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Monday 30 November 2009

It's Raining Again.

This morning my son said to me "i can't remember the last day when it didn't rain". I had to admit to him that i couldn't either.

The weather in the UK over the past few weeks has generally been pretty atrocious. Here on the South Coast at least, every day has been a seemingly constant blend of heavy rain showers & strong winds. Wave after wave of deep low pressure systems have been sweeping in from the Atlantic Ocean, bringing that wind & rain with them. That's one import i can well do without thank you.

It is either raining, has just stopped raining, or is just about to rain.

I know that down here in the South of England, we have had things a lot easier than some other areas of the UK & for that i guess we should be thankful?
I read recently that in Scotland & the North West of England they had had a Summer full of record rainfall. At least down here we had a decent, dry Summer.

I happened to say to my son that i could now understand why somebody might suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Apart from the Winter nights closing in, which i know is a major factor for SAD sufferers, the lack of any normal sunlight during the days surely can't help?

Luckily, the Winter months have never held a problem for me. But, the past few weeks are enough to get anyone down. Especially for somebody like myself, who likes to get outside. This is something that has not been very practical, as you just do not know what type of clothing to wear. There is always the obvious danger of getting quite literally soaked to the skin.
As i pointed out in a recent blog post, this can be quite exhilarating when running. But, not a lot of fun when all you want to do is do some shopping, or meet a friend.

Unfortunately, this recent weather is increasingly becoming the norm at this time of year. Whether this is as a result of global warming, or climate change, i have no idea. But, i'll admit to believing that it is.

Our weather, at least here on the South Coast & i suppose i can only really talk about what i know & experience, has certainly altered over the past few years.
Our Summer's are generally warmer, sunnier & drier & our Winter's are noticably windier & far wetter. They are also warmer as well. We get far less frost & low temperatures than we used to. Snow, which was never a regular occurence here i'll admit, is now very rare indeed.
When it rains nowadays, it always seems to be far heavier than in the past & the winds seem generally much stronger & gusty.

I've often thought that this was just me. You know how it is, the weather of the past was always nicer & more reliable in our memories. But, increasingly, i don't think this is the case. More & more people, like my son, are now noticing the same thing as me.
Maybe i'm not going mad after all?

I suppose this is just something that we are all going to have to just get used to in the future? Especially if recent experience & climate predictions are anything to go by.

Maybe i could try & arrange to spend my Summer's here in the UK & fly away to the Winter sun, like a swallow. If only....

And, guess what, the rain has stopped & the sun has come out.
I wonder how long that will last?

Sunday 29 November 2009

Mott The Hell?


This morning i was listening to the singer Morrissey being interviewed, by Kirsty Young, for the Radio 4 programme "Desert Island Discs". One of the 8 tracks chosen for his imaginary desert island was "Sea Diver", a song from 1970's UK band, Mott The Hoople.
Nothing unusual in that, maybe, except for the fact that Mott The Hoople are hardly the most well known band on the planet. But, it just happens that, at the moment anyway, wherever i turn, the name of Mott The Hoople seems to keep cropping up.

I was recently reading a biography of Joe Strummer, primarily known as the lead singer with UK punk band The Clash. It turns out that The Clash were very much influenced by Mott The Hoople, in their early days. Band member Mick Jones, especially, was a big fan of the band before his days in The Clash.

The Clash even, quite purposely, arranged for ex Mott The Hoople producer Guy Stevens to produce their most famous album, London Calling.

Mott The Hoople were a big influence on a number of the early UK Punk bands. Partly because they were also seen as a kind of early Punk band themselves. A band who wrote about ordinary things.
They obviously also had an influence on 1980's band The Smiths as well, judging by Morrissey's record choice this morning.

For my own part. I vividly remember Mott The Hoople from my own teenage years.

Although, never a huge fan of the band, i do remember seeing them on Top Of The Pops playing their David Bowie written breakthrough single, "All The Young Dudes".
From that point on, i bought all of their single releases, many of which i still have as the original vinyl 45's.
I remember being especially proud to get hold of their "Roll Away The Stone" single, the day before it was officially released & rushing home to play it.

A very good friend of mine at the time went to see Mott The Hoople in concert, supported by a new young band called Queen. He said we might hear more about them in the future!

Recently, apart from reading that Joe Strummer biography, i have also re-bought Ian Hunter's classic rock 'n' roll story, "Diary Of A Rock 'N' Roll Star". One of the truly great books about the music business.
I was originally given a copy as a present by an ex-girlfriend, way back in 1974, when the book was first published. A fact i had forgotten all about, until i noticed an inscription, in pencil, in the back of my original copy, which i'd taken down off of the book shelf the other day.
It's a book i have read & throughly enjoyed on several occasions & i was thinking of reading it yet again. After discovering that my original was not in the best of health, i decided to treat myself to a new copy.

