I'm taking a little time off. Off my blog, other people's blogs, youtube, discussion forums, and funny pictures of cats with mis-spelled captions.

To see if I can get some more useful stuff done, to see if there really is life outside the internet, and maybe to get a sleeping pattern that doesn't involve going to bed at 7:30 AM after 'just having a quick look' at something.

So apart from the pre-scheduled posts, and maybe the occasional non-pre-scheduled post if something interesting happens, things will be quiet for a time.


Streetwise Sunday - Philanthropy Edition


Trickledown economics in action.



Someone throws out an old duvet because duvet's are a pig to wash and it's easy to buy a new one. The rubbish collectors refuse to take it because:
(a) It's too large, or
(b) It's not in a sack, or
(c) It's in the wrong colour sack (no really, they do that), or
(d) They just feel like it, or
(e) Some combination of the above.

Immediate result: A duvet sitting on the pavement.
Result 18 hours later: A homeless person is warm tonight.

You see? The rich benefit the poor without even intending to. That's why we need rich people to get even richer, so even more crumbs will drop from their table to feed the poor. God bless inequality.

Down the U-Tube (Part Eleventy)


For an unfeasibly protracted and pointless debate with a biblical creationist, go here.

Short version:
HISTRUTHBEKNOWN: You are evil. A magic man did it.

Kapitano: You don't know what you're talking about.

HISTRUTHBEKNOWN: You are evil. A magic man did it.

Down the U-Tube (Part 8)


I'm not interested in religion. No, really I'm not. Used to be, but not now. But being uninterested in religion is like being uninterested in sex - it's everywhere, you can't avoid it, it's all the same stuff really, and whenever someone's being really silly, it's usually a cause.

707clique: We don't want our kids being taught that Gay marriage is ok, or that abortion and violence, rape, and drugs are ok. We want them to grow up to be good Christian people.

Kapitano: What exactly do 'good christian people' want of gay people? Their silence? Their invisibility? Their extermination? Maybe their submissive acceptance that god despises them and? will send them to eternal torment?

707clique: Good Christian people want gay people to be saved. God doesn't despise the gay person, but he does despise the gay acts, and the waving of rainbow flags, and protesting that gay acts should be legal. So in other words, what good Christian people want is their submissive acceptance that they've sinned against God, and God will send them to eternal torment. BUT God is Rich in mercy and sent his son Jesus Christ to die for that sin.

Kapitano: Saved? As in "turned into self-hating gay christians" or as in "turned into gay hating heterosexual christians"?

Submissive acceptance? You want them broken, defeated, spiritless, dependent, pathetic. And you want them to value that prospect and that state.

God will send them to eternal torment? You do realise you're worshipping something evil?

707clique: And to be saved from eternal torment, they need to repent, meaning turn their life around, stay away from the gay stuff, as well as all the other things that come with some aspects of gay culture (Drugs, pornography, pride, etc.) and put their faith in Jesus Christ. Which is actually what all of us need to do at some point or another in our lives, whether we are gay or not.

Kapitano: What exactly are gay people supposed to get out of this deal? They stop being what they are, deny its pleasures, get turned into vacuous prosetelysing zombies...in return for an invisible man in the sky, just maybe, not torturing them forever.

That's called a "protection racket". Which makes your God and Father...The Godfather.

707clique: Have you accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, Kapitano?

Kapitano: It's an interesting argument: "If you don't believe in hell, you'll go to hell. And if you do you probably will too."

It's like trying to hold up a bank saying "I'm pointing an invisible gun at you, and I might pull the trigger anyway, but if you say there's no gun, I'll definitely do it. But only some point in the distant future."

Down the U-Tube (Part 7)


There's an idea that people who're obsessed with homosexuality and how evil it is are closet gays.

20% of America is obsessed with homosexuality, and how evil it is.

Hmmm.

TortoiseWayfarers: What exactly is there to misinterpret about this passage of Biblical scripture? Two men who are physically and sexually intimate, God has told us that their behavior is sending them to hell.

Kapitano: Go take bible study classes - find out which Hebrew word was mistranslated "abomination", and what it really means.

While you're about it, ask about 'Alma' and 'Betulah'.

The real issue of course is not biblical ambiguity or mistranslation, but biblical falsehood.

TortoiseWayfarers: I would be happy to send you a copy of the Holy Bible to England.

Kapitano: I've read several translations. And the gospels in the original Koine Greek. And studied the history of the bible's compilation.

Yes that's right, I know a lot more about the bible than you. That's one reason I'm an atheist, and you're a superstitious moron.

TortoiseWayfarers: Good luck on your imminent journey to the lake of fire and brimstone.

Hell hath no fury!

[Various other threats of eternal hellfire from various posters.]

Kapitano: Do you understand why:

(1) trying to convince someone with threats of postmortem torture is not an intellectually robust argument, and

(2) threatening that someone will go to a place they don't believe in...if they don't believe in it, contains a certain logical inconsistency.

...?

Down the U-Tube (Part 6)


Never worry about being shallow. There's always plenty of people who are much more shallow than you could ever be, all the time. They're the ones who think they're deep.

ritter751: Fuck those stupid socialist pigs.

Kapitano: You want to fuck a pig? You should be a republican senator!

ritter751: Wow, that was lame Pretty stupid, then again you are a democrat. You can't come up with any good comebacks because you don't have the brain capacity to do so.

Kapitano: Random capitals, incorrect punctuation, ad hominem, evading the point and lacking a sense of humour.

And by the way, the term is 'mental capacity', and I'm not a Democrat. Read the above paragraph to work out why. Or fail, in your case.

Down the U-Tube (Part 5)


In real life, it can take you weeks to realise a person is a little bit crazy, because they're normal in most respects. On the internet, it's the other way around.

Havinanicedaze666: How is a gay suppose to pass on a gene? They can't, quit saying you're born gay, IMO its all based on how a person is raised.

Kapitano: Oh so that's why different cultures have different proportions of gay people.

Oh hang on. They don't.

Havinanicedaze666: So how did? our ancestors pass on the gay gene? I don't have anything against gays. I'm just sick of them saying they're born gay, they didn't!

