Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Rendered Speechless

I've been working on a project for a client for a couple of months now. And there's one person where I work who has been doing things that ... make me nervous. That's the diplomatic way of saying it.

This person is supposed to manage me, and approve my work. And they asked me to help them do things that would undermine their boss and potentially cause some quite serious problems for the company. I had a dilemma. So I figured, I needed to talk to other people at the company and get a broader picture of what's going on.

Am I dealing with fraud, or somebody who is out of their depth and needs help?

I arranged a meeting with someone very senior. It got cancelled. I was asked to submit a written report. I submitted the report.

Since when... silence. I have heard on the grapevine, that my doubts were well founded. They were just waiting until they had enough evidence...

But that's not why I'm sharing this with you all. What bothers me is, that over the last three or four weeks, I've been rendered speechless. I've felt emotionally and verbally constipated.

I have lost my voice. Not just on that project, but in lots of areas of my life. I have three or four half written posts that I never finished and posted here.

Once I submitted my report, I felt relief and having told the truth, politely and diplomatically, and I let go. But I still feel like I'm walking on eggshells all the time.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Debbie Lives!

The beautiful and talented Miss Deborah Harry is alive and well and has a new single. And she's still sexy, thirty years on.

If you have daughters, bring them up to be like Debbie.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Drugs Are Bad

Okay, I'm convinced. Drugs really are bad for you.

I blame Mrs. Thatcher. When the hippies and the anarchists and the musicians were running the drug trade, they would never let you get like this. The profit motive has spoiled it for everyone.

If you don't believe me, take a look at Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, the world's most elegantly wasted human being.

He's sixty-four years old, and he looks a lot better than your grandpa, doesn't he? And he gets to hang out with cool guys like Johnny Depp, climb trees, advertise Louis Vuitton, and still gets on with his day job.

So, if you want to take drugs, make sure you have a lot of money, a good doctor, and a good lawyer. And some really nice friends.

If you get into drugs because you're unhappy, messed up in the head, want to escape, or even worse, want to be popular, they won't help you. They'll just make you worse.

Here's two videos of Amy Winehouse from a few years back, when she was talented, curvy, and damned hot. I feel deprived.

Penis Thieves Cause Panic

There has been panic in Kinshasa this week, after a series of incidents in which sorcerers allegedly used magic to steal men's genitals.

Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.

Rumours of penis theft spread quickly, and dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.

Kinshasa's police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko, told Reuters:

"I'm tempted to say it's one huge joke. But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it's become tiny or that they've become impotent.

"To that I tell them, 'How do you know if you haven't gone home and tried it?'"

Some Kinshasa residents accuse a separatist sect from nearby Bas-Congo province of being behind the witchcraft in revenge for a recent government crackdown on its members.

Now, obviously, a penis is a valuable item in many people's lives. When it's not being used to please a woman, a penis can also help a man go to the loo, write his name in snow, and provide a handy little ledge to rest his iPod on, on long plane journeys. So, since reading about the panic in the Congo, I have been careful not to leave my penis unattended in a public place.

On a more serious scientific note, though, I wonder if this is an example of the placebo effect? We know that doctors can make people feel better by giving them medicines that don't have any active ingredients. Maybe the sorcerers in the Congo have been able to persuade people that their penises have dropped off or withered away by using similar techniques?

Friday, 25 April 2008

Science and Religion # 1

In Australia, gay scientists claim to have isolated the gene that causes Christianity.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

The Child is Father to the Man

(with thanks to I'LTV and Paul Simon)

The mama pyjama rolled out of bed
And she ran to the police station
When the papa found out
He began to shout
And he started the investigation
It's against the law!
It was against the law.
What the mama saw
It was against the law!

The mama looks down
And spit on the ground
Everytime my name gets mentioned
The papa said “Oy! If I get that boy
I'm gonna stick him
In the house of detention”

Well I'm on my way
I don't know where I'm going

I'm on my way
I'm taking my time

But I don't know where

Thirty Years Later...

Never hides your broken bones

And I don't know why
You want to try
Mm, mm, mm,
It's plain to see you're on your own

Oh, I ain't blind, no, no
Some folks are crazy
Others walk that borderline
Watch what you're doing
Taking downers
To get off to sleep
And ups to start you on your way
After a while they'll change your style
Mm, mm, mm,
I see it happen every day

Oh, spare your heart
Everything put together
Sooner or later falls apart.

There's nothing to it, nothing to it.
You can cry,
You can lie
For all the good it'll do you
You can die

But when it's done
And the police come,
And they lay you down for dead
Oooh, oooh, oooh,
Just remember what I said

Thought for the Day

"My other girlfriend emails me.
She hates her husband.
I don't know what to tell her.
I hate him, too."

Monday, 21 April 2008

Your Freedom is History

A very interesting report of some research from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, in collaboration with the Charité University Hospital and the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience in Berlin.

The researchers used a brain scanner to investigate what happens in the human brain just before a decision is made. Apparently, our brain makes a decision up to seven seconds before we become aware of it.

Participants in an experiment were asked to choose whether to push a button with their left hand or their right hand. They were allowed to decide well before they pushed the button, and were also asked to record at what point they felt they had made their decision.

In the seven seconds before Haynes' subjects chose to push a button, activity shifted in their frontopolar cortex (a brain region associated with high-level planning.) Soon afterwards, activity moved to the parietal cortex, a region of sensory integration.
Haynes' team monitored these shifting neural patterns using a functional MRI machine. Based on these brain patterns, the researchers were able consistently to predict which hand the subjects would use to push a button.

Taken together, the patterns consistently predicted whether test subjects eventually pushed a button with their left or right hand -- a choice that, to them, felt like the outcome of conscious deliberation.

