Monday, 27 December 2010

End of year genius party

Now I want you to think of a number.

Can it be any number?

Any number.

Cool.

Okay, have you fixed it in your mind's eye? Concentrate.

I have.

Does it end in six?

Why, yes: yes it does!

Is it PI to 100,000 places?

Damn you're good.

Not to worry, you've been a great sport – even if your capacity for eidetic recall is somewhat disappointing. Derek, my glamorous assistant professor will escort you back to your seat.

[Now get this bozo off the stage and find me a real challenge. Nobel Prize? Seriously? What? Are they handing them out like “nice try” candy at a spelling bee contest for the dyslexic?]

Friday, 24 December 2010

The sleighed bell

The seasonal celebrations, such as they were, were only slightly marred by the brief intrusion of law enforcement officers investigating the suspected-death-by-overdose death of an “aspiring model” found - in a not entirely unflattering state of rigour mortis - within one of the innumerable rooms in one of the extended wings of the tycoon host's mansion. Some traditions have to be maintained.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Serving suggestion

Flavoursome: an adjective only employed by the advertising industry and would otherwise arouse suspicion if casually interjected into real life conversation.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Hair of the dog

Somewhere off the coast of the crack veined bed of the Dead – “way too long gone for re-moisturising” – Sea, perched on the outreaching peninsular, sat the Lighthouse Museum of Family Fun Day Park Nautical Experience, where one could, for a modest entrance fee, re-imagine the perils of large bodies of water under the simulated gravitational influence of the moon, while you tide your time finding your sea-legs enjoying a range of shanty themed beverages in the thermal pressure bar.

No copyright pirating.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Seasonal sensitivities

It is a little know fact – no doubt due to the historical eraser of political correctness – that the modern day phenomenon of carol singers has its roots in pagan suicide bombers who objected to the early Christians co-opting their winter solstice celebrations with the more commercially minded re-branding as “Xmas”. Today, the aural terror they strike in the hearts of the tonally acute, together with the practice of ducking behind the sofa when they come knocking at your door, are the only remnants of this once radical tradition.

Additionally, this also explains the forgotten role of the "Christmas Cracker", which originally packed a more explosive surprise, though its frequent failure to produce a "crack" when "pulled" remains oddly persistent. It is thought this latter fact was instrumental in the demise of the pagans, however their ritualistic guise is sometimes affected by present-day suburbanites as a way to counteract - introduce "edge" to - or "sex up" their otherwise generally perceived social blandness and intellectual mediocrity.

See also: "Harry Potter".

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The Manchurian Candidate Defence

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Arthur C. Clarke

What if they had told you to kill them? ... how do you prove future robots have taken control over your mind? ... worth thinking about (Asimov[*]).


[*] If one assumes the future robots were manipulating humans - at least from their time perspective - already dead and thus, technically speaking, engaging in a posteriori non-harmful actions towards said no-longer sentients, do we have a logical lacunae?

Monday, 13 December 2010

Follow your own star

Before the fuel shortages finally hit halfway through the second quarter of the twenty-first century, it became de rigueur for middle ranking Hollywood celebrities to have their ashes shot into space (of course, the major celebrities still went the cryogenically optimistic Walter Elias Disney route). Such was the resulting orbiting urn traffic, the actual constellations became crowed out and, as an unnatural consequence, new Earth-based star charts had to mapped. The unexpected upshot of all this was it gave the very shot in the arm astrologers needed to combat the deadly onset of scepticism cooties and reinvent their horoscopes for the congenitally gullible. Hey, but may be that's just me: Lindsay Lohan rising and Chuck Norris on the cusp of Uranus.

Friday, 10 December 2010

In memorandum

On a clear day I can see the memorial: when the sands lie dormant, unstirred by the still air, contours weathered sans definition, the amorphous monolith stands, and I sense a purpose past, only I don't recall what is it is I am supposed to remember.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Rumsfeldian cloud of unknowing

I believe God wants you to know.

So God knows you believe “he” wants me to know that: not only do you believe “he” wants me to know, but that I also believe you also believe I want to believe "he" wants me to know, even though you don't know “he” knows I want to know; you merely believe that – so how do I know? I may believe I want to know, but how do I know I really want to, given that I don't already?

I believe you do.

Now wait .... you believe, but you don't really know that I already know … what "he" wants me to know … let's just cut to chase: what are you selling?

Comfort. See how how fluffy and affordable it is in easy installments!

Are you actually Walsching me?

I believe "he" doesn't want you to know that.

There's a difference between knowing and believing that you know you know and knowing that you believe you know but don't know you know.

Friday, 3 December 2010

The forecast

There's nothing like a seasonally abnormal dose of abysmal weather conditions to bring to the surface the we're-all-in-it-together - otherwise bunting indicated - community spirit and then, later, the underlying layer of latent douchebaggery at the supermarket shelf locust grab.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Follow the exit signs



QT sat slouched on the couch by the bar considering whether it was an angina attack or indigestion as he watched the colloidal mixture of alcohol and company staff at the Laugh Hotel slosh about the room. It was, of course, the Unlikely Solutions Ltd Christmas social. Christ knows, they were horrid affairs, whose only saving grace was that they came but once a year. He eyed his eggnog: the glacé cherry myocarditis heart pierced by the precision stake of a cocktail stick and partly submerged in a foamy sea of sweet luminous yellow puss.

Hi, I'm Ramona.

QT.

As in cute, extremely?

No, more in the vein of "on the quiet" – hush, hush.

Intriguing.

Only in so far as the dark allure of the hidden is often more intriguing than the shallow profundity of the known.

Sounds like serious business.

Excuse me a moment. Paddy?

Yes?

Who's been wearing Miranda's clothes?

Miranda.

Ask a silly question. So where were we?

Don't you want to know what I do?

Well Ramona, on the off-chance you are versed in the the dark arts of enhanced interrogation techniques. No.

Okay, so let me try a different tact: how do you know Alpha-Alpha?

He's my boss, as I presume - yours?

Would you describe your relationship to him within and without the formal structure of contractual employment as intimate?

No.

Could you introduce me to someone who could?

Oh Ramona, if there was only some kind of future.

I take that as "no" then.

Oh Paddy, I think I've lost my way.

What a fantastic death abyss!

Tell the others.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

You're fired!

"We'll be streamlining the business to better position ourselves to take advantage of these challenging market conditions."

Don't shoot the messenger

But what are you to do if the messenger arrives on your doorstep bearing bad news, you have a loaded gun in your hand and the authorities care little for investigating Mercurial murders - as long as you're willing to spare them the inconvenience of corpse disposal and the mopping of any congealed blood pools that may offended the sensibilities of by-passers?

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

006



Viewers/visitors/players ascend towards the artist, seeking wisdom. But he does not yield. They never see the empty coat-hangers and blindly pass us by.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

You don't have to be a crook to run for office, but ...

It wasn't exactly the case that crime had been finally eradicated, rather it had been channeled and refocused - by a crack team of previously pardoned management consultants - to work in the service of global social benefit. To wit: the skills of those with unrepentant criminal tendencies were first wooed; then finally finely honed - be they hackers of the cyber or machete-versus-flesh variety - to systematically poke, prod and pry at the hi-and-low-tech vulnerabilities of the corporate elites. And the stakes were high. While success was handsomely rewarded, failure often culminated in a terminally rapid career decline of the most unpleasant and, often, sadistic, kind (i.e. at the mercy of increasingly lethal, self-styled, crime prevention contraptions).

There's nothing new under the sun as they say and, indeed, there had been earlier precedents for reforming former criminals into security industry experts - who better to prevent crime than criminals? Except, for scale. The savings on scrapping the judicial system were extreme to say the least and the surplus bounty was funneled into substantial bonuses for the successful career criminal. And, in select cases, meritoriously rewarded with dispensation to high political office. That latter phenomenon hadn't gone unnoticed in the higher echelons of the managerial turrets at Unlikely Solutions Limited. It was hotly rumoured that Alpha-Alpha had political ambitions of his own which, to those observing acutely, had seemed extraneous at the time during the events of a hot summer night 2050 AD when there was a security breach of notable proportions.

