Archive for May, 2005

Moral dilemma

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

Yesterday I was cycling along, minding my own business, enjoying the sunshine – as you do. I approached a busy junction with some traffic lights – you could turn left, go straight on or turn right. I wanted to turn right so pulled up just behind an RAC van which was in the right hand lane waiting at the red light.
The lights changed. Straight on lane and turn left lane both roared off into the distance. RAC van remained stationary. I twitched. Seconds elapsed. I decided to try to get RAC man’s attention by glaring at him via his wing mirror. It was then that I noticed that was having a chat on his mobile phone. Just then – either he saw me glaring at him or he realised what he’d done and he roared off – not to the right but across lanes into the straight on lane. In so doing he went through a red light and at speed. The RAC website is very clear about the illegality of mobile phone use whilst driving. There’s nothing about speeding through red lights after switching lanes – but I think we all know that’s naughty too.
I’ve got his registration number. Should I send a little email to the RAC?
My hesitation is because I think it might be a sackable offence – it is illegal on several counts after all. On the one hand I’d feel bad if he lost his job. On the other I think he should know better and is setting an appalling example.
It’s not quite, ‘You Decide’ – but I’m interested to know what you think I should do.
Feel free to express your views either way.
I’ll let you know later on what I decide to do and why.

Ja mein Fraulein – you must be wearing ze große knickers or you will be getting ze furry mouldy lumpen growing in ze fraulein parts. Vertrauen Sie, daß ich ich ein doktor bin.

Will they or won't they?

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005
The much speculated about Live Aid anniversary event is going ahead.
Live8 will comprise at least five concerts in the G8 countries on 2nd July.

I watched the news conference – here’s some key bits of information that may be of interest to readers.

Bob Geldof said that the aim of the event was not to raise money but to, “tilt the world a little bit on it’s axis in favour of the poor.” This ahead of the key G8 summit to take place at Gleneagles, Scotland in July. Despite his reservations about trying to recreate the spirit of the original Live Aid concerts he was now convinced that “we could gather together again not for charity but for political justice.”

The assembled journalists watched again the harrowing footage of the 1985 Ethiopian famine with the soundtrack, ‘Who’s gonna drive you home tonight?’ [The Cars]

Geldof used this to set the agenda for the Live 8 event:
“That’s still continuing – that must not stand.”

Richard Curtis, who is one of the key organisers went further.
“About 50000 people die unnecessarily each day as a result of extreme poverty. If that were to happen in Europe they would find the money to solve that particular problem. It’s a tiny amount of money”.

“70 million dead of AIDS in Africa – that’s more than died in the holocaust. We’re asking for 100% cancellation of unpayable debts, a doubling of aid and serious progress on trade justice.
Debt, Aid, Trade”.

Harvey Goldsmith – the promoter, confirmed that the concerts would be free of charge and revealed the names of some of the artists who had already agreed to appear.

London – Hyde Park
Mariah Carey, Coldplay, Dido, Keane, Elton John, Annie Lennox, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Razorlight, REM, Stereophonics, Scissor Sisters, Sting, Joss Stone, Robbie Williams, U2, REM

Philadelphia – Museum of Art
Will Smith, Bonjovi, Dave Matthews, Stevie Wonder, Jayzee, Puff Daddy, Il Divo.

Berlin – Strasse 17 juni
A-ha, Lauren Hill, Brian Wilson, + others tba

Paris – Tuileries
Craig David, Jamiroquai, Youssou N’Dour, + others tba

Rome – Circus Maximus
Faith Hill, Duran Duran, + others tba

There are also tentative plans for events in Japan and Ottawa. Geldof also gave some cryptic references to legendary bands possibly reforming for the event.

He emphasised time and again that Afican poverty could be solved,
“we know what it costs, we know what to do. Do it”

Elton John spoke about the work of his Aids foundation and said that he was deeply committed to Live8. “I would go on a dangerous mission for Bob, I trust him with my life.” He revealed that Geldof had met with and written to the new Pope, Benedict XIV, and that he may visit the G8 summit which will be the focus of Live8’s attempt’s to achieve change. Geldof was equivocal here and commented, “I think he should show up. It should be his first gig.”