Kapitano: It's a good question, but based on an uncertain premise. There's the? obvious problem with the 'inherited sexuality' model that sexualities which reduce the chances of reproduction would become less common over the generations.

Instead of imagining a gene set which determines sexuality like the one which determines eye colour, think of a [genetically constructed] weighted random number generator - one which produces a 1 on the Kinsey scale (say) 75% of the? time, a 7 3%, a 5 9% and so on.

This model explains the failure of homosexuality to die out, the (so far as we? can know) fairly consistent frequencies of different sexualities over time...and perhaps the regional variations within this 'fairly consistent' scheme, as the genetically encoded generator shifts its weightings slightly by mutation.

Havinanicedaze666: That hypothesis doesn't only support gays, it also supports rapist, child molesters, murderers, and etc.

Kapitano: There's no reason why? it should be extended in such a way. Murder, rape etc vary with culture, upbringing, socioeconomic status etc. Sexual orientation does not.

chrisdiggidy: Murder and rape is always murder and rape.

Kapitano: No one has claimed otherwise. Read the post again. Murder is now very common in Iraq; a decade ago it was not. See if you can work out what has changed in that period.

There is no evidence that proportions of different sexual orientations have changed in the same period - though attitudes to them certainly have. They've gone backwards.

Down the U-Tube (Part 4)


On an analysis of a great unracist film by a brilliant philosopher who hates racism, the following....

murfkaka: Wow, Zizek seems to really be on to something. If his analysis of the film is "correct", then the picture is basically criticizing social liberalism and the establishment's attempts to abolish white culture.

Kapitano: >Facepalm<

The genius of the truly stupid is they can make any insight fit their beliefs, simply by failing to understand it.

murfkaka: Hey, I got a nice little quote for you too: Go? fuck yourself.

Down the U-Tube (Part 3)


As a wise man once told me, never attempt a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

motc777: i do not interject my own opinion into this, but rather regurgitate the Word of God.

Kapitano: The bits you find convenient.

motc777: a true Christian speaks the truth which is the Bible

Kapitano: When you start picketing cafes that sell seafood, you might have some credibility.

motc777: I do not cookie cutter the Bible to fit my life, rather, I conform to the bible entirely.

Kapitano: Oh, so you *do* picket cafes that sell seafood. Or anything produced by rotation farming. And you stone churchgoers to death if they need spectacles.

Go read Leviticus 11:9. Remember, God Hates Crabs.

motc777: apparently reading comprehension is not your strong suit? I do not picket seafood restaurants.

Kapitano: Thank you for finally answering the question. So you now admit you pick and chose the biblical rules according to your own prejudices.

Freezeframe Friday - Stuff that Doesn't Fit Anywhere Else Edition (Part 2)



Singing and the Rain


A dozen annoying things before the gig. The rain, my debit card being rejected, the replacement needing activation, the activation not working, the rain turning to downpour, getting soaked despite an umbrella and coat, the unhelpful sound engineer, a rather small audience because of the dratted rain....

A dozen annoying things after our set. More rain, sex date for later cancelled because of the rain, losing my nice leather gloves, next day my phone stopping working, the temporary replacement while it's being repaired being astonishingly crap, finding that parts of town were literally navigable by sailboard, spending the day carrying ugly furniture down narrow stairs and spending three hours waiting for the frelling removals van to arrive, which it never did....

Oh, and the two bands which had followed ours. One-trick-pony emo-angsty-indie boy-and-guitar acts. Teenage boys with four chords and self-penned 'adult' ballads about eternal love, doomed love and lost love. Talented guys, nice people, but sorry, exactly the kind of thing which bores the shit out of me.

The set itself though...pretty good. One missed cue, one forgotten line...but clear sound, good mixing, tempered guitar playing, and I actually managed to rap perfectly in time.

Several audience members (including strangers) said they liked our 'surprising' trip-hop-rock sound - singling our my synthbass-and-drums backing tracks. Which was nice.

We couldn't record it, but with the main gig coming up in a month - with four other bands, a bigger audience, a larger set and no emo strumming in sight - we've got some practice, some confidence, and even a small following.

Mom, Dad, This is My Girlfriend


Ah well, gig tonight, and nothing more we can do to prepare. Apart from learning the songs, I suppose.

Don't know if we'll be able to record it, so if you want a sample of our unique carcrash of sounds, here's a demo, recorded and mixed in almost indecent haste:

Darqroom - My Girlfriend's Girlfriend (Ruffian Ready Version)

It's a cover of a gothy rock song by Type O Negative. Synth drums and synth synth are by me, main vocals and guitar by Sion the vocal guitarist, mixing, spoken vocals and camp death metal backing vocals by me.

MySpace is being even more uncommunicative and annoying than usual, so the world will have to know us through Darqroom on Soundclick.

Wise Wednesday - 16











Homo-geny


There were people who said Margarat Thatcher was culturally male. Biologically female, but in terms of outlook, aspirations and behavior, male.

Looking back it was a silly thing to say. Most men didn't act or think like her - and the ones who did were her peers. Her unpleasant personality and preposterous delusions came from her position in society, not from having a ghostly set of testicles surgically attached.

But as with a lot of silly political analyses, there's a perverse grain of truth to it. If someone told you Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell were 'white on the inside', you may or may not agree with them, but you'd know what they meant.

If you hear it asserted that Barack Obama got to be a black president by ditching everything about him that was black except for the skin, you'll understand what's being said, whether or not you think it's true.

If all there is to being black is having dark skin, then what is meant by 'black culture', 'black literature' or 'black music'? Obviously nothing, if 'black music' means nothing more than 'any music of any kind made by people with dark skin'. You may as well talk about 'bald music'.

It's a game you can play with any group. Is Benjamin Netenyahu jewish in anything but name? Is there anything authentically Indian about Deepak Chopra? If NWA were a hiphop group, what exactly are the Black Eyes Peas?

And yes it is a game, because it obscures the point of the insight.

Some right wingers are now telling us that gay marriage is a conservative value. After decades of rabid hate, they're now saying it's always been a conserative goal to have gay men and women living unharassed in monogamous families.

And the thing is, they're right - monogamous lifelong marriage for all is a conservative value.

