ARGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH.

I've totally been watching the DVDs of Spaced - series I & II.

Somehow this completely passed me by first time around - just never got it. Or for that matter even heard of it . . . how? I don't know because it is just fantastic. You'd think someone would have mentioned it to me before now though wouldn't you? Clearly not.

So watch it if you get a chance. Or you could just buy the DVDs. Although again - not if you're American - there's that pesky regional coding again.

The DVD regional coding system was really set up to do 1 thing - protect 1st run US movies against being seen elsewhere on DVD while still in theatrical release. This was because the prints from the US release would then be shipped off abroad and the movie released later. These days of course most big movies are released simultaneously around the globe - the cost advantages of running a single global marketing campaign now easily outweigh the additional print costs.

All the DVD regional coding is doing now is restricting what Americans can watch from the rest of the world, especially when you consier that everyone else in the world who didn't live in Region 1 just bought a multi-region chipped DVD player anyway, and continued ordering Region 1 disks without interrupion. So there's a nice example of protectionism in action : legislation enacted to protect the Motion Picture Academy of America instead works in the exact opposite way.

Now Playing : Timo Maas, Loud.

Which Frankly is a bit boring.

Let's hear it for the humble prawn. Today I'm eating a rice and prawn salad which apart from suffering the usual canteen salad problems, including being improperly mixed together is a fine thing. And let's face it - it ain't the rice that's doing it, tho there is a rather pleasant spicy herb mix in there. So why do prawns rock?? OK:-

1) Tasty
2) Good for you. Prawns are low in fat & carbs for meat/fish products (ish).
3) Not expensive anymore. Or not particualarly so. OK so in the grand scheme of things chicken is cheaper but so what?
4) On the downside prawn farming has been linked to envoronmental damage in the developing world, but hey! what hasn't??

But basically prawns are best because they're modular. Like Lego. I'm not the first person to make the 'modular like lego=good' connection, I first read it in Microserfs - still an absolute favourite read.

What this means is that prawns are easy - you eat them in one bite, you grab a handful of them from the freezer and throw them in, you don't need a knife and fork to eat them.

So is there any downside to this wunderfud? Yes there is - I'm sick of them. Pretensious and overprivelleged I may be, but frankly I don't care. You can keep 'em. In fact if I see one more prawn jumallayah or whatnot . . .

Actually it's been while since I read Microserfs, but even then its New World Silicon Valley DotComs reinvent our understanding of human consciousness and interactivity seemed pretty extreme. Not to mention wildly naive. So why is it still a great read. It may be about computers and coders and the dotcom experience, but basically it's a love story, and those never go out of fashion. Read, learn, invardly digest, and then tell me I'm talking bollocks.

And on the Lego front they have started opening Lego only retail outlets. This is so cool. If only I could go and totally splurge . . . one day.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Hmm - Blog Trolls! I have never had any trouble with these (as if!) but it seems to be the topic du jour around certain circles at the moment - notably at The North Carolina Experiment and some asshole called Phil.

There are some very clear and easily found documents on this and also a few that are more developed but not as visible.

This is mostly aimed at newsgroups and usenet in particular but there's some really useful stuff here, and at the very least you feel that you know more about this particular habit than you did before.

I suppose the problem comes back to the usual ones of free speech and responsibility again. I guess on the internet the equation is a little bit skewed. We all know that your right to free speech (which btw is not a right but a hard won privilege and constantly under attack) does not include you to shout 'Fire' in a crowded cinema or deliberatly malign or impugn someone with known untruths. On the internet though people often do both of those. This happens because a) You can get away with it in way you can't in print media, tv or even in public speech, and b) On the Internet No-One Can Hear You Scream. Let's face it - a lot of the time when people are jerking off about their bug bears or flaming people that have irritated them, no-one is listening.

Ultimately tho the more people indulge in this kind of behaviour the more it devalues the experience of using the internet - there can be no authority without resonsibility. Many areas such as newsgroups, bulletin boards and blogs rely on the responsible participation of users to keep going. If flaming and trolling becomes a bigger problem these features will simply disappear to be replaced by secure access only systems.

