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Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Vlogging Without A Safety Net

I've finally got around to uploading this video, after recording it over a month ago!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

AudioBoo - Sticking To Your Principles.


Just because i may not like what you do, doesn't mean you shouldn't do it.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Census Or NonCensus?

Has the Census run it's course & do we really need it in these days of Social Networking?

A beach vlog.

Friday, 18 March 2011

AudioBoo - Musical Enthusiasm.


Chatting about the local music scene in Hastings. Something i'm very enthusiastic about.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Tsunami Porn.

I've no doubt that we've all seen many videos, over the past few days, of the terrible events in Japan.

Whether we've viewed them via traditional media, such as the TV, or whether we've seen them via links on sites such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, they have been compelling viewing.
As the days have past, more and more videos have appeared, or been discovered. And somewhat inevitably, those videos have been ever more amazing, frightening, awe inspiring... insert your own grizzly adjective here.

But, what draws us to these videos, to the many photos on the Internet, to read the newspapers, or to watch the rolling 24 hour news channels and their continuing coverage?

I have seen this phenomenon described as "Tsunami Porn", hence the title of this blog post.

But, does this term relate to what the viewer actually wants to see, or to what the 24 hour news channels think that we want to see?
I suspect that there may be a difference.

One of the consequences of rolling news is the need to fill that time with something, anything.
When there is a disaster of this kind, and we have had several examples over recent years, this can often lead to, what i would class as, intrusive, crass and over the top reporting.
There is almost a sense that some reporters are revelling in the situation because of the "great tv" that this must be making. I'm sure that this is not intended, at least most of the time. But, that is the way it often comes across to the viewer.
There is also an apparent need to find a new angle on the story. Something that another reporter hasn't thought of, or discovered.
A need to outdo the other side, if you will.

I would suspect that many viewers don't actually want to see the same news story dominating every minute of every news bulletin.
We don't always want the news bulletins to be extended, or news specials to replace our normal programmes, so that we can hear even more about what has happened.
We don't need to hear essentially the same thing from several "special news correspondents", who have flown into the area especially.

This may sound a little hard hearted, but i believe it to be true. Especially in these days when the news is available elsewhere at the touch of a button, or the click of a mouse.
And, maybe, that is at the heart of the "problem"? That need for the tv companies to keep you watching their own version of the events. Rather than you rushing off and watching it somewhere else.
Hence the need to show us more and more. They think that is what we want to see.

As with so many things these days. I'm not sure that we are treated as adults, or as people that are quite capable of making up our own minds about a particular topic.
That is one of the reasons that i now get so much of my news from sources other than tv. And i suspect that i am not alone.

I still watch the BBC news at 6 o clock. But, that doesn't mean that i don't get annoyed when some celebrity story appears, or an item that seems to be a blatant plug for another BBC programme.
(Other news programmes and channels are available, but are usually even worse)

But, i may well be in a minority in feeling this way?
I'm sure that many viewers are clued to their tv sets and can't get enough of what is being shown to them. Maybe they want to see ever more revealing footage, or intrusive interviews?

Maybe, i'm also just becoming so used to getting most of my news via the Internet, that the tv just can't provide what i want anymore?
After all, there is very little being shown on the tv that i can't access either on the BBC News website, which is my homepage, or in some other corner of the Internet.

I can get all the Tsunami Porn that i want via links on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc. And, to be honest, that's exactly what i've done.

I have watched, re-tweeted, shared and linked several videos over the past few days.
Many of these videos have been from Japan, but some have been of the after effects in places as far from Japan as Hawaii and California.

But, i think the differnce is that i've tailored my viewing to my own personal tastes. Something that the Internet allows me to do.
Whether it be Internet porn, or Tsunami Porn, we can choose what we see and when we see it.

