Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Things Can Only Get Better

Things are still... challenging. The job market's a mess, and I'm stuck slap bang in the middle of it, harbouring overhanging problems from various years of bad decisions and being asleep at the wheel of my own life. No I didn't stick in at school. Yes I did leave a fairly solid job to go to university. No I didn't stay in the area that I'd made all of my social and business contracts. No I don't drive. Yes I do have RSI, mostly through my own fault. I have however reached a decision, which is that while I am looking for a proper job, I will take the opportunity between the hours of 3 and 5pm to polish up my writing and stop feeling sorry for myself. Because like it or not, right now I have the opportunity to actually slough myself out of the mire of crap I've landed myself in. In a 9-5 job, which is what the universe seems determined to land me in (no matter how nonsensical and self-defeating), I will not have this time to pursue the one avenue I am not only good at, but can still actually do without experiencing new and interesting stabbing pains every time I try (RSI is a wonderful thing. PROTIP: it isn't). SO there you have it. A blog. And a blog that is not centered around a point, because I will be saving those for the articles that will hopefully be published elsewhere and merely linked here. This is of course all dependent on me managing to fix the keyboard on my laptop, which I somehow managed to damage even more in my attempts to fix it this morning, so now the 'right' and 'down' keys are missing and the 'right' key doesn't work at all. In the meantime, I am and I hope you have also been. Good day.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

No Jobs

Just to warm up the cranky, cold old muscles and get myself in gear for an article I'm working on. I say working on; I mean 'thinking about icecream.' And getting sacked, which was a little unfair, though has thankfully it has removed a major source of stress from my life. I would consider that it has added a different source of stress - namely having no money - but considering I wasn't making a tremendous amount there anyway that worry is, as ever, still present. Oh, and Steve Jobs is dead, which makes my planned rant about Apple look a little misguided. Still, it's keeping Twitter busy, so who's to argue. The crux of the problem is that getting sacked has sort of put a downer on the planned piece, since it was supposed to be a light-hearted and yet hateful critique of the sort of person I found myself becoming, but now that I've been given the heave-ho for failing to tow the company line and fuck customers over the way they wanted, I sort of seem to emerge the hero. A lazy hero with no money, but a hero nonetheless. And quite honestly that's not my sort of article at all; I mean who blows their own trumpet like that? I don't even have a trumpet. No you shut up. Anyway, the upshot is I now reside back in the land of afternoons and coffee spoons, only I'm caffeine sensitive and will indulge a lie-in at the drop of a hat.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Riots: Explaining, not Excusing

Before I start, let me very slowly and carefully explain the difference between understanding something and condoning it, because judging by the amount of shit I seem to land myself in, it's something that needs clarifying in advance. For the purposes of this article, here are some words you can group together in terms of excusing something:
  • liking,

  • pretending it's acceptable,

  • agreeing with,

  • condoning,

  • supporting.
And now, let's look at some words that you can group together with explaining something:
  • comprehending,

  • knowing,

  • understanding.
So when I say I understand the reasons the rioters have, that means I understand, I don't condone: I explain, but not excuse. The thing is, instead of vilifying the rioters, how about looking at the banks and government that pushed the people this far? Looters may have dragged it out for what they see as fun, but you've got to look at the reason the riots started - a government that keeps pushing it's citizens harder and harder, and they're not willing to put up with it anymore. Maybe it is undereducated and impressionable idiots that are currently looting, but it doesn't help that they're under the schizophrenic pressures of a hypocritical austerity drive and a consumer culture that is incredibly practiced at making people want more possessions. Combine that with government after government cutting educational funding and voila; you have an impressionable population that are easily led and get suckered in by consumer demand, but have no money to acquire any of it. The ingrained impressionability has served the purposes of advertisers and the alcohol industry, and the government has been happy to accept tax money from the sales of alcohol. But look at the list of symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome: Poor impulse control, poor personal boundaries, poor anger management, stubbornness, intrusive behavior, poor judgment, information-processing disorder, poor cause and effect reasoning, disrupted school experience, trouble with the law, inappropriate sexual behavior, alcohol and drug problems, dependent living, problems with employment... it's like a person specification for a rioter. So they're happy to take money from the alcohol industry but are unable or unwilling to deal with it's aftermath. I just think we need to remove the social situation that causes people like this to exist, instead of wasting time on punitive finger-pointing. And the horrifying thing is, there is nothing we can do, at least not within the system. We've seen the austerity drive go ahead with no vote, a government elected using the votes of a party who explicity didn't want the conservatives in power, and bankers still going unpunished and claiming bonuses for having fucked the economy.

