Blog Me a Kipper

I'm going away for a little while. In the meantime, here are some profound thoughts to mull over.

If you don't know where to begin, begin at the end.

Someone once said "There is no such thing as a stupid question."

They were wrong.

Yes, cats really are mad.

Macho + 20 years = Camp

Just what is a spleen anyway?

What a difference a 0.1% of DNA makes.

Birds do it...

Bees do it...

Sometimes soccer referees do it.

Though sometimes it takes a little prompting.

Recycling is good.

Subtlety is good too.

The Lake of Fire.

Are mice out-evolving humans?

Or just becomming more like us?

Hello, you don't know me, but I know where you live.

Feel a little Randi.

Know what I mean?

What could possibly go wrong?

So Lucky. Lucky, Lucky, Lucky.

All this week's quotes are from Christian fundamentalists - that is, drooling loonbuckets who just happen to be Christian. And usually American. For literally hundreds of pages more, visit the site "Fundies Say The Darndest Things!". Because they do.

Today's theme is every fundie's favourite (and sometimes only) topic: Sex

"If u have sex before marriage then in Gods eyes u are married to that person if a man rapes a woman in Gods eyes they are married it sucks for the girl but what can we do lol"
- Gods soldier

"A man can have sexual pleasure from a child as young as a baby. However he should not penetrate, sodomising the child is OK.[...] The man will not be eligible to marry the girl's sister."
- Kirabellydancer

"Why would a heterosexual want anal sex?"
- Twincrier

"If you masturbate thinking about how pretty the flowers are and how you want a puppy, essentially that's not wrong [...] masturbation is something that people in general should stay away from because it's hard not to lust whilst doing it."
- Ben Jamin A Foote

"There will be no sex in Heaven."
- Susan

"Sex is a sin... Skiing is deffinetly not."
- Shyguy

"Oral pleasure is simply masterbation between two people.[...] Ergo, it is IMPOSSIBLE for two women to have sex with each other, it just cannot be done. All they can do is to masterbate each other."
- senor boogie woogie

And that's all the sex you're getting from me today. Also all the religion.

It looks like I was right to turn down the Wall Street Institute in Moscow. There was always something slightly not-quite-right about them that I could never define, or be sure was real.

The way they were honest about the problems they were having or the political situation in Russia - and the way they covered themselves with saintliness that they did so - but only when the problems were obvious and the situation common knowledge. The way their emails were informal and friendly - but as though written according to a book called "How to be informal".

The "groundbreaking" utterly vaccuous in-house teaching method, the somewhat, uh, formulaic website, the extensive use of "affiliates" - something you learn to be wary of.

There was the insistence that teachers enter Russia as tourists, justified - quite plausibly, perhaps accurately - by the labyrinthine Russian bureaucracy of work permits. And the way this was sprung as a surprise late in the day, with the email equivalent of an "Oh didn't you know? I thought everyone knew" expression.

And I suppose the tempting end-of-contract bonus, paid-for insurance and arranged accommodation. There's a saying about things that seem too good to be true.

All sorts of little things I should have thought more about at the time. But now I read this delightful blog, and it turns out the Wall Street Institute have a history. One that involves unpaid teachers, unsatisfied student and lots and lots of bankruptcy. Branches go bankrupt, then reappear under a new front.

I should have known, and it seems I have been lucky.

One thing: I knew the TEFL world was full of bad schools run by crooks and incompetents, but I didn't realise how full. It's like knowing there's a lot of bad films made in Hollywood, and then discovering RottonTomatoes.Com.

ANYWAY (fave word), the time has come to purify and rebirth my laptop. Yes, it's reinstallation time again. Which means it's time to post some of the intriguing pictures I've stumbled upon in the interwebs since the last one.

Coming up next...

4 Pervs 1 Kap

This week, all my quotes come from fundamentalists posting in Christian discussion forums, as lovingly collected here.

Today's theme: Science.

"pi changes depending upon the strength of the gravitational field involved."

"Deoxyribonucleic Acid, for example... sounds impressive, right? But have you ever seen what happens if you put something in acid? It dissolves! If we had all this acid in our cells, we'd all dissolve!"
- EnemyPartyII

"Gravity: Doesn't exist. If items of mass had any impact of others, then mountains should have people orbiting them...These objects in space have yet to receive mans touch, and thus have no sin to weigh them down...The more sin, the heavier something is."
- Anonymous

"All any terrorist has to do is drop large quantities of plutonium from airplanes onto American soil and it will render electricity completely useless."
- Carico

"Sorry but scientists have just shown that mice DNA is more similar to humans than human DNA."
- Carico

Now then. You may recall that seven days ago I started a small experiment. I posted some text about a certain notorious short porn video, just to see how many would find my blog by searching for it.

