Stunted By Reality Just another know-it-all talking about life, business, technology, sports and music.

22Feb/13Off

Banksy

I've always believed that art and music are universally liked by everyone. The only thing that differs in each of us is what type of art or music one likes.

Unlike music when you listen to art types who are part of the establishment you get the feeling that only they can acknowledge what is and isn't art and whether or not it's good. Music certainly has it's snobs but it does not feel like any one genre 'owns' music.

I've just been reading an article in the Guardian entitled 'Banksy: overated purveyor of art-lite'. I knew it was link bait just by reading the headline but thought I should read on to see what angle the author was coming from.

The impression I got was that Jonathan Jones thinks that art should be deep and evoke discussion and amongst the comments those who agreed shared the same sentiment. Personally I think being deep isn't quantifiable and that the quest for it is what has left the art world on the road to ir-relevance in the real world beyond whether or not a piece is a good investment. Too much meaningless art has been created and labelled abstract or deep whilst condescending those of us who don't get it. Add to that evoking discussion seems to be less desirable than for people to get the meaning of an art piece. However in my opinion an artist must be allowed to outline their quest, be it to get attention, to get paid, to highlight an issue or even to see what junk they can get away with by labelling it art.

Anyway, I leave you with the words of one of the commenters who manages to express it the way I see it.

@TheManFromRotherham -

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2013/feb/19/banksy-overrated-art

Banksy's work has always been something you could take in as you fleetingly see it as you pass at 40 mph in a car.
I think that's a key point being missed here by Jonathan Jones.
Banksy's work is designed to function as you move past it quickly, walking or on the bus, on your way to somewhere else. It is, as someone else said, like a cartoon in a newspaper.
Street art has a similar impermanence; a throwaway comment to be read one day and replaced the next. It's not supposed to be stared at and poured over like a painting in a gallery. And that's why it works and that's why it's popular. Did Banksy ever intend it to be anything more? Personally I doubt it.

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25Jan/13Off

Hazard’s kick exposes the sadness of life on Twitter

hazard ballboy gif

It's 12 minutes of normal time to go in a League Cup semi-final and Chelsea are playing away to Swansea. Given the direness of their performance up to this time, Chelsea are deservedly losing the tie though it is nil nil on the night and a couple of late goals could send it into extra -time with the chance of an unlikely victory. The ball goes out and the self-appointed king of the ball-boys faffes around delaying to give the ball back to Chelsea's young Belgian forward Eden Hazard. The ball drops to the floor with the ball-boy hitting the deck as fast as Didier Drogba hunting for a penalty, with Hazard still seeking the ball for there is the small matter of the game to get on with (which the ball boy is obliged to help with on account of his current employment). But no, he promptly manages to position himself over the ball like a flanker having broken free from a scrum to score a try with all at stake in the Rugby World Cup final. Hazard feels around for the ball using all his bedroom tactics for such unsighted foraging under heavy clothing and having felt the ball delivers a swift kick which loosens it from under the ball boy and delivers it on the other-side. Cue pandemonium.

What follows is a truly sad reflection on modern life.

The ballboy, who can be found on Twitter, has at the last count now accrued 90,000 followers! How sad do you have to be to want to follow the ballboy who comically feigned injury whilst deservedly having had a ball kicked from underneath him? Unfortunately twitter is full of such types despite anything that techies and journalists would like to tell you about it. Truly sad in a very amusing way.

 

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17Dec/12Off

Let us bring an end to the mass killings

Another week and yet another mass killing has happened in America, this time at an infant school in the small Connecticut town of Sandy Hook. The kind of town parents move to in order to bring their children up in the safest environment possible. As we have so sadly learnt from events in Norway, Finland, Dunblane and other places around the world these cowardly acts are not unique to America, but unfortunately the US is by far and away the country in which this most often happens.

Correlation never always equals to causation but it's difficult to come to a different answer on the subject of American mass killings and their citizens' right to bare arms. The Republicans are of course the party which has taken itself to the forefront of the defenders of this right. If Maslow was a Republican you can be sure that his hierarchy of needs would specifically mention weapons in the safety category. Ignoring the fact that arming one-self may result in added protection but will by nature indisputably introduce danger where none existed. So it is that a wise Republican politician Louie Gohmert has after not-so careful consideration come to the conclusion that that the mass slaughter would have gone differently if Sandy Hook school principal Dawn Hochsprung had been armed.

