Monthly Archives: August 2008

Technological Marvels of the Future

SIM overlayA while back, the tech-press mumbled a lot about a device that goes between your mobile [cell] and your SIM that effectively unlocks your phone. Yeah right. A device that unlocks any GSM phone, regardless of manufacturer ? Does it come with snake-oil dressing ?

One evening as I was reading news of this miraculous device, I had consumed just enough red wine to lubricate my credit card so that it slid from my wallet and forced me to buy one. Remember kids: don’t drink and HTTP.

I forgot about that particular purchase until today, when a little jiffy bag arrived in the post from Hong Kong. It took a while to find the tiny contents, but once I realised what it was, I tried using with an AT&T SIM, in a T-Mobile locked phone. When I powered up the phone…it worked…perfectly.

There’s no way you could possibly make a little device that unlocks all phones. But they have. I’m very excited. It means that teleport and time-travel will be with us in a matter of weeks.

Damned clever these Chinese.

Wunch of Bankers

During my previous employ, the local bank, who were also owned by our company, invited themselves in to see us all and try to flog some bank accounts while they were there. They brought bagels and ran a competition to win an iPod shittle, which I was lucky enough to win. What I neglected to mention in my previous post was that the bank manager pleaded with me to open an account “in return” for winning the iPod. Now, on reflection, I realise the correct and appropriate response should have been “Fuck Off”, but I genuinely pitied the pathetic little man. And anyway, what harm could it do to have another account ?

Six months or so later, I am currently doing my best to avoid any contact with that company, on account of their close alignment with Beelzebub and his army of evil demons. They don’t have our current address, they only have the address of my in-laws where we lived at the time. But recently they have been calling daily, which obviously became quite tiresome. So, I investigated and decided to close the account and sever the last link to the bastards. To cut a long story short, I was overdrawn because:

  1. They had charged me for not using the account.
  2. This had taken me into a non approved overdraft, for which I was fined.
  3. Not thinking about this pointless account, which I had set up out of pity, I hadn’t paid the fine.
  4. So I was fined even more.
  5. Repeat the last two steps.

So I called their evil automated corporate-fascist system and pressed random keys until the computer gave up and put me through to a human. In the end, there are two things that came of of this experience everyone should know:

Any bank charges you are given will be canceled if you insist.

All banks are cunts.

Random geek DnB

Happy Birthday debianNow, I’ve worked in some geeky places in the past, but working with a Dave that feels passionately enough to celebrate the birthday of debian with a chocolate cake is pretty special. When he went to the supermarket and asked for the inscription, the lady said “debian ? Is that a girl or a boy ?”

“It’s an operating system” he replied, accurately.

It was pretty bloody yummy too.

In other news, here is a little 20 minute audio documentary about a 6 second snippit of an obscure 1969 b-side that has not only altered the face of music in the last 20 years, but has created several entire genres of its own.

Adventure in Lost Norristown

It may sound a little pathetic to the PA posse but this weekend we decided to go on an adventure to Norristown. Anyone that knows Norristown will probably be thinking “why would you go to a shit-hole like that ?” whereas UK readers will no doubt be wondering which “Norris” it was named after…the one in Coronation Street ?

Anyway, we went there because we had heard rumours, and had seen accurate maps on Google, that indicated there was an Indian supermarket there. We miss supermarkets that sell Indian ingredients. A very nice girl that I work with will regularly buy us stuff from the Indian supermarkets she visits, but apart from the hassle we are causing her, we like to shop. So we set off on the perilous mission into the unknown, armed only with loads of money, a car, a GPS navigation device, and The Klub [ a krook-lock ]. Bravely, we drove up Ridge Pike until we reached our first stop-off point: Ah’s Garage Sale. Other adventurers had recommended this place as a source of some wonderful treasures and indeed it was. I’ve never seen such a load of quality crap. I bought a practice bass-amp but Michele persuaded me against buying any of the old radios, DVD players or cash registers.

After this pleasant sojourn, we continued on our journey.

The “Shree Ambe” supermarket exceeded our expectations and was able to provide us with the vital ingredients of the Lamb Dhansak we were planning to cook that night. However, on the way along Ridge Pike, we noticed a nearby “Dosa and Chat house” and so, as we were desperately into the Indian thing, we went along. It was spectacularly good. It was also spectacularly filling – so much so that we couldn’t face cooking a huge curry for dinner. Instead we ordered pizza, and watched The Bank Job, which turns out to be, not only highly enjoyable, but a (partially) true story with all sorts of extra goodness. You can’t get better than that for a weekend’s fun can you ?

Han shot first: part 2

This will be brief, and I promise not to mention it again on this blog. Talking about proper politics is a good way to get labeled a conspiracy theorist.