And I can now reveal: There were four hits! Two for "two girls one cup" and one each for "2 girls one cup" and "2 girls and 1 cup".

So, in this informal scientific experiment, four perverts read my blog this week.

Well, four plus the usual pervs, naturally, MJ.

That's quite enough of that. Here's some soothing pictures to take our minds off such pervaciousness.

In any case, the other hits though were less sensational...

gary taubes
blogs on different interpretations of sleeping beauty
asa bhosle
how do you pronounce Brno
Plutius identities
translate nimic into english
bein pensant definition
rhyming with relaxed
timeline of weapon inventions
phymod realtime version
"uri geller" liar magician
non smoking rhymes
mp3 "hollywood beyond"
"hollywood beyond" what's the color of money mp3 blog
damon blows america blogspot
amorzinho translation portuguese
"have you heard it on the news" I guess I'm still respectable to some folks.

My morning was taken up explaining to bureaucrats why I'm too busy for them. I'd let myself be persuaded that, if only I stopped acting hostile and appealed to their reason, they might co-operate. So I tried it, with one additional factor - I acted confident.

And it worked too. They don't really know how to deal with people who treat penpushers behind desks as functionaries to be treated with polite firmness, instead of priests blessing supplicants with their favour.

One exchange sticks in my mind, as indicative of how they think:
Bureaucrat: So you've got the job?
Kapitano: Yes.
'Crat: Can you prove it? Do you have documentation?
Kap: You want a written record of a telephone interview.
'Crat: Yes.
Kap: I'll get them to send me a confirmation.
'Crat: That should be okay. But you mustn't leave the building till you get it.
Kap: I don't have time for that. I'll be back later, goodbye.

There's a certain type of computer geek for who the cry, "Mine's smaller than yours! It's tiny!" is a cause of much envy and competition. These are the operating system minimalists - those who try to cut down Windows or Linux to the barest essentials, and then the even barer essentials, in the cause of running speed and efficiency.

There's a series of miniature versions of XP, called TinyXP and culminating in TinyXP Platinum 2, which cut out all the unused (or barely used) and antiquated from XP, leaving a rapid and stable husk of 350MB - about 1/6th the size of the "official" XP - and running with 50MB RAM instead of the 512 that's the usual minimum.

Microsoft is, of course, not amused at this sort of thing. Every time a miniature (or you might say "cleaned up") versions of Windows appears on one of the filesharing systems, they're quick to shut it down. This means it's difficult to find them, but not impossible. I've got TinyXP PE2, plus some earlier versions, and a different hack of XP designed especially for music making.

Of course, what Windows really needs is a redesign from the ground up, which is what Vista was supposed to be but absolutely wasn't. Windows could be recast at one tenth the size and three times the speed, but such a thing would be massive undertaking, far out of the reach of hacker groups, and somehow I doubt that Microsoft will have the decency or good sense to do it, even after the catastrophic failure of Vista.

Anyway, If Linux is your thing, there's several open souce miniature versions, including Damn Small Linux. If, after the next week or so, I have any spare time at all, I might give it a whirl.

Death and Rebirth

RIP Greebo.

My tower computer, Greebo the Second, has just died from an unspecified motherboard failure. Yesterday he was working perfectly, trying out his new operating system and merrily burning data backups to DVD. Today he was simply unable to switch on at all, and in spite of multiple hard drive and video card transplants, could not be revived. His components will be used to upgrade other computers.

His predecessor, Greebo the First, was a 1GHz P3 with 512GB RAM and a succession of hard drives handed down from younger systems. He now lives in semi-retirement, recording digital radio and old cassettes to mp3.

Greebo the second had 3GHz and 1GB of RAM, and when he wasn't running MSN messenger or downloading unfeasibly large amounts of smut from the internet, he was helping me compose songs, occasionally losing all the data in crashes. He had handed-down drives too.

This morning I had a choice: Wait at least two weeks (more like six) to go to Moscow, or wait at most two weeks to go to Bulgaria.

Bulgaria it is, just as soon as (a) the living quarters are finished and (b) the manager's got the cash for the plane ticket. I've just told Moscow - or rather, Istanbul, which is where the Moscow headquarters are currently located.