So, a series of coincidences have conspired to get me thinking & reminiscing about Mott the Hoople & my own teenage years, once again. And yet another coincidence is the fact that the band recently reformed & performed two gigs in London.

And, yes, i am listening to Mott The Hoople as i type this. The memories are flooding back.
Music has a way of taking you back to places you thought you'd forgotten about.

"It's a mighty long way down rock 'n' roll"

Last night i dreamt of cats...

Last night i dreamt of cats.

But, as with most dreams, by the time i'd woken up i couldn't really remember exactly what had happened in the dream itself. However, it did get me thinking about another aspect of cats that i do know & have experience about.

I live in an urban area & in my small patch i have noticed a major change over the past year.

Up until approx a year ago we used to have a number of garden birds that populated the area. That's apart from the obvious seagulls that you would expect, due to the close proximity of the sea.
Now, these garden birds were not exactly exotic. Just sparrows, blackbirds, blue tits, thrushes etc. Although we did get the occasional more interesting species. But, it was good to see & hear them anyway.
We used to have a big family group of sparrows that lived in a honeysuckle bush out the back of our house. You could hear them frolicking in & around the bush & in a strange way it was comforting to hear them.

As a birthday present, a year ago, i was even bought a nice, new bird box to fix on our wall. In the hope that the birds might be tempted to use it to build a nest in there. This had happened in the past, before the old box fell apart that is!

That box has never been put up. Why?....

Well, approx a year ago, some new people moved in down the road from us & brought with them their two cats. At around the same time, more cats arrived with another family.
Within a matter of weeks, all the garden birds had disappeared. Frightened off presumably?

Now, i have absolutely nothing against cats & actually like them & for some strange reason, they seem to like me too. My wife thinks it's because i tend not to make too much of a fuss about them. Maybe they consider me a challenge? Who knows?

Domestic cats kill millions of birds every year in the UK.
Now, if they were wild animals & killed them for food, as a means of survival, i wouldn't have a problem with that. But, domestic cats are, generally, very well cared for & have no real need to kill for food.
They tend to kill birds because it is in their nature & you can't really blame then for that i guess. They also kill them as a weird kind of present for their owners.
How often have cat owners been presented with a dead bird, or animal? I've seen it happen on a number of occasions.
I vividly remember being at my in-laws house when their cat caught a garden bird. The noise from the bird as it was being played with before it was killed was distressing & upsetting for all who heard it. Including the cats owners.
But, if you own a cat, what do you expect?
It's a bit like us humans killing for sport & we all know how that is generally viewed don't we!

Now, i don't blame the cats for this garden carnage. As i said, it's in the cats nature to do this.
So what can be done?

As with any pet, the owners should give careful consideration of what owning the pet will actually mean for themselves & for their life as a whole.
For example, what will it really mean to your valued garden bird population when you get a cat?
These things are so often not thought of before acquiring any pet. And the blame for that can be laid fairly & squarely at the door of the pet owner, nobody else.
This is obviously part of a much bigger discussion & one i don't intend to go into here.

So, please give some consideration for what you are potentially doing when you think about getting that pet. That decision can often have far bigger implcations than you might imagine.

All i know is that in my garden there are now no birds, or birdsong & i have a brand new bird box sitting idle in a cupboard.

Here's hoping i'll be able to put that bird box in it's rightful place one day.

Saturday 28 November 2009

Back To Basics.

Getting back to basics when making a video.
"We put too much pressure on ourselves to "produce". When all we need to do is talk"

Thursday 26 November 2009

Holiday Stories

Some holiday stories told to me recently which show the complete lack of appreciation that some people have for their surroundings.

Sunday 22 November 2009

It's Over, Or Is It?

Today, i finished watching the first two series of the British comedy series "The Inbetweeners". A programme that i'd only ever seen clips of before.

I had a few days off work & decided to watch both series in pretty quick succession. Borrowing the DVD's from my daughter! The fact that i really enjoyed it obviously helped me watch them more quickly.

Now, this is a very funny, if a little crude, series. And i honestly believe that it is one show that may well be considered a classic comedy show in years to come.

This then got me thinking about other classic comedy series of the past & in some ways why they are considered classic series in the first place. One of these reasons, i fully believe, is the fact that the best comedies know when to stop & don't tend to outstay their welcome.

I was having a conversation with my wife, after finishing my "Inbetweeners" marathon, & actually said to her, that in some ways i hope they don't make any more episodes & finish the show on a high.