UK tickets will be by competition.
People will be invited to text the answer to a question to a given number from Monday morning at 8am – all radio stations and newspapers will carry details. Texts will cost £1.50 each and there is no limit on the number of texts that can be sent = proceeds will go to charity. The text line will remain open for seven days when winners will be selected at random.

The website, is currently under construction.

Geldof’s signature line:
“If any of them won’t come to our party, and believe me it’s going to be some party, they can Fuck Off”.

On the cards

Monday, May 30th, 2005

The ID card bill is being resurrected.
The more that the implications of it are thought through the more insidious it becomes. Not content with imposing a totalitarian system it became apparent that we would be charged for the privilege.
Original estimates of c.£90 for a card have now been ‘adjusted’ to around £300. Nice.
The upper estimate for the cost of implementing the scheme, [not maintaining it ever after – which will be more], has a figure of £18 billion on it. Think of the number of specialist anti-terrorist, anti-immigration fraud and anti-identity theft police that could be trained and paid for with this sum – wouldn’t that be a more effective use of that money if combatting those problems is the real reason for the identity card scheme?
The thing is, I don’t think it’s the real reason for the scheme. It’s a massive data collection exercise which will, no doubt, lead to all sorts of wonderful ‘new applications’ once the nightmarish database has been set up. Furthermore it now seems that the US wants to have access to UK ID card data. Fancy having all your biometric and personal data shipped off to the US for analysis and profiling? Nicer.
The planned technology has so far been unreliable in up to 30% of people tested. This is on a small control group. There are around 60 million people in the UK so it doesn’t take much imagination to realise that the potential for error with this scheme is enormous.
Like I said before, I definitely, 100% don’t want it and what it represents.
If you feel the same why not tell your MP where you would like the ID card scheme to go – send a fax now.

Where did all my disk space go?

Sunday, May 29th, 2005

About 7 years ago, when I bought my first PC, the big thing was processors. The Pentium MMX processor had been launched in 1997 and Intel were just beginning to establish a strong public profile. I still think it’s exceptionally clever that their product is largely invisible and yet with the ‘Intel Inside’ slogan and millions of those annoying little stickers all over the place, they have permeated into consumer consciousness. Where was I? Yes, processors were the thing. MMX was technology to change lives [hasn’t every technology promised to do this?]. With hindsight it was just another step on the ever escalating Microsoft / Intel spiral of upgraditis. Intel invent some new faster whizzier processor then Microsoft evacuate their corporate bowels and excrete some hideously bloated upgrade which demands four times more processor power, memory and disk space simply to enable you to type a letter to your granny. It’s progress. [Insert Gates Disciple Module]. We’ve been going along like this for quite some time. Microsoft are presently preparing for their next big flush with the Longhorn project. [gawd]. But it’s all gone a bit quieter on the processor front as far as I can tell. When I bought my PC it was ‘normal’ to have a hard disk size of about 1gb. The gigabyte had not long been reached as a widely available disk size – it still had a cutting edge, ‘out there’ frisson. You were someone if you had a gigabyte. Two gigabytes was positively rockstar. Imagine the face of the PC shop man when I told him I wanted a 13gb disk in my new PC. It created a real buzz among those geekboys. They had to order it from a ‘special supplier’ and it cost more than the rest of the PC components put together. They thought I was a bit strange wanting so much storage – but I had a plan.

