It doesn't take a lot to cause traffic chaos. Many years ago I was heading home through Wootton Bassett when I encountered a driver having difficulties getting his car up the steep hill that enters the town from the southwest side. Being a genreous sort, I stopped to help. Pushing a vehicle uphill, especially one with an unwilling engine and a large female occupant who refused to step out of the vehicle, wasn't easy and no-one else volunteered to help. Within minutes traffic was backing up in both directions, traffic wardens were closing in to find what the trouble was and inflict terrible financial maulings to anyone guilty of the slightest infraction of the Highway Code. So I helped the guy reverse the car by gravity as close to the side of the road as possible and left the area sharpish. My work here is done.
But it isn't always my own fault. The other day I was walking home by the Old College site. Roadworks have spread across the junction in front of it, diggers ripping out more and more mud, flourescent yellow droids with working class accents yelling incoherently at each other. Unfortunately this has restricted the the road a good deal.
In one direction, a large low-loader lorry and trailer was trying to negotiate the turn into the building site, blocking the only remaining lane. In the other direction, another lorry driver decided to use the temporary access road as a short cut to the site, depite the "Give Way" and "Left Turn" signs, blatantly pulling across the wrong way in a one-way system, and blocking traffic behind him. And so chaos was brought to Swindon.
I didn't do it.
Data Protection Of The Week
Right now I attend a support centre to assist my job-searching. Internet access, personal assistance, and free stationery. Very useful. The only downside is the constant form filling and register signing that I have to put with. Every session I need to fill out a report form detailing my activities for the day. it must be completed fully and correctly or my benefits are in question. Like being in the army except no-one shouts at you.
Anyhow I did my duty for the day and dotted every eye and crossed every tee. The manageress who runs the office spotted me droppin g my form on the assigned administrators desk and immediately turned it over. "It's okay" I ventured helpfully, "I'm not ashamed of it". Sadly she lacks a certain sense of humour and merely replied "Oh it's the data protection act". I see. I post my job search details on a government website as ordered, email those details to any administrator who requests it, my bank details and statements to a national office dedicated to catching dole cheats, and to some extent, reveal my activities to the world via this blog. But no-one, repeat no-one, is allowed to see that report form.
You have been warned.
Yeah..... exactly as the title says...... medieval drawing of a man dying, with an arrow in his chest, his massive tree erection, and God pointing out how freaking weird this pervert is.
Im sure there is a deeper symbolism, something profound, but I choose to disregard that approach and take this pic at its absurd face value.
Anyone up for a game of pictionary?
I've been doing more and more research or this paper/book for a professor friend of mine..... got upgraded from 'Research Assistant' to 'Co-Author' fairly quick once I broke her out of her deadlock..... in the past I just went completely uncredited..... so whatever.
The issue is, I'm now writting for her agenda. I was tossed three research topics, and went with the very first one, thinking I, Mr. Philosophy can handle with a little investigation any topic or issue. Yes, I am a very, very rare breed of Philosopher, a Cynic Philosopher, but the little formal training I got from philosophy groups was a nearly unbiased Pan-Philosophy approach. In San Francisco, you come across a handful of deeply spiteful Anti-Semetic and Anti-Catholic Philosophers..... guys who can quickly change any debate on any subject to classical Anti-Popism. For me, tolerance was grinding my teeth in silence, seeing where the rants would go..... yes, it's hate, but will it stumble by accident upon a useful point or position? Usually not.... can't recall it ever be that case, but I would put up with it till the hate became a successful democracies, causing people to react positively to it and its obvious falsehoods. Only then would I crack the whip.... San Franciso claims to be highly tolerant, but it's about as intolerant as any place I ever visited. They pick and choose their heroes and martyrs, causes and tragedies, like any other. I suppose the trick in life is to find your roots in life, and learn over time to be honest about your prejudices and doubts. We all share a very similar brain biologically, chances are, if some are of quality X thinking style, we all possess it..... just some emphasize it, others hide it. This isn't a pure praexology, I reserve room for the unconscious/conscious, nature/nurture, and personality divides, but we all got something going on nasty if your a healthy individual.... hate isn't a epidemic triggered by hate speech, it's innate and simmers. Pops up in all sorts of unusual ways..... you can't blame it on hate speech alone, if anything, it can get around it.
Case in point, this paper. It touches both on Theological Issues..... which was certainly my point, and Cognitive Issues, involving theory of mind issues..... It's highly complex, but very simple.... but I don't want to navigate either here, just the aspect of hate and xenophobia inherent in its investigations. I'm a Catholic..... and a Philosopher...... therefor the title of 'Catholic Philosopher' immediately gets slapped on me, which I am very, very cautious about. I don't like it. Make it feel like I need to rush and debate Richard Dawkings on behalf of the Vatican and explain Catechism and Dogmas in-depth....... he'll, I Dunno about half the stuff..... I'm a Cynic with interest in Law and Ethics and History. I can't make sense of some of the logic of the Ecumenical Councils for example..... they appear to be debating physics and God's psychological makeup..... stuff God since the old testament said not to do. Then they started excommunication of various, legitimate chapters of the church that claim very legitimate Apostolic Descent because their understanding of physics didn't match up with the other factions.
Jesus didn't excommunicate anyone, not even Judas. He didn't set up a observatory on the Hollywood he preached, only time I can recall him getting kissed was when he wrecked the merchants in the temple. He took note of the legitimacy of the Pharisees to rule on Kosher matters, while denying they were Kosher themselves, and there for not to be held as examples of righteous conduct. He was close to the Samaritans, but denied the legitimacy of their religious methods..... despite being more orthodox in their adherence to Kosher beliefs, they lacked the understanding of what they were doing. That's all I know of him in his biases and outbursts. He seemed rather outgoing and friendly, willing to cross the divide like a Martin Luther King.
