Thursday, October 28, 2004


And while I am slagging off rubbish pop singers, here's my current favourite joke:

First the dodo died. Then Dodi died. Then Di died. And Dando died... Dido must be shitting herself.

Thanks to Colin and Fergus at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

There's nothing wrong with me

The following are lyrics from the new Finn Brothers Album:
Let the sound come in
From the world outside
You just keep on singing
When they tell you filthy lies

All the mud in this town
All the dirt in this world
None of it sticks on you
(You shake it off)
Cause you're better than that
And you don't need it
There's nothing wrong with you

As my friend Rhys points out, there's something quintessentially Kiwi about singing a song that declares there's nothing wrong with you. Alanis Morissette, these boys aren't. Which reminds me of my favourite Alanis Morrisette story by an Irish Comedian by the name of Ed Byrne who enjoyed taking the piss out of her song Ironic. For example, when she sings 'It's like rain on wedding day', he retorts that that is just plain unlucky, it might be ironic if you're marrying a weatherman... After pulling apart several verses of the song, someone in the audience, who was obviously an Alanis fan shouted out "it's a metaphor". Quick as a flash, Byrne responded, "it's 'like' and 'as', it's a fucking simile".

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Itocracy. Government by the IT department.

I don't like to rant about things I don't like. Taylor Mali says I shouldn't.

In my job I teach people how to use the fine software made by the company I work for and I also answer techincal questions about it. Increasingly I have noticed that a lot of British companies are severely restricting how much their staff can access their computers. Many staff cannot see or write to their C drives. Most cannot receive executable files, pictures etc. This is a vital part of the support that I offer as it helps solve the problems they are having. The reason that users cannot see or write to their C drives is about a lack of trust that the management have in their staff to be honest with their time. I also think that a part of it is how IT departments here justify their existence. They've got to be seen doing something.

And because they've got to be seen doing something, they effectively create problems for the user by limiting what they can do. Thus the IT department can look busy by being seen to fix the problem, when really, the user should be able to do everything themselves.

Don't get me wrong, IT people do provide a valuable service, but it's important for them to realise that they provide support to the people who bring in their wages. I would like to point out that in the case of my company, the IT person and management are complete stars, and I have complete freedom. And then there was that IT friend of mine in NZ by the name of Leigh. She was great. And lovely... Yep, feeling the need to acknowledge the good IT people out there. I guess I'm just grumbling about the times that common sense is diverted in the name of being seen to be doing something.

An ideal Itocracy is one where we benefit from the all the efficiencies that increased computing power provides, rather than the one we have here, where what we gain in processing power we lose in impotence.

Shameless Promotion

Due to two clubs dropping out of the Oxfordshire Cherwell Cricket League, the Wallingford Cricket Club second eleven has been promoted to the giddy heights of Division Eight. Which has a prompted some cynical bugger to observe that it's the first time in living memory that the seconds can be demoted. Not the ideal way to get promoted, but I don't give a toss. It's nothing less than we deserved for a fine season.

And for some reason, the author of this blog got given the WCC clubman of the year award. So there is a big trophy sitting on my shelf. Personally, I think the first eleven captain should have got it. I'm sorry, Warren, you should have got it.

I've done the decent thing and filled the trophy with Maltesers. Now when my friends lock themselves out of the house, they can have a lucky dip. And bask in my, um, glory.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Give me back the Bloody Spoon

Be warned, very muddled and somewhat naive/in process thoughts follow.

Growing up I was always a bit of a conservative optimist. I had faith in the police, I had faith that my government was about looking after my interests, although not always at the expense of others, the glass ceiling didn't really exist, and that change was not necessarily a good thing. Maybe this is because I am white, male and middle class. And in theory, there was no limit to what I could achieve. Don't get me wrong, I regard being white, male and middle class as something positive and I am not ashamed of my roots. I am proud of who I am and where I come from, but I am becoming aware of how much my origins have coloured my view of my world. Turning thirty is a bit late to do this, but better late than never...

To some extent, I have to believe that some of this is still true. I believe that human nature is enduring and that most people will, in times of trial, act for the best of all of us. I have to believe this as to believe otherwise it gets a little too scary.