The notion of civil partnerships was always on the right wing of the gay rights movement, because the idea behind it is not that 'gay culture(s)' have their own validity and mainstream culture should learn to accept diversity - rather that the way to gain acceptance into the straight world is to adopt it's values.

Gay people haven't gained acceptance by broadening mainstream notions of acceptability. They've bought acceptance by becoming acceptable to the mainstream - which in fact has got narrower.

To buy in by selling out, to win by losing, to give up the fight and tell yourself you've won. It's the definition of a pyrric victory and we've all seen individuals do it, in professional and personal lives, and whole social movements collapse by doing it.

The aim of gay liberation was not to replicate the inanities and hypocrisies of the world which hated gay people.

It wasn't to exchange a life of hidden sexual freedom for the hidden adultery of the straight world. It wasn't to exchange sympathy with the oppressed for joining the oppressors. And it wasn't to have gay characters in soap operas who may as well not be.

Being gay used to be important to me because of all that went with it. Now it doesn't mean much, because now it's just a matter of which gender I occasionally have sex with - together with a certain disapproval that I haven't 'yet' married a man.

Down the U-Tube (Part 2)


A second installment of youtube pointlessness, before I delete my account there and spend at least a week in the healthy open air, sniffing the daisies and admiring the Double Rainbows.

This was from a discussion on gay marriage. Which is to say, an argument about religion. The two seem to be the same thing. This particular discussion had flowed into something about whether 'true' christians were ever tolerant.

mrREDBIRDFAN: In truth you cannot be a liberal Catholic.

Kapitano: Catholics can't be hypocrites? Wow.

SylarDX85: you can be a liberal catholic, but you'll be cherry picking on what you believe and what you don't really believe.

Kapitano: That describes all religious faith. Christians used to hunt witches, but ignore shellfish eaters. Now they hate gay people...and ignore moneylenders. Except for those who cherrypick the opposite way round.

SylarDX85: No it describes those who make there own decisions in the name of faith, even though the faith doesn't reflect there intention.

Kapitano: It's a recent development that the wider western culture has become somewhat less homophobic, and most christians have followed the shift somewhat. Odd how these christians discover 'christian tolerance' only after secular culture does.

SylarDX85: Basically, I am saying I disagree with Gay Marriage, I am Catholic. I don't hate gay people, in fact a good friend of mine is. I think most christians do not hate gays as well, but disagree with it based on there faith. If someone comes out and outright says "Gays suck, I hate Gays", than it's there own words, not the church.

Kapitano: So...you think your friend has less right to marriage than you, because his sexuality is inferior to yours. You'd put it differently, but that's what it comes down to. You don't hate, but you do think you're good enough for a basic right, and he's not.

I appreciate you'd rather go vague on this point, rather than work through it, because that's how most people deal with their inconsistencies.

akuma09: argue with man but you cant argue with God Marriage between one man and one woman, Amen?

Kapitano: Are there any issues where you think god is wrong? Issues where you really wish god had decided differently, and your conscience would be a lot clearer if you didn't? have to follow his rules?

Very few christians even understand that question. Even fewer understand what their confusion shows.

SylarDX85: My friend and I, just have different views on the matter.

Kapitano: It's only a 'just' matter of 'different views' if the views have no practical consequences. As soon as opinions have consequences, it matters a lot whether they're correct or just.

You can't just pretend the difference of opinion doesn't matter, however much you'd like to for the sake of a peaceful friendship.

SylarDX85: Absolutely not. I believe he has the right to have those rights under a union-ship, the same rights as a married? couple, just not under the tittle married. A disagreement goes both ways, he believe his opinion is more correct than mine, and vice versa with mine. It's the respect for each others opinion as it comes down too in which we respect. I believe a marriage is for a man and a woman only. Gays may have the same rights, yes, but not under marriage.

Kapitano: Then the disagreement is possibly the most trivial possible - what to *call* something.

Civil union...marriage. A distinction without a difference. Which does raise the psychological question of why it should be thought *important* that two things, identical for practical purposes, have different names.

It seems like calling a sandwich different things depending on whether I'm eating it with a man or a woman.


Down the U-Tube (Part 1)


I think I'm going to take a little holiday from the internet. In a few days I'll take a week or so off, just to see if there really is life outside my laptop screen. And maybe get a few offline-type things done, you never know.

Until then, a daily selection of reasons why the internet is not a healthy place to live, AKA "My Life in Youtube Comments".

Today, Kapitano meets a neo-nazi:

TheWhitevoices: Juden Lugen!

[Jews lie!]

Kapitano: Ist Ihre Kenntnisse in Deutsch so gut, wie Sie Ihr Wissen über Deutschland? Du bist komplett voll mit kot. Nicht "Weisse Stimmen", aber "Scheisse Stimmen".

[Is your knowledge of German as good as your knowledge about Germany? You are completely full of horseshit. Not "White Voices", but "Shite Voices."]

TheWhitevoices: English plz.

[Englisch bitte.]


Streetwise Sunday - Very Slightly S&M Edition


My current favourite find.

Gloves on railings...meh. Barely worth snapping.



Ah, but it's actually a pair. And they're leather. And they fit me!

So now they're part of my stage costume. Actually, my stage costume will be whatever I'm wearing at the time, plus the motorcycle gloves.



Yes, I like them that much. And no, I do not own a motorbike.

Weekend Woundup 3


It's that time again, when whatever's gone on the sideblog over the last seven days gets dumped all into one post. Enjoy.



Sexuality is never a destination or an origin. It's a bridge and a vehicle, and you have limited control of where or how far they take you.

Sexuality is about breeding the same way language is about communicating, food is about nutrition and death is about the failure of biology.

The interesting thing about sexuality is not that it has this or that function, but that it can become attached to any function, any symbol.

Humans are social but not gregarious. We need a small stable peer group, not a crowd of aquaintences.

One reason film, photographs and paintings grab your attention is that they don't look like what they show. The colours, focus, sharpness, lines and textures are all unlike what the eye sees.

It's not just that the imperfections of the medium give it its character, but that without imperfections there could be no character - it would be as mundane as a window.

The emotions they provoke are also unlike those provoked by what they show. Beauty, humour, joy, anger, despair, revulsion - all are real but different.

