There's two kinds of friends. Those who tell you what you want to hear, and those who tell you what you need to know.
Oh, there's also those who just need you to listen to them telling you things, but friend isn't quite the word for them.
Which is odd, because most friends are like that.
Reasons to drink tea without milk:
(1) Europeans do it, and they're sophisticated.
(2) Americans do it, and they're tough.
(3) Without milk to muddy the flavour, you can actually taste the difference between different types of tea.
(4) It's actually quite nice.
(5) With a kettle, a cup, a stack of teabags and an optional bottle of lemon juice, I can have a nice cup of tea at four in the morning, without having to creep downstairs and wake up the dogs getting milk from the fridge.
The other options are to get a fridge in the bedroom, or develop a taste for yoghurt in tea.
Night in with C.
Getting squiffy on rum, going soppy over little dogs, discussing everything from the development of superhero costumes in Marvel comics, to the soteriological ramifications of Pascal's Gambit.
Who needs a boyfriend when you've got a friend?
He also sent me two pictures collected in his travels around Europe. It seems my beneficient influence is being felt in unexpected quarters.
Soon, I shall rule...The World!
February Album Writing Month. Starts in three days.
So I have that long to get the laptop all sorted out, and get into the habit of carrying around a pad of paper to note those sudden inspirations that strike when you're in the middle of doing something else.
I once wrote three and a half songs in twelve hours - one of which was even worth keeping. The others were my embarrasing sole attempt at a love song, and a cheerful, bouncy ditty about absurd plots in porn films.
So, can I put Reason and Reaper into one portable installation? And do they work together? Yes.
Can I do the same with Firefox and Orbit Downloader? Oh yes.
Can I bundle Firefox, Orbit, Flash, Java, Quicktime Alternative, Real Alternative, Shockwave and Firefox's Windows Media Player Plugin? I can indeed, though some details need working out.
Now, Can I make a portable installation of a virtual machine - specifically, the one I use to make portable installations? Um, no. The makers seem to have fixed it so you can't.
The advantage of bundling Firefox with all those plugins, or bundling WinAmp with a load of audio and video codecs, is that I can transfer the whole bundle from one computer to another and it should work fine, without having to install a load of stuff on someone else's computer just so I can use one bit of software for a while.
The disadvantage...is that to update any part of the bundle, I have to make it again from scratch.
I'll have to sleep on that one.
Remember how, a few weeks ago, I finally got through to the bureucrats to ask where my jobseeker's allowance had got to? And how the holdup had been a piece of especially pointless paperwork they (a) hadn't told me about and (b) hadn't sent me? And how they said with true sincerity that it had just been sent to me that very day?
Well now after two weeks I finally get through again, to ask them what's happened to this mysterious form that I filled out. And they tell me with true sincerity that everything has just been sorted out this very day. What a remarkable coincidence.
I want to record a song.
To do this, I need two programs - Reason and Reaper - to pass data between each other.
Reason is probably the best program around for making electronic music, but has the bizarre limitation that it can't record sound. However, it can integrate with other sequencers using a system called Rewire.
Reaper is an excellent little sequencer, which I want to use as Reason's sound recording device. It'll generate a sound file which I can load into Reason, which will apply all the necessary effects and mix it in with the music.
Now, almost all the software I have installed is portable, which is great in many ways, but there's one disadvantage - each portable program runs in its own bubble, which means it sometimes has difficulty communicating with other portable programs. For instance, links clicked in portable Thunderbird won't open portable Firefox to view them in.
But, I think I may have a solution - to create a new portable installation which includes both Reason and Reaper in the same bubble.
To make this installation, I have to set up a virtual machine.
To do this, I have to install the virtual-machine-creating software on my new laptop.
To do this, I have set up the partitions for the virtual-machine-creating software and the virtual machine itself to go on.
To do this I first have to clear off the data that I've temporarily backed up there from another computer.
To do this I have to burn it to DVD.