Last week my plan reached it’s end phase with the appearance of the message, ‘Disk space is running low’.
We’re now in an era when 13gb is almost laughable. 40gb is ‘normal’ and you can go up into the hundreds for not very much dosh at all. Developments in disk tehnology have increased space and reduced price. Massive growth in digital media – audio, image and video, not to mention ever more sophisticated games have provided the driving force. It took me seven years to fill 13gb. I’ve been careful to archive stuff as I’ve gone along – [Thankyou Lord CD-RW] – but I’ve now reached the point where I have in excess of 10gb of what I consider to be essential applications and data on my drive. 38k was enough to land on the moon yet somehow I will soon need more than the 13,631,450 above this I currently have to run my life. Shocking but I’m not alone. I decided last week that I wanted to know where all that disk space had gone. Part of the ‘Wintel’ upgrade conspiracy is to make it difficult for you to find out. There is nothing within the Windows system for you to easily determine what is using your disk space. [Wonder why that is?] Most people just go and buy bigger disks or even a whole new computer. A bit like throwing your car away when the ashtray is full or the petrol tank empties for the first time. I needed to find a way to visualise what was eating all that space.

The solution came in the form of SequoiaView. This is a great little program that scans your hard disk and draws a pretty diagram of all the files on the disk, representing them as pillow like squares on the screen. [See today’s pic above right]. You can see instantly the relative sizes of every single file on your hard disk and spot immediately any large monster files that may have been lurking unnoticed and unused for years. The other powerful feature is the facility to colour code different file types so that you can see at a glance how much space is being taken up by different sorts of files. In my case the problem was images. Ever since I bought my digital camera I’ve gone snap happy. Why take one shot when you can take twenty and throw away the duff ones – only I never throw them away. The hoarding instinct is too strong. SequoiaView was produced in the Computer Science Department in the Technical University in Eindhoven – they’ve done a good job. It’s a straightforward, highly functional program that needs very little space [under 2mb], is designed to be intuitive to use and allows you to see your digital world in a whole new way. Highly recommended. I’ve even found those screenshots of singing gerbils I thought I’d lost years back.

I’m being a banker and taking a day off tomorrow.
See you next Tuesday.

End of an error

Saturday, May 28th, 2005

Bignjuicyville will never be the same, for today Mogadonmart has shut it’s doors for the very last time.
The closure was announced a few weeks ago via a barely noticeable blue poster on the door alongside all the others.

“Buy two Cheese n Onion Carte D’Or bulk tubs and get one free!”
“Double Mogadon points for OAPs on Wednesday mornings!* [*conditions apply]”
“This store will close forever at 8pm on Saturday 28th May 2005 – thankyou for your loyalty”
“Join our Christmas Club!”

I’ve watched these last days as the store has been steadily emptied and become a shell of it’s former self. An air of sad resignation descended across the staff.
The queues have grown ever longer as one by one the staff were laid off until only Big Becky remained. Big Becky’s eyes point in two different directions which gives her the ability to smile at two people simultaneously. This made her popular with the smokers who queued at the bureau de fags where she could often be seen working. Her double barrelled smile seemed to calm their twitchy nicotine spasms while they waited for the punters in front to cough their guts up before paying.

The shelves gradually emptied of vital consumables. Not a Kettle Chip to be had. Not a Chateau de Moga 75cl Chardonnay in sight. No more cut price orange face towels [made in China]. My local supply of Tunnocks Tea Cakes has now dried up. [I bought the final legit pack last week. Now I may have to go to a dealer in the Tea Cake Den round the corner].
All that was left when I called in for the final time this afternoon was an assortment of Mogadon sliced white loaves reduced to 12p and a variety of bizarre garden items such as organic slug pellets [I’m sure the slugs will be relieved to know they’ve been poisoned organically]. Only two very tall staff remained, Bill and George both wearing their distinctive Mogadonmart blue check uniforms – a sort of tartan / gingham hybrid – ‘tartam / ginghan’? – more like mingan. I was lucky enough to spot two enormous containers of skimmed milk left in the fridge reduced to 38p each. They’re in the freezer now.

Now that the only local shop for local people has lost it’s precious things for ever it feels like the heart has been torn from my corner of Bignjuicyville. I blame Dracula [check out the disembodied hand on his picture – creepy]. Things were fine until we lost our Labour MP. Still, at least I won’t need to buy milk again until Halloween.