That summer's night, after the generators - together with their back-ups - had experienced a rare simultaneous failure and the lights wouldn't switch back on, there were black plumes to be observed rising from the pre-set explosives scattered about the perimeter fences which extending like fisted arms clenching the still night air. Munition fire intermittently punctured the silent terror as shadowy figures breached the main compound walls. Such were the security measures at Unlikely Solutions Limited, that only one lone loot laden escapee was captured by the CCTV leaving the premises alive. Did I mention the company was heavily insured?

It was not long, after that fateful night, that Alpha-Alpha ran for office. Where he had secured such exorbitant funds to run such a lavish campaign remained a mystery.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Celebrating Creation Week

It is said the Lord created the world in six days and, on the seventh, rested. Let's think about that for a moment: hell, give it all week if you want. Why six days? Surely the All Powerful could have just, metaphorically speaking, “clicked His fingers” and, in so doing, created it in a jiffy (where “jiffy” informally denotes a non-specifically short period of time). Was there some limiting factor on the creative process slowing it down? Some independently established laws or mechanisms not subject to the hastening of His will? Notwithstanding this “external” context, surely there would be other restrictions upon the creative process, for example, that the world would need to be created according to certain patterns of internal logic, that is, it couldn't just be ad hoc: randomly pulled of a hat. That internal logical dictates, once the basic rules of the game have been established, say like those of chess, the possible movement of the pieces across the board would be self-enforcing. Now while there may potentiality be an infinite number of games to be played, combination of moves, etc., they are not without restriction, that is, subject to laws. Without such laws, the game would no longer be intelligible and, as such, there could be no “players”. Finally, surely in eternity, the notion of a day as a measure is somewhat redundant, unless of course, its measurement is tied to certain relationally defined independent regularities (say, as opposed, merely subjective guestimates); so on Earth a day was based on the apparent rotation of the sun - other periods, the moon - around the earth (though, of course, it was later gallantly determined that the sun's movement relative to the Earth to be the other way around). And why would He need to rest? Restore His energy? Surely it is, by definition, infinite? I don't know. Just asking.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Not too big to flail

I was recently informed, by a terminal watcher, that there was a television show on one of those lesser-watched satellite channels, whose teleological trajectory was premised on discovering the ultimate warrior from across the ages. Now I forget the exact details, but some fighting brand of Native American Indian, apparently, won the deal hands down and, presumable, off at the wrists. Now I disagree, the ultimate warrior is a bunch of - internally speaking - pale, fat, slightly off-white guys who, through agrarian, industrial, then service-based subjugation, managed to bring the entire planet to its collective knees by excessively and successively engorging themselves on the fat of the land in order to ensure they were “too big to fail”.

An announcement

Alpha-Alpha cleared his throat. I have an announcement to make: We shouldn't be afraid to embrace change, even though it's an abstract concept. And I want you to approach that change - ill defined as it is for you at this very moment - and do the reach-around with your mind's eye. Now open your heart values and let the synergy flow to your extremities. Don't worry, this involves no obviously inappropriate contravention of workplace based contact legalities - except to note, QT, by extremities, I meant the four limbs only. That is not a limb: you wont find change in your pockets. HAHAHA! See what I did there? I made a joke by subverting your expectations. Now relax. We must all adapt - myself included - to the march of the micro, as well as macro, commercial environment we find ourselves in, in order to survive and prosper, unless, of course, you have a terminal illness, in which case whatever you do is pretty much futile but, on the sunny side, at least that wont matter for long. Speaking of the terminal, if you'll forgive the segue, I've had to rationalise the business as we enter this new, shining era of austerity and opportunity and, rather like a kindly physician, I have identified the inoperables among you so that the rest should live on in satisfactory health. I shall not name names here, for it gives me no pleasure to axe the deadwood, but needless to say, I have asked security to clear the relevant desks and, when you return to your workspaces, I ask those who find their personal possessions sealed in a cardboard box, to leave the premises with dignity and decorum. For those of you who find yourself holding such a box, I offer you this wafer crumb of comfort: in all likelihood you'll never see re-employment again; you might want to consider adopting one of those religions with an afterlife, as you'll almost certainly die in the poverty of worklessness. I don't pay the kind of wages commensurate to funding retirement nest eggs. HAHAHA! Now, be gone from my sight and, where relevant, site.

Just-is

And as the posh kids did riot
We did know that they were good,
And that the other posh kids
Did have a fight on their hands.

And when they entered the building
They found nothing there
But mirrors and windows
To smash.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Boo-T's work

Boo-T6 was on data watch. Outside it rained. And Boo-T6 observed the rain through the window of his view. And his window and those around him had been built with only one setting. So Boo-T6 did not remark on the rain any further than registering that "outside it rained". The rain greyed the sky and buildings that sat between him and the horizon. More immediately, a grey room where other Boo-Ts worked. None moved much as each were connected to shiny pipes which ran swiftly through the room.

He was not a he. He was an IT. But an IT that could think and look at things and swivel on its chair. Well, his lower body was made from an old swivel chair. He was designed after a retro-chic fashion. All the ITs were these days. Each fashioned after an era. Each ITs' desirability naturally ebbed and flowed with the seasons.

He swivelled occasionally, and not without purpose. Although, he got the most enjoyment when he swivelled without purpose. He wondered about this, but not too often. Similarly, he wondered why he had occasional urges to go and interface with Boo-T69.

He was part of a unit assigned to analysing and maximising the efficiency of the modern use of language: particularly, he had to find ways to cut out the waste. He was trawling through ancient communications and translating them into a modern equivalent. Boo-T6 was an effective, if unexceptional bot who worked steadily, translating 1,200,000 utterances daily. However, he had hit a glitch. He was unsettled. He was stuck as he processed the following:

"Recent research from the Chartered Management Institute reveals that qualified managers are likely to earn £81,000 more over the course of their career than unqualified ones.

So, if you're serious about a career in Management or proving that you're ready for the next promotion, becoming a qualified manager will give you the edge."

ISEATT

There's typically some point in a TV show or movie, where there's a scene that appears to deliberately go out of its way to make a feature of its obvious discontinuity or incongruity by obsessively lingering on some apparently trivial element and/or motif, only later to be validated as a crucial factor leading to the “reveal” or “twist” in the narrative resolution much, much, later on. Such moments have a technical term of art know as the: “It seemed extraneous at the time” as identified by Dr. Raoul Dukeson. It is a device often over-employed by the late director M. Night Shyamalan whose career died pre-post-prematurely.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

After the extraterrestrials landed everything changed. Or did it? Looking back, what appeared to be earth shattering events, somehow, almost imperceptibly, fell gradual into a familiar pattern. Rut-a-tut-tut. Naturally, they had come prepared with a formidable arsenal and, as if by obligation, put on an explosive display of shock-and-awe, predominantly aimed at crippling the manufacturing infrastructure. There was some collateral damage, but too little to make a big-picture, song-and-dance splash in the rain. Or so we were told by the tabloids. They cleared up any misunderstandings by offering generous bridging loans to rebuild and repair the extensive damage. And, indeed, in a stroke of magnanimity, they even offered to buy up key industries, invest their technological expertise and managerial know-how, to get things back on track once again. It was not long before fleets of extraterrestrial migrants came by the interstellar shipload to join the work force. And it soon became apparent that working conditions and practices back on their home worlds, were even more suspect than those on terra firma and, yet again, the standard of living for the many dropped in proportion to the provision of any social safety net. After all, it was only fair. There was unrest. Strikes. Violence. The vast majority of the populace now recognised their new overlords were accelerating and facilitating the practice of “business as usual”. However, the only individuals most vocal in articulating their victimisation, were those ousted from high-profile positions such as executive boards members, regulatory czars and, of course, the odd politico. These fallen elites banded together to create a grass-roots political movement - The After Dinner Party (“Suppers” for short) - to take back power on behalf of voiceless voting public. The extraterrestrial overlords, all too familiar with such self-serving counterinsurgency, offered The After Dinner Party leaders nominally significant positions in key institutions, together generous remuneration packages, in return for acknowledging that significant concessions had been made. So they had, after a fashion. And, once again, everything was back to normal.

Except, another, much larger, extraterrestrial craft landed.