To do this I have to install DVD burning software.
To do this I have to transfer it from another computer.
To do this I have to find the USB memory stick to transfer it with.
And to do this I have to find the jacket the stick's in.
I can't find the jacket.
"Now watch what you say, or they'll be calling you a Technical,
a practical, academical, pedagogical."
- Not quite Supertramp, The Logical Song
YouTube sound is shit.
It's 64kbps (so grainy), 22.05KHz (so muffled) and 1ch (so mono). In 2007 it was possible to encode your video to certain setting in FLV (Flash Video) format, and YouTube's conversion (or reconversion) into it's native FLV settings would be bypassed. The video quality was really rubbish, but the sound was at least stereo. It was a bug, and they "fixed" it.
Now if you upload high resolution files, you're given the option to encode to high resolution FLV, and sometimes the stereo signal stays stereo. And sometimes it doesn't. And sometimes it plays stereo when played in Internet Explorer but not other browsers.
It gets weirder. When you upload a stereo file, it gets recoded and stored on one or another of YouTube's servers - it seems to be random which server is chosen. Now, some servers recode your audio to mono, while others actually recode it to stereo, but stream it as mono...unless you add "&fmt=18" or "&fmt=22" to the end of the URL.
Or maybe this "bug" has now been "fixed", because I've spent the afternoon experimenting with uploading different formats - FLV and DivX for video, PCM and MP3 for audio, and no matter what I do, the result is mono and crummy.
There's no good reason for YouTube to stick to this policy. Their settings are adequate for speech, but YouTube is used extensively for music. Settings of 128kbps 44.1KHz 2ch are routinely used by internet radio stations, so bandwidth just isn't the issue it was when YouTube started out. But sticking to it they are, like shit to your shoe.
Here's what I found while researching the above.
If you want to minimise the amount of video you have to upload with your audio, the smallest resolution that most video making/converting programs can handle is 8x8. However, the FLV standard seems to have a lower limit of 160x120. I haven't done extensive tests to find just how low a resolution YouTube can convert from, but it chokes on 8x8 and is fine with 160x120.
Amazingly though, the difference between a minute of 8x8 black screen and one at 160x120, coded to either FLV or DivX, is a few dozen kilobytes. So, don't worry about it. And if the technology obliges you to use a resolution high enough to put a logo on, I'd say put a logo on it.
This is assuming the video is encoded at one frame per second - though there's no great reason why the framerate can't go even lower. There's obviously no reason to deinterlace a black screen, and FLV is happy with a video bitrate of 1kbps. YouTube was happy with DivX at 125kbps, but not at 1.
Did you know you can schedule blogger posts? Just set the timestamp for a time/date in the future, and blogger will wait until that time to post them. I found this by accident - after spending half a day unsuccessfully searching for a simple way to schedule email sending.
So I think I'll try using it. Instead of blocking three or four topics into one post every two or three days, there'll be smaller posts more often, staggered over the same period.
(a) make me look more prolific and
(b) make me seem to be posting from my computer at times when I'm actually somewhere completely different. Or more likely, in front of a different computer.
In the meantime, this post marks the start of a new label: Technical.
Typical. I spend a few hours figuring out how to gerrymander blogger into hosting podcasts, and it turns out
(a) Google Video, which hosts Blogger Video, will cease accepting new uploads in a few months. This is because Google Video, like about fifty other google products, is being reduced with the workforce.
Sometimes the products are allowed to slowly die - often after they've been bought up with the original developers for millions of dollars. Sometimes they're abruptly discontinued, and sometimes as in this case they're just scaled down to something still useful but much less useful - a video search tool. A literal google for videos, in fact.
(b) OurMedia does it better anyway.
Today's culinary adventure: Sheep offal bulked with oats and stuffed into the sheep's stomach, traditionally served with mashed up turnips and swede.
Haggis with neeps and tatties.