My own desire to see the after effects of the Japanese earthquake and the subsequent tsunami (ironically a Japanese word), comes from a lifelong interest in earth sciences.
The study of volcanoes, earthquakes, plate tectonics and Earth Sciences in general, are one of those subjects that i've often wished i'd studied when younger.
I've long thought of doing courses, or even an Open University degree, or diploma based around these topics. Throughout my adult years i have read many books and watched many tv documentaries around these very topics.

The forces of nature fascinate me, hence my interest in recent events in both New Zealand and Japan.
And why do these subjects interest and fascinate me so much?
I'm not sure that i could ever fully explain that, but i do think the answer lies in a sense of wonder of what the forces of nature can do, despite all our best efforts to stop them.

Just look at Japan. A nation that was better prepared, because of its history, than any other to survive those natural forces. But, as we've seen so tragically over the past few days, when mother nature does its worst, there is nothing we can do to stop it.

In the end, we are all at the mercy of the forces of nature. We will all have to just accept that, no matter how unpalatable that truth may be.
Any event, such as the Japanese earthquake, that can shift the entire country 8 feet and also move the Earth on its axis, deserves much respect.

So, it may be Tsunami Porn for some, but for me it's just a sense of wonder over what the forces of nature can unleash amongst us.
And it's legal too.

The Effect We Have.

Our influence on others, whether we realise it, or not.

SoundCloud link:

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Going The Distance.

In exactly two weeks time, on Sunday March 20th, the 27th Hastings Half Marathon will take place on the streets of the town.

This is the sort of event that Hastings does so well. So much so that it is regularly voted the best half marathon in the UK and quite rightly so.
The race is a real credit to its organiser Eric Hardwick. A man who deserves all the praise that he might get.

At this time of year, the towns streets and especially the seafront, become crowded with runners of all shapes, sizes and abilities. All training for the big day.

I'm sure that the Hastings Half Marathon has been the first stepping stone for many local people on that, often, long journey to fitness and a better lifestyle. And if nothing else comes from the event, that in itself would be a great legacy.

Having a race of this kind in your home town does wonders in getting people into their first ever pair of running shoes. I often wonder how the percentage of people who live in Hastings and have completed a half marathon compares to other similar towns? I'm not a betting man, but i bet it's right up there with the best.

Running and completing a half marathon is an achievement to be proud of. Something that takes a lot of effort, training and dedication.
13.1 miles is a long way, especially in Hastings, where the first 5 miles of the course are uphill!

But, there is one thing that does annoy me about all of this.

It doesn't concern the runners themselves, or the organisers. It concerns members of the general public and their ignorance of the race.

I have lost count of the amount of times that i have heard ordinary members of the public refer to the Hastings Half Marathon as "The Marathon".

It is NOT a marathon, it is a half marathon!

This may seem like a minor issue to most and i'm sure that the people who make this mistake mean nothing by it. It is most likely a genuine error. But to me at least, it matters a lot and is a constant source of annoyance.

For a start, there is the obvious matter of a half marathon being 13.1 miles shorter than a full marathon. It is called the Hastings Half Marathon for a very good reason.

As someone who has run countless half marathons, including Hastings 10 times and 7 full marathons, including the London Marathon 4 times, i can tell you that those "extra" 13.1 miles make a hell of a lot of difference.

As i said earlier, i have the utmost respect for anyone who completes a half marathon, but a full marathon is a completely different animal.

For a start there is the training.
I know people who have completed a half marathon with very little training. They may have struggled, but they got round. This would be almost suicidal and certainly very foolish, if doing a full marathon.
Personally, i also think it's foolish if you're doing a half marathon, but....

An "expert" would usually recommend at least 6 months training for a full marathon, as a minmum. That requires a lot of dedication, potential support and understanding from family and friends. That time will also include many lonely hours spent pounding the pavements. Often in inhospitable conditions. Rain and strong winds are no respecters of a runner.
Believe me, a 20 mile training run can be a lonely experience.

