Monthly Archives: July 2007

No Need to Wine

Although of course it doesn’t happen very often chez Andronov sometimes you are left in a situation where you have some wine left over. Because it doesn’t happen very often I never seem able to find a stopper to close the wine. I have recently been asked what to do in this situation so I came up with this handy list of dos and don’ts.


  • Pour the wine back in the bottle from the glass. The wine in the glass has had an awful lot of air near it and that air will all be going back in the wine. That will cause the wine in the bottle to continue opening up over night which is exactly what you don’t want. Oh and it’s probably got spit in it – urgh.
  • Use the cork you just took out of the bottle (or any other cork for that matter). Because of the way the cork comes out you always end up with one end wider than the other. And the wider end is the end that used to be in the bottle. This leads to the temptation to put the dirty end of the cork into the bottle. The stuff on the cork mixes with the air inside the bottle and can make the wine go to vinegar very quickly.


  • use a vac u vin this solves all of the problems of air in the wine. Or if you don’t have one of these a glass or metal stopper is great too. But what if you don’t have a stopper?
  • use cling film. It works really well and you almost always have some in the house.
  • put the wine in the ice cube tray. Now you won’t probably be drinking it again if you do this but it is an excellent way to add wine while cooking later. And it also gets you out of the problem of having to open wine you don’t really want to drink just to cook. Thanks to Nigella for that one.

Or you could stop being such a wuss and just drink it.

A man goes into a doctors surgery

The doctor says to him, “well I’m afraid you’re going to have to stop masturbating”.

“Why?” asks the shocked man, “what’s wrong Doc?”

“Well, for a start, you’re in a doctors surgery.”


A man is standing on a platform eating a croissant and drinking a bottle of coke. He looks bored and he doesn’t seem to notice that the flakes of the croissant are falling down his jacket.

A woman walks up to him and asks him if this is the right platform for somewhere. He doesn’t even listen to the end of the sentence and when she finishes speaking he doesn’t even react. She starts getting louder as though speaking louder will get him to understand. In the end the man just shrugs his shoulders and the woman walks off not knowing if he didn’t understand the question, if he didn’t know the answer or if he just didn’t care. That’s the problem with shrugs, they can haunt you for the rest of your life.

Fridge in the garden

We have a fridge in the garden. And one day it will be dealt with. It’s not supposed to be there, it’s not like a crazy outdoor beer fridge although that would be great obviously. No this is the clapped out old fridge which we put in the garden when we got the dishwasher. The fridge came with our house and was already broken when we moved in. And obviously I know it wouldn’t take too long to deal with it.It shouldn’t do.

As this picture shows I spent my weekend filming for the Sofa F1 review of the British Grand prix, oh and watching the grand prix and the qualifying, and the womans tennis final and Die Hard 4.0 at the cinema.

Lets just say that Katherine is very, very understanding. And I love her very much for that.

Is piracy killing the music industry?

I discussed this issue in a rather oblique way the other week and now I thought I’d have another crack at it in a slightly more concerted way.

Why is stealing music bad? I write and I give what I write away. But I wish I could make a living writing and currently that’s not feasible. I am writing this blog largely because I have always:

a) considered myself a writer


b) never liked the idea of having to say, “well I’m working on my first novel” like every other writer seems to say without ever really doing any work on it at all.

So this blog was a way that when people asked I could point at and say, “this is what I write, but I’m also working on a novel but don’t worry about that”.

But one day, I’d like to write my novel and I’d like you to buy it. I’d love to be able to give it to you but there are two problems with that

a) it’s really annoying having to wake up at 5:45 every morning just so I have time to write for you, much as I love you all. If writing was my job I’d be able to have a lie in. And writing can’t be my job if people won’t buy my book


b) there is the concept of ascribed value to deal with. People don’t like to value things in isolation. In fact untrained humans are terrible at this concept in all areas.* Basically it means that if I tell you that my book costs 12 pounds some people will say, “okay I’ll buy that” and some people will say, “no that’s too expensive I’ll wait for paperback” (of course a few people might say it’s cheap at half the price let me buy 100 copies) – but that’s unlikely. The point being that if you give something away people assume that pretty much it’s worthless. And similarly if you can steal something without risk of being caught then you assume the same thing, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Basically people think that it’s okay to steal music because it’s very difficult to be caught and also the music industry has been exploiting its monopoly position for far too long (each record label has a monopoly on their artist for example). There is a very inelastic demand** for artists which ignores the label they are on. I can’t say I don’t like X band because they are on Universal, generally I don’t even know what label they’re on – and further I don’t care. I want their song and I don’t want to be ripped off because they have a monopoly on X’s music.

