Monthly Archives: June 2009


Braindump of good stuff:

Experimenting With Legality

As wary as I am about casually experimenting with the dangerous and potentially life-threatening business of the law, today I lost some of my virginity and bought (with money apparently) some legitimate MP3s. Afterwards I did feel slightly dirty, and violated, but the process was so simple and professional that I might even do it again.

Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first:

  1. I had to download a closed source app in order to get hold of the MP3s; that’s unnecessary and dangerous in my book. But at least it was happy with Linux.
  2. It was overpriced: $8.99 for an album is too expensive for physical media (like a CD, with a booklet and Jewel case) so how can they possibly justify charging the same price for a bag full of fuck-all ? Too expensive.
  3. I wasn’t thrilled with the recording too much…but that’s more a problem with the product rather than the merchant.

But from a more positive perspective:

  1. I went from thinking “I really wish I had a copy of XXXX” to listening to it in a shorter time than has ever been possible; Audiogalaxy, Napster, BitTorrent, Gnutella notwithstanding.
  2. The downloader app is wrong in so many ways, but at least this particular example is pretty unobtrusive and does what it’s supposed to do without coating your entire computer with evil slime
  3. At the end of the process I had a directory full of plain old MP3s – well produced, free from crappy transfer errors and more importantly


The ideas my dad and I discussed when I was a kid have been realised! Now we can literally get music “down the telephone line” without needing to leave the house. In all, I’m pretty happy with Amazon’s current setup. You want music, you can get it now with no strings, and pay the artists (and a vast number of undeserving middle-men admittedly) painlessly. In fact it’s so painless that it’s almost disturbing. I didn’t have to sign anything, click “I agree to this payment” or anything. Download and you’ve already been charged via your preferred payment method. We live in the future.

Creativity Vs Contentment

There is a theory that contentment is the enemy of creativity. How many famous Swedish or Danish musicians can you name off the top of your head [question not valid for Swedes and Danes] ? The theory goes that they have societies so healthy, and so free from despair and fear that creativity, traditionally spurred on by hunger, desperation, and determination, shrivels up.
Whether this is true or not, the fact that the “working classes” of the western world all now tend to have adequate heating, reasonable comfort, and an endless supply of mind numbing crap pumped into to their homes via massive HD TVs could possibly help explain the levels of, what is widely regarded as, apathy.

Unlike the technology, the idea of keeping the masses comfortable enough to avoid thinking too much about the greater issues is very, very old; even the Romans understood its value. Otters noses anyone ?

So as I sit here with a plentiful supply of wine and food, a fan blowing cold air onto me, a warm and loving parrot on my shoulder, excellent music being played from an old iBook, and the sum total of all human knowledge available via this little computer on my lap…it’s no wonder I haven’t done anything marginally creative for weeks…or is it months ? So many things I want to do/write/make…and on my time off I just wallow in comfort. Now, wallowing is quite a nice thing, but it’s not the same.

er…that’s it. There’s no point to this, I just thought it’d be worth saying. Sorry. Although I still believe the old adage that “any civilized society is three meals away from revolution.”

Despite considerable efforts, I’ve been unable to find an accurate attribution for that quote. Hopefully I’ll never end up in a position to discover how accurate a statement it is. Wine, music, and parrots are far more preferable.

An Appeal – Part 1: The Problem

A disturbingly large number of my fellow country-people are suffering from mental illness, and I’m not referring to clinical depression (see the quack, get some pills). No, I’m talking about something far more serious, and far more deadly: BMRD – Blinkered Myopic Right-wing Delusionopathy.

This debilitating disease can be spread orally and the symptoms can appear so slowly, and over such a long period of time, that many victims don’t realise they have it until it’s too late; they will then be limited to living out the rest of their pitiful lives in a confused, anxious, paranoid state whilst foaming at the mouth in front of Fox news.

