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Thursday, 31 December 2009

The Noughties - How Was It For You?

Some thoughts.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Flights Of Fancy?

I am just about to book a return flight to the USA, for a few months time.

After the events of the past few days, it is no surprise that i am wondering what this may lead to. Apart from the obvious concerns for my own safety. I am also left wondering what sort of extra security systems may still be in place when i plan to travel & how long the check in time may be!

The last time i flew to the USA, in September 2008, the security was tight. But, not excessively so. Well, not in my opinion anyway.
My opinion has always been that, there is an obvious threat & that these things need to be done to protect myself & everyone else. I know full well that the air routes between the UK & USA are a prime target for terrorists, whether we like that, or not.

I'll admit, the part of the whole security process that tends to annoy me the most is all of the form filling & online checks that are done, both prior to the actual flight & on the plane itself.
And i haven't even mentioned the many checks that take place on arrival in the USA itself!
But, once again, i have just accepted them as a part of the process.

Now, i learn though, that in the most recent incident on that now infamous Amsterdam to Detroit flight, these systems all seem to have failed.

A person has managed to board a flight across the atlantic to the USA, with explosives strapped to his body. Not only that, but we now know that this person was known to the authorities in America, after being reported by his father.
We also know that he was also refused a visa to visit the UK, earlier this year, because of security concerns.
And i heard today, that he boarded this flight without any checked baggage. Isn't this just a little bit suspicious?

So, we put all of these security measures in place & somebody still manages to evade them all?

I vivdly remember the time when we in the UK had terrorist problems with the IRA. There was a famous quote from a member of the IRA, at the time, who said that "We only have to get lucky once. You have to get lucky every single time"
How very true, both then & now.

We got very lucky on that Amsterdam to Detriot plane on Christmas Day. Don't forget that.
If that explosive device had detonated properly, that plane would have gone down with everybody on board it. Regardless of whatever anybody on board might have done to try & prevent it.

So, what can be done?
Well, obviously, we need to make sure that the measures that are in place actually work. After all, they only need to fail once....

Now, i'm no security, or aviation expert, but i'd hate to see any more security measures at airports. As with the IRA situation, if you stop, or dissuade people from flying in the first place, the terrorists will have effectively won. After all, you don't need to actually kill anyone to create chaos & disruption to "normal" life.

What, in my opinion, should be done, is to make better use of so called "profiling". I'll admit that this generally goes against my feeling of civil liberties. But, sometimes drastic measures have to be taken.
We already know that the Nigerian suspect, in this most recent attack, was known to the authorities, in more than one country. So, why was he allowed to board that plane?

Better & co-ordinated use of "intelligence" & profiling will surely help to stop suspected terrorists from being allowed to board certain planes & enter certain countries. That can't be a bad thing, can it?
We should also learn from other countries, namely Israel, whose methods have been proved to be successful.
I know that these measures will inevitably tend to target certain people & maybe even some ethnic groups. But, why target & inconvenience everybody, when you possibly don't have to?

If you combine the measures that are already in place, with the better use of intelligence. This can only help to make flying safer for everybody, in the long run.
And isn't that what we all want?

And if that can all be done by late April 2010, i'd very much appreciate it.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

The Great Santa Claus Deception.


As you do on a Christmas day morning, my family & i were talking about Santa Claus/Father Christmas & a particular aspect of that story in particular.

My son, who is 19 years old by the way, just happened to say "Why do parents tell children that Santa Claus is real?"

Now, i think this is a very good question & one that really got me thinking. Hence this blog post.
So, why do we all do it? Knowing that it is untrue.

I am a parent of two children & quite happily went along with the great Santa Claus deception.
I admit, that when your children are young & believe in Santa Claus, it does add to the whole atmosphere & experience of the Christmas period. When the children get older & no longer believe, it is never quite the same is it?
Maybe that is the reason we do it? We remember what it was like for us, as children, when we too believed.

But, that doesn't really answer the question as to why i effectively told my children lies & let them believe in something & someone that i knew was false. And, something that i knew they would find out to be a big lie, at some time in the future.

It could be argued that by perpetuating this big lie & by effectively encouraging it as well, that we are being cruel to our children. After all, can you remember how disappointed & upset your own children were, or even how upset you were as a child, when you found out that Santa Claus was not real?
Do you remember when your child came home from school & asked you whether Santa Claus was real? Because their schoolfriends had found out the truth. And, if you remember that question, what was your answer?
I wouldn't be surprised if you told them, like i did, "Not to be so silly. Of course Santa Claus is real. After all, who do you think brings you all of those presents?"
Does that sound familiar?

It is only when you start to think about all of this, that you realise how bad it all sounds!

Throughout their lives & especially when they are younger, we try & teach our children to tell the truth. I know that i have certainly done that. And yet, right from their earliest years, we have done exactly the opposite! What example does this set?
And we then wonder why children are confused & don't listen to their parents?

So, do i regret telling that big lie to my children? No, not really & there lies the problem i guess?

The great Santa Claus deception will only stop when parents have the guts to actually tell the truth, straight away & not allow their children to believe in Father Christmas.

So, who will be the first parent brave enough to do that?
Maybe it will be my son?

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Reading The Future?

In Britain fairly recently, we had a national postal strike.
As can be imagined, this caused a lot of disruption to postal services. The effects were felt for far longer than the actual strike, because of the backlog of mail that built up.
Because of this, some companies that rely on the Royal Mail service, started to make alternative arrangements to get their products to their customers. One of those may well have some implications for the future.

Like a lot of people, i subscribe to magazines. All of which have to be delivered by post.

During the postal strike, two of the magazines that i subscribe to, one a weekly publication & the other a monthly one, decided to start a service whereby a link was sent by email to all subscribers. This email link linked to a special online version of the full magazine. This e-magazine was a full replica of the published version & even has turnable pages. It can also be magnified to highlight parts of text.

This is a very clever little bit of programming that allows this to happen & i should inagine that it's a pretty recent development too. But, i truly believe that this is a pointer to the future for both magazines & possibly even newspapers too.

One reason for this thought is that both magazines, "Word Magazine" & "The Week", have found that their subscribers like the e-magazine so much, that they have both decided to make this a permanent arrangement. Now, when a new edition of the magazine comes out, i get an email, complete with the link to the e-version.

I have already set up special email folders to save these links. Thus giving me a permanent link to the magazines. I don't even have to store, or even read my paper copy anymore.
This is surely a sign of things to come?

Another thing that these two magazines have in common, is that neither of them has a website that allows you to read their content online. Yes, they both have a website & in the case of "Word Magazine" a very good one too. But, you can't read the magazine there, you have to subscribe to do that.
To me at least, i think this is a very sensible arrangement & one i fully support.

Now, contrast this arrangement with what most other magazines & especially newspapers do.
Most of them allow you to read most, if not all, of their content online & for free too.

I'm sure we've all seen the news coverage of Rupert Murdoch & News International complaining about Google allowing anyone to search for their content & then access it online for free.

Whilst i can see why Rupert Murdoch is not happy, surely this situation is of his own making?
You can't really complain that people are either not buying a physical copy of your newspaper, or that they are unwilling to pay to view it online, when the newspaper has it's own website which shows the newspapers content, for the whole world to see & for free too!
Am i missing something here?

I have no doubt that people would be willing to pay for content. But, they are not going to do that when that same content is freely & legally available elsewhere.

So, why don't Rupert Murdoch & other news organisations go down the same route that magazines such as "The Week" & "Word Magazine" have done?

I think one reason might be that they all rushed into creating websites for their various publications, thinking that they had to get on the bandwagon & not get left behind by the competition.
By doing this, they have now created an audience for online reading & have even allowed more people to read their output than ever before.
Unfortunately, a lot of these people will be casual readers. How many of those casual readers would actually pay good money to read that relevant publication? I guess we'll never know.

My challenge to Rupert Murdoch etc would be.
If you are really serious about getting people to pay for your online content & even encourage people back to buying a hard copy of your newspapers. Shut down the free, official, websites of your newspapers & then charge people to view them. Or, send your paying subscribers an email link, to enable them to view the newspaper online.

I have a funny feeling that Mr Murdoch will not take this course of action. But, if he did, it would most likely solve the Google problem in one fell swoop.

I think 2010 could be an interesting year in the newspaper & magazine publishing world.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Rage Against The XFactor - The result & what it means.

Well, the sales figures have all been counted & the result is now known.

The race to the prestigious UK Christmas Number 1 position, has been won by Rage Against the Machine & their song "Killing In The Name Of". They "won" by 50,000 sales.
Apparently, the Rage Against The Machine song sold 500,000 copies during this week.