I will be, for a few months, the only teacher. For all student ages, levels and specialisms. And also the computer technician. So I might be a little bit busy.

If I thought about what I was getting into, I'd be too terrified to get into it. So I'm not thinking about it.

Tomorrow I get to explain to a bureaucrat why I don't have time to attend a course in elementary jobseeking. If they take a reasonable view, fine - they just mark me as "justified absence" for a week. If they don't. I'll do my best to break a chair on the way out.

One of the reasons I wish I had a working camera would be to publish photos of all the things I find abandoned on the street, and take home.

Last night it was a football shirt. Clean, untorn and even in my size, but just lying in a crumpled heap in the road at four in the morning. Last week it was a scarf and a bobble hat, sitting on a wall, just as it was turning cold and I needed them.

A month ago I was delighted to find a large, brown, floppy, stuffed toy dog, looking forlorn on an electrical junction box. The (real) dogs were just as happy with it. Around six months ago there was another stuffed toy - a three foot Daffy Duck, presumably dropped from a child's pushchair.

And of course there was the big red fleecy jacket (sponsored by Bell's Whiskey) under a pile of wet leaves in the rain - as though it had burrowed there to keep dry. It would have cost at least GBP60.

I've found a walkman, and a memory stick, and an extra battery for my (now dead) video camera. Then there's all the things I didn't take home. The beer glasses, the single gloves and socks, and for some reason a great number of hubcaps.

But why don't people leave digital cameras lying around?

Rush, Rush

“I do not rule Russia; ten thousand clerks do”
- Tsar Nicholas I

Here's the short version:
Russia's probably off, Bulgaria's probably on.

The slightly longer version:
The school in Russia have, thanks to the incompetence of various agencies and the deliberate delaying tactics of the Russian civil service, not got their paperwork ready by the promised date - yesterday.

In fact, they won't be sending out invitations for another two weeks. At least. Probably more.

So, I called up Bulgaria, and asked them, seeing as they'd expressed interest in me working for them when the Russian contract was finished, whether they'd be interested in having me sooner - like next week. They said yes, they'd love to have me, but they just need to do some of their own paperwork first.

The Russian option has a lot to recommend it - a stable school, high wages, and good student attitudes. On the downside the school is regimented and culturally the cold war is back.

The Bulgarian school has...whatever the opposite of regimentation is, but the wages are low and the local culture parochial.

I'd enjoy Bulgaria a lot more, have a great deal more freedom in teaching and a more varied job description. I'd just get paid half as much, and the job security is quite a bit less.

I should know whether they're ready for me by Monday. It would be ironic if they weren't, and I'd wind up somewhere completely different - like, for instance, Vietnam.

A lovely day out today with C, spent browsing bookshops, occasionally buying stuff and taking a great deal of good natured rubbish. Surreal word association, bad puns and scatology circa 1955 - things we're both quite good at but which he could do at olypmic level.

We had breakfast together (two cups of tea each and an amazingly sticky flapjack from a cafe), and a little later lunch (more tea and another flapjack from the same place).

Our birthdays are a few days apart so we exchanged gifts. He got a box-set of excruciatingly bad sci-fi movies (which was originally supposed to be for christmas but nevermind) and I got...some rather good sci-fi books.

We probably won't meet again before I leave, so it was good to spend a few hours together.

And in the evening, duty. In this case, that means buying food, selecting a piece of domestic junk, taking both to a fundraising event, paying to get in, eating other people's food, buying raffle tickets for other people's junk, and watching a movie for two hours about corrupt corporations, police violence and workers' struggle.

Before walking home in the cold, stopping off for promised oral sex with an old acquaintance, and finally sleeping exhausted on a wonderfully overwarm electric blanket. In other words, business before pleasure.

Well that was the plan. In fact the film was great stuff and the acquaintance cancelled.

But I did come away with four pork pies, three blocks of cheese, two salamis and a loaf of bread. And a chicken drumstick.

There's a little mouse, dark brown and not more than two inches nose-to-tail, perched on the edge of my chair, industriously chewing on half a peanut held between its front legs.

This one is (I think) Ernie. I've know he(/she) was around for the last week, from the rustlings of plastic and paper, and the occasional squeak. In the dark the noises are a bit sinister, but with the light on, munching away, Ernie is...just very cute.

A disease carrying parasite, yes, but a cute one.

Crank It Up

How is it I've never come across Alex Jones before? He's a prolific broadcaster of impassioned political presentations, archaeologist of inconvenient facts and, yes, purveyor of wacky conspiracy theories.

