Thursday 27 February 2014

Everything that is wrong with Facebook

I don't log into Facebook very often, and when I do it's nearly always the cut-down, mobile version that I use. Imagine my surprise then, on logging into the full-fat version this morning, to find this at the top of my timeline:

I might like Dappy. Then again...
Facebook suggested this

Yes, I suppose it is not beyond the realms of possibility that I might. And then I will hug and kiss some poisonous snakes.

Monday 17 February 2014

By popular demand... which I mean one request...

Last June, Rol suggested I write music blog. Despite the facts that (a) music is already the thing I write about most on this blog and (b) I don't have much spare time, I've given it a go. It's called The Sound City Sessions and, as you can see, is deliberately minimalist and designed to be maintainable with the least possible time and effort on my part.

Despite its name, it has nothing to do with Liverpool Sound City or the Dave Grohl movie, so don't get your hopes up or anything. And at the moment, it has no traffic. I'll give it three months - if it still has no traffic then, it will perish. So don't get too attached or anything either...

Thursday 13 February 2014

Separated at birth V - Danny Alexander and Beaker

Muppet lab technician BeakerTreasury Chief Secretary Danny AlexanderI'm doubtless not the first person to spot a worrying similarity between Dr Bunsen Honeydew's lab tech sidekick Beaker (left, borrowing Dr Honeydew's glasses for disguise) and George Osborne's treasury sidekick Danny Alexander (right). Were they separated at birth? Perhaps more worryingly, have they ever been seen together? Or even in different places at the same time? No, I thought not.

I guess I could make a hackneyed, tired old joke here and say that those politicians in Whitehall, they're just a bunch of muppets, right? But come on, you expect better of me, surely?

For completists: Separated at birth I, II, III an IV.

Tuesday 4 February 2014

A reason to be anaethetised

The press are having a quiet field day with Philip Seymour Hoffman's death, as each salacious detail is drip-fed to a waiting world. Coverage seems to have become incrementally more slavering, along the lines of:

  1. Hoffman has sadly died. RIP.
  2. Ooh. Hoffman had a history of drug use and rehab.
  3. OOH! Police found 70 bags of heroine in his apartment.
  4. OMFG! He was found with a syringe in his arm. Like this somehow makes his death more/less tragic (delete as applicable to the mentality of your newspaper).

It's all pretty tawdry, emblematic of the state of the British press. I'm not going to link to it on a point of principle, but the Daily Wail details "Hoffman's final descent into drugs" in bold bulletpoints. It's not hard to imagine a sub-editor drooling as he explains to his minions how neither bold nor bulletpoints are sufficient on their own to convey the nation's outrage/intrigue. The same article later shows a photograph of Hoffman asleep on a plane - you know, because that is clearly relevant to his drug issues, as he was obviously


rather than just, you know, sleeping on a plane. And by the way, that photo was taken by a member of the public, presumably without the sleeping Hoffman's consent. Reflects well on the public, doesn't it?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not belittling drug addiction, and I'm not belittling someone's death in apparently sorry circumstances either. I just loathe the joyous muck-raking from certain sections of the media that accompanies any such event.

In the midst of all this so-called journalism, there was one little nugget on Newsnight, in which Will Self (who I sometimes admire and sometimes think is a bit of a tool) was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman (ditto). I especially liked Paxo's question at about 1.55, and Self's answer. Have a watch to reassure yourself that it is still possible to drill into serious issues without descending into news frottage.

Monday 3 February 2014

Libraries... use them, or lose them?

National Libraries Day - use it, love it, join it!
The library - use it, love it, join it... or lose it?
This Saturday, the 8th of February, is National Libraries Day. As an avid reader and wannabe writer, libraries are special places for me, and I'm very lucky in this regard: there's a well-stocked and active library in the village, and I'm just five miles, as the crow flies, from the busiest library in Britain. And my parents are still regular customers of the mobile library van they took me to as a child.

National Libraries Day seeks to celebrate the diverse services modern libraries offer, in the hope that those who have forgotten their value get a timely reminder. And timely is the operative word there, for in these days of austerity, library budgets are an easy target for council spending cuts. First there will just be shorter opening hours, then there will be fewer mobile libraries, and finally just fewer libraries of any description... and that would be a calamity.

So take a look at National Libraries Day, see what's going on at a library near you or, better still, simply dust off your library card and go and get a book out. At the risk of stating the obvious, the easiest way to support, and hence preserve, your local library is simply to use it for its primary purpose.