Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Inbox - Short Film



This is the second presentation on the MOOC 'E-Learning and Digital Cultures', and the emphasis here seems to be much more on the side of utopia with the magic bag in Inbox representing a number of benefits of web based communication.  Here we have a mix of e-commerce, e-mail, instant messaging, chatrooms and internet dating agencies all rolled up in one package.

The bag introduces the young couple by seemingly random chance, although a net dating bias might read into this that the couple had similar tastes in shopping, and therefore possibly similar cultural and economic backgrounds.  By gifting small items we see the process that has made E-Bay, Amazon and their ilk into commercial giants and the film even manages to encompass the new age horror of disconnection, the boy accidentally ripping his bag being a metaphor for dropping a cup of coffee into your keyboard.

It is a neat little film, with no spoken lines and only a tiny smattering of text, the film tells its love story in a light hearted and economic way.   Although this film might be encouraging the #edcMOOC students to consider how technology and information exchange pervades our new digital culture, it is worth considering that the film relies on a much older technology and that also I may be reading too much into the film, and that the director's idea was that the bag doesn't really represent all the things I have listed.  Perhaps it was just a magic bag after all.

If though we do accept the things that the bag stands for, then the technological determinism aspect of the film focuses on the way that enhanced, instant communications have changed society.  If the bag is just a magic bag, then the story is just a fable, a fairy tale, one story to tell to many people.  If the bag represents the internet, then the bag itself is promulgating its own story, by a variety of means, to as many people as can access its information stream.  As a fairy tale the story has a pre-determined and logical conclusion, as a display of the possibilities of information technology the bag changes the story for each person, who as they are minutely changed and altered, educated and informed, by each interaction, pass on the story, again minutely changed by their own personal spin.
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Bendito Machine III



This is the first video presentation for the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) E-Learning and Digital Cultures with Coursera / Edinburgh University.

The theme for week one is 'Utopias and Dystopias' and this wonderful little animation playfully shows us both sides of this discussion.  Here we have a seemingly primitive people being gifted technology by an unseen power and coming to worship it, this seems to bring to mind cargo cult behaviour and the manner in which European imperial powers sought to pacify native populations.

The Bendito's come to rely on their machines, in episode III we see them becoming enthralled to the disturbing power of television.  To our eyes the multi-layered imagery being displayed on the Bendito Machine seems paranoia inducing, but the Benditos respond to it differently, their cultural base pattern being markedly different from our own, what they see on the screen at first seems magical, awe inspiring and worthy of praise. As the episode continues we see that the responses of the Benditos have become culturally similar to our own, drinking beer and cheering at a televised football match, and that the television seems to have pervaded every aspect of their lives.

The episode ends with a much more disturbing creation, a war machine with media capability, destroying the old in the name of the new, and with it opening a spectrum of media led campaigns of violence that encompasses numerous national and ideological groups as disparate as the Third Reich, North Korea, United Nations, Al Qaeda, Anonymous, the USA's intervention in Vietnam, Israel, Iran and Saddam Hussain's Iraq.

The show's creators, Jossie Malis, Julie Reier, Sxip Shirey, Pau Martinez and the Paramotion Films studio of Madrid, say this about their ongoing series... "Bendito Machine is an animation show which reflects on the innocence of a small, naive and clumsy species that cannot live without their machines, and which is guided by small, enlightened greedy bastards, who believe they have the answers to everything. In fact, this project would not be possible without the brainlessness of this greedy 1%. Let’s be thankful to them. The show covers many topics and contains situations recognizable in every corner of the world, displayed in a primitive way without dialogs. The ebb and flow of this clumsy species, which lives adrift in a vast and mysterious universe, might look pretty familiar to you."

You can find more information about Bendito Machine on the show's website...

Bendito Machine

The producers also have a Kickstarter site so that you can pledge money towards further episodes...

Bendito Machine Round 2 at Kickstarter
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Fat Walda



"I wed the Lady Walda Frey whilst I was at the Twins.”
“Fair Walda?” Awkwardly, Jaime tried to hold the bread with his stump while tearing it with his left hand.
“Fat Walda. My lord of Frey offered me my bride’s weight in silver for a dowry, so I chose accordingly."