Once a year, English supermarkets stock these items in anticipation of Burns Night, which marks the birth (or it might be the death, or something else, no one I've asked is sure) of Robert Burns - prolific Scottish author of poems, all of which seem to have turned into songs.
Every country seems to have it's own variation on "the less appetising bits of an animal mashed up and baked with whatever vegetables grow locally". We've got shepherd's pie, I'm told Canadians have cowboy pie, and I've eaten (but been unable to pronounce) some east european variations.
I've decided I rather like haggis. But it won't be available for another year.
There is a program called Driver Genius, which scans your computer for out-of-date drivers and downloads up-to-date replacements for them. Sound good? My advice is: Don't use it, ever.
I've tried it twice, and on both occasions the "new" drivers either didn't work at all, or seemed much earlier than the ones they replaced.
Just a small public service announcement.
Last week I bought a pink computer.
My old laptop had (almost literally) exploded, and mother had lent me hers for a little while, so I could continue reading wikipedia, playing mp3s and, well, searching for a bargain on a new laptop.
And I did indeed find a reasonable bargain, with 12.1" screen, 4GB RAM, 2GB cache, 2.26GHz dual core processor, N-type wireless compatibility, 250GB SATA drive, and other good things understood only by people who spend far too much time sitting at computers, reading about computers.
Plus, I could get it for twenty three pounds less...if I got the version in pink. And it was very pink. Pinker than a gay triangle, pinker than the girlband Pink, pinker than cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker - who isn't actually very pink at all.
Except after a week it still hasn't been built. So I phoned up and enquired. It seems the pink version - sorry, the pink version - had been discontinued. Without anyone telling the sales department or website maintainer - or indeed me.
Sigh. So I cancel the order, and set about choosing a new one. And what should I find but a nice black laptop with about the same specs...for a hundred and fifty pounds less!
So this is me, happily shacked up with a cool, dark, spiffy new boyf...computer. In the pink, indeed.
"Error is the force that welds men together."
- Tolstoy, My Religion
"I have a medium-sized fire axe buried in my spinal column."
- Kryten, Red Dwarf
"How embarrassing. A house full of condiments and no food."
- Narrator, Fight Club
The jobcentre will rule on whether I'm british or not...sometime next week. Probably. After which one of three things will happen.
Possibility 1: They'll decide I do actually live here, as birth certificate, passport and their own records show, and I'll get the last eight weeks jobseeker's allowance all at once.
Possibility 2: They'll decide I don't live here after all, and should presumably therefore be deported to...um, wherever I was born. This poses a conundrum, because if it can't be proven I do live here, I'd have to be deported to wherever it can be proven I do live...but as soon as it was proven, I couldn't go there. Although I'm already there.
For these purposes, I shall suddenly remember that I was born in a sunny latin american country, just opposite a good ESL school.
Possibility 3: They'll produce a new sheaf of delaying forms to fill out, in which case they'll all die horribly. Partly for the sake of my own sanity, but mostly because they deserve it.
A lot of people go on the internet to look at other people having sex. Others do it to arrange having sex with each other. But more go on the internet to have sex with each other on the internet.
Or rather...to have sex with themselves while watching other people having sex with themselves. It used to be called "scoptophillia exhibitionism", but now it's called "camfun".
The main difference between C2C and 121 is, when you realise the person you're cybersexing with is someone you really don't want in your bedroom, nevermind your orifices, you still have cybersex with them.
So, here is Kapitano's top five ways to make cybersex unsexy. All guaranteed to kill the mood, and all from the kind of arsehole you shouldn't fuck.
(5) Pseudo-involvement. Pointing the webcam at your unmoving face and leaving it there for an hour, except for when you leave it pointed at an empty chair for another hour when you walk away without logging off.
(4) Repeated inflexibility. The man who knows exactly what he wants, won't settle for anything else, and requests it every minute for three hours. Things like "n e blond?", "want hairy pm me", "stockings?", and "older sub for young dom".