What this means children is that the internet is self governing - not by some 'authority', but by the very people who use it - and if we can't be trusted to, by and large, play with our toys nicely they will be taken away because by abusing them we are really only attacking the people who create and maintain the internet - ourselves.

I don't think this is some sort of prognostical (is that a real word) posturing - I think it's pretty self evident - if there are too many people who's only reason for being there is to fuck about eventually the others will pick up their bat and ball and go home. This may in fact even be the intention of the trolls but sheesh - what a way to spend your free time.

OK - enough already - I don't mean by this that there isn't room for people who just want to post satirical and/or obnoxious comments - I think we can cope with that. I just hate to see vandals enter in and deliberately fuck things up that were operating just fine before - and for why?

Beats the hell out of me.

Now playing : Dido, White Flag

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Found these courtesy of greenfairy and bloggerheads. Over the years I have reserved a special place in my own personal 9 circles of hell for the Sun - one of Murdoch's so called newspapers, so it's always good to find people who feel likewise. What the Sun actually is is a propoganda sheet designed to promote News Corporation, its sister organizations and its friends via any means possible - which most commonly involves distracting people's attention with a concotion of xenophobia, class hatred, warmongering, bingo and tits. The fact that people actually pay to be indoctrinated with this hateful spew would make me laugh till I choked if I was Murdoch.

I don't know which is more depressing -

1) that there are so many 'journalists' willing, and indeed fighting tooth and nail, to so grotesquely exploit a section of society that enjoys less educational and financial resources than any other newspaper reading demographic, or
2) that even after all these years people are still happily buying this shit.

Walk down any street in Britain and you can find someone who will genuinely and quite innocently be able to say "Well they wouldn't print it if it wasn't true, would they?"

I watched One Life on the telly last night.

Documentaries about the problems caused in children by abuse, alcohism and drug addiction are not easy viewing material, and neither should they be, and this really brought home the reality without wallowing in the misery.

Very, very thought provoking stuff - made me feel slightly guilty for all the times I've cursed the little bastards that make my commute a pain in the arse.

One interesting aspect that occurred to me is that depite Bianca's [ . . . documentary subject . . . ] abandonement by her Father and in part by her Mother you don't get the feeling that either of these people failed to love their daughter, even though her Father was never actually seen.

Instead it seems that they were simply unable to cope with their own lives and their heroin addictions, and there was simply nothing left over that they could give to Bianca to protect her.

I guess most of us have a lot to be thankful for that we don't even normally think about.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Things that do hold your sole on but make you look like an idiot : selotape. Almost as stupid as the time I broke my glasses and went round the V&A with a lump of gaffer tape holding them together. As Mr G diplomatically if untruthfully said at the time "gee - you can hardly tell". The shame.

Have spent a bit of time working on some new graphics - this is the dust cover for my book. Which I haven't written yet. But HEY! I do have a funky cover so I'm at least 50% the way there.

Now playing : Karen Parry, I Think We're alone Now

So much better than the Tiffany version.

Should the sole of your trainer become detached Pritt Stick is so not any good for glueing it back on. You might wonder why I'm bothering - because it's come off now far from all my other shoes and/or shoe shops, and the way it keeps flapping on the floor is driving me CRAZY.

I’ve just realised I’ve been walking around all day with the most horrific bed hair. I hate that. So in the Spirit of Grumpy Old Men here’s some (but by no means all) of my favourite bug-bears.

Looking like an idiot and not knowing it
PNAC (Ughgghhh. Yuk!)
Ann Coulter
Rush Limbaugh
Mashed potato
ID Cards
Special Effects Mega Movies
Mel Gibson
Having to take a half step to stub out a gasper
The European CAP
Business Integration specialists
F Scott Fitzgerald
Farce as a medium
Mel Gibson
Sports bars
Rupert Murdoch
Celebrity culture
GM Crops
Mel Gibson

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

This is what The Hypochondriac's Test had to say about me.

You're a hypochondriac when it's convenient. When you don't want to admit you're lazy or drank too much the night before, you lie to yourself and pretend you've got the flu. Lying to yourself is never healthy, and lying to others so you can stay home and rest will bite you in the rear soon enough. Just tell the truth. And remember: Wine is only good in moderation.