So, what does all this mean?
Well, it certainly raises a lot of issues & not just for the world of music either.

For a start, every single copy of "Killing In The Name Of" sold, all 500,000 of them, was a digital download & they were all sold in the UK only. No physical copies of the track were sold.
Just think about that for a moment.
This has just changed the way that music is sold forever. Yes, downloads have been used to help calculate chart positions for a few years now. But, did anyone really think that a song would get to the Number 1 slot on download sales alone & this quickly too? I doubt it.

As i said in my previous blog post about this topic. This means that ANY song, as long as it's available from certain download sites, can now get into the charts & possibly get to Number 1.
Is there now any real need for a physical copy of a single, or even an album for that matter, to be sold? I'm sure that question will be asked in many record company boardrooms tomorrow morning.

The next point is where does this leave the XFactor?
Sure, the program will continue & i have no real problem with that. But, it has now lost it's hold on the charts. It's invincibility has gone.
I have no doubt that a lot of people bought the XFactor single, as a protest against Rage Against The Machine & yet, it still lost out.

What will happen the next time a TV Talent show winner releases a single?
Will there be another Internet campaign to stop it? I bet there will be & who's to say it won't have the same result.
Granted, i thought the choice of protest song, this time around, was perfect & summed up the whole campaign exactly. But, i'm sure the amount of swearing in "Killing In The Name Of" put a lot of people off & probably contributed to the amount of people who did buy the XFactor song.

But, the biggest & possibly most important lesson to be learned from all of this, is the power of the Internet. If we ever needed an example of the power of the Internet & of people power. Then this is surely it.

I'm sure there will be a lot of people & not just in the world of music, taking stock of this result & analysing what it all means.

After all, we have a General Election in the UK in 2010....

The Making Of A Calendar.

Don't forget to get your copy.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Rage Against The XFactor.

I have just re-purchased the song "Killing In The Name Of" by the U.S band Rage Against The Machine, from iTunes. Nothing unusual in that you might think, unless you happen to live in the U.K that is.
By the way, i already have that track on the original Rage Against The Machine album & i also have an edited version.
So, why on earth would i want to buy the song for a third time?

Well, for those not in the know. There is an Internet campaign going on this week, in the U.K, to try & get "Killing In The Name Of" to Number 1 in the U.K Music Charts & thereby make in the Christmas Number 1. A very prestigious acheivement & something that is always a hard fought battle. Well, here in the U.K anyway.

Over the past few years, the Christmas Number 1 song has been performed by whoever was the winner of the XFactor TV talent show. Last year it was Alexandra Burke & her "version" of the Leonard Cohen song "Hallelujah". The show usually finishes just before Christmas & the current series finished last Sunday. So, it is timed perfectly for the Christmas market. Surely not a coincidence?

Because of the enormous popularity of the show, the song chosen for the XFactor winner is virtually guaranteed to be the Christmas Number 1. Something a lot of people are not very happy about & i'll admit, i tend to agree with them.

There has been a huge debate in the U.K, during this series of the XFactor, about how the show is possibly changing popular music, how it is stifling the opportunities for original artists & also the amount of power that the show & others like it, wield. Both in the world of popular music & even in the world of prime time TV as well.
That is probably a topic for another blog, or even a video.

This year however somebody has said "enough is enough" & decided to try & do something about it. Hence the campaign to try & get "Killing In The Name Of" to the top of the charts.

Why that song? I don't know. But, you've only got to listen to the lyrics to understand why & even the name of the band, Rage Against The Machine, is a bit of a giveaway.

For me. at least, it is the perfect choice. It's a song of rebellion ("fuck you, i won't do what you tell me") & i'm sure it appeals to all of those who dislike the idea of a TV show, more or less, controlling the music charts & probably stifling the music business in the process.

The next question is obviously, "is it all worth it & will it make any difference?".
Well, so far, i do think it is making a difference. The song is currently Number 1 in the Midweek Charts. No guarantee of success i agree. But, a pretty good acheivement, even if it doesn't manage to hold onto that spot come Sunday when the Official Christmas Charts are announced.

The whole campaign seems to have stirred a sense of rebellion in a lot of people & stirred up a lot of debate as well. For example the Facebook group for this campaign has over 400,000 members. In my opinion, that can only be a good thing.

Yes, i do understand the irony that both Rage Against The Machine & the XFactor song are both on the Sony label. So, Sony will be a big winner out of this.
But, at least it's got people talking about & buying music, legally, again. It will also have introduced a whole new group of people to Rage Against The Machine. Who must be sitting there shaking their heads in complete bemusement at what is happening. I wonder what they make of all of this?

Ultimately, the campaign may well fail. As i'm sure there will be a counter campaign to stop "Killing In The Name Of" reaching that coveted Number 1 spot. After all, the song has some naughty swear words in it & we can't have that can we?

For me, this is also a bit of fun & a good example of people power. And just think, a few years ago this could never have happened.
The Official Charts were always made up of songs that were 'released" by record companies. These days, just about any song can count towards a chart position.
Now, a song doesn't have to be "released", it just has to have been bought on certain download sites. So, no longer can the Charts be manipulated in the way that they used to be.
"Killing In the Name Of" is a very good example of this & also an indication of where this may well lead in the future.
There may well be interesting times ahead.

In the meantime, why not do what i did, make your own protest & buy, or even re-purchase "Killing In the Name Of" by Rage Against The Machine on iTunes (in the UK).

"Fuck you, i won't do what you tell me".

Oops too late.....

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Re: The Geekniks: Beat Poetry for a Wired Age

New YouTube video - Just a little fun.

Check out these videos too: &

Monday, 14 December 2009


I was reading one of my favourite magazines this afternoon & a realisation suddenly struck me. (as to why i had the time to read a whole magazine, in one sitting, is another story completely btw)

That realisation was that, all of the magazines that i read & even subscribe to, are chock full of advertisments for high quality watches. And without exception, i find these adverts annoying.
I shan't name any of the companies involved. But, one of them uses a picture of a supposed father & son. Both of whom have awful haircuts, i might add.
How this is going to attract anyone to buy any of their products is beyond me.

Anyway, enough of that.
What i got thinking about was, who on earth buys & can afford to buy, these high cost watches? After all, somebody must do.

I'm naturally happy that people are, presumably, attracted by those adverts & that the companies actually advertise in my favourite magazines in the first place. After all, without those adverts, the magazine might not be able to afford to publish.

I fully realise that certain watches can be seen as some kind of status symbol & you do see them being worn by the great & good all the time.
How often have you seen the aftermath of a Formula One motor race & watched the leading drivers hurriedly put on their flashy watch, prior to the press conference?

Now, i'm obviously not a part of the target audience. Not being a multi-millionaire racing driver for a start. But, i can honestly say that i wouldn't want a watch like that even if i could afford one.
One reason for that is that i don't actually like wearing a watch & i know that i'm not alone in feeling that.

I need to wear a watch for work. But, as soon as i get home, i take that watch off & put it to one side. If i could, i would probably never wear one. And in this age when just about anyone now has a mobile phone, of some kind. Do we really need them anyway?

Isn't it amazing where a simple advert for a watch, or maybe that should be a timepiece, can lead?

Time, gentlemen please.

Sunday, 13 December 2009


I have noticed recently, what is for me anyway, a disturbing trend.

I have always liked to try & keep up with the latest happenings in the world of news & current affairs. But, that is becoming increasingly difficult. It appears that all anyone wants to concentrate on & talk about these days, are trivial stories & celebrity/entertainment gossip.

My usual way of getting my daily dose of news is via the BBC.
That may be via their website. My home page is actually the BBC news site & also by watching the BBC news bulletins.
I am an avid viewer of their 6 'o' clock bulletin for example, during the week anyway (by the way, does anyone, apart from me, call them bulletins any more?)

The BBC has always been held in high regard for their news reporting & rightly so.
But, what i have noticed over recent months, is an increasing emphasis on & drift towards the trivial.
For example, on one 6 'o' clock bulletin last week, there were "news" items on Tiger Woods mother in law being taken to hospital & the upcoming X-Factor Final. Now, for me at least, that is not what i call news.

I saw another great example, just today, on the BBC news website. Admittedly it was under the Entertainment section. But the main headline was "Millions to watch X-Factor Final"
Now to me that is not news, but more information, or even just plain promotion. The same kind of reporting has been used to "promote" BBC reality TV shows, especially Strictly Come Dancing.

"News" is usually defined as "a report of a recent event"., or something very similar.
Now i do realise that telling the public of an upcoming event can be newsworthy.
For example, the recent coverage of, what was then, the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Change Summit.
But, even then, the reporting is more conjecture & guesswork, than real hard factual news.

