Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jon Anderson is a Hobbit

Saw him on the telly, he's a Hobbit alright.
Olympics: David Macaroon has announced that anybody caught saying anything nasty or at all negative about the up and coming 2012 Olympics will be guilty of high treason. In a surprise move the dark leader of the catastrophic coalition suggested that Olympic critics were just "narrow minded goons with no sense of fun, fair play or business acumen, exactly the kind of people we don't want moaning about costs, sculptures, daft new buildings and all that sort of thing. The very thought of these un-British people having the damn cheek to go on strike or in any way disrupt the profiteering and marvellous games ethos with their petty pension, human rights and other undemocratic and stupid complaints makes them jolly well worse than a box of bald Bolsheviks on crack."

The leader of the opposition, a pasty faced chap was stunned to something approaching silence when he heard that up to £300 a year enters his party's  coffers as a result of collections made amongst the poor, the needy, trade unionists and other Olympic Games deniers. "As a committed Socialist I'm bound to disagree with everything the other bloke says except when it comes to wildcat industrial action, frankly I've never understood the point of it and I object to seeing lots of ugly people out on the streets shouting and looking like they've just walked out of the pages of a Banksy sketchbook." Harriet Harman was also unavailable for comment mainly because she married some union bloke a few years ago and still resents his penchant for bottles of brown ale at breakfast, indiscriminate farting and the copies of Marx's diaries he arranges  on the Ikea pillows at bedtime into the shape of the battleship Potemkin.

The Lib-Dems when asked suggested that any strikers could be counselled by pullover wearing college lecturers trained in sociology and cookery and then tarred and feathered by junior party volunteers. "It'll teach them two things a) the meaning of pain and b) that feathers can stick to tar and your Mothercare dungarees." Danny Alexander agreed and suggested that Unite members be placed on a programme of forced cabbage picking in his Moray constituency. "That'll show them practical economics, how to spot and sell diseased vegetables and provide a sense of fair play as they experience the hard action of the outdoor Eastern European farming exploitative methods." he chortled.

The BBC said the whole thing was very annoying and that they might now need a few extra cameras to capture the trouble(s) and the sporting highlights if they should ever coincide. Boris Johnston agreed to provide the necessary funding, some random on screen buffoonery and as many racing bicycles as are needed.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Busy doing something

And so Noel Fielding heads off into the night.
Nothing: I'm not sure what really counts as something as opposed to things that are truly nothing; sorting, laundry, car washing and investigating car type noises, creating edible food out of drab raw materials, fiddling about without any violin, finding photographs and then forgetting about them. All in a days work when I'm not working. The cats of course just look on disdainfully caring little about what I do unless it in any way approaches them, then they panic. Just as well humans don't quite behave that way.

Fourth: If you are already (like me) wary of all things Olympic then have no fear you're probably not alone. Here's a tribute to all those up and coming ringed shaped endeavours (inches away from the bronze!) part produced by the effervescent and unstoppable Tommy Mackay and written by Mr Dave Cohen.

Olympic Rings everywhere, even in this Olympics Song by 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Shore Poets

Following Noel Fielding back from Edinburgh late last night, not following in any kind of weird or obsessive way however. Here he is headed for Bo'ness.
Earlier in the evening we attended the monthly reading at the Shore Poets get together in St John's Cellar Cafe, Henderson's in Edinburgh's west end. It was a low-key, quirky and atmospheric affair, the venue being cold and dark and in other circumstances it would have been a perfect Gothic evening. Some of the material recited was very strong but some was trite and sounded like it had been lifted from the Sunday Post or the People's Friend, you get what you get I guess.  I'd expected more of an intellectual powerhouse with debate or political stuff being thrown around and less kitchen sink drama; wrong again - it's civilised. The main themes were dead grandparents, dead parents and family events, so nostalgia for the war years and our lost industrial past was hanging heavily in the air. With the poets and their band of followers the average age profile is also pretty high, I was of course within the overall metric so at least I felt at home, grey hair and wrinkles abound. A nice couple from Dunbar sang a few songs, sweet tunes and lovely harmonies and there's always a bizarre lemon cake (never chocolate cake) raffle going on - I hope to maybe win it one day. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Their Satanic Majesties


""It's completely a spiritual thing. This is God's will...A mission to make the culture a better culture, more pleasing to God.""
Karen Santorum on her husband pursuing the presidency

From the Daily Slate.