That would be a lovely snapshot of Christianity, if it weren't for history. Christianity undid itself at some point. Churches excommunicated one another on the silliest of circumstances. Take the papal primacy issue for example.... if there is a recognition that at one time there was indeed a state of existence of one church father being first among equals in one era, and everyone is gripping about it now, there is a very obvious solution..... rotate the geographical locations of the pope and other patriarchs..... have the Pope spend a year in Moscow, the Greek Patriarch in the Vatican, etc..... keep the mix random. Fine.... Rome can be first among equals no problem there. They can't even think it though, because of pride, nationality, and xenophobia. They have their squabbles, most of them quite silly, and its impossible to give in. Our church fathers have become the modern day Pharisees..... they have the apostolic prerogative to preach the word, but don't you dare emulate them in your communities..... holding on to ridiculous lifelong prideful squabbles and hatred and mistrust of the other due to your sense of self and History. It's not a Christian Belief, it's the putrid taint of Roman Paganism and its administrative functions that married into Christianity during and ever since Constantine.
Major grips of the last month, I was asked to 'Convert' by a Greek Orthodox nun to 'Orthodoxy'. Just how is it possible for a Christian to Convert from Christianity to Christianity? If I was to become a monk, I can grasp this need to convert to new rules and orders.... but the Pope isn't any more broke in terms of Apostolic Descent than the Greek Patriarch.... if anything, he is a tad bit more secure given he doesn't need approval from the Turkish Parliment to become Pope like the Greek Patriarch does. However, this doesn't stop either positions from holding to legitimate positions on ethics, or the nature of Christianity. Jesus choose the apostolic system, so divergency in views and emphasis are to be expected given the subjective view of every individual. Just keep the needless contradictions to the minimum, and remember brotherly love. Simple does it best, if you get confused about the physics of God, or the wording of creed, or lost a feel for the holy ghost, stick to Ethics, and keep to a sense of simplicity and humility in the face of conflict. We don't need it, we don't have to be glorious and top of the world in all things, we made it just fine all that time in the catacombs.
The other grip.... I agreed to in this paper to tackle the philosophy at heart of her theological issue..... I instantly saw the solution in St. Anslem and St. Thomas. My Greek Orthodox spiritual mother is getting deeply offensive now, like the universe is ending, crying about the east-west divide. I'm not worrying on theology persay, but their cognitive ideas at root.... and am resurrecting their concepts. They didn't invent it, the terminology dates back centuries prior to any schism. I'm taking very technical, scientific approach mapping the Professors Theory of Mind questions to the Cytoarchitecture of the mind, then going along with her investigations, noting oddities and where ideas branch into unknown. It's quite sterile, yet approachable and can be proven and disproved by a third party on the anatomical data I provide. But for y spiritual mother, every time I mention it, she makes a mountain out of a molehill.... it's east and west conflicts..... always a Catholic only and 'we don't teach that', even though ironically the Greek church produced plenty of fathers who have. Why am I getting nailed? Because I am Catholic, merely touching theology (with a nine foot pole) and Catholic Theologians are dangerous. I must be inherently be trying some sort of trickery, and therefor emotional crying and tantrums are necessary, though at root nothing is there. If anything, I have been exceptionally pan-Christian...... much of the work we are doing doesn't even focus on Christianity..... it goes to Assyria, India, China..... geese.....
I blame the stupid Romans for this headache. I can care less about the grips resulting from the administrative makeup of the churches. I'm not a part of that, nor from what I read in the New Testament, neither was Jesus..... he overlooked the issues that caused dissension and weakness of familiarity between each Apostle, to one another as well as to himself, and stuck with the bigger picture. We can really use guys like that today. Instead, I get asked to Convert and am treated like I'm playing with WMD for investigating well thought out works from Christian Fathers, finding ways to apply them today. I only push it with the authority of myself and the conviction that it can work, as a Philosopher, not a theologian. Nothing really new in it..... just rarely discussed anymore.
This is enough gripping. Later...
If the forum site is to be eternally awaiting maintenance, maybe I had better correct a wrong impression I posted there. The really appealing Minerva magazine, http://minervamagazine.co.uk/ with a lot of coverage of Roman archeology and history... really is giving Roman coins with some of it's subscriptions (auto renewing or 3 yr minimum). I reported that their website blew up when I attempted my (intnl) subscription, and gave up when no billing appeared. But now I've got my coin, mag, and bill... something to keep that Roman fix coming (altho not cheap).
P.S. if someone knows how to contact the admin for this site, they should remind that admin that klingan or whatever Patrick from Sweden goes by made an offer to take over the upkeep of this site. I can probably find how to contact Patrick if you can get the OK from the Austrian admin.
Cold, wet, miserable. That's pretty much how Swindon is right now, and that's probably not far different from how the rest of the country feels, give or take a flood here and there. Even my local Subway aren't smiling when I arrive to spend a few more hard earned dole payments on something to eat. Hey - It's not my fault this that or the other is on special offer this week.
All is not lost however. The old Thompson Insurance place on the High Street - It's been empty for years - is being refitted as a suntan emporium. In Swindon? We don't know the meaning of sunshine. I've seen the machine itself, looking like something out of Star Trek. Well, I suppose it's appropriate. What with all the saturday night klingons we've got wandering around the town.
The work on the Old College site has spilled out onto the road junction beyond the fence. The pedestrian crossings are replaced by temporary versions next them, plastic fences erected everywhere, railings uprooted, traffic islands dug up. Motorists are a bit confused by all these changes - the other day a workman shouted at one old guy "Look mate! GIVE WAY!", which of course is exactly what most druivers aren't doing, turning the junction into a motorised russian roulette. Mind you, the presence of a police car certainly made some motorists a bit more obedient.