This whole problem is part of a general dumbing down of news.
We are all presumed to be gagging for more & more celebrity gossip & trivial news items. Whilst this may be true for a part of the population, the rest of us want to hear what is really happening in the world at large. That is becoming increasingly harder to do.
There are plenty of TV shows & magazines that report & even specialise in the reporting of celebrity gossip & the best if luck to them i say. At least if i buy one of those magazines, or watch one of those TV programs, i know what to expect.
But, i don't wish to be subjected to that kind of reporting whilst watching, what is supposed to be a serious TV news bulletin.

Another problem, i believe, is the emergence of 24 hour TV news channels.
These 24 hour news channels obviously need something to report & talk about, to fill their shows. So, they've found that the celebrity angle is a good one to go down.
There is always some celebrity who is doing something that might be considered newsworthy by someone.
It is also cheap programming. They can just cut & paste something from one of the celebrity gossip magazines that are so prevelant. Or even from the tabloid press, who also seem to revel in that kind of "news".

Whilst i concede that my views may well be in the minority & that i might also be accused of being old fashioned. I do feel that this issue is having a wider effect.
Children are growing up without being exposed to what i would call "real" news.
Those world events & stories that i grew up seeing on the TV news bulletins, are just not reported so widely nowadays. The result of this is that those children & a great many adults too, are not learning about the world as i did.
Ask a child today to find Iraq, or Afghanistan on a map & i doubt that they could do it.

Whether we like it , or not, world events affect us all & events during the past decade have illustrated that to great effect.
Celebrity & entertainment events will never have that same impact.

We would do well to remember that in the future.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

...And Music Of the Past.

I've just finished reading the book "I'm With The Band", the pretty infamous story of Pamela Des Barres.

Yes, the book is primarily about her sexual exploits with many famous rock stars of the 1960's & 70's. But, another thing that jumped out at me, whilst reading the book, was a realisation that we just don't seem to have rock stars, or even music like that these days.

If i name some of the bands, or artists, mentioned in the book you might see what i mean:
The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, Rod Stewart & The Faces, The Byrds, Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa etc etc.

With the possible exception of Frank Zappa, who i know is still widely respected in musical circles, all of those bands listed are still listened to, revered & very much appreciated today. Possibly even more so than they were back then. In fact i still listen to all of them regularly myself.

Many of those artists are also considered a huge influence on modern day music & i certainly wouldn't argue with that.

So, i suppose that hat i'm getting at is, does the music of today stand up to the music of those heady years & also, will we still be playing the music of today in 30 years time?

Unfortunately, on both counts, i'd have to say a big fat NO. Well, ok, there may be a few exceptions, but not very many. I'm wracking my brains here...

I fully realise that at least a part of what i feel is influenced by the fact that i was born in 1958 & grew up listening to that same music. That always makes a difference to the way you feel about certain music & artists. The music of your youth will always have a huge influence of your future listening experience. That's only natural.

But, i really don't see many bands around these days who stand up to those of the past.
Are there really any big influential bands around now. Or, are they all just copycats of the past?
Maybe we've just run out of ideas & it's now a case of "it's all been done before"

When something supposedly "new" does come along, it often harks back to the past. And even then, the few original bands that do try a new angle are followed by many substandard hangers on.
I know that it has always been this way, even back in the 60's & 70's. But, the quality of the copycats just seemed better & more original back then.

The only really "new" music that has come along in the past 30 years, in my humble opinion anyway, has been electronic music & hip hip/rap. And i suppose the only reason that has happened is because, for the most part, the technology just wasn't available any earlier to actually help produce that type of music?

It could, of course, just be a case of the way that music is produced & sold now?
Maybe experimentation is frowned upon by record comapanies? Whereas, back in those early days it was positively encouraged. (This is a topic i may well cover in a future blog, or vlog post)
Or, maybe, the problem is far deeper than that?

There is still some very good music being made right now. But, i'm not sure that much of it will ever be considered to be "great" music.

Only time will tell, i guess?

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Re: The Day The Music Died

A video made in response to this:

The death of John Lennon - 8th December 1980.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Just One Winter.

I received an email from an American friend of mine today.
In the email he just happened to mention that his local area was forecast to have it's first real snow of the Winter in the next day, or so. That storm was going to bring approx 13" of snow with it!

13" of snow?! If that amount of snow fell in the UK & especially anywhere near me, it would totally paralyse the country & probably for a number of days as well. Everything would come to a complete standstill & we would become the laughing stock of most other countries.

In my reply, i said that i would love to experience a "proper" Winter, if only once.

Living in a nice temperate zone here in the UK, we don't really suffer any real extremes of weather, or temperature. Yes, we have our moments. But, when you look at what other parts of the world put up with, it's small fry in comparison.
That may well be a good thing? But in reality, it can get a little boring, especially these days when all the seasons seem to be blending into one warm fuzz.

Just once, i'd love to see what a real Winter, or Summer for that matter, was really like.
I realise that i'd probably have to go abroad to have this experience. After all, i'm not sure if it would be quite the same to do this in Britain.
The key, in my opinion anyway, would be to see how a country copes with this kind of weather, when it is perfectly normal. Life just goes on & people just get on with it.

When i've been lucky enough to be in Spain for a Summer holiday, i've often thought that i'd like to spend a whole year there. If only to experience all of the seasons & to see how life alters throughout the year.

When we go on holiday, or visit a country, we only ever see a sort of snapshot of that country & of the way of life.
To truly experience that way of life, you need to live it. But, unfortunately, we don't normally get that chance.

Maybe people in countries with "real" weather would rather be in my position? I wonder.

Maybe we should start an international seasonal weather exchange program?

Where do i sign up?

Sunday, 6 December 2009

It's Lake Fish Sir.

Whilst watching a video this morning by one of my favourite YouTubers, Margaret Fabrizio, who goes by the name "atree3", i was reminded of a story.

Margaret's video was one of a series she has posted about her recent trip to Vietnam.
This is the video:

Apart from the story, which will probably not make a lot of sense unless you've watched that video, especially the ending. This series of videos has also brought back many happy memories to me of past holidays, especially those holidays to more distant lands.

My story took place in Sri Lanka, which i was lucky enough to visit with some friends, way back in 1982. Just before the ethnic violence between the Sinhalese & Tamils started.

We were in a place called Pollunaruwa, an ancient city of temples & statues of the Buddha. My friend Keith & i were sitting in a restuarant by a big lake. Whilst perusing the menu, we noticed that they had fish on there.
So, we asked the waiter what kind of fish it was:
"It's lake fish sir",
"Yes, we know it comes from the lake, but what kind of fish is it?",
"It's lake fish sir"
"Yes, we understand that, but what is the actual fish called?",
"It's lake fish sir"
It was at this point that we admitted defeat!

Now, this might not seem like a particularly amusing story & it may indeed be one of those cases where you just had to be there? But, it brought all of those memories flooding back to me.

I have been lucky enough to travel to some wonderful countries. Countries such as Sri Lanka, India & Egypt. And in each of them i have travelled in an unscheduled manner, basically backpacking i suppose.
But, the common thing that keeps those memories fresh in my mind, is the fact that for each of those holidays, i kept a travel diary. All of which i still have.
In fact, after watching Margaret's video this morning & thinking of that lake fish story, i have gone back & re-read my diary about that Sri Lankan trip.

Although, i took many, many photo's during those trips. There is nothing quite the same as reading a travel diary that was actually written at the time. Especially when viewed with those photographs. It really brings them back to life.
Try as we might, we can never remember everything that happens, or that we experience. But, every time i re-read those diaries, i am transported right back to the day that i wrote them.
The sights, sounds & smells seem to jump right out of the pages. In fact some of the pages still have the original stains on them!

I'm not sure that that would ever happen again in quite the same way?
These days, we all go on our holidays armed to the teeth with technology. Whether that be a mobile/cell phone, digital camera, laptop, or video camera. There is no excuse, or any need to miss a thing.

Indeed, that is exactly what Margaret's videos have proven. She now has her exchange with that Vietnamese man all about tea, in digital form. She even has the ability to upload it to the Internet & let the rest of us experience that memory with her.
I have done the same thing myself, on more recent holidays to Spain & the USA.

In the past, our memories have only really lived on in our brains, on celluloid film, or on fragile paper. Now, those memories can be recorded digitally, edited & stored on the Internet for all to see, for eternity.

Just like an elephant, we will never forget (even if we want to)

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Life, The Internet & Everything.