Somewhere in the late nineties I lost much of the conservative streak. I think a lot of it was due to being at Cityside Baptist Church with such friends as Murray Sheard, Simon Manning, Malcolm McKinley, Sarah and Craig O'Brien amongst others. I'm not sure where the rest of it went.

Living in Britain, there is no doubt in my mind which way the majority of us would vote if we could vote in Tuesdays election. We'd be voting for John Kerry and there's no doubt that George Bush is the devil incarnate. I watched a television program tonight that was presented by John Snow, a senior journalist at Channel 4 in the UK. The gist of the program was that it's money that buys the White House, rather than manifesto, personality, integrity... There's an element of 'No shit, Sherlock' in that thesis. Sure, the other things help, but if you can get a lot of money, you can make yourself look better, or, more importantly, make your opponent look bad. Watching the program prompted a few responses from me. There was a certain amount of dismay, and 'I knew it!', but at the minute, the two most enduring responses are as follows:

Firstly, it's a free market, so if I have money, there's no reason that I can't get on in this action. Which in return prompted the response of 'just how free is it'. Sure, I believe that if you have the drive, the creativity, the ingenuity etc, you can make it rich. But I think at the moment there are two fundamental flaws in that idea. The first flaw is that there is the base assumption that we all sunscribe to the doctrine ofprosperity, or the great american dream. The second flaw is that I don't believe that the market is entirely free. I am beginning to think that those with the most money are trying to control the market and limit entry into it. Witness Microsoft and it's approach to Netscape etc. However, I am willing to counter this my using the same industry to demonstrate it's not entirely closed. The amazing growth in dot coms etc made a lot of new rich people (as well as a lot of very rich and then very poor people). So the market can be entered into by 'common people'. I'm not an economist, and I wonder if it hasn't always been like this, from the building of the British rail network and East India Company to the telecommunication industry today. Ian, if you're out there, you got a Masters in Finance, help me out here!

Secondly, I started to wonder how exposed I am to liberal media and reporting in the UK. I am a Gaurdian (the spelling is an in joke) reader, and a BBC watcher. The BBC getting the nickname of Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation during the second Gulf War because they were percieved as being anti-american, and I will avoid the Telegraph and Mail at all costs. And then we start getting into the whole problem of what is truth, and where is the spoon and then I feel the need for a lie down. Post modernism be damned, all I want is to get an objective viewpoint and that seems impossible!

To borrow a song title from eighties christian songwriter and satirist, Steve Taylor, it's harder to be liberal than not to.

And then it turns out that no senator in history has raised as much money for his election campaigns as John Kerry.

Driving home in underwear

There is a white horse in Uffington. Uffington is about 30 miles from Oxford and the horse is about three thousand years old. I went to see it yesterday with some friends. The black skies on the way out should have been something of a portent that perhaps going for a walk in the english countryside was perhaps not the wisest thing. (Incidentially, there was a red sky this morning. Something about a 'shepherd's warning'. Or, something that I've never really got, according to Legolas, 'blood was spilt this night'. There might have been a red sky yesterday morning but I didn't wake up till 10.30, so I would have missed it).

From the carpark to the white horse is about a mile of very exposed hilside path. We reached the horse at which point the worst rainstorm that I have been caught in enveloped me. This was the sort of rain that physically hurt. It was like being bashed with hailstones, except there was none. Normally I would bite the bullet and just accept that I am getting wet and there is nought I can do about it, and then run around in the rain but this went way beyond that.

I got to the car and the thought of sitting in wet trousers for 45 minutes didn't really appeal, so we stripped to underwear and set off home. If we'd had an accident, I think there might have been some explaining to do.

I never saw the white horse.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

I think I'm close to being a Stalker

Taylor Mali is performing in Prague in January. He is playing on a Tuesday night and I am thinking that I am sure (is that sounding like I don't know that I am sure) that I am going to take some time off and see him perform. He's a great guy and he doesn't come to this part of the world very often. Do I have an addiction problem, and am I stalking him?

In case you doubt me I wrote to him once and asked for one of his poems. He didn't have it, so I spent an hour and a half transcribing it and then I sent it back to him.


When you buy a bag of Maltesers it's good to not eat them all at once. You never know when your neighbour will lock herself out of her house and want to come in to yours to stay dry. And it's good to be able to offer them Maltesers to make a bad day better.