The Dad Confusion

Before you get the wrong idea I should probably point out that the title of this post in no way refers to doubts that anyone may have in regards to my parentage (since there aren’t any); neither does it refer to anyone else’s, so there is no need to go calling “The Jeremy Kyle Show” asking for a DNA test, lie detector results, or a quick go on their “loud obnoxious dickhead” manufacturing plant. The title is, in fact, nothing more than yet another in a continuing series of weak puns, this time conjured up to reference Richard Dawkins’ book, “The God Delusion”, and the relationship my father, who this week celebrates his 65th birthday, has with it. Given that, this post is therefore mostly aimed at, and dedicated to, my dad, a man who is probably far from alone in wishing that Dawkins’ most controversial work had, like his latest book, featured a larger number of illustrations and a smaller number of large words. Read more “The Dad Confusion”

Goodbye, Mr. Fish

A while ago, purely for the purposes of my own private amusement, I wrote a song about the company I work for, and some of the eclectic folk I share an office with. I say “song”, it was more a selection of English words, arranged badly into sentences, and desperately in need of a better author who could put them to good use. The song itself was pretty lame, and the idea as a whole was even lamer, so for that reason alone it will probably never see the light of day. That said, however, there are a few lines from it that I would like to share (albeit reluctantly) with you, along with some far more appropriate and better arranged words, in memory of Mr. Nicholas Fish; a colleague we were shocked to learn on Monday morning had passed away over the weekend at the terribly young age of 45. Read more “Goodbye, Mr. Fish”

404 Mage Not Found

My first thought upon hearing the news this week that Apple CEO, and co-founder, Steve Jobs had died was not that the world had lost an inspirational thinker and visionary who fundamentally changed our relationship with technology (that thought was in there – it just wasn’t my first); I didn’t even leap, as I ordinarily would, straight to the cynical and anti-corporate, “Oh no, who’s going to come up with ideas for what Chinese children should build next?” (although that was in there too). No, my first thought was, given Jobs’ extraordinarily high-profile as CEO of the biggest tech company on earth, how long would it be before the Westboro Baptist Church crawled out of the festering gutter they lurk in to announce that they were going to protest his funeral? As it turned out “less than a day” was the correct answer and, when their infamous tweet came rather ironically via an iPhone (prompting a torrent of amused derision), I started to wonder why on earth theists ever bother to go anywhere near the internet when they so regularly, and completely, get their arses handed to them every time they do. Read more “404 Mage Not Found”

Baby, I was bored this way

Ah, there’s no better way to enjoy the beauty and essential poetry of the English countryside than by indulging in the old-school romance of a journey by train. Unless you go by car, of course, because then you can not only set off whenever you like, stop for a rest whenever you like, or purchase food from vendors that don’t have a loan-shark’s attitude towards pricing, but you can go right up to the countryside and touch it in its green and pleasant, cow-poo scented face. And, obviously, when I say “old-school romance” what I actually mean is “21st century exercise in psychological torture”, most train services these days tending to deliver an experience that fits somewhere nicely in between vacation and suicide. Yes, as you can probably guess, I’ve written this from one of First Great Western’s finest examples of an extortionately priced mobile cattle shed with windows … and it depresses the living shit out of me. Read more “Baby, I was bored this way”

* Terms and conditions apply

On Wednesday night, the state of Georgia committed murder in front of millions of witnesses. As if that weren’t terrible enough in and of itself, it was made all the more shocking by the fact that there’s every possibility that the victim was entirely innocent. In its usual, myopic pursuit to dispense “justice”, the United States executed Troy Davis for the killing of police officer Mark McPhail, despite the failure to recover a murder weapon, the recanted testimonies of witnesses (some of which made allegations of police coercion), and no other real, tangible physical evidence linking Davis to the crime. In the end, though, it doesn’t really matter whether Davis was guilty or not; he was still a victim of state-sanctioned execution in what we’re frequently told is a civilised country, and the decision to end his life, as well as a good deal of the support for doing so, came from people for whom “thou shalt not kill” is supposed to be immutable. Read more “* Terms and conditions apply”

Radio 4 Radicals

One of the bizarre things I’ve discovered about getting older, at least for me, is not that I find myself worrying about nature’s great, big, ticking, death-shaped clock of impending mortality cessation; nor is it that I’m concerned with checking off the list of things one is supposed to be in possession of at this point (wife, kids, mortgage, dog, massive sense of futile despair at one’s interminable existence etc.) – it’s more that I’ve come to feel like I’ve sort of always been this “age”, as if my personality were a suit that was at least 14 sizes too large and was just waiting for me to grow in to it. The suit might have had one or two minor alterations over the years, nothing drastic, but it otherwise remains pretty much exactly the same as when I first got it. As your tastes, opinions, and beliefs begin to coalesce in your twenties and thirties, you develop a far clearer understanding of who you are, what kind of suit you’re wearing, and what radio station you should be listening to. Read more “Radio 4 Radicals”

Keep calm, and carry on

It was something of a foregone conclusion as to what subject my post was going to be dealing with this week. In the run up to the tenth anniversary of the September 11th 2001 attacks on the USA, internet forums and social media sites are positively alive with the rising tensions, and flaring emotions, of lively, and often heated, discussion. Everyone has an opinion and, given the nature of these events, there was no way I could let this day pass without expressing mine. I wouldn’t, in my darkest, most troubling dreams, ever imagine telling America that it should “get over” the