But, for me, the main difference between running a half and full marathon is a mental one. It's all in the mind.
It takes a strong will and single mindedness to complete the training schedule alone. Although you are "only" training for an extra 13.1 miles. That training schedule becomes far more intense.

It is in the race itself though that the mental side of things really comes to the fore.
When i ran a full marathon i often used to think that the race didn't really start until around the 20 mile mark. That is the point at which it really takes an effort to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Especially, if like me, you are aiming to run every step of the way.
By that time your body is pretty well exhausted and it just becomes a real case of mind over matter.

But, all that time, pain and exhaustion are well worth it. Believe me, it is quite an amazing feeling to know that you have finally conquered the full marathon distance.
If you are lucky enough to have done so at an event such as the London Marathon, it is an experience that will live long in the memory.

I can honestly say that running generally and especially running marathons, really improved my mental strength. I'm quite sure that many other runners would say exactly the same thing.

So, if you want to improve both your body and your mind, why not try running a marathon, or even a half marathon?
They are both a great experience and a great achievment and you can then be very proud of yourself for having completed one.

Just don't get the distances muddled up, or you'll have me to answer to!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Never Meet Your Heroes?

A meeting with Roger Daltrey of The Who & i got paid to work with him. All because i said "Yes' to something a few years ago.
Who knows where your decisions will take you.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

AudioBoo - The Station Cat.


Where did they go and other thoughts.

Pedants R Us.

Ok, so the title of this blog post is a little misleading. Because i'm not really that much of a pedant, honest.

In fact, i sometimes get a little annoyed with "The grammar police" who seem to patrol the Internet in search of misplaced punctuation marks, apostrophes in the wrong place, or bad grammar.
As long as the meaning of what the person is saying isn't lost, does it really matter that much and is it worth getting all worked up over? Well, obviously it is for some people, but you know what i mean.

Yes, badly used grammar and punctuation can have an effect.
A great example of this is provided on the cover, which is as far as i've ever got, of "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" by Lynne Truss. A book all about grammar and bad punctuation.

Here it is, in case you've never seen, or heard it before:
"A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.
'Why?' asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
'Well, I'm a panda,' he says, at the door. 'Look it up.'
The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. 'Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves".

But, i've never, yet, seen a panda with a gun and until i do i'll try not to lose any sleep over what i'm sure in all cases are honest mistakes.
As i heard somebody, quite rightly, point out the other day. Language is evolving all the time and has always done so. That's the main reason many people find the works of Shakespeare and Dickens etc so hard to get on with.

Thankfully, we don't still speak the English language in the same way that Shakespeare did. Although some foreigners probably think we do! Proof, if it were needed, that language alters over time.

New words are added to the Oxford English Dictionary every year.
Just think how language has changed over your own lifetime, especially in the past twenty years. Text speak and the language of the Internet have altered things forever, whether we like it, or not.

Maybe, that's the problem? People are always harking back to those bygone days when everybody spoke the "Queens English", spoke in an upper class accent and wore a tie and a hat.

But, the English language is a mish mash of words borrowed, or corrupted from foreign languages. You only have to see the amount of supposedly English words which are actually of Indian origin to realise that.

In fact, if you go back far enough, it is thought that English is actually Germanic in origin. A remnant of the time of the Anglo Saxons.
The Norman invasion of 1066 obviously changed things once again, adding a French dimension to "English".

I've even seen a suggestion that at one time punctuation didn't exist.
After all, there is no real punctuation in speech and the written word, especially for the ordinary citizen, didn't really arrive until the invention of the printing press.
Back then people were more worried about having enough to eat, than bothering about anything else

And, maybe, therein lies the problem? People have more time to worry about, what are essentially, trivial matters in the modern, western world..
But, as is always the case, what is trivial for one, will be earth shattering to somebody else.

I certainly know which side of the argument i'm on.

(By the way, this blog post is nothing like the post that i actually intended to write. Things quite often happen like that around here!)