.., I wish to God she had had an m-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out ... and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids..

Ignoring the fact that most school principals do not have an inner Lara Croft in them to summon at will, I don't agree with this specific train of thought. Mainly because once she would have heard the gunfire it probably means that someone is already dead. Prevention is better than cure and this solution is barely even a solution never mind being a cure. What I do believe however is that if everyone was armed it is probable that fewer mass killings would occur because they are by nature carried out by cowards who prey on society's collective trust in each other to do their evil deeds. Except that it is impossible to arm everyone so that idea is a non-starter. In fact I believe that from where we are it's easier to achieve a society with no civilian gun ownership than one with universal ownership.

My thoughts are that America needs comprehensive restrictions on gun ownership. At least to severely lessen the number of people who grow up around guns and become so familiar with them that one frustrated day after leading unremarkable crime-free adult lives they are not able to turn to their legally gotten weapons and kill defenceless people en masse. Restrictions would certainly limit the type of mass killings in which the killers want to feel the power over another human which they think is expressed by these executions. It is almost certainly a feeling that is nurtured in a person who handles guns but has never fired at anything other than a cardboard cutout which is when they might wonder how much more destruction it can do to a live person. Sick thoughts no doubt, but then you would have to have sick thoughts to be a mass-killer.

However there is another type of killer who I've noticed as the younger kind of mass-killer. The guys who even record YouTube videos to justify their actions. These guys I think just want to be remembered in a macabre type of glory. For those cowards my bet is that they know that their names will be remembered (even if it's in a bad way) long after they are gone. There will be no shortage of media organisations covering their background, their motivation and their actions in a fruitless attempt to provide insight. I don't know about you, but I never want to know who the killers were. Well I do, but it's information I could live without because I already know that they are evil. Furthermore at that exact moment another young would-be killer is probably watching that news program and thinking that they have stumbled onto the surest way to get their 15 minutes of fame, even if they will die to achieve it.

The only answer is therefore for all media to never tell us the names of these psychos. We should let them die in the ignominy of the gore forums which they and their like hang out on, whilst the rest of us remember the real people who we ought to remember, the victims.

12May/12Off

Whose leak is it anyway?

The recent revelation that another underwear bomb plot was foiled was great news for all. Like most people I'm heartened by humanity's response to the threat posed by terrorists. The change in world affairs over the last decade has been largely directed by the acts of terrorism a lot of people have suffered. It is great to know that the security services and people in general are constantly on the tails of the extremists who want to spoil life for all.

So after all the congratulating was done I figured I didn't need to know any more about the how and when this plot got foiled. But to my surprise the information kept coming. Drip, drip, drip. Five days on and it's a miracle we don't yet know what the underwear of choice for these idiots is. Are they still under the influence of Calvin Klein's Marky Mark campaign or have they succumbed to David Beckham's inspiration that has been brought to life by H & M? Y-Fronts or no Y-fronts. That is the question. After all there is no better selling point for underwear than the ability to feel comfortable with a bomb in them.

May contain explosives

For those of you with a sense of humour by-pass, the above is not to take lightly the serious consequences of terrorism. It is merely to highlight the unnecessary risk posed by the chest-thumping officials who leaked the details that the 'bomber' was a plant. A British born guy no less, of the kind that poses most danger in the western world with their ability to be inconspicuous. On the list of special agents, the transformation skills requirement is much less than Martin Lawrence's in Big Mama.