There's a dark blue Ford Mustang that I sometimes see burbling around the town. Not one of the classic versions, it's the new model, looking oddly exotic in rainy old Swindon. For my tastes it stands too tall on the road - practical but not really sporty. The thing is the driver, for reasons known only to himself, likes to rev the engine when he passes me. Sorry mate, Im not gay, no matter what that fat idiot on the gate of the Old College site says.
Anyway, I was walking along the local high street and there he was again. Vrooom! Actually, the V8 sounds great,and for that matter I can't condemn him for exuberance. Heaven knows I've done my share of exuberant driving in the past. But unfortunately I wasn't the only one who heard that blip on the accelerator. The driver didn't see the police car waiting to pull out behind a parked vehicle. Ooops.
Car Advert Of The Week
There's a glossy television advert doing the rounds right now for the Nissan Qashqai. I suppose they have to advertise it - cars of that sort don't sell themselves - but I had to laugh. The advert features a man taling hold of a metal bar suspended on a pulley and cable, wafting down the city boulevard at night, with the voiceover claiming that all cars should drive like that. What? Hanging on for dear life, unable to stop, and unable to steer? Not my idea of driving a car, I have to say.
Where shall I go today? The library, so I can do more internetting? Or the Support Centre so I can do more job searching? It doesn't really matter because I'll end up doing both today as I do every day.
Today I will go to the library first I think. Nothing ike variety in the working day. The road crossing outside the library also happens to be where the main entrance to the Old College building site is. The tarmac is crumbling under stress and has become a building site all of its own as repairs to the road take place.
With lorries coming and going from the Old College site regularly, combined with the wet weather we've been having , the road is a shade of sandy brown with little ridges of half dry mud. The lads on the gate are often seen sweeping the mud away and occaisionally a lorry is parked nearby with a tank of water and cleaning apparatus.
I've gotten used used to it I suppose. But I had to laugh earlier - I was following a pair of east european lads when one of them stopped short of the muddy entrance and refused to go any further. It's just a thin patina of mud, my friend, not quicksand. Honestly, they leave friends and family behind and travel hundreds of miles to discover that despite our wonderful benefits payments, they're just as at risk of getting their clothes dirty.
Our Wonderful Benefits Payments
It's a wonder I still qualify now that our glorious leader has declared war on claimants. Just the other day I received a huge form to fill in. it must be returned by the due date or payments may stop - the information must be correct or payments may stop - it must be retuirned in the correct envelope or payments may stop - Okay, okay, I get the message. I'll run around everywhere like a headless chicken collating all the information demanded. Phone the doctors surgery to get an exact date. No point phoning the Council - their phone system is designed to induce apoplexy in those attempting to pierce its defenses. I swear there are skeletons with boney fingers around a handset with a tinny voice repeating periodically "Please wait - we're trying to connect you to an advisor".
Apparently I missed an interview at the Job Cente about my future as a jobseeker, which is why the form arrived through the post in the first place. It might help if I received it before the day afterward. But hey, that's how things are done in rainy old Swindon.
Annoyance Of The Week
Yes, it's our old friend, BFG. This morning I had the misfortune to be at the computer when she decided to sit in the next computer. If anyone else made the same running commentary of her woes concerning the library computers she'd throw a tantrum. Just ignore her. When she realises we're not paying her any attention, she'll eventually shut up.... Except she discovered the young lady on the helpdesk is a very helpful person and basically demanded that she ran errands while BFG struggled with her argumentative computer.
Ding ding... Round three...
I cut off viewing Gilius' post for a month after all the pointless absurdities he was bombing me with, with no attempt whatsoever at trying to hold to historical methods..... any methods.
Well Gilius, the month is up..... feel free to post away now. I'm lifting it.
Honestly, start posting........ do it now!
I only just discovered this.... apparently Greek loan words in the first declension singular play some tricks, -e remains instead of -a in the nomitive for example.
All the more reason for me now to build a time machine so I may travel back and punch a native latin speaker in the face. Ill just appear in their field while plowing, walk up to them in their stare of amazement, punch them in the face, and then walk back to the time machine, without saying a single word
Work at the Old College site proceeds apace. I know this because firstly there's a huge jungle of steel girders blocking the view from my back window, and secondly, because they've starting demolition of the brickwork in one corner of the site in order to create the entrance to a new car park. Every time the digger brings down the bucket to smash the bricks the whole terrace of houses in which I live vibrates. Really, the house has been shaking intermittently for the last few days. I'm actually bouncing on my seat.
Monkeys can be entertaining to watch. Like other people I've marvelled at the graceful slow motion of Orangu-tangs, the lightning quick bursts of gymnastics from gibbons, or laughed at the parodies of human activity from chimpanzees. Actually, come to think of it, the closeness of human and primate behaviour can be a bit embarrassing sometimes. Like that male chimpanzee sat on top of a climbing frame in Auckland Zoo. As soon as he saw me watching him, he gave a big monkey grin, stood up, and enjpyed a very full on wee. Yes yes yes, I see you. They share 99% of our DNA you see.
What do monkeys eat? I suspect the obvious answer for most of us is bananas. Finally, after millennia of keeping animals in captivity, one zoo has realised that monkeys are happier eating green vegetables. They behave better, and I suspect, enjoy fewer visits from the veterinarian and his pesky blowdarts.
Here's the thing. Primates that eat bananas have too much sugar in their diet and it drives them... well... bananas. Which I suspect is largely the cause of Attention Deficit Disorder in young human beings. Not because of bananas I have to say, but because there's so much sugar in our diet overall. So give your kids less Sunny Delight, Cocopops, Halibo sweeties and maybe the local policeman with his pesky blowdarts won't be dragging the kids home every evening with acres of unreadable grafitti left in their wake. After all, why wouldn't the same thing work for our little monkeys, assuming you can ween them off stuff that tastes nice? There you go. Helpful dietary advice from Dr Caldrail.