PS: You’ll be relieved to know that checkouts 3,4,5 and 6 remained closed until the very end. The Mogadon singers were awarbling that old Stylistics number, ‘You are everything’ as I left:
“Then I took a drink and I didn’t think what was in store for me”.

Has been bestowed by Mr Keen which also happens to be the name of one of my favourite teachers from school. Shurley this is a good omen? I’m grateful for the linkage to Mr K which I have duly reciprocicated in a wholly mutulastic symbiosis man. I’ve also removed two links which pointed at defunctive bloggage. It’s sad when that happens. I need ever more linkage – how should I prostitute myself to achieve this?

Friday, May 27th, 2005

In other news:

Thursday, May 26th, 2005

Brian Ferry was once one of the coolest men in the world. How come he gave birth to a total twat?

I heard a rumour today that somebody won a football match last night. Anyone heard who?

Killer Hamsters
They look all cute spinning on their little wheels but there’s a darker side to hamster love. Wear rubber gloves or you may die…

In car excretion – at last a solution
“Simply zip up the bubble for an instant, hygienic and private sanitary sanctuary.”
Paula Radcliffe are you reading?

7 of 9

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005

Dad and Mum were standing guard.
In perfect symmetry of course.
They were all having a bit of a kip. Apart from one…

There’s always one isn’t there?
He was having a little wander around..

first to the left..

bit of a sit down..

then to the right
notice the 3 bottom left – cute

Mum moved in to keep an eye
so he decided to do a bit of preening

Here’s a bystander who was looking all golden in the sunshine.

Cheque's in the black hole

Tuesday, May 24th, 2005

Where has all the interest gone?
Long time clearing
Where has all the interest gone?
Long time to clear
Where has all the interest gone?
Gone to bankers every one
When will it ever clear?
When will it ever clear?

“A donkey could deliver cheques faster than banks can put money into customers’ accounts.”

So says Ed Mayo – a man after my own heart. Finally, finally the banks are going to be forced to come clean and speed up cheque clearance.
Presently it’s estimated that they make £25 million a year from the scam whereby they take up to 5 days to move money between the payer and the payee. I reckon it’s actually more than that figure. Whatever amount it is, it’s a rip off. Remarkable how if you are overdrawn for one second they have the resources to instantaneously remove one of your gonads and sell it to a chicken mcnugget factory yet it takes them days to even realise you’ve paid in a cheque – let alone give you the money.

Miscellaneous ramblings

Monday, May 23rd, 2005

People have been moaning about the BBC strike. The strikers have been moaning about the BBC. The BBC is overmanned and wasteful. It operates in a way unlike most commercial organisations. That’s why it’s so good at what it does. They need all those extra staff to do pointless things like choose the right colour for Fiona Bruce’s eyebrows, precision synchronise the football footage with Coldplay tracks, dream up those cheesy continuity announcements and massage Jonathan Ross’s galactic scale ego. It’s all important. No mind that the annual BBC budget exceeds that of many underdeveloped nations or would pay for quite a few lifesaving operations. We need media frivolity to distract us from the emptiness of our lives.

My PC has had so many enhancements and add ons it’s starting to resemble Anne Robinson. Today I installed a USB 2 card – now I’m cooking with gas.

Birthdays are weird polarising moments that somehow bring to you the notion that you are very special and worthy of celebration and at the same time how utterly insignificant you are in the lives of almost everyone else on the planet.

Yesterday I saw Mr Dan Cruickshank [ actually it turns out he is a Professor ]. Wandering around Spitalfields looking very domestic and very bouffant.

Celebrity Shag Island is utter bilge. And I never knew that Jayne Middlemiss used to be a topless modelle. Why am I not surprised?

I’m pleased to note that my swanny neighbours have had seven babies. I took some photos today but they’re a bit blurred owing to lots of preening action. Another attempt tomorrow.