There is nothing more disappointing than a great comedy show that, although great to start with, drags on & on & loses all of its initial impetus. I'm sure we can all think of great comedy shows that have allowed this to happen & on both sides of the Atlantic too. Maybe you can tell me your own nominations?

When i think about some of my favourite comedy shows like Fawlty Towers & The Office (UK) One of the things that made them so great, in my opinion anyway, was the fact that, for both of them, there were only two series. The writers knew when to stop & even resisted efforts to make more. I'm sure that adds to their appeal. Every episode is a well crafted classic & will always remian so.
Less is sometimes more, after all.

There are plenty of other examples that, although having far more episodes, also knew when to pull the plug, having run their natural course. Some have even killed off the main character to make sure that there will be no more. A little drastic perhaps. but, it has the desired effect.

Unfortunately, there have been far more, who have not done the same. I'm sure we can all think of examples of these as well. Actors & characters come & go & the show ends up being more like a soap opera than a comedy show. What a great pity that is.

Even worse are the spin off shows that sometimes appear when the writers, or actors decide to call it a day. They should never be allowed. Has there ever been a spin off series better than the original? I doubt it.

Yes, it can take guts to stop a comedy series when it is in full flow. After all, it could potentially cost the writers a lot of money to stop. But, it can often be the correct choice.

So, if the writers of "The Inbetweeners" decide that the second series will be the last, i for one will respect that decision. Even though i'd love to see some more going's on from those crazy characters.

Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.
Leaving the public wanting more is not always a bad career move.

What Has YouTube Ever Done For Us?

A response to "An anthropological introduction to YouTube" & some thoughts about sharing this video with YT friends.

Saturday 21 November 2009

The Xmas Factor

Yes, it's that time of year again.

Turn on the TV, flick through the newspaper, or listen to the radio & there's no escaping the fact that Christmas is only 5 weeks away. There is advertising everywhere & Christmas musak in all the stores. It seems that everybody is trying to prise money from my pockets & you know what? I really couldn't give a damn.

Over recent years, i have become increasingly disillusioned with Christmas.

Now i will state straight away that this is nothing to do with the religious aspect of the Christmas period, far from it. Although i'm not a Christian myself, i have no problem with the religious festival that is Christmas & fully respect it.

No, where my problem lies is with the rampant commercialisation that affects the run up to Christmas.
I can only imagine what a commited Christian must think when they view all that happens around this time of year. In a strange way i feel quite sorry for them.
The whole meaning of why we're celebrating in the first place has been lost amongst a mad dash for cash.

I accept that one of the possible reasons for my increased disapproval is the fact that my children are now far older. This has a big effect on how you feel the "magic" that can happen at Xmas. When your children are younger & they still believe in Father Christmas (& maybe there's the topic for another blog?), the excitement levels are far higher for all concerned. Watching children opening their presents can be a great experience. As anyone who has observed it will testify.
Being with & meeting up with family & friends is one of the traditions of Christmas that is, thankfully, still with us. Although, even this is slowly being compromised in other ways (yet another blog topic?)

Nonetheless, i do feel that things have got a lot worse recently.
Nowadays there seems to be, what can only be described as pressure, being exerted onto us all to spend vast amounts of money & buy certain things. Almost all of which are not really needed.
When did it become almost obligatory to eat & drink to excess? Not to do so is almost seen as being strange & you can often be accused of "not getting into the spirit of Christmas".

Christmas is supposed to be all about giving, not buying. I am more than happy to buy presents & do not begrudge spending money to do so. But, in the real world, we usually just end up swapping money, or vouchers. Or, we buy gifts that the person doesn't really want, or need.

Personally, i would be perfectly happy if i didn't recieve any gifts at all.
I would rather that money wasn't wasted on items i have no need for & that the money was spent on something more worthwhile, or was given to charity instead.

Last year, at work, i sent out an email saying that i would not be sending out Christmas cards for anyone & asking that people didn't send them to me. I then made a donation to a local charity instead & i intend to do exactly the same thing this year. I was amazed at how many people congratulated me on my stance & did the same thing themselves.

Now, i realise that this blog makes me sound like some huge Scrooge like character & that's fair enough. But, i just get increasingly annoyed that the meaning & spirit of Christmas has been hijacked by commercialism & that this seems to be spiralling out of control.
I also dislike being more or less forced into conforming to another persons view of what a modern Christmas is all about.

At a time when the world is in recession & most of us have less money than before. We are being lured into spending money that we don't have, cannot afford to spend & we are spending it on things that we don't really need. Surely that's just plain crazy?

So, if nothing else, think about what you're spending & what you're spending it on. You can still have a great Christmas & maybe an even better one by doing just that.