He's one of those people with high intelligence and moral sense, diligence and charisma...and no rudder at all.

The trouble with people who have the drive and ability to carry out an immense project without the support of a sympathetic community is...they don't have the correction of expertise and reality checks provided by a sympathetic community.

Here's a few paraphrases (and a quote) from a recent broadcast, with comments.

* Obviously non-terrorist crimes are being recategorised as "terror related", "connected to Al-Quaida", "inspired by Al-Quaida" or similar gibberish. This is quite evident, and not difficult.

* Anyone who protests against anything the government does is accused of "aiding the terrorists" or "giving succour to Al-Quaida". They are indeed.

* The media are starting to suggest the emergence of a "white Al-Quaida" - educated, well dressed folks who, being white and not having beards, don't look like suicidal fanatics. There is a creeping climate of fear that "it could be your neighbour" or "it could be a member of your family". Yep - Macarthyism worked in the same way, with the paranoia about communist agents disguised as super-respectable Americans.

* Flouride in the water has no effect on dental health, but it is a slow accumulating poison that affects the brain. Well, there have been studies that suggest that, yes.

* It's part of a conspiracy to stupefy the middle and working class. Um...oh-kay.

* "They'll go out and torture the public and have the public say they're terrorists, and then the idiot, soft, chicken-neck scum of this nation - the cheeseburger [guzzling], beer drinking, football worshipping, soft, cowardly, stupid people will buy it and cheer it on and there'll be all those proud fathers getting their sons into it, say "Oh I love your black uniform, son. Oh I love your suit and tie, son.", and then all the corruption and the drug dealing and just a mass of criminals feeding on us. Gurh! It makes me sick! Murderers! MURDERING SCUM!" Hmmm.

* The CIA are being taken over by immigrants who hate the American way of life and are using the war on terror to destroy it from the inside. Ah. Oh dear.

* And it's all because the Bilderberg group think they have the secret of eternal life, and want to first control and then kill off 80% of the world's population to leave them free to enjoy their immortality. Er...

Gary Taubes on the other hand is packaged as a crank, but isn't. His work isn't (directly) political - he's best know for writing diet books. The blurb on his latest tome "The Diet Delusion" boldly proclaims that high-fat diet and lack of exercise have nothing to do with obesity, high carbohydrate diets are completely ineffective for losing weight...and, inevitably, that Gary Taubes alone can make you thin because all the scientists in the world are blinkered and wrong.

Makes him sound like a lunatic, doesn't it? Latest in a long line of uneducated crackpots with a publishing deal that lasts just as long as the sensation.

Actually, Taubes is a respected scientist (though his qualifications are in physics, not nutrition) and what he's actually saying is what nutritionists have known for decades. He's just been promoted by his publisher as a sexily daring iconoclast and/or amusingly ill-informed crank - because that sells better.

What he actually has to say isn't quite what the blurb suggests. He essentially says:

* Eating fat isn't the major factor in becoming overweight, and therefore reducing fat intake isn't the major factor in losing weight.

* Overeating isn't the really important thing either.

* Sugar is the major factor, because of its effect on insulin levels.

* Eating lots of carbohydrates is more likely to make you fatter than thinner. This goes especially for the simple carbohydrates, which includes the sugars, and are found in the "bulk" foods beloved of weight-loss diets - bread, rice, pasta etc.

* Exercise burns fat very slowly, and increases appetite greatly - so, while it's healthy in other ways to be active, it's a false economy if you want to get svelte.

So, what's the lifestyle of the serious pound-shedder? Moderate fat intake, low sugar, low carbohydrate, high protein, moderate exercise. Which is just so controversial.

Taubes is also a historian of bad science - a subject close to my heart - and there's a good interview with him about it here.

Die Fledermaus

Like all good queens, I have two birthdays. Which is to say, the one on Thursday was so nice I thought I'd have another one on Saturday.

There were presents too. First time: Some highly useful but equally dull mains adaptor plugs - so I can plug my three-pin British devices designed for a 240V current into Russian power sockets, which have two pins and 120V. Second time: Erm...a dalek yo-yo. Which is to say, a yo-yo with some dalek stickers.

There seems to be a rack of Dr Who merchandise in every major shop. You can get magazines full of articles that offer an astounding lack of information, masks of every monster that's been featured in the last three years, plastic models of these same monsters, Dr Who lunchboxes, Dr Who geometry sets, Dr Who wristwatches...and for all I know Dr Who condoms.