 A Song of Ice and Fire - George  R R Martin



In The Shadows

Occupy_nov17_PM_DSC_0083
Occupy_nov17_PM_DSC_0083 (Photo credit: Michael Fleshman)
Recently the techno-geek darlings of the radical liberal left unleashed another cyber attack on a US Government agency whom members of the hacktivist group Anonymous hold responsible for the suicide of Anonymous 'member' Aaron Swartz.  Swartz was facing prosecution for disseminating files from the academic service JSTOR via P2P platforms.

Anonymous like to present themselves as we the people, the downtrodden, public spirited freedom fighters working tirelessly against a corrupt and unjust system.  Keyboard warriors seeking to damage those who repress the people, the hacktivists play on feelings of technophobia, conspiracy theory and a government controlled media in order to promulgate their own message to a world needing a hero.

We do need heroes, at times it does seem as if people in positions of power who are willing to do the right thing for the masses are in short supply.  What we do not need though is another shadowy sub grouping breaking laws in the name of the people, being answerable to nobody and claiming that their actions are for the benefit of the majority.

John Stuart Mill in his intellectual exercise on happiness and liberty Utilitarianism says that some people believe that "any law, judged to be bad, may blamelessly be disobeyed" and this is the doctrine the cyber groups hold to.  Mill though goes on to question the judgement itself, he contends that judgements in themselves may be subjective decisions, he recognises that there are diverse opinions and that there must be a balanced thought process which determines whether or not a law should be considered unjust.

Anonymous present their 'factual' video offerings in the style of introductory films to first person shooter video games, swelling martial music accompanies choppy, computer generated speech played over CGI graphics.  With a distinct target audience in mind, Anonymous market their theology as precisely as a mass media launch of the next Call of Duty game.

"To all Concerned and Truth Seekers,

It has come to our attention that our freedoms and rights are now being fully manipulated and taken away by our greedy and corrupted governments. These unconstitutional and unethical methods are being used on our very own people in order to push and pass laws that will eventually lead to us becoming slaves to the corrupted, and continue to feed the greedy hands with money." - from a press release on AnonNews.org

Who should decide what is "unconstitutional and unethical" ? Should we have hidden groups practising internet warfare, or rather, no matter how difficult and complex it is, should we have alleged abuses of power and privilege brought before the legal system and the electorate.  Much of what these groups say chimes with a desire for openness and a surge of public protest that has brought groups like Occupy and Idle No More to the streets.  The key difference between Occupy and Anonymous though is the open nature of the former, the willingness of its loose coalition of members to stand up for their political beliefs in the public eye and media glare.  There may be many of us who disagree with the tactics of Occupy and its tent cities popping up in financial districts and cathedral steps, but its members are very much in the public gaze, they have made themselves by the very nature of their protest recognisable and accountable.

The hacker groups who claim to be fighting tirelessly on  our behalf has no such accountability.  They launch denial of service attacks against agencies whose ideologies or actions they disagree with, attacks launched partly in my name if they claim to be working on behalf of the people, but attacks over which I have not the slightest measure of control nor any hope of gaining such measure.  If my government directs the army of my nation against another nation or terrorist organisation and I disagree with their decision, then at the very least I can exercise my rights in a democratic society and participate in the electoral process to vote against them.

One of the most difficult things about the activities of Anonymous is that I find myself concurring with their choice of targets.  The attacks on Westboro Baptist Church, Syrian government websites and on-line paedophile networks (if media reports heavily influenced by the perpetrating group are to be believed) are all things I would agree with ideologically, if only they were done openly.  Other DoS attacks that Anonymous have been involved in I have less sympathy for, the actions around Pirate Bay, Megaupload, GoDaddy and JSTOR all cross into complex arguments of freedom of information versus copyright and the legal and moral right to assert control over products an individual or corporation has created.

I want the people who do actually represent me, and the people who claim to represent me, to both follow a good moral code, as Mill says, to weigh every action so that it does the most good, or if not then the least harm.  Anonymous wage cyber war with the slogan "We are Anonymous, we are legion, we do not forgive, we do not forget".  This is too hard line for me, we should all be able to forgive at least some of the hurts done to us.  Perhaps the hacktivists could look back to these lines penned by the English poet, lawyer and clergyman John Donne, who felt that as a race of people, we are all connected at some basic level...


No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

MOOCing

A data visualization of Wikipedia as part of t...
A data visualization of Wikipedia as part of the World Wide Web, demonstrating hyperlinks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hand and Sandywell's three utopian and dystopian claims about information technology..