Some thoughts that came out of a comment, made by a friend, about the amount of time i spend on the Internet.

Monday, 30 November 2009

It's Raining Again.

This morning my son said to me "i can't remember the last day when it didn't rain". I had to admit to him that i couldn't either.

The weather in the UK over the past few weeks has generally been pretty atrocious. Here on the South Coast at least, every day has been a seemingly constant blend of heavy rain showers & strong winds. Wave after wave of deep low pressure systems have been sweeping in from the Atlantic Ocean, bringing that wind & rain with them. That's one import i can well do without thank you.

It is either raining, has just stopped raining, or is just about to rain.

I know that down here in the South of England, we have had things a lot easier than some other areas of the UK & for that i guess we should be thankful?
I read recently that in Scotland & the North West of England they had had a Summer full of record rainfall. At least down here we had a decent, dry Summer.

I happened to say to my son that i could now understand why somebody might suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Apart from the Winter nights closing in, which i know is a major factor for SAD sufferers, the lack of any normal sunlight during the days surely can't help?

Luckily, the Winter months have never held a problem for me. But, the past few weeks are enough to get anyone down. Especially for somebody like myself, who likes to get outside. This is something that has not been very practical, as you just do not know what type of clothing to wear. There is always the obvious danger of getting quite literally soaked to the skin.
As i pointed out in a recent blog post, this can be quite exhilarating when running. But, not a lot of fun when all you want to do is do some shopping, or meet a friend.

Unfortunately, this recent weather is increasingly becoming the norm at this time of year. Whether this is as a result of global warming, or climate change, i have no idea. But, i'll admit to believing that it is.

Our weather, at least here on the South Coast & i suppose i can only really talk about what i know & experience, has certainly altered over the past few years.
Our Summer's are generally warmer, sunnier & drier & our Winter's are noticably windier & far wetter. They are also warmer as well. We get far less frost & low temperatures than we used to. Snow, which was never a regular occurence here i'll admit, is now very rare indeed.
When it rains nowadays, it always seems to be far heavier than in the past & the winds seem generally much stronger & gusty.

I've often thought that this was just me. You know how it is, the weather of the past was always nicer & more reliable in our memories. But, increasingly, i don't think this is the case. More & more people, like my son, are now noticing the same thing as me.
Maybe i'm not going mad after all?

I suppose this is just something that we are all going to have to just get used to in the future? Especially if recent experience & climate predictions are anything to go by.

Maybe i could try & arrange to spend my Summer's here in the UK & fly away to the Winter sun, like a swallow. If only....

And, guess what, the rain has stopped & the sun has come out.
I wonder how long that will last?

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Mott The Hell?


This morning i was listening to the singer Morrissey being interviewed, by Kirsty Young, for the Radio 4 programme "Desert Island Discs". One of the 8 tracks chosen for his imaginary desert island was "Sea Diver", a song from 1970's UK band, Mott The Hoople.
Nothing unusual in that, maybe, except for the fact that Mott The Hoople are hardly the most well known band on the planet. But, it just happens that, at the moment anyway, wherever i turn, the name of Mott The Hoople seems to keep cropping up.

I was recently reading a biography of Joe Strummer, primarily known as the lead singer with UK punk band The Clash. It turns out that The Clash were very much influenced by Mott The Hoople, in their early days. Band member Mick Jones, especially, was a big fan of the band before his days in The Clash.

The Clash even, quite purposely, arranged for ex Mott The Hoople producer Guy Stevens to produce their most famous album, London Calling.

Mott The Hoople were a big influence on a number of the early UK Punk bands. Partly because they were also seen as a kind of early Punk band themselves. A band who wrote about ordinary things.
They obviously also had an influence on 1980's band The Smiths as well, judging by Morrissey's record choice this morning.

For my own part. I vividly remember Mott The Hoople from my own teenage years.

Although, never a huge fan of the band, i do remember seeing them on Top Of The Pops playing their David Bowie written breakthrough single, "All The Young Dudes".
From that point on, i bought all of their single releases, many of which i still have as the original vinyl 45's.
I remember being especially proud to get hold of their "Roll Away The Stone" single, the day before it was officially released & rushing home to play it.

A very good friend of mine at the time went to see Mott The Hoople in concert, supported by a new young band called Queen. He said we might hear more about them in the future!

Recently, apart from reading that Joe Strummer biography, i have also re-bought Ian Hunter's classic rock 'n' roll story, "Diary Of A Rock 'N' Roll Star". One of the truly great books about the music business.
I was originally given a copy as a present by an ex-girlfriend, way back in 1974, when the book was first published. A fact i had forgotten all about, until i noticed an inscription, in pencil, in the back of my original copy, which i'd taken down off of the book shelf the other day.
It's a book i have read & throughly enjoyed on several occasions & i was thinking of reading it yet again. After discovering that my original was not in the best of health, i decided to treat myself to a new copy.

So, a series of coincidences have conspired to get me thinking & reminiscing about Mott the Hoople & my own teenage years, once again. And yet another coincidence is the fact that the band recently reformed & performed two gigs in London.

And, yes, i am listening to Mott The Hoople as i type this. The memories are flooding back.
Music has a way of taking you back to places you thought you'd forgotten about.

"It's a mighty long way down rock 'n' roll"

Last night i dreamt of cats...

Last night i dreamt of cats.

But, as with most dreams, by the time i'd woken up i couldn't really remember exactly what had happened in the dream itself. However, it did get me thinking about another aspect of cats that i do know & have experience about.

I live in an urban area & in my small patch i have noticed a major change over the past year.

Up until approx a year ago we used to have a number of garden birds that populated the area. That's apart from the obvious seagulls that you would expect, due to the close proximity of the sea.
Now, these garden birds were not exactly exotic. Just sparrows, blackbirds, blue tits, thrushes etc. Although we did get the occasional more interesting species. But, it was good to see & hear them anyway.
We used to have a big family group of sparrows that lived in a honeysuckle bush out the back of our house. You could hear them frolicking in & around the bush & in a strange way it was comforting to hear them.

As a birthday present, a year ago, i was even bought a nice, new bird box to fix on our wall. In the hope that the birds might be tempted to use it to build a nest in there. This had happened in the past, before the old box fell apart that is!

That box has never been put up. Why?....

Well, approx a year ago, some new people moved in down the road from us & brought with them their two cats. At around the same time, more cats arrived with another family.
Within a matter of weeks, all the garden birds had disappeared. Frightened off presumably?

Now, i have absolutely nothing against cats & actually like them & for some strange reason, they seem to like me too. My wife thinks it's because i tend not to make too much of a fuss about them. Maybe they consider me a challenge? Who knows?

Domestic cats kill millions of birds every year in the UK.
Now, if they were wild animals & killed them for food, as a means of survival, i wouldn't have a problem with that. But, domestic cats are, generally, very well cared for & have no real need to kill for food.
They tend to kill birds because it is in their nature & you can't really blame then for that i guess. They also kill them as a weird kind of present for their owners.
How often have cat owners been presented with a dead bird, or animal? I've seen it happen on a number of occasions.
I vividly remember being at my in-laws house when their cat caught a garden bird. The noise from the bird as it was being played with before it was killed was distressing & upsetting for all who heard it. Including the cats owners.
But, if you own a cat, what do you expect?
It's a bit like us humans killing for sport & we all know how that is generally viewed don't we!

Now, i don't blame the cats for this garden carnage. As i said, it's in the cats nature to do this.
So what can be done?

As with any pet, the owners should give careful consideration of what owning the pet will actually mean for themselves & for their life as a whole.
For example, what will it really mean to your valued garden bird population when you get a cat?
These things are so often not thought of before acquiring any pet. And the blame for that can be laid fairly & squarely at the door of the pet owner, nobody else.
This is obviously part of a much bigger discussion & one i don't intend to go into here.

So, please give some consideration for what you are potentially doing when you think about getting that pet. That decision can often have far bigger implcations than you might imagine.

All i know is that in my garden there are now no birds, or birdsong & i have a brand new bird box sitting idle in a cupboard.

Here's hoping i'll be able to put that bird box in it's rightful place one day.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Back To Basics.

Getting back to basics when making a video.
"We put too much pressure on ourselves to "produce". When all we need to do is talk"

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Holiday Stories

Some holiday stories told to me recently which show the complete lack of appreciation that some people have for their surroundings.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

It's Over, Or Is It?

Today, i finished watching the first two series of the British comedy series "The Inbetweeners". A programme that i'd only ever seen clips of before.

I had a few days off work & decided to watch both series in pretty quick succession. Borrowing the DVD's from my daughter! The fact that i really enjoyed it obviously helped me watch them more quickly.