(3) Control freakery. Constantly hassling with instructions like "show your ass", "bounce your balls", "pump it", "get harder" and "get a toy i wanna see you with a toy a big black one".
(2) Impatience. Some seem to think the point of sex is to get it over with as quickly as possible - these are the ones who say "cum 4 me", "do it now", "i want cum whos abt 2 unload?", and "shoot it 4 me right now".
...and finally, my recently discovered biggest turnoff of them all...
(1) Abusive monomania. For instance, repeatedly typing such allcap philosophical gems as "AMERICAN COCKS RULE", "WE WON WAR 4 U EUROS U OWE US", and "US HAS BEST FUCKING I ONLY FUCK PURE AMERICANS WE FUCK WORLD YEAH". In case you doubt it, these are real examples.
The internet really is full of knobs.
One of the oddities of Blogger is, it will host video for you, but not audio. So you can vlog but not podcast. If you want Blogger to host audio, you have to give it a video track.
Of course it doesn't have to be much of a video track - you could use a slideshow of photos, a logo, or just a blank screen. But it's not very elegant to have a redundant non-video staring at you while your music, poetry or commentary plays. There should be some way to at least make the video window invisible, leaving just the playback bar - and there is.
When you upload your video to Blogger, it recodes what you send to flash format, and embeds a display window in your post. The HTML code looks something like this:
<object id="BLOG_video-41b6eee4fd64c73b" class="BLOG_video_class" contentid="41b6eee4fd64c73b" height="240" width="320"></object>
Unless you're pasting from the source code of another blog, in which case it'll look something like this:
<embed width="320" height="266" src="http://www.blogger.com/img/videoplayer.swf?videoUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fvp.video.google.com%2Fvideodownload%3Fversion%3D0%26secureurl%3DqAAAAOF-u9WtopylwZ9XHAqIS4Q8mMCKxx25CeJq8bZBiPr6Lw1nPt3Mzuy4dAHiTdzlJdTM7R5C4A8yULlJcCGk46syEW7Wkg_D7V8QgTWwr-HGf1tvwnESv5Uz2E9E7wL5Ce4fg3BdxWEVOmlQ1z-PDH480M4DbkLsn6npmDomUJiai-I7XKyv_b2OZ_QnsOVpAr_T0XVce-X10Sy6q7FESf6NIerYRfXjTmzBMH8TG0aC%26sigh%3D7BraJLEO2xG_ZgceHKNZLuRXVY0%26begin%3D0%26len%3D86400000%26docid%3D0&nogvlm=1&thumbnailUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fvideo.google.com%2FThumbnailServer2%3Fapp%3Dblogger%26contentid%3D9c3e5d0d5c086378%26offsetms%3D5000%26itag%3Dw320%26sigh%3DqlhWps1wzO-wxaMVRD9NQowWIKI&messagesUrl=video.google.com%2FFlashUiStrings.xlb%3Fframe%3Dflashstrings%26hl%3Den" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"></embed>
<a href="rtsp://rtsp-youtube.l.google.com/video.3gp?app=blogger&fmt=13&cid=9c3e5d0d5c086378" type="video/3gpp"><img width="320" height="266" alt="video" src="http://video.google.com/ThumbnailServer2?app=blogger&contentid=9c3e5d0d5c086378&offsetms=5000&itag=w320&sigh=qlhWps1wzO-wxaMVRD9NQowWIKI" class="BLOG_mobile_video_class" id="BLOG_mobile_video-9c3e5d0d5c086378"></a>
A bit daunting isn't it. This example is a fifteen second clip of a firework display, from the blog of David's Tangled Thoughts. Hi David, I hope you don't mind I've used code from your page as an example.