He was so serious about dying that he didn't bother to wear clean underwear

In addition it also turns out that the bomb was an 'evolution' of a prior device probably made by the Calvin Klein of bombs and modified to the extent that it was undetectable by airport security scanners. Again information that you or I don't need to know. Unless you or I are planning on bombing aeroplanes. Unlikely as it is you'd think that would be a basic assumption of all security agents. Otherwise why do we all now have to take our shoes off and subjected to digital stripping before boarding an aeroplane? But no. It turns out that if you put a security agent in front of a newspaper reporter they'll squeal faster than an Al-Qaeda operative being water boarded on a rendition in Libya. The reporter, himself not being able to keep a lid on anything apart from their sources, promptly did what their job title says. They reported. Now at this point I'll hear you suggesting that the aforementioned title of idiots which I applied to the terrorists must be applied to the security agent and the reporter. You are of course right. In fact we should strip the prefix of security from that agent too. This is utter madness of the highest level and I'm sure that I don't need to explain why, except for the fact that this post's purpose is just to rant and rave in the hope that the parties involved somehow stumble upon this article and post their regret in the comments section below.

With all the leaked information it's apparent to anyone how 'improvements' can be made into any future devices from this brand of bombs. I know that the trend nowadays is for an open and transparent world, but I am still firmly in the camp that says I don't need to know everything that happens if it doesn't directly affect me. This is a simplistic statement which I can justify with another rant of it's own so please don't call me out on it lest we get distracted from the rant at hand.

I have no idea what motivated the leaks and their reporting, but if I was to guess I would say it was the desire to say 'hey look at how competent we all are'. Which the reporter instantly one-upped by trying to show his or her own peers how reliable their sources are. All this ignored the reality of the world we live in, to the possible detriment of future security operations. Some things are best not said dear reader. Transparency and openness are generally great but not when they serve no purpose in the public interest as we have seen with celebrity culture or when they unwittingly enable the few bad people in the world to ruin life for all the rest. The ego of a reporter and his source the security agent is no reason to ignore that reality.

Nudists loved the new airline policy until it banned all human flight

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2Apr/12Off

No beer belly goes away once it’s been stroked.

I'm going to cut straight to the chase and say to all men out there, if you have a pot belly, are starting to get a one or think you're a prime candidate for a beer belly some day; my advice to you is to never ever stroke it.

I'm going to loosen the belt soon so you can breathe. Just one more sip

In the interests of research I've observed that guys who stroke their beer bellies have a look of contentedness and acceptance which pretty much says that this belly isn't going anywhere. Your lady might have just fed you the most delicious meal and dessert is around the corner but please avoid caressing your belly as if it was your premature daughter. Dude, you've just had a meal in which your belly did nothing but store the hard work your woman's done. Any caressing should be for her, not the belly.  The same applies if man is in a heavy drinking session and somehow feels the need to show how gentle their hands can be. I believe that all Bellymen must stroke the shoulder of the person who bought them the beer or if they bought it themselves then the barman will have to do. It might look a bit gay now but once it's accepted practise it will be infinitely better for a man's health if their belly never felt loved enough to stick around for life.

No man's hand possesses a midas-like ability to generate life-long affection through touch; otherwise grown men would be queuing up at film premiers just so they could touch the hand of the latest hot thing knowing that the rudeness would be forgiven once she's fallen for him. The problem is in the familiarity that comes with the stroking action and the comfort it generates. I'm guessing that one can be so familiar with their beer belly that in one stroke they could tell if it doesn't feel quite as tightly stretched as it normally does. The temptation then would probably be to feed it some more or to think that there's obviously still room for more and.... feed it. Something like a real world simultaneous equation. The variables are plenty but they all lead to the same thing.

Don't get me wrong, I think beer bellies are amazing, but not the kind of amazing that deserves a loving stroke as if it will show its approval by secreting a love hormone that will make you irresistible to the fairer sex. Bellies are amazing in the way that rat population statistics are amazing. The beer belly's ability to stretch is in my view bigger than that of a woman's hips during child birth. And child birth is meant to be up there. This is just one more thing that shows it isn't but I'll stick to the matter at hand. Bellies also have an amazing relationship with energy. The organs in them are meant to be a main component in the body's processing of food into energy, yet they sometimes end up not releasing it in any efficient manner which means bellies end up storing it about themselves, thus making them bigger and in turn meaning the body requires even more energy just to carry them around. It's amazing; almost like a self inflicted parasite.

