Sunday 28 October 2012

Accentuate The Positive

My third post today , just to make sure that the last post wasnt the first thing that people see when they get to the blog. Yes it'll get buried in the other pile of posts but really I wanted to say something happy and positive and end (or start depending on which way you look at it) the week on a high note and feeling good.

Last week was full of lots of things happening and next week , workwise will be even fuller with people off looking after kids for half term. The thing is , as well as your own work you have to cover for other people , which makes you aware of what they do , and appreciate them knowing they will do the same for you . The other thing is that when you are so busy time just flies by at work , and that makes you appreciate being , home , being able to go out and spend time with friends.

We are at the advent of 4G communication with EE (get your 4G phone here) which can bring people closer together as well puting a wealth of knowledge within your grasp. I know this internet thing has a lot of frivolous stuff , but it is  a wonderful reference library and also a source of entertainent. You hold a phone in your havnd and it can act as a link to friends and love ones , a reference library and a source of entertainment. Star Trek or Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy here we come.

Well I  am looking forward to this week , lots of great opportunities , a big party on Saturday , a few train journeys , maybe get to see Skyfall and lots of other things.

Most people can find something good in their life and if you concentrate on those things life definitely improves. Fighting and war does no one any good and is just destructive. Build something , enjoy something , have fun , Life is good.

The Repulican Christian Way

Was worried to see today that Mitt Romney was seeing no reason why the 350,000 Christian Churches in the USA could not be mobilised to bet the black man out of the the Whitehouse and put the rich white man back in the driving seat. Some details here .

The thing about this is that Christianity is getting hijacked for private gain , to make the rich richer and anyone else an ignorant slave underclass .

Let's assume that God exists , and the Bible is reasonably believable. Now the Jesuits were the first people to point out to me that Jesus was not a long haired white man , but middle eastern and at least very sun tanned. Also he taught love for your fellow man and to help people who were worse off than you .

There's a lot of good moral lessons in The Bible that hold true whatever your religion or non religion. I bet Richard Dawkins find big chunks of it that contains common sense.

People like Romney , just like the Taliban with the Koran cherry pick bits to suit their purposes , and amazingly people then believe it's true when they sauy "The Bible says ...."  , whether it's stone a woman to death or nuke Iran.

One of Romney's kids says he want to punch Obama . Well Obama is black and has a name that sounds like Osama Bin Laden. Remeber just after the twin towers attack George made sure the Bin Laden family were flown out of the USA before the FBI could question them.

Romney doesnt believe that the rich should be taxed. Quotes like "The problem with $40 million dollars is that it becomes $20 million after tax" are not funny , when a lot of the American underclas have the problem that "$400 after tax and living expenses becomes - $200 ".

I have no problem with economies being run efficiently but the benefits should be for all , not just a select few.

Apple: License To Make You Ill!!

I think where we're under pressure we tend to want to hit out at something , though sometimes the pressure is not caused by anything you have any control over so the upport of peers and friends becomes important in helping you through. The thing is it makes to more susceptible to hit out out when things go wrong , though generally I don't do "under pressure" , I do "laid back" and that works for me . Calming down  is a great way to become really productive, but ......

Yesterday was talking to a friend who hadn't heard of Eddie Izzard when I mentioned his "Star Wars Death Star Canteen" sketch and his 43 Marathons in 51 days , and this little observation on iTunes came up , which spurred this post!!:

Anyway a few weeks back I got an Apple iPad and general it's fine . I subscribe to the Sunday Times which includes a subscriptions via the iPad Apllication , so I thought rather than going out to the shop I'd just get it on the iPad . No way - the copy is there but the download is greyed out . I can download free bits but this week it wont let me download the bit I've paid for , which I was going to do so Fiona could read it while I went to the shop to get my paper copy , along with some Lavazza or Taylor's of Harrogate Coffee , but No - I could download my PAID FOR Sunday Times copy , so had to make do with the paper copy.

The thing is , all apps are supposed to go therough rigourous testing and you have to pay Apple $100 to get your app on the Apps Store. I've given up complaining to Apple or anything to do with then because they will never admit there is a problem.