The desire produced by pornography is not for the scene to become real and enter the viewer's life, but for the viewer to enter the unreal scene, become part of it and become unreal.

A little money and technology, some friends and luck, a lot of enthusiasm and invention. With these you can make a film.

"Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsaving the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition! The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it's my very good honor to meet you and you may call me "V".
- V, V for Vendetta

"The problem of evil is not hedonism. The problem is that of envy, when preventing the other's enjoyment becomes more important than your own enjoyment. The logic of envy has nothing to do with hedonism."
- Slavoj Zizek

There is a slovenian folk tale in which a magician offers a farmer a choice. The magician will either give the farmer one cow and two to his neighbour, or take one from the farmer and two from the neighbour.

Of course, the farmer chooses the second option.

"It is easier to accept inequalities if one can claim that they result from an impersonal blind force."
Slavoj Zizek, paraphrasing Frederich Hayek


"The fact that capitalism is not just, far from being something which makes it more intolerable, is precisely what makes it palpable for the majority. What makes it palpable is its very injustice, and that we knwow it's unjust."
- Slavoj Zizek

"If you look at the thing too directly - the oppressive social dimension - you don't see it. You can see it in an oblique way only if it remains in the background."
- Slavoj Zizek

The genius of the truly stupid is they can make any insight fit their beliefs, simply by failing to understand it.

The reason to follow your heart is not because it takes you to better places, but it's more likely to get you there.

There's a difference between explaining and idea and encouraging me to believe it. The former make me interested in the idea, the latter makes me suspicious of the person presenting it.

"Today the main mode of politics is fear. Politically groups today are bands of people who are afraid - people who are mobilised by fear."
- Slavoj Zizek

"When people fall in love with what seems to be a perfect theory - a set of rules - and they love those rules more than they love people or places, they start to see the messy reality of life as interfering with the imagined beauty which exists only in their texts."
- Naomi Klein

"We need to fear people who love systems more than people."
- Naomi Klein

"Utopias can't co-exist with other ideas."
- Naomi Klein

"Suffering here is a product of what we admire and consider prosperous and desirable there."
- Saskia Sassen

Optimism is not a strategy.

"It is much easier to have sympathy for suffering than for thought."
- Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man under Socialism

"'Public opinion' is a mirage."
- Richard Seymour, Lenin's Tomb

Which word do you prefer? Milinillion or Quingentilliard

"Out of sight and out of mind
Are deadly traits when they're combined
But it's easier that way."
- VNV Nation, Legion

Scienceblogging.com. Lots and lots of science blogs.

"Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception."
- George Orwell

It's easier to play the victim than resist.

It's easier to find a scapegoat than a solution.

It's easier to believe in a cause than believe it.

"I'm stuck in a loveless relationship with myself."
- Charlie Brooker

"Hold the newsreader's nose squarely, waiter, or friendly milk will countermand my trousers."
- Stephen Fry

"Colourless green ideas sleep furiously"
- Noam Chomsky

"Quadruplicity drinks procrastination"
- Bertrand Russell

"The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine."
- French Surrealists c1925

"The vertebral silence indisposes the licit sail"
- Lucien Tesnière

Freezeframe Friday - Stuff that Doesn't Fit Anywhere Else Edition (Part 1)


I'm nearly out of freezeframes. At least till I get some more. Until then, the penultimate, miscellaneous, edition of Random Shots of TV Shows I Got My Computer to Take One Week on Impulse. AKA, Freezeframe Friday.



How Long do Things Take?


  • To make a small change to my external hard drive, containing all the software, music and miscellaneous data I've backed up for the last few months: About three minutes.

  • To recover all the data accidentally lost in the change: Probably three days. That's three complete days on a computer that's running 24/7. First day almost done now.

  • Time since Rosie was born: A little under four months. She's growing almost visibly - but she's dashing about so much I couldn't get a picture. She's nearly blind and has a heart murmer, but from her energy and confidence, you'd never guess.

  • Time her mother Sadie's been continuously in season since Rosie's birth: Two months. Two virtually consecutive fertile periods - a bit extreme, even for her. Not good for her health, not good for the male dog's state of mind, and not good for us having to deal with three constantly manic boy dogs.

  • Time Sadie was at the vet for spaying: About four hours.

  • Time till she's recovered and the boys get their over-hormoned right minds back: Don't know - maybe a week.

  • How long it took me to realise I was falling for my fuckbuddy: Ten minutes.

  • How long it took me to realise it was a really bad idea and I shouldn't let it happen: Ten seconds.

    Time I had two elderly laptops sitting on a desk, resisting all attempts to fix them: Two weeks. Then the owner called at 00:30 and said he needed them back because he was leaving the country.

  • Time between the call and his flight: Five hours.

  • Time till Darqroom's first band practice: Six days.

  • Time till Darqroom's first public performance: Six days. Yes, there's no opportunity to practice the set before we go onstage. Great forward planning, yes?

  • Duration of our set: Twenty minutes. Five songs

  • Time between songs: Thirty to forty five seconds. We'll be playing a kind of continuous-discontinuous mix. What does that mean Kapitano? It means between songs, there will be prerecorded intros to the next song - I call them 'Overtures', and the idea is even when we're not playing, there's music.

    Here's a sneak preview of my overtures, with snapshots of the last gig I played.

    video

  • STFU


    In response to this, this...

    • I do not care about Justin Bieber. The only reason to care about him is to fancy him, and I don't fancy him.

    • The same goes for Jake Gyllenhaal, and the dozens of reality TV microcelebrities that "everyone's talking about".

    • So you refuse to watch films with subtitles. Is that because you can't read?

    • You do not have Asperger's syndrome, dyslexia, or ADHD. You do not have depression, low self esteem, or social anxiety disorder. If you did, you wouldn't be able to tell everyone you did, all the damn time.

    • You believe in an invisible magic man in the sky who's obsessed with everyone else's sex life. You also believe the more you play the lottery, the closer you get to being a millionaire. Go figure.

    • Calling a idea 'extreme' is not an agrument. Nor is calling it 'unpopular', 'new', 'old', 'strange', or 'well you would believe that wouldn't you'.