You know what? I fancy some chocolate right now... Ahh yeah... Yeah.. Oh that's good... Wow. Ah'm feelin' bad...
Pretty Woman of the Week
You have to be a bit wary of tabloid news stories, especially those connected with celebrities, but I couldn't help noticing recently that Cameron Diaz has been quoted as saying that we shouldn't refer to women as pretty because it forces the female of the species to strive toward a visiual ideal they may not be able to attain, and to suffer the mental torment of failing to achieve it.
Cameron my love, you are such a silly girl. Quite apart from the fact that the female of the species causes the male no end of grief regarding their appearance, behaviour, commitment, and domestic capability, is your career based entirely based on your talent as an actress? Face it, if you were a frump, where would you be?
You're a very pretty woman Cameron. So please stick to the script. It is, after all, your lifestyle choice.
I have a theory..... either the site administrator is dead or homeless, and paid for the site a year in advance.
I like to think Hobo. He's riding the rails, crazy dirty beard, howling against the hail to the sight of a untouched winter valley below the shaking railbridge, in a state of liberating, frenzied serendipity having cut his last bonds to this world.
I copied and pasted the error message, and looked at the most recent examples of it. There is a degree of variability to it, but in general, it results in partial to full shutdowns of forums due to a unknown quota of messages being breached.
Everyone resolves it by calling the database serves, listen to their gripping about it, then begging everyone to delete the messages. Then site resumes.
I thought about sending this info to a mod, who could in theory tell the admin, but that PM is just outside of the scope of my willpower today.
Instead, I take my turkey baster and bucket of hot soapy water, and will go tree to tree looking for hibernating squirrels. It has as good a chance of fixing this as any other.
P.S. people..... quit emailing me, if it is a overload of the PM quota, we are just making worst. Short of finding the Admins house and clicking stuff on his computer, I can't do squat. Talk to the admin or mods. I'm just some guy. Cynics can answer many of lives hard questions most are incapable of tackling, but database errors are not a natural strong point of ours. Seems simple enough, but I can't do squat about it anymore than you.
Global Warming is at it again.....
The best ritual the practitioners of Scientism have developed to keep solar winds from messing with our cell phone towers is for everyone to recycle. I think, in order to repair global warming damage to the forum, is to develop a new responsive ritual ourselves.
I suggest, we ask ourselves why the software of the site is still otherwise functioning, such as private messages, and blog entries, and ask ourselves at a software level what the real difference between posting in these are from the forum. It doesn't look like much.
Furthermore, the forum seems to of retained its memory, so it's not a memory corruption. It's the capacity of the website to direct us to individual threads.
Now.... the pragmatic rational thing would be to rename the directories in the forums. Or at least add a new section that functions while the rest frets. However, that makes too much sense. I recommend, we use narrow minded group think and floppy rationalization and encourage everyone to douche female squirrels to make the global warming forum glitch go away, and tell anyone who is skeptical of capturing wild squirrels and douching them are uneducated, superstitious riftraft. We can compare them to the Heavens Gate cult, evolution deniers, or the Welsh. If we ostracize enough of these skeptics, these pragmatic seekers of the truth, maybe the internet directory will become pleased, and fix itself as a goodwill measure...... maybe?
Or we can just fix the directory.
Hey look..... I just posted this. Means it's possible to fix it..... the fundamentals of the website isn't broke, just the index links.
2014. At last. All those god awful christmas songs have been put back on the shelf for another eleven months and life returns to normal. Apart from floods in Britain and blizzards in the US, or the usual woes of war and famine elsewhere.
There's also been a distinct lack of a Rapture - that's when Jesus returns and magically transports his believers into paradise leaving behind their worldly goods, which lets face it, would be a charter for looters here in Blighty. You have to admire End Timers for sheer stubborness in the face of reality. Ever since the Great Disappointment of 1844 they've been waiting for Jesus to get his act together - Still hasn't happened. Oh but it will, they tell us, and those of us not whisked away will suffer drunkeness, looting, and party political broadcasts.
What kind of year has it been for me? Well, I've been Lord Caldrail for four years now and suprisingly it seems to be gaining some acceptance in the hallowed halls of the local Job Centre. Who would have thought the last bastion of working class socialism in Britain would find it in their hearts to recognise that dole claimants aren't all the same? So I look forward to another year of progress and who knows? Perhaps there really is gold at the end of a rainbow, a car that really is what the adverts describe, a lost city of Atlantis waiting to be discovered, or a government that will get it right.
A Dog Is For Christmas
Pets seem to be perrennial gifts and sadly, as we know, many get discarded one way or another. A mate of mine has had a different experience. His erstwhile girlfriend decided the dog was too cute to be left behind and departed with the animal. From what he tells me it was turning into a strange sort of 'tug-of-love' contest, but not only is the confused animal now back with its original owner, my friend has inherited a another puppy to keep it company. Of course putting two dogs together causes a slight problem in that they had to negotiate social status, rights, and pecking order, resulting in growls, chases, bitten fingers, much shouting and the usual chaos of animal interaction. However, all is well, as the next day he came downstair in the morning to discover that a treaty had been signed and both dogs were curled up asleep together. Awwww... Cute.... Well it was Christmas after all.
Job Interview Of The Week
A few days previously I'd applied for a job over the internet. The recruitment agency tried to get in touch, I tried to get in touch with them, but between the vagaries of my mobile phone and the hussle and bussle of recruitment, somehow contact was as easy as contacting space aliens on Planet Zarg.
However, in the evening I received a phone call from a lady who wasn't my contact at the agency, but who was following up the application nonetheless. At least something's happening. She asked what I normally applied for then enquired why did I want this job?