Look at how much the looters have cost the corporations and local councils, and then look at how much the banks have cost the taxpayer. When a government doesn't play by the law, why should we? This whole thing started with a peaceful demonstration, marching on a police station, and quickly got out of hand thanks to a minority who hear 'demonstration' and regardless of the cause, see it as an opportunity to vent aggression. But Boris Johnson, giving a statement on BBC News earlier, walked away when people started demanding answers instead of sitting listening to a pre-prepared statement that doesn't address their issues. And that is the heart of the issue. There is a greater view of the 'reality' of the situation than the immediate view that it's 'just chavs' that are to blame here. I am saying it is more important to view this as an incredibly dangerous symptom of an ill that has allowed British citizens to grow into the people who have been looting the past two nights. I'm not saying for one second that their actions weren't incredibly dangerous, irresponsible and that the individuals responsible shouldn't be charged with manslaughter to the fullest extent of the law. But if we're going to target one cause of this civil disturbance we should be targetting them all equally, and that goes right to the top of government. I just think that when we have rioting on the streets of the UK, it's time to blame the system which has profited from allowing things to get to this point rather than the people trapped within it. The people are rising up, but it's amazing that what we celebrated in Egypt and Syria is damned in our own country.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Keeping up Appearances

Half-finished ideas for long protracted rants float lazily across the re-awakening frontal lobes of this poor sod, a blogger of advancing years and advancing paranoia about the world into which I stumble. Yes, I'm typing again. You see, I'd hoped this whole 'banks' thing would blow over by the time I left university, but it looks like the rich are still getting richer, and the poor are - would you believe it - getting poorer. You, of course, already knew this. So for today, let's just write this of as me trying to get back into the swing of things after allowing myself time off from writing for good behaviour.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Still Alive

So I'm pretty lazy. I mean, right now there are many things to comment on that are of personal interest to me, and by extension the people who feign interest in what I have to say. There's the whole News International phone hacking collapse, and the UK teetering on the brink of a known industrial lobbyist taking over the two main lodestones of British political sway, namely the tabloids and Sky TV. There's the ongoing patent war between Apple and everyone, in which they just lost their first major battle and now face losing their US (and probably UK) market share. Which I find hilarious because I work in IT and see on a daily basis how often Macs don't 'just work.' But really, it just seems to be a case at the moment of not having enough time at the moment to push my agenda on the world. Maybe this is why News International have been able to get so far in my absence, or maybe it's mid-day and I need to take the special pills that stop me thinking I'm more powerful than Rupert Murdoch (nobody is more powerful than Rupert Murdoch). I moved house you see. I know, tremendously inconvenient but then along with graduation comes the gradual bleeding of real life once more into my cozy existence, and suddenly I no longer have periods where I SHOULD be working but aren't, I just have moments when I'm either working or slipping further into David Cameron's pocket. So for the blog, this translates into me probably not updating much for the next ten days. There again, I might update more often, I just don't know. This is just to warn you that there will be gaps ahead.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

God and Dinosaurs

Since i'm lazy i'm going to post a good deconstruction I saw on failbook and promise to post my next rant in a few days:


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

We are all Tenths of a Percentage

Beginning with the recap on last post's guinea pig panic (which incidentally is a name I am copywrighting as a possible computer game / theme park ride / cartoon franchise), we have researched and listened to sample noises, and things seem to be turning out OK. A little nipping still continues, but ultimately they have now settled into the normal social order, established social dominance and are letting us pick them up. Sometimes. The beef of this three course post is that I am approaching the end of the degree now with the crushing inevitability of Justin Bieber's next single. So how do I feel? Well, worried and relieved in equal measure. On the one hand, I no longer have to have every spare moment spoiled by the realisation that I should be working on an essay, or reading some of the set texts, or not getting 100% gamerpoints in Assassin's Creed 2 (I'm not going to lie, it was the most productive part of the weekend). And of course, once I get a job out in the real world I can hopefully afford things again. On the flip side of course, there's always the statistics. Only 55% of graduates are getting into jobs these days, the rest of the country's fucked, every job application puts you up against hundreds of other people and rent; and living costs and most likely incidences of toffs buggering the poor are all spiraling upwards like the rapture we were promised on Saturday (which made a great excuse not to go out - sorry chaps, can't join you this evening, got a bit of frantic repentance to do). I'm babbling. It's the result of several weeks of long, sleepless nights and wildly panicked procrastinating putting off the end of the old and in with the new. Not just a literal apocalypse, but a metaphorical one too. And despite my best efforts backfiring or going ignored (e.g. voting Lib Dem backfiring and the alt vote getting shot down), I enter the workplace at an all-time low. So there is that. And in the middle there's me, a human being just trying to make a decent living. But then that's the trick to modern living - people aren't individuals anymore. We're all a tenth of a percentage, or a tick in a box, or a one/zero effect on the group so that computers can tally us up and come up with group dynamics to sum up what we want. It's easy to let slip a million people losing out from policy, because the human mind can't process it. Cameron and the government aren't evil, they just can't see the people losing out from their actions as an army of miserable individuals. The population who should be protesting in outrage can't see it either. Nobody can. I make ready to venture out into this world, and if i'm honest, it scares the willies out of me. Writing, as unrealistic a goal as it is, seems to be my best option.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Oh to be a Parent