If I was being strictly honest with myself I'd say that was spookily accurate but as they so wisely pointed out I'm not. Consequently I don't have to pay the slightest attention to their deluded ravings.

Uggh - there is mysterious liquid on my desk - I think one of my many cups of tea must have leaked. anyway all my cables have been merrily soaking in it which doesn't seem to have done them any harm as such but I can't imagine having done any good.

Having dinner at work this evening as pulling a late nighter. Have prawn noodle chile salad which I didn't eat from last night and left out unrefrigerated. Smells OK but if you don't hear from me for a few days you'll know why . . .

Might catch Phil at lasties as well later, though I believe Ed will be with him, which is something less of a draw. Ed is a friend of our's brother and a middle ranking civil servant, neither of which helps to mask the aura of depravity and seediness that enevlope him like a second skin. The bald head, grey complexion and permanent leer don't help much either.

The Hierarchy of Liquorice Allsorts :-

Monday, October 20, 2003

Weird I just won a free meal. Kinda. I don't usually win stuff, but then I don't usually compete either. I was just eating a bag of crisps ( 530 kCal/100g 49%c 34%f) and I thought - what's this weird blue packet in here for, oh I see there's some sort of promotion.

It would make more sense if snack manufacturers gave away aerobic mats and step machines as prizes, but I guess that would rather highlight the downside of the snack in the first place. God - I can be such a sanctimonius git sometimes, considering my tea last night consisted of picking bits of chicken and roast potatos off FM2's 'Roast in the Bag' chicken followed by an entire steamed treacle pudding.

Luckily there is a participating outlet mere yards from my front door.

When I was in Japan I ended up watching quite a few eps of a late night programme called something like Kitakura (I think). If anyone could fill me in on what the hell it was all about I'd be eternally greatful - something to do with a genie that lived in a locker in the basement of an office building as far as I could see.

Anyway all the lovelorn / overlooked for promotion employees seemed to keep asking her to interfere in their problems, with concomitant mayhem. Doh - everyone knows that - ask a Genie to interfere and you're really just opening a whole can of whup-ass.

What's it all about??

I will never understand the salad policy at work. There are basically 3 options :

1) Make your own and then have it as is
2) Make your own and have it fried
3) Select a ready made salad pot

OK seems pretty logical (if we ignore the concept of frying a salad) but it's not. All the make your own options are super dull : tomato, sweetcorn, green beans, bean sprouts, leaves, carrot. lettuce, cucumber, mushrooms, rice, that's it. Even dousing all the ingredients in balsamic dressing and then chile oil frying it ain't gonna help. However the ready made salads are generally just bizarre. In fact I'm eating one right now - chick peas, kidney beans, tomato, lettuce, olives, green beans, red onion & cubed extra mature cheddar cheese.

I have a feeling I've mithered on about this before but hey - so what.

I'm not getting a new PC now after all. But I want it. But I can't have it. But I want it. Bugger. I had to ask my Landlord to delay paying the rent cheque in till later to avoid it bouncing so I'm definitely not buying anything. I'll buy it next month when I'm rich again.

I had a pretty good weekend - interesting and revealing. But more on that later. And it was really cheap - total expenditure £19 - can't complain there.

Now playing : Libertine, Kate Ryan

Friday, October 17, 2003

I just had a bit of a blow out and bought a new computer from Dell. It was a totally spur of the moment thing and really not that wise as at the moment I'm brokety-broke-broke. Can't even pay the rent so what I'm doing bying new P4 mini towers is a mystery.

What I really want (at least in so far as my carbonated soft drink requirements go) is to be able to buy Vanilla Coke in a Classic Coke bottle but with a yellow/cream metal cap, like the colour of the plastic Vanilla Coke cap.

Maybe I should cancel the PC?? It's pretty cheap though and I need a new system since I fubared my laptop. Speaking of which I have decided to remove windows and install Linux on it which might make it sing and dance as it did in it's youth again.

Actually I love that laptop not because it's particularly high powered but because it's silver with a beautiful dove grey and cream keyboard. It's just a pity it's a hunk of junk and the people who made it , pico, went out of business. Or rather more accurately disappeared off the face of the planet.