    • Pretending to like what the cool kids like does not make you cool. It makes you a sycophant and a fake.

    • No, I will not see Twilight. I will not watch True Blood either.

    • I do not have issues with authority. I have issues with incompetence, stupidity and lies - whether they come from authority figures or not.

    • Yes, I can now openly seek a boyfriend. Yes, I can now legally marry him. Which means I also have the right not to.

    • No one just falls into adultery - they have to look for it. If you looked for it, fine, but don't pretend it was an accident.

    • So you've called me because you can't open your email. Next time I can't open a letter, I'll call you.

    • Yes, scientists do sometimes change their minds. The process is called 'learning'. Try it.

    • I can use what I know or I can explain it. One takes ten seconds, the other an hour. Choose one.

    • No I do not know about interior decorating, I'm not outrageously catty, I don't like musicals, I don't give a flying fuck about fashion and I'm not remotely fabulous. I'm just gay. Learn the difference.

    • Why do you keep mentioning your girlfriend, but never saying anything about her?

    • Quite right, I don't need this bar of chocolate. I just like it.

    • An apology means you're sorry for being a hour late. But you're always late and you're always sorry. Trying being on-time instead.

    • Do you want a friend or an echo chamber? Yes, there is a difference.


    Bureau de Strange


    Saturday: A letter comes from one government department telling me another government department has given me too much money, and if I don't return it, they'll spend several times the sum taking me to court to make me.

    Sunday: Civil servants don't work weekends.

    Monday: I phone up, and get bounced between six different departments, before finding one who can send an email to a seventh, explaining they've made a cockup and I don't owe them anything.

    The seventh phones me, and eventually has to admit that, yes, they made a mistake in their records, I don't possess time travel technology, and I stopped claiming benefit in July, not June.

    To correct this mistake they'll change history, retroactively reactivaing my claim in June for just the few minutes it takes (took? will have taken?) to change the file to say what it should.

    After which, department 7 will email department 6 who will email department 1 who sent me the letter. But this may take more than a week, during which time department 1 may threaten me some more. Which is why department 7 have agree to send me a letter confirming their intention to contact department 6, which I can show to department 1.

    The trouble with seeing the world from behind a desk is, you start thinking the whole world can fit on the desk.

    Streetwise Sunday - Naked Edition


    Clothes on the pavement are quite common. Single gloves, a sock, sometimes a shirt. But here some lady seems to have dropped all her clothes...except her shoes.



    Bonus!

    Perhaps she'd been for a swim. In the nearby inflatable paddling pool - now sadly deflated and left on an embankment.



    Weekend Woundup 2


    Highlights, lowlights, and especially sidelights. The week's sideblog posts, in one easily indigestible lump.


    “Nothing is more likely to make you sick than being constantly told that you are sick.”
    - Ronald Gold

    “Party for your right to fight.”
    - Public Enemy

    Don’t take it personally when they say ‘no’ — they may not be smart enough to say “yes.”
    - Keith Olbermann

    “Without humor, a sports fan is a religious fanatic.”
    - Keith Olbermann

    Sometimes, the way something is said combines with what is said, to create what would be a wonderful quote…if only you could reproduce the how as well as the what. When Laurie Anderson intoned “There is no pilot” in the opening track of “Big Science”, it was a thrilling moment of recorded performance art - which of course relies on just that unity of form and content.

    Some messages can’t be written down, because part of the message is the act and way of speaking.

    “Crazy people who are productive are geniuses. Crazy people who are rich are eccentric. But crazy people who are neither productive nor rich a just crazy.”
    - Unknown

    “The Church essentially exists to convince the proletariat to accept its lowly earthly lot while taking its money.”
    - Shawn Baker, Nightcharm

    “Some of us have to come out twice — once as gay, and then again as gay geeks.”
    - Shawn Baker, Nightcharm

    “People working against their own interests in a proud tradition in conservative circles.”
    - Sivi, 'Dispatches from the Culture Wars' Blog Comments

    “I like my whisky like I like my boyfriends. Sixteen years old and mixed up with coke.”
    - Alex Kelly, Twitter

    “My name is Yon Yonson
    I live in Wisconsin
    I work in a lumber mill there.
    All the people I meet
    when I walk down the street
    say ‘Hello, what’s your name?’ and I say…”
    - Traditional

    Theology is an obstacle course. No one gets through it. Here it is.

    Guantanamo Bay has a McDonalds. This and a Subway, Pizza Hut, A&W, Taco Bell, and a KFC.

    When we used to say “There’s no McDonalds without McDonell Douglas“…we didn’t mean it quite so literally.

    “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
    - Mohandas Ghandi

    “The more people know a secret, the harder it is to keep.”
    - Unknown. Or possibly a secret.

    “Christianity is the belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.”
    - Unknown

    To classify some behaviors as ‘Mental Disease’ makes as much sense as to classify some rocks as ‘Inorganically Healthy’.

    Whenever you find a net site with a title containing the word “truth”, you can be pretty sure it won’t present the mainstream view. That doesn’t make it wrong, not least because the mainstream itself is usually wrong, but it is a signal.

    Psychetruth is a youtube channel giving info and advice on mental health, nutrition and exercise…and from the psychiatry videos it looks nonmainstream and reliable. If you agree that most psychiatric drugs don’t help at all, and most syndromes and disorders are just normal variation, take a look.

    The first five episodes of Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos’, on youtube.

    “I’m the bad guy?
    How did that happen?”
    Michael Douglas, Falling Down

    “Kenneth Williams and Larry Grayson - sexual gay men pretending to be sexual straight men pretending to be sexless gay men in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Julian Clary - sexual gay man parading as a sexual gay man desexualised by a retreat into camp from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Graham Norton and Alan Carr - sexless gay men parading as sexless gay men in the 90s and 00s. Not exactly progress.”

    (My response to this.)

