Monthly Archives: May 2007

Pigeon versus Cat

Little dead pigeon lying on the ground,
Little dead pigeon while walking I have found,
I can’t help feeling that we shouldn’t be meeting,
Because even on a little pigeon there’s some good eating,
So why are you left abandoned by a cat?
What can I say except cats are like that.
Barstards

Lets take it from the top

So as I alluded to yesterday, I was up a mountain. This may have also made my spelling worse – it is very hard to get spell checkers up there – Katherine wouldn’t come. And I was desperately short of battery supply on my phone so I didn’t even have a chance to recheck myself! In the end I made it to the top and back – only my trousers didn’t quite survive! Ripped to shreds by that harsh mountain rock. Anyway here’s a picture of the peak:

Is hypocricy a crime?

[Only a short post today as I'm up a mountain and it's about to start hailing again]

On Flickr there has been a big hoo ha about a comment that got deleted. A photographer whose photos had been up on Flickr had had her pictures stolen by a graphics firm which had turned them into photos for sale in frames on tea towels etc. She was very upset and posted the details of the company. The company started receiving death threats and so on. It all got a bit out of hand and Flickr decided to pull the post.

The interesting thing to me is not the rights and wrong of removing the post – which seems to interest everyone else. But the interesting point here is one of copyright protection.

This story was brought to my attention on digg.com and basically everyone on there was sympathising with the photographer who had had their photos stolen. But the usual fare on digg is quite different usually there are vast acres of articles about how to circumvent copyright, about how copyright is evil and about how DRM must die.

What struck me was how do these things square together? People know injustice when they see it. They can see that it's wrong for an organisation to steel from this girl. But they don't see the same injustice when they steel from a record company. Is it because each time they are fighting for the little man? Or is it just cognitive disonance?

When people steal music you might well be stealing from the little people. Sure the studio execs are rich. Sure Bono and Robbie Williams don't need any more of our money. But what about the people who will be laid off? You are stealing from them aren't you? And who gave you the right to decide?

Anyway I just thought it showed the true feelings of the digg users more clearly than they might even know themselves. And also it suggests a better tack for educating people about why copyright theft is wrong. Perhaps the authorities should do that rather than simply going around accusing people of being thieves? Educate people until they feel guilty enough that the majority won't do it.

Scorching – Part 2

[This is part 2 of the 4 part story Scorching. If you haven't you may want to read part one first. I would usually include a link at this point but I'm sending this from a train somewhere in Sussex. Part 1 was published last Friday, you should be able to find it somewhere.]

Steven blinked his eyes open and closed, and open and then closed again. He couldn't tell the difference. It was really dark. Dark and quiet. It was so quiet that Steven could hear his eyelids opening and closing. Forget pins dropping it had to be really quiet before you could hear stuff like that.

Steven had been lying on his left arm for quite a while. First it had fallen asleep, then it had done that gentle tickleish pins and needles thing. About half an hour ago there had been massive amounts of shooting pain up and down it. And eventually that had stopped too. Now it just felt dead.

But through all of that time he hadn't dared move because, well Steven had not been alone in the room. Steven had been lying under the bed in which the woman he desired and the guy who currently seemed to be ringing her bell had been hard at it. He'd felt safe to move while they had been distracted but he had been right in the middle of rearranging himself when they had finished. After that they had just lain there cuddling quietly. But eventually they had got up and gone. Or rather that was the thing. Steven could have sworn that only she had left but he couldn't hear any breathing but his own. He decided to risk it. He moved his arm. Or rather he tried to but it wouldn't move. Steven rolled over, which isn't easy under a bed and then used his other arm to shake the dead one. Warm blood rushed back into his arm and the pain returned. It felt like there were little pieces of glass in his veins. As the pain rushed through him he asked himself the fundamental question, "was she worth it"? To which the answer was still yes. In fact she was more intriguing now than before.

From the moment that he'd woken that morning he had known today was the day. He'd risen, dressed and walked straight over to her villa. He'd knocked on the door and they'd started talking. She seemed interesting and interested. And so Steven had invited her out for breakfast. But she had given the perfect response. She'd invited him in for breakfast.

It was while they were toasting the bagels that this other guy had arrived. She had told him to hide which seemed promising to Steven. He had thought to himself as he was legging it up the stairs that she was only getting him to hide because she wanted to have sex with him.

So Steven had gone and hidden under the bed of what had seemed like the spare room. But of course that was the room they had decided to use.

His arm felt just about useable. He listened again. Still silence. He decided to risk it. He slid himself out from under the bed and stood up. He have a quick glance back to the bed just to be sure. And that's when he realised that there had been something else dead. The guy in the bed.

[Check back next Friday for part 3]

Black Beauty

She’s a dark horse isn’t she

— This joke is by one of the nations current premier jokesmiths Tim Vine who is great and I saw on Sunday last.