Despite the effective dropping of DRM for music Apple still include their own licensing information and this does fail at times but they wondt admit it . It happened to me and they gave me five song credits but never admitted that anything had gone  wrong.

And Eddie Izzard is right about the terms and conditions . They keep bringing out new versions of iTunes which also includes Quicktime , Bonjour (odd name for an American Product given they renamed French Fries Freedom Fries when the French would supply cannon fodder for The Iraq War) , and it's always a full 100 Mb download . Sometimes updates are days apart. Once around version 10 the download failed because the wrong version of Quicktime was bundled. But al ltheat happened that you were left with a dead version of iTunes.

Apple wouldnt admit there was a fault , they're as bad as football referees with their Teflon attitudes!

Apple products are fine , I just which they would hold their hands up now and then and admit they can't get it right every time.. Any here's the Death Star Canteen  sketch:

Sunday 21 October 2012

The Odious Idiocy That Calls Itself Creationism

Another this that reading Randy Pausch has sparkedoff in my memory is The Creationist Roadshow that I saw on BBC3 in the first week in October,  the Conspiracy Road Trip hosted by Andrew Maxwell. You may be able to catch it here.

Creatists general see obnoxious idiots who are so blinkered in their outlook it defies belief. The believe the world is six thousand years old based on adding up the asges of everyone named in the Bible . Excuse me . The Argos catalogue would be a good start for most people .

As soon as someone shoots a hole in their logic (Carbon dating , Evolution etc)  , they say "it's a test from God" . It the program the most obnoxious Creationist maintained that the Grand Canyon was caused by Noah's Flood. When the non Creationist (but Gof Fearingly religious) scientist pointed out that flood water moved in straight lines while the Grand Canyon contained Horse Shoe Curves it was dismissed as  a test from God.

All Maxwell's scientists were religious believers in God . Science and Religion is not mutually exclusive. However the Creationists said the arguments werent fair because there were no Creationist Scientists (isnt that Oxymoron?).

I was brought up and educated by Jesuit Priests who believed in science and reasoned arguments. When questioned about how God created The Earth in seven days they countered with "How Llong is a day?" On Pluto it's about 300 of our years (that is a very rough guess cos I'm too lazy to look it up). Basically saying the Bible was a guide and an analogy NOT to be taken literally.

I think part of the Creationist Agenda is to create an idiot underclass to swell the Republican vote for dagerous idiots like Mitt Romney.

I am in a bit of a bad temper because I have a sore shoulder , but there is no excuse for Creationist stupidity. How can you follow something so blindly and expect others to support you? Bill Hicks on Them Thar Creatists:

The Last Lecture and Domino Effect

This is likely to be a rambling incoherent post , mainly because it's one of those things where a seemingly singular event cant then set off so many other things. Someone mentions one thing and then that sets off another . I don't know if I'm going to finish and then think "I forgot tto include such and such" , but we shall see how this goes....

I suppose it starts with the purchase of of a couple of seemingly slim James Thurber volumes that , while they were quite enjoyable to read , I was still only on page 50 of the first volume . About a month ago, for my 55th birthday,  my very good Australian friend Carol sent me a copy of Randy Pausch's book "The Last Lecture" , based on his final lecture . Randy Pausch was a young man (mid 40's) who had been hit with a virulent Pancreatic Cancer. A horrible situation for a man with a wife and young family who he would never see grow up. One of my heroes , the comedian Bill Hicks , was taken from us in the same way. In 1986 I got hit with ITP which meant that may bllod wasnt clotting resulting in heavy internal bleeding. At the time I was scared that I' wouldn't see my daughters (3 and 5 at the time) grow up , 3 years earlier my eldest daughter had been on the terminal ward (briefly) at The Children's Hospital at Pendleton Manchester - needless to see we're both here and doing well.