I don't think I've worried this much in my entire life. In a stunning-to-nobody-except-me lack of willpower and abundance of cuteness, we now have guinea pigs. We were supposed to just be looking at cute pets but at some point looking turned into holding and now we have two female guinea pigs, named Widget and Ezio. Yes, Ezio is a boy's name. It's not our fault, we named the little ginger fool before she was sexed by the vet, so we now have a guinea pig with gender identity issues. Onto the worrying, however. I have since found out that guinea pigs will insist on establishing dominance within a cage, and they do this usually by nudging, mounting and occasionally nipping at each other's heels. However the worrying part of the advice is the part most often repeated: "Don't separate them unless they draw blood." Great. That's sort of like telling me not to worry about cooling my pc unless it blows up. I'm fairly sure having a bleeding guinea pig is better prevented than dealt with, though at the moment they seem to be establishing dominance by just hopping and chasing. Well, Ezio is anyway. Widget still seems fairly traumatised by the taxi ride home, where she was sat in the footwell with every bump and noise it entailed, and is refusing to vocalise. This gets me thinking about what a panicker I am. I'm one of nature's great worriers; if something can conceivably go wrong, it already has in my head. Hence, I am sat at work imagining the bleeding wreck of a guinea pig I will face when I get back later. Ezio will have picked Widget's eyeball out and she'll be in incredible pain, and I'll have to take her to the vets to be put down, and then I'll return to find Ezio has developed a taste for flesh and everyone I know and love is dead, and I don't even have the receipt because she ate that as well. If I worry this much about two guinea pigs, Christ only knows what I'll be like as a parent.

Friday, 29 April 2011


Christ, I'm glad I'm not a modern woman. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not berating the glass ceiling this time, nor am I belabouring a biological point about the inconvenience of the monthly biblical plagues they suffer in their nether regions. But what really gets me every time about 'modern women' is how unashamedly malicious they are - at least in the media - in backstabbing each other in utterly inescapable ways. I mean listen to this from a screaming mouthpiece by the name of Samhita Mukhopadhyay in the Guardian on the royal wedding:
What Middleton is known for is her perseverance and patience in waiting for her royal beau to come around and marry, her fashion choices and her lack of focus on a career. In short, from what is seen in the media, Middleton is hardly representative of a modern woman. Women today have to work (both by choice and out of necessity) and ideally, today's women don't wait around for men to shape up... Will she continue to be a living Barbie doll, most notable for her fashion choices? Or will she make a strategic effort for social change through her newfound fame? For most young, modern women, the princess fantasy might still be strong, but it's life after the ball that really matters.
It must be an absolute minefield out there, slavishly having to adhere to this nightmarish stereotype of the modern empowered woman, never daring for one moment to slip up and show the slightest moment of weakness (or god forbid, humanity). I mean, I am utterly lazy. And that's fine, because it gives feminists something to laugh at. The feminist stereotype works fine for me because they expect it. In fact, even if I took the unexpected route and became a stay-home husband doing the chores for a career focused other half, I'd probably still get more than my fair share of support from everyone for being a bit different. Except of course the hardliners, for whom men are a necessary evil humanity should be trying to somehow breed out (but then there's no pleasing some people, even orally). But god forbid any woman should decide that she wants a bit of a lazy day, or maybe take advantage of a marriage into the biggest free-ride in the history of humanity, namely the monarchy. Maybe it's just me but if I was a woman, I would see feminism as a terrible burden driving me to overwork myself for a bastard of corporations (yes that's the collective noun, I just made it up). I had assumed feminism was about empowering all women, not just a select coven of media harridans who have decided everyone needs to be as miserable and barren as them. But if what a woman wants is to enjoy the precious time on earth god gave them, or feel human emotions like love or empathy, or just not work themselves ragged to prove a point; all of a sudden they're traitors, or fools, or being manipulated by a leering, cock-wielding hierarchy men who want to drag them down.