That's before we even talk about the skin, where does all that skin come from? And even as the pot belly grows at no point is there not enough skin to cover it. Okay maybe I should rant at the skin here because apparently it is its own organ. Complete with amazing statistics and all (it weighs up to 20 pounds making it the bodies largest and heaviest organ!) I'll still take it all out on the pot belly though because lets face it whenever you think of a belly you don't think of one with no skin. It's all belly to me. The navel, the hair, the skin; all belly and all one needlessly-big thing stopping you from hugging people comfortably but still getting gentle strokes from some men for doing what it should do..... badly.

I'm obviously not speaking from personal experience and my facts are merely of the observational scientist variety, but don't say I didn't warn you. No beer belly goes away once it's been stroked.

12Jan/12Off

Musicians need to be like bloggers and stop whingeing

I've often thought that literature and music share a lot and by that I don't mean the historical links of cheap arty neighbourhoods populated by musicians, artists, poets, actors and writers all scrounging around trying to find themselves.

Just like music, writing has now evolved so much that some old timers would rather terms like literature and chord were not applied to blogging and grime music respectively. And just like it would be churlish to deny that instant noodles are not noodles, it is improper to deny those two their place in their respective cultures.

And so it is that like music, writing is an art form. However apart from a deluded minority you don't get us bloggers thinking that we MUST live off the pen keyboard.

Musicians need to get over that aspect of their art and realise that there are thousands of them out there and that just because they have spent some money on their craft, doesn't mean that the world owes them a living. In the music and bloggers analogy writers who can string two sentences together would try to go professional; and as soon as they try to live off of writing they would start to complain about every aspect of the industry. Spouting on about anything from the 'dinosaurs' who don't get the change that's happening right down to the new school digital gatekeepers who are screwing them on behalf of the dinosaurs (who want to hold onto inflated profits from times gone by).

"To save money we will be replacing our reporters with bloggers, who will work for free."

You only have to look at the blogging world to realise that we too spend money on our craft hoping that one day we'll make it. However making it for most of us just means getting a back-link and getting 100 hits in a day. There are millions of websites out there competing for eyeballs and whilst it would be great for me to be paid to write, I seriously don't lose any sleep over it. I will continue to fork out money to Godaddy (and their girls), theme designers, app makers and anyone else who promises to make my blog look cool or easy to put together. I am prepared to do all this in order to fool a few readers a day into clicking the subscribe button. One day my kids may be mad at me because they missed out on playing time whilst I wrote about my sadness at the death of a dictator but you know what? I don't mind. I blog for the love of it and though my time is worth a lot to me and my family, the fact that I'm doing it for me means that I'm content with not charging you to read it. Link away dear friend. Unless I suddenly become popular and am the subject of a mega-bucks Rupert Murdoch takeover, this website will always be freely available. Though lets face it, everyone has their price so you never know what could tempt me to put up a paywall.

Nevertheless, I am truly content with knowing that the millions of rubbish websites and blogs out there make it much less likely that mine will be found by any significant number of people. Not through a lack of presence of course, but apathy from readers who are tired of being trapped into reading ugly blogs full of unoriginal content churned out by machines. And that's just if you're lucky, because on a bad day surfing the web can result in your computer catching a virus or you visiting a site for paid local (same) sex services which would be impossible to explain if your boss or wife looked at your browser history.

In the end it's clear to me that the internet is full of junk. Millions of rubbish websites with trash-type content strung together by biased writers who stopped learning grammar soon as they finished learning their ABCs and all available through one of the greatest ever innovations in history. The weird thing is that some of that junk is actually really popular and a huge number of other well written and presented content will never be exposed to much more than the writer who wrote it and their long lost ex who is trying to track them down. I'm conceited enough to think that my blog is one of the better ones, but I'm not up-myself enough to think that internet surfers owe me a living.

