## Sunday, 11 December 2011

### Doop-Dee-Doop-Dee-Doo

Aaaaaaaaand I'm back. A lot has happened since the last time I wrote a post on this blasted thing I call a blog. I got a job. I moved to Cambridge. Wait actually... that's it. Because of that last point I have a bicycle now! 'ark at me - saving the planet with my legs and a couple of wheels. Although I'm not cycling to work for any political or moral reason - it's cheaper than the bus and a heck of a lot faster than walking. Another change worth mentioning is that I bought a second-hand laptop, on which I am typing this message. Core 2 Duo, 3GB RAM and CentOS. It was a steal as well (as in it was very reasonably priced and quite possibly stolen).

So: this job of mine. I am an IT consultant / Linux Sysadmin for ARM (those of the 95% market share on smart phone microchip design). It's a pretty big deal and now I have to learn the ropes and get up to speed as quickly as possible. To that end, on the advice of a co-worker, I bought an RHCE study guide, so I can start thinking about taking the RHCE exam and get myself a well-recognised industry qualification. But that is quite boring for most people to read about so maybe some other things that have been playing on my mind.

I encountered a view a while ago that I had never heard before. There was a discussion on abortion and I was surprised to hear two rational, intelligent people saying that they disagreed with it (not in all cases, such as rape or incest - only the truly mad believe that). This surprised me but I was more surprised to their reason why. I had heard people argue that it was "murder" but they assured me this was not a concern of theirs. Their position was that if you have sex you should be ready for the responsibility of a baby - and if you get pregnant your "punishment" is to give birth and raise the child. I'm not saying that is a plainly wrong belief (although it is), but I had never heard that position before. It is something I must consider in future discussions.

I bought a Beach Boys compilation the other day. There is something quite funny about a group who's sexiest aspiration with a woman is "to meet her parents" but something charming and lovely about that. I suppose that was back in the day that pop groups had to appeal to young girls and their parents. I wonder if pop groups like that exist any more but they do, in a sense. The difference is that the Beach Boys were "proper" musicians where what we see today are musicians forged in record company pop factories. But that is probably just my inner moany old man speaking.

## Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The key to an interesting blog are twofold: quality of content and frequency of updates. I am sorely lacking in both departments.

These are two anecdotes I recalled recently. I hope they will suffice. They're both about shitting in public.

First, a few thoughts. I am not one of those people who refuses to defecate in a public toilet. If I need to drop a stool, I'll drop one. I don't care where I am. Okay maybe that is not 100% correct - I would not go to the toilet in the frozen aisle of my local Asda, or off the side of a fishing boat but generally speaking most public toilets will suffice. I don't like toilets on trains or planes because they are too cramped, and generally speaking there is one door between you and everyone else you need to share the rest of your journey with. I don't want the woman sitting next to me on the train to hear my turds splash into bowl. In summary, I have no problem with shitting in public toilets.

"Having to lay a log in a lavatory I have never seen before? This is a nightmare!" "No, no it isn't."

One day, many moons ago, I was in a public toilet, sitting in a cubicle. I feel I don't need to describe exactly what I was doing - and if you feel I should then maybe you should re-read the above paragraph. There. Got it? I was having a dump. As I'm sitting there, I hear the door open and two people run in. I hear them laughing and shouting to each other, and it is clear that they are quite young children. The noise subsides and I can concentrate on the business to hand (so to speak). Then I hear something. Something strange. Something... slightly worrying.

"Tee hee hee!"

I'll be honest - it made me somewhat curious and slightly troubled.

And then I hear it again.

"Tee hee hee!"

By now I am starting to become more than slightly worried. And then I heard it.

"Tee hee hee! I can see your bum-bum!"

My face went exactly. Like. This.

By this point I was, naturally pretty freaked out. But it continued:

"Tee hee hee! I can see your bum-bum!"

By this point I was... shall we say "indignant". And, at the very least, furious.

This perverted child is going DOWN. Okay maybe not Malcolm-X-fighting-black-oppression levels of indignation and fury but, you know. Pretty miffed.

I pull my trousers up as quickly as I possibly can and practically kick the cubicle door open. Someone is going to pay. That was an obvious exaggeration - I couldn't kick down the door to a doll's house - but you get the idea. I survey the restroom with anger rushing through my veins and my brain already planning a suitably bile-filled verbal tirade. And then I see it. A kid, maybe seven years old, at the urinal pointing at his younger brother, also at the urinal, who has his trousers and pants around his ankles and his shirt lifted above his stomach.

Oh thank God. It wasn't voyeurism, just strange urinal technique.

Of course it wasn't some kid spying on me. He was laughing at his brother. With a sigh of relief that should have come immediately after me pushing out that food baby, rather than outside the cubicle looking at some children having a piss, I washed my hands and left.

Another time I was in a cubicle, this time have a wee. It was one of those filthy public toilets that appear to never be cleaned, with piss all over the floor and graffiti all over the cubicle walls. Out of curiosity I started to read the graffiti. Most of it was the usual moronic rubbish, but one piece of scrawled text in particular caught my eye:

"Be in here at 7pm on a Saturday to get fucked hard by a big hairy bear cock."

I knew for sure it was a Saturday. I nervously raise my watch to my eye-line to check the time. The dial reads... 19:00.

Once again, my face went exactly. Like. This.

Suffice to say I got out of there pretty quickly, pushing past a tall, bearded fellow in biker gear as I made my exit.

So there we have it, my adventures with public toilets. Coincidentally the latter half of the previous sentence will be the title of my autobiography. Working title.

## Monday, 20 June 2011

### Facial Kerplunk

So I thought I might as well post another part from my "diary of crazy". This one isn't at all political, but is still something I am passionate about.

"People Who Shouldn't Be Allowed to Enjoy Music Concerts

• • Anyone who throws drinks around.

• • Anyone who takes their top off.

• • Anyone who arrives in any kind of costume.

• • Anyone who brings props.

• • Anyone who crowd surfs.

• • Anyone who starts a mosh pit and then gets offended when people push back.

• • Anyone who starts a mosh pit just so they can have a fight.

