Monthly Archives: February 2009

Glitches and bugs

American news media doesn’t really cover many stories that aren’t directly related to America or Americans. So ever since Obama was elected all we’ve heard on the mainstream media is a perpetual discussion of what he said today, conjecture about the implications, random predictions of how it will pan out, and how the Republicans reacted. Obviously the Murdoch organs are emphasizing that last point more than anything else, but what do you expect from media run by Beelzebub himself. But it’s clear that the twitching, wrinkled, mephitic remains of his revolting earthly manifestation are getting desperate. A Monkey ? Really Rupert. Face it, you lost this time. Now just pop off and die in a fire would you ?

The bewildered Republicans have been throwing their toys out of the pram since Obama decided to spend a load of government money on the poor majority, to the almost negligible cost of the rich minority. The only thing I don’t understand is why anyone would object to reducing tax breaks from the very rich to pay for healthcare. How can anyone possibly think that is anything but straightforward common sense ?

The top end of the economy is fucked. Over here that means that the poor are in serious trouble. Not the bankers who are directly responsible, but the poor. No bonuses for them, just the dole queue. And not like the British dole queue, because this one is fatal. If you get ill, you could easily die, because you can’t go to to the doctor. Healthcare is really, really, really, seriously expensive. If it wasn’t so expensive then Blue Cross couldn’t possibly afford to have their logo on top of the tallest, shiniest, pointiest, most phallic skyscraper in Philadelphia.

So the idea of these massive, wasteful, cash-cow health insurance companies being threatened by the spectre of public heathcare worries Republicans. Even the poor ones.

You see Republicans here all suffer from severe mental illness. They will fight to the death to remove their own rights, pay more for it, and die in the process; all in the name of Freedom(tm), Liberty(R) and Democracy(C). Of course in reality they don’t know what freedom means, and if they did they’d hate it. They want to be told the right thing to do by an avuncular leader who will banish crime from the streets (by simply recruiting violent thugs to join the law enforcement agencies), and pay for what they use to Free(tm), non-governmental, private companies – all of which are owned and run by the same people who run the government.

But I’m alright Jack! My first iPhone app got put out to the app store today and it even got a good review!

Heeavnin’ clarsehs

Ever since we moved here, we’ve been astounded by the number of English accents on the TV and radio. Not that they’re even particularly good voices, but over here it’s lapped up regardless. About a month ago a friend of mine noticed that a nearby school was running classes in doing voice-over work and, knowing my interest, forwarded me the link. The first class was this evening and it was really quite fun. Thanks Jon. Michele liked the idea of doing another evening class and so picked Yoga, which runs at the same time as mine.

I’d expected the guy running the class to be a bit bent and a bit of a bullshitter. Bullshit he had in quantity, but he is clearly not trying to rip us off…no more than the cost of the course anyway. Jesus that sounds like famous last words.

So there were twenty of us in the class, and if anyone had accidentally wandered in trying to find AA they would have felt like they were in the right place.

Then our man wanders in looking like the gay brother in the Sopranos. Serious Mafia face, sovereign rings, big shouldered white shirt tucked into smart trousers…and the dodgiest syrup you’ve ever seen. I had to employ the utmost willpower to avoid staring at it and laughing out loud. If that isn’t a qualification for being an actor, I don’t know what is.

He was great though. Imagine getting paid to talk!

After our classes, we went home via Wawa…Mmmmm…Wawa…

Overdrawn of the dead

Vikram Pandit:Zombienpr broke with tradition yesterday morning and broadcast something interesting and highly amusing during Morning Edition; a piece describing what is meant by the term “Zombie Banks”. It would seem that all the bank bailouts have done is keep the organs of the corpses artificially alive, dragging the rest of the economy, and therefore the rest of us, down with them. Sapping the life out of all of us, they continue to stumble on like flesh eating zombies. Now, I like this analogy and it seems pretty accurate from my perspective, but I was truly awestruck by the earnest pleas from the interviewee who was getting quite worked up:

We have a situation where there are zombies roaming around and the government programmes so far are an aspirin, when instead you’ve got to chop its head off and get the economy growing again.

Please give it a listen, it’s four marvellous minutes of mirth.

Din dins

This weekend we hosted our first proper middle-class dinner party! That’s “middle-class” in the English sense rather than the American sense; over here no-one identifies as working class, and so everyone is either middle-class or “upper-class”…again, very different to the English idea of upper-class.
Other than that, everything else was pretty much what you’d expect in Islington, only we enjoyed it immensely. We’ve been very lucky in meeting so many cool people since we arrived.
The news over here remains as blinkered as ever; Obama Vs Republicans, or J.M.Keynes Vs The Free Market as it will be recorded in history. No mention of the rest of the world, such as the massive bush-fires in Australia. Some links:

Difficult sums

Do you remember the exhilarating feeling of finishing your last A-level [high-school exam] ? Do you remember thinking “thank fuck I’ll never have to remember any of that shit again” ? Finishing the Maths exam was particularly cathartic because I just didn’t understand it. I found it fascinating, but no matter how much work I put in it just didn’t click. Goodbye calculus, good-riddance imaginary numbers, sod-you complex planes, and bollocks to natural logarithms, I remember thinking.
Twenty years later I’m now dealing with all of them in my job! It was hard enough when my brain was fresh and quick, before the years of alcohol and TV abuse, but now it just hurts. The last two days have involved a load of head-crunching and I still don’t understand how any of it works. Whenever I see a formula that involves either e or i, my brain goes into shock and changes the subject so it doesn’t have to deal with it.
There is however a benefit of twenty years’ experience: I can now use all of these arcane concepts, without actually knowing how they work and get stuff done.
But it’s not enough. I need to understand how they work. It’s like being confronted by a locked door or some copy protection – and that’s why I have sets of picks and a large collection of 2600 magazines.
Any tips for how to understand difficult sums welcome.

Cold enough for snow

At the age of 15 I was really into hip-hop/rap/electro; at the time the three were difficult to separate. It always seemed astounding that some people (mainly old-farts, but quite a large proportion of peers) hated it so much. They would try to explain why they didn’t like it but to them it was so repugnant that the best they could manage was along the following lines: “It’s just shit! Listen! It’s just…shit! That’s not music! It’s shit.”
Well the other day, as part of my job (really), I had to listen to Get Naked by G-Mack. Now, as much as I’d like to think of myself as being reasonably articulate, I can only accurately describe it as obvious shit. Because it’s shit. Listen to it. It’s clearly shit isn’t it ? Either that, or a CB4/Ali-G style joke ? “G-Mack” ? It’s got to be a joke.
Annoyingly this occurred in the same week that I heard the Snoop Dog remix of “Walk the line” by Johnny Cash. It was so bad that I couldn’t stop listening to it – it made me laugh!
Now there are two possible explanations for what’s going on:

  1. This young people’s music is genuinely piffle.
  2. I’m now officially an old fart.

As someone who listens to all kinds of new music, to me it’s clearly explanation 1. But deep down I know the real reason is explanation 2.
And then, after tripping over this embarrassing mess, I realise that it’s only a matter of time before I buy a cardigan.