Well, it has something to do with being unemployed, needing to pay my bills, and satisfying a government hell bent on forcing me into the gutter. It isn't difficult to understand.
Actually, it turned out she didn't understand. Not only was she unable to grasp why I applied for the job, she went into a minor tantrum and tried to give me the benefit of her opinions. Hmmm... Think I'll hang up and leave her to it. Clearly a woman without a dog this year.
Bah! Humbug! it's that time of year when supermarkets try to get us to buy more stuff by playing Christmas Hits Of The Last Fifty Years over the tannoy. I asked a member of staff if the sound could be turned down - she walked away! I'm sorry, do you like Christmas?
My Struggle With Earthy Girls
Can't be bothered with all this Christmas rubbish. A young lady once told me that Christmas and New Year were the time of year when people are most likely to end it all. I didn't go out with her. But then, trying to go out with a woman is one of those things that very few of us are any good at but try anway out of some primeval urge to spawn more hapless generations that can't get off with a woman either.
Here's a funny thing. People often sneer at sports car drivers and their apparent need to flaunt it because they've got it - I should know, I heard all the same comments back when I indulged in the cheaper end of the fast car market. Yet I found that women were attracted by the sight of my bright blue curvaceous and low slung speed machine. Not because of any extension of my physique (that's an unfortunate part of the male psyche), but because it suggested I was wealthy and successful (that's the unfortunate side of the female psyche - as much as hormones, pesonality, and physical attractiveness can spark our emotions, women do instinctively prefer a caveman to fill her larder, spawn her young, protect her from harm, and emable her deep rooted instinct to spend, spend, spend. Face it girls, you know I'm right)
But flying aeroplanes? The kiss of death where girlfriends are concerned. Unless she happens to be one of the minority that actually like flying, most girls regard being in an aeroplane as a means either to be thrilled by adventure or to arrive somewhere interesting. Sitting in a grotty old Cessna for an hour, squeezed into a narrow cabin with a guy she hardly knows, subjected to the loud monotonous rasp and roar of a small aero-engine, feeling uninvolved in the entire process of getting from one place to another by air - she is quickly bored and can't escape. So unless you have access to a business jet and the money to reach a warm Mediterranean coast, the experience of flying won't make her think you're good in bed. Also, she will quickly realise that going out with you means she'll be sharing her bed with aviation magazines.
What a great day to be flying. Isn't this fun?
"Umm, Caldrail, we need to talk"
Yes you're right. Hang on a moment Babe... "Eastwich, this is Romeo Juliet, overhead , routing south of London for Little Wimpton, over....
"Caldrail, I've been doing some thinking"
"I don't think you and I are going anywhere."
No no, really, it looks slow because we're so high. Look, we're doing 90 knots. That's over a hundred miles an hour.
"So is anything going to happen?"
Nah, you're okay, flying is the safest form of travel..... What?
Drunkard Of The Week
It was all quiet in the early hours last night Drunkards don't like quietness, it disturbs them, and normally at some point there's a singing contest, football chants, threats of physical violence, appeals to lost girlfriends, or sometimes incoherent yelling. However, this time we got a treat. A drunk singing that old English favourite...
I'm forever blowing bubbles
Pretty bubbles in the air
They fly so high
Nearly reach the sky
.... At which point he either fell over, bumped into a lampost, got squished by a passing car, found a friendly policeman, or considering how much alcohol was in him, did something extremely dangerous like try to light a cigarette.
The residents sighed, pulled their blankets and duvets over themselves, and went back to sleep.
Many many years ago in that Jurassic era I call my childhood, I sometimes made a journey across the countryside to Lydiard Park. Back then West Swindon didn't exist. Just abandoned railway yards, farmland, and overgrown flak emplacements from WW2. I always remember passing through a village on the way where beside the road was a brake of trees that never seemed to grow any leaves, just existing as towering stalks of dark grey, always surrounded by flocks of crows that made the most unholy noise.
Of course now the village is absorbed into West Swindon and the unholy noise is made by late night drunkards. The crows have gone. Maybe that's because they had more sense than to stay. After all, crows and ravens are very clever birds.
I've seen a video clip of a crow using its puzzle solving abilities. Within seconds it retrieved a little metal basket full of food from an upright plastic cylinder by using a small metal rod with a hook at one end. I have to say, it was a very impressive display of animal intelligence.
A few weeks ago I was taking a shortcut through my local park. Normally it's quiet, a useful quality for a remembrance garden, but on this occaision four crows were having a bit of a tiff. They flapped their wings ceaselessly, hopped from branch to branch in some avian parody of martial arts fighters, going at each other hammer and tongs.
I can't remember what I said. Something like "Oh shut up" as I remember, and whaddya know? The crows stopped making noises, stopped moving, and the garden returned to its normal peaceful condition. Thank you.
So there you have it. Crows and ravens are not only quite intelligent, but very polite too. Don't know where they learned that from. It clearly wasn't the average Swindon youth.
Sermon Of The Week
I lost my temper. I really did. There I was, minding my own business as I strode homeward, when I encountered those pesky christian preachers. As they often do, one bellowed praise of Jesus and excerpts from his best seller whilst his mate handed out little cards with his phone number on them.
Out of the corner of my eye I couldn't help spotting his approach (the card distributor, not Jesus), grinning like a cheshire cat and determined to intercept me. That was when I lost my temper. "How many times do you have to be told NO!" I barked at him. Poor bloke. He backed off ever so quickly. He wasn't in much danger of course - a policeman was but yards away chatting to a member of the public and must of heard me explode. Funnily enough the preacher stopped shouting too.
Employment agencies are the bane of the jobseeker. Love them or loathe them, anyone on Jobseekers Allowance sooner or later must do business with them during their search for work.The problem is that these agencies aren't interested in finding you work - you're just not that important - but instead need to shove you into the first convenient role to fulfill their contractual obligations and profit margins.