Who are those people who ship their stuff out in the cow boxes. I like the boxes, but a bell is ringing somewhere about the company . . .

Feel just a tad queasy today – went out last night and had, um, about 6 pints, - 3 of Filthy Aingerbräu and 3 Stella. But what really did the damage was the glass of absinthe I drank when I got home. It’s 70% proof for fuck’s sake. Cue dozing off in front of the telly & waking up at 2.45am.

Not good. Feel a bit poy. But will have nice relaxing evening in this evening. Will make some fish and barley soup, get on with my laundry backlog and generally chill out. Don’t know if there’s anything on the telly – might go to Bollockbastard, except I have a feeling I owe them money. Plus of course I have no real desire to enter their doors for the following reasons:

1) It’s like, rilly expensive. IN my mind you shouldn’t be paying £3.50 to rent a flipping dvd. For 2 quid more you could have gone and seen it in the cinema.

2) And this is my main gripe, BB seems to be staffed entirely by the subnormal. Apologies to you if you work there, but ffs get with the program guys. I mean how long can it take to open a couple of boxes, stuff a tape /dvd in, run a bar code scanner over a card and take the money. Answer about 7 minutes if you work at BB. On Friday / Saturday night the queue goes all the way through the shop and starts coiling up round the horror section. And frankly I have better things to do with my time than stand in line with the mutant rejects of NE London renting ‘All Holes Filled!’/’Happy Scrappy Hero Pup.’

Earlier I went mad in the canteen. Not literally, I just suffered a momentary attack of consumer insanity. It’s because I have a hangover. Anyway today’s lunch :

1 x Prawn mayonnaise & lettuce on baguette
1 x Cream of tomato soup
1 x Apple
1 x Orange
1 x Peanutbatterypack
1 x Veryberry
1 x Rikarikas
1 x Vanilla Coke (the best bit)

I just love Vanilla Coke. I understand that it’s inherently wrong, in fact it’s essence of pure evil, but I just don’t care. I love it.

All the weird stiff comes from The Positive Food Company, who would appear to be attempting to do for carbo loaded sugary snacks what Ben & Jerry did for ice cream.

Goddam that Vanilla Coke is good. It tastes like, I dunno, like the future & nostalgia rolled into one. Vanilla coke tastes like the episode of Enterprise where T’Pol’s ‘ancestor’ was stranded on Earth – Carbon Creek.

I’m not actually a big fan of nostalgia – I think it’s overrated. What was so cool about the past anyway. OK you can look back to the early 80s and see ra-ra skirts, legwarmers and leotards – all good things but nobody had a mobile phone did they?

And as for those baby-boomers always blathering on about the 1950s. OK maybe America had trucks and miracle whip and drive-ins but from what I can see the 1950s in the UK looked, frankly, shit. A whole decade of pipe smoking, the 11+, short hair, the cold war, Meccano, waiting for the bus and Dan Dare. Jeepers!

Thursday, October 16, 2003

And yet more work related drivel.

Why is it that something so simple as sneaking into a vacated cube and substituting your shitty old-fashioned two button mouse for a spenny optical mouse with a wheel browser thingy before the new cube occupant arrives can induce feelings of near hysterical levity?

Today's obviously my day for anarchic rebellion. And I'm going home at 5.30 as well !!!!!

I just struck a blow for The Communist Revolution. I tweaked our intranet search algorhythms so that if you search for 'car scheme' it no longer directs you to the car ownership scheme but to the car sharing scheme.

I can see a thousand reps dialling in from the Howard Johnson, Casper to check if they can afford that Canyonero they’ve been yearning for, what with their ‘You SuperSized Your Sales!’ bonus and all, but instead all they’ll be able to do is select from a variety of employees offering 7am lifts in the Beckenham and Slough areas (non smokers only please).

Or they could look at the second result as well I suppose.

Hopefully the comments section will be a little bit more reliable now I have moved to Haloscan. It's not quite such configurable service, but it does actually work. Which is nice. At this rate I might even end up paying for something.