    “What we desire is not a happy ending, so much as closure.”
    - Roger Ebert

    “he let himself see everything, he let himself write it down, then he let himself publish it.”
    - Stephen King

    “There’s a springtime in your life when you think it should add up and make sense, and an autumn when you think, the hell with it, anything can happen.”
    - Roger Ebert

    “I am asked ‘What do you think of him?’ and my answer is: ‘He doesn’t make me think.’”
    - Christopher Hitchens on David Cameron

    “Here’s the thing about rights. They’re not actually supposed to be voted on. That’s why they’re called rights.”
    - Rachel Maddow

    The left wing of the gay rights movement said, “We deserve respect and rights on our own terms, whatever mainstream society thinks of us”. The right wing said, “We want to be treated like normal people”.

    Gay marriage is a right wing idea, part of the notion that ‘the gay lifestyle’ is an aberation and a problem, but that gay people can be returned to the true path and treated like they’re as good as straights - or almost, with their own marriage, almost as good as the real thing.

    The arguments being made in favour of gay marriage are all about love. But sexuality - homo, hetero, bi, whatever - is not just about love - most obviously sexual activity comes into it, a fact with is avoided like an elephant in the room. So (homo)sexual rights are being justified in terms which evade sexuality. Gay people are being accepted, but only as nonsexual beings.

    Conservatism is the notion that whoever has power at the time, has the truth. Liberalism is the notion that everyone has the right to their opinion, and the truth doesn’t matter. Scientism is the notion that truth is independent of opinion, and of power.

    “The art of noise must never rest,
    just in case they rust.”
    - Paul Morley

    “Nothing shows a man’s character more than what he laughs at.”
    - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

    “Whoever said ‘laughter is the best medicine’ never had gonorrhea.”
    - Kat Likkel and John Hoberg.

    “A sense of humor always withers in the presence of the messianic delusion, like justice and truth in front of patriotic passion”
    - Henry Louis Mencken.

    Podcast Directories:
    Digital Podcast
    PodFeed
    Podcast Directory
    Podcast Alley
    PodBean

    I’ve got the devil in me tonight. Oh God fuck me. Anal apocalypse. Shove your religion up your ass. Theological titillations. Holy Dildos, Batman.

    “Beginners do not know what they do not know.”
    - Michael Heath, Blog comment

    For all your geek news needs: Geekosystem.

    Darryl Cunningham Investigates - Science, psychiatry, and graphic art.

    Very interesting blog on masculunity.

    “There’s nothing about not caring about someone which means you have to treat them in a uncaring fashion.”
    - Dan Savage

    “In the future everyone will have a sextape.”
    - Dan Savage

    “I don’t want to get married because I need the state to tell me that my love is real. I want to get married because I want my partner to be my next of kin.”
    - Dan Savage

    “When the prevention of evil becomes more important than the preservation of freedom, authoritarianism grows.”
    - Roger Ebert

    “The camera is a not just a recording device but a looking device.”
    - Jean Luc Goddard

    “Who is to even say something is a clue? It might simply be a fact seen in the light of suspicion.”
    - Roger Ebert

    When I was fifteen, I was put into psychotherapy. I was being constantly bullied, so parents, teachers and school administrators wanted to find out what was wrong with me, so it could be cured.

    It never occured to any of them that bullying might not be the result of something wrong with the victim. After all, the victim was in the minority, and all the normal kids were the ones doing the bullying.

    So they sent me to a therapist, who saw in minutes that there was nothing at all wrong with me…but he kept up the weekly sessions because he found me an interesting person.

    He got someone to have intelligent discussions with, and so did I - which was the one thing I truely needed. I quickly came to the conclusion that the majority of psychotherapy was not about solving (or even identifying) major personality problems. It was about providing a nonjudgemental, receptive friend to those who didn’t have one. Therapists are professional friends.

    Now, finally, it looks like someone agrees with me.

    What didn’t occur to me at the time was to ask: If there’s such a demand for pretend-friends, why was there such a demand. Where had all the real friends gone?

    Misc TV shows, some good or at least interesting. Youtube channel found while looking for something entirely different.

    Derek Jarman’s “blank blue film”. Are the pictures really better on Radio? Would that mean they’re better when you’re blind?

    I don’t believe in love at first sight. But I think you can fall in love with a memory, and not just an inaccurate one.

    “Funny thing about slippery slopes, they go both ways.”
    - Unknown

    Science 2.0. Pretentious name, useful site.

    “When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”
    - Winnie the Pooh.

    Boston University’s youtube channel. Some interesting contemporary political and philosophical presentations.

    To embrace a challenge requires that you embrace the possibility of failure.

    It’s not fashionable to be radical. So only those who don’t care about fashion can be.

    There are three attitudes to the powerful. To seek their approval, to seek their disapproval - which comes to the same thing - and not to care one way or the other. Freedom requires a certain indifference.

    Marx famously said that the philosophers have only interpreted the world, but the point is to change it. Heidegger replied that it’s impossible to change the world unless you have an interpetation of it - indeed, that a demand for change must rest upon an idea of what has to be changed. The marxist response is that such an idea can only be produced from an interaction with the world - from trying to change it, even if we don’t know what it is we’re trying to change.

    Eternal Fascism:
    Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt, essay by Unberto Eco.


    If Eco’s analysis is correct, the activist left really can resemble the activist right - but only when the left is already defeated or has lost its way.

    “There is never enough money to make a film. What people who make films for many millions of pounds don’t realise is that they could probably do as well or better with less. But what people with very little money but moan about it don’t realise is that they may have many millions to make their film with, and they would still have too little to do what they want.”
    - Tilda Swinton

    “If there is no stuggle inside you…it’s difficult to be an artist.”
    - Tariq Ali

    “It’s all about me.”
    - Dennis Potter

    “If a culture stops allowing people the right to fail, that culture will die.”
    - Tariq Ali

    “I want the world to be filled with fluffy little ducks.”
    - Darek Jarman’s last words

    “Nothing matters so much that you’re not going to have a cup of tea.”
    - Tilda Swinton

    “A low budget is almost always a release.”
    - Tilda Swinton

    “Dying isn’t so bad. It’s getting sick and dying that’s the hard part.”
    - Roger Ebert

    “You can get away with the most extraordinary offenses to morality and to truth in this country if you will just get yourself called reverend.”
    - Christoper Hitchens

    A funeral has two parts. The service part is to enable the friends and relatives of the deceased to do whatever it is they need to do, emotionally or socially.