This from the same article:
And it turns out, most young women don't want to be Middleton either. In a YouGov study, 86% of over 1000 women 18 years of age and up said they are not envious of her position. Why? Because of the tremendous scrutiny she will face and her continuing inability to live a normal life – a truly tragic side effect of being a woman in the media.
How brave of the author to take a stand against the criticism Middleton will face in the media, by criticising her in the media. I love the ability of newspaper columnists to selectively include themselves in the bracket of 'the media' - largely depending on whether they've killed someone or stand to get a free lunch out of it. Well, I say love. I mean 'get worked up and write 650 words over.' In other news, 6,097 words on the FYP, and I'm mildly ashamed of over 2/3 of them.

Monday, 25 April 2011

1,500 to go

The next time a tutor tells me not to leave things to the last minute, here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to listen to them very carefully. Then when they're done talking, I'm going to nod understandingly, gather up my notes, and then leave them in my bag, play Mass Effect 2 and leave it all until the last minute. Because let's face it, I'm an idiot. We're all idiots, for the most part. People learn by their mistakes; so really, even if you're a mature student, university is the best place to make them (mistakes that is, not students). This is the last week before FYP deadline, so my plan really was to have the work done and redrafted by this point so that I could throw myself at the dreaded 2,000 word rationale. But no. Life holds too many exciting and interesting things for that, and you're only young once. In fact I'm not even young, so there's that. Anyway, I sit 500 words away from the minimum word count, and easy 15,00 words away from a decent word count, and the rationale as well. Soon I shall be finished, and then there's just the regular essays to be getting along with. Also an icecream van turned up while I was writing this, in the middle of a student infested cul-de-sac. Devious.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Alternative Vote / Daily Update

So, the Alternative Vote. No, don't run away yet please, I know it's politics, I know it's usually as much fun as being nailed to Jeremy Beadle, but just bear with me. We don't have to do this for long. I think I'm voting yes after a bit of research this morning. It seems slightly better than the current system, and let's face it, most of the drawbacks aren't any worse than what happens now. It just means I can actually vote Lib Dem without risking my vote going to the Cons again. Link: Q&A: Alternative vote referendum
(Thanks BBC News, I love you. No really. Marry me and have my tiny, factual babies) What else? FYP is progressing... well, it's progressing. Now currently at a grand total of 3,500ish words, but they are 3500 words I'm actually proud of and would want to read myself commercially, you know, like in a book or a kindle or a toilet wall in a particularly profound restaurant. Here be sample:
"I know now that it is a necessary part of the change. The human brain learns through instinct and over time the subtle movement and inflections of the human machine, and so many of these lessons are stored deep in automated, subconscious routines. Absolute control of the body and mind begins with the relinquishing of instinct and fear; and stripped of those, I found I was now looking at my situation with absolute clarity."
Criminy. Those certainly are some words right there.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Clean for One Week

Events in meatspace have conspired, as they so often do, to deprive my usual haunt of internet for one week. One week in which I got a surprising amount of FYP done, the missus completed Mass Effect and we discovered a new, cheap source of noodles. But yes, the FYP. The bane of our collective existences, THAT is the source of my current tension and forthcoming apology. Yes that's right, I'm apologising for the apology I am about to launch into. Sorry. I mentioned free writing as a warm up to writing last time, and it is my intention to, unfortunately, use this blog over the next few weeks as a way to get my brain into gear and producing me that nice fat 2:1 I deserve. My biggest issue right now is my brain not wanting to write - there are so many bright and shiny alternatives to doing so that, like a petulant child, it would rather watch the xbox, or or play about on Facebook, or pretty much anything except work on the capstone to the last three years. The issue is though, a lot of things accumulate over a week-long internet blackout. I haven't even looked at my emails yet, mostly because there are a bunch of stag related ones in my staff account. So there is currently a war going on in my attention span between the FYP and the internet. In other words, everything's back to normal.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