I always forget just how long it takes to change even fairly simple bits of code. There's always one last thing to do or check out and nothing's ever perfect. And that's without actually getting in a big tangle over something and losing track of where you are completely. I guess I'm just not a very competent coder. I have coded (sort of) for a living in the past, but I'm really not that hot at it. Just let me be with my taxonomies and my logic trees and I'm happy. The only thing really want to learn (and have somehow never got round to) is Perl.

Maltesers. Current advertising slogan : ‘The lighter way to enjoy chocolate’. Delicious they may be but with 484 kCal / 100g, 61% carb and 23% fat I really don’t think anyone has the right to be talking about lighter anything. OK – because of the ‘honeycombed middle that weighs so little’ they may be lower density that the average choccy but it all adds up in the end.

My couch has got a cream throw on it and I was sitting on it last night and there are loads of black dog hairs on it. This is because Pooh came round on Tuesday (not on her own – with Phil) and promptly curled up on the sofa and went to sleep. I didn’t mind – Pooh is beautiful and can be denied nothing. Also she has voodoo properties.

What I mean is that she is a terrific dog to take for a walk / the pub. She’s 2 years old but looks about 12 as she has a grey muzzle and very soulful eyes. She’s large and athletic looking with lots and lots of very white teeth but a very non-aggressive manner. As she is still young she has a lot of energy and gets into everything. And she has excellent taste and only makes friends with nice young ladies. I’ve met more strangers out with Pooh than in the rest of my life put together.

Having said all that it doesn’t help me with my problem – how to get the dog hairs off the couch.

My 'Delete' key has started working again without the intervention of humankind. Why does technology do that - it stops it starts. I haven't even re-booted over night.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

OMG - I just went to the loo and someone has had a sneaky ciggie in there. Well, big hoo! you might say, but here it is a big hoo. Smoking is strictly verbotten anywhere in the compound. I was almost worried that security would burst in and accuse me of sparking up the contraband tab and I'd deny it and then they'd make me take a drug test and of course I'd be swimming in nicotine (having smoked most of a pack with last nights 6 pints) and then I'd be for it . . .

When I worked at the BBC one of the 7 automatic dismissal offences was having sex on BBC premises. Here it'd be the post coital cig that would get you the boot and I'm not kidding.

In fact just about the only person here who even knows I smoke is my cube mate Lisa. If she's having a total hell day she'll sometimes rush out to the car park, jump in her Subaru and drive around the 'hood smoking out of the window. She is supposed to have given up.

And I've just eaten a 3 cheese sandwich. Sushi for lunch tomorrow - health.

And now I've broken the 'Delete' key on my keyboard.

In Japan you can get all the series of ER on DVD. No really. Unfortunately for all you Norts it's region 2 so won't work on your DVD players, but fine for us here in Europe. Oh yeah - and of course it's in Japanese.

I wonder if it inludes the English soundtrack as well? Will be back in Japan come April? as Phil is going back so might join him and will buy some then. Was going to this trip but was like ¥14,000 and I was feeling poor.

So I have 6 months to learn some Kanji etc. Need to make like -

the Mekon.

Today’s consumption so far:

1 x Coronation Chicken sandwich
1 x Hot chocolate
4 x Tea
1 x Mixed salad w/dressing
1 x Chocolate milk.
1 x Genoa cake

I suppose in all honesty I ought to include the 6 pints of lager I drank last night as well. Feel a bit shit today actually.

I'm having an English moment. Sitting with my feet up drinking a lovely cuppa and enjoying a nice slice of fruitcake whilst admiring the midden like state of my cube without the slightest urge to tidy it up.

In 5 minutes Mirna is going to ring me and we'll bore eachother senseless talking about taxonomy software apps but for now - it's a time out.

A woman down the corridor from me is wearing a badge saying "21 Today".

Shit. She's only 21 (or a really weird fantasist) and her cube is almost as high status as mine. What have I been doing all these years? How can she be here and only be 21 - didn't she go to college? Is she doing a sandwich course?

On the plus side however my cube has 3 pinboards and she only have 1. And I have a colour printer.