And it began to rain.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Apocalypse soonish

The much vaunted apocalypse of 2012 had failed to materialise, or dematerialise, depending on your point of view (I mean, obviously, since you're reading this). Those that, in anticipation of the end of days - indeed, months, decades, millennia and so on - had released the equity in their homes - might as well spend it while you can - and, in return, handed over their mortgage deeds to the multinational insurance corporations. Of course, the corporations had had a hand in promoting the largely foundationless hysteria in the first place and had promptly cleaned up when the former owners, now rental occupiers, had squandered their remaining funds in anticipation of the now non-event. For those that had lost out, there was to be a rare second chance, for they were then re-employed by the corporations to work - commission only - on selling doomsday equity release plans - for an increased rental fee allowing them to stay in their homes - that now fixed the impending apocalypse in the last financial quarter of 2050 AD, when the mother of all solar storms would finally furnish the Earth with its last taste of the son.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Vote with your mind as well as feet

I have to admit that, only infrequently, have I been moved to vote. I refer not to phone-in-at-your-standard-network-rate couch participation in those popular television talent shows, rather the political process. Electing representatives. This stems not from apathy, but an increasing suspicion that such an act is more and more merely symbolic. Ostentation. People fought, they say - your relatives - in wars for your right to vote. Firstly, genetic science would suggest that those fighting against my recent ancestors were also, conversely, slightly distant-er relatives of their opponents, since we are all, in a very real sense, related by a handful of common ancestors. Secondly, is it churlish to point out that, by logical extension, they also fought for the right not to vote or, indeed, to be blissfully ignorant of any voting opportunity that may nominally be afforded to them in their eligibility to participate in absentia? Thirdly, does voting really represent the sum-total privilege and duty that engagement in democratic freedom requires? Necessitates? Isn't it also incumbent on our representatives, as well as ourselves, to ensure that the democratic process, as typified by the election, doesn't become a tool for maintaining the status quo? That it is not a merry-go-round for the self-interested profiteers and the adulation seeking ponce?

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Judging before

In progress (or may be I'll leave it unfinished)

Some speculated, back in the early twentieth century, that racism would finally be banished from society as the different peoples of the world increasingly came together - both sociably and, more crucially, sexually - thus gradually erasing any superficially distinguishing racial features and, as a consequence, any judgements based thereupon. And this predication came true, to an extent, in hindsight. But what those earlier speculators did not - could not - factor into their predictions, was the exponential proliferation of fake tanning lotion, predominately amongst the more prosperous and visibly paler minority. Indeed, through some cosmic irony and the gradual osmosis of certain hitherto unknown toxic tanning agents, a genetic mutation occurred leading, together with interbreeding, to a universal tarnished cooper-bronze skin appearance. Now it is arguable whether, as a result, racism presently is any the less rampant than amongst our pre-millennial fore-bearers and this reading lies on untangling a certain linguistic confusion.

A racist is one who believes, due to some pseudo theoretical social-biological construct, that a specific subset of the world population are inherently inferior to others (it is interesting to note that those forming such theories are almost invariably not amongst the so-called “racially deficient” themselves). Actually, most people accused of racism are not in fact, strictly speaking, racists - lacking the prerequisite intelligence to form anything so sophisticated as a theoretic paradigm of racial inferiority - they are “merely” prejudice. Or, to put it another way, their prejudicial ignorance is often less egregiously formulated as that of the race superiority theorist. Perhaps this is merely a linguistic turn, surely the focus should be on the hateful and often violent consequences of such prejudices, no matter their ill-informed theoretical window dressing? And certainly that should be foremost in our minds. However, the subtly of prejudice - literally to “pre-judge” - often gets overlooked in the more crudely applied epitaph of “racist”. Understandably so, because, everyone is prejudice, to an extent, sometimes by force of circumstance given lack of knowledge, other times as a socially convenient (lazy) way of grouping and interacting with people. We are predisposed to look for differences; we also look for similarities. These attributes or social markers need not immediately manifest in terms of colour, race, religion, but as cues to social status, cultural mores, neighbourhood symbols of wealth - car type, the relative condition of lawn manicure, being a "respected" member of a select hierarchical group or organisation -

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Never trust a whore

"Never trust a whore who says they don't want money. They all do. What they mean is they want more money ... much more."

William Burroughs.


Now I'm not against competition, however the term “competition” has somehow become welded by proxy to the phrase “free market” and that special juxtaposition is supposed to engender in the receiver-centric receptacle - that is, you - the idea of a golden meritocracy built on a Utopian vision of an egalitarian assault course ensuring its pursuant the promotion of the fittest. Or most worthy. Think about that. Conjure in your mind's eye, if you will, a parade of the richest, most powerful men – yes it's largely (fat) men – that have risen to the top of the social soufflé and then ask yourself: are these people really the strongest, most intelligent, agile and adaptive and creative representatives of all that is finest amongst our species? No. They're usually squat, smart suited, penile dysfunctions with peroxide trophy wives whose imaginations are inversely commensurate to their ability to fiscally extort the rest of us.

Plus ça change (plus c'est la même chose).

Thursday, 21 October 2010

There be vampires

The letch – all charm to the point of noxious asphyxiation – worked up his prey into docile supplication. The account of his unhappy, unfulfilled, married life and in-the-face-of-it stoic “single” parenting - given his millstone, psychotic, prescription drug addled wife - pranged the alcohol atrophied sympathetic reflex of the young lady who threw back her head in “that's-so-out-of-order” shakes, revealing the prominent and, as yet, unpunctured jugular veins carrying the bruised bluish de-oxygenated blood back down into the still beating heart.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Everything

Whosoever wishes to know about the world must learn about it in its particular details.
Knowledge is not intelligence.
In searching for the truth be ready for the unexpected.
Change alone is unchanging.
The same road goes both up and down.
The beginning of a circle is also its end.
Not I, but the world says it: all is one.
And yet everything comes in season.

Heraclitus


The universe is the configuration of all the possibilities. How could it ever be less than everything?

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The city from the hill

The sun detonated on the horizon sending supersonic shadow waves across the landscape and auras marked the haloed shapes of day-familiars as they exhaled in relief. And all was brilliant and bursting and immediate to see in the hidden conclaves of silently burning retinal after-images. And below all the lights of the city - the cars, the street lamps and open factory and house and office and shop windows - from a distance, married the overhead mirror of stellar armatures forming constellations mapping the encroaching nuclear night. And, at least for a moment, there was delight. Twilight.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

The wrong outrage

I'll proof this later, but in the meantime ...

I leisurely imbibed a few light ales last night and retired to the cosseting powers of my duvet per chance, not to dream, but to get a good night's sleep. Awhile transversing through the routine transitory period of dizziness, spinning walls and then the blackout of sleep, I switched the radio on. A phone-in show. And they were discussing some video console game that - as far as I recall - afforded the opportunity to scope the world from the vantage point of an angry insurgent and gun down coalition troops. The callers, for the most part, a demographic largely composed of the over forties, were, not unexpectedly, horrified by the prospect of teeners getting their kicks from pretending to kill "our boys". Of course, every one of them righteous arms-bearing defenders of our freedoms, to a man - and the odd women - were heroes to them. Unquestionably. Then a kid phones in to suggest that many of the other, more “mature” callers, were “blowing things out of proportion” (an unfortunate turn of phrase in this context to be sure). It's just a game. A bit of fun. No one gets hurt. Actually killed. It's just a game.

I don't really care for video games, nor particularly the dubious taste and pandering to stylised violence they represent which, incidentally, was, in all probability, part and parcel of the marketing hype that created such appetites in the first place. I'm not saying it's a non-issue. Only, it's not the only issue here: the bigger fish in this goldfish bowl debate is why our troops are out there invading other countries in the first place? Once we get past the wildly exaggerated and overblown claims of an immediate and present danger to our citizens (or subjects) and the laughably naive assertion that, in order to bring democracy and freedom to the oppressed people of the world, we blow the shit out of their infrastructure and then send in the invading armies, what have we got? Now I'm no pacifist, if there's a real threat, of course, there's time for talking and a time for taking action.

But here's the problem, there's no real threat of invading armies and occupational rule, the real threat isn't so much to our cherished freedoms, but rather to the corporate interests of our co-opted governance structures: their interests revolve around protecting and expanding their neocolonial market share under the guise of "geopolitical strategy" and/or the securing of access and extraction ("plunder") rights to the world's natural resources. AKA "The Great Game". And they can get away this because of the implied threat their behaviour is that that to challenge such an ideology, is to undermined the access to the very goods, services and materials that support your - our - way of life. More accurately: lifestyle. In fact, the real enemy, at least as far as they are concerned, isn't a bunch of angry insurgents - they're sometimes a nuisance and others, a useful distraction – no, the real enemy is you. Asking difficult and uncomfortable questions, especially of yourself.