Out on a Saturday night

Just to prove we are not total sofa potatoes, TV junkies and that family, work, life and other balances can be brought into balance we ventured out into the soft underbelly of the Live Music scene to see what was what. Turned there was a lot at Montague's Bar and gorilla up the toon in gloomy but French themed Edinburgh. CBQ, Norman and James were of course excellent and entertaining. Other noteworthy performers; John Wotton - mind blowingly good guitar player with a blistering technique, truly awesome, his son Tom, no mean player himself and Nicole Strachan, an American songwriter, not strong live but who has at least one pretty decent song in her catalogue and might be worth watching judging by the CD she passed on to us.

Mr CBQ with added and unwanted publicity background, not likely to be used as an album title. Where is George Michael these days?
One man quartet complete with those, meaty, beaty and complex backing tracks
These boys have loads of exotic and incredible stringed instruments and can play them skillfully, often seated but occasionally standing up for the sake of variety. Their witty banter is also pretty good and you can sing along if you wish, or just thump the table.
Live music viewed through the very clear but tiny lens of an iPad. You could almost be in the same room but sitting on a couch drinking beer and fiddling with other random devices or pieces of your own or a friends clothing.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bananas in regalia

I think they're just having an innocent wee cuddle, others see this pic quite differently.  It may well be something to do with your religion or upbringing or nature v nurture.

Friday, February 24, 2012


And so it was that I came to put my feet up on the desk and started to consider my many daydreaming options. There were just too many themes and situations that I could plug into and frankly I wasn't really wanting to have to think too hard. Not at all in the heat of this particular moment. I also knew that somewhere the sun would be going down, inspiring or depressing random groups of people in odd numbers and outfits everywhere. Would that thought be my springboard? It turned out not to be and so I continued in my blankness with nothing substantial to flesh out the dream balloon structure I had constructed in my head. Usually it came in black and white, from the past, not the present and certainly not from the future, that was hard work and relied upon a very active and detailed imagination, too many things to piece together and explain, too many distracting rabbit holes. The past was best because it could be understood, explained but still manipulated. I had of course been there but not everywhere in it and the surroundings and most of the situations were familiar, all very helpful. Everything, even a day dream has it's limits and it's range. Ok here we go...someplace, probably in the stone kitchen, haggis and neeps were being prepared and the cookery process had just created a fantastic smell.

Impossible Thongs

 Here's an early shot (D Jones) of a 60's Celtic tribute act loosely based on Impossible Songs but called (humorously enough) Impossible Thongs.  Left to Right; Stig O'Driscoll – guitars, vocals and five skin joints, Robbie Dunwoody – bass, drums, penguin and oil drums and the lovely Heather St Kilda - vocals, bagpipes, knitting and harmonium. It's all almost true I tell you.

Eliot Spitzer of argues that the prevention of future credit crises should be focused on the size of the consequence. Having any bank in the system that is ‘too big to fail’ is undesirable; having many smaller banks allows the system to cleanse itself from failing financial institutions. Reduce the consequences of the failure of a financial institution, instead of ‘betting on accurately predicting the odds’ of a failure.

Before the credit crisis started raging on the international markets, econometricians (THE financial risk experts) were primarily managing on the odds. Humans, for any non-linear problem, are extremely bad at estimating odds. Econometricians may be better at estimating odds than the average person, but that seems a moot point now that they have convincingly proven they can screw up to the point of destroying the entire financial system. 
Managing on the consequences instead of the odds seems to be a better way forward, and Eliot concludes that” We need to stop using the bailouts to rebuild gigantic financial institutions.” Whats the point in trying to rebuild structures that have already been proven to fail?

Our current approach to dealing with the credit crisis causes two major negative effects: “we are creating the significant systemic risk not just of rewarding imprudentbehaviour by private actors but of preventing, through bailouts and subsidies, the process of creative destruction that capitalism depends on. We hope Eliot’s most important conclusion for governments ends up being implemented: “The better policy is to return to an era of vibrant competition among multiple, smaller entities—none so essential to the entire structure that it is indispensable.”

His article can be found here:

Moving on: other than the ongoing global financial problems and how they are being addressed a far weightier problem is the dilemma of what to do in that awful moment when you realise youve got chocolate stains (from the crumbly biscuit you ate earlier for elevenses) on the crotch of your pants. How long has it been there? Who might have noticed it? How the fugg did get so ingrained into the fabric? Why has it now turned that horrible colour? Will it come out by rubbing it (and who might see this awkward process being enacted) or should I just cut my losses and go home?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Remi Ochlik

Some examples of his work here, RIP.