If you're pasting code like the latter, you can edit out everything from "<a href="rtsp" onwards, and everything from &nogvlm=1& until ""</embed>", leaving you with:
<embed width="320" height="266" src="http://www.blogger.com/img/videoplayer.swf?videoUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fvp.video.google.com%2Fvideodownload%3Fversion%3D0%26secureurl%3DqAAAAOF-u9WtopylwZ9XHAqIS4Q8mMCKxx25CeJq8bZBiPr6Lw1nPt3Mzuy4dAHiTdzlJdTM7R5C4A8yULlJcCGk46syEW7Wkg_D7V8QgTWwr-HGf1tvwnESv5Uz2E9E7wL5Ce4fg3BdxWEVOmlQ1z-PDH480M4DbkLsn6npmDomUJiai-I7XKyv_b2OZ_QnsOVpAr_T0XVce-X10Sy6q7FESf6NIerYRfXjTmzBMH8TG0aC%26sigh%3D7BraJLEO2xG_ZgceHKNZLuRXVY0%26begin%3D0%26len%3D86400000%26docid%3D0"</embed>
...and it'll work just fine. Either way, replace the "height" number with "27". That's it. Now your blank video won't display, and you're (kind of) podcasting from inside Blogger.
Here's my experiment in non-video, which is also an introduction to the drumkit I've been working on for the past week. Unfortunately, Blogger sound isn't great, and is only mono.
You might (just possibly) want to do this with YouTube videos. Here's the embed code for a video chosen almost at random.
<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/VSUX9byu6NY&hl=en&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/VSUX9byu6NY&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>
...and here's the video. It's a killer.
It turns out you need almost none of the code. This snippet is all you absolutely need, though the video won't be resized, and there'll be no fullscreen option:
To crop out the video window, leaving only the tracking bar underneath, put the width and height parameters back in, with the height set to 25. Personally, I prefer a width of 320. The code now looks like this:
<embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/VSUX9byu6NY&hl=en&fs=1" width="320" height="25"></embed>
...and the clip now looks like this:
The video is still there, and still being streamed. It's just not being displayed.
One small detail - the volume icon still works, and you can mute playback, but the vertical slider you use to adjust the volume is now cropped out of view. So in effect, there's no volume control.
You can perform similar surgery on MTVMusic.Com videos, turning this...
<embed src="http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:uma:video:mtvmusic.com:18123" width="320" height="271" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" flashVars="dist=http://www.mtvmusic.com" allowFullScreen="true" AllowScriptAccess="never"></embed> <div style="margin:0; text-align:center; width:320px;font-family:Arial,sans-serif;font-size:10px;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://www.mtvmusic.com/buggles">The Buggles</a> |<a style="color:#000000;" href="http://www.mtvmusic.com/">MTV Music</a></div>
<embed src="http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:uma:video:mtvmusic.com:18123" width="320" height="25"></embed>
...which gives you this:
Unfortunately it won't work on Daily Motion embed codes - it crops out the tracking bar. LiveVideo fails a little differently, and changing the size parameters changes the size of the whole box, including the playback controls.
"And you can not real move
and totally remove 'em
like an African imbecile."
- What I've been hearing for 25 years
"And you can act real rude
and totally removed
and I can act like an imbecile."
- What's actually being sung
If only there were some way to get that mild euphoria you get when a hangover fades...without the hangover first.
My cousin has a laptop. Being the kind of person he is, this means he has the computing power of the pentagon in a machine the size of a box of chocolates, costing the annual GDP of three small African countries. Slight exaggeration, but you get the picture.
Here's something that's not an exaggeration. It has a one terabyte hard drive. 1TB. That's one thousand and twenty four gigabytes. 1.024 * 10^4 bytes. The equivalent of two hundred and thirty eight DVDs.
I just tried to calculate that in terms of listening time for CD quality mp3s. It came to about two thousand years.
Now, my cousin isn't dumb, but he doesn't know much about computers, so he's got the whole hard drive in one big partition. Which means when something goes wrong with the operating system or the master file table or the boot sector, the whole thing stops working and he loses all data. Unless someone like me or mother can do a few hundred pounds worth of specialist work for the promise of a cup of tea sometime, to fix it.