    The other part - the burial, burial-at-sea, cremation, pyre lighting or whatever - we don’t have a single general word for, and I find that quite strange.

    When people talk about funerals, they usually mean the service. The actual disposal of the corpse isn’t just hidden by curtains or a wooden box - it’s hidden by a gap in our vocabulary.

    How we deal with the death a loved one, or the prospect of our own death, is supposed to tell us something about ourselves.

    In both cases, I just shrug a little sadly and try to get on with whatever looks interesting. What does this tell you about me?

    Why do people get confused between “A film aimed at children” and “a bad film”?

    If you’re going to remix a song, remix one which needs a remix. One which wasn’t good to start with.

    The media does two things. It presents pubescent teenagers as the sexual ideal. And it demonises anyone who has sex with them - including other pubescent teenagers.

    When I was 30, ‘over 50’ was a kink.

    There was a straight porn magazine called “50 and over” showing mature but hot women. Being into ‘MILFs’ or ‘DILFs’ meant fancying women or men old enough to be your own parents, so they’d be at least 40 and even 60.

    Now that I’m…not quite 40, the kink is now ‘over 30’.

    Weekend Woundup 1


    The latest new, regular, and quite possibly completely unwanted new regular thing on this blog: Everything posted to the sideblog over the last seven days.

    Partly because it may (or may not) be a good idea, and partly because I've got nothing to do for the next hour and I feel like being occupied.

    And partly because you may (or may not) want to comment on bits of it.

    So here it is, the weekly weekend woundup, part one, and a week late.


    “And if your hardness will not flash and cut and cut to pieces: how can you one day - create with me? For all creators are hard.”
    - Frederich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

    “There’s a human tendency to resent anyone who disagrees with our pleasures. The less mature interpret that as a personal attack on themselves.”
    - Roger Ebert

    Skeptical Search Engine. Google without the bullshit. A search engine for finding real answers to scientific questions - not the mad or stupid ones.

    Star Cops was a 1980s low-budget sci-fi detective series. It was clever, snappy, full of ideas, and therefore cancelled after 9 episodes. Here it is on Youtube.

    James Burke, populariser of scientific history. Even when he’s wrong, he’s provoking. His TV serials on Youtube.

    Simple minded, right wing, patronising, inaccurate and badly acted. Or if you like, camp as hell and great fun. Coronet ‘informational’ films from the 40s, on Youtube.

    Some of the most necessary television ever made. Chris Morris’ Brass Eye series shows the bullshit of ‘documetary tv’ and the vaccuity of celebrity endorsements. And it’s hilarious.

    And now for something completely Monty Python. Lots of it.

    My Own Private Idaho. A film which an old schoolfriend took me to see…as his way of coming out. I was the first, and for all I know I was the last - he left the area and then the country a month later. But it was an honour to be the first.

    Maurice. Hugh Grant plays a neurotic closet case, James Wilby a man who finally realises he really can just accept who he is, and Rupert Graves being…a bit of rough. But sensitive, romantic rough. The first gay movie I saw that wasn’t about sex, decay and death, or directed by Derek Jarman - but I repeat myself. And the following day, the first proper bit of English Literature I read. Nearly a century after it was written, critics are still pretending they dislike it because of a supposed cop-out ending, as opposed to the subject matter of forbidden love across class and gender boundaries.

    Out of Ram


    It's Ramadan. For the next thirty days, all the muslims in the world - including all my students - will be starving and grumpy during daylight hours.

    They'll also be in no mood to study anything before sundown - and in my experience too busy eating, drinking and smoking after sunset. After Ramadan is Eid - three days of, well, smoking, drinking and eating.

    Rammin'-it-dahn, so to speak. Was that joke in slightly bad-taste?

    Ramadan's like lent...but in three things - namely Reverse, September, and Earnest. They actually do it, and believe in it, not like us anglicans managing to give up chocolate for two days out of forty.

    So, that makes thirty days of students being either a bit useless in lessons, or more usually crying off lessons because they're 'weak with hunger', plus three of being too busy having fun, plus another three recovering from the fun. All of which means I'm broker than usual in August and September.

    Maybe I should take the opportunity to go on a diet. Nothing but water to drink during the daytime.

    It Glides for Me


    Remember I had a gig coming up in September?

    The theme is Love Music, Hate Homophobia, and the lineup is a series of gay-friendly bands - including one put together especially for the gig. It's called 'Darqroom", and one half of it is me.

    We've been putting together a set of gay-themed songs and gay-themed movie samples. I've got a load of Derek Jarman stuff to plough through for useful snippets.

    Well, there's another, unrelated gig been hastily arranged in a fortnight...and we've been asked to play because there's not many other bands available at short notice...and the theme isn't remotely gay...but all our songs still are. For instance...

    "Jet Boy Jet Girl" by Elton Motello, a song about underage gay boys having oral sex, and one of them flying into a murderous rage because the other one gets a girlfriend.



    The song was censored in the most inventive way - by being completely re-recorded with a different vocalist singing in a different language about a completely different subject. And, Milli Vanilli-like, the different vocalist wasn't actually the vocalist at all - he was a front for the record's producer being the singer. Now that's censorship.

    Oh yes, the new subject was the pet cat of an alcoholic getting burned by exploding whiskey, but apparently that's fine for teenagers to listen to, and not as disturbing as boys having sex.

    The "clean" version was "Ca Plane Pour Moi" by Plastic Bertrand. Yes, you know it now.



    Odd how the not-at-all-gay version looks extremely gay.

    The English-language original was covered by The Damned, New York Dolls and others, who left the offending lyric "He gave me head" untouched, and seemingly offended none of their fans. But the version which tends to get anthologised is by the forgotten Chrono Gen, who rewrote it as "He gave me hell".

    Darqroom will, of course, be singing the original and best lyrics. Which is to say, I will try.

    Streetwise Sunday - Haunted Fishtank Edition


    Welcome to my new semi-regular series. I find stuff on the street - sometimes I take it home with me, sometimes I'd like to but can't, and sometimes I wonder how the hell it got there.