• • Anyone who starts a mosh pit.

• • Anyone who heckles the performers.

• • Anyone who demands huge amount of space for their dancing/dreadlocks (usually its both).

• • Anyone who bring their kids (except festivals) or their parents (ever).

• • Anyone who the surrounding people decides are too old/hairy/much of a dick head.

• • Anyone who is too drunk to stand up.

• • Anyone who is too drunk to actually enjoy the concert.

• • Anyone who is too drunk.

• • Anyone who takes about six full pints of beer right to the front of the crowd just before the main act comes on stage - you will be jostled.

• • Any couples who decide to have a sloppy snog-a-thon right in the middle of the crowd. Your love is great and all but it is currently dribbling down my shoulder.

• • All those people who go without saying.
• "

The piece ends abruptly with the following quote on the next page:

"I'm not trying to ban fun. Just tightly regulate it."

Well it made me laugh at any rate.

## Saturday, 11 June 2011

### Old Political Ramblings #1

I recently found a bunch of writing that I did whilst on my placement year. A lot of it was written on the train, it is mostly incoherent and unfocused. It is also very socialist. All of them were written when the recession was at its hardest, when bankers' bonuses were a top news story. Still, I have decided to type up some of the writings, because it is the kind of nonsensical pap you people are used to hearing from me.

The first is about banks, naturally.

"I am convinced nobody knows everything about economy and finance. How could they? There are too many variables. Representing economy and finance in terms of figures and graphs is like trying to represent the universe in felt.

It is ridiculously complicated to even open a bank account: which kind of account, which bank, what kind of card, etc. And there is no transparency at all. You have no idea where your money actually is. Can't someone make banking open source?

Surely all most people use bank accounts for are convenient transfer of funds, cash withdrawals and somewhere secure to store their money. But we appear to be paying a very high price for convenience."

This is a piece about religion. It probably reads a little more controversially than I intended.

"I do not like to believe religion deliberately oppresses its followers. Religion was a mechanism used in the past to assert authority or enforce morality. Now we have government, education, prisons, courts, etc. Religion no longer seems relevant. But alas, it prevails. As does its nonsensical beliefs. Don't eat pork made sense when food could not be safely stored and cooked, and medicine was in its infancy. This is no longer an issue.

However, as it should be obvious to anyone, that is the most minor of issues. Abortion is the issue that most accurately displays the disparity between religious edicts and modern wisdom. The woman's right to choose to have an abortion is fundamental for any civilised society. And yet religion calls it murder. This kind of backwards-thinking can only hold a progressive society back."

Those are the two least crazy-sounding one's. I will post more when I get the chance.

## Sunday, 22 May 2011

### "Close Enough"

I don't know whether it is the rapture-that-didn't-happen, or something else, but I have recently been thinking about something that happened to me a while ago.

So one day I was at home, no doubt doing something incredibly important and time consuming, something during which I could not be interrupted - for fear of my concentration being broken and all of my effort would be wasted. Whatever it was, it must have been urgent, and time consuming. Probably.

Just imagine those are a pair of male hands. And the hand cream is completely organic - and yet somehow man-made.

Unfortunately there was an interruption to my incredibly significant work - the doorbell. As I am sure you can appreciate by now - I did not want to be disturbed. However I had no choice but to run downstairs and answer the door. There I was greeted by two middle-aged women, one standing about a foot in front of the other. The woman closest to me then asked me the question that they had clearly said many times before: "have you discovered the glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ?"

"Well this may take a while."

At first I was tempted to say: "who?" Why is it that Christians seem to recruit people by asking about Jesus, as if there are some people in the Western world who legitimately would have no idea what a Jesus is? Don't get me wrong - I am not bashing Christianity. I have met Christians whose lives are better because of their religion. But the problem is that, when they come door-to-door, they do tend to... go on a bit. I stood there, trying to think of the quickest way to get them off the doorstep. You see if you just say you're an atheist they take that as an opportunity to convert you. It gives them a target to hit. I was racking by brain, desperately trying to come up with something when I had... an epiphany of sorts. It was so simple. Why had I never thought of it before? A pleasant smile spread across my face as I said the lie that would ensure they would quickly leave:

"I am Jewish."

It really would have helped if I had looked like this at the time.

I really thought this was a stroke of genius on my part. Jewish people do not embrace Jesus as the messiah - surely these Jehovah's Witnesses could not believe that they could reverse the beliefs handed down over thousands of years? Surely nobody is that insensitive? That misguided? The reactions to my statement from the two women were interesting. The woman furthest from me looked at me as if I had just said: "sorry, would you mind coming back a bit later? I'm feasting on the innards of infants at the moment."

Maybe I shouldn't have answered the door like this.

The woman closest to me took longer to formulate a response. She seemed to be turning things over in her mind, trying to decide if she should persist or just walk away. "Oh. Erm. Well... I suppose there are some similarities..." What?! I could not believe she was seriously going to try to convince me a (for all she knew) devoutly Jewish young man to get off the Jew train and ride on the Jesus Express. It is actually deeply offensive. Perhaps not as offensive as pretending to be Jewish just so you don't have to talk to Jehovah's Witnesses, but still pretty bad. I was about now that I realised how misguided my lie may have been. Not only am I not Jewish, I know very little about the religion - despite what I had seen on TV and in films. I was stuck. She then started to outline the Christian beliefs to me, and my sense of politeness forced me to just nod along and pretend to be interested. "You see, we believe that Jesus is the son of God and died for our sins." "Oh, sure."

"I'm sorry, could you please go over who exactly killed Christ? Thanks."

After a while she stopped and said to me: "You know it is so great to see a young man with faith. Can I ask you what you call God?" I still don't know what word Jewish people use for God. I had to cover. "Oh, I just say 'God', to make things easier for my non-Jewish friends." "Do you usually where a skull cap? It's just I notice you aren't wearing one now." "Err, well mine's in the wash. But I always where it to temple. I don't wear it all the time. It keeps slipping off." You might be able to tell by this time I was getting a bit desperate.

I guess I must have lost the clip? Or something like that.

