Monday, May 06 2013 23:54 EDT
You're born, you do what you need to do, and then one day you wake up to discover you're 30; "The Wednesday of Your Life". I freaked out a bit on mine, and figured that the end was nigh. The day turned out to be really pretty enjoyable on reflection
, and I was given a valuable gift by an older friend; he said "your 30's are like your 20's, but you just don't give as much of a fuck". The same advice can, and should, be given to everyone at every age.
So despite recently turning 42, I'm no longer worried - but it's interesting to note the things that have
- Going out, getting pissed and "having a good time" now seems more like a threat than a good idea. Spending a weekend hacking, reading, watching films and spending time with my wife and the parrots is far more enjoyable on its own merit. OK red wine is currently a key part of the equation but I'm working on that.
- I'm older than the majority of my peers at work. Oddly, it can be quite comforting: with age comes experience, and I enjoy the occasional feeling of being sure that I know what I'm talking about. It's still very infrequent, but when it happens it's very satisfying.
- I used to think I was the same age as teens and people in their twenties. Now "people my age" ranges from 25 to 65. Anyone younger is a child. Anyone older is "a bit older".
- Worrying about being uncool is a thing of the past. It was always a bogus ideal, but now I relish it. There's a lot to waffle about here, but not now.
- A disposable income means that educational toys can be purchased without sacrifice or guilt to help keep my brain working, my childish spirit satisfied, and my skill-set increasing.
- The Internet: it's impossible for anyone with any vestige of curiosity to become bored now.
Sunday, March 31 2013 22:31 EDT
The Law (noun) has taken pride of place in my cabinet of things that are responsible for everything wrong in the world. It is a large oak 18th century corner cabinet with mirrored backs and a glass front. One day I'll take a photo for you.
Most people consider The Law (or more usually "Law and Order" - a terrible misnomer) a good thing, but that is simply propaganda from the lawmakers and the people who benefit directly from The Law. Kafka wrote a typically surreal and insightful short story about The Law which is well worth reading: Before The Law
So here is some advice from the little I have learned when dealing with The Law personally and second-hand; regardless I believe it to be true. Hopefully it will help if you ever have to deal with lawyers, the police or the man.
- Be co-operative without co-operating. Do not answer legal letters unless they have proof you received them - e.g. a signed delivery to you or by being "served". They hate that and eventually give up; it costs a lot to send a human being after you - and unless they can actually connect with you, there's no guarantee you got the message.
- Never refuse to co-operate! In fact assure your agressors that you wish to help 100%. Direct refusal is recognizable by The Law; laziness, forgetfulness, ennui and general crapness are not.
- Don't be scared by their scare tactics! Just because an envelope comes by UPS/FedEX express and contains a bunch of legal sounding threats does not mean it has any legal value at all. Lawyers are good at scaring people. Don't be scared. 99% of it is legally useless bluster. They rely on scared people contacting them. Non-cooperation costs the lawyers' clients more money.
- If you do have to deal with the lawyers then for the love of His Noodly Appendage don't do it in writing! Phone them! You may even get legal tips from your agressors lawyers that end up costing your agressor! Getting recorded phone-calls submitted to court is still a surprisingly difficult business.
- Always remember the golden rule when dealing with The Law - if you have to say something, say nothing.
- Ignore the advice of lawyers, in general. They will tell you that what I suggest is illegal while missing the irony of their advice. They get paid by the hour - longer periods of agression are good for them. They don't want it to end. if you're not paying, don't worry about it.
Sunday, March 10 2013 21:55 EDT
Before reading this post, some people will already be concerned about the use of the word "Racist" in the blog title. To some, it sounds a warning alarm of liberal joyless dogma ahead. If you feel like this, please read on. If you don't, please read on.
The following short clip from is taken from "Doctor in the House" (1954) which was the first in a successful series of comedy films based upon writings by Richard Gordon
concerning medical students in college. The back-story to this particular clip is that a medical student, in the throws of passion with a young nurse, asks her to marry him. She accepts immediately (more about this in a later post). In the sober aftermath of his ejaculation he panics and asks his colleague for advice.
Here is the clip
I'm guessing that the majority of the viewers of this clip will be astonished, offended or at least amazed. Some may find it amusing, given that it is from the 1950s. There may even be people that find it genuinely amusing today! The chance of such viewers actually being here is unlikely because most of them will be too bush watching re-runs of "Love Thy Neighbour" and "Mind Your Language".
Referring to this clip as "racist" will probably irritate a lot of people, particularly people who were around in the 1950s and maybe would even have found it funny at the time. But I'm not suggesting for a moment that these people are racist in the least, really! The world was different then. But if the same joke was injected into a 2013 comedy movie I'd suggest that the majority of those people would also agree this was "out of order".
Let's take the clip apart: Nurse Gullible proudly declares her joyous news to the other nurses who are busy looking the other way. They turn around revealing that they too have been asked to marry the young cad by revealing their ostentatious flowers. Nurse Gullible realises that it's clearly not a serious engagement if he has also asked so many other nurses, of all shapes, sizes, and levels of attractiveness. And she sighs. That's the joke - he asked all these misfits too - haha you've been fooled.
But this wasn't enough for the producers - they thought they could take it a step further. Consequently, one of the nurses doesn't turn around initially. It's only after
Nurse Gullible sighs that the black nurse turns around to deliver the final punch line: he even asked a black woman to marry him! Hilarious.
But the hilarity of his indiscriminate proposals was clearly not obvious enough to the makers of Doctor In The House so they felt the need to hammer the point home: after the black nurse turns around, she says "Me Too!", grins, and nods in the cheery way that those dark types do. The audience is left in no doubt that this is the ultimate sign that the doctor was joking! No white doctor with Donald Sinden's good looks would ever seriously
ask a Darky to marry him! Even the Darky gets that. Hahah - we all laugh at the ludicrous notion. Well obviously we don't - but the imaginary 1950's audience supposedly did.