Anyway back to Randy Pausch . He was the inventor of ALICE a software development environment that enables people to easily learn programming . I've never seen it but my friend Carol uses it in her class on a daily basis. He knew his time was limited so he created and filmed his last last lecture and created the book with I got through in two days after giving up on James Thurber . In it he set down thoughts , aspiriations , regrets and advice in a remarkably easy read . He does come up with some expanded bullet points on how to live life with vaguely remind me of Sun Tzu's surprisingly readable and concise "The Art Of War" . Any I recommend you get a copy of the book and check out The Last Lecture website here. The lecture is youtubed below:

Randy Pausch is and example of Richard Dawkins' idea of immortality . Pausch is still with us in so many forms and will be while humankind exists in it's current forms. Dawkins is our premier voice of reason against the right wing Christian idiocy that is Creationsism though I do feel he gets a little evangelical at times about the non existence of (G)od .

One ogf the other things I wanted to put in this is that whenever any dies or is close to it I feel I must appear incredibly callous and cold hearted because usually it doesn't  really sadden me at all , and this is the reason:

As a kid I had bad dreams, I'd be in a field crying my eyes out because my dad was dead . I don't know how it happened but would wake up in tears and my dad was always there , working in the yard or wherever . He is still with us at 798 going strong , driving his Mercedes with his Post Office Post Box maintenance contract. Anyway soon after that my uncle Trevor took an assisted passage to Australia , the other side of the world . Letters came and once a year we had a short , very expensive (£10 a minute I think) phone call , I realised I wouldn't see him again . I knew he was there , but I just had no real contact . And that is what I feel happens when someone dies , we lose contact .. for now. If evolution has taught us anything it's that we grow and save the best bits and I think our "being" continues elsewhere. Aad that's why I seem so callous in the face of death.

This is a bit like opne of those Billy Connolly stories that wanders all over the place except I'm not reallly sure where I started and where I'm coming back to.

We live in wondrous times and if people concetrated more on the good , the world would be a much better place . If you have a problem fix it or deal with it , there is usually help around. Anyway maybe I've gone on about this a bit too long but c'est la vie

Sunday 14 October 2012

Without A Net

An interesting thing happened last week. It was my daughter Juliet's Birthday. I'd spoken with her about presents when we last ate out at The Stand in Newcastle and she told me she had an Amazon Wish List!!

I knew it was her birthday on Friday , however because I had to sort out petrol , a broken cooking bowl and various other things it completely slipped my mind that it was her birthday as well !!

Still no damage done and I phoned her , and sorted a card and present , but I was thinking that I do rely on internet and phone access without really thinking about it. I just assume I can log on and send something , and when you remove yourself from that ballpark , you are back in the world of postcards , royal mail and physical shopping, which while being very relaxing , I'm not sure that I like the internet . phone calendar being my Jiminey Cricket conscience !!

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Thoughts On Writing

The reason I started writing this blog was because I hoped I would get an idea for writing a book or screenplay. My basic problem is that I am not motivated and too lazy to take the next step , well that's my opinion.

A blog is a diary and some contain some brilliant writing. It's a great way or remembering things you don't want to forget. There have been many incidents where I go back into the blog to have a chuckle about certain events , the B & Q application form being one that springs to mind.

I am currently reading "The Thurber Carnival" , a collection of  James Thurber short stories and realise that in order to write you have to be disciplined enough to research , or just know lots of things like , say , Stephen Fry.

As well as this you have to have a spark of originality or a muse to create a work that others want to immerse themselves in.

The internet and Amazon's self publishing package mean now that anyone can publish a book if they believe they have the capacity to produce a worthwhile work. The problem being it starts becoming literary karaoke where people believe that they are the next Dan Brown and have the key to untold riches.

I was shocked to hear that the average earnings for a writer was around four thousand pounds per annum. When you think how much the big earners make some writers must be on pennies.

I have incredible respect for my friend Paul Campbell who packed in his job and became a script writer. Similar to another friend Bob Armstrong who did a similar thing to become an artist.

This is another post I'm writing using the iPad's Note application. I reckon that the iPad with the addition of a keyboard is a very useful piece of kit, although when you have no internet connection you can feel a little lost.