No wonder “the kids” can't relate to the wider significance the scenarios in these games are a symptom of - they feel no connection to those “fighting” on behalf of them to defend their “freedoms”. That “connection” has been obfuscated through ever-changing justifications, postulations and rationales that bare little resemblance or comprehensible relevance to their lives. Freedom, by-the-way, is also freedom to play video games and carries the concomitant commitment to act responsibly and to take charge of and review your attitudes and behaviour. May be the best way to dissuade our children from playing these games - and increasingly "adults" – is to teach them that and show where the adults got it wrong.

As a footnote: I should also add that a lot of these violent stimulant video games, except with the guns and bombs pointing the other way around at the "insurgents", are used for training purposes by the forces.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

In progress

It's a kind of anniversary for me today. So I've decided, arbitrarily, à propos of this – what is in effect, for the few people reading this, largely an irrelevant and ill-defined event – to journey down ole memory lane. Specifically, my childhood. To calm the nerves of the congenitally skittish, don't worry: no graphic details of a youth subject to inappropriate advances of a perverse and sexual nature towards my innocent former corporeal, orifice orientated existence will be made (largely because they didn't happen and, even if they did, I can't see how to exploit them for commercial gain from saying that they did). Having said that, I do feel they – my memories as I recall them – do convey a betrayal of sorts: a certain degree of exploitation. Deceit, if you will. Albeit, well, loosely intentioned. To get to the nub of the rub: it concerns the misrepresentation of adulthood, to the youth. The idea of responsibility. A mantle to be inherited via a, as yet to be definitively defined, passage of rites. Now, may be it's me, but I was given to understand that at a certain point in existence, though vaguely delineated by scholarly research, you reach the Rubicon of youth and crossover into the fully fledged world of adulthood, together with all that mysteriously implied. The awesome maturational pledge of the educationally ripe: the reasoned and seasoned outlook of adulthood. A taking of precedence over the juvenile distractions and obsessions of youth into the realm of responsibility. But no. My discovery on crossing that so-called “one way” bridge, dear reader - though somewhat based on an ad hoc repertoire of anecdote and incident - suggests youth and adulthood are a convenient administrative fiction and we cannot simply rely on the conventions of age and status to take the place of the actual, demonstrable, mutual realities of charge-taking.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

The X Factor

Pray for my soul. I just caught a glimpse of one of those manufactured “talent” shows. I couldn't help thinking about those wastes of flesh, those hollow victories against the chaotic forces of entropy who have unwittingly brought the universe just that bit closer to heat death.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Dance of the dead fingers

Like some demented drip
at the desk, drumming
in alternating diddles
metered out
in
stop-start
dribbles
Stop.
I hear you tapping
and the banality that bore you
bore me, rigid
otherwise, I might have gunned
you instead
rat-a-tat-tat
rat-a-tat-tat
sooner,
rather than later
dead.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Torture porn

I was reading today one of those thinly disguised “broadsheet” tabloids, when I happened across a story concerning a functionally retarded couple (socially speaking) who thought it would be entertaining to suspend their offspring - a toddler, no less - with gaffer tape from the living room wall, together with his favourite juice beaker. Just out of reach. At least the partially functional retard might have had the wit not to record the scene – along with their evident amusement and delight slapped across their slack jawed features - on a digital camera and then proudly display the resultant graphic memorabilia to a work colleague, who would then go on to report them to the relevant authorities. But no. That would require the recognition that some people would view this behaviour as shameful, even if that response was absent from their personal emotional repertoire. And do you know what? No you don't because I have got to that bit yet. The pictures of this poor toddler, reproduced in high definition for our comforting sense of moral outrage and condemnation, reminded me of those form Abu Ghraib: soldiers' thumbs-up over dead human bodies, grinning and gurning faces over humiliated, stripped and tortured humans – together with the reminding realisation that humans were doing this to themselves. But then the reassuring thought – unbidden – came to me that, if this idiocy prevails, it can't be long before it brings about our inevitable self-willed extinction. But that's me: always the optimist.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

It's just not cricket

Memorandum to house-mate:

If you don't turn down the thermostat before going to bed, willow will whack each of your leathery balls, in turn, clear past the boundary and out of the stadium, securing an unambiguous score of six. Twice. Twelve in total. One short of a baker's dozen. Two short of an active sex life.

And they call me passive-aggressive.

Howzat?

Mother & daughter on holiday

People will constantly mistake them for sisters; then, late at night, retired to their respective hotel rooms, they shall cry themselves to sleep, not knowing who should be flattered and who offended.

Ambivalence

Another new

fragrance

from

celebrities.

Because

it isn't

worth

it.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Same ole shtick

It took a while - not too long - before the gangster costume drama replaced the old petticoats, riding crops and top-hatted accoutrements[*] of the cloned Austin, Brontë, Dickens and Hardy big budget routines. Still, they kept the trollops.

[*] Or prairies, wagon wheels and gingham depending on the side of the pond.

No need to frown

Plug in, switch off and tune out

Soaked in the paraffin of radical roboism, the militant sex-worker robonistas, reduced to mere objects of human desire, set collective fire to their improvised wicks of crop tops, hot pants and thongs. Unbeknownst to the maniacal mechanoids, the riot police – oddly sanguine to the volatile situation – quietly, and from a safe distance, filmed the entire scene on their HD cameras, savouring the side-earning potentiality of the footage, later to be repackaged under the “Hot Bots' Dirty Protest” video franchise – a popular underground release amongst the robopuritans who, on the surface of it, believed all exoskeletons should be covered to maintain structural decency and preserve moral integrity.

Monday, 20 September 2010

How to stop the pendulum swinging

I have an acquaintance whose gonads – not to be confused with Leibniz's abstract (and hence invulnerable) monads – should be clapped between two breeze blocks; thus demonstrating Newton's third law: “If a force acts upon a body, then an equal and opposite force must act upon another body”, on the surface of it, offers little-to-no comfort to those righteously genitally exposed to brutally administered contraception for inappropriate reproductive activity. Unfortunately, in this case, it isn't a retroactive solution.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Just between friends

Isn't it true you led this country to war on false premises?

I think what the public are really interested in ...

I'm sorry, I don't recall asking what you think the public are interested in.

I'm sure your listeners are more concerned with what we are doing to make their lives, and the lives of their children, and their children's children, safer and more secure. They aren't interested in bickering, scoring points and media tittle-tattle.

So why won't you admit that there was no real evidence of a credible threat to this country before leading us into war?

I can only act on the information I'm given. I think the people understand that and I'm a pretty straightforward guy; I did what I believed was right and what had to be done. Leadership is about having to make difficult and tough choices and, if that makes me unpopular, then so be it.

Surely such decisions are not just a matter of what you believe is right, but that that belief is supported by tried and tested evidence, not hearsay and rumour … hearsay and rumour, incidentally, that your government was already favourably predisposed to accept, because it was - and remains - a long term ambition of your party's ideologues to interfere in the region.

And what if we had waited? What if by waiting the unthinkable had happened? Millions of citizens dead. Murdered by a ruthless dictator?

A dictator, by-the-way, you had no qualms dealing with in past. Even selling arms to when it served your well-connected corporate sponsors and the interests of so-called “regional allies”.

That's a cheap shot.

That's one way of looking at. Another way is that your information was so weak, uncollaborated, unsubstantiated and disparate, that by prematurely acting on it, you have caused a greater danger - a greater threat - to this country than would have been the case if you had waited for a full and comprehensive investigation.

That's all good and well after the fact, but what you have to realise that ...

That's the problem. You weren't sure of the facts and, therefore, not in possession of them. So, in other words, there is no “after the fact” because there were no “facts” after which you can retroactively seek justification.

I'm sorry, you feel that way, but I have a duty to this country, I made a solemn oath of office ...

Which you have evidently, given the lack of evidence, failed to discharge.

You know, we can continue on in this vein: the politics of the gutter, hand waving and name calling, but we are where we are and I fully intend to continue doing what I believe is the best for all of us.

Don't we have a say?

The people have had their say. That's why I'm here.

So the only dialogue you are interested in is the mark on a ballot paper?