"So are your whole family Jewish?" Now I started to think if they talk to anyone else in my family, and they figure out that they aren't Jewish they will know I was lying. "Um, no. It's just me. My family are not practising. Just me. We're all Jewish but I am the only one who visits the synagogue." "Which synagogue do you go to?" My answer requires a little explaining. For reasons too convoluted to get into, a friend of mine had pretended to be Jewish (so there is something of a track record when it comes to falsifying faith) and had also been asked to which he went synagogue. He just replied "the one in Romford" - having no idea if there was one. Apparently there is, not that I have ever seen it. So I just copied his answer. "Oh yes, I know the one." Good job she did, because I didn't. "There's a Jewish festival coming up soon, isn't there?" "Oh, yeah I think you're right. I'd completely forgotten about that, I had better start getting ready for... it." As unconvincing as my blagging seems now apparently she completely bought it.

I could make a joke about how Christians are quite easy to fool but that would just be mean.

Finally she gave me some pamphlets and left. Now let's follow this thought process through. Either she really did respect the fact that I was(n't) Jewish, and decided to have an earnest discussion about the differences about our faiths - or she thought that by explaining how great Christianity is she might be able to convert a young Jewish man to Christianity. Does that seem likely? I mean really, how many Jewish people are going to go back on everything they believe and suddenly say "actually, yeah, Christ is the messiah"?

To be fair that group is in the US. The parameters for 'crazy' are way more strictly defined over there.

So that's what happened to me. In the end it could have gone a lot worse - or possibly better - if I had gone with my original idea. To tell them I was a Satanist.

## Tuesday, 12 April 2011

### Only Short

This won't be a long image-heavy post. I just thought I could write a little about what's been going on.

I have finally updated the boxes on the left - finally you can judge me again! There is a disappointingly small amount of albums I have bought - considering how many I want I'll have to wait until I have some money before I can do that. My recent posts have included images. I like blog posts with images. It breaks up the text, making it easier to read and helps the posts flow. I am still getting to grips with how I incorporate them into the content. It will probably be a long time before you see me attempt to put some of my own work in there - I am a terrible artist and not the "bad-in-a-funny-way" Allie Brosh can get away with. Just plain awful. Bear with me while I try to find the best way to combine images and text into a post that is somehow good to read.

You will also notice some AdSense stuff around the page - just ignore it for now - I am trying to get some stats about how many people read the blog, how many of those would click on the adverts. I am not the kind of person who actually clicks on the ads on webpages, so I would be interested to see who is.

Even though it has been requested that I don't review entertainment - I feel I have to comment on a few films I have seen. First of all: 12 Angry Men has just become one of my favourite films. The dialogue is engrossing, the characters are played to perfection and the plot plays out in such a well balanced way - you never feel patronised. Overall just a very, very good film which I would urge anyone to see. Apparently there are remakes of this film, I am talking about the 1957 original.

Also I am apparently surrounded by people who do not like Inception. So far their reasons have been flimsy to baseless. To me it is a great film, intelligent, moving and action-packed - I really couldn't see how anyone could dislike it. One reason was "it seemed a bit full of itself". To me it didn't seem at all pretentious. I can withstand a certain amount of pretension in a film if it is a good feature, but Inception never struck me as pretentious in the slightest. Another reason I have heard is "basically, the film is all about a man getting over the death of his wife. That is a girls' film." (I should point out that the person who said this is a male.) There is so much I don't understand about that statement it is breathtaking. First the is the "girls' film" bit - I think something is either good or bad, despite what demographic it is aimed at. Inception doesn't appear to be marketed to any one demographic - it's just a great film. There appears to be an assumption that a film's merit can be judged solely from the groups it will most appeal to. There also appears to be an assumption that any film that deals with feeling of love and loss is somehow a bad film. I really don't understand the argument, but I think that is just because it is a faulty argument rather than a review.

I also recently watched the film "Reel Injun", which is a history and analysis of portrayals of Native Americans in US cinema. It is an interesting piece, which has given me a few films to watch - such as "The Fast Runner", which can be obtained on a "pay-what-you-want" basis from the studio. How cool is that? I have also recently seen "Coraline". Coraline is a strange watch, it seems like a family-friendly film but it really is very creepy and scary (for an animated feature, anyway). You wouldn't want to show young children the images of people with buttons for eyes and a story about an evil being abducting a child and her parents. That said, a thoroughly enjoyable film.

At some point I must watch Kes - it is on the BFI's top 10 British films list - as it is widely acclaimed and appeals to me hugely from the synopsis. Yet more ways in which I can procrastinate before the big assignment hand-in on Friday. Sigh.

This short post has ended up being rather long, apologies. Maybe I'll post something halfway-decent soon. Or ever. Bye.

## Saturday, 9 April 2011

### Whippersnappers

Time for another "curmudgeonly old man" post. I know you all love them. I get to vent my anger about something new and foreign to me and you get to enjoy my flowing, but vitriolic prose. It's win-win. So here we go: is it me or is pop music getting worse?

Pictured: the good old days.

I know the music industry is thriving (despite what the mainstream press may say). We are living in a music revolution, with more bands, more labels and more access to great music. I am slanted towards alternative and indie music, which has changed dramatically in my lifetime, but mainstream pop has only seen some small changes. It seems like only a little while ago people were talking about the "democratization" of music, how anyone could record a song and put it up on MySpace, for millions of potential fans to hear. Record companies could become irrelevant, due to digital distribution and low-cost, high-quality home recording equipment and software. That dream never really fully came to fruition, instead we have seen the inevitable march of music, it's evolution and amalgamation of styles. Sometimes this can be great. Sometimes it can be a monstrosity.

"Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I present to you Exhibit A. Exhibit A please stop grinding against the defence solicitor."

Over time new music genres emerge. These genres are then blended with other genres, creating new genres and new music. This can create some great music, because it means that songs and artists aren't "tied down" by the rules or expectations of one genre of music. Sometimes, however, a more cynical, analytical method can be used. By researching the most popular songs of the time, and identifying common elements, it is possible to extract the information necessary to create a song that, mathematically, has a high probability of success. I think science and maths is great, but to see it used for such a capitalist endeavour leaves me cold. There are elements we can see in today's charts that are common to all the big songs. "Big Euro synths" are popular, as are having a rapper featured on the track. I wouldn't say auto-tune is a part of this, quite literally, formulaic approach - it is just cheaper to record the vocals in a couple of takes and apply auto-tune than record 30 takes to get it perfect, editing them all together. I don't think I am some kind of conspiracy theorist: listen to the Top 40 and tell me it isn't all largely similar.