Now, this is a very funny, if a little crude, series. And i honestly believe that it is one show that may well be considered a classic comedy show in years to come.

This then got me thinking about other classic comedy series of the past & in some ways why they are considered classic series in the first place. One of these reasons, i fully believe, is the fact that the best comedies know when to stop & don't tend to outstay their welcome.

I was having a conversation with my wife, after finishing my "Inbetweeners" marathon, & actually said to her, that in some ways i hope they don't make any more episodes & finish the show on a high.

There is nothing more disappointing than a great comedy show that, although great to start with, drags on & on & loses all of its initial impetus. I'm sure we can all think of great comedy shows that have allowed this to happen & on both sides of the Atlantic too. Maybe you can tell me your own nominations?

When i think about some of my favourite comedy shows like Fawlty Towers & The Office (UK) One of the things that made them so great, in my opinion anyway, was the fact that, for both of them, there were only two series. The writers knew when to stop & even resisted efforts to make more. I'm sure that adds to their appeal. Every episode is a well crafted classic & will always remian so.
Less is sometimes more, after all.

There are plenty of other examples that, although having far more episodes, also knew when to pull the plug, having run their natural course. Some have even killed off the main character to make sure that there will be no more. A little drastic perhaps. but, it has the desired effect.

Unfortunately, there have been far more, who have not done the same. I'm sure we can all think of examples of these as well. Actors & characters come & go & the show ends up being more like a soap opera than a comedy show. What a great pity that is.

Even worse are the spin off shows that sometimes appear when the writers, or actors decide to call it a day. They should never be allowed. Has there ever been a spin off series better than the original? I doubt it.

Yes, it can take guts to stop a comedy series when it is in full flow. After all, it could potentially cost the writers a lot of money to stop. But, it can often be the correct choice.

So, if the writers of "The Inbetweeners" decide that the second series will be the last, i for one will respect that decision. Even though i'd love to see some more going's on from those crazy characters.

Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.
Leaving the public wanting more is not always a bad career move.

What Has YouTube Ever Done For Us?

A response to "An anthropological introduction to YouTube" & some thoughts about sharing this video with YT friends.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Xmas Factor

Yes, it's that time of year again.

Turn on the TV, flick through the newspaper, or listen to the radio & there's no escaping the fact that Christmas is only 5 weeks away. There is advertising everywhere & Christmas musak in all the stores. It seems that everybody is trying to prise money from my pockets & you know what? I really couldn't give a damn.

Over recent years, i have become increasingly disillusioned with Christmas.

Now i will state straight away that this is nothing to do with the religious aspect of the Christmas period, far from it. Although i'm not a Christian myself, i have no problem with the religious festival that is Christmas & fully respect it.

No, where my problem lies is with the rampant commercialisation that affects the run up to Christmas.
I can only imagine what a commited Christian must think when they view all that happens around this time of year. In a strange way i feel quite sorry for them.
The whole meaning of why we're celebrating in the first place has been lost amongst a mad dash for cash.

I accept that one of the possible reasons for my increased disapproval is the fact that my children are now far older. This has a big effect on how you feel the "magic" that can happen at Xmas. When your children are younger & they still believe in Father Christmas (& maybe there's the topic for another blog?), the excitement levels are far higher for all concerned. Watching children opening their presents can be a great experience. As anyone who has observed it will testify.
Being with & meeting up with family & friends is one of the traditions of Christmas that is, thankfully, still with us. Although, even this is slowly being compromised in other ways (yet another blog topic?)

Nonetheless, i do feel that things have got a lot worse recently.
Nowadays there seems to be, what can only be described as pressure, being exerted onto us all to spend vast amounts of money & buy certain things. Almost all of which are not really needed.
When did it become almost obligatory to eat & drink to excess? Not to do so is almost seen as being strange & you can often be accused of "not getting into the spirit of Christmas".

Christmas is supposed to be all about giving, not buying. I am more than happy to buy presents & do not begrudge spending money to do so. But, in the real world, we usually just end up swapping money, or vouchers. Or, we buy gifts that the person doesn't really want, or need.

Personally, i would be perfectly happy if i didn't recieve any gifts at all.
I would rather that money wasn't wasted on items i have no need for & that the money was spent on something more worthwhile, or was given to charity instead.

Last year, at work, i sent out an email saying that i would not be sending out Christmas cards for anyone & asking that people didn't send them to me. I then made a donation to a local charity instead & i intend to do exactly the same thing this year. I was amazed at how many people congratulated me on my stance & did the same thing themselves.

Now, i realise that this blog makes me sound like some huge Scrooge like character & that's fair enough. But, i just get increasingly annoyed that the meaning & spirit of Christmas has been hijacked by commercialism & that this seems to be spiralling out of control.
I also dislike being more or less forced into conforming to another persons view of what a modern Christmas is all about.

At a time when the world is in recession & most of us have less money than before. We are being lured into spending money that we don't have, cannot afford to spend & we are spending it on things that we don't really need. Surely that's just plain crazy?

So, if nothing else, think about what you're spending & what you're spending it on. You can still have a great Christmas & maybe an even better one by doing just that.

Save your money. After all, the January Sales start soon!

And to think i didn't even moan about the fact that Xmas seems to start earlier & earlier every year!

Bah humbug.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

We have the technology....

Whilst i did not see the football match between France & the Republic Of Ireland last night, i certainly have seen the aftermath. I did follow the final part of the match via the BBC news website. but, that's another story altogether.
(By the way. For those of you who may be reading this in the USA. In this blog post Football, means Soccer. I hope that's made that clear?)

For me, this whole story is about far more than just a football match. Albeit a very important football match.

For the benefit of those who have no idea what i'm talking about. The match between France & the Republic Of Ireland decided which of those two teams went through to the World Cup Finals in South Africa in 2010. So, there was a lot at stake.

Near the end of the game, the French player Thierry Henry blatantly handled the ball & then passed it to a team mate. who promptly scored the winning goal. Sending the Irish home empty handed (ouch!) & the French to the World Cup Finals.
Although the Irish players complained at the time. The referee & his assistants didn't see the incident & therefore allowed the "goal" to stand. In my opinion, there is no blame attached to them. They made a decision based on what they saw.

There is no real debate that the goal should have been disallowed. Even Thierry Henry admits that he handled the ball & by all accounts, the French media have been a little embarrassed by it all.

But, this whole sorry situation makes me question why it is allowed to happen in the first place? After all, we are talking about a important match that was potentially worth a lot of money to the victor.
The World Cup is the most prestigious football tournament around & is only held every four years. For your country to take part in the finals is a big achievement & apart from the monetary value, it is also a big boost to the mood of the country itself.
So, to miss out is a very big deal. Especially if you miss out in such controversial circumstances.

In common with all big sorting events these days, this game was being filmed & televised.
I should imagine that in the immediate aftermath of that decisive "goal", the footage was being replayed in living rooms around the world. From several different angles & in slow motion too i should imagine. And probably all done before the match even restarted.

Now, if this footage is readily available, why isn't it being used to correct an obvious injustice?
Well, this is mainly due to an apparent unwillingness of the football authorities to embrace this technology & their reluctance to use video evidence.
For me, at least, this is totally unforgivable. If this incident does not make the relevant footballing authorites reconsider their oppostion to the use of video technology, then they should not be surprised if:
a) Football fans vote with their feet & wallets & stop attending matches, or stop paying extra to watch them on TV. Thereby denying the game & the authorities invaluable income. or,
b) Cheating becomes ever more widespread & blatant amongst players. After all, if there is a chance of not getting caught, why not try it on? This situation will then probably lead to a).

I'm sure that this is not what anyone really wants, myself included. It is, after all, supposed to be "the beautiful game".
But, it is increasingly becoming more than just a game. Football is now a multi-million pound/euro/dollar industry. Surely this is even more reason to make sure that things are done properly & above board?

Other sports have embraced technology & use it to great advamtage. So, why not football?
One of the often quoted reasons for not using video replays, is the supposed notion that they would break up the natural flow of the game. This is a valid argument, up to a point.

As i mentioned earlier, the incident last night & many others like it, would not require the game to be stopped. Every match has enough natural breaks to enable a sensible compromise to be reached.
Where there is a will, there is a way. If the footballing authorities really want this to happen, it will. So, no more excuses please.

Now is the time for UEFA & FIFA to stand up & be counted & to help protect the beautiful game.
If they don't, they should not be surprised if more people, like myself, get ever more disillusioned with the direction that the game of football is taking & vote with our feet & wallets.