1)
  • Information technologies based on electronic computation possess intrinsically democratizing properties (the Internet and/or worldwide web is an autonomous formation with ‘in-built’ democratic properties or dispositions).
vs.
  • Information technologies possess intrinsically de-democratizing properties (the Internet and/or worldwide web is an autonomous formation with ‘in-built’ anti-democratic properties or dispositions).
2)

  • Information technologies are intrinsically neutral, but inevitably lend themselves to democratizing global forces of information creation, transfer and dissemination.
vs.

  • Information technologies are intrinsically neutral, but inevitably lend themselves to control by de-democratizing forces (hardware and software ‘ownership’ equals anti-democratic control).
3)

  • Cyber-politics is essentially a pragmatic or instrumental task of maximizing public access to the hardware and software thought to exhaustively define the technology in question.
vs.
  • Cyber-politics is essentially one of resisting and perverting the anti- democratic effects of the technology in question.

Hand, M. and B. Sandywell. 2002. E-topia as cosmopolis or citadel: On the democratizing and de-democratizing logics of the internet, or, toward a critique of the new technological fetishism. Theory, Culture & Society 19, no. 1-2: 197-225. (p.205-6)


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Bethlehem Chapel, Saint-Jean-de-Boiseau




The link will take you to a French website showing more photographs of the grotesque's created during the restoration of the Bethlehem Chapel in Saint-Jean-de-Boiseau in the mid 1990's.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Michael Winslow - Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin (Senkveld med Thomas ...

Problems ? Get Yourself A Meg

Move house
Move house (Photo credit: Ania_*)
Some people, on hearing that they have lost their job and are about to be thrown out of their home, some people might panic a bit.  They might be upset, they might be sent into a flurry of indecision, or they might mope around a bit and not really know what to do with themselves.  I though, have a Meg, and when you have a Meg then indecision and poor planning doesn't really enter the equation.

Two weeks ago our life schedule suffered a little hiccough.

Monday - everything is normal.
Tuesday - everything is normal.
Wednesday - in two months you won't have a job or a home.
Thursday morning - Meg announces her first rota of jobs.  Trawl the estate agent sites for houses, start collapsing the spare beds and sorting through clothing for stuff we might not want to take, begin taking pictures from the hallway walls - spot fill and re-paint any holes left by picture pins, buy some plastic packing boxes, are you really going to keep all those ancient paperback sci-fi novels ?  Sort your books into books 1) the books you'll need to unpack right away for your degree work, and books 2) books you might like soon after that, and books 3) if this turns out to be a temporary move these are books / dvds / cds / other stuff we can leave packed up for a few months, all those piles of cd's - MusicMagpie them, sort this, pack that, throw away those, no really, throw therm away.

It is now only two and a half weeks since we found out we had to move, it seems to me like three-quarters of the house is packed and ready to be moved and every spare minute Meg is wrapping, documenting or packing something else or buying paint and brushes to decorate the new house.

If you need your life sorting out, get yourself a Meg.  But you can't have my mine, she's quite wonderful and I'm keeping her.
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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Silver Lining

Ghana - African Cup of Nations 1965
Ghana - African Cup of Nations 1965 (Photo credit: footysphere)
Well, I may have lost my job and with it my home, and I was beginning to think that perhaps things were looking a little bleak, but then I checked my e-mail account to see if I had been offered any interviews and I got this bit of wonderful news...

" YOUR EMAIL WON THE SUM OF R1.5 MILLION SOUTH AFRICA RAND IN THE ON GOING ORANGE AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS AWARDS PROMO: REF NO: afcon/147/13."

Apparently all I have to do is send them my bank account number, sort code and password and they'll do the rest, well that's fantastic!
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Dogs Evolved On The Rubbish Tip

Boeotian dogI am posting this link to a BBC news item because it fits with the spam Facebook meme about rock salt killing pets.

Dog evolved 'on the waste dump'

So we're all clear on this now, dogs can taste and break down starches, but cats cannot.*  Also, cats are mostly evil**

Pic -  Boeotian terracotta figurine of a dog holding a small animal in its mouth. Greek, Archaic, ca. 550-525 BCE

*Well researched academically proven facts

**Author's first hand experience
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dad To The Rescue

There are times in your life, mostly when you are still a child, but sometimes as this last couple of weeks has proven as an adult, when what you really need is your Dad to don a suit of armour and come riding to your rescue.
My Dad: Always a hero

My Dad has done this on occasions too numerous to list, but I would like to briefly describe a couple of them, one faintly comic and one decidedly tragic.