Okay maybe not 'largely similar'. 'Carbon copies of generic pop mulch' is more eloquent.

Something you may have noticed is that lyrics are quickly becoming much simpler. There is a swerve towards the sound of the lyrics being more important than their meaning. They still pretty much make sense, you won't find any esoteric, abstract word-poetry in a Black Eyed Peas song - but increased use of repetition and general move towards lyrics that, in some cases, a 13-year-old could write is particularly disturbing. You've probably seen the Rebecca Black video. Obviously it is awful, but I would ask if - aside from the glossier production and higher-budget music video - there is any real difference between "Friday" and "I Gotta Feeling"? Both exhibit lazy song writing and both are popular - people chose to view Rebecca Black's song as bad because it didn't quite tick all of the boxes of a modern pop song. The lyrics, perhaps, were too simple. But Black Eyed Peas resort to listing the days of the week and nobody bats an eyelid.

Pictured: the Black Eyed Peas' Offical Songbook

I suppose you could say that not all pop music is like that. And you would be correct. I am mindful of referring to "disturbing trends" that aren't really trends at all (the phrase gets used a lot in political discussions) but when I think back, the pop that I disliked in the 90s - by comparison - sounds Earth-shatteringly brilliant by today's standards.

And everybody did, indeed, get up.

I said before I am slanted towards the alternative music scene. I don't buy or listen to pop music. But that doesn't mean I can't appreciate a decent pop song. And there are some good tunes out there. It is just that record companies have figured out an equation for success and they will continue to use it as long as people continue to buy those singles. Because that is what pop music is really all about. Alternative musicians aren't bothered about single sales - most of them give MP3s of their latest single away on their website for free - but the pop industry thrives on it. It is their barometer for success and quality. Indie artists can make most of their money from live tours and album sales. With some indie artists you can buy the album directly from the artist, or through a portal that promises most of the money from the sale goes to the musicians. For pop musicians the album is just a collection of singles to be released. They aren't "records" in the true sense. The thing is I don't know anyone who actually buys singles - what is the point? - but there must be people who do, otherwise the charts wouldn't make any sense. I would like to see some analysis of the type of people who buy singles, where from, why, etc. For all we know the single charts are being manipulated by three 14-year-old girls.

Pictured: every single person who still buys singles.

Okay that's enough blathering. In conclusion this new music is just noise and you whipper-snappers need to listen to some proper music for a change. Now get off my lawn.

## Saturday, 26 March 2011

### Everything Changes

So when it comes to change I am a hypocrite. I am all for change - why hold on to relics of the past? If it's broken give it a ruddy good fixing. This is for partially ideological reasons, but also because I like to believe in the relentless march of progress. With each version brings more efficiency, and greater outcomes. Unfortunately the most "the relentless march of progress" affects my life is when Facebook implements a slightly different layout.

"I cannot believe "Top stories" is default over "Most recent"! I fucking hate Facebook. Join my Facebook petition if you agree!"

I suppose that kind of thing doesn't matter all that much to me because I am more of a spectator on Facebook - I don't have thousands of friends and millions of photos. And that's not because I am a loner (although it is) but because I don't usually want to advertise my social life to everyone. Sure, I'll post a status update about some Youtube video I have found - but what is the point? Nobody really cares!

If ever you see me daydreaming, or it just seems like I am not really listening, and you wonder what is going through my head - it is this exact thing.

However something has changed that I really do care about - Firefox. I recently upgraded to Firefox 4. I was ready for the address bar being below the tab bar, but for some reason my home, stop and refresh buttons re-arranged themselves into some crazy configuration. Menu items re-arranged, I can focus on some things I wasn't expecting. Such as the weird transparency in the menu bar and tab area. I can sort of understand the change - in a "you know what would look cool?" kind of a way - but I don't understand why there isn't a checkbox or about:config setting to turn it off. Seriously, with my wallpaper it looks like crap. Thankfully I found a forum post that helped me to correct it. Create a file called "userChrome.css", in the folder "C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\fahhwhja.default\chrome" - or whatever your equivalent is. Then copy and paste the following into that file:

@namespace url("http://www.mozilla.org/keymaster/gatekeeper/there.is.only.xul"); /* set default namespace to XUL */#toolbar-menubar {-moz-appearance: -moz-win-browsertabbar-toolbox !important;}#TabsToolbar {  background-color: -moz-dialog !important;}window, page, dialog, wizard, prefwindow {  background-color: -moz-Dialog !important; }

Save the file, enjoy the difference. There is one more thing - the status bar isn't always shown by default. I like the status bar. Thankfully an extension is available that enables it again - Status-4-Evar. Despite the quite frankly rubbish name it does everything required, so you can enjoy Firefox again.

Well almost - you'll probably want a decent theme that is actually Firefox 4 compatible. MX3 is what I am currently using - it seems pretty good and unlike a lot of the themes of Mozilla.org isn't an assault on the eyes.

So I now finally have things looking as they should be - and am able to enjoy all the cool new features of Firefox 4. A lot of the new features appear to be to do with the interface - which I have now mostly disabled. But there is some neat speed enhancements, WebM-compatibility, app tabs, a bookmarks and history sync thingy and a load of other features that I probably won't use but will happily tell people all about.

After this nothing of a post I promise I'll get back to the Things That Are Nice/Shit series - once I actually think of something.

## Wednesday, 23 March 2011

### Shocked

Okay so today I log in to Blogger, just to take a little look around the layouts, check on a few things. Out of curiosity I click the 'Stats' button.

And my jaw hits the floor.

Maybe not exactly like this.