Save your money. After all, the January Sales start soon!

And to think i didn't even moan about the fact that Xmas seems to start earlier & earlier every year!

Bah humbug.

Thursday 19 November 2009

We have the technology....

Whilst i did not see the football match between France & the Republic Of Ireland last night, i certainly have seen the aftermath. I did follow the final part of the match via the BBC news website. but, that's another story altogether.
(By the way. For those of you who may be reading this in the USA. In this blog post Football, means Soccer. I hope that's made that clear?)

For me, this whole story is about far more than just a football match. Albeit a very important football match.

For the benefit of those who have no idea what i'm talking about. The match between France & the Republic Of Ireland decided which of those two teams went through to the World Cup Finals in South Africa in 2010. So, there was a lot at stake.

Near the end of the game, the French player Thierry Henry blatantly handled the ball & then passed it to a team mate. who promptly scored the winning goal. Sending the Irish home empty handed (ouch!) & the French to the World Cup Finals.
Although the Irish players complained at the time. The referee & his assistants didn't see the incident & therefore allowed the "goal" to stand. In my opinion, there is no blame attached to them. They made a decision based on what they saw.

There is no real debate that the goal should have been disallowed. Even Thierry Henry admits that he handled the ball & by all accounts, the French media have been a little embarrassed by it all.

But, this whole sorry situation makes me question why it is allowed to happen in the first place? After all, we are talking about a important match that was potentially worth a lot of money to the victor.
The World Cup is the most prestigious football tournament around & is only held every four years. For your country to take part in the finals is a big achievement & apart from the monetary value, it is also a big boost to the mood of the country itself.
So, to miss out is a very big deal. Especially if you miss out in such controversial circumstances.

In common with all big sorting events these days, this game was being filmed & televised.
I should imagine that in the immediate aftermath of that decisive "goal", the footage was being replayed in living rooms around the world. From several different angles & in slow motion too i should imagine. And probably all done before the match even restarted.

Now, if this footage is readily available, why isn't it being used to correct an obvious injustice?
Well, this is mainly due to an apparent unwillingness of the football authorities to embrace this technology & their reluctance to use video evidence.
For me, at least, this is totally unforgivable. If this incident does not make the relevant footballing authorites reconsider their oppostion to the use of video technology, then they should not be surprised if:
a) Football fans vote with their feet & wallets & stop attending matches, or stop paying extra to watch them on TV. Thereby denying the game & the authorities invaluable income. or,
b) Cheating becomes ever more widespread & blatant amongst players. After all, if there is a chance of not getting caught, why not try it on? This situation will then probably lead to a).

I'm sure that this is not what anyone really wants, myself included. It is, after all, supposed to be "the beautiful game".
But, it is increasingly becoming more than just a game. Football is now a multi-million pound/euro/dollar industry. Surely this is even more reason to make sure that things are done properly & above board?

Other sports have embraced technology & use it to great advamtage. So, why not football?
One of the often quoted reasons for not using video replays, is the supposed notion that they would break up the natural flow of the game. This is a valid argument, up to a point.

As i mentioned earlier, the incident last night & many others like it, would not require the game to be stopped. Every match has enough natural breaks to enable a sensible compromise to be reached.
Where there is a will, there is a way. If the footballing authorities really want this to happen, it will. So, no more excuses please.

Now is the time for UEFA & FIFA to stand up & be counted & to help protect the beautiful game.
If they don't, they should not be surprised if more people, like myself, get ever more disillusioned with the direction that the game of football is taking & vote with our feet & wallets.

We have the technology. So, let's use it & stop this kind of injustice ever happening again.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Just Say No.

yet another vilog inspired by a comment on a video of mine.

Do what YOU want to do.

Sunday 15 November 2009

Wet 'n' Wild.

As any of you who know me from other Internet sites may know, i like to do a bit of running.
Of late though, that has been a rather hit & miss affair. But, i'm once again trying to get back into it & i may even try & run a couple of races in the new year. No promises though. I'll have to wait & see how my body holds up! I'm not getting any younger after all.

I have been thinking of using this blog to write about my running progress & maybe even to relay some of my thoughts about running & what it has meant to me. We'll see.

But, in the meantime, i just wanted to mention my run this morning.

As is often the case, when i woke up there was the usual debate raging in my head as to whether i could actually be bothered to go for a run. Believe me, the hardest step is the one out of the front door.

Over the past couple of days we have been having some rather wild weather. Very strong winds & heavy rain. Not the most ideal conditions to run in, as you can probably imagine. Having said that, those conditions can be quite exhilarating to run in. but, more of that later.