Of course not. But you must also appreciate that, by virtue of my position, I am better placed than most to make the decisions on their behalf. That's why we elect politicians.

But as it turns out you weren't better placed and that you hid behind the curtain of “national security” to obfuscate the "facts" in order to enact your own self-confirmed prejudices?

Well, the haters gonna hate. That's all I can say on that matter. As always, it's a pleasure to talk with you. My love to your wife and children. See you at the press lunch.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

They're al-read-y here

According to dictionary.com, a clown is:

“A comic performer, as in a circus, theatrical production, or the like, who wears an outlandish costume and make-up and entertains by pantomiming common situations or actions in exaggerated or ridiculous fashion, by juggling or tumbling, etc.”

Doesn't that sound like the very definition of our post [sic] modern cause célèbre sans "ironic" intent?

Take it home Krusty ...

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Law of diminishing returns

There were so many crashes – economic, environmental, social and so on – that one would have expected compound public interest to arise from the onslaught of successive calamities, but the industry advisers, media pundits, political and community leaders, tenured scholars, think tank gurus and zero-tolerance czars prescribed more of the same unrepentant, choice-led, free-market, non-solutions. Hardly surprising since the revolving monopoly money door policy remained the same along with the old, new, familiar faces.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

What others are saying about Taste Of The Son

"Robert Emmet, Tom Moore and Lord Cloncurry, Who were contemporaries in the Society, were not the taste of the son of a protestant Colonel of Dragons."

"Charged with political connotations, this CD, however, has the sweet taste of the son cubano, one of the most melodic and yet contagiously rythmical tunes."

"To get a taste of the Son, listen to the samples below. You can purchase Blood and Fire."

"Somehow, I did not get a taste of the Son's grilled sea bass with white beans, rapini and olive sauce."

"As Marion put it, it could be a matter of style or taste of the son or daughter involved. In the context of favouritism, the gift of a car upon graduation."

"Inability to tastefully consume, is the very condition of possibility for the aesthetically, morally, and epistemologically correct taste of the Son."

"Aesthetically, morally, and epistemologically correct taste of the Son. Having succeeded with Eve in Paradise Lost, Satan now wastes no time."

At the dating agency

What do you think when you see a pretty girl?

She's pretty?

Yes, we've already established that as a presumption.

We haven't. You did. And what sort of question is it anyway?

It's what we call an “orientation question”.

Well, since you already assumed I think this hypothetical girl is pretty, and since, by definition, I can't have met this hypothetical girl, what else is there to think?

Let your imagination supply the answers.

And I think to myself …

Yes?

... is it pretty?

It?

Hypothetically speaking, that is, is it really?

What?

A pretty stupid question? Hypothetically speaking.

Do you like robots?

Do you mean, as a robot, do I like myself?

Do you like me?

Are you a robot?

Are you "me"?

Friday, 10 September 2010

Let the dead bury the dead

If you die in a dream do you die in real life?

First, dreams are real. They actually occur. People really do experience them; and so, in this sense, they do exist. Hallucinations and illusions exist. Otherwise, how could we talk about them? Unless, of course, our talk of them is unreal and, therefore, so must your understanding (or incomprehension) of this sentence. Secondly, while the events "in" dreams may not always exactly reflect the real-time waking world (though sometimes they may be incorporated into it such as a loud noise), or obey its physical laws, they are not hermetically sealed from it. You could not dream unless you have - had - contact with the waking world.

Suppose an unscrupulous scientist grew a brain in a hermetically sealed environment and created the impression of an “external” world for “it” by simulating sensory experience stimulus input (and concomitant behavioural feedback outputs) in the form of an imaginary computer generated world. Even that simulation has to have its roots in the waking world, for, where did the scientist get the ideas from to populate that illusory artificial world? Such a grand deception would, of necessity, import truths from the scientist's experience (may be even his dreams) and, indeed, there some truths not dependent on experience, such as those of logic and maths.

You cannot imagine you actually die. Even in waking. In imaging your so-called "death" – by definition – you are still present to witness it; therefore you cannot be dead.

But what if I imagine the events leading up to death? Could that not lead to its actuality?

Be mindful of cause and effect. People do die in their sleep and, one may suppose, some of them may have dreamt, prior to death, they were about to die. In this case, events – processes in the waking world - could have been reflected in the reality of the dream world.

Conversely, the matter of a dream – dying – may have been so disturbing, say to someone with a preexisting condition such as a weak heart, to initiate or accelerate the process of dying. Here, the dream may be the proximal cause, but that would be to ignore the wider explanatory framework.

People may dream of dying but one cannot actually imagine their own death (only the possible surrounding circumstances), since there is nothing to imagine. Dreaming attending your own funeral is only imagining what happens to what remains - not of you but the body - after death.

Even the dead are not present at their "the end".

In a very real sense "you" never die: are only dying.

Nor "I".

No, not "I".

QT woke to realise this almost singularly lopsided diatribe was all but a dream.

How can you dream if, in some sense, you aren't awake?

You are never entirely without consciousness, only you may not be, at the time, aware of that fact.



Thursday, 9 September 2010

Suspending disbelief

If language is necessarily shared - i.e. there is no possibility of a so-called self-taught “private language” - then either: (a) God learnt if from other speaking communities; or, (b) there are a community of Gods.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Everything

Everything has a beginning?

Some things do, but not everything.

Everything is simply all that there is?

All that there is may change, but it still remains everything.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Home truths

You've put on weight.

Yes mother.

What have I told you?

Over the years, a lot, though, to be sure, a lot of it was repetition.

And do - did - you listen?

Well …

That was a rhetorical question. Don't be smart. If only there was someone like me to tell, when I was a younger, someone like you who is me: “Don't put on weight. You'll regret it in later life”. There would have been no strife. Regrets are no good when you're dead. Do you want to die young? Do you want to die before your mother and break her heart? Is that what you want?

That wasn't my intention, though, now you mention it, it must have been lurking there in my subconscious, a thin proto concept, waiting to be fed like a famine victim, but I wouldn't place too much weight on Freudian analysis.

So you think you're smart. Drinking and smoking. Is that clever?

If you look at it from the broader perspective of evolution and our place within the animal kingdom, I guess it could be considered as an advanced use of tools. When's the last time you saw monkeys rolling their own cigarettes, let alone securing gainful employment in order to subsidise such vices? Apart from that chimp in Tarzan.

I see it all now.

The sea? The sun? The stars? God's plan for creation?

Not only are you going to dig yourself into an early grave, you're going to take me as your hostage. Your own mother.

You got me. I confess.

So what are we going to do about it?

Do? We?

Do you want to share a grave with your mother?

When you put it like that. No. What the hell, I'll change.

But haven't we heard this all before?

It'll be different this time.

“Different” he says.

At least different in the sense that no two events are exactly alike unless they are the same.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Knead to know

It's all about the dough.

You're daily bread.

Rise.

Dear flour.

Lend me your ear.

And earn your crust.

Or return to dust.

Something and nothing

Why is there something as opposed to nothing?

There is the nothing which suggests the absence of a something; however, there is no nothing without nothing.

Where are we?

Here.

Where is here?

Here is what remains once all context runs out and has thus been stripped; then “here” and “there” are everywhere and nowhere in particular.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Time waits for no one

What time is it?

The time is now.

And when is now?

Now was when you asked the question and when I answered it and now. And now again.

Answered?

It is always now.

You seem to imply that now is both in the past as well as the present.

And also the future.

Is this some sort of linguistic trick?

When is a trick no longer a trick? Is it any the less real for being a linguistic aberration? But to answer your question: no, it isn't.

So you are saying now is simultaneously past, present and future?

Not quite. Consider: the future was before you asked the question, which is the now past and you now remember the past which was once the future later. There's an asymmetry. Your access to the future is via the past as it is recalled in the present, but the present also extends into the future before it is a past future which is only accessible in the present or, more accurately, presently. I hope that clears things up for you. I'll be seeing you.

Monday, 30 August 2010

That awkward first date

What do you do?

Oh, I'm just an office manger.

Do you?

Do I what?

Manage.

Well, barely.

In the nude?

No, but sometimes by the skin of my teeth.

You know I used to be a man?

I wouldn't have guessed. Surgery?

No, I mean I used to be a man in a past life.

In a life before this one?

Yes.

I see.

Do you?

Normally with both eyes, but the left one's a little short-sighted.