If there are prophylactics in the range, they will split if used. This is because all Dr Who merchandise splits if used. This is because all Dr Who merchandise is deeply, deeply, crap.

Star Wars action figures may have been a bit of a cynical rip-off - the kind of cynical rip-off that I could now sell for a lot of money on ebay if they weren't all at the bottom of the boy next door's septic tank - but at least they lasted a month before the heads fell off.

I guess the crap of my crappy childhood was better crap than the crap of today's children's crappy childhood. Less crappy.

Stephen P took me out for a surprise birthday lunch on Friday. It was a surprise because (a) I didn't know he was back in England and (b) it turned out he'd just had a birthday too. He was 25, and couldn't believe he was buying extra-hot spicy Chinese food for a grand old man of 36.

I can't believe it either. How did I get to be 36 years old? What happened to the last ten years and can I try them again please? How come I'm suddenly half my father's age and twice the 18 year old I somehow can't remember being?

And how come my blond, cherubic, youthful 25 year old friend was being sugar daddy for the day? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Or is that what's meant by being an Invert?

C is also having a birthday, and we should be meeting up on Wednesday - with suitably cheap and silly presents. I don't want to leave for foreign climes without spending half a day with him.

I keep trying to learn some Russian, but every time I pick up the books, stuff gets in the way. Currently my Klingon is better than my Russian. Majbe' - HolHom.

My nuts keep disappearing.

On my shelf is a plate, and on that plate is a bag of peanuts. On Friday half the contents were spilled out onto the plate - next day the plate was empty and the bag had bite marks. Then it happened again.

From this I conclude two things. First, that Bert and Ernie - the two mice who I used to catch out of the corner of my eye scampering away - are back, possibly with friends. And second, that they have learned to levitate.

I'm tempted to suspend a peanut by a thread from the light, just to see if it's gone by morning.

2 girls 1 cup

Two Girls One Cup. The video you've been searching for. The most disgusting, revolting, horror-inducing video to ever go viral. The inspiration of a hundred "reaction" videos, a thousand guilty peeks and a million soul-wrenching screams of terror. You want to try it? Are you really sure...?

Okay, fake sales pitch over. Now then. How many netizens will surf to this post using that search term over the next seven days? And just how close to the collapse of western civilisation are we?

Well, let's see. Just as a little unscientific experiment. Answer next Monday.

And no, I haven't seen it, and no I'm not going to. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, don't ask.

The Famous Mr Head

I didn't have the use of my mouth for the first half of my birthday - a mysterious woman who never took off her mask made it go all numb and floppy.

So I spent the second half doing as much with my mouth as possible to make up. I ate and drank, talked, argued, ate and drank some more, chewed a pencil, clucked my tongue, spoke a great number of words to comrades huddled around a pub table...and you'll never guess what other exercise it got afterwards.

Oh, you guessed.

More when my brain starts functioning again, or the room stops spinning.


"If suffering brought wisdom, the dentist’s office would be full of luminous ideas."
- Mason Cooley

"For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently."
- William Shakespeare

“A physician buries his mistakes, a dentist pulls them out, but a teacher has to live with them”
- Unknown

I'm not afraid of dentists, but dental work is a lot of hassle. Most people need just one injection to get numb - I need three, or sometimes more. I have a small mouth, which some people have found advantageous, but which makes it difficult to fit dental equipment (plus dentist fingers) in there.

So today, lots of injecting, scraping, drilling and filling one of Kapitano's molars. Three hours later the anaesthetic wore off...

...and the filling fell out.

I now have a back tooth a bit like one of those medieval castle sites. The ones tourists spend half an hour walking around before spending the rest of the day in the cafe and souvenir shop. Nice strong walls, nothing inside.

It looks like I'm going to spend my birthday getting a tooth pulled. Oh yes, the 17th is my birthday - I shall be 36.

Happy Birthday to me
Now a bit less tooth-y
Painful so been
Eating codine
Dental Birthday for me

All are Born Mad, Some Remain So

"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."
- Charles Mckay, "The Madness of Crowds"

Sunday in London, in what was effectively a seven hour job interview. In which I did most of the listening.

Meerkats is not what you'd call a conventional language school. Aside from the slightly silly name, and the location - Montana, in Bulgaria - and the fact that it's not a money laundering front or a certificate shop for people who need to pretend they have an the ethos of quality over quantity, honest dealings and perfectionism.