Blog noun / verb; blogged, blog·ging. 1. n. a web site containing the writer's or group of writers' own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other Web sites. 2. v. to maintain or add new entries to a blog.
Drudge noun / verb; drudged, drudg·ing. 1. n. a person who does menial, distasteful, dull, or hard work. 2. n. a person who works in a routine, unimaginative way. 3. v. to perform menial, distasteful, dull, or hard work.
Blodge noun / verb; blodged, blodg·ing. 1. n. a web site containing the writer's or group of writers' own dull, distasteful or unimaginitive experiences, observations, opinions, etc. 2. v. to menially maintain or add unimaginative and/or dull entries to a blog.
In other words no, I don't have any spectacular ideas for today, so it's rambling i'm afraid. There is a concept in creative writing called 'Free Writing,' where you just write about literally whatever's on your mind, and keep going without stopping or self editing for five minutes. Or your career, if you're Julie Burchill. At the end of this, you slap whatever you have into shape, adding the correct grammar, references and spelling to it and then trim it down to just the good ideas (again, unless you're Julie Burchill). The thing is, this is a good start for a piece of writing, but only after it's been through the mill of post-production editing and polishing. So many people now seem to see this as the primary means of production of writing: dashing off whatever comes off the top of their heads; Youtube comments, Facebook statuses, tweets, and more. As Kevin Smith said, the internet has given everyone a voice, and apparently everyone wants to use that voice to bitch about movies. Or bitch about people bitching about movies. Or bitch about... well, you get the impression. All web 2.0 has really brought us is thousands upon thousands of voices screaming into the void, hoping someone will do something about it. You know, someone other than ourselves. And the hope from our perspective, the blodgers, is that someone will sort it out for us. We're only shouting because we want something done without having to get off our arses and do it ourselves, and the increased option of feedback gives us at least the illusion that this might happen. So as a consequence, the quality of the feedback decreases by being spread too thin - if a company has 20 hard copy letters a year, they can actually give more than five minutes time to crafting a reply. But if there's a couple of thousand forum posts, or comments, or @tweets, they're more likely to fire off a quick and categorised self-help sheet that covers the vague area of concern. Ultimately it comes down to a problem with interactivity in media. Open yourself up to feedback and people expect that feedback to mean something. But it has to mean something for EVERYONE feeding back, and in the case of large corporations that means feeding back to every minor point raised, since the feedback is now so much easier to leave. See? Karl Pilkington was right. You leave your mouth going long enough and the brain starts working.

Monday, 7 March 2011

I do not write, therefore I am not

Let me clarify something. I call myself a writer, but do so with absolutely no authority. I have never been published. This ethereal pissing into the wind is about as much a form of publishing as the crazy guy shouting on the train is a form of media personality. But if anyone asks me what I want to do (and in my third year, they DO), I answer without hesitation "A Writer." I want to be a writer. I'd rather be a writer than anything else. A day job is just the thing I do to pay the bills until the Guardian notices me and all of a sudden I'm having lunch with Charlie Brooker and Danny Wallace. They both secretly hate me of course, but smile politely because I'll name-drop anyone. But we are currently being bombarded, the other half and I, with a steady stream of brochures full of management babble about how they want graduates to work for them. It's all 'realising potential' and 'maximising productivity' without ever actually saying what it is that you (or even the company) actually DO. Really. There's one company in there who's page I read three times, and I still have no idea what their end product is. But it all sounded very decorative, regardless. I'm just very suspicious of people who offer you £35,000 and a gym and don't tell you what you have to do. I'm fairly certain that's how hitmen start out. Paranoia aside; is the entire upper echelon of the working community now made up of terrified postgrads throwing bollocks at each other? Thinking up more and more convoluted sentences to cover up the fact that they don't understand the management babble they were replying to in the first place? So maybe that's it. The writers have lost. There are no great novels any more, just marketing copy and a population too caught up in baffling and sesquipid turns of phrase to realise it means nothing. These people exist to manufacture, hype and trade networks of bollocks, and the money's all so knotted up in that level of tittybollocks that there's nothing left for the people who actually do some sodding work round here. I don't include myself in that noble category, by the way. I'm a writer.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Now we have Adwords

A brief note of semiparental responsibility pulls at my heartstrings - the kind of parental responsibility that would occur looking at a toddler who's holding a bag of flour, and hasn't thrown it yet, but you know they're probably going to, and it's going to make a mess, and you'll have to apologise to the woman he's aiming it at... You see Google sent me free Adwords money, so if you've been misled here through an Ad, I can only apologise. Really, I do. I tried not to bother you while you were just innocently stalking people on Facebook, or shopping for cats on Ebay or just looking for porn like everyone else. Really, I'm sorry to have troubled you. I even tried to make the ad weird enough that nobody would follow it, but here you are. Anyway, enjoy the scenery and rants. Having been given this free money gives me an annoying responsibility to actually put up content over the next month, so we'll see how this all works out. And I'm sorry about the flour. It'll wash out. I promise.