As the weather seemed to have, at last, calmed down overnight. I decided to take the plunge. A very prophetic word as it happens.
Getting out the front door was no obstacle & off i went.

Now i'm pretty lucky in that i live very close to the seafront, which is the perfect place to run. No cars, plenty of room & good views etc. Today was no exception.
I'd already decided which way i was going to run. Maybe rather foolishly, this was with the wind behind me on the way out. meaning i'd be running into it on the way back. Although not gale force any more, the wind was still pretty blowy (is that a word?)

As i said before, we've had some recent stormy weather. So, it was great to run along the seafront, watching the waves crash onto the beach (the tide was pretty high at the time), checking to see what damage the storms had done & seeing what interesting items might have been washed up onto the beach.

One of the great attractions of living in a seaside town in the Winter, are the storms & the sea. There is nothing quite like watching the huge grey waves rolling in from the sea & crashing onto the beach. I could & do watch this for hours, as do many others.
This may seem a little strange. But, i know of many locals who actually prefer the Winter to the Summer for exactly this reason.

As i was running along, i happened to look behind me. I often do this, as there is a great view across the bay towards Eastbourne. Another reason is because this is the usual direction that the weather comes from, the south-west. Well, i couldn't see Eastbourne! It was completely obscured by a huge grey/black cloud & it was heading straight for Hastings.

There was no way that i was going to turn back. Not after making all that effort to get out of the door in the first place. I was also rather intrigued as to what that huge cloud might bring.
I kept on running & the wind started to strengthen, as the clouds got closer & closer.
Well, soon enough the sky grew very dark & the rain started to fall. Not too hard at first. But, within a minute, or so, the rain, mixed with hail, was pouring down & i was already getting soaked.

I carried on manfully & reached my turning point, which is basically where Hastings ends & the cliffs start. The rain was lashing down & sea there was crashing into the base of the cliffs. It was such a spectacular sight that i stopped, tried to shelter behind part of the rock face & stood watching the sea bashing the rocks in front of me. It was at this point that i wished i'd had a camera with me.

By this time, i was so wet that i didn't care any more. So, i turned around & headed for home, approx 2 miles away. Straight away the wind & the rain hit me right in the face. The rain was stinging my face so badly that i was having to lower my head to try & stop the worst of it.
I was soaked to the skin & my running shoes were full of water.

But, i was having great fun!

As i mentioned earlier, there is something strangely exhilarating about being out in that kind of weather & of battling against the elements. Which is exactly what i was doing.
I'm sure that all the people safely huddled in the relative calm of their cars thought that i & the other runners & dog walkers who were still battling on, were absloutely mad.
But, little do they know that, probably without exception, we were all getting a kind of perverse enjoyment out of the situation. The runners etc, who i did pass, all had a smile on their face. Maybe it was a knowing smile? A smile saying "we're all in this together & they just don't know what they are missing"

I eventually got home, still in the pouring rain & dripped my way into the house.
I don't think i've ever been that wet before. Certainly not when running.

But, you know what? I wouldn't have missed that run for the world.

Saturday 14 November 2009

Friday 13 November 2009

Good Night And Good Luck.

I have just finished watching the George Clooney movie "Good Night, And Good Luck". The movie is set in the 1950's, at CBS TV in the USA & particularly set around the making of the "See It Now" programme featuring Ed Murrow.
The movie is well worth watching by the way & is based on a true story.

Bookending the movie is a speech given by Ed Murrow, the American broadcaster. In this speech he bemoans the state of American TV in the late 1950's & expresses his fears for the direction in which it is heading.
To paraphrase a part of the speech that jumped out at me, "TV has the ability to teach, illuminate & inspire. Otherwise, it is just wires & lights in a box".
What struck me the most about that quote was the fact that it is as relevant today, as it was in the late 1950's.

Although i can only speak with any real experience of TV in the UK, i have seen the way that TV has been going downhill in recent years.
TV does indeed have "the ability to teach, illuminate & inspire". But, that is so often overlooked in favour of "entertainment", exactly as it was back in the 1950's.

Yes, we still have current affairs programmes on British TV. But, these are often being pushed back later & later into the late evening & therefore attract a smaller audience. The content of these programmes has also altered. The topics covered are dumbed down & not so serious as in days gone by.
Even the main news bulletins cover stories they never would have covered a few years ago. I often despair at seeing "news" items about celebrities, or reality TV shows on the 6 'o' clock news.
Modern day documentaries, at which British TV used to excel, are not what they were. They seem to be made to appeal to the lowest commmon denominator & treat the audience as if they were all stupid.
Maybe that is another consequence of the emphasis on entertainment?