On holiday, my sister and I had gone wading into the sea on a sand shelf that kept the water level at mid thigh for small children until some distance from the beach.  We were happily pottering around, looking for shells in the sand, throwing seaweed at each other and larking around in the sun until a minor disaster struck. I saw a purple blob floating past my leg and took a step back, a jellyfish.  And then another jellyfish, closely followed by very many jellyfish indeed.  Within moments we were surrounded by thousands of drifting, potentially stinging jellyfish cutting off our access back to the beach.

We did the only thing possible and began to scream for help.  My Dad got up from his beach towel, grabbed a rubber dinghy and began to row his way towards us.  We were hopping from place to place in a bid to avoid the jellyfish swarm as they drifted in random clumps around us.  Pulling strongly on the oars Dad reached us in a couple of minutes and lifted us out of the jellyfish infested sea into the safety of the boat.  We were safe.  Ice cream followed.

The second incident also occurred on holiday when we were young children.  The four of us, Mum, Dad, little sister Liz and myself, were having a drink or an ice cream in a beach front bar when something really terrible happened.  Some men at the bar got into an argument, the argument escalated rapidly and suddenly one of the men had a blade in his hand.  My memory isn't exact on this point, it may just have been a knife, in my child's mind it was a machete.

In moments the peaceful and happy bar was filled with blood, terror and panic.  Dad reacted in heroic fashion, he simply brushed the table aside and picking me and Liz up under his arms, ran for the hotel, shooing my Mum along in front of him.  I recall a man, who looked terribly badly wounded to me, stumbling along the beach drenched in blood.  A wave of panic swept across the busy beach as dozens of shouting, screaming people flooded out of the bar.

My Dad got us in to the lobby of the hotel and grabbed a couple of other blokes to man the doors, to barricade them against the knife wielding man if needs be, and to allow other fearful holiday-makers to shelter in the safety of the hotel.  Once he had got his family safe, and made the building safe for us and others, Dad went back out onto the rapidly emptying beach to see if he could help the two injured men.

Two weeks ago I had my work contract cancelled, and as my home is tied accommodation to the contract, I have no home either.  Once again, as he has throughout my life, Dad has come riding to the rescue, making sure we'll have somewhere to stay so that we can rebuild after this sudden and life altering hiatus.  Thanks Dad, today and always.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Norway - A Dangerous Country

English: Nautgardstind, Jotunheimen, Norway
This part of Norway has not been affected by deadly
cheese conflagrations.
Deadly flaming caramelised cheese !
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Song Of The Day - Shinedown - Bully



A possible band for this year's Hard Rock Hell ? Yes please.

Red Bull Will Kill You

Red Bull GmbH
Red Bull GmbH (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It must be Facebook crazy meme day....

"France & Denmark have banned it from the country...

RED BULL - slow death ...

Do NOT drink this drink anymore!

Pay attention...read everything...

As a public health safety, please pass on this email to all the contacts in your address book especially those with teenage children.

This drink is SOLD in all the supermarkets IN OUR country and our children ARE CONSUMING IT ON A TRIAL BASIS. IT can be FATAL.

RED BULL was created to stimulate the brains in people who are subjected to great physical force and in stress coma and never to be consumed like an innocent drink or soda pop.

RED BULL IS the energizer DRINK that is commercialized world-wide with its slogan: "It increases endurance, awakens the concentration capacity and the speed of reaction, offers more energy and improves the mood. All this can be found in a can of RED BULL, the power drink of the millennium."

RED BULL has managed to arrive in almost 100 countries worldwide. The RED BULL logo is targeted at young people and sportsmen, two attractive segments that have been captivated by the stimulus that the drink provides.

It was created by Dietrich Mateschitz, an industrialist of Austrian origin who discovered the drink by chance. It happened during a business trip to Hong Kong , when he was working at a factory that manufactured toothbrushes.

The liquid, based on a formula that contained caffeine and taurine, caused a rage in that country. Imagine the grand success of this drink in Europe where the product still did not exist, besides it was a superb opportunity to become an entrepreneur.

BUT THE TRUTH ABOUT THIS DRINK IS ANOTHER THING

FRANCE and DENMARK have just prohibited it as a cocktail of death, due to its vitamin components mixed with GLUCURONOLACTONE ' - a highly-dangerous chemical, which was developed by the United States Department of Defense during the sixties to stimulate the moral of the troops based in VIETNAM, which acted like a hallucinogenic drug that calmed the stress of the war.