That's in a country where bribery, incompetence, corruption and lies are, shall we say, the basis of business. Yes, I know that's true of every country, but it's really true there. The government overhauls the tax laws every few months, and the government inspectors live, shall we say, on unsolicited informal contributions from corporations.

The fellow in change of the school, a former long-haulage trucker, got 200 CVs from teachers and only followed up one - mine! Hey, can I help it that I'm so impressive? He wants someone who can:

* Set up and maintain the computer network
* Put together multimedia presentations
* Do graphic design and make a website
* Put some flashy advanced degree certificates on the wall
* Teach IT to staff and students
* Teach English

...and that, it seems, is me. Who da man? Me da man. I always suspected. In fact, I am so much da man that he's willing to wait a year while I get some experience in Russia before offering me a job. Or rather, half a dozen jobs.

Assuming (a) I'm not put off teaching for life by whatever happens in Russia and (b) the deeply honourable and barking mad Meerkats isn't mauled to death by impossible circumstance.

Meanwhile, the school in Moscow are now promising they'll have invitations and visas all sorted out by the 25th. Fair enough - that leaves me enough time to sort out the rather complicated and pitfallsome international banking, and I can set a provisional leaving date for February 1st.

I'm supposedly starting that stupid training scheme yet again on the 28th. This time I think I'll actually go in, explain the situation and ask whether they want me for four days - if they say yes I'll tell them where they can shove it.

It has rained every night for the last seven days. Each evening MK has texted me to arrange a conjugal visit, and each night he can't make it because it's pissing down with rain. Anyone would think God didn't want people to have gay sex.

Actually, some parts of the UK are getting flood rains - as is now traditional this time of year. Part of the tradition is the BBC reporting it with great surprise. I wonder if there's a correlation between climate change denial and living on high ground.

One of my back teeth just decided to break apart for no apparent reason. So, dentist tomorrow, and in the meantime I'm preventing the sharp edges from cutting my cheek and tongue - by blunting them with a nail-file.

I'm not sure it should be physically possible to painlessly file one's own back teeth, but it seems to be helping.

What kind of music do you associate with Texas? Redneck rock? Nashville fingerpicking? "Oh both types - Country and Western"? How about melodic synthpop a la Human League or Marseaux?

Fellowshipwreck are a net label featuring mostly-downloadable bands from Texas, whose spiritual home is the UK circa 1985. I recommend Hyperbubble (grrls 'n' bleeps), The Solar Panel and Grace DuVin (electro covers of 70s standards that ought to be sarcastic but somehow aren't).

Faced with this kind of thing - artists who make music for love not money, disseminating their work without letting the labels take a cut - EMI have taken decisive action. They say they need to embrace the digital age and do more than just sell CDs.

And how are they achieving this? They're sacking thousands of their staff.

And, er, nothing else.

Plain Jain

"You're not one of us."
"I don't think I'm one of them, either...I'm one of mine."
- Terry Pratchett, Small Gods

I'm having trouble with my Would.

"Would" - second form of the auxiliary defective verb "will", used to express...oh all sorts of things. Like:

"Would you believe it?!" (exclamation of amazement)
"I would have thought so." (slightly uncertain agreement)
"I wouldn't do that if I were you." (warning)
"Would you like another?" (polite question)
"If you would sing, I would listen." (conditional of the second type)

Now, usually with auxiliaries, shifting from the first form (ie "Will") to the second form ("would") indicates a shift of the action into the past, or a suggestion of uncertainty, or extra politeness, or some other kind of "distancing" - and shifting from the second form to the first has the opposite effect. But try shifting "would" to "will" in the above sentences and see what happens.

In the third sentence you can't do it at all, In three of them the result is meaningful but it means something unrelated. Only in the last sentence does something like the same sense remain.

"Will" is quite simple - just insert it into present tense sentences and they magically become future tense:

I see the movie ... I will see the movie
I am seeing the movie ... I will be seeing the movie
I have seen the movie ... I will have seen the movie
I have been seeing the movie ... I will have been seeing the movie

"Would", by rights, ought to refer to the past of the future referred to by "Will", but seeing as this past-of-future reference is so little needed, it seems to have become detached from it's logical meaning, and is used to fill in a lot of little semantic gaps not easily covered by other words.

More fun and games with the jobcentre. Here's a condensed version of what we said:

Advisor: Why didn't you start the course?

Kapitano: I'm too busy setting up a real job to waste time on a wanky course that fails to find me a pretend one.

Adv: You don't know the course is pointless.

Kap: Yes I do. I've done it before.

Adv: No you haven't.

