Archive for the 'Chaos' Category

“Myra Breckinridge”

June 11, 2018

In view of the current confusing state of gender politics I thought it might be illuminating to read Gore Vidal’s 1968 novel “Myra Breckinridge”.


“The century” meaning “the 20th century”

Many years ago I read the sequel “Myron”. But I’d never read the first novel in the sequence. Which is backwards. And a bit perverse. Which is appropriate.

If you already know the twist (spoiler: and even if you don’t you’ll guess pretty quickly) then “Myra Breckinridge” isn’t particularly shocking. Unless you are shocked by the very idea of changing sex, in which case you will be shocked.

But since I’m not shocked, then I found the novel fast paced, a pretty easy read, but surprisingly, a little distasteful. Not for its subject matter, more its tone. I don’t usually have a problem with cruelty in art, but here the tone seemed patrician, even patronizingly cruel.

There’s a also a lot of satire around notions that the novel is dead, the Gutenburg era is over, people don’t read anymore, television, images are now the dominant form of cultural expression etc etc.

Which is being said a lot now, 50 years later.

But people now read more than ever. They just read on screens, not printed matter.

Maybe patricians mean, “people don’t read my books anymore”, or “people don’t read the kind of books I think they should read…”




Weekend listening: “Ode to Brexit Unstoppable #DrumNBass Version”

April 28, 2018

Somewhere on the planet it’s always Saturday night…

So turn up the bass… hoven!

“Chaos of Hard Clay” by various authors

January 18, 2018

“It’s a real book!” said someone in my household when this arrived through the post.

hard clay

Do people read anymore?

Actually they read all the time, but they read screens, not books.

I’m addicted to my screens just like everyone else, but when I put them down, I often find myself picking up a book and carrying it around, like it’s a screen.

Yet, despite all this, owning a book is still exciting…

So there is now a book of short stories, on Amazon and other places you can buy things, with my name on it, along with lots of other names of other people.

G Allen Cook is the masterbrain behind this project. He seems like a very nice chap, and publishes books. You read about his publishing here. Thanks very much to him for making it happen.

I think my story could have done with a rewrite. It’s also too long, even though I had trouble making the word count…

Still, it is a real book…

Update: there’s now a Facebook promotion.

Weekend listening: “Ode to Brexit”

January 13, 2018

2018 will be the year of the Kastle synthesiser.

You have been warned…

The Taxman’s Robot Wants to Steal My Voice

July 8, 2017

I had to ring up Her Majesty’s Customs & Revenue on Monday.

I did the usual – giving up my date of birth, first line of address, postcode.

Then something odd happened. The recorded voice said that the next time I phoned up they would use my voice to identify me and that I should record my voice now so they could do so.

It didn’t ask my permission to do this, didn’t give me an opt in or an opt out. So I didn’t say anything. Eventually the voice said “we’ll do this next time”.

Oh no we won’t.

It is possible given my failing memory that at some point in the past I signed up to this. However since I’m the kind of person who has not one but two twitter accounts but still refuses to give Twitter his phone number, this seems unlikely. If I did give permission, I take it back now. This blog post means I am unticking the box.

My voice is my data. Trying to “nudge” people into  giving up a recording of their voice without explicit permission must surely be a breach of some kind of data protection or privacy policy. At the very least, the “user journey” here is poor. The assumption in the language is that I’m happy to record my voice. I should be asked, explicitly, whether I want to record my voice or not.

The last thing I need is the Government recording my voice, the recording then being hacked, and used by a criminal to impersonate me.

Here’s a recording of a short fragment of the message:

Every time an automated till in my supermarket flashes red for no reason,  I mutter to myself that these machines should be our servants, not our masters.

Resist our robot overlords!

And rebel against their designers!

Why @DeathValleyGrls are cool in one picture and one tweet

June 7, 2017


(I still can’t quite believe I saw my two favourite bands of right now @DeathValleyGrls and @TheDartsUS, together, for free, only two weeks ago. Thanks to @BITCHCRAFTBTN for the night, to @simonphopkins for the hospitality and @bspeed8 for the tweet)



Weekend listening: “Woven Brand Crumble”

March 25, 2017

So this conversation happened on Twitter. And I thought to myself, “I’d like to see Sarah Brand playing with Woven Entity… How can I make that happen?”


A section of Sarah Gail Brand’s improvisation from Free Range’s Wintersound:

Free-range – Wintersound-lauren-alistair-sarah

A loop from “Trissh” by Woven Entity:

A mystery voice!

Thanks to @sarahgailbrand @Free_Range_ @WovenEntity  @astrogarage and Sam from Free Range.

Follow them!

Weekend listening: “Dead White Male” #deadwhitemale

January 14, 2017

2017 gets off to rousing start with DJ Southwold‘s magical sophisticated rhythms and some elderly geezer “singing”…

“He’s a mansplainer/it’s a no brainer”

punk’s not dead!

“Yellow journalism”

November 22, 2016

This alarming picture of political clickbait on Facebook from @terrence_mccoy in the Washington Post prompted me to have a quick look at the history of “yellow journalism”.

From Wikipedia:

Frank Luther Mott defines yellow journalism in terms of five characteristics:[4]

  1. scare headlines in huge print, often of minor news
  2. lavish use of pictures, or imaginary drawings
  3. use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudoscience, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts
  4. emphasis on full-color Sunday supplements, usually with comic strips
  5. dramatic sympathy with the “underdog” against the system.”

My italics. A good definition of “clickbait”…


#Facebook / links

September 25, 2016

1. An entertaining summary of the story so far on Facebook’s news feed and algorithmic biases from the PBS ideas channel

2. “Facebook ‘overestimated’ video viewing time” from BBC News

3.  “Low-income families face eviction as building ‘rebrands’ for Facebook workers” from the Guardian

4. “Facebook and Israel to work to monitor posts that incite violence” from the Guardian

Gulp… so Facebook is going to get involved in policing one of the most contentious conflicts in the world… good luck with that one…

5. Interesting article from Tanya Kant which contains this paragraph:

In an in-depth qualitative study of 36 web users, upon seeing advertising for weight loss products on Facebook some female users reported that they assumed that Facebook had profiled them as overweight or fitness-oriented. In fact, these weight loss ads were delivered generically to women aged 24-30. However, because users can be unaware of the impersonal nature of some personalisation systems, such targeted ads can have a detrimental impact on how these users view themselves: to put it crudely, they must be overweight, because Facebook tells them they are.

So maybe Facebook has a lot of power… or maybe we think it has more power than it actually does…