But their effects in the organism were so devastating, that it was discontinued, because of the high index of cases of migraines, cerebral tumors and diseases of the liver that was evident in the soldiers who consumed it.

And in spite of it, in the can of RED BULL you can still find as one of its components: GLUCURONOLACTONE, categorized medically as a stimulant. But what it does not say on the can of RED BULL are the consequences of its consumption, and that has forced a series of WARNINGS...

1. It is dangerous to take it if you do not engage in physical exercise afterwards, since its energizing function accelerates the heart rate and can cause a sudden attack.

2. You run the risk of undergoing a cerebral hemorrhage, because RED BULL contains components that dilute the blood so that the heart utilizes less energy to pump the blood, and thus be able to deliver physical force with less effort being exerted.

3. It is prohibited to mix RED BULL with alcohol, because the mixture turns the drink into a " Deadly Bomb " that attacks the liver directly, causing the affected area never to regenerate anymore.

4. One of the main components of RED BULL is the B12 vitamin, used in medicine to recover patients who are in a coma ; from here the hypertension and the state of excitement which is experienced after taking it, as if you were in a drunken state.

5. The regular consumption of RED BULL triggers off symptoms in the form of a series of irreversible nervous and neuronal diseases.

CONCLUSION: It is a drink that should be prohibited in the entire world as when it is mixed with alcohol it creates a TIME BOMB for the human body, mainly between innocent adolescents and adults with little experience. Forward this mail to Everyone and Let them know about this.."

As per normal with Facebook memes, a quick web search reveals more or less the opposite of what the meme claims.  Red Bull is legally on sale in every EU country, including of course France and Denmark where they also sponsor a large number of music and sporting events.

I'm not going to go through the whole article and research everything in order to refute it, but one might assume that if the most basic and easily verifiable facts at the head of the article are incorrect, then the rest of the text probably contains just as many pieces of deliberate misinformation.
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Everything You Read On Facebook Is True

English: Road gritter, Belfast Roads Service N...
English: Road gritter, Belfast Roads Service Northern Ireland gritter at Shaftesbury Square in Belfast. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Obviously it isn't, but otherwise rational, intelligent people are quite happy to pass on bizarre spam style 'warnings' and information without checking the veracity of the facts.

Here is an example from this morning's news feed. "WARNING! CAT AND DOG OWNERS - With the snow upon us the roads are now being gritted, if you walk your dog on gritted roads/paths please make sure that their paws are washed either by walking them through a few puddles away from the gritted surfaces or by dipping their feet in fresh water once at home. WATCH TO SEE IF YOUR CATS ARE LICKING THEIR FEET A LOT. WHY ? GRIT CONTAINS ANTI-FREEZE WHICH IS POISONOUS, ANTI-FREEZE TASTES SWEET TO DOGS AND CATS. CATS AND DOGS LIKE TO LICK THEIR FEET! ................please copy & paste and keep our pets safe!"

This appears to be an amalgamation of two different warning stories carried by the Daily Mail and other papers this week.  "Hundreds of dogs and cats die from rock salt scattered by gritters in big freeze" ran the Daily Mail lead on an article that went on to explain that rock salt does not contain the poisonous component
ethylene glycol, but anti-freeze does.  However both rock salt and anti-freeze seem to be bad for your pet's health, so the foot washing advice seems helpful.

On the subject of what cats can taste, Wikipedia says this "Cats have relatively few taste buds compared to humans. Domestic and wild cats share a gene mutation that keeps their sweet taste buds from binding to sugary molecules like carbohydrates, leaving them with no ability to taste sweetness. Their taste buds instead respond to amino acids, bitter tastes and acids."*  The erroneous information about cats liking sweet tasting things can be found  on a number of reputable websites  in the pet care field, a quick search revealed the same warning distributed on Saga and large number of pet related forums.  The search also revealed that some local councils had posted memos stating that the grit they used was rock salt only and does not contain anti-freeze.

As Facebook meme distribution goes then, this isn't really a bad one.  The information about the harmful component of anti-freeze is useful, but it has become muddled and confused.

Anyway, it is only Facebook, home to rapidly propagating memes across the spectrum of useless, entertaining and bizarre, and very occasionally containing a fragment of truth.

* Bradshaw, John W. S. (1 July 2006). "The Evolutionary Basis for the Feeding Behavior of Domestic Dogs (Canis familiaris) and Cats (Felis catus)". Journal of Nutrition 136 (7): 1927S–1931.
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Who To Work For ?