We have the technology. So, let's use it & stop this kind of injustice ever happening again.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Just Say No.

yet another vilog inspired by a comment on a video of mine.

Do what YOU want to do.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Wet 'n' Wild.

As any of you who know me from other Internet sites may know, i like to do a bit of running.
Of late though, that has been a rather hit & miss affair. But, i'm once again trying to get back into it & i may even try & run a couple of races in the new year. No promises though. I'll have to wait & see how my body holds up! I'm not getting any younger after all.

I have been thinking of using this blog to write about my running progress & maybe even to relay some of my thoughts about running & what it has meant to me. We'll see.

But, in the meantime, i just wanted to mention my run this morning.

As is often the case, when i woke up there was the usual debate raging in my head as to whether i could actually be bothered to go for a run. Believe me, the hardest step is the one out of the front door.

Over the past couple of days we have been having some rather wild weather. Very strong winds & heavy rain. Not the most ideal conditions to run in, as you can probably imagine. Having said that, those conditions can be quite exhilarating to run in. but, more of that later.

As the weather seemed to have, at last, calmed down overnight. I decided to take the plunge. A very prophetic word as it happens.
Getting out the front door was no obstacle & off i went.

Now i'm pretty lucky in that i live very close to the seafront, which is the perfect place to run. No cars, plenty of room & good views etc. Today was no exception.
I'd already decided which way i was going to run. Maybe rather foolishly, this was with the wind behind me on the way out. meaning i'd be running into it on the way back. Although not gale force any more, the wind was still pretty blowy (is that a word?)

As i said before, we've had some recent stormy weather. So, it was great to run along the seafront, watching the waves crash onto the beach (the tide was pretty high at the time), checking to see what damage the storms had done & seeing what interesting items might have been washed up onto the beach.

One of the great attractions of living in a seaside town in the Winter, are the storms & the sea. There is nothing quite like watching the huge grey waves rolling in from the sea & crashing onto the beach. I could & do watch this for hours, as do many others.
This may seem a little strange. But, i know of many locals who actually prefer the Winter to the Summer for exactly this reason.

As i was running along, i happened to look behind me. I often do this, as there is a great view across the bay towards Eastbourne. Another reason is because this is the usual direction that the weather comes from, the south-west. Well, i couldn't see Eastbourne! It was completely obscured by a huge grey/black cloud & it was heading straight for Hastings.

There was no way that i was going to turn back. Not after making all that effort to get out of the door in the first place. I was also rather intrigued as to what that huge cloud might bring.
I kept on running & the wind started to strengthen, as the clouds got closer & closer.
Well, soon enough the sky grew very dark & the rain started to fall. Not too hard at first. But, within a minute, or so, the rain, mixed with hail, was pouring down & i was already getting soaked.

I carried on manfully & reached my turning point, which is basically where Hastings ends & the cliffs start. The rain was lashing down & sea there was crashing into the base of the cliffs. It was such a spectacular sight that i stopped, tried to shelter behind part of the rock face & stood watching the sea bashing the rocks in front of me. It was at this point that i wished i'd had a camera with me.

By this time, i was so wet that i didn't care any more. So, i turned around & headed for home, approx 2 miles away. Straight away the wind & the rain hit me right in the face. The rain was stinging my face so badly that i was having to lower my head to try & stop the worst of it.
I was soaked to the skin & my running shoes were full of water.

But, i was having great fun!

As i mentioned earlier, there is something strangely exhilarating about being out in that kind of weather & of battling against the elements. Which is exactly what i was doing.
I'm sure that all the people safely huddled in the relative calm of their cars thought that i & the other runners & dog walkers who were still battling on, were absloutely mad.
But, little do they know that, probably without exception, we were all getting a kind of perverse enjoyment out of the situation. The runners etc, who i did pass, all had a smile on their face. Maybe it was a knowing smile? A smile saying "we're all in this together & they just don't know what they are missing"

I eventually got home, still in the pouring rain & dripped my way into the house.
I don't think i've ever been that wet before. Certainly not when running.

But, you know what? I wouldn't have missed that run for the world.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Friday, 13 November 2009

Good Night And Good Luck.

I have just finished watching the George Clooney movie "Good Night, And Good Luck". The movie is set in the 1950's, at CBS TV in the USA & particularly set around the making of the "See It Now" programme featuring Ed Murrow.
The movie is well worth watching by the way & is based on a true story.

Bookending the movie is a speech given by Ed Murrow, the American broadcaster. In this speech he bemoans the state of American TV in the late 1950's & expresses his fears for the direction in which it is heading.
To paraphrase a part of the speech that jumped out at me, "TV has the ability to teach, illuminate & inspire. Otherwise, it is just wires & lights in a box".
What struck me the most about that quote was the fact that it is as relevant today, as it was in the late 1950's.

Although i can only speak with any real experience of TV in the UK, i have seen the way that TV has been going downhill in recent years.
TV does indeed have "the ability to teach, illuminate & inspire". But, that is so often overlooked in favour of "entertainment", exactly as it was back in the 1950's.

Yes, we still have current affairs programmes on British TV. But, these are often being pushed back later & later into the late evening & therefore attract a smaller audience. The content of these programmes has also altered. The topics covered are dumbed down & not so serious as in days gone by.
Even the main news bulletins cover stories they never would have covered a few years ago. I often despair at seeing "news" items about celebrities, or reality TV shows on the 6 'o' clock news.
Modern day documentaries, at which British TV used to excel, are not what they were. They seem to be made to appeal to the lowest commmon denominator & treat the audience as if they were all stupid.
Maybe that is another consequence of the emphasis on entertainment?

As Ed Murrow said in his speech, just because a current affairs programme may cost more to make, or attract a smaller audience, doesn't mean it is not worthwhile. If you don't allow TV to open people's eyes to what is really happening in the world around them, the implications may very well turn around & bite you in years to come. Ignorance can be very dangerous after all.

Another aspect of this topic that also struck me, was how we could also use that speech to iilustrate where we now are with the Internet.

The Internet also has that "ability to teach, illumintae & inspire". But, as i mentioned in a blog post the other day ("It's the Internet, but not as we know it"). Some people would like to turn the Internet into a giant entertainment system & in effect, a huge TV station.

Have we learned nothing?

If he were alive today, i wonder what Ed Murrow would make of this current situation?
Maybe we need somebody to make a similar speech today?

Good night & good luck.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Remembrance - 11th November 2009.

Today, at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, i stood silenty for 2 minutes on a windswept beach.
As i stood there looking across the English Channel towards France, completely alone except for my thoughts, the sun broke through the clouds & illuminated a fishing boat going about its business, followed by the usual flock of seagulls.
Something about that moment really struck me.
Here was i standing, looking at this almost poetic scene & remembering all of those who have been denied the ability to see what i was seeing.
If it were ever needed, that really brought the whole meaning of remembrance home to me.

The 91st anniversary of the signing of the Armistice, that brought an end to the 1st World War in 1918, has been "celebrated" as usual here in the UK. A 2 minute silence has been held in many parts of the country.
Due to recent events in Afghanistan, this act of remembrance seems to have taken on a whole new significance & has reminded us all, that we are not just remembering those who died during the 1st World War. But, also all of those who have died in conflicts since that war to end all wars.

I am very thankful & proud, that here in the UK, we continue to celebrate the 11th November & remember all of those who have died in those conflicts.

This morning, i heard on the radio a comment from a older German man, who was visiting London. He said that he was very pleased to see this act of remembrance still being carried out every year & remarked that, in his country, no such celebrations took place.
Personally, i find that a little sad. I also find it sad that this act of remembrance is not celebrated in the same way across the world.

At least i can comfort myself with the fact that, here in the UK at least, we continue to remember all of those who have given their lives & continue to do so.
Long may that continue.

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them"
Excerpt from "For The Fallen" by Laurence Binyon.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Music Of The Past & Present.

If you have visited my page at recently, you might have noticed a link that i have shared.
It was a link to an article on the BBC news website by John Taylor. John is the bass player with the band Duran Duran. The article was entitled "Is The Internet Stifling New Music? " & it is well worth reading by the way.

Without going into detail, he was saying how he felt that music was more exciting when he was growing up & that the Internet was to blame for this. He went on to say that because of the immediacy of the Internet & it's accesability, music was more widely available & this was, in some way, slowing down the creative culture.

Whilst i can see where John Taylor is coming from on this issue, i can't say that i agree with him.
Yes, there is now more music available for all of us to hear & be exposed to than ever before. But, i fail to see how this can be a bad thing.