Unlike employers, agencies always do things at the last minute. There's always a sense that if you don't immediately agree to be enslaved then someone else will, the point being that they get paid for signing away their freedom and human rights whereas you get left with having to explain your failure to a claims advisor. Just today I struggled through the gale force winds to attend a work registration run by an agency, only to discover my on-going opportunity was merely two weeks casual labour. "It was in the email" He assured me. No, pal, it wasn't.
This sort of thing happened to me a few days ago. I was at the ocal shopping mall, my mission to buy some frozen chips, when my mobile phone activated itself for the first time this year. Hello? The call was from a desperate recruitment agent. Can I start work early tomorrow morning? Errm....
You see, my world has pretty much ground to a halt. My day was planned to the last detail. Go to the mall. Buy frozen chips. Go home. Cook chips for dinner. Sorted. Then this frantic guy on the other end of the phone wants to meet me at the local library to sign me up for a job on the outskirts of the known world and suddenly my brain starts remembering all the things I ought to have done by now and hadn't planned for. Seriously, you get so used to very simple lifestyle decisions as an unemployed person that conversations involving decisions on whether to do the right thing and return to the workplace before sunrise tomorrow actually become stressful.
Eventually I agreed. There was nothing in his sales patter that meant the job was not for me, so I accepted that my fate was sealed. That meant I would have to notify the support centre, the dole office, Swindon Council, or anyone else with a vested interest in knowing whether I work for a living. A busy afternoon then. Here goes...
Then he suggested we meet for a registration interview at the local library. Huh? Why the library? Apparently his office was way out of the town centre. It was just easier for all concerned. Okay. So I ended the call, bought my frozen chips, went home, had some chips for dinner, and then waited at the library as agreed.
He never showed up. All I got afterward was a text message telling me he couldn't make it and that he'd speak to me later. He didn't. Is it just me, or did I just get used in some way?
Threat of the Week
There was a time when you could walk the streets in Swindon without hassle. Now little children hurl dog poo for a laugh, and youths trty to enforce territorial rights on passers-by like petty gangsters. Just today some acne-ridden wretch busy trying to make his secondhand hatchback look 'hot' said "Don't come this way again" in a hideously immature tone.
Look mate, if by some quirk of fate you learned how to read and happen to be reading this instead of Facebook, then I have to tell you I was walking along a public thoroughfare. Since I was only going about my lawful business, you mind yours, and by the way, where did you get the money for that car?
According to the BBC, ten million of you watched the Dr Who special marking the 50th year of time travelling mayhem and alien invasions of Earth. I strongly suspect far fewer of you are going to be reading this, but who knows, perhaps one day this blog will survive the ravages of time and become an indispensible guide to how life in Swindon really was before Professor Cox was proved right.
I do note however one aspect of Day Of The Doctor that most people might not have noticed. The good Doctor turns out to have been an utter cad. He sent Rose Tyler into exile in another dimension so he could snog Elizabeth 1st. Perhaps worse than that, children have learned that our foremost warrior queen married a nine hundred year old alien with really bad fashion sense. No wonder she kept that secret.
A little while ago I spotted a news item on Yahoo in which Professor Brian Cox was quoted as saying that time travel was possible. I disagree with him vehemently and posted a somewhat sarky comment to that effect. You see, he says that einsteinian time dilation due to excessive speed allows a traveller to go into the future. I say it doesn't, because the traveller hasn't left his own present and cannot move independently of his own local time, thus he isn't time travelling at all. Physics is really easy when you don't listen to physics lecturers.
Lo and behold within days a lecture by Professor Cox was aired on television in which he discussed whether time travel was possible. Actually he spent most of the lecture dazzling his audience with the inner mysteries of light cones, and only at the very end suggested a possible time travel paradigm. He said that if you could warp space so that the end met the beginning, then hurtling through space at near-light speed would get you into the past.
He is of course wrong. If he was right, all it wouldl do is get you ten penalty points on your license and a three month ban on driving time machines. Not only are there speed cameras everywhere,to catch you flashing past at 186,000 miles per second, your arrival at your destination will very likely be in the history books and therefore you're guilty as charged. According to the history books I've read, no-one from the future ever turned up.
He did confess that the energy required to warp space like that would be enormous but tried to inspire the television audience to try anyway. Clearly he hasn't dealt with energy companies. If he had, he would know that no-one in Britain could afford to power their time machine.
Survival Without Central Heating Update
Cold... So cold...
Time Machine Of The Week
So you want to follow the good professors advice and build a time machine? Well, you don't need to build a weird victorian chair with rotating umbrella, a 60's police box, or a huge underground complex in the American desert. Just follow my simple instructions and you can travel through time.
Step 1 - Sit comfortably.
Step 2 - Wait. Twiddle thumbs if necessary.
Step 3 - Done. Finished. You have just travelled through time according to Professor Cox. Admittedly you won't be able to snog Elizabeth 1st, battle Daleks, or act the idiot with a sonic screwdriver, but there you go.
You see, in order to travel into the past or future then the past or future has exist in order to visit it. That means that Time must be dimensional, which unfortunately for Professor Cox means the past is already defined, and since the future is merely a part of the Time dimension we haven't reached yet, it too is pre-determined , which means there's nothing you can do. The bank will foreclose on your mortgage, Schrodingers Cat will die of starvation, and the number 10 bus will squash your dog. There's nothing you can do because Time is already defined.
As for me, I say time travel cannot possibly happen because there isn't any Time, only Now. A single existentent moment that changes on a quantum level incredibly fast like a stop-frame movie with a frame rate of billions upon trillions upon quadrillions of frames a second, varying locally according to such einsteinian things like speed and gravity. All the atoms that made Julius Caesar still exist, albeit seperated and changed. A vibrating universe that has no past or future, merely a present that experiences Change. Time is therefore not a seperate existence, dimension, or place you can visit, just our experience of Change.