Despite all this I'm not deterred in my quest to write compelling posts and it's probable that my anti-Apple zeal could have been cured if Steve Jobs had ever said that the Macbook was so magical it could make me write like a latter-day Thomas Hardy. The Macbook is one of the few things that separates me from my very musical younger brother. The fact that he has invested much more in his equipment than I in blogging aids. This could quite easily have been the reverse had I been born in the days of the type-writer, however in terms of time spent I believe I would have no problem matching him or any other arty type. Nonetheless I won't single him out because he has never expressed a sense of entitlement about his standing in the music business. My ire is directed at his up-and-coming peers in general who complain about the state of an industry which they have chosen in all consciousness to be a part of.

As the proprietor of a music related business, I'm not anti-musician nor do I foresee doom and gloom on either side of the music business artist or establishment. I simply believe that people have choices. To work in the industry or not. To view it as a hobby or not. To use certain services or not. To always complain about the state of things and the problems they encounter or to try and effect change and solutions. But most pertinently musicians also have the choice to live in the real world and look around...... or not. Either way I wish they'd stop whingeing about the business!

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25Nov/11Off

Maybe it’s because we’re less than human

A lot of reason has been lacking amidst all the stories about racism and racist comments by famous people in the media and especially in sport. I guess it shouldn't be expected that the majority of the mainstream media can eloquently state some of the issues surrounding race. In any event apart from the 'racism is wrong because it's wrong argument'; by way of tone a lot of the coverage has been indifferent. The comments of too many readers have been even more unsympathetic than is comfortable for any minority to read. At worst racism is still very much alive and at best too many people do not understand why its bad to insult someone by refering to the coulour of their skin.

Human zoo in Stuttgart, Germany, 1928

Human zoo

The major point that I believe has been missed is around the issue of why racism and hate speech is wrong. The belief that some people are inferior or even less than human has for centuries been the cause of some of the most atrocious crimes committed by humanity. Sadly those crimes continue today and it's significant that just as the headlines are riddled with stories of famous people racially abusing other famous people, the murderers of Steven Lawrence are once again on trial for their own horrendous hate fuelled crime.

The media really needs to put across to their readers how there is a direct line connecting the fact that some people are seen as less than human and the way they'll be treated by society. Whole sections of society have been killed, denied their rights, denied a vote and denied access to justice having been categorised as inferior.

Racist words by their nature are meant to spread the same message that has resulted in those great crimes. Standing by and paying no mind just means that another generation will grow up believing that we are not all equal and therefore it is okay to subjugate people of an 'inferior' race, gender or sex because well they are less than human aren't they?

25Nov/11Off

I’m tired of explaining Facebook and the internet to people

Technology is here, get used to it

Maybe it shouldn't amaze me because the world is full of dumb people and it should be expected that now and again I'll run into the misguided opinions of some of them. But it's amazing that in this day and age some people still don't get that Facebook is just another communication tool. Same as text, MMS, letter, postcard, fax, phone, email, smoke signals or Morse code.

Facebook and the internet enable communication in general and are not specifically for narcissists and voyeurs. The dumb people who don't get this irritate me by trying to put across to me that they are somehow holier than I because they don't use Facebook to share their 'pregnancy news'. To say that a communication tool is sad and pathetic doesn't make sense to me. A tool is only as sad and pathetic as the information going through it. In other words if you think Facebook is sad and pathetic maybe you need to look at your 'friends' first. A communication tool can only be labelled useful, useless or other such adjectives. This doesn't apply to Twitter which as an open publishing platform that is actively trying to take on the soul of it's content. Go ahead and call Twitter sad if you like.

What people should realise is that you can have 3 connections or even less on Facebook and exclude your cousins or whoever because of that long running feud your Mom hold's against her sister for not letting her borrow her mascara when they were teens. If you were going to send photos of your newborn to your 3 siblings, Facebook is just as good a tool as any to send those pictures with. You don't even have to accept one more friendship request or make yourself discoverable to that crush from Year 6 who thinks you're the one that got away simply because one curious day you decided to give him a quick peck on the lips.

It's true that voyeurs and narcissists do have it slightly easier on Facebook but only in broadcasting to other voyeurs and narcissists. There are plenty of people who very privately share information and pictures with only the people they care about. The internet can be a lot like real life in that sense. Most of the people saying dirty jokes online would likely have been saying them offline.

Anyway, let me stop this rant before I point out about the absolute contradiction of someone actively publicising the fact that they don't publicise something! LMAO!! (as the Facebook generation would say).