Is having these kind of thoughts

a) Sad
b) Pathetic
c) Pointless
d) All of the above

Hmmm – Phil says he can’t get excited about ID cards and flatmate 2 is all for them (tho fm 1 against). As Phil is an avowed member of the ‘Tony should seek psychiatric help before he kills any more people’ club it leads me to think that perhaps I’ve been a bit vociferous in my opposition. OK I still don’t want one, in fact I won’t have one and the expense is incredible but I guess some aspects would make it more reasonable than others:-

1) There is no requirement to carry the card with you.

a. Courtesy of recent home secretaries there are now a very large number of debatable reasons for nicking people. As the law currently stands if the police want to do you they’ll generally be able to find some reason for dragging you in, even if they can’t hold you. If it was an offence to not have your card this would pretty much give them carte blanche to haul people in as and when they liked.

b. “So what?” I hear you say, until I remind you that there is no right to silence in the UK, courtesy of ‘something of the night’ Michael Howard. Obviously they can’t make you talk but if you don’t answer their questions straight away the police can interpret this as a sign of guilt in court. And all this before you have any right to see a lawyer. Amazing huh. Plus of course the questions don’t have to apply to whatever you were originally arrested for.

Is anyone getting my drift here?

2) A sufficient level of technology is used to make counterfeiting impossible. Two aspects to this :-

a. Identity theft.

Where someone assumes another persons identity, then applies for and receives a legitimate card with the relevant photo, fingerprints, iris etc. I can’t see any really robust answer to this. I suppose cards should be sent registered through the post to addresses that match against the electoral roll.

Unfortunately the people for whom this will work are not really the people that DB wants to catch out. These people are often unregistered to vote and move house frequently and on an ad hoc basis. Let’s face it – the ID card is aimed at the underclass, consisting as it does almost entirely of dole cheats, illegal immigrants, dope dealers and petty thieves (© David Blunkett – My Life) and the very fact that they are the underclass makes ensuring everyone gets a card with their real name and identity on it pretty tricky.

Plus getting on the electoral roll requires the following :

i) An address.
ii) A form from the Post Office
iii) Filling the form in with your name and address.
iv) Ticking the box marked ‘All of the above is absolutely true, I am totally allowed to vote and am not lying, honest.’

b. Fake cards with fake names

A sufficiently robust technology will make this pretty tricky – inbuilt photos, iris scans & fingerprints + smart chips but it’ll never be perfect. I guess plod will have to continue to look for forgers. The best we can hope for is that the expense of obtaining a fake card outweigh the benefits of having it – at least in the short term. This may deter benefit cheats but won’t have any bearing on serious criminals evading identification.

3) I can’t see any kind of robustness without a centralised database of somekind – and where will that lead us – who knows????

Actually reading all of my posts on this subject I’m beginning to sound like some sort of fringe issue libertarian loony so this will be my absolute final word on the subject – at least until we know fir sure whether they’re going to press ahead with it or not. Phew!

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

I’m bored of politics now. The more you think about it the more frustrated you feel and there’s NOTIHNG you can do about it. And don’t give me all that crap about getting involved at a grass roots level yadda yadda yadda – I don’t want to have to become leader of the free world myself, I want the leaders we already have to show a modicum of common sense, and a touch of humility might not go amiss either.

Anyway, more importantly I am now officially fat. Looking at some pics from Japan I seem to resemble nothing more than the storm trooper out of Raiders of the Lost Arc that Indy has the bare knuckle fight with who then gets salamied by a propeller.

OK – that’s a bit of an exaggeration - I still have some hair. And no suntan. I was kinda hoping I was suffering from some sort of body dismorphia but alas no. Anyway I’ll be posting pics after they’ve been suitably 'edited' via the medium of Photoshop ;-)

I don’t seem to be able to develop any kind of eating disorder either – today’s intake so far :-

5 x Oatmeal biscuits (no butter)
1 x Sausage & egg sandwich
3 x Coffee
1 x Lucozade
2 x Hot chocolate (unusual for me but I have a cold so need cosseting)
1 x Mixed salad (w/light dressing (naughty!))
1 x Cup of Mushroom Soup
1 x Apple
1 x Small Cadburys Milk Chocolate
1 x Cadbury’s Caramel

I know food eating disorders are serious, anorexia, bulimia, upchucking a chocolate cake and throwing yourself down the stairs - but couldn't I just develop some sort of disgust at the amounts of crap I seem to be quite happy consuming? Or even a cut off valve that somewhere about the 3000 calorie mark blows a gasket and it's game over foodwise for the rest of the day.