Sadly I can't compete with Professor Cox when it comes to inviting celebrity audiences to a television physics lecture, but I've taken your advice Brian. I've made a start. Trouble is, my time machine cannot possibly work.
Shopping? Done. Interview at the job agency? Done. Gas account cancellation? Done. On my daily checklist I had only the obligatory online job search to do, so off to the library for another struggle with Microsoft's worst.
Balloons? What's going on here? It's usually excessively warm in our local library but there seemed to be a much livelier atmosphere, and evidence of small scale partying. Worse still, as I ascended the stairs a jazz band started up, creating a very genteel background noise, like the sort of music you get in resteraunts.
Years ago our band was driving through London along the embankment on our way home from a gig in early hours of the morning. We passed that odd resteraunt that stands on the riverside by itself between the trees, and our singer, Dave, commanded that the van be brought to a halt. Enough was enough. We'd all noticed the place every timne we went this way and finally his curiosity could bear no more. He had to find out what it was like in there. So I parked up for a while as a slightly inebriated folk-rock singer tried to gain access.
The bouncers actually let him in to have a look. Apparently it was a very strange mystical experience with a rock band doing the impossible by playing at low volume as the clientelle ignored them in favour of expensive morsels and famous brand wines, and finally Dave re-emerged with the advice to bring a tie next time if he wanted to come in and eat. Sadly we were all struggling musicians without a penny between us, so that never happened,
Okay, reminicense over, back to the library. I was expecting to be distracted by the music, but strangely, the easy listening tunes suited the mood and I got on - I strongly suspect I was typing in unison with the beat, but don't tell anyone.
A guest singer was introduced who completely tortured 'Summertime' to death. Clearly not a finalist in X Factor then. Whether she was supposed to sing one song or not, that was it, and the band called everyone together before they found something interesting to do. A chorus of 'Happy Birthday' explained the change of pace. Oddly enough, when the band finished, the library started to empty. Maybe the guest singer was planning to sing again?
I must be honest, now that my flat has no heating I am starting to notice the cold. Not for the first time, I have to say, just that now I can't do much about it except report my shivering on this blog.
I notice that an MP has warned the gas companies not to use their customers as cash cows. Too late for me, I've already escaped the meadow, and worringly I quickly noticed newspaper headlines at the supermarket. A sharp freeze expected. Four inches of snow expected. Oh great.
Well at least I live in Swindon. Thankfully our much maligned town doesn't seem to be greatly affected by weather - we never suffer the extremes you see on the evening news. One winter, the whole country was inundated with snow, drifts up to six feet deep, but Swindon? Not a flake. With luck the snow will pass us by this year too.
I woke this morning from my slumber as the rat made a loud plop exitting the house via the toilet. Not that I'd gotten much sleep - my computer has once again succumbed to the vagaries of electricity and fizzled out. There I was, working away, when the monitor went blankl and I could hear raw current arcing somewhere. With such a strong smell of burning I even had an electrician out in the middle of the night to check I wasn't going to burn the house down. Sadly it appears the rate escaped electrocution. Or maybe the the rat is now a fully fledged member of the Special Air Service, boldly sabotaging where no rat has sabotaged before. Well not to worry, the clocks went back this morning, so I've got an extra hour to figure out another way of ridding the world of little furry mammals.
A couple of days ago I opened the back window and stared out across the early evening scene. The sun was already dipping below the horizon yet the sky was a lustrous blue, devoid of cloud, and even with the frantic rush of urban life at rush hour going on beyond the building site, it all seemed very peace and quietful.
I could hardly miss the six or seven airliners on their way across the Atlantic. It's the usual practice with air traffic control to send airliners in waves back and forth. Too high and far away to see the actual airliners themselves, their short contrails were lit up bright yellow by the sun, looking for all the world like rocket exhausts of a salvo of ballistic missiles.
For a brief moment one of the contrails widened and lengthened, then as the airliner turned on a new heading, it looked like one missile had been hit by some unseen defence, arcing downward to expend itself uselessly in the Atlantic.
For a while I forgot these were aeroplanes packed with tourists, holidaymakers, or freight, and watched my imaginary missiles slowly diminish and vanish into the haze on their way west, mindful of how many times we all came to nuclear holocaust during the Cold War.
Over the last couple of years I've had no choice but to economise on my gas use, what with rising prices and all. That won't suprise any British readers. I have in fact cut my bill down to a manageable quarter of what it was. No sooner had the gas company realised they weren't getting the same profit from me as before than they announced they were imposing a standing charge to make sure they do.
Naturally I was miffed. I called the customer enquiries number - too busy. I called again a couple of hours later - too busy. Finally I made one last valiant effort to contact my gas company - too busy. Fine. Log onto the internet, please cancel my gas account. It's just blatant profiteering and I don't care to pay for their cars, mortgages, and holidays in the sun.
And there was Cameron, blithely telling us to search around for a bargain tariff. Dream on mate.
Date Of The Week
A friend of mine known for his inebriation and habit of waking up in surreal and funny situations has been on the lookout for a girklfriend. Not a plastic shop mannequin - I think he's realised the downside of that lifestyle choice - and tells me this time he chose his dentist as a potential partner.
Don't ask me why - I have no idea - but apparently she understands his sense of humour. I chuckled when he told me was going to, but fair play to him, he did. Not the lady he intended to unfortunately. His usual dentist wasn't there, so he made do with the foreign female dentist instead, and asked her out.
"I don't understand your sense of humour" She replied.
You're the worst kind of propagandist who thinks he knows better than everyone else
Guest private messge (some-1-better-than-u)
Wow! Praise indeed. But Im not entirely sure what I'm propagandising.