As Ed Murrow said in his speech, just because a current affairs programme may cost more to make, or attract a smaller audience, doesn't mean it is not worthwhile. If you don't allow TV to open people's eyes to what is really happening in the world around them, the implications may very well turn around & bite you in years to come. Ignorance can be very dangerous after all.

Another aspect of this topic that also struck me, was how we could also use that speech to iilustrate where we now are with the Internet.

The Internet also has that "ability to teach, illumintae & inspire". But, as i mentioned in a blog post the other day ("It's the Internet, but not as we know it"). Some people would like to turn the Internet into a giant entertainment system & in effect, a huge TV station.

Have we learned nothing?

If he were alive today, i wonder what Ed Murrow would make of this current situation?
Maybe we need somebody to make a similar speech today?

Good night & good luck.

Thursday 12 November 2009

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Remembrance - 11th November 2009.

Today, at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, i stood silenty for 2 minutes on a windswept beach.
As i stood there looking across the English Channel towards France, completely alone except for my thoughts, the sun broke through the clouds & illuminated a fishing boat going about its business, followed by the usual flock of seagulls.
Something about that moment really struck me.
Here was i standing, looking at this almost poetic scene & remembering all of those who have been denied the ability to see what i was seeing.
If it were ever needed, that really brought the whole meaning of remembrance home to me.

The 91st anniversary of the signing of the Armistice, that brought an end to the 1st World War in 1918, has been "celebrated" as usual here in the UK. A 2 minute silence has been held in many parts of the country.
Due to recent events in Afghanistan, this act of remembrance seems to have taken on a whole new significance & has reminded us all, that we are not just remembering those who died during the 1st World War. But, also all of those who have died in conflicts since that war to end all wars.

I am very thankful & proud, that here in the UK, we continue to celebrate the 11th November & remember all of those who have died in those conflicts.

This morning, i heard on the radio a comment from a older German man, who was visiting London. He said that he was very pleased to see this act of remembrance still being carried out every year & remarked that, in his country, no such celebrations took place.
Personally, i find that a little sad. I also find it sad that this act of remembrance is not celebrated in the same way across the world.

At least i can comfort myself with the fact that, here in the UK at least, we continue to remember all of those who have given their lives & continue to do so.
Long may that continue.

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them"
Excerpt from "For The Fallen" by Laurence Binyon.

Monday 9 November 2009

Music Of The Past & Present.

If you have visited my page at recently, you might have noticed a link that i have shared.
It was a link to an article on the BBC news website by John Taylor. John is the bass player with the band Duran Duran. The article was entitled "Is The Internet Stifling New Music? " & it is well worth reading by the way.

Without going into detail, he was saying how he felt that music was more exciting when he was growing up & that the Internet was to blame for this. He went on to say that because of the immediacy of the Internet & it's accesability, music was more widely available & this was, in some way, slowing down the creative culture.

Whilst i can see where John Taylor is coming from on this issue, i can't say that i agree with him.
Yes, there is now more music available for all of us to hear & be exposed to than ever before. But, i fail to see how this can be a bad thing.

Most of the great music of the past & present is influenced by those who have gone before.
There is a great musical timeline that can be drawn from right back to the days of jazz, blues & gospel music, right through Elvis, rock 'n' roll & then on through The Beatles, the music of the 60's & 70's & right through to the present day.
So, it surely follows that with this great educational resource that is the Internet now available, there is more music than ever out there just waiting to influence the modern musical artists?

If modern music is not as creative, or as exciting as what has gone before. I don't think we can blame the Internet. Maybe we have to start asking ourselves whether modern music is just not as good as it used to be?
A radical thought maybe? But, in my humble opinion anyway, it is a question that needs to be asked.

So, now that i've posed the question. I'm going to leave it hanging in the air & come back to it in the days to come.
In the meantime, i'd love to hear anyone elses thoughts on this topic.

Sunday 8 November 2009

David vs Goliath

I woke this morning to the news that Britain had a new heavyweight boxing champion of the world.
Now, i'm not normally a big boxing fan. But, this is a little bit different & it got me thinking.

The new champion, David Haye was around 7 stone lighter than his opponent Nikolay Valuev. (That's approx 98 pounds for you Americans out there) Haye is also considerably shorter.
So, it appeared that he was at a considerable disadvantage. But, as is so often the case with these so called mis-matches, the outcome wasn't quite what some thought it would be.

So, how did David Haye overcome his far bigger opponent. Well, to use a boxing term, he boxed clever & won easily on a points decision. Apparently, he was also pretty close to knocking out his giant opponent.

What has this got to do with anything i hear you ask?