I have to double and triple check what I am seeing. However it does appear to be true. I have 657 page views. I know that doesn't sound impressive - loads of people get thousands of views on their blog. But this seems different. I consider this blog to be a bit of relief, some of the posts are really pretty dull. But 657 views? 404 people from the UK decided to look at one of my posts. And 168 from Denmark! 62 from the US! Now I know that those are "views" not unique people but even taking that into account I am astonished. Maybe this just means people will read anything.

Sure looks it.

What I find interesting is the different ways people have come to my site. 5 came from Twitter, one may be myself and some others my friends. I think that's how they found it. There's one from Facebook - I don't remember mentioning my blog so maybe someone mentioned it in a private message? One person appeared to be searching for "villacamp fib" on Google. 7 other searches were for authors of books that I have either read or are currently reading. It appears my most popular post is something that I considered a bit of filler before I started posting real content again. More Ramblings doesn't appear to me to be a very gripping post. But it does mention a then-newly-released film (Robin Hood), a then-months-old film (Where The Wild Things Are), a then-current cause (saving BBC 6 Music), 2 bands (Doves, Cherry Ghost), a music venue (Troxy) and 2 popular video games (Call of Duty and CS:S). I unintentionally wrote a search engine's dream. It makes me feel a little uneasy to consider trying to write posts that will get me page views. Too much pandering to the mainstream, man. Not underground enough.

I'm not worried about being too mainstream - I got 1 page view from just mentioning a Death Cab album.

However I am willing to give this whole "relevant" blogging thing a try. Which is why I have decided to do a blog post about Chris Brown's penis.

Not pictured: his penis.

Most people will know Chris Brown as "that guy that smacked Rihanna about". Some of you may know him as "the guy that's ripping off Calvin Harris' song". It now appears he has a new reason for people to know him. I have not seen Chris Brown's penis. But I am told that, if I were a penis connoisseur, I would be able to appreciate the subtle beauty of his member the same way an art critic would appreciate the evocative exquisiteness of a Van Gogh. I am told it is the sort of instrument that, if put to good use, could feed the starving, clothe the poor and bring about world peace. It is as stunning a totem as that seen in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Only with a bell-end attached to it.

I should make it clear the bell-end I am referring to is not, in fact, Chris Brown himself.

You would think that a man wielding such an impressively grandiose love slug would be in a permanent state of giddy happiness. But no, Mr Brown has a very troubled mind.

Which must be why there are an awful lot of pictures of him smiling like a psychopath.

I seem to remember reading that Chris Brown went on a morning chat show and was incredulous at having to answer questions pertaining to the aforementioned girlfriend-beating. He was so enraged that he fled the studio and voiced his annoyance on Twitter - wishing people would stop dragging up the past. And who are we to argue with this mighty being? We should be kneeling at his feet (not too close, though) and praying he does not unleash the awesome energy of his man cannon upon the earth, ravaging our planet and dooming us all to die from the misery Chris Brown has unleashed upon us.

The same effect can be achieved by listening to Chris Brown's latest single.

Indeed, Chris Brown is a very complicated and emotionally tortured man. Well, I say 'man'. Anyone who physically abuses a woman isn't really a man at all. No matter how big his penis is.

## Tuesday, 15 March 2011

### Mornings

I wasn't completely happy with that last post but I think I'll stick with the pictures - despite Blogger making it a bit of a pain to insert them.

As I may have already mentioned, I hate getting up in the morning. There is a problem I have, in that for a good 2-3 hours immediately after I have woken up, I am a complete idiot. My IQ halves during this time and recovers afterwards. I'm not entirely sure if this is normal. But it doesn't exactly seem right that I go to bed as this:

And wake up as this:

Let me explain. I'll roll out of bed, stumble into the kitchen, more out of a sense that the kitchen is a place to do one of the required activities of the morning than out of hunger. I will get a box of cereal. I will get a bowl. However I won't be able to figure out how the two interact to create breakfast. I'll stare at the two items, trying to fathom what I need to do in order to make them create some breakfast for me. I'll slowly pick up the bowl, and begin to insert it into the top of the cereal box. That is usually when the normal part of my brain kicks in. "Seriously? That's what you think you have to do? You're a fucking idiot. Cereal in bowl, not the other way around." For all the abuse that part of my brain gives me it is definitely required. So I'll stop doing that and pour the cereal into the bowl. I'll then get a bottle of milk. And the whole process starts again.

"Oh so THAT's how it's done."

It isn't just confined to the kitchen, however. My morning-idiocy finds other ways to torment me. I'll step into the shower with my glasses on and wonder why the shower has suddenly gotten so foggy. A few seconds will pass before I realise it was my glasses that had fogged up, not my eyeballs. I sometimes find it impossible to remember if I have already used shampoo on my hair, so I will wash my hair again just to make sure. I also find it hard to focus, sometimes spending 5 minutes staring into space. That's why I need to have a clock or watch close by at all times, to remind me that I have to hurry up and stop day dreaming. I also generally have a terrible sense of time.

"5:05? It was 3 o'clock ten minutes ago! No. No it wasn't."

Despite the fact I need them to see I still manage to forget my glasses when I walk out the door. But I won't remember in a normal way. No. I will find ridiculous ways to realise. Such as walking down the road, looking at a car numberplate and thinking to myself, "why that looks very blurry. I wonder if the writing is deliberately like that. Actually it isn't just the numberplate that is blurry, the whole car is. That's weird. It's almost like I'm not wearing my gla... Shit." Or I will be walking down the road and I will idly scratch my face or fiddle with my headphones. But when I realise that the glasses frame I expected to find there is, in fact, not, instead of thinking, "ah, I've probably left them in the bathroom" or "oh bother, they must still be on the mantelpiece" I think: "they've vanished!" This is where the normal part of my brain kicks in again. "Really? You thought that might be a possibility? You thought they must have disappeared, rather than, say, you left them on a surface somewhere while you were getting ready and forgot to pick them up again? What the hell is wrong with you?"

"To be fair I am going to be very well prepared if my glasses ever do magically disappear from my face."