English: My own photo
As I look around for a new job, and hopefully a new career path to go with it, I have been considering which might be good employers to work for.

Every week we get a wine delivery from Majestic Wines, and almost every week the wine is delivered by a different driver.  Each week we also receive a delivery from Black Sheep Brewery, the brewery seem to have only two different delivery teams.  There may be issues of company size at play here, but Majestic's constantly changing staff rota doesn't hold the promise of staff who are contented with their lot.

I shop at Tesco three or four times a week, something else that will son change when I'm not shopping for a small business any more, often enough so that I know most of the checkout staff to talk to.  Many of the people working in store in Tesco Ilkley have worked there for years, I see the same people stocking the shelves, staffing the fresh counters and working the tills year after year.  It might be argued then that people find Tesco to be a decent employer.

I am looking for a move away from catering.  I have been thinking about what I would like to do, one of the very best parts of my job has been working with my young staff, always bright and cheerful, happy and entertaining.  With that in mind I'm having a look around in the education sector for customer relations types jobs.  I have also been looking at various charities, not perhaps at the front line of fundraising, but again in customer relations/care.

If any of my select readership have any leads for me, answers on a postcard to the usual address....
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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Who Is This Girl


I saw this image posted on Facebook and tried to have a quick search around the interwebnet to find out who she is, and does she have any more revealing photographs available for perusal.  Failing to find a name for her, I had a go at Google Image Search, with the following results...


Er, no, that's not her


No really Google, this isn't even a woman


At least this one has ink, but we're getting colder, and more scary 


Not even human, but at least the eyes are the correct colour


Ha ha ha ha, I give up


Friday, January 18, 2013

They're All C***s In Bolton

As we sift through years of accumulated junk before moving house, I came across some manuscripts of interviews I'd done with various rock and metal bands when I was nobbut a kid.  Here then are words of wisdom spoken by Butz of The Last Of The Teenage Idols...


"Musically we are very serious, but we like to 'ave a good time and so do our fans.  Apart from Bolton. They're cunts.  Go on, write that, if you come from Bolton you're a cunt 'cos they don't know what the hell's going on and we're never going back to Bolton ever again.  They'll be pleased to hear that I expect."

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I've Fallen For Sarah Lund


I have started watching the Danish television crime series Forbrydelsen (The Killing).  Not that I speak a word of Danish, but reading the subtitles keeps me glued to the unfolding drama.  Forbrydelsen tells the story of the rape and murder of a teenage girl and the hunt for the killer.  Entwined with the main story is a tale of political machinations and manoeuvring for office, the strain that the job is putting on the life of police investigator Sarah Lund, played by Sofie Grabol (above), a good cop bad cop face off with her unwilling junior partner Jan Meyer played by Soren Malling, and the taught, poignant and harrowing story of the girl's family as their lives unfold in the wake of their daughter's murder.

I see quite a few bits of US crime dramas, and the women in those always have to be ridiculously sexy, their hair, designer clothing and make-up perfect, as you would be when wakened in the middle of the night to traipse around a gruesome murder site in the middle of nowhere.  Sofie Grabol has taken a much more realistic view of how a detective might dress and behave, largely free of cosmetics, hair loosely pulled back and in place of wardrobes filled with designer suits she wears a small array of chunky knit jumpers of the sort you'd pull on at the last moment because you are about to walk the dog and the weather is a bit colder than you thought.

Sarah Lund is sexy as hell though, she exudes quite and calm confidence, she is intelligent and empathic, alert to the emotions and needs of the people she interacts with without losing her professional distance.  Lund seems to transcend whatever is going on around her, she takes the lead with partner Jan Meyer, calm and controlled as he rages and hits out, and she speaks as a normal person might, well done Søren Sveistrup and his writing team for creating a character who does not speak in hyperbole and cliché.

I am only on episode 3, so as normal, spoiler writers will be marched to the stocks and forced to watch endless repeats of Hollyoaks, but so far I would highly recommend Forbrydelsen, well scripted, well acted, intelligent and very human, it is easily the best crime series I have seen for ages. 

Song For The Day: Chumbawamba - Sack Me (live)



Just so you know my sense of humour hasn't left me ;-)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Song For The Day: Crucified Barbara - Into The Fire

Deesse 1

"Delphine Lebourgeois has been making waves on the London art fair scene with her rich surrealist imagery and ethereal fantasy creations. Widely tipped as an exciting talent in the national press, the French born artist and illustrator has been working in London for the past ten years." - Artfinder

"Delphine Lebourgeois (b 1976), a graduate from Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, and from Central St Martins, has been working in London as an artist and illustrator for more than ten years. 