However, lets for the moment ask a serious question - Do I think I know better than everyone else? Of course I do - just like everyone else does, including my crtitic quoted above - it's a fundamental part of human self worth to believe your opinion is as good as anyone elses. Even when it isn't.
As it happens I do know who some-1-better-than-u is - he made the mistake of calling me the same thing once before on a forum thread. However, despite his blatant immaturity, I remain calm, cool, and unconcerned that he stuck his virtual finger in my digital face. Mate, seriously, I was in the music business for twelve years, I know what criticisn feels like.
But thanks for the compliment anyhow.
More Facts And Figures For Non-Propagandists
I also know other stuff too. My head is buzzing full of all sorts of stuff. Now before anyone thinks I'm on strange medication or suspicious substances, I can't help all those E numbers they put into food.
So, did you know that my co-habitee at home is a rat called "You little monster"? You see, if you read my blog you'd know these things.
Did you know how long rats live for? Three to five years in the wild, or until poisoned or caught by the human cohabitee who's getting a mite fed up of little puddles of piss on the kitchen floor.
Did you know rats are intelligent creatures? Clearly in this battle of wills I'm outclassed by a small furry mammal, who so far has managed to elude every trap and stratagem I've concocted. Now unless this rat is Julius Caesar reincarnated (like most people are), it represents absolute and demonstratable proof that I don't know how to catch rats.
No Hot Debate
I had to laugh. There's some idiot on the internet news headlines who's declared that he's going to try and do without domestic utilities for a year to see if it's possible to live cheaply without them. Clearly he hasn't read my blog. It's already tried and tested mate. It's called unemployment.
Propaganda Message Of The Week
I know better than you. I know this because I have been told so. Now you know too. Knowledge is power! Send
Must be a rainy day. The library is half empty. Oh well, at least the early morning rush for a computer isn't the usual death before dishonour charge up the stairs. I see a certain youngster has been released from prison (he was jailed for drug dealing) and even he isn't bounding up the stairs the way he normally would.
Actually most of the familiar characters are somewhere else. The guy who likes to threaten me every time a I say anything, the woman who thinks the library is her personal servant, the lady who doesn't know she hums to herself, the bloke who cannot bear to parted from his mobile phone, the eastern european ladies who chatter incessantly about eastern european things, and the strange guy who always asks at the desk for assistance and cannot make himself understood. All missing.
You know, this would be a pleasant session if I didn't have something to moan about. I have been advised by the Swindon Critics Society that my blog is dull - sorry about that, but rest assured there's a blockbuster finale to today's episode.
What is it with the internet just of late? Why do web page designers believe that I want lots of pointless themes and features that really only convert handy internet sites into a jumbled mess. There's nothing worse than software that tells you what you want. Or idiots who create all that stuff for no other reason than to justify their pay packet.
More About Idiots
Talking about idiots, just of late there's been a crabby old biddy at the library who seems to think I'm interested in listening to her whinging on about what a poor excuse for a person she believes me to be. Heard it all before, dear, and I don't listen to those who speak to my back. The funny thing is she sometimes makes sarcastic comments about how good it is see me searching for work. The reason it's funny is that I've been using the library computers almost daily for the last five years to help me find work. Obviously too busy moaning about my military surplus trousers to notice.
More About Whinging
As it happens I had reason to moan myself the other day. A new neighbour has moved in and seeing her trying to cut back the jungle the previous residents cultivated in the front yard, I took the opportunity to advise her how little sound proofing there is between our houses. Like there isn't any. With her predecessors it was like living in Albert Square sometimes. Anyway despite my advice next doors radio could be clearly heard all around my flat. Right. That's it. This needs to be sorted.
She came to the door and after listening to my complaint asserted that her radio wasn't loud at all, even though it could be heard blaring out behind her from the back of the house. Not exactly quiet, is it?
Holy Grail Secret Of The Week
By sheer coincidence I discovered last night that I'm very distantly related to Jesus Christ. The maternal side of my tribe is connected to all those stories circulating about Renne-Le-Chateau and the Priory of Sion. After more than a decade of trying to debunk such things it came as a bit of a shock to find out my family is part of it.
Now, I have to say I'm not entirely convinced that this revelation is even close to being factual, or even believable, but those of you who swear blind that the 'Blood Royal' legend has real basis now have no choice but to defend me from strange homicidal monks, or if you really want to do me a favour, that crabby old biddy at the library.
There it was again - Another flicker of light. What on earth is going on? Curiosity got the better of me and I opened the back window last night to try and see what was causing that phenomenon.
It was a pretty ordinary evening. Not too cold, perhaps a bit damp, and apart from the odd swish of a passing car, or the flitter of a bat to and fro, nothing stirred. The local cat was making its way home across the yard, a sign that the foxes were coming out to play.
Then I realised what those strange flickers were. Far away to the west a thunderstorm was in progress, too far away for thunder to be heard. Normally our vision is very limited in stormy weather and we only get a more immediate and dramatic experience. It just so happened there wasn't much cloud to impede the firework display, and that's the first time I've ever seen such a distant storm in this country. What a fascinating and surreal sight.
Close Quarter Battle
Has anyone seen this series about special forces and military tactics? Generally it's quite informative if not exactly gripping, but I had to laugh at the reconstruction of a French Foreign Legion attack on an airfield. They couldn't afford blanks and had to add barrel flashes with some cheesy special effects. Naturally.
Tantrum of the Week
"What gives him the right to use that title?" screeched some lady at the library earlier today, clearly outraged that her socialist sympathies were being ignored by legal rights and thousands of years of tradition and custom. Off with my head? Not around here lady. There's been a few people muttering darkly just lately. Not that it makes any difference. I'm entitled ,you see, and that's all there is to it.