While I was on my placement year I would start work at 9:00am which meant waking up for around 6:15am - I probably could have woken up later but I have to allow myself some more time to negate the morning-idiocy caused slowdown. If it was a bad day the phone could be ringing before you even opened to door to the office. I hated taking calls while I was still in my coat and invariably the resulting call would play out like an argument between a slightly miffed academic and a half-asleep dullard (which, really, it was). You would have to tell the user to wait while your PC started up, some expressed shock that you didn't get into work at 8:30 like they did. The fact that support hours were clearly stated to be 9 to 5, Monday to Friday was of no consequence to them. We weren't paid overtime either, so if a user called with a problem at 10 to 5 you had to fix it in ten minutes or it would eat into your non-support hours, general maintenance, planning and back up time - 18 minutes. If you spent more than 28 minutes on the problem getting it fixed you were working overtime and not getting paid for it. It was a horrible feeling. Anyway, usually I would have to tell the user I would "look into the problem" and then take an hour or two to collect my thoughts whilst performing other, more simple, job-related tasks. Occasionally we would be asked to work before support hours by a user, this was the worst as it meant I would be even more useless. I think I only had to do it once or twice, we shared it out evenly between the team but it turned out I was the only person reliable enough to actually get there when the user wanted. But after that work we still had to work 9:00 to 5:18. I liked the job but the hours and lack of overtime did start to irritate me towards the end.

So, in conclusion, if you want me to be of any use to you I highly suggest meeting me well after I've woken up. Otherwise it'll be like trying to converse with a terse hammer.

## Monday, 14 March 2011

### Things That Are Nice/Shit: The Third Chapter

So I figure I might as well keep this thing going. So get ready for another underwhelming edition of:

Things That Are Nice/Shit #3

I often find that people can become defined by a certain part of their personality, or something they have a talent for. It is a shame, really to boil someone's being down to a single statement or generalisation - although I am no better than anyone else with regards to this. It just makes things easier for humans, socially.

We all know people who love to think they are the life of the party.

When you are having a drunken night on the tiles that can be pretty cool. They're the first person to suggest everyone gets shots. They are the ones who know exactly when and where to move on from the pub\club\bar\curb where you are currently drinking. Nobody on the dance floor? They'll throw some shapes so wild people run to the dance floor just to get a better look. They are the kind of people who will always welcome a new member to the group, will always talk to new people - open and extroverted, they are the kind of person you want around to make everyone in a group click. However there is a limit.

I bet the girl in the above picture's friends absolutely hate her at times. Because there are times for getting a margarita made in your mouth and there is a time for filling in tax returns and watching Countdown. And LOTP (Life of the Party) never knows the difference. They will constantly try to drag their friends around town, even if it is a Tuesday night and nothing is happening and hardly anyone is around. They'll be the ones arguing with their friends at 3:00am outside of a night club: "Come on! There's gotta be some place open!" "I'm tired. I want to go to bed. I'm completely filled with alcohol. I might get some food from somewhere but that will be the last notable event of this night. I'm going home."

And therein lies the problem. Everybody loves the Life of the Party at a party. But not any other time. Then it's just hassle. Oh sure they're "mental" - in the throwaway, corrupted definition of the term meaning simply "one who enjoys drink and humour" - but they're also a pain in the arse. Particularly if LOTP spends most of their time being pulled up from the floor, flecks of vomit clinging to their shirt and half-digested scraps of food stuck to their face. Then people will remember LOTP less for this:

And more for this:

Nice. Hygiene issues aside there is another problem. Quite possibly a much bigger problem. And this problem is simple. A lot of the time, LOTP is a dick.

Like that guy. Now people are unlikely to tell them to their face. While (mostly) everyone is having fun anything goes. The night after, however, is when they discuss the antics of the Life of the Party. And not the way LOTP describes it. "I was fucking wasted, chundered everywhere, it was classic!" Oh no. They are saying "did you see what that dick did to the bathroom? Didn't even clean any of it up." Now don't get me wrong I love a jape as much as anybody. I can appreciate good rapscallionry behaviour.

I swear that is the second Google Image Search result for "cheeky ragamuffin". Anyway this isn't my beef with "fun" people, or fun itself. I've been known to occasionally indulge in some "fun", so long as it doesn't last too long, cost too much or interfere with my main interest - staring at the wall for hours on end, wishing the house would collapse and bury me under metres of rubble. Joking aside fun and leisurely pursuits feature quite heavily in my own philosophy of life, which I may one day divulge to you, if you don't mind reading socialist-influenced, uninformed claptrap. I really should try harder to be serious. The point is that I am not against fun people. But there is a difference between people who can be fun and people who think they are fun. A person can't be fun. They can experience fun. They can provide fun. They can't be fun. LOTP believes they have an obligation to be crazy because they are fun. It doesn't work like that.

So what can we take from all this? The Life of the Party can be an enjoyable presence, but nobody wants to put up with them all the time.

I stopped about 4 times during writing that to look up more stuff about this Freeman-on-the-Land nonsense. It basically seems to be about using legal loop holes to avoid paying council tax, parking offences and other small taxes. The idea seems to be that your birth certificate is a contract created before you were able to consent to it - therefore there is a difference between a person as a legal entity and an actual person. An actual person is only subject to common law, so doesn't have to pay council tax. There are other loop holes in the legal system they exploit, not standing to recognise the authority of the court, using the etymology of words to justify being uncooperative and demanding court is held in common law jurisdiction. I'm no lawyer but it is basically about trying to get away with breaking the law.

I've spend far too long trying to write this post - so I'm off. Bye.

## Tuesday, 8 February 2011

### Space

Just... words fail me.

Remarkable.

## Friday, 4 February 2011

### Part Deux

Well what do you know... I can stick at something. So long as it is essentially meaningless.

Things That Are Nice/Shit #2

At various times in my life I have told people one of my favourite activities is sleeping. This might seem a little odd but I shall try to explain my thinking. Sleep is the ultimate escape - it brings us dreams that allow us to explore scenarios far outside the normal human experience. You can't be depressed and asleep - it is impossible and obvious. All of our worries melt away while we are asleep. And waking up is a horrible feeling - like pushing weights off your chest after having just spent the past 4 days playing rugby with gorillas. Or it does for me anyway.