Monday 8 October 2012

Craster 2012

Back in Craster again and the digital TV signal seems to have improved . DAB radio is OK too so I can listen to Radio 6. It's close to civilisation, but has the benefit of being on the seafront resulting in an incredibly relaxing atmosphere.

The lack of mobile phone signal means that I cant post direct to my blog , so I'm using the iPad to write this. Combined with the blu tooth keyboard the iPad is a decent doing tool!

Alnwick, Bamburgh, Lindisfarne  and Alnwick are all with easy driving distance. 

Craster is around 60% holiday residences , which at first seems a bit sad , but probably means that the village can survive because of the extra revenue that this brings in.

Robson's kipper smoking factory and restaurant and The Jolly Fisherman are still going very strong in this superbly located village.

Two days ino the holiday and I am already feeling the benefits of communication cut off. The internet  and mobile phone networks connect us up 24/7 and that is probably not a good thing because you are always looking to do just a little bit more, though ironically I am cut off but I am still blogging!!

Hopefully I will find some free wifi or a mobile wifi signal and can unload my posts.

This John Terry Situation

The really amazing thing about this is that if John Terry had called Anton Ferdinand a "F*cking Stupid C*nt" , nothing would have been said. Almost every match that is played players verbally abuse others and nothing is done , despite the fact referees can red card players for foul and abusive language.

The insertion of the word black makes it racist abuse meaning that action will be taken , giving ammunition to the anti-PC brigade of Daily Mail readers out there.

All abuse is wrong , and swearing should not be tolerated on a football field. The say swearing shows a lack of vocabulary , which wouldn't be surprising in the case of Mr Terry. 

Ashley Cole isnt much better and his withdrawn tweet against the FA shows a complete lack of respect for his betters (which is most people).

Their club Chelsea say they have a zero tolerance policy towards racist abuse towards players. However they seemed to have made an exception in Mr Terry's case.

Also what about the fact that the FA banned Terry (caucasian) for four matches, yet banned Louis Suarez (South American) of Liverpool for nine games?

These two players are excellent footballers but intellectual and moral vermin. While their behaviour is tolerated not much will change and they will keep on being abusive because their pay justifies what they do.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

London and My iPad

Interesting , just realised that the iPad doesnt come with an inbuilt Office Suite. So I'm using the Note application to write this post. Hope I can cut and paste this lot once I've typed it.

It's a sad fact that I am getting used to London. Kings Cross is only five stops from Paddington and now I think that's nothing. It's not so long  that going from Kings Cross mainline to Kings Cross underground with luggage in tow was like a trip down the Amazon.

On the plus side stuff like the Science Showoffs night at the Wilmington Arms hosted by the excellent Simon Cross in Farringdon (six stops from Paddington) is educating me an the science of making cheese toasties,  swimming and the theory of the Quantum Car!

It's also amazing that the responsiveness of the iPad can be amazingly temperamental. Sometimes it is instant and sometimes it just ignores everything that you do.

Anyway I will now try to connect to the internet and post this. I  will put in links later unless I forget.

Oh apologies for the font. That came from the iPad application!

Monday 1 October 2012

You Load Sixteen Tons ...

".. and what do you get ? 
Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt
So Luther Don't Call Me
I Can't Go 
I Owe My Soul To The Company Store"

So sang Tennessee Ernie Ford when I was quite small , in what is a depressingly brilliant song. Today I turned 55 nad remember thinking how old my uncle was when he turned 16.

Basically there's nowt you can do about getting older as long as there's time. But I ready that people who have more birthdays tend to live longer! Also people who enjoy life and do things tend to live longer.

You never know what's round the corner and life still springs surprises on me good , bad and points in between.

You can't do everything you want to , but if you get a chance you should always take it . Always look for the positives and never turn down something good.

Today I feel the same as I did yesterday , and will probably feel the same tomorrow . I do feel different to 40 years ago , but 40 years ago I was a different person. Life does that to you.

But life is good and I'm looking forward to the next 55 years firmly beliveing that they will solve the problem of bodies wearing out  and I expect Keith Richards and Mick Jagger still to be touring !!