Throughout her latest 3 solo shows in London “Papillionades, A&D Gallery 2007”, “Amazons and Other stories, Coningsby Gallery 2009”, and “Over the Cover, Frameless gallery - 2011”, Lebourgeois has constantly renewed her intimate exploration of emotions that she identifies as creative energies. Anger, Fear and Joy are amongst the emotions portrayed in her latest on going series “Deesses”. In one of her latest work “Deesse VI”, a group of falling women hold the heads of their enamoured and decapitated men. Inspired by Judith and Holoferne, and not devoid of a certain dose of humour, “Deesse VI, the Fall” turns its feminist content upside down and playfully subverts the code of symbols as we know it." - Delphine Lebourgeois



Wednesday, January 09, 2013

A Magic Of Wizards


Silence/Shapes 9

Silence/Shapes 9 (Across Europe from 2009)

"Filippo Minelli was born in Italy and began making art in public spaces in his teens. He creates ongoing series of works, rather than single art works, in order to examine the complexity and diversity of his subjects. Traces of his work can be found, in public, across the world." - Artfinder

Sound (Brescia, Italy 2005)

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Song Of The Day: Gillian Welch & Old Crow Medicine Show - The Weight

Stacks


I spent half of yesterday deep in the labyrinth like rooms, for the first time visitor anyway, of Leeds University's Brotherton Library.  The main rotunda room of the library is a stunning piece of architecture, designed by Thomas Arthur Lodge and Thomas Geoffrey Lucas the Portland stone Parkinson Building holds the Brotherton Library for arts, social sciences and law.

Predictably the stack I required wasn't anywhere near the glorious light-filled rotunda, instead it was buried deep in an obscure corner of the annexe, Islamic architecture being buried close to vast piles of arcane publications from Her Majesty's Government.

Registration for library access for an Open University student was easy enough, you need to contact the OU Library in advance to get a physical library card and a SCONUL scheme access card and upon presenting these with my ID I was given a Leeds University Library card.

Being a book geek, I could have happily wandered the stacks all day looking at books as their spines called out to me. Yesterday though I was on a research mission and so I restricted myself largely to the architecture aisle and a few hours perusing Frishman and Khan's The Mosque: History, Architectural Development and Regional Diversity and a couple of dictionaries of architectural terminology.

I did think that I moved from module AA100 The Arts Past And Present to A217 Introducing World Religions that the work would take on more of constant flow or narrative.  I enjoyed AA100 tremendously, but the constant leaping from topic to topic, the reputation of Cleopatra followed by traditions in animal poetry followed by transmission of knowledge in Islamic medicine followed by early seaside photography for example did make the course lack a little in coherence.  In its own way, A217 is equally as fractured.  Each month we concentrate on a different major religion, requiring the learning of a new glossary of terminology.  On top of that, I have opted for the Islamic architecture option for this month's essay, which requires some knowledge of architectural terminology as applied to mosque construction.

This is a year 2 module, so the points accrued for it count towards my final degree grade, at the moment I have fluctuated a little with a little more spread in grades than I attained on the year 1 modules.  The work has been harder, and I did expect that, we have twice as much reading to do in the amount of set books we have been given and for some of the essay options, and this one is certainly one of those, the amount of information given in the set books does not really allow itself to be extrapolated into a 1,750 word discussion of the subject.  Not that I have any problem with extra reading, but I know that some of my fellow students who have tougher time constrictions than I do due to family and work commitments are finding the reading and research harder going.  This is what we expected though, we don't have the opportunity to bend our entire will to learning as full time students do so we make do with the time we have.

I think yesterday was the first day of term, and the library was busy with students beavering away at their studies, and hurrah, they obeyed the silence rule of the silent study areas almost totally, not at all like trying to study in some public libraries then.

I do hope that the student sat opposite me got his work done, and that it wasn't for an imminently due piece of work, he had obviously had a skin full on Sunday night, the ghostly pallor, red rimmed eyes and inability to concentrate all gave it away.  Every few minuted he would raise his head, gaze forlornly around the reading room, and then return to staring at the same page he had been aimlessly staring at when I entered the library an hour earlier.  Oh well, such is the life of the 'proper' student, he was probably out on the beer again last night.
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Sunday, January 06, 2013

Dettol Dildo

I don't think this is a real advert, although you never know....