Alas I know this is but wishful thinking - if you want the body beautiful then eat less and exercise, and only self discipline will get you there. It must be easier if you're rich tho - basically you have nothing to do all day and then some hyperactice chipmunk comes round and bullies you through your workout in the comfort of your own home gym.

And actually scientific studies tend to indicate that attractiveness has more to do with self image than actual appearance, ie if you think you're an bit of a minger people will treat you like one, no matter how georgeous you really are. And vice versa I suppose, though this certainly wasn't the case with an old acquaintance and sometime flat sharer of mine, Fatty Blayburn. He thought he was God's Gift but absolutley everyone else saw him for what he was : A pig in a suit.

I actually saw Fatty about 5 years whilst out drinking with Jones. We spotted him heading our way and hid behind a barrell to avoid being seen. It can't have actually worked but he didn't come over and speak to us. Perhaps his feelings were hurt by our attempts at camoflauge. Oh hold on - who cares. This is after all (and I really am not making this up) a man who referred to all women regardless of age as 'Fishface'. YUK.

Fatty Blayburn - for it is he!

As predicted the ID Card business is of course not dead. I do sometimes wonder where exactly the government gets its ideas from. This is clearly some sort of response to the whole illegal immigrants story (TM Mail/Express Made Up Stories Inc) but what are they hoping to achieve. The basic thrust of the idea is guaranteed to be opposed by a significant section of the very people who have been critical of the government, so you won’t satisfy them. Obviously a large proportion of the population will oppose it because DB wants it : therefore it must be both muddle headed and anti-democratic + of course the expense. I honestly don’t see why TB wants to get into bed with this idea. 1) Even if carried out properly the scheme is unlikely to resolve any of the issues it is being introduced to resolve.2) If it goes wrong the government will be facing a Poll Tax sized revolt and ultimately they will be defeated. If I was TB right now I would be quietly backing away from potential tar pits of opposition like this where in all reality votes can only be lost and concentrating on things that people actually want : Schools, Hospitals, Transport.

The ultimate problem is that this is active legislation. What this means is that people will have to actively do something as opposed to refrain from doing something in order to remain legal. It is easy enough to pass a law banning what 99.9% of the population don’t do but introducing a law that requires active participation from the whole population; a large part of which don’t want a card anyway . . . It doesn’t take a genius to work out that large sectors of the population simply won’t bother. I’m guessing that anything over about 10% civil disobedience on this will bring the whole thing to a shuddering grinding halt.

So to sum up, Tony, Introducing the ID card for your chum DB will result in :-

1) No reduction in crime, benefit fraud, illegal entry or terrorism
2) An increase in Police / Public conflict and a further entrenchment of the public’s refusal to co-operate with plod.
3) Ultimate failure due to non-compliance.
4) £3bn in new taxation without good purpose
5) Making a whole new section of the population hate you.
6) Defeat, humiliation and egg-on-face all round for you and your little chums.

In fact reading the above makes very depressing reading. The idea is clearly insane therefore we’re doomed – they’ll definitely introduce.

Perhaps we should think of this as a watershed. Just as the pigs became the capitalists in Animal Farm, TB & Chums have slowly become more and more to resemble the Tories they replaced, maybe not in legislation, but in arrogance, hypocrisy and dogmatic conviction in the face of all common sense. If DB & Tony won’t back down on this we know there’s no turning back – the only solution will be voting them out.

On the other hand wouldn’t particularly mind having one if I knew that the government and plod could be trusted not to abuse the increased authority this gave them. Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha HA HA HA HAHA HA . . . ip

Sorry – just wiping a tear from my eye.

Monday, October 13, 2003

I seem to be developing some sort of sore throat and/or uncontrollable sneezing. Hmmm - Autumn time, just returned from Far East. Can anyone say SARS ??