Blair’s Long Goodbye

So Tony Blair has finally announced he’s standing down as Prime Minister. There will be a lot of people who will be pleased by this news and a few who will be mourning. The main fault that Blair made was a failure to manage expectations. He wanted, no he needed the landslide back in 1997. And while part of that was the utter collapse of the Tories, part of it was the vision of him sweeping in and changing things. Weirdly, for an often quite conservative country, the charge that people seem to be levelling at him is that he didn’t change enough. Well that and Iraq, Iraq will hang round his neck for many a year.

In Blair’s farewell speech he said that he had been privileged to run the greatest nation in the world. My first thought when he said that was, “what? America?” It’s not that I don’t think that Briton is great, it’s simply that normally Americans say things like that and the British don’t. If Blair had meant that it would make a lot of sense too. I wish he had said something like this, but I know he couldn’t – and might not even believe it: “Remember back when Bill Clinton was in charge of America? Well back then I used to have time to do all kinds of stuff for Britain domestically. But since America in their infinite wisdom elected Num-Nutts over there I’ve spent half my time hiding the ‘Red Button’ from George in meetings. I’d love to say I had time for the NHS, but just imagine how bad the world would have been if I hadn’t stopped Bush as much as I did. You can thank me for it later.” That would have been probably the only thing that could have saved his reputation nationally.

But as I say the main problem is expectation. In fact a lot of the problems come from the D:Ream song “Things can only get better”. That should have been seen as a sign, ie., “We’re not really going to do much, but we can’t do as badly as our predecessor” but apparently people didn’t hear the song in that way. As it says on the Peter Cunah (the song’s composer’s) wikipedia page: ‘Famously, however, “Things Can Only Get Better” was to enjoy a further life, this time as a political anthem, which would lead New Labour’s 1997 election landslide.’ Yes it was D:Ream wot won it!

Anyway here’s this from Don’t Watch That, Watch This:

The hair

Brian was rolling the hair between his fore and index fingers. To an outside observer it may have looked like he was doing this casually. But this was not the case. Brian’s life had been ruined by this hair and so it was with great care and attention that Brian examined it.

The hair was long and blonde or rather it had been blonde when it was last attached to Sandra’s head. Blonde hair on its own hardly ever looks really blonde it looks like you would think gray hair should look. Or at least it does until you see a gray hair.

Brian had seen his very own first gray hair just six weeks ago. Jennifer had pointed it out to him and had made some kind of joke about it. She’d called him an old man and so on. Brian had laughed along but then while driving to work the next morning he realised that he needed to change his life. He decided that he didn’t want to become old he wanted to stay young. It wasn’t like he consciously made a decision to trade Jennifer in for a younger model. No it wasn’t like that. He had just happened to bump in to Sandra at the coffee machine. Sandra and Brian had flirted like they usually had but this time Brian hadn’t stopped as early as he usually would.

They hadn’t had sex on the photocopier or anything seedy, much to Brian’s disappointment, but they had started meeting for lunch. And then they had started telling their colleagues that they were “going to the gym”. It was the perfect cover.

Or it had been. Brian had been greedy though. He had tried to keep Jennifer in the dark. He didn’t want to commit to Sandra so he kind of hadn’t bothered telling Jennifer about Sandra just in case it didn’t work out.

It had worked well until the hair. The hair that got into his underpants. The hair that Jennifer had found. The hair that was definitely not Jennifer’s. The hair that Brian was rolling around in his fingers. The hair that he now allowed to drop to the floor. Brian thought as he watched it fall, that the stress of what was about to happen to him would probably mean more gray hair.

Where is the secret garden?

From a sign in Crystal Palace.

Change at a snails pace

So the snails are back. They all seem to come back whenever there’s a sudden rainstorm. There they all are wondering all over the pavements. And just when you’re not looking, “crack”, another one bites the dust.

You might say good riddence, but the snail isn’t so keen on being stomped out of existance. But what can snails do about this? They have only one choice… they must evolve.

The big question for the modern snail is what to evolve in to. The most obvious thing would be to turn your shell red or orange. Something with some high visibility for humans. But sadly there is something more deadly to snails than humans (so much for our much vaunted “top predator” status – not even snails are that sacred of us). The snails top predator is a bird and birds main problem is that they can’t see snails very well. So almost anything the snails do to make them more visible to humans will likely make them more visible to birds and that, from the snails point of view, would be a bad thing.

So what options do they have. Well my guess is that red is a pretty good colour for this situation. It would be nice and obvious for humans and while the birds might see it more it might also be that birds think that the snails are poisoned and so won’t try it. It’s a solution certainly but I don’t think it will work in the long run. Soon enough the birds will learn that despite the red colour snails aren’t poisonous. They could try and become poisonous but that sounds quite hard.

The long term solution was sitting right there on their backs the whole time. What the snails need to do is turn their shells into a kind of stealth bomber technology. A lot of birds and bats who eat snails use a thing like radar to find their pray, so the obvious solution to me seems to be to use this reliance on radar against them. The combination of red colour for humans, radar for bats and okay a little poison wouldn’t be such a bad idea – and would certainly stop people getting too many ideas with the garlic butter – all of this will save the snail. Gosh it sounds like it’s going to be busy, it better get on with it!

All of this reminds me of a joke:

What did the slug say to the snail?

Big Issue sir?