Kap: Yes, I have.

Adv: Oh yes, so you have. But you didn't finish it, so maybe the bit you missed wasn't pointless.

Kap: Your logic is astounding.

Adv: Well anyway I'm booking you to start it again on the 28th.

Kap: I'll be gone by then.

Adv: Yes but I've got to book you. It's the rules.

I've met people who called themselves Hindus, but who after only a few minutes conversation admitted they didn't believe in the religion at all - they just thought it was a joyous, colourful set of rituals and festivals. And these were people who were raised to be Hindus.

I've known self-described devout Buddhists who knew there was an eightfold path and a fourfold truth (or was it the other way around, they weren't sure) but knew and cared little about the life of Gautama, the Tao or I Ching. They meditated when not too busy, believed in reincarnation and karma, and behaved thoroughly decently with everyone. Their "Buddhism" made them genuinely happy.

A lot of Muslims have become tediously devout lately, for obvious reasons. But I used to know plenty who, so long as there were clerics to handle the theology for them, did drinking and drugs in moderation with their liberated girlfriends - and/or enjoyed being the exotic center of attention in the men-only sauna.

But when was the last time you heard someone say, "I'm a Christian - oh I don't believe in hell or even god really, but the clothes are lovely and the festivals are great and the people are all so friendly,"...?

No, me neither. If you want universal brotherhood, there's Baha'i. If elaborate courtesy is your thing, I recommend Confucianism. If you want an overpoweringly personal deity or a universe-shaped mother figure, go for Judaism or Wicca respectively. Jainism lets you run around naked in public - though only because you don't own any clothes.

But the only possible reason for wanting to call yourself a christian is the least important aspect of any religion - believing in the cosmogony. Because it doesn't seem to have any attractions. Anyway, if you're vaguely curious what sparked this little essay, go here. in particular, here.

Wheels are finally turning in Moscow. The process of getting a visa to travel and the mysteriously separate process of getting a visa to work are at least in motion. How do I know? Because the school now want my photo. Twice.

In true bureaucratic (indeed, Stalinesque) fashion, they can't make do with one photo printed out twice. No, they need the same photo sent twice. And the two have to be compared, to make sure they show the same person.


“In our day the conventional element in literature is elaborately disguised by a law of copyright pretending that every work of art is an invention distinctive enough to be patented.”
- Northrop Frye

Happy Russian Christmas!

What? No, it seems the Russian Orthodox Church has a different Christmas to the rest of the world. Theirs is on January 7th.

Today's insight: If you eat nothing all day, then at 4pm tuck into a breakfast of fried chicken and chips, you will be ill afterwards.

Today's gay porn film: Position Impossible.

Not to be confused with Positions Impossible - an instructional Ju Jitsu set, or Missionary Position: Impossible, which is porn, but straight so not nearly as witty.

More smile-inducing porn titles (for laugh-inducing porn) here. Though sadly "Boyback Mountin'" turns out not to be a real film. At least, not yet.

Today's word: Exsufflation

You know when you dismiss something as trivial by blowing through loose lips? It may be accompanied by a sweeping away gesture with the hand.

Have you ever wondered what that strange dismissive action is called? Me neither, but now you know.

Today's challenge: Use the verb "Sufflate" in casual conversation.

Can someone please tell me when I signed a record deal? And when I became a pop star?

You can (if you really want to) download six of my old songs use as ringtones!

Five of the songs aren't what I'd call complete failures, so someone must have gone through my available back catalogue and selected some okay tracks. It might have been nice if they'd asked me, but nevermind.

They are all in the public domain - on Songfight and here, but oddly not here.

So, there's a few dozen people in the world who, probably quite briefly, had me playing on their phones.

There's four there from Camy too.

It's simultaneously a little bit strange, a little bit flattering, and quite a lot embarrassing - and not because there's a link to "Sexy Videos Of Kapitano".


"'Scuse me while I kiss this guy"
- Jimi Hendrix

It was a lovely party.

There were little balloon bundles hanging from the ceiling, each consisting of two round ones and a long one in the middle - very tasteful. There were cakes decorated with similarly shaped designs. And there were banners hanging from the walls wishing good luck to "Kapitanoski, the only socialist in Moscow".

There was vodka, whiskey and three kinds of rum, all of which I tried with various mixers. There was so much food even twenty or so hungry lefties couldn't manage it all, though some of us continued to try till four in the morning.