Poem for the Day: The Valley of Unrest - Edgar Allan Poe

English: A photograph of a daguerreotype of Ed...
English: A photograph of a daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe 1848, first published 1880. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: the signature of Edgar Allan Poe Espa...

Once it smiled a silent dell
Where the people did not dwell;
They had gone unto the wars,
Trusting to the mild-eyed stars,
Nightly, from their azure towers,
To keep watch above the flowers,
In the midst of which all day
The red sun-light lazily lay.
Now each visitor shall confess
The sad valley's restlessness.
Nothing there is motionless —
Nothing save the airs that brood
Over the magic solitude.
Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees
That palpitate like the chill seas
Around the misty Hebrides!
Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven
That rustle through the unquiet Heaven
Uneasily, from morn till even,
Over the violets there that lie
In myriad types of the human eye —
Over three lilies there that wave
And weep above a nameless grave!
They wave: — from out their fragrant tops
Eternal dews come down in drops.
They weep: — from off their delicate stems
Perennial tears descend in gems.

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Pascale Picard - "Nothing compares to you" (live acoustique)

The Bookie Always Wins

Symbol of Belenenses football club
Symbol of Belenenses football club (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A week and a bit of online gambling and my initial run of beginner's luck seems to have well and truly dried up.  QPR beat Chelsea, Man U failed to beat West Ham, Deportivo La Corugna turned over Malaga, Perth Glory, Newcastle and Belenenses all failed against suppoedly weaker opponents.

I have a few bets running, but India lost their first wicket for 20 runs, so I require a very early wicket in the second innings to make my 'best opening partnership' bet.  With only Leicester, Stevenage and Australia doing me any good this week my tally from the start now stands at -£9, oh dear.
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Saturday, January 05, 2013

Song Of The Day: Diemonds - Get The Fuck Out Of Here



Slasher horror movie inspired video from the 2012 album The Bad Pack by Toronto rockers Diemonds.
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Poem For The Day: Daffadowndilly by A A Milne

A a milne
A a milne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
"Winter is dead."

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Friday, January 04, 2013

Song Of The Day: Hysterica - Girls made of Heavy Metal



From Hysterica's debut album released in 2009, the new album The Art Of Metal will be released this coming March but you can hear it on Spotify right now.
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Thursday, January 03, 2013

Dressing For The Ball - Pierre Bonnard

"Pierre Bonnard never really found a voice that he was comfortable with, though he is remembered fondly as one of the greatest artists of his generation. Of all his subjects his wife seemed to be his favourite. He painted her in fine brushstrokes and with close attention, often nude, reclining in the bath. Some people argue that these paintings are intrusive and voyeuristic, but that’s not the heart of Bonnard’s work. His skill was in making the private public, and this picture sums it all up: she was his world." - Art Finder.

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), French painter and printmaker. Bonnard, along with Edouard Vuillard, Maurice Denis and others, was part of the avant garde Les Nabis group.  The Nabis were considered to be cutting edge in their early years, although Dressing For The Ball seems to be from a more traditional school of painting, Bonnard is also well known for brighter, colour infused works inspired by Gaugin.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

BBC Sound of 2013

The BBC has put together a list of the 15 new(ish) acts that their panel thinks will be the breaking sounds of the year.

In no particular order they are...

Angel Haze
Angel Haze
A*M*E
Laura Mvula
CHVRCHES
AlunaGeorge
HAIM
Arlissa
King Krule
Kodaline
Little Green Cars
Palma Violets
Peace
Savages
The Weeknd
Tom Odell
Kodaline

BBC Sounds of 2013

I'll give most anything, musically speaking, once, so let's see what Spotify can find for me...

Angel Haze, three tracks in and this just seems like more hate filled generic rap.  Spin the words bitches, shit, muthafucker and nigger together along with some fairly thin beats and uninspired lyrics about how brilliant and inspired Angel Haze is and you have Werkin' Girls.  There's a song I won't miss if I never hear it again.  At first I thought Angel Haze sounded just a little like Dessa, vocally perhaps, but without a shred of Dessa's wry wit and dry charm.  Is this really the best hip-hop that the BBC can find ? Black people saying nigger in 2013 isn't edgy or brave, it's tedious, dull and stupid.

What if all the 15 are as bad as Angel Haze ? I think I might need some proper music before venturing further into the list, quick, where's my Wildhearts CD?

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