    Some of my clothes are streetstuff. Once I found mother a wedding aniversary gift - an expensive silk scarf, just lying in the gutter. Half the dog's toys are stuffed animals that must have fallen from children's pushchairs. There's even the occasional mars bar just when I'm feeling hungry.

    I might not find stuff every week, but when I do, it'll be on Streetwise Sunday. Today's inaugural edition is something I've often seen outside people's homes, but never before next to a motorway.



    TL;DR


    Someone posts something interesting on their blog. I write a response. Then I notice there's a button to click if I want any further responses emailed to me. Well it might be interesting, and if it's not, it's not a problem - so I click.

    And what do I get in the mail? A message saying I need to "click here" to confirm that yes, I really do want to receive any follow-up responses to that one blogpost in my inbox, rather than going to the trouble of visiting the blog again.

    And that's how a simple, useful feature of blogs becomes an irritation rather than a benefit, a way to lose time rather than save it, and pretty soon an unused feature.

    I post something to Tumblr, then notice there's a spelling mistake. To correct it I have to log in to Tumblr again, even though I just logged in to make the post, and click through several screens to correct one wrong letter.

    When you run some programs on Windows 7, it asks whether you really want to run them. Yes! I do want to run them! That's why I doubleclicked the frelling icon, you stupid computer! What's that? Do I really want to allow my browser to connect to the internet? Well what a fascinating and useful question. Almost as fascinating as "Can I name ten things I hate about Windows 7?".

    Am I sure that I want to reset my password? Am I really sure enough to wait for a confirmation email containing a link, and so gutwrenchingly sure that I'll even click it? Of course, it would be nice if WordPress told me what it reset my password to instead of assuming I still have the email it sent me three years ago telling me which autogenerated string of ASCII symbols I needed to type in once so I could change it to something I could actually use.

    Notions of safety in computers seem to rely on the assumption that everyone has infinite time, infinite patience, an eidetic memory going back years, and a severely autistic inclination to go through repetitive mechanical procedures instead of doing the things they switched the computer on for.

    Freezeframe Friday - Eyes Closed Edition



    Simples-er


    As I write this sentence, I have an old 'Livemail' account (basically an MSN update of Hotmail), containing nothing more than two hundred abusive messages from creationists and homeopaths on youtube...and a dozen bits of spam.

    So I click here (or failing that, here), enter my username and password and click "Close Account".

    So as I write this sentence, my life is a tiny bit simpler. Or it will be in two hundred and seventy days, after which the account will be really deleted and not reactivatable.

    There's also two more livemail accounts, two more old hotmail accounts, two yahoo accounts and, erm, four gmail accounts which all once seemed a good idea. To misquote Albert Einstein, "You should make you life a simple as possible, but no simpler."

    Do Not Want


    I want to be able to blog from my phone. I want to be able to send an SMS to a special number, and have it appear in my sideblog. I want to be able to do this with text, pictures, audio and maybe even video.

    Oh, I don't actually want to do these things. I just want to be able to do them - and what's more, do them without having to rely on wireless availability, spend extra money to access it, or get a new phone.

    Perhaps fortunately, I'd have to do all these things, so I won't be mobile blogging anytime soon. Not that I would have been even if I could - erm, if you see what I mean.

    It can't be just me that gets annoyed when I can't do something I wouldn't do if I could. Can it?

    Mine Style


    One of the songs we might end up covering is Mein Teil, the German Cannibal song from Rammstein. And I could just about do it in German, but in case I can't, here's my English translation:

    Verse 1:Looking for a gentleman,
    A man of taste to share a plan.
    Soft sweet parts and even hard
    On the menu, no charade.

    Prechorus:
    For you are
    What you eat.
    Flesh is grass.
    One man's meat.

    Chorus:
    'Cos this is my hide.
    My hide.
    'Cos this is my hide.
    My hide.

    Verse 2:
    Now sharpen blade for willing stud.
    Feeling sick and losing blood.
    Have to fight to stay awake.
    Keep on feeding while I shake.

    Break:
    This meal is made with love
    And a searing flame
    And it is served with pride
    On white porcelain.
    I chose a special wine
    And soft candlelight
    Because I take my time
    To make it all just right.

    Verse 3:
    A scream it breaks though heaven's skin
    Cutting through angelic wings.
    Feather flesh falls from the skies
    Onto my childhood, shrieking cries.

    I is an Entertainer


    The last gig I played was for Love Music, Hate Racism, an update of Rock against Racism, which successfully prevented the National Front gaining recruits to fascism in the 70s - using music and fashion as a springboard.

    The idea was (and is) that if you can create an atmosphere within the existing youth culture where hatred and blame are given no houseroom, political ideas which rely on scapegoating gypsies, immigrants, gays etc. can't get a foothold. You could call it communicating with young people in their own terms, or hijacking and perverting their culture, as you wish.

    There are of course right wing groups which try the same tactic, with projects like Rock against Communism. There are plenty of racist and right wing musicians - including those like Eric Clapton who really, really ought to know better, considering his blues influences - but right wing music always comes out...well, silly.

    Why this should be, I'm not sure, but I can't think of a single right wing political song that's any good as a song. These people just don't seem to get music.

    Just think of The Right Brothers, who after four albums are still mainly listened and linked to as a joke band. Or Prussian Blue - the girlband with the Nazi salutes and smileyface Hitler-moustache teeshirts.

    It's a similar story with comedy. There's absolutely no shortage of hate-filled, ranting comedians - but how many of them actually tell jokes? Dennis Miller probably comes closest - most likely because he stole his entire act from George Carlin, replacing the jokes with rapidfire Fox News bulletpoints.

    Anyway, I've got another gig. And this one's for...Love Music, Hate Homophobia. Which I'd never heard of till they needed an extra act quickly to go on stage first. Fairy nuff, I suppose.

    I'll be one half of a duo this time - me on synths, beats, samples and, erm, rap breaks, and the other bloke on guitar and most of the singing. We're called Darqroom, we sound a bit like Massive Attack, and there'll be a MySpace page just as soon as we figure out how to use the new mixer.

    And that's why I've spent two days watching films with gay themes, and sampling their dialogue. Last night Naked Lunch and Mulholland Drive, tonight Torch Song Trilogy and Nighthawks. But not Powertool.