Well, yesterday i posted a blog all about the possible future of the Internet & how the big entertainment companies wanted to radically change the way the Internet was used.
At the end of that blog i asked for people to get involved & help spread the word. But, i'm sure a lot of people might think it's a battle that isn't worth fighting. After all, what hope have we all got against the might & power of the huge entertainment companies?

I'm sure we all know the Bible story of David slaying the giant Goliath & now we have seen another great example it. One that we also know to be true, i might add.

So, don't be downhearted when it comes to trying to fight huge corporations, governments & any other David vs Goliath situations you care to think of. The little man can & does win sometimes.
I'm sure we can all think of battles, whether personal, or between countries, governments etc in which the little guy has won, or at least given their opponent a bloody nose.

Sure, you have to fight & you might even get a few bruises along the way. But, you can still win, just as David Haye showed last night.
You don't even have to knock your opponent out. Winning on points is good enough.

So, get out there & fight for what you know is right.

Why So Grumpy?

Just an observation & something to think about.

Posted via web from andymooseman's posterous

Saturday 7 November 2009

It's The Internet. But, Not As We Know It.

Just when you thought the future of the Internet was safe, along comes yet another worrying problem.
The whole issue of net neutrality & possible threats to the future of the Internet as it is now, seemed to be reducing. From what i could see anyway. I could well have been wrong though. You just can't believe anything you read on the Internet these days, can you? ;)

Now though, comes an even bigger threat.
The Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is being written & some of the proposals contained in the USA chapter of the agreement, would change the way the Internet operates in a very radical way. Although these are proposals from the USA, they would still end up affecting us all, wherever we are.
Thankfully, some of these highly secret proposals have been leaked. Probably by somebody who can see the writing on the wall. Apparently, only 42 people were given access to these documents. That shows you how secret these whole negotiations are. It also shows how worried one of these people is about the proposals. This must be a high ranking person who leaked this, after all there are only 42 of them.

Anyway, what are the proposals?
Well, the proposals, which were heavily influenced by the U.S entertainment industry, call for Internet providers (ISPs) to basically police the Internet for copyright infringements. They are proposing a "three strikes & you're out" rule. Whereby, anyone accused of infringing copyright, in any way, would have their Internet connection terminated. And if an ISP terminates your Internet connection, that affects the whole house!
Note the word "accused. This does not mean convicted, it just means being accused & anyone involved in video sharing websites like YouTube can probably think of occasions when people have been wrongly accused of infringing copyright in some way.
This obviously sets a very dangerous precedent. Whatever happened to being innocent until proven guilty?

Now, there are similar "three strikes" policies already in place, or at least being discussed, in many countries. But, none of them are as draconian as these proposals.

But, bad as all this sounds. It is the other implications of this "agreement" that are, possibly, even more worrying. To me at least.
An ISP would have to ensure that anything uploaded to any Internet site complies fully with copyright law & does not infringe anything. They would be obliged to do this.
Now, obviously, no ISP can ever guarantee this. And even if they could, it would be very expensive & would price most people out of the market.
So, ultimately, they would have to stop people uploading files to the Internet. That means that sites like YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Flikr etc etc would cease to exist.
Worrying isn't it?

Now, like most sensible people. I realise that copyright infringement is an important issue & needs to be addressed. But, this is a great example of a sledgehammer being used to crack a nut.
Not only that. But, i fear this is all being done to try & protect the interests of the entertainment industry. The same entertainment industry that is already trying to sue various Internet sites for copyright infringement & threatening to put them out of business.

What they seem to want the Internet to be is one huge TV network. One that they can control, as they have previouly controlled the TV & movie industry.

The entertainment industry generally has been very slow to wake up to the huge potential of the Internet. We have seen how long it has taken the music business to realise what's going on & now the movie business is gradually being awoken from its slumber.
They have been left behind & are not happy about it. Other people have realised the huge potential & have already exploited it.
Why should they all be made to stop because of the lack of awareness & the smug attitude of the so called entertainment industry?

What these people need to realise, as many others have already done. Is that the Internet provides an enormous money making opportunity for them. They need to embrace it, not try to change it.
Just think of all of that great, fresh, new talent that has already been discovered because of the Internet & file sharing websites. If these people are in future unable to upload their content to the Internet. Where will the stars of the future come from?

The Internet will not go away. The genie is now out of the bottle & cannot be put back.
Yes, some things may need to change. But, let's do it sensibly.

So, what can be done about this?
Firstly, spread the word about these proposals. The more people that know what is being planned, the better chance there is of it being stopped, or at least watered down.

Get involved. Your Internet needs you.

This is not the whole story. there is more to it than what i have written here.
Read more here:

Thursday 5 November 2009

Remember, Remember..... History.