Most of the great music of the past & present is influenced by those who have gone before.
There is a great musical timeline that can be drawn from right back to the days of jazz, blues & gospel music, right through Elvis, rock 'n' roll & then on through The Beatles, the music of the 60's & 70's & right through to the present day.
So, it surely follows that with this great educational resource that is the Internet now available, there is more music than ever out there just waiting to influence the modern musical artists?

If modern music is not as creative, or as exciting as what has gone before. I don't think we can blame the Internet. Maybe we have to start asking ourselves whether modern music is just not as good as it used to be?
A radical thought maybe? But, in my humble opinion anyway, it is a question that needs to be asked.

So, now that i've posed the question. I'm going to leave it hanging in the air & come back to it in the days to come.
In the meantime, i'd love to hear anyone elses thoughts on this topic.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

David vs Goliath

I woke this morning to the news that Britain had a new heavyweight boxing champion of the world.
Now, i'm not normally a big boxing fan. But, this is a little bit different & it got me thinking.

The new champion, David Haye was around 7 stone lighter than his opponent Nikolay Valuev. (That's approx 98 pounds for you Americans out there) Haye is also considerably shorter.
So, it appeared that he was at a considerable disadvantage. But, as is so often the case with these so called mis-matches, the outcome wasn't quite what some thought it would be.

So, how did David Haye overcome his far bigger opponent. Well, to use a boxing term, he boxed clever & won easily on a points decision. Apparently, he was also pretty close to knocking out his giant opponent.

What has this got to do with anything i hear you ask?

Well, yesterday i posted a blog all about the possible future of the Internet & how the big entertainment companies wanted to radically change the way the Internet was used.
At the end of that blog i asked for people to get involved & help spread the word. But, i'm sure a lot of people might think it's a battle that isn't worth fighting. After all, what hope have we all got against the might & power of the huge entertainment companies?

I'm sure we all know the Bible story of David slaying the giant Goliath & now we have seen another great example it. One that we also know to be true, i might add.

So, don't be downhearted when it comes to trying to fight huge corporations, governments & any other David vs Goliath situations you care to think of. The little man can & does win sometimes.
I'm sure we can all think of battles, whether personal, or between countries, governments etc in which the little guy has won, or at least given their opponent a bloody nose.

Sure, you have to fight & you might even get a few bruises along the way. But, you can still win, just as David Haye showed last night.
You don't even have to knock your opponent out. Winning on points is good enough.

So, get out there & fight for what you know is right.

Why So Grumpy?

Just an observation & something to think about.

Posted via web from andymooseman's posterous

Saturday, 7 November 2009

It's The Internet. But, Not As We Know It.

Just when you thought the future of the Internet was safe, along comes yet another worrying problem.
The whole issue of net neutrality & possible threats to the future of the Internet as it is now, seemed to be reducing. From what i could see anyway. I could well have been wrong though. You just can't believe anything you read on the Internet these days, can you? ;)

Now though, comes an even bigger threat.
The Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is being written & some of the proposals contained in the USA chapter of the agreement, would change the way the Internet operates in a very radical way. Although these are proposals from the USA, they would still end up affecting us all, wherever we are.
Thankfully, some of these highly secret proposals have been leaked. Probably by somebody who can see the writing on the wall. Apparently, only 42 people were given access to these documents. That shows you how secret these whole negotiations are. It also shows how worried one of these people is about the proposals. This must be a high ranking person who leaked this, after all there are only 42 of them.

Anyway, what are the proposals?
Well, the proposals, which were heavily influenced by the U.S entertainment industry, call for Internet providers (ISPs) to basically police the Internet for copyright infringements. They are proposing a "three strikes & you're out" rule. Whereby, anyone accused of infringing copyright, in any way, would have their Internet connection terminated. And if an ISP terminates your Internet connection, that affects the whole house!
Note the word "accused. This does not mean convicted, it just means being accused & anyone involved in video sharing websites like YouTube can probably think of occasions when people have been wrongly accused of infringing copyright in some way.
This obviously sets a very dangerous precedent. Whatever happened to being innocent until proven guilty?

Now, there are similar "three strikes" policies already in place, or at least being discussed, in many countries. But, none of them are as draconian as these proposals.

But, bad as all this sounds. It is the other implications of this "agreement" that are, possibly, even more worrying. To me at least.
An ISP would have to ensure that anything uploaded to any Internet site complies fully with copyright law & does not infringe anything. They would be obliged to do this.
Now, obviously, no ISP can ever guarantee this. And even if they could, it would be very expensive & would price most people out of the market.
So, ultimately, they would have to stop people uploading files to the Internet. That means that sites like YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Flikr etc etc would cease to exist.
Worrying isn't it?

Now, like most sensible people. I realise that copyright infringement is an important issue & needs to be addressed. But, this is a great example of a sledgehammer being used to crack a nut.
Not only that. But, i fear this is all being done to try & protect the interests of the entertainment industry. The same entertainment industry that is already trying to sue various Internet sites for copyright infringement & threatening to put them out of business.

What they seem to want the Internet to be is one huge TV network. One that they can control, as they have previouly controlled the TV & movie industry.

The entertainment industry generally has been very slow to wake up to the huge potential of the Internet. We have seen how long it has taken the music business to realise what's going on & now the movie business is gradually being awoken from its slumber.
They have been left behind & are not happy about it. Other people have realised the huge potential & have already exploited it.
Why should they all be made to stop because of the lack of awareness & the smug attitude of the so called entertainment industry?

What these people need to realise, as many others have already done. Is that the Internet provides an enormous money making opportunity for them. They need to embrace it, not try to change it.
Just think of all of that great, fresh, new talent that has already been discovered because of the Internet & file sharing websites. If these people are in future unable to upload their content to the Internet. Where will the stars of the future come from?

The Internet will not go away. The genie is now out of the bottle & cannot be put back.
Yes, some things may need to change. But, let's do it sensibly.

So, what can be done about this?
Firstly, spread the word about these proposals. The more people that know what is being planned, the better chance there is of it being stopped, or at least watered down.

Get involved. Your Internet needs you.

This is not the whole story. there is more to it than what i have written here.
Read more here:

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Remember, Remember..... History.

I'm sitting here listening to explosions & the general sounds of fireworks from outside my window.
Yes, it's the 5th of November once again. "Remember, remember the 5th of November. Gunpowder treason & plot". 1605 & all that.
For me, Bonfire Night has always had more relevance & interest than Halloween. But, at least both days do make you forget about the imminent onset of Winter. Well, for a few days at least.

I love the traditional side of the celebrations & the way that it all reminds me of my childhood. I also like the fact that we do still remember & celebrate these things. For me that's important.

I'm very lucky that in my own local area, we still have a number of bonfire societies who keep the flame of history & tradition burning.
In Lewes, the county town of East Sussex, they have been holding bonfire night celebrations for the past 400 years. These began after Parliament decreed that November 5th be used to commemorate the orignal Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Which involved Guy (Guido) Fawkes & his co-conspirators. There was a brief break when Oliver Cromwell banned the celebrations. But, they started again during the reign of King Charles 2nd & have continued in some form, or another ever since.

It's also usually around this time of year that we hear the familiar question "Guy Fawkes, where are you now that your country needs you?"

As i've mentioned in vlogs on my YouTube channel before. We have our own bonfire celebrations here in Hastings. Which, although tied up with the November 5th celebrations, actually take place in mid October.

What all these celebrations show me is the sheer amount of history that we have to commemorate & remember in this country.
I've always been a lover of history & when you live somewhere like this, i guess that's hardly a surprise. And the more i learn, the more i realise that the 1500 & 1600's were probably the most interesting period in that history.
That period starting with the reign of Henry 8th, through the time of Elizabeth 1st, The Gunpowder Plot, Charles 1st, the English Civil War & right up to the Plague, Samuel Pepys & the Great Fire Of London, were fascinating.

Just reading through that list of events that happened in those two centuries, makes you realise just how important & influential they were, to British history anyway & possibly beyond. And the events of those centuries still influence us now & not just because of a few fireworks either.

Over the past week, or so, i've either read articles, seen on the news, or had discussions with others on current issues, which have their origins back in those centuries.

The most obviously influential event of all was probably The Reformation, during the reign of Henry 8th.
Now, i'm not a religious person & do not pretent to understand all the details of Henry's decision to start his own Church Of England & break from Rome. But, it cannot be denied that this is one of the biggest historical events of the past 500 years.
So many of the historical events in my earlier list happened as a result (directly, or indirectly) of Henry's decision. Even the colonisation of North America was partly as a result of this. That was something i had not thought of, or considered until the other day.

I'm sure we can all of think of other possible examples too. And far more recent examples too.