Yes, something has indeed gone wrong.
I like analogies so here's one. Someone who can just about boil an egg purchases the kitchen of the Ritz hotel to make one piece of cheese on toast. He does this by turning the enormous oven up full blast and throwing in unopened packets of bread and cheese, getting angry and baffled when the result is a black stinking mess.
Now imagine this is happening in every street in the country, with smaller versions in every second home. There is however a fairly small number of highly trained, highly paid professionals, whose job is to clean up the ovens and give lessons (always ignored) on basic kitchen operation. There is also a much larger number of highly self-trained amateurs who do most of the cleaning and teaching, in exchange for being summarily dismissed when they've finished and being ridiculed behind their backs.
Because the cheese-lovers think it's easier to fuck up and have someone else fix it than to learn to use a fucking toaster.
If my cousin proves capable of belatedly grasping that he has to learn how to use a computer just like any other tool, he'll be worth helping.
I took an online quiz to find out whether my brain's male or female. And apparently it's 25% female. But not to worry because the average woman is only 50% female. Which is...nice.
But if you think this is just a steaming pile of junk science and pseudo-statistics, think again! Because it also showed that I'm also useless with language, highly empathic, and very organised. How do they understand me so well?!
I didn't see President Obama's inaugural address, but I'm guessing it went roughly "Change...strong America...moving forward...unity...face challenges". Is that about right?
The morning news had Will Smith being elegiac about the dawn of a new age, presumably on the basis that he's (a) black, (b) famous and (c) got nothing to say. If there's a gay president next time maybe they'll interview David Hyde Pierce.
Now we'll just have to see how long it takes the world to realise (a) Obama can't reverse the recession, (b) he isn't really on the side of the people, and (c) he isn't going to do any of the nice things he promised, on the grounds that he didn't actually promise them.
Disclaimer: Isn't integrity wonderful. When I set up this here blog, I promised myself I wouldn't retroactively edit or delete posts to cast myself in a better light. What gets posted, stays. Case in point...Exhibit A below.
I'm ver very drunk. Kind of wish I didn't like it so muchg. Dyspeptic update coming in a few hours. In the meantime,, love you all any want to suck all on your cocks. Each and every one, ti;ll you spunk up and go uuh! in mmy mouth and i own yiou.
Update: Evening babysitting, night getting drunk, morning hangover. Then back to reality, and moderate embarrassment. Same again soon.
"Eins zwei drei vier funf sechs sieben acht
Uno due treis quattro
Ichi ni san chi
Adjin, dva, tri
Li, Tva, Tri"
- Kraftwerk, Numbers
"We have the right to go where we wish, with as many as we wish."
- Eldred, Babylon 5
Today I did a "Habitual Residency" test for our beloved civil service. Here are some of the questions, together with answers that may or may not reflect what I actually wrote.
When did you first come to the UK?
In 1972. When I was born here.
Did you bring any belongings from outside the UK?
I left with a suitcase full of clothes, and came back with the same suitcase full of the same clothes.
Do you have any close relatives outside the UK?
You mean, why can't I go and sponge off some other country? Go fuck yourself.
How do you plan to support yourself?
I'm going to murder pointless bureaucrats like you and sell off your internal organs on ebay.
Why did you come to the UK?
It's my home you stupid twunt.
Is there anything else you want to tell us?
Remember how, when I signed on, I had to prove I officially existed by having a British passport? Go on - see if you can join the dots.
A year ago I spent fifty one days in another part of the EU, and now you've decided I need to prove I'm a "habitual resident" in a place I lived for thirty six years.
You seem to think I'm now a foreigner, and therefore need to beg for the privilege of staying in your illustrious country, so long as I promise not to spoil it with my fiendish foreign ways.
Mother is trying Ubuntu. And Windows 7.