Think of the world as a Risk-style board game where you are playing as the USA. The dollar has lost most of its respect and therefore, under capitalism, its value. Meanwhile, the Euro has been doing rather well and Europe seems to be getting on like a house on fire. Not good for you, as America is it ? Then consider Russia, with enormous energy reserves and a newly capitalist friendly economy. Russia is also getting on very well with Europe. If those two join forces, the dollar is toast.

So, how would you, as the US, make a comeback (remember that this is just a game, and that you have to try to “win” )?
How about taking a worthless ex-Russian state, say Georgia, and then encouraging Russia to “invade it”? You could then summon devilish images of Stalinism, or even Nazism, and everyone would defend you. Especially as no-one actually trusts ex-KGB Putin. But how could you possibly encourage Russia to invade Georgia ? Well…what if a chunk of the country has a Ulster-style belief that they are still part of Russia ? Also, what if the president of Georgia is a maniac with a deep-seated (albeit justified) hatred of Russia ?
All you need to do is supply Georgia with arms, training and promise to support them. You could even promise them entry to NATO. Then you point them towards South Ossetia and stand well back.

You have seen the result. For the first time in a long while, it’s not about oil! The pipeline in Georgia is a cunning red-herring designed to engage the support from the cynical. Even the most left wing anti-war protesters would be prepared to believe Russia was responsible. But why would Russia really give a toss about an oil pipeline in an ex-state when they have more natural energy resources than you can shake a stick at ?

The news networks have all been displaying bizarrely inconsistent views of the situation. But I can’t help noticing that the real news is getting out through stealth reports. For example, tonight on BBC America was a long report about America’s “hard stand” against the revived red-menace. Then there was a report about how, in the last week, the dollar has rallied against the Euro; an event that could be regarded as evidence that the real background of the “Georgia crisis” was an attempt to destabilize Russia from its comfy relationship with Europe…and thus helping lose confidence in the Europe. Seems to be working.

The answer to the question “Who attacked whom first” is Georgia attacked South Ossetia first. This was reported on the news at the time but now you’d be hard put to find any news network willing to say so. But there are enough first hand reports from disinterested and comparatively trustworthy sources if you look around. There is no question about this as far as I am concerned. Even Saakoshvili admits it, with the defence that he believed Russia was planning an invasion. In other words, they hadn’t invaded already.

Some more questions you may want to ponder over. Why was Putin so obviously furious, if it was his invasion ? Why would Russia be in the slightest bit interested in regaining Georgia when they have masses of natural resources and a bright future in Europe ? Why did Georgia attack South Ossetia with no provocation ? Were the US Marines, currently stationed in Georgia, involved in the attack on South Ossetia ? If the Georgian attack was directed towards a Russian invasion, why were they attacking the civilian population of South Ossetia ?

You may think that is is a conspiracy theory. I think you’d only be half right.

Han shot first: part 1

The Georgia conflict has many people very confused. That would have included me until a few minutes ago when I saw Larry King “interview” Michael Gorbachev, and then “interview” Mikheil Saakashvili. Normally I’d have gone away just as confused by the arguments, but today I had read a disturbing article, forwarded by my dad.
The article disturbed me because it presented a view of the recent events in Georgia, Russia and America that would, if true, show that I have been sucked into the PR machine and been tricked. But, if they turned out to be false, then certain things I have observed to be true, would be wrong. Read it, all the way through, and then help me out.
It seems that the article is suggesting several things (forgive my childish summation here):

  1. Russia doesn’t give a toss about taking back control of Georgia.
  2. Russia doesn’t give a toss about the oil pipeline that goes through Georgia.
  3. America deliberately constructed the whole Georgia situation to undermine Russia. They hoped Russia would retaliate to the military action so that their credibility as a European ally would be bruised.

Now, to me that sounded way too far fetched. But over the course of the day, things started to become clearer. No matter which way I thought about this, the only logical reasons for what is going on over there were…well…bizarre. It would mean that the news networks of the world were being coerced into avoiding the truth. And I mean avoiding the truth. They weren’t necessarily lying (apart from Fox, but they don’t count), but they have clearly avoided certain facts. For example, do you know the answers to these questions ?

Who invaded whom first ?

Do you know ? Do you have an idea ? Did Russia invade Georgia ? Or did Georgia invade South Ossetia ? Is South Ossetia part of Georgia or part of Russia?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions then do some research. I’ll stop talking my bollocks now.
But the answers are pretty fucking clear. The conclusions (and answers) another evening.

Stupid people

On the way to work this morning we saw a mullet-headed, mustachioed, baseball cap-wearing, smoking, cock-end who was not only driving the most obnoxious vehicle you can imagine, but he had adorned the rear with a sticker that read “Drill Here. Drill Now. For Cheaper Gas Prices.”

This I find offensive. Not just because he’s talking about drilling yet more oil so he can drive his pathetic cock on wheels for a bit longer, but because it seems abominable that someone as utterly stupid as he should be allowed out of his house, let alone on the road.