My favourite argument for the stealing of music is the following: Music costs very little to record professionally now, musicians have the ability to sell live concerts, people who love making music will still make music, so lets force the music industry to it’s knees and we’d have far fewer crap acts. Only people who are committed to music and love it for itself will keep performing. Usually at this point, for some reason people invoke Britney Spears:

If you can tell me the world would be a better place without Toxic then you don’t appreciate good music. Honestly it’s a catchy piece of pop that certainly the world of music would be poorer without and I don’t care who knows it. And yes the song would not exist if the music industry was at its knees.***

The model also falls down the moment that you look beyond the music industry. Yes you can make movies cheaply now on digital formats. But there is no way that you can make a movie for anything like the price at which you could make an album. And even if you did only make cheap movies imagine how much of the scope of the world of cinema you would loose if you restricted yourself to only that. No epics, no stunts, just people in a room talking. Yes many great movies have involved people in a room just talking but it can’t be right the most stolen movies are exactly the movies that cost the most to make (Action / Adventure / Fantasy).

The problem, of course, comes back to externalities. Sorry for the economics lecture here but externalities are one of the most important things in our society. The economic system rules our lives pretty much, external costs (externalities) are the things that don’t have a value within the economic system. The things that fall between the cracks. Eg. The cost of driving a car is the cost of the car, the petrol etc, the external cost is pollution. Society pays (and you are part of society) but you don’t pay money cash when you drive your car. The petrol tax is an attempt in economics speak to internalise the externality, ie. To get you to pay for the pollution per gallon.

In music the externality is caused by the fact that each person thinks individually. You think that you are only one small person so how can you change the world. How can you stop pollution? Everyone has to do it before it takes effect right? Same in music. How can you change the music industry? You’re just stealing a couple of tracks, it’s not like they’re going to miss it. They’re all millionaires after all – right. But what if everyone else starts thinking the same way? Well the talented people will go and do something else.

The only problem is that unless people disrupt the network then there isn’t another solution? We don’t have a choice as we’re all inelastic consumers of music (we like what we like) and the price is set by a de-faco cartel. This protest is the surest way of bringing the price down to non-monopolistic prices. And it seems to be working. However you do have to worry about the community though. The community aren’t just in it to disrupt the market. The community want free music now they’ve had a taste for it. How do we know? Apple finally released DRM free music onto the internet. And most commentators slammed them for including the users details in the files that they were downloading. Why would any reasonable law abiding user be upset by this? The only reason to be upset would be if you were planning to by cheap pre-encoded files for sharing amongst your friends. A terrible own goal from the community.

I want music, movies and books to be cheaper. I want to be able to choose the format. And I want to be able to reasonable share them with my friends (if I lend a cd to a friend I can’t play it, why isn’t that how DRM works?). I’d prefer to be trusted by the company I buy from not told I’m a pirate (you only see the adverts if you aren’t). And I don’t think people should be able to milk the profits for ever. But I don’t want the industry to die. I want to be able to make money, survive, even do well in the industry. I don’t need to make millions to enjoy writing I just need to have some way of making money. Because if I don’t I’ll never be able to quit my job.

* You know that thing where you put your hand in some water and you can’t tell if it’s very cold or very hot you just know that it kind of stings. That’s the same thing, but if you put one hand in cold water you’ll instantly be able to tell which is hotter than the other. Same with weighing something same with value. Although the water thing is the one most likely to make you wet yourself if you’re asleep.

** People don’t stand stiff as a board when they’re ordering. Demand is on a scale of elasticicity. Which basically means for some things people are very sensitive to price (elastic demand) a small change in price means a big change in purchases and other things people simply have to have you can put the price up as much as you want people will still buy them (inelastic demand).

*** Don’t you love the way that I’ve included a pirated copy of a music video in an article supporting people paying for music? I do.

Pirates – Out to sea – Part 1

This is the second story in the Pirates series. The first was called, “The Bunby Bungle“.