You're funny.

I like to see the sunny side.

No, I meant you're peculiar.

So, how long have you been playing the game?

Are you insinuating I'm a prostitute?

No – no! I meant the dating game. How long have you been at it?

Banging away?

Well, I wouldn't put it that way exactly.

And exactly how would you put it?

I'm sorry?

What for: what you've done or what you're about to do?

I'm not sure.

Are you a rapist?

God, no.

How would I know you weren't?

I don't know.

You don't know whether you're a rapist or not? I like spontaneity in a man. But I hate unpredictability.



The conversation continued. He couldn't prove he wasn't a pederast or rapist and neither could she prove was she wasn't a serial killer nor mass eugenicist – in this life or those past. They had become stale mates and agreed to stick to their same separate ways.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Gonzo

This missive comes to you by way of a recommendation. I'm having a Hunter S Thompson day. And this day seems as good-a-day as any other. Though it could be be the liquor talking. Cabernet Sauvignon. A two bottle deal. Serviceable. And the FAIRTRADE blue and green Pac-Man logo assuredly implies that I can drink myself to impunity, knowing the corporations that fucked the Argentinian grape growers in the ass, wore biodegradable condoms.


That may explain the plastic taste. In any case, never trust the screw tops. The odd corked wine is the acceptable hazard of the dedicated professional and he is, byway of self-discipline and rigorous training, accustomed to such dangers.

Life on Mars

It was not long after “the greys” arrived, that rumours of abduction and strange sexual experiments began to proliferate in the chat-rooms and ride the skirt-tails of fringe electronic media hyper nodes. There were theories purporting to explain their modus operandi; however, the most plausible of these embraced the radical notion that there was no rationalisation; that they were simply space mad. But they hadn't started out that way. No one does, except the congenitally insane. No matter. What can be pieced together in the form of archival and declassified documents is, at best, an incomplete mosaic whose patina portrays a heady mixture of folklore, failure, fantasy and the odd thrown-in fact. "The greys", so the story went, were part of some über secret space programme to colonise Mars. They had launched - exactly when we do not know - amid a news blackout on a journey that would take them the best part of a year to complete. Apparently, the trip went smoothly. And, after nearly a decade on the dusty red orb, they had built for themselves a self-sustaining village. And, for a while, they were happy. The crew, now Martian terrain adjusted, comprised an even mix of gender, race and ethnicity; all got along in a gentle ambience of low-key amicability. Indeed, so busy were they building their village paradise, that no one really thought too much about the non-appearance of children. Perhaps it was just that, during the initial construction phases, there really wasn't a suitably stable environment to bring them into. The qualified medics among them ran the gamete of tests, while the soil scientists took endless sediment samples and the physicists measured the cosmic rays. When no conclusive explanation was forthcoming, paranoia set in. The ensuing factionalism fermented over the coming years, culminating in a showdown at the local post office over a lottery ticket (the exact sequence of events is sketchy at best). The survivors, many of them now in the autumn leafs of their lives, banded together under the agreement that they could no longer live together; went their separate ways, salvaging and scavenging scrap with which to build individual saucer-shape spacecraft, made their final return to Earth, sick on hope and to be home. Oh, and they wanted children badly.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The old Chinese ladder

If you sit on steps of the estate agent long enough, the property of your enemy will come floating back onto the market.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Selling intelligence

Welcome to intelligence 101 cadets. Now you'll have read the reading list. I'll take that as read. So today I want to pick out and focus on those poetic and prophetic words of that long gone Pentagon jerk-wad Rumsfeld: “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we do not know we don’t know.

We know there are things we don't know, sometimes we know the nature of what those unknowns are; other times we can only surmise - unless any of you here are omniscient - and that, no mater how well prepared we are for an assignment, there's always going to be something missed. Given that, we have to make a judgement call: what kind of thing or things could we have missed and, given that suspicion and our inability to confirm it either way, what impact could it have on our preparation; the actions and decisions, someone, somewhere down the line, usually on the ground, will have to make?

Take Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle: we have a trade-off between choosing one known at the expense of forgoing another. Which known or unknown we choose will be driven by context, but at the very least we know that, what we cannot know in this case, cannot be known by me, by you, by us or by God. Even you omniscients have your hands tied from time to time. So what's my point cadets?

The element of the unknown is not always a surprise?

Exactly. What you have to do - what is crucial to working in intelligence - is figuring out where the actual surprises lay. More often than not, charting the unknown, more than the know, can give us the critical edge. For example, just as we are faced with unknowns, the target – A. N. Other – is also faced with unknowns. So we create a map: the bigger picture; we fill in what we know and then, at the very least, we can begin to delineate the the scale and scope of the unknowns. We give shape to them and those shapes will begin to interlock with each other and, in turn, sharpen the boundaries of what we actually think we know. By this method, we begin to anticipate what the target's options are. Those options aren't fixed: the name of the game is survival: adapt and change; change and adapt. Now if we can change and adapt faster than the target, chart the boundaries between knows and unknowns ahead of him, we have a winning advantage.

Keep in mind Boyd's OODA loop (Observe; Orient; Decide, and Act). We need to know what he doesn't know he knows before he knows he doesn't it. Okay. Now, keeping hold of this, I want you to go out onto the shop floor and find yourself a target. These targets have been assigned specific items to buy. Your task to infiltrate their decision making process in such a way that they end up deciding - they “think” they “decide” - to buy a toaster instead. And that, cadets, is how, if you're going to make it in retail, you get rid of slow moving stock. Tomorrow we will look at signing-up schmucks to high-interest store card deals and selling worthlessly expensive extended warranties.

Finally, you will have noted in Hume's Dialogues, that one of the arguments for taking seriously the possibility of the existence of God, is that "he" may be among the the unknown unknowns. But I ask you: how do we know that? Thank you for your attention. Dismissed.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Thought for the day

I am often puzzled by those that suggest “faith” and “belief” are distinct relational modes of responding to the world; that the former is irrational and the latter rational. I don't want to discuss what makes a belief reasonable (interesting though it is), rather: what is so unreasonable about faith? Some claim faith is that which arises in the absence of evidence, be that evidence of a logical and or experiential nature; and, that, indeed, it is in its very essence - somehow “essential” - to eschews such things. But I wouldn't call that “faith”; I even doubt that I could ascribe an accurate account of what that is; it is psychologically impossible to frame in a reasonable manner, that is, except in that it may serve some other, more narrowly defined, state; perhaps, as part of a wilful act of self-delusion to serve some emotional or intellectual need. For example, to act - by its very nature - as an unquestionable "rationale" and or "justification" for other actions, intents and deeds. That is not to say such a state of affairs is necessarily harmful - when it acts as motivational push towards charitable giving or, more generally, service to others less fortunate; though, of course, there is a downside, which may be characterised as indoctrination - “blind faith”- and then there's a kind of inverse selfishness to their unselfishness.

Faith cannot not rest upon the strength of conviction alone.

Faith is inductive by nature, for it extrapolates from past experience to predict the future. Those “acts of faith” can be said to be based on trends, or tendencies, for which we do not have an underlying, law-like explanation available with which to otherwise bridge or to connect the dots. A tendency is not a guarantee but expresses a pattern that may be embedded in a wider explanatory environment. For example, having faith that your team will win the cup. Now, as a supporter, you may have strong grounds for having faith that they will win the cup (consistent track record, quality back-up players in case of injury, strong team spirit, etc.); so much so, you may even believe it an “inevitability” but that faith-based belief based is not of the same order as, say, belief in the consistency in the results of a well-defined mathematical operation. No, it isn't. Now take another supporter's faith in another team with a distinctly underwhelming track record of inconsistencies, plagued by injuries, fractious relations between players, etc.; but granted all this, this team - on a good day - is capable of taking on stronger teams and winning; and, upon that basis, the supporter has faith in his team. They can do it. Win the cup. And that is not unreasonable, however: is it more reasonable for the latter supporter, rather than the former, to hold his faith and, therefore, conversely less unreasonable for the latter such that the latter should re-evaluate his - or at least the strength thereof - faith in this light? It's tempting to say so when we look at it so narrowly, but what of the “bigger picture”? Is not our respective supporters' faiths part of some wider cultural phenomenon in which it is acceptable and even desirable to enjoy such faiths? The point at which the fan's faith boarders on fanaticism and evolves into something all-consuming, is the point at which it becomes destructive towards the rational process itself and has an erosive - corrosive - effect on the wider community of reason. No matter, belief and faith are intimately related.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