I'm sitting here listening to explosions & the general sounds of fireworks from outside my window.
Yes, it's the 5th of November once again. "Remember, remember the 5th of November. Gunpowder treason & plot". 1605 & all that.
For me, Bonfire Night has always had more relevance & interest than Halloween. But, at least both days do make you forget about the imminent onset of Winter. Well, for a few days at least.

I love the traditional side of the celebrations & the way that it all reminds me of my childhood. I also like the fact that we do still remember & celebrate these things. For me that's important.

I'm very lucky that in my own local area, we still have a number of bonfire societies who keep the flame of history & tradition burning.
In Lewes, the county town of East Sussex, they have been holding bonfire night celebrations for the past 400 years. These began after Parliament decreed that November 5th be used to commemorate the orignal Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Which involved Guy (Guido) Fawkes & his co-conspirators. There was a brief break when Oliver Cromwell banned the celebrations. But, they started again during the reign of King Charles 2nd & have continued in some form, or another ever since.

It's also usually around this time of year that we hear the familiar question "Guy Fawkes, where are you now that your country needs you?"

As i've mentioned in vlogs on my YouTube channel before. We have our own bonfire celebrations here in Hastings. Which, although tied up with the November 5th celebrations, actually take place in mid October.

What all these celebrations show me is the sheer amount of history that we have to commemorate & remember in this country.
I've always been a lover of history & when you live somewhere like this, i guess that's hardly a surprise. And the more i learn, the more i realise that the 1500 & 1600's were probably the most interesting period in that history.
That period starting with the reign of Henry 8th, through the time of Elizabeth 1st, The Gunpowder Plot, Charles 1st, the English Civil War & right up to the Plague, Samuel Pepys & the Great Fire Of London, were fascinating.

Just reading through that list of events that happened in those two centuries, makes you realise just how important & influential they were, to British history anyway & possibly beyond. And the events of those centuries still influence us now & not just because of a few fireworks either.

Over the past week, or so, i've either read articles, seen on the news, or had discussions with others on current issues, which have their origins back in those centuries.

The most obviously influential event of all was probably The Reformation, during the reign of Henry 8th.
Now, i'm not a religious person & do not pretent to understand all the details of Henry's decision to start his own Church Of England & break from Rome. But, it cannot be denied that this is one of the biggest historical events of the past 500 years.
So many of the historical events in my earlier list happened as a result (directly, or indirectly) of Henry's decision. Even the colonisation of North America was partly as a result of this. That was something i had not thought of, or considered until the other day.

I'm sure we can all of think of other possible examples too. And far more recent examples too.

We all know that events in the present can have a very big effect & influence on the future. Maybe that's something we all need to consider when any big decisions are made these days? After all, i don't expect Henry 8th had any idea how that one decision of his would change the history of Britain & ultimately, the World.

And all for the love of a woman too.....

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Entertainment? & Other Charitable Thoughts

I was checking the TV schedules earlier, to see if there might be something worth watching this evening. When i happened to notice the following programme, "7 Days On The Breadline". It turns out to be a programme where so called "celebrities" try to live "on the breadline" for a whole 7 days. The idea, presumably, is to show how the other half live, or try to live.

Whilst i can see that by using celebrities, the programme might highlight an important social issue. For me, this is just the latest in a long line of recent TV programmes pretending to outrage us. But, really using outrage as entertainment. Personally, i see no entertainment value in social deprivation.
Also, if the TV company really wanted to highlight a real issue. Why not concentrate on the families themselves, instead of having to drag celebrities into the mix?
Do they really think that we take more notice of an issue, or are more outraged about something, just because a celebrity has to live it for 7 days?

I'm beginning to think that they do. After all, why are celebrities often dispatched to far flung parts of the world to highlight a certain issue & often in the name of the United Nations, a Government, or a well known charity organisation.

I suppose i can see why this happens now. After all, think of all the money raised by Band Aid & Live Aid in the mid 1980's. For me anyway, that seems to have been the real start of all this.
And, yes, i bought the records, watched the concerts & donated money, just like the rest of us.
So, is this all Bob Geldof's fault? I wonder what he makes of the current situation & whether he ever envisaged this happening?

Maybe this is just another indication of the weird world of celebrity culture that we now live in? We seem to need a celebrity to tell us something before we will either listen to it, or take any notice of it.
I'm sure the particualr charity, or organisation involved aren't very worried as long as the money rolls in. And you can't blame them for that i guess?

After all, this is really just advertising, but on a grander scale isn't it? And, as we all know, advertising works.
They wouldn't waste all that money on it otherwise, now would they?

(By the way. This blog post has ended up being completely different to the one i intended to write. It was ever thus)