I'm wondering whether any of the programs I use actually need XP. Maybe they'd all work in Windows 2000?
Have you ever noticed how, for a select few numerical ways to describe a person, we can just use the number and not the unit?
If I say "He's five-nine", I mean "He's five feet and nine inches tall". If I say "I'm 37", you know I'm talking about my age - as opposed to income, IQ score, or academic points.
Sometimes we use an indefinite article. I can say "She's a twelve" to mean "Her dress size is Twelve". "He's a seven" probably means "He wears size seven shoes". She's a double-D, her CD is a number one, and the song is a perfect ten.
I can't say "Bill's one hundred and forty" to describe how much he weighs - it's got to be "Bill's weighs one hundred and forty pounds". "She's a million" doesn't mean "She's a millionaire".
So it seems as far as the english language is concerned, age isn't something you have, or something you do - it's something you are. It defines you.
So it follows that today I suddenly became a different person. I'm thirty seven...going on seventeen...going on a hundred and seven.
I got a fleecy wool shirt, a book of childrens stories (?) from mother, a bottle of rum from, er, a married male friend, and...a special Infomaniac post!
* A ping-pong ball
* A scalpel (borrowed from father)
* A roll of sticky tape (borrowed from father)
* Some cotton wool
* A laptop (lent from mother)
* A pair of ear-enclosing headphones (lent from mother)
* Half an hour of pink noise
All the ingredients for a quiet night in. Or a wild night out. Or indeed both at the same time, depending on how things go.
The last time I tried something like this, it was an attempt to induce a synchronised gamma EEG state using panned white noise. What it actually generated was a panic attack, which I later learned is quite common.
Anyway, I'll let you know how my Ganzfeld experiment turned out.
Looking at my bank balance, I had a feeling it was somewhat lower than expected. In fact, about GBP400 lower. Now I know why.
The "Department of Works and Pensions", which pays living allowances to those like myself out of work, has developed a backlog. A six week backlog. Due to a lot of its former penpushers now being...out of work.
They have a special telephone number you can use to ask them to increase the priority of your case. It is permanently engaged.
However, by being bounced around various departments, you can (after twenty minutes of thirty seconds of JS Bach) get referred to the department that can tell you the other reason for the delay.
It's that they haven't yet sent me a vital form. The one where I confirm that, when I signed on three months ago, I wasn't still living in Bulgaria.
It seems they'd been paying me for a month before realising my presence in their office didn't constitute proof that I was in the country.
They assured me they had, by the sheerest coincidence, just that day sent me the form.
Harold Pinter, Eartha Kitt, Patrick McGoohan, Ricardo Montalban. Permanent fixtures of my muddled early life - suddenly not permanent after all.
It seems there are loads of horny young sex gods, all wanting to have sex with little old me. And the amazing thing is, they're all on BoysGo.Com. Some recent usernames and emails:
From hotprettyboy18: never been with a guy.. wanna try getting entered
From Jock27Cock: 27yr old jock here, hung and boned up
From MuscleJock24: big meat stud jock here
From hotAthlete21: let's hookup man boned
From TeenJockHung: up for some fun?
From SurferHung23: hung jock here u wanna play with it?
From studJock23: sup dude.. u up for some fun?
Nosing around for bargains on new laptops, I noticed a few things.
* The difference between 2.0GHz and 2.25GHz is about a hundred pounds.
* The difference between 667MHz memory and 800MHz is about ten pounds.
* The difference between a bright pink case and a cool black one is twenty three pounds. Identical specs - but one is macho matt black, and the other's a colour that makes Barbie look like a trucker.
So, price of manliness: GBP23, or USD33.
Hello, I'm still here - kind of - but my net access over the last week has been patchy to say the least.
And today my laptop won't switch on. It's second hand, obsolete, shouldn't have lasted as long as it has - and therefore a bit like me.
News in brief:
* It's my birthday next saturday - yay! I'll be 37 - doh!