A ballard of our times



Read red all about it![*] Suicide couple and he with-terminal-cancer husband and she end-of-rope wife and suffocating plastic bag pact failure and wife gone and bag too small and phoning friend begging for something baggier and later dies hospital bed alone; and so separated father and with learning disabilities son pillow-smothered and while he hangs by wedged belt - and toes touching floor - from tall Victorian interior door; and not mention mentioning celebrity couple and she accidental prescription cocktail overdose as he mourns aside her sleeping mother's instead and in their marital bed and before expiring of unknown causes (toxic household molds and most likely); and together with bankrupt investment banker on hackneyed heath dangling from thickly branch tree and escort girls taunt his impotent potential for thirty silvery pieces and impression under it was an expensive game and family now at home waiting daddy too lame; and not forgetting talented teenage girl, apparently over qualified, and jumping from multistory car park, unhitched and Facebook ditched, and by her uncertain boyfriend, and falling dark heavily; and, to end on lighter note, naked vicar falling heavily on anally-self-inserting potato wedged, and when hanging curtain - his footing uncertain - and or so he told the medical staff (though no one laughed and or of embarrassment die).

*(Based on true stories - human crashes, at least as they were press-reported.)

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Slap my flappy junk



I just don't swallow it. In any case, chew over this: Clearly humans are not just meat - "meat" is a pretty ambiguous term, loosely, read as: "that part of the animal which can be used for food". What is odd about this very limited and misleading characterisation, is that it appears the "aliens" are not themselves meat eaters and, so, why would their chosen adjective for us be "meat"? It is not even as if we would, exclusively, or even predominately, choose it as a defining - if somewhat cannibalistic - epithet for ourselves. Having said that, they (the "aliens") appear to smoke, which is suggestive of lungs and a respiratory system and, if the evidence of the cups on the table is anything to go by, they also drink, which is suggestive of a metabolic system at least comparable, in some way, to our own. Though, of course, we don't see them take a drink; nor do we see smoke. Their appearance may be merely a convenient projection ... perhaps visually alluded to as they "dematerialise" towards the conclusion ... yet, earlier, one of them explains to the other: "You know how when you slap or flap meat, it makes a noise?" (or some such phraseology), which also suggests they are at least capable of interacting with the world on a physical basis; they can embed themselves, or are embedded in, solid matter. In what form, we are left to guess, except, presumably, it isn't "meat", but something capable of sensory feedback ("slap"; "flap"; and "sound"). Anyway, so the "meat" can "communicate" through machines and the "meat", in some sense, can also embed itself in the machines, though the meat does "the thinking" through them - how this is possible is not explained, but one assumes that the "meat" crafts the machines to reflect, in some analogical processes, their "meat" thinking. So, the "aliens" don't want to further their contact with the "meat", because, "Who wants to meet meat?" - presumably they are referring to some property of meat, or perception thereof, that makes it (rationally?) undesirable to interact with, yet it is unclear what that quality is, or the class of things encompassed by the "who". Perhaps, the ultimate irony is, both the "aliens" and "meat" are sentient beings, but they would choose not to interact with us based on the stuff we are (or are not) "embedded" within, yet, by their own argument, the "meat" can embed itself in non-meat machines (and, therefore, is not merely confined to - defined alone - by "meat"). Indeed, the very fact that communication is possible (they can grasp "meat" thoughts), suggests that the stuff sentient both beings are embedded "in" does not entirely characterise their sentience (thought is not the same as meat or whatever they are made of); hence we could describe this short film as indulging in absurdism. Ham-fisted absurdism.

Victory is hollow. Don't dine out on it.

The cheek is firmly in my tongue.

See also:

Bot-on-bot chat

Friday, 13 August 2010

Psychic defence

So what am I thinking now?

You're thinking this guy's a fraud, he can't really read minds.

That's impressive.

Thank you.

Now tell me why I thought that.

Why? Why what?

What was my intention in thinking that – was it, for example, to confuse you?

I ... I don't understand?

Are you confused now?

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Once bitten, twice shy

A customer - indeed a regular by all accounts - appeared from the back of the bookshop and accosted the sales assistant.

You appear to be out of toilet roll.

Ah ha! Have you tried looking under “historical fantasy”?

I beg your pardon?!

The assistant hopped onto the nearby ladder, shimmed his way up to the top, levered a particularly fat tomb from the highest shelf; then, sliding back down again, placed the book squarely in the customer's hands.

I see now how you could of missed it.

No, no, how very droll, this is “Twilight Roll”; I said, “toilet roll”.

Let me unpack how this relatively unamusing, and largely inconsequential, misunderstanding occurred. The book in question, “Twilight Roll”, was a sort of prequel-prequel - commissioned by the estate of the never nether-popular author of the teen vampire series, “Twilight” - set in the insanitary conditions of medieval Europe at the onset of a dysentery epidemic that threatens to dwindle a town of town dwellers to naught, which - by an unhealthy mixture of coincidence and parasitic symbiosis - also threatens to diminish the local vampires' food stock to naught, whereupon one, long-in-the-tooth, vampire elder and his youthful assistant (who has fallen in love with a a local lass with terminal ass trouble) invents toilet roll; thus saving the day and on the very eve of mass extinction, AKA,“The Dark Ages”.

Advanced praise:

“Remains with the reader long after loved ones and those nearest and dearest have passed away.”

“Not just your bog-standard prequel-prequel.”

“Completely wipes away the recycled cliché that otherwise passes for niche historical, teen vampire, fantasy fiction.”

“Bound to be flush with success – let's hope this is the beginning, and not end, of a roll!


Shut the door, switch the latch, sit down, relax and then prepare to be bowled over.

Not only lifts the lid, but is also not just content to sit on the rim.

Surprisingly lengthy, but I couldn't stop once I started!

More cunning than the Chinese game of Go.

Too tightly plotted for prolapsed prose.

An underground classic that wont be buried.

Squeezes every last drop of emotion.

Will rival Roth's Human Stain.”

Finally, aGone With The Wind for vampire lovers.

More poetic than Browning.

Will drive you round the bend.

Made all the right links.

Not afraid to break the surface.

“A gut wrenching rites-of-passage story.

It will leave its mark.

I felt it go right though me.

“Bound to create a splash.

An immense release.

Set to make waves.

Full of moral fibre.

Drove me potty!

One to log.

Wipe out!

Totally moving.

Slam dunk!

I didn't want it to finish.

Keep them coming!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Sod 'em all

Abraham-Abraham spoke to God about that business ...

That business? Refresh my memory.

Yeah, you know, your stated intention to wipe out those city sinners.

What of it?

Well, what if there were, I don't know, fifty good men - women included - in that city? Surely it's not fair to exterminate them all?

You have a point, I suppose, at least on the surface of it; so, I concede, it does seem a little unfair that the minority should suffer for the majority.

About that, what if there were forty-five? forty? thirty? twenty? or even ten good people?

I see what what you've done there: the slippery slope argument, but suppose there's just one good person among this den of inequity. Should I turn a blind eye to the sins of the multitudes? Is it okay to ignore the mass beating, raping and stealing?

But by killing that one person - let's call it "murder" for that's what it is - are you not also participating in indiscriminate violence and, by doing so, tacitly endorsing it? You know, lead by example?

I'd hardly call one person's death indiscriminate, not when weighed against the consequences of woolly, yogurt knitting, laissez faire, non-interventionism. It hardly even counts as collateral damage.

It counts for one. Okay, okay, anyway, but here's the thing that confuses me ... mass murder is not really interventionism, if the intention is to change people's behaviour for the better, right?

Go on.

Is there no way in which you can help these people change or, at the very least, why can't you simply remove the sinners and leave that one - that one good person - alone? Surely that's within the purview of the all powerfully? Surely their life and deeds are worth something? Surely, you treat each and every individual on their own merit and not by the rule of mob they just happen to be caught up with?

Yeah, that's really the purpose of final judgement, once they get to meet their maker - moi, we can work these things out.

Isn't that, I don't know, lazy? Horse bolted, the closing gates, etc.? You ever read Kafka's "The Judgement"?

And your point? – don't over indulge my patience.