Here I have to say I am not a morning person and I have problems sleeping. Ever since I can remember I have had trouble getting to sleep. I distinctly remember asking family members "how to sleep" - which seems like asking someone the secret to breathing but I genuinely thought I was doing it wrong. Some people seem to be able to sleep as soon as their head hits the pillow - making a mockery of my tossing-and-turning, constantly-flipping-the-pillow, lying-in-the-dark-begging-my-body-to-fall-asleep style.

That is one of the problems, trying to get to sleep and waking up are a chore. Sleep itself is easy, and really quite nice.

There is a huge problem with sleep, however: the time it wastes. I have never done anything useful while sleeping (or useful to anything other than my continued existence). Think how much better our lives would be if we never got tired and we never needed to sleep. Each day we would have a full 24 hours to do everything that we require. You could work 9 to 5, and instead of going to sleep at 10:30pm so you have enough sleep and can get up early to leave for work, just do whatever you want for the rest of the day (and night) and go to work. If we could somehow negate the need for sleep - and employers promised not to extend working hours - we would have so much more spare time, we could get plenty more done in the day. So you see sleep is kind of shit - I always think about how much I could get done during the 9 (okay, usually way more than 9) hours I sleep.

Scientists of the world! Cure sleep! Let us be up around the clock with no ill effects!

Not much comedy there, but that's just because I really do think we are better off without sleep - despite how much I enjoy it.

So the script writing stuff is now not even on the back-burner - I have to give it up until I have some more time. You wouldn't think it takes that much to think about and write down some stories (that is sort of what I do here) but story formulation and trying to think of interesting ways of getting across the points you need to make can be a real challenge. I do have some story ideas but most of them aren't fully developed.

I can't remember if I linked to the videos I had to make for one of my university modules, they are on a Youtube channel here. They aren't great but that is what you get with no budget, little time and a two-or-three man crew. The direction, story, narration, acting, video editing, prop design, graphic design and sound design on both videos is my own. The camera was set up or held by other people. I am quite impressed with myself, given I had no prior experience and the videos were what got me interested in script writing in the first place.

I think I've said my piece, until next time, stay loose, jive turkeys.

### Series?

You know if I have learnt anything from Hyperbole and a Half it is that any blog post is better with pictures. Not only do they make the posts seem longer but it makes the content more creative, and funnier.

But no pictures for you.

I was wondering if I could do a series of posts on a theme. Mostly to make sure I keep posting like I should be. I'll give it a go now, and see if I can stick with it.

Things That Are Nice\Shit #1
There are times when a group of people will start to discuss their likes and dislikes. Sometimes these conversations meander into "odd things I do", and discussions of that sort. It is during these times you will hear sentences that start with:

"So does anyone else..."

Usually these end in one of a few ways.

1. Everyone confirms that they do. You find out that your individual foible is actually not all that individual at all - everyone does it. You feel relieved but also a sense of disappointment, finding out that you aren't as unique as you thought you were. The more you think about it the more it erodes away at your being, you find yourself tumbling into an infinite pit of despair over your own identity. You spend hours sitting on the floor, hugging your knees with your forearms, repeating "who am I?" over and over again.

2. One other person confirms that they do. The rest of the group may not understand but you feel a great sense of affinity for that one person. You are overcome by the pleasant feeling that there is someone else out in the world who feels the way you do, interprets the world the way you do - and you've met them. You may start to feel attracted to this one person. Perhaps this person is completely compatible with you - maybe they are the one. This is a huge mistake. Once you have finished discussing your one shared habit you will invariably find that you do have differences of opinion and do not share all of the same habits. Over time you will resent that person and wished that you had never met them - because you were better off believing you were the only person in the world that did that than finding out that one other person does - and that person is an idiot.

3. Nobody confirms that they do. The group may start to laugh at the mere suggestion, or enquire why you do it in the first place. You feel the cold pang of loneliness and, even though you try to laugh it off, you can't help feeling that the universe is infinitely expansive and you are all alone in it. You start re-evaluating friendships, resenting them even. "Why aren't they more like me?" you ask yourself, but you can never find a satisfactory answer. Before long you are a hermit, shutting yourself off from the outside world - only venturing out of your dwelling to buy alcohol and shout at traffic.

So just be careful when starting sentences with "does anyone else". It can have very dangerous consequences.

Wow that really did end up being a lot darker than I expected. I can't think of any specific instances where I have been in a scenario like the one described above, but it does seem familiar. It can be enormously satisfying to discover that you are more similar to everyone else than you realise. I suppose in our "everyone is a unique snowflake" society that kind of thing doesn't sound all that nice but you'd be surprised how comforting it is to hear someone say "oh I think everyone does that".

I just tried a Google search for people who hate the sound of scraping ice. Ever since I can remember I have hated the sound of stuff scraping on ice - getting a box out of a frosty freezer and hearing it scrape across the ice, made me shudder just typing that. Nobody else in my family has the same thing and I don't think I have met anyone else who can't stand scraping else. But thanks to the magic of Google I now know there are plenty of people who can't stand that sound. I expected as much but it is nice to have it confirmed.

I'm off to bed now, stay tuned for part 2 of the most poorly titled blog series you are ever likely to see: Things That Are Nice\Shit

## Thursday, 20 January 2011

### Quickly...

I just rode the lollercopter.

Cyanide & Happiness @ Explosm.net

## Tuesday, 11 January 2011

### Fabulosity

Did you know some consider "fabulosity" to be a word?

So now I have moved back to the Midlands and are back in the house, revising and working on my FYP. A skills test on Weds 19th January at 10:30 and a written exam on Thurs 13th January at 10:00. Joy. I am in a worse mood than I would be otherwise simply because I have had a cold since Saturday, and right now every fluid I have ever ingested is streaming out of my nose like an unhygienic waterfall. Fairly frequently my eyes will start watering and I'll unleash a sneeze as powerful as a grenade. It makes revision that much more difficult.