* It's C's birthday today. So, happy b-day - or bidet - to C. Nice day out yesterday to celebrate.
* I know exactly what I want for my bidet. A new laptop. Though the slippers mother's knitting would still be nice.
* I've invented lemon-and-lime tea. I've heard vaguely of apple and raspberry teas, so can you make tea with orange juice?
* Why is it I never remember chocolate gives me a headache until it actually does?
See you...sometime soonish.
The last blog update, on the New Year party, was lost when I managed to drop the laptop on the floor. Then spent an hour taking it apart, trying to figure out where the hard drive was, before finding it had fallen out when I dropped it.
This is like having your brain fall out and roll under the bed when you sneeze - an indicator of suboptimal design.
Anyway, short version of the party:
* Drank too much vodka, ate too much fingerfood, talked a lot of politics.
* Why are most of the good people over fifty or under fifteen?
* I kissed a man and we liked it.
Taste of sixth glass of vodka.
I was so drunk, he didn't mind
Don't mean he's not straight tonight.
Here's a few more things I didn't get around to posting recently....
From shortly before Christmas:
Every few months I try to read Hegel, usually the Shorter Logic, and every time he turns my mind to porridge.
"Rosa Lichtenstein" (Hi there Rosa) argues at vast length that:
(1) Hegel's philosophy is rooted in ancient pseudo-paradoxes (eg. Zeno's Arrow, the Road of Heraclitus), linguistic confusion (the identity theory of predication), and cabalist mystical gibbering.
(2) Marx incorporated his version of Hegelianism into his Socialism - even though it's unnecessary for the movement, and irrelevant to the socioeconomic ideas.
(3) The subsequent marxist greats uncritically continued the error, and so have their followers.
(4) This is a major reason marxism specifically and the left in general have been so ineffective for the last 150 years.
Lichtenstein's ideas are not well received by other socialists, especially as she feels the need to insult those who disagree with her. But it has to be said, she calls on a deep reservoir of learning and close-reading of key texts, while her opponents in general do not.
For what it's worth, I think:
(1) The Dialectic of Nature is grossly under-theorised. Endlessly quoting the Theses on Feuerbach, ABC of Dialectics and a few passages from Lenin's Notebooks doesn't cut it.
(2) A sociological dialectic model with social "forces" and "contradictions" is immensely useful, but doesn't depend on a dialectic of physics.
(3) It's an exaggeration to say the left have achieved nothing for 150 years.
(4) Whatever the reasons for their lack of success, an incorrect ontology isn't high on the list.
In other words, I don't think the dialectic is important. But none of my comrades agree with me, so tonight I try again to read Hegel, in case they're right.
From shortly after Christmas:
A rather lovely day out with C, with eating, drinking, walking, browsing, bitching ... but mostly some very good companionship.
There's a piece of gay slang, not used much now - "Sister". When two gay men are best friends, understand each other's way of thinking, and do most the the things boyfriends do together, except sex, they're called sisters.
Kind of the opposite of a fuckbuddy - where sex is the only connection, and one (or indeed both) is often straight.
Probably Boxing Day:
An insomniac flick through Conservapedia's breaking news sections reveals some startling truths, hitherto covered up by the worldwide conspiracy of liberals.
Top Scholars Confirm Truth of Christianity. Translation: One christian academic has a list of other christian academics.
Ann Coulter: My Triumph Over Kwanzaa!. Translation: A columnist no one reads anymore says some rude things about a holiday no one's heard of. No one cares.
"President George W. Bush is being crucified in the public square in spite of his plain decency and goodness". Translation: Voting for Obama is literally identical with insanity. And planting bombs - but not dropping them.
Probably the 28th:
I'd make a great guttural voice-over artist, but only when I've got a cold. Then my voice starts channelling Orson Welles - just right for movie trailers and beer adverts.
So don't delay, book Kapitano's voice today, before I recover. If you don't mind the odd sniffle in the sales patter.