Some comrades had clubbed together to buy me a gift - a rather nice and splendidly warm coat for the Moscow winter (currently -18 degrees). I slurred a speech of acceptance and thanked each and every person there with a big kiss. Well, all the men, anyway. Some more than once.

Eight hours drinking, flirting, having silly conversations, having profound conversations, eating and once or twice slipping gently onto the floor. Collectively known as "having a good time". I then somehow got home and slept for sixteen hours of the next twenty.

Sometimes I wonder whether any of the proscribed psychiatric drugs developed in the last thirty years work at all. I'm thinking of those mass consumption drugs which have plenty of side effects but no actual effect, either because the condition doesn't exist (Aspergers, possibly Tourettes) or it's not chemical in nature (Social Anxiety Disorder aka Life, ADHD aka Childhood)

Prozac and Paxil rely on the "serotonin" theory of depression, seriously questioned twenty years ago and disproven ten years ago, but still commonly reported as fact in the popular press.

The "norepinephrine" theory, basis of Strattera, is so far as I know still at the "seriously questioned" stage.

Ritalin, xanex, lexapro, cymbalta, zoloft...all marketed as safe new wonderdrugs, swallowed by the unhappy middle classes everywhere for a few years before they realise they've been conned yet again, when they switch to a new safe new wonderdrug...

...before it turns out fifteen year later the pharmaceutical company knew all along the original drug didn't affect the symptoms and screwed everything else up, but had no idea why it had any of it's effects at all.

At least some of the the older drugs had some effect on the symptoms they were marketed for. Valium stopped you worrying, and indeed made you forget what was worrying you. Ketamine's so effective it would tranquilise a horse. Marijuana would be a wonderful argument for Intelligent Design theory.

But then, what do I know? I've got Oppositional Defiance Disorder - aka the best way out of depression.

Or maybe I'm just Szaszsy. Go here to become as well balanced as me.

The Great Sickness

“Bureaucracy is the art of making the possible impossible”
- Javier Salcedo

“The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is its inefficiency.”
- Eugene J. McCarthy

“You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.”
- Thomas Sowell

Sat Dec 29 - Wed Jan 02:

It seems I had a Noro virus - together with (reportedly) a million other Britons. The genus is highly transmissible, mainly through personal contact or fecally contaminated water, and causes dehydrating diarrhea, vomiting, fever and general weakness.

It last a few days, takes two to develop, is contagious for two, and infection provides no lasting immunity.

Thr Jan 03:

There are two ways my visit to the jobcentre could have gone. It could have gone like this:

Advisor: So, have you been looking for work?

Kapitano: I found work a month ago, as you know perfectly well.

Adv: I still need to know you've been applying for other jobs.

Kap: There aren't any. That's why I'm leaving the country.

Adv: I still need...

Kap: You still need to pretend to look at a piece of paper that I pretend is a list of nonexistent jobs I've applied for. Here it is.

[Kap hands over a piece of paper. Adv doesn't look at it.]

Adv: Okay, now we're putting you on a course next week.

Kap: To teach me how to look for jobs.

Adv: Yes...

Kap: Which I already know how to do.

Adv: Yes, but...

Kap: As shown by the fact that I found one.

Adv: Yes, but you've got to go on it because you haven't started the job yet.

Kap: Why?

[Adv spends one second trying to grasp the question, then forgets it was ever asked.]

Adv: I'm booking you to start on Monday. If for any reason you don't attend, that may affect your benefit claim.

Kap: You mean if I don't jump through your idiotic hoops, you'll stop paying me support.

Adv: If for any reason...

Kap: I'm busy on Monday.

Adv: Doing what?

Kap: Flying to Moscow.

Adv: Yes well. If for any reason...

Kap: [walking away] Go screw yourself.

But in fact it went this way:

Advisor: So, have you been looking for work?

[Kap silently pushes a piece of paper at her. She doesn't look at it.]

Adv: We're putting you on a course next week.

[Kap stares vaguely at the photocopier]

Adv: You start on Monday, okay? Goodbye.

Kap: [Walking away] Go screw yourself.

Actually, the school got back to me later, explaining they were still on holiday, and were having red tape problems, so I wouldn't be leaving on Monday. More like ten days later - which happens to be my birthday.

Fine. I'm still to busy to bother with the bullshit of bureaucrats.

Oh, but tonight there's a party! It's the "Kapitano Go Away" party. I did wonder if that should be "Kapitano Going Away" but apparently it's correct.

Much drinking, much eating, much dancing and hopefully a little fornication. I'll report back...when I get over tomorrow's hangover.