Now,it's important to state (for the benefit of a certain section of the readership who bang on about political correctness all the time) that I still like this film. It also still makes me laugh - really! What's more I'm also glad that the film airs in its entirety with the inclusion of this scene! Not because it's funny or "harmless" or any of that Sun-reader bullshit, but because it is truly jarring for the majority of people watching in 2013. I'm hoping children are as befuddled as I was when I first saw it (back in the 1970s). And long may this clip remain offsensive - because all the while it does it means that society is a little less fucked than it once was.
On top of this, the black nurse is clearly nothing of the sort - rather a white girl blacked-up. A young child watching for the first time today would probably find that the weirdest aspect - why does she look so weird? That also suggests a more sinister and serious situation regarding casting at the time.
Oddly, that particular nurse (uncredited, obviously) does turn up earlier in the film and without exhibiting some sort of racial stereotype (beyond a ludicrous accent and being clearly a white woman blacked-up). One may even be mistaken for thinking this was a piece of pioneering filmmaking for the time - having an incidental black character without reference to her ethnicity - but then you have to remember she is only there as part of the setup to the brilliant "he even asked a Darky to marry him" joke later on.
We should continue to watch these films and enjoy them and be shocked by them. Binning them simply allows everyone to forget how far we've come, or rather how far behind we were then.
Wednesday, March 06 2013 21:12 EST
For the last three days I've had vegetarian lunches. It wasn't deliberate, and I'm not trying to make a political point (even though deep down I agree with the vegans arguments - don't judge me for this please) it's just that the vegetarian options seemed more appealing. There are two main reasons for this:
- Tofu when used in well-made, spicy, asian food acts as a flavour-absorbing medium and can provide a variety of textures. From fluffy sauce sponge to an almost hard-cheese like substance. A really rather good veggie Chinese restaurant in Center City has a dish called "Kung Pao Dried Tofu w. peanuts". It's very hot and utterly delicious.
- Seitan. According to Wikipedia it's actually called "Wheat gluten", which sounds disgusting. But it feels and tastes like chicken. So much so that I would now order it over chicken in a restaurant because it tastes better...and also because eating birds goes against the grain a little now that we have such good friends who are birds.
Today for lunch, a friend and I went to a vegan restaurant in Center City
. Voluntarily! It actually seemed appealing! The most peculiar aspect of the experience was that it was delicious without caveat. It wasn't just "really good considering it's vegan" either - it was something I find myself craving afterwards . There was a cauliflower and truffle-oil soup to start and it would have been worth a trip across the country for that alone; perfect consistency, spiced powerfully and subtly, and the truffle oil was in perfect proportion.
But then came the buffalo "chicken" sandwich. Imagine a massive, delicious buffalo chicken sandwich in a huge Italian roll, but with...well just imagine that. It was like that. But apparently it was vegan.
Yesterday I mentioned contemplating becoming vegetarian to a friend and he gave me some sage advice: don't tell people, just do what you can. If you tell people you're vegetarian and one day cave in and have a bacon sandwich you will feel like you have failed and just give up. You also look like a massive twat to the people you've castigated for not following your lead during your veggie years.
It reminded me of something I'd heard on Radio 4 (or possibly NPR) where some writers were discussing tips on their chosen profession; one of the writers suggested not telling anyone you know that you are writing a book . People always ask how you're getting on - and frequently it's difficult to write at all. So unless your book is about to hit Waterstones on the following Monday - you will sound like a delusional saddo.
Sunday, February 17 2013 21:51 EST
There's an electronic device from 80's called a "TB-303" or "303" for short. If you've never heard of it then you may want to watch a short and informative film discussing its impact on popular music over the last 20 years
Within my lifetime the 303 has gone from expensive, to throwaway, to prohibitively expensive. Even though nowadays there are thousands of software implementations of the machine that sound, to my ears anyway, every bit as good as the original - the 303 is now for rich collectors only.
Years ago, just after the 303 renaissance that made them unobtainable to ordinary folk, and just before the explosion of digital emulators, I was looking around for some open-source 303 code, and I found this little C program
. I read it, failed to understand any of it, and moved on. The emulators came
, and I forgot all about it.
Tonight, as part of a new project involving playing with sounds, I rediscovered tb.c
and had a play with it. Compiling it, running it, and pulling the output into Audacity
Lars Hamre is my hero du jour. Amazing work.
[much time has passed since the last post - the frequency will increase forthwith]
Sunday, November 25 2012 23:09 EST
Thanksgiving has happened! Yeah, some of you won't care or even know about that, but it happened nonetheless. Our experience was surprsingly pleasurable despite M having to work half the day and us attending two separate celebrations. We had a delicious and enjoyable meal in Bristol with M's dad's side of the family, and then drove back to the hood to hang out with Michele's mom's side of the fam which currently includes an extraordinary number of kids. And it was lovely - fortunately all of the kids are adorable.
) and doing some more home work for a brilliant, online, cryptography course
There are a lot of things I was hoping to rant about, but you're spared that crap because I'm tired. For the benefit of my memory, they include
- Language-obsessed developers.
- Workplaces and their fear of conflict compared to their willingness to silently harbour grudges and then create cult-like hatred of people they've never really talked to.
- The entire financial system as it is in 2012.
- Willing morons.
- Morons (willing and unwilling) who are allowed to make decisions.
- People who can't understand why anyone would be against the idea of working all day every day. (q.v. Morons)