So: does free will exist? I say, yes, it does. But our consciousness gets involved several seconds later. By the time we're aware of what we want to do, our brain and are body are already committed.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Can you take a leap of faith?

What do you feel
When you let go of the wheel?
Can you take a leap of faith?
Will you face the change of pace?

There are worlds out there
Beyond compare
Going on a journey
Somewhere far out east
We'll find the time to show you
Wonders never cease

All that we’ve been through
Brings my soul so close to you
Why not cast your fears aside
We can laugh until we cry

There are worlds out there
Beyond compare

Going on a journey
Somewhere far out east
We’ll find the time to show you
Wonders never cease

Going on a journey
Somewhere far out east
We’ll find the time to show you
Wonders never cease


I Hate (being) My Boss

I hate my boss.

Actually, let me put that more honestly. I am my boss. I hate being my own boss. I'm in charge. How ungrateful am I?

I just found a post on a discussion forum that puts it better than I could:

I'm more productive than I was a year ago, but there's kind of a blind spot that maybe other folks here don't have.

I've noticed the biggest bottleneck stopping me from efficiently accomplishing the tasks I've set up for myself is just my mood. I'll have a clear definition of what needs to be done, full confidence in where I'm going with things, and I'll sit down and just think "aw, damn, I feel like shit." Then I'll generally waste time until it's 1am and I need to sleep. This happens 1-2 nights a week.

How do you guys deal with emotional problems?

How do you avoid ruminating on things in your day that have pissed you off? This is my biggest issue.

Friday, 18 April 2008

I Want You To Want Me

Thought for the Day

Take responsibility, ask for help, let people love you, fuck 'em if they don't.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

The Poet and His Muse

This morning's papers announced the death last week of Joan Jackson, age 92. Mrs Jackson, born Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, was the inspiration for John Betjeman's poem "A Sub Altern's Love Song". The two worked together at the Ministry of Information during World War II.

In the poem, written in 1940, a young army officer comes home on leave from his miltary service, plays tennis with Miss Dunn, and admires her sun-burnished form on court. Subsequently, he takes her to a dance, and the poem ends when he proposes to her and they become engaged.

Around the time he wrote this poem, Betjeman had told his friends that he had fallen in love with a red-headed woman. Was it she? Mrs Jackson said that Betjeman was a very nice gentleman; he helped her and her sons after she was widowed. But the poem was a fantasy, and whatever may have felt, he never made a pass at her.

A Subaltern's Love Song

Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Miss J. Hunter Dunn,
Furnish'd and burnish'd by Aldershot sun,
What strenuous singles we played after tea,
We in the tournament - you against me!

Love-thirty, love-forty, oh! weakness of joy,
The speed of a swallow, the grace of a boy,
With carefullest carelessness, gaily you won,
I am weak from your loveliness, Joan Hunter Dunn.

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
How mad I am, sad I am, glad that you won,
The warm-handled racket is back in its press,
But my shock-headed victor, she loves me no less.

Her father's euonymus shines as we walk,
And swing past the summer-house, buried in talk,
And cool the verandah that welcomes us in
To the six-o'clock news and a lime-juice and gin.

The scent of the conifers, sound of the bath,
The view from my bedroom of moss-dappled path,
As I struggle with double-end evening tie,
For we dance at the Golf Club, my victor and I.

On the floor of her bedroom lie blazer and shorts,
And the cream-coloured walls are be-trophied with sports,
And westering, questioning settles the sun,
On your low-leaded window, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

The Hillman is waiting, the light's in the hall,
The pictures of Egypt are bright on the wall,
My sweet, I am standing beside the oak stair
And there on the landing's the light on your hair.

By roads "not adopted", by woodlanded ways,
She drove to the club in the late summer haze,
Into nine-o'clock Camberley, heavy with bells
And mushroomy, pine-woody, evergreen smells.

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
I can hear from the car park the dance has begun,
Oh! Surrey twilight! importunate band!
Oh! strongly adorable tennis-girl's hand!

Around us are Rovers and Austins afar,
Above us the intimate roof of the car,
And here on my right is the girl of my choice,
With the tilt of her nose and the chime of her voice.

And the scent of her wrap, and the words never said,
And the ominous, ominous dancing ahead.
We sat in the car park till twenty to one
And now I'm engaged to Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

-- John Betjeman

Monday, 14 April 2008

Previously On Skins...


What happened? No, it's alright, really.

Hang on... I'll be alright in a minute...

That's better...

Monday, 7 April 2008

No Inspiration

You couldn’t be. Look, Barry. There’s going to be people from Laura’s work there, people who own dogs and babies and Tina Turner albums. How are you going to cope with them?

We’re not called Barrytown anymore, by the by. They got sick of the Barry/Barrytown thing. We’re called SDM. Sonic Death Monkey.

Sonic Death Monkey.

What do you think? Dick likes it.

Barry, you’re over thirty years old. You owe it to yourself and your friends and to your parents not to sing in a group called Sonic Death Monkey.

I owe it to myself to go right to the edge, Rob, and this group does exactly that. Over the edge, in fact.

High Fidelity (2000)

Thursday, 3 April 2008

My Life. In Six Words. Meh

Ernest Hemingway was once asked to tell a story in only six words. He wrote:

For Sale:
baby shoes
(never worn).

Clever bastard.

I just found out about a new book, entirely composed of six-word autobiographies. It's called 'Not Quite What I Was Planning' (good one) and has been compiled by Smith magazine.

There's a neat scrolling tickertape at

Two of my favourites are:

Nobody cared, then they did. Why?

I'm always listening to the lyrics.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Bloody Students (Slight Return)

Bloody Students...

05. Scott King

Dear Mum,

silkscreen print 30x40 cm

edition of 10