Those particularly at risk include:

  • People with poor or careless reading habits
  • Anyone that spends time in confined spaces (sometimes referred to by victims as “churches”, “synagogues” or “mosques”) with people who claim to know the answers; these people are usually chronic victims with no hope of remission
  • People who believe that the piece of land on which they were born is somehow better than anywhere else, whilst only ever experiencing that one piece of land for their entire lives
  • People with a low IQ and those without a basic grasp of simple logic
  • People who have little knowledge of history; particularly at risk are those who do not understand why that’s significant

If you think you may be affected by BMRD then here is a simple test. For each of the following statements, answer “true” if you agree or “false” if you disagree:

  1. Government is bad. I’d much rather leave my destiny in the hands of private enterprise, because they are less liable to corruption
  2. Even though I am in massive debt, I don’t earn very much, and am worried that at any time I may end up with a massive hospital bill that will bankrupt me, I much prefer this to free healthcare for all
  3. Even though the media is almost exclusively owned by rich, right-wing capitalists, I believe the media is run by a liberal conspiracy
  4. Despite its obvious bias, I believe Fox News is the only station explaining what’s really going on.
  5. That Bill O’Reilly/Nick Griffin is a man of the people and really understands what’s going on in the world
  6. The U.S. constitution is inherently Christian
  7. White people no longer have a real voice in this country
  8. The reason why the economy is in so much trouble is because the liberals gave all the money to lazy people who couldn’t afford to pay their mortgages

If you answered true to one or more of the above questions then you are at severe risk of succumbing this awful disease and should seek immediate help. Please do not panic! If caught in the early “pre-atrophy” stage the prognosis is good and you only need to be placed on a straightforward course of clue.

By all means get in touch if you have any worries – we can help you.

What needs doing

The BNP are going to have another “Red White and Blue” festival of racist cretinism this year and UAF are organising a big protest. If I can get back to the UK I’ll be attending, but it seems unlikely considering our financial situation. Donations welcome.

If you’re worried about UAF then I don’t blame you, but I do firmly believe that they want to see an end to the ultra-right. If you have to support anyone, at least you know they’re big enough to be taken seriously. They were also behind the utter humiliation of Nick Great-tit earlier this week, so they are probably worth supporting.

Illegal downloads kill kittens

Ben Goldacre cleans up some bullshit spouted by the entertainment industry (and lapped up by the tabloids) regarding the cost to the economy of illegal downloads:
Home taping didn’t kill music.

Gareth Richards on 4 stands up made a good point about piracy being compared to stealing a handbag. Of course you wouldn’t steal a handbag. But what if you built a machine that could duplicate one, would that be wrong ? Apart from anything else, if the original owner lost the bag again, she could come to you and use your backup.

Hoagiefest 2009

Hoagiefest Stuff For the second time on this blog, Wawa is having Hoagiefest. Obviously the Wawa faithful and I went to get lunch there a couple of times this week, and on both occasions I was struck by the coolness of the new Hoagiefest apparel sported by the staff. So, can you imagine my joy when Michele’s mum IM’d me at work to tell me that a package from Wawa had arrived for me. A package consisting of a Wawa Time Capsule.

Now, I like Wawa, and I like the whole Hoagiefest thing (mainly because I love Wawa Hoagies). But this year they have really gone with it. Apart from the astonishingly accurate yellow-submarine theme, they have also created a competition to create the ultimate Hoagie song. My main man Dave wrote our entry in a matter of minutes and we will be victorious!

OK, it’s all marketing, but a Premium Oven Roasted Turkey Hoagie (little bit of oil, little bit of vinegar, lettuce, tomato, onion, pepper-jack cheese, pepper, oregano, and bacon) from Wawa is pretty bloody good. I don’t mind celebrating it.


A wise friend observed this week, “since June 1st it’s been raining shit around here.”

This was in reference the raft of crappy family news we’ve been party to recently. Illness, job-loss, humiliation, you name it.

The culmination of the bad news was when a close family member over here had a heart attack earlier this week. It was totally unexpected, resulted in emergency surgery, and spooked us all (including him).

He’s doing ok now, but still in ICU.

Being now almost fully “acclimatized” to American culture, my first thought was “I hope their health cover is ok”…

For Christ’s sake Britain, cherish the NHS! Fight against all of the private financing cancer, because it’s a slow and painful death.