We all know that events in the present can have a very big effect & influence on the future. Maybe that's something we all need to consider when any big decisions are made these days? After all, i don't expect Henry 8th had any idea how that one decision of his would change the history of Britain & ultimately, the World.

And all for the love of a woman too.....

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Entertainment? & Other Charitable Thoughts

I was checking the TV schedules earlier, to see if there might be something worth watching this evening. When i happened to notice the following programme, "7 Days On The Breadline". It turns out to be a programme where so called "celebrities" try to live "on the breadline" for a whole 7 days. The idea, presumably, is to show how the other half live, or try to live.

Whilst i can see that by using celebrities, the programme might highlight an important social issue. For me, this is just the latest in a long line of recent TV programmes pretending to outrage us. But, really using outrage as entertainment. Personally, i see no entertainment value in social deprivation.
Also, if the TV company really wanted to highlight a real issue. Why not concentrate on the families themselves, instead of having to drag celebrities into the mix?
Do they really think that we take more notice of an issue, or are more outraged about something, just because a celebrity has to live it for 7 days?

I'm beginning to think that they do. After all, why are celebrities often dispatched to far flung parts of the world to highlight a certain issue & often in the name of the United Nations, a Government, or a well known charity organisation.

I suppose i can see why this happens now. After all, think of all the money raised by Band Aid & Live Aid in the mid 1980's. For me anyway, that seems to have been the real start of all this.
And, yes, i bought the records, watched the concerts & donated money, just like the rest of us.
So, is this all Bob Geldof's fault? I wonder what he makes of the current situation & whether he ever envisaged this happening?

Maybe this is just another indication of the weird world of celebrity culture that we now live in? We seem to need a celebrity to tell us something before we will either listen to it, or take any notice of it.
I'm sure the particualr charity, or organisation involved aren't very worried as long as the money rolls in. And you can't blame them for that i guess?

After all, this is really just advertising, but on a grander scale isn't it? And, as we all know, advertising works.
They wouldn't waste all that money on it otherwise, now would they?

(By the way. This blog post has ended up being completely different to the one i intended to write. It was ever thus)

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Stephen Fry & Twitter.

Being one of Stephen Fry's 900,000+ followers on Twitter, i was very surprised to see the following Tweet, from the man hinself, appear on my Twitter feed this afternoon:

"Think I may have to give up on Twitter. Too much aggression and unkindness around. Pity. Well, it's been fun"

I'm sure that, like many of his other followers who read this, my initial thoughts were "what on earth has brought this on & why so suddenly?"

Thankfully, that Tweet was followed by another not long afterwards:

"Well maybe I'll see how I feel in a few days. Very low and depressed at the moment and any drop of meanness makes it so much worse. Sorry"

Now this might not mean a lot to many people & a lot of others may think "so what". But, this threat, if ultimately carried out, could have a big effect on Twitter & it's Internet standing.

One of the main selling points about Twitter & one of the reasons for it's huge success, is that anyone can follow anyone. Unlike some other social networking sites, no invitations, or friend requests are needed to follow a person. No matter who they are. Whether that be me, Stephen Fry, or even Barack Obama.
Now, i have only 300+ followers on Twitter & not the hundreds of thousands that some celebrities have. But, my Tweets are as visible as anyone elses.

This, of course, brings it's own problems. As with any Internet site, users have to invent a username to join the site. Now, this might be your real name. Or, you could make one up & be completely anonymous & herein lies the big problem with all such sites. Anonymity quite often breeds abuse & allows those who have such tendencies, to spread hatred.

I have no idea what has made Stephen Fry think about leaving Twitter. But, i would be a very surprised if that wasn't at the heart of it.
I'm sure that anyone with any history on the Internet has seen examples of such behaviour somewhere or other.

An Internet friend of mine did suggest that, if you join & participate in social networking sites, you can expect at least some sort of abuse at times, as it pretty much goes with the territory. Whilst i tend to agree with him & have suffered some of this abuse & hatred myself at times, that doesn't make it alright.

So, will anything come out of this?

I have a feeling that Twitter will be doing all that they can, behind the scenes at least, to persuade Stephen fry to stay on Twitter. After all, in the UK anyway, he has been a huge champion of the site & has created a lot of free publicity for Twitter, throughout his time there.

Maybe this will also create a debate about anonymity on the Internet & the issues that are raised by it? In some ways i hope that it does. It is a debate that is long overdue.
But.... we need to be very careful.
Not everybody, including myself, is happy for the whole world to know my true identity & for very good reasons too.
Our Internet anonynmity allows us to say certain things & give certain opinions that we might not be able to give, if we were forced to divulge our real names.
I totally accept that abuse & hatred, under the cloak of that anonymity, should be rooted out & stopped. But, who is to say what is abuse & what is hatred? We all have varying opinions on that, i'm sure.
After all, all social networking sites, including Twitter, have a facility for you to block anyone you wish to & to stop them following you. So, is that the answer?

As with all situations like this. Often more questions are rasied, than answered.

Personally, i hope that Stephen Fry stays on Twitter, as i enjoy his thoughts & humour.
I have a feeling that the owners of Twitter will be hoping the same thing.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Halloween - Yes. or No?

In recent years in the UK, Halloween has become big business, literally.

Although i remember "celebrating" Halloween as a child. What passes for Halloween in the UK these days, doesn't really bear much resemblance to the Halloween of my youth. But, then again, which of the traditional festivals & celebrations do?
As with most of these festivals that have their roots in ancient rituals & celebrations. What we see now is an amalgamation of different elements of several of these festivals. Christmas in another good example of this.

What bothers me the most about the Halloween of recent years, is the rise of the American influence on the way the UK "celebrates" it. Until a few years ago, very few British children would go around Trick Or Treating. Now it seems that they all do it & increasingly so every year.
I suspect that this is partly due to the spate of American Halloween horror movies & TV shows which are now shown in the UK. This has created interest in the way that the USA celebrates October 31st.

Now, i have absolutely no problem with the way that Halloween is celebrated in the USA. They seem to have turned it into an artform. I was lucky enough to be in rural Kentucky & suburban Chicago during the run up to their 2008 festivities & the house decorations were amazing. They really get into the spirit of it & it seems to be very well arranged & organised. For example, i saw whole houses decorated in huge cobwebs!

What i do increasingly object to though, is the creeping commercialisation of Halloween in the UK & the American influence in how we celebrate it. Whilst i fully realise that a lot of it is done for purely commercial reasons, i do object to seeing whole supermarket aisles devoted to costumes etc. Another thing i've noticed is the way that the emphasis in the UK seems to have shifted from the witches & broomsticks of my youth, to more of a "horror" theme.
Is that just me?

I guess that this is just me being slightly old fashioned & harking back to how things used to be done when i was a lot younger? But, things did seem to be so much simpler then. With more emphasis on fun & less on spending loads of money. There is also that feeling now of seemingly having to celebrate these festivals, or feeling left out. Especially for the children.
Personally, i don't think that's a good thing.

So, if you're going to celebrate Halloween this Saturday, have fun. But, don't be surprised if we don't all want to get into the spirit of All Hallows Eve.


Monday, 26 October 2009

U2 + YT = ?

Well, i've just finished watching the video of U2's gig in Pasadena, Los Angeles last night. Which was streamed live across the world, via the YouTube video sharing website. All 2 hours & 20 minutes of it.

Here is the link:

So, what was it like?

Well, watching a "live"event several hours it originally happened, doesn't have quite the same effect does it? But, that's the trouble with International times zones i suppose? Whilst half the world is asleep. The other half is rocking.

As for the gig itself. Well, i didn't think it was an especially good one (i wonder if U2 would agree with me?). For me, it took at least an hour for the band to really get into their stride. Once they did though, i thought the second half of the show was actually very good.

I was lucky enough to see U2, in London, during this 360 tour & have been a big fan of the band since their very first album, way back in 1980. So, i was interested to see what, if any, differences there might be to that show.
The first thing i noticed was the sound. What an echo there was in that stadium! That did get a little better. But, it was still noticable throughout.
The stage set & the lighting though did look as impressive as i remembered it. Especially during the second half of the set.

Having said all of that. I certainly don't want to criticise too much, as i think that this was a very innovative move by both U2 & YouTube. I can't think of many, if any, other bands who would be brave enough to allow a prestige gig like that be streamed live across the Internet & the world.

U2 have always been a forward thinking band. Both with their music & also their ground breaking tours. This was just another great example of that.

I believe that this live streaming was a first for both U2 & YouTube. They should both be congratulated for trying something new. Let's hope there are many more shows like this to come.

Space age stage. Space age technology. Space age idea.
It's the future you know.