Tall and helpful

Most days I don't get the chance to be tall and helpful, two rare things I quite like being. Today I had the opportunity to be both. A nice, tiny wee woman asked me to reach up to the top supermarket shelf and pick a pack of Canderel 300 (whatever they are) for her. I did wonder why such a tiny woman would want these little sugar pills and I did wonder why they were on the top shelf. I'll never know the answer.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Coffee evolution

How coffee's image and consumer perception has changed from being simple Nescafe bits drawn from a foil topped tin to some weird and over priced milky thing that comes accompanied by an expensive Italian biscuit that'll take few of your teeth out in a single hasty bite. Delicious though. I wonder if they have it on other planets? Today I drank four cups and feel fine.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Nothing to say on Twitter

Snowdrops by Duncan Jones.
Twitter beats me most of the time, I'm unable to make that jump into #territory even when I could/can. I can't quite think and summarise or sum up in 150 characters, most days. Tonight there was ample opportunity, the (irritating) Brits, football, Glasgow Rangers, the poor sound quality for Blur, Adele being cut short, pasta and cheese for tea, the M90 traffic, Volvo S40, bird shit on the roof of a car, breakfast biscuits, the dentists, apple pies, the wind or a tall furniture van knocking down tree branches, a dogging traffic jam in the Newton lay-by, Chelsea, River Monsters and the Wolf Fish, slow motorbikes, Nick Clegg talking pish. It was all there to be recorded and reheated and re-Tweeted. #couldn't be bothered.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Part of the machine

Winter Trees, photo by Duncan Jones.
Its not easy being part of the machine with no means to opt out; inextricably stuck and trapped in the gunged up system, seeking a route to claw back to the surface, some white light and clean air perhaps. I am of course pondering the unthinkable consequences of a mass supermarket boycott. Following from the Tesco PR gaffe over work experience for benefit credits (which may or may not have been accurately portrayed), can I, can we live without the comfort factor of a regular supermarket fix? Lets face it, Tesco is annoying in its blandness and ubiquity, its cloying every little helps campaign of brainwashing and its manipulation of our appetites and aspirations. I want a world where supermarkets exist but dont really matter, where they dont dominate and suck the life out of town after town, where there is some semblance of commercial coexistence and less of a blur between suburbia and nowhere, that funny place where most Tescos are located. But its a dream that comes wrapped up in an uneasy sleep though, go elsewhere, pay more, get less, and is that really the true consequence of abandoning the big boys? Has the propaganda made us all so dependant and afraid that any extra cost or inconvenience is just too hard to bear? Or is nothing in the game really worth the cards anymore? Certainly the fact that loss leaders and special offers are only possible because the grunts and stackers just get minimum wage (or qualify for benefits) isnt good news and are we so naive about capitalism that we thought it could be put together some other way? If its too good to be true then its not true and its making me pretty uncomfortable. I may return to Fife (home of the Amazon low pay long day model) and onto the Fife diet for inspiration.

Meanwhile Iran sneezes out a slippery isotope, a few sanctions are launched, and the fiddly, jittery oil market reacts by bumping up oil prices to $120 a barrel. Thats a good piece of international diplomacy and cooperation, the value of which of course I dont believe in. Somewhere in New York, Singapore or London the balding, stressed out diesel brokers sleeves are rolling up and their eyes are watering and rolling in their heads at the nice little margins that are suddenly possible here and here and there. We all pay more instantly, as if Shell and BP petrol pump price gauges were linked by long stretched out Heath Robinson elastic and pulleys to the taps and valves in Iran. All of which are still turned on but running temporarily down another pipe and in a different direction but ultimately into the same grubby pool of dirty oil and money. And by means of a valued customer survey feedback piece Id like to say that buying petrol and shopping in those overpriced calories infused aisles that lead to the gapping wide tills is not a pleasant nor economically sensible experience. Of course for the simple customer and end user its all explained away by the old chestnut of supply and demand  the trouble is there isnt a problem, theres only full scale world-wide manipulation by those terrible lizard peoplebut it is still a penny a litre cheaper in Tescos (and you get Clubcard points).