Also, seeing as the weather was pretty mild in Havering when I left I had thought to myself at least the weather will be warmer than when I left Stafford. Not so. At times I have had to wear the crazy-man costume of T-shirt tucked into jeans, jumper, coat, dressing gown on top of that and two pairs of trousers, tucked into socks - with an ushanka just to top it off. Currently I have am in bed, laptop on knees wearing PJs and dressing gown. Things are looking up, however as I now think I am getting a fever - so at least I won't be cold any more.

I thought I might as well post that I have now got a creative outlet - script writing. I have written a quick 5-minute-story script (but anyone can do that, really) and I am just formulating ideas for something longer, possibly feature length. I am thinking of doing more short scripts in the mean time, exercises, perhaps such as make an interesting script out of two people talking in a room or trying to write about things I wouldn't be naturally drawn towards.

There isn't much for me to talk about, currently watching West Ham v Birmingham - we're 1-0 up. This cold's making it a bit difficult for me to think clearly so I think I will leave it there. More later, perhaps.

## Sunday, 2 January 2011

### "I'm Cringing"

I decided to spoil my imaginary readers with yet another post, to make up for the inevitable lack of posts that will surely result from the start of the new university term.

Firstly there is something that happened a while ago - not that interesting, mind you - that nonetheless I thought I may as well post.

A little while ago I found some documents just lying next to the pavement. They were confidential, an assessment of some kind of some individual. I worked out the address of the individual and posted the documents to them, hoping it would get back into the correct hands. I left a note explaining a little about what happened and some contact information, and sure enough I got an email from the authority involved asking me to clarify events. Now I wonder - has someone been sacked because of me? I would hope they are disciplined in some manner - it was definitely a cock-up that could have resulted in much more dire circumstances - but I wouldn't want to think anyone lost their job because of me, particularly in the current state of the job market.

Although with that said it is still possible to find work. If you are disciplined, organised and motivated you can find a job - I am certain of that.

Last night I told some of my mates about a list I had written a while ago that contained everything that - at that time - I disliked about myself. There was nothing physical in the list, I should probably be insulted that people assume there would be, it is just aspects of my personality and character. Each point has a paragraph describing it in detail, I think there are 12 points and the whole document covers 4 sides of A4. They encouraged me to publish the list on this blog. I considered it, other people can do things similar, maybe it would be cathartic.

However I have decided against it, for two main reasons.

1) Some of it is no longer relevant or true. There is a part where I say I "don't have any feelings" and "nothing excites me". I no longer feel this way, I can be a bit difficult to please at time but once you learn to find pleasure in the really simple things in life it can make a big difference. Even if it isn't really hugely pleasurable. Just tell people.

I like satisfying buttons. Not the ones on clothing, the things you press. I like buttons to have a satisfying tactile response. I hate those buttons which are just a sticker or a symbol painted on to a hard piece of plastic. There is no raised part to push in, just a flat piece of plastic, you usually see them along the top of laptop keyboards. You get no response from the button itself whether you have activated it or not, you have no idea how hard to press. I also don't like touch screens for the same reason. I don't like buttons that are wobbly or "mushy" like most laptop keyboards. The power button on the slim PS3 is good. And while I think of it the PS3 button on the PS3 controller is good too. Well done Sony.

I may elaborate on other things I enjoy in another post but now we need to move onto the second reason.

2) It is too personal. There are times on those pages when I tear into my personality, and I really don't want to publish words so deeply personal, for the enjoyment of a few people. So no.

## Saturday, 1 January 2011

### "That Mostly-Dormant Thing Between Your Ears"

Greeting, imaginary readers. By popular request, I am going to attempt to do a post that doesn't feature any reviews. Haven't done one of those in a while so here we go.

First of all: I applaud the principle behind fair trade produce. It is a commendable initiative, that cannot be denied. However it has - through no fault of its own - become just another tool for the bourgeoisie to emphasise their superiority of the proletariat. I know what you're thinking: "alright Vladimir Ilyich, it can't be that bad." However I have often overheard conversations along the lines of:

"I only buy fair trade - I can't believe there are people out there who don't buy fair trade, I mean it is just disgusting."

Oh fuck you. When did we become so self-involved as a society? When did we lose our empathy? I actually know exactly when that happened but that is another post for another time. Does it really not occur to these people that some people simply cannot afford fair-trade-dolphin-friendly-environmentally-aware bread for £3.27 a slice? Maybe I am just making way too much of this but it seems to be indicative of a society unable to see beyond their own bubble of self-involvement.

Now something on the issue of piracy (that being copyright theft, rather than the swashbuckling kind). People who create commercial content have to accept that their content can be distributed illegally. There is no way around that. What is really needed to reduce piracy is distributors to have a much more open view to how their presentations can be viewed. In the case of films this means having a worldwide release that is the same for every region, and the ability to see the films at the cinema - for cheaper prices than now I might add - but also watch them streaming or download them for later. Download and stream would be cheaper - DRM is a sticky subject and I feel you would never get distributors on board without a very secure DRM method. And an open one too - if such a thing would be possible. If you give the consumer options and good value for money there would be very few people who would bother with illegal downloads. For a lot of people it is the only way of seeing certain films. For others it is the only economical way to see the huge number of films released every year. If cinema tickets were £5 and streams\downloads were £3 the amount of piracy would be dramatically reduced. We have gone some of the way - Curzon are now offering streaming viewing of some of the films playing at their cinemas.

"Why didn't I say anything until now?
So much is said without a sound."
- Local Natives - Sticky Thread

Just thought I would slap a great lyric in there.

During a slightly ridiculous conversation last night it occurred to me: is it possible that some people can have nothing they are passionate about? I would say that I am passionate about socialist politics. Capitalism is wrong - for me that is all there is to it. However I can also be moved by film, television or music. Surely everyone has the ability to be moved by something? Perhaps some people don't like to admit it, in our constantly-sarcastic everyone's-a-cynical-critic society people might not want to say that they love something - Lord knows love is scary. In the words of Morrissey: "it's so easy to laugh, it's so easy to hate - it takes strength to be gentle and kind". I find it hard to believe that there can be people who would think it silly to be moved to tears by a song, or to be filled with joy by a film.

Be brave - admit that you love something. Or someone - now wouldn't that be a great New Year's resolution?

Bryant, out.