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10Nov/11Off

The Occupiers need to play the system at it’s own game #OWS

A question needs to be asked to all the people who have recently taken it upon themselves to occupy public places in vague protests which judging by their locations we have to guess is dismay at the conduct of banks.

That question was asked by a commenter on a post on AVC.com:

Why do you protest against the thousands of individuals and organizations that are legally taking advantage of the system, rather than protesting (at) the SOURCE which is the system itself?

I took it that the commenter meant that the best way to protest the system is to join the democratic queue like everyone else including the racists have done. Lord knows democracy is not perfect, but there is no denying that it does afford a platform and a voice to people with a cause. You have to applaud what organisations like the Green Party in the UK have done in turning themselves from a community initiative into a political party with an actual seat in Parliament. Maybe it is because that struggle is long and hard that our modern day slackers do not turn to democracy, but more likely it is the fact that however well meaning their wishes are, there just aren't enough people who identify with whatever it is they are protesting.

Yo man, I'm actually a revolutionary. I made my money selling placard paper in the great protests of 2011. I had to put on a small margin to enable expansion and accidentally became stinking rich.

I don't know but I'd guess that most people do not think that things are so broken that wholesale changes are required. I believe the cost of living has been rising faster than income and with the lack of job creation opportunities to make a decent living are less than they were five years ago. If most people are honest we'd realise that opportunities are less than five years ago rather than actually being non-existent. And that dip in opportunities is something that most would also agree is a short-term blip in an otherwise longer-term improvement in the life chances of all people on Earth.

I don't know for sure but I am willing to bet that a poor kid born in 2015 will be better off than a poor kid born in 2000.

Another commenter points out quite rightly that the real problem is..

... the default position for NOT working hard is very different for the rich than the poor. A poor kid who doesn't work hard, is fucked. A rich kid who doesn't work hard, not so much.

(But) Yes, if you work hard, you can succeed.

The same commenter goes on to say that what we should strive for is that all people start from a level playing field. In other words equality. I don't buy that. People can never be equal. It's a fact of life.

Even as an ardent supporter of capitalism I admire the thinking behind Socialism and Communism. However I just don't think it would work on any macro-level better than capitalism.

In the end too many people get bogged down in worrying about the state of things without looking at it in perspective. Most times if we look at the recent trends you'll actually discover that things are getting better. That's the only thing I personally worry about. Things are fucked up right now, but are they getting better?

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9Nov/11Off

The problem with health and living longer

Ok, so maybe you will get your body fitter and live longer?

But that can be very dangerous.

You could end up causing your body to outlive your brain! Think about it, when you are very old, with a brain befuddled and incoherent, nature is telling you it's time to die. But your body is lagging behind several years and keeping you alive much longer than nature intended!

You are risking maybe 20 years in a geriatric ward at the mercy of the NHS. That's my excuse not to start running!

Reading a comment on a Charlie Brooker article on the  Guardian website today I was reminded about the old Philip Morris research that people who smoke are a net benefit to society because they pay more taxes and die sooner. No doubt that research was politically incorrect because of the inherent bias of a cigarette maker actually publishing research to support an activity which without doubt will end up severely affecting your health. However the central premise is true. If in fact I want to enjoy my life now and am not bothered by the mere statistic of living longer than the average person, then modern society no longer seems to accommodate my wish.

I was never a smoker but I was totally opposed to the smoking ban when it came in. I feel the same about health. I only advocate a healthy lifestyle in the sense that it should make you feel good enough to do what you want and allow you to contribute to society TODAY, not some ideal about how people should live longer. Let's face it the odds of living to 90 whilst at the same time enjoying a fruitful life are not very good, even if they are improving. I'm amazed by what science continues to achieve and supportive of all efforts to improve peoples lives even by stem-cell treatments, however I am also aware of why nature intended everyone's life to come to an end.

A long and unfulfilling old age in which I have no comprehension or memory of one day from another is one of the worst things I can think of. Unfortunately upon one's death it's their recent being that people also tend to remember.

Tom and Jerry

 

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