Speaking of hypochondria Phil recently asked his doctor if there was some sort of battery of tests he could take to see if he was actually dying of anything. Apparently the doc was not amused and instead of complimenting him on his advanced approach to preventative medicine just took his blood pressure and told him to bugger off. Still that's the NHS for you - fine if there actually is something wrong with you but somewhat lacking on the whole bedside manner and hand holding front.

I guess that costs extra. And speaking of extra it was a delight to return to Blighty to find David Blunkett being (maybe) told where to stick his dumbass identity card scheme.

Of course it's not over yet and the poster boy for take away my cane and kick me down a flight of stairs is certainly unafraid of public disdain. I think this is why people are starting to loath the Blair government as much as they loathed the Tories. Ideological madness allegedly mandated by it's having been in the manifesto is displacing common sense.

Look at the identity cards. It has been fairly comprehensively shown that they will not increase detection rates for criminals, benefit cheats or terroroists. They will however cost £3bn and undoubtedly involve the government in an horrific and drawn out battle with a cross part group of Britains great and good plus most of the press. So why push ahead? 1) DB wants it. 2) Plod wants it so they can arrest people for not having the correct paperwork about their person.

This is why we are starting to hate Blair so much. Moral argument says it's a bad idea, cost says it's a bad idea, functionality says it's a bad idea and political practicality says it's a bad idea. So why have it? Because they have said so and must never ever be seen to change direction. Result : we end up with an expensive piece of shit legislation that everyone hates and whose only function is to allow further police and state invasion of the individual realm.

But maybe it won't happen.

And on the mandate of the manifesto here's a simple point that politicians seem incapable of grasping. Parties are elected on a raft of policies and for a whole bunch of other reasons beside (ie opposition are the living dead). Just because it was in the manifesto doesn't mean anyone in the country wants you to actually do it, or indeed considers it to be anything other than the rumblings of some deranged sub-committee that will be properly filed in the round file when the time comes.

Actually no-one ever reads manifestos anyway so arguing that it was in there so we must do it is a bit like arguing that it's in the small print so actually, yes, we can repossess your transplanted kidney.

Back to work with avengance. Been ploughing my way through 1001 e-mails o'shite. Dullness pesonified. Can't get images of Shibuya at night out of my head - will get some pickies up as soon as pos, but promise not to bang on like a terrific bore. I always find other people's travelogues ( "and this is where we found the most amazing onion rings and Judy had her purse stolen" ) a bit tedious to be frank so I won't reproduce - just a few choice comments, the most petinent one being : Japan - it's a blast! So when I can be arsed to get the pics sorted out I will stick a few up and anotate.

Things don't seem to have changed much in cube land while I've been away - same old same old. I celebrated my return with a quick blow for anarchy by not stirring the soup cannister before pouring myself a cup. In this way I get a cup of soup for lunch instead of a cup of carrot and courgette chunks.

In the spirit of organisation that has gripped me since my return I have started the long overdue laundry tidy and finally got my palm pilot sorted out as well - yay!

Well that totally worked didn't it. Obviously though I thought I had got to grips with the Kanji keyboard I was sorely mistaken ;-).

Anyway I wasn't saying anyhting important - just that I was in the lobby of the New City Hotel, Shinjuku, Tokyo and that Japan had permanently warped my fragile little mind.

More later - need to gather my thoughts.

Thursday, October 09, 2003



Wednesday, October 01, 2003

One thing, in fact the only real thing, that is slightly freaking me about this Japanese trip is the whole bath rigmarole. I’m simply afraid that I’m going to get it wrong and make a complete tit of myself and embarrass and/or disgust (oh God) all the other bathers. I mean look at it like this :

Problems :-

Nudity / Non Nudity
Mixed / Single
Totally incomprehensible language.
Can’t bear overly hot baths

Oh and did I mention the Nudity / Non Nudity thing? I’ve had dreams that were less threatening than this. And what if my hygiene standards are judged insufficient? I mean this is a culture that has raised going for a bath to the status of unique artform!

OK - the comments thing is not quite running perfectly yet - just need to sort out a new template to get it all looking pukka. Unfortunately I ain't gonna have time to do this b4 going away . . . but I guess the world will still turn on its axis anyway.