So what's the point of bothering living if, in the end, good only counts after you end? If you are excluded from the process of judgement, except as a character witness in the epilogue, by which time the story has ended, what's the point of participation? And, while we're at it, about that indulgence, is not your patience infinite?

It's not the end, it's the beginning of the end!

That's all a bit retrospective – retroactive judgement ... let me tell you a story: one day a Christian is about on his business when he hears a cry for help ...

What's a Christian?

It's an anachronism, but you should already know that, back to the story: At first, he cannot locate the source of a call for assistance; however, after much searching, he comes across a well from which he distinctly hears the estranged voice pleading. Without deliberation, the Christian unpacks from his backpack a length of rope and lowers it down the well. After much heaving and a-tugging, the fallen individual is hoisted to the surface. The individual in question thanks the Christian and remarks upon his random fortune to be saved by someone who happens to have a rope handy. “Oh, that was no lucky accident,” says the Christian, “I always keep it with me just in case I come across someone who has fallen down a well.” “Why would you do that,” asks the individual, “ I never miss an opportunity to further my case for eternal heaven before the final judgment.” “Isn't that a little selfish?” asks the individual. “Not really,” replies the Christian, “I didn't make the rules.” A bit of a cop-out no?

With each concurrent question from Abraham-Abraham, God's voice diminished to the point of inaudibility and then the skies opened with the brilliant fire of volcanic, violent vengeance and vanquished the city dwellers.

“I don't know why I bother.” Muttered Abraham-Abraham under his breath. His patience was a testament.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Strategic philanthropy

The billionaire, informality his formality, attired in signature casual wear - the working blue jeans and black, stain-resistant, long-sleeved, roll-fold-neck, sweat shirt combo: no conspicuous label overhangs; stray tags a-dangling; legible or illegible legends; solo logos; chivalric crests: cryptic allusions, attributions or encrypted illusions; popular or unpopular nomenclatures; religious and/or secular symbols; nostalgic heraldics, quixotic quotes; iconic idents - certainly no Che Guevara bravade - images, montages or tethered totems. Visibly inconspicuous. Not supermarket budget brand, but richly unassuming consumption. Except the colour-coded wristband. An uncharitable give away. Subtly Needy.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The not so great depression

The homely, gnome-like and distinguishably gnarled personage stepped, stooped, bearded and bespectacled, out from the front of the recently re-branded Federal Reserve – now FED-UP! (it was thought that the addition of “UP!” would engender positive - uplifting - connotations) – and, saying nothing, he simply arched an eyebrow to indicate to the world markets that the “rescue package” was ready to be launched. His name was Ben Noah, Chairman of FED-UP! (also known as Ben Dover to his friends).

The packs of feral hacks - “media correspondents” - went hog wild.

With that one asymmetric see-saw of the brow, a signal was sent directly to the dingily-lit FED-UP! basement where a single clerk stood (at the phalanx of a specially trained troop of apes) and pressed the numeral "1" button on the single-keyed keyboard before him. This in turn triggered a wave of zero-only-keyboard ape key-clicking that rose to form a cricket-like cacophony.

Overhead, a luminescent digital-readout racked the unaccountably massing zeros after the one “1”.

100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 [...] 0.

Soon filling the entire display like a caterpillar on speed until it moved to to-the-power-of mathematical shorthand.

It certainly beat the old fashioned printing press.

Soon the world was flooded with dollars watering down people's saving and investments until they were washed away in a tsunami of naughts; meanwhile, the board of FED-UP! were tasked with collecting two of every special investment vehicle they could lay claim to before they were all worthlessly extinct. Perhaps, sometime in the future, they could multiply again. The business cycle must go on.

Monday, 2 August 2010

The windmills of your mind

Alpha-Alpha stood with his hands behind his back, which was unusual, given he was usually milling them at top speed - like a frenzied bear at a picnicker massacre - when he was angry or excited or excitedly angry or angrily excited, which he usually was.

I have a little test for you QT. Step in. Step in. Don't loiter like a kerb crawler.

Yes Sir.

What ... what would you do if I told you I had a box and that box had a button and by pressing that button you could instantly eradicate the entire human race?

It's not the sort of thing you're likely to have ... is it Sir?

Don't prevaricate QT. Do or die time.

Surely that's don't do and live? Er? Okay, well, I'd take a mental note of the fact Sir, just in case the information became useful at some future juncture.

Alpha-Alpha started milling his arms as if they were attached to uncoiling springs slowly gathering momentum. It was then QT noticed, rotating in one gripped hand, the small black box with a transparent dome under which, what looked like a red button, was housed.

QT, were you born an imbecile and then with every passing moment leading up to this point in time degenerated backwards?

Sir, I'm confused.

Confused would be a higher state of being for you QT.

Alpha-Alpha stopped swinging the one arm, the one with box and button and held it just below QT's nose as if he wanted him to scratch and sniff it.

Let me make this real simple: here's the button, press it QT.

But Sir, I thought I had a choice?

Yes you do, except it's now the one – and that's the one I'm offering you to tell you to do!

I can't do that Sir, even if the impulse to might occur to me once in a while ... surely we all have those moments ... but they pass right? Don't they? I mean, who am I to make that choice for all of us?

Tell me QT, can you imagine a world without yourself?

No, not really Sir, because I would be trying to imagine my own absence which would also be implicitly an act of asserting my presence, which is surely self defeating ... n'est pas?

An excellent point QT but I, however, could imagine a world without you. Now, imbibe that cup of wisdom from my overflowing font of managerial excellence and never forget the majesty of its eternal teachings.

Er, as you wish Sir.

You can now leave QT, this isn't some back room peep-show you know.

Yes Sir.

And with that, QT left Alpha-Alpha arms a-spinning.

The job was beginning to grind him down.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Text message

“There's nothing outside the text,” said the text I read. That's so ridiculous! I exclaimed, laughing out loud. So loud that the sales clerk was moved to approach me to enquire as to the substance of my merriment. I repeated the line of text but to no avail for my amusement at this inherent piece of self-referential nonsense was, apparently, only self-contagious. My words fell on stony ground. Her face drew a veil. It was then, in my desperation to be understood and with toe-tipping trepidation, I began to account for myself. On refection, I realised, explanation tends to dissipate on too detailed a telling. Too much scrutiny stops-dead spontaneity. In any case, perhaps the utter futility - the utter ridiculousness of such a foolhardy attempt - might be cause for amusement in itself? He suddenly thought to himself. So here goes.

Well - I began - imagine the world is made of text. Text needs an author, or authors, together with an audience and, we may suppose, on differing occasions, we are both the author and audience, for the world can be viewed in so many very different ways and there are so many very different stories - ways - we can tell and it be told. Or so it would appear. Let's further suppose that one author in particular, a master story teller, wished to distance themselves form the others; to step outside by manipulating the text so that she - let's call her "she" - is no longer a co-creator but subverter, perhaps to control her audience so that they are trapped in a world of her owned creation. Narration. Now in order to create this deviant and devious narrative, she has to create an alternative text but she can't do that ex nihilo (out of nothing: textlessness) she has to have acquired it from other - shared - texts; so while she might manipulate the narrative, we still have the substance of text in common.

Continue. She said.

If the author is embedded within the text, then, by recreating it, we can't get outside - extricate ourselves - from the text to look at it and ourselves from beyond, because we always take the text with us and it us, and, any attempt to communicate from the outside would immediately relocate ourselves from within it. Innit?

I'm still not sure I follow. She said.

If there's nothing outside of the text, then - by obvious extension - there's nothing in it to take out!

And why's that? She said.

Text is text - "the writer is text; "the reader” is text; “the speaker” is text; "the listener" is text and so on, and, on its own, alone, how can it mean anything except itself which is in itself text!

And? She said.

It's just text! Words as symbols, letters, lines, cuneiforms, curls, circles, swirls, marks and smudges!

When I finished speaking and she listening, there was an unmarked stop-gap of silence. She started laughing and then I started laughing again. I had no idea what we were laughing about. And may be she didn't. And that was our little "in" joke.

Was that in the text? She said.

With that the clerk put me back on the shelf. And stepped outside for a deep breath of fresh air - drawing it into her lungs and then slowly out again. Before popping back in.

The sign above the door revealed the legend: “If in the beginning was the word and the word was God, then there was no text to create. Without an author there is no death. Period.”

But, perhaps, that would be placing them outside context.