One the way home I sat on a bus, in a traffic jam, with three of the loudest, most ill-informed fuckwits sitting directly behind me, all discussing the bible. For the entire journey. If the jam hadn’t cleared when it did there would have been ambulances.


Wedding in the family - 1914What were your family doing in 1914 ? Mine went to a wedding, and here’s the evidence. Some aspects of this picture are truly frightening, even more so when you know how old (young) they were. As my father in law observed, “looks like they had a really good time.”

By the way, My grandad is one of the kids in the front row.

The F Word

Imagine for a second that you were the dictator of a vast country with loads of cash to hand and the knowledge that your subjects were so scared of you that you could pretty much set fire to them and make them jump though the air with a smile on their faces. Then imagine you were asked to host the Olympics and in doing so impress the world. How would you do it ?

Well, if you were unlucky enough to watch any of the opening ceremony this evening you will know the answer. To be honest, it was a pretty easy question. The answer is, of course: force thousands and thousands of chinamen to smile and dance about and spend a disgusting amount of money on pyrotechnics and electricity. Obviously, you can raise the money needed by “asking” the thousands of chinamen to give up their homes, lives and anything you bloody well feel like they should give up.

Yes, the sight of thousands of chinamen dancing in exactly the same way with glow sticks is an amazing sight; you don’t see that every day! But if you were a dictator in a country containing millions of chinamen it would be a simple matter to get them all to dance for you.

In preparation for this “inspiring world event” lots of really nasty shit occurred including:

  • People being kicked out of their houses so that they could be destroyed without being given compensation
  • Thousands of people had to be called upon to help clear a virulent algae
  • People being laid off work so that the factories in which they slaved stopped producing nasty chemical waste that would have caused Bejing to fail the environment cleanliness test.

But this is nothing special compared to the stuff the Chinese government does on a normal daily basis – you knew that of course, as do we all. You don’t have to remind “the free world” about communist China’s appalling human-rights record. Even George “Waterboard” Bush felt the need to castigate China for their policy torture (that must have pissed them off). Of course, a civilised country like America would never mistreat human beings – that’s what Cuba and Syria are for.

So, it should be no surprise to see how extravagant the ceremony was. Of course it was, and of course it involved millions of compliant chinamen. Did you expect anything else ?
But what we should really be looking at is what’s between the lines. All of the good capitalist advertisers paying stupid amounts of cash to get mentioned inbetween the flaming chinamen. My personal favourite is McDonalds who placed their “Golden Arches” on a red background in homage to the hammer and sickle. I’m sure some people on the board responsible for this commercial found it funny even. It isn’t funny. In fact it could be one of the most significantly unfunny things you have ever seen.
[ Update – it has been pointed out to me that red was always the background color for the arches – they also used the same color scheme for the 2004 Greece Olympics so I’m not being fair here. ]

China is not a Communist country; it is in an extremely advanced form of Capitalism. Look on western world – it’s what we will become. I wont use the F-word because many people regard that as “taking things too far” but that’s what it is. If you think I’m talking about the word “Fuck”, you are so wrong.

You’ll know when it’s coming because you will be asked by your government to be “patriotic” and “vigilant”. You will also be warned about “terrorism”. When that happens you know you’re en route to the F-word.

P.S. if you were offended by my deliberate use of the word “chinamen” throughout this post, then you have a long and tedious future ahead of you that permanently involves missing the fucking point.

Yappy Hour

Last week, at the Manayunk Brewing Company, I met Michelle (two “l”s) who reminded me a lot of New Cross. In fact if I had to draw a simile between Manayunk and New Cross, the Manayunk Brewing Company would closely map on to the Hobgoblin. They’re wildly different places, but there are a lot of cultural similarities, including the possibility of meeting interesting people. In fact if Michelle is ever unlucky enough to leave the University of Penn and move to London, she should probably go for a job at Goldsmiths – it would work.
It’s hard to make friends when you move to a new town/state/country and so when you meet someone who speaks the same language it’s quite comforting. Michele and I have been lucky enough to meet quite a few like-minded people in Manayunk; including parrot people!
Anyway, tonight Michele and I went along to a local benefit do that Michelle (two “l”s) had helped organise. There was a free bar and free food, and we hoped to meet some other local people and partake in the atmosphere. Apart from Michele and Michelle meeting and chatting, the only other person we met was a Texan sailor who was moored in Philly for the week. He turned out to be a “thoroughly bloody nice chap”(tm) and was very popular with the laaaydees. Not quite what we expected but we were enjoying ourselves regardless.
There was a massive set of raffle prizes, and we even won $40 of vouchers for our favourite pizza place, together with two t-shirts. I gave my t-shirt to our salty friend as a memento of Manayunk and he was so chuffed that he offered us his raffle prize of a voucher at some womens store or other. We both pointed out that he’d be better off giving it to whichever young lady in the place he wanted to impress. As if by magic, a young lady appeared at that very moment and attached herself to him before dragging him off to a table full of other young ladies.
A good night all round.