Marshall gave the order to cast off and they were away. It was an unusual feeling for Marshall to be leaving a port in daylight and one that couldn’t happen anywhere else in the world as far as he knew. He had got used to memorizing the port map and not having to rely on visual clues like a normal captain would. But Marshall was no normal captain. He was a pirate captain. And he was very very good at it. Three, Two, Oneā€¦

“One and a quarter turns Starboard” he shouted out.

“Aye Cap’n”

Marshall entertained the possibility of scaring a junior rigger by doing the whole thing with his eyes closed. But there was no point. He couldn’t convince his old bones to have fun like that. His brain was still alive to the prospect of such fun. But his bones feared his brain.

The bones knew it was best, even in a safe port like Santa Dominique, to keep your eyes peeled.

Marshall turned and looked back towards the port. Nothing there. Five, Four, Three… He swiveled back towards the wheel. Two… There had been something… One… Something on the horizon.

“A third turn to Port”.

He wasn’t even listening for the confirmation. His eyes were searching for that glint out on the horizon. A shape that had made him start. A sail in the wrong place. It was not a normal route into port. It wasn’t a tack he’d seen anyone attempt. Or rather anyone else. It was his route into Santa Dominique, his route over the shallow rocks only Marshall had the map for. So either that ship was soon about to go down all hands or something very troubling was going on.

[Check back next week for Part 2 of Out to Sea]

A man runs over a cat.

The cat’s address is on its collar, so the man goes to apologize to the owner. He knocks on the door, and a little of lady answers. The man says, “I’m so sorry, I’ve just run over your cat. Can I replace it?”

“I don’t know,” replies the lady, “How are you at catching mice?”


Adrian has a great strand over on his blog called overheard, a few of the things on there are even overheard things that been overheard saying. Here’s another one for the mix which was announced on my train as I was on my way into London Bridge:

“We are now approaching London Bridge Station which will be our final destination. Please take all of your belongings with you. Any left items will be removed and destroyed by the police if they aren’t stolen first.”

Check out Adrian’s list.

A man is sitting at home when he hears a knock at the door

He opens the door and sees a snail on the porch. He picks up the snail and throws it as far as he can.. Three years later, there’s a knock at the door. He opens it and sees the same snail. The snail says, “What the hell was that all about”?


His moustache drooped unnecessarily into his champagne as he supped and showed his appreciation for the party. He turned away and once he was sure she was no longer in eyesight he spat the champagne into a flower pot. Sadly his moustache went with it and Michael spent a furtive couple of minutes trying to dig around in the now wet soil, dry the moustache, find the glue in his inside pocket, reattach the moustache to his upper lip and wipe the soil off of his lapel with a linen napkin.

Once all of this was over with, Michael decided to mingle. He sidled up to a beautiful woman. On his way he picked up a glass of champagne and a glass of whisky from a passing tray. The woman looked impressed, made eye contact saying, “hello stranger”.

“I thought that you were supposed to say that to people that you knew that you haven’t seen in a while,” Michael said.
“You sure we haven’t met?”
“Looking as beautiful as you do, I’m pretty sure that I would have remembered you. Have we met?”
“No I was just fishing, fishing for complements.”
“Works every time”
“Well I feel such a sap now.”
“So are you going to give me that champagne or not?”
“Sorry, here you are, but I don’t know how you can drink that stuff.”
“What champagne?”
“No that stuff specifically. It’s fucking awful as far as I can tell.”
“I don’t mind it. Don’t hate me.”
“I don’t hate you just because you don’t share the same taste in champagne as me. What an idea?”
“I just wondered if you were one of those guys… You know those guys who absolutely hold their own views. That they’re right all the time and if you don’t agree with them then you’re not just wrong then you’re actually stupid.”
“Going out with one of those guys?”
“Just dumped by one actually.”

Just then the music at the party changed pace from some kind of schmaltzy waltz to something a bit faster. Michael decided to pick his moment.

“Do you fancy a dance?”
“Why not. I like this song.”

She looked at him very closely for a second. And then chose to move in close to him so she was resting her hand lightly on his chest. “Can I ask you to take off your moustache though?”
“How did you know?”
“Well if it wasn’t for half the guys in here tonight wearing fake moustaches it would have been a pretty hard guess, but other than that there’s a lot of glue on you face.”
“And you still want me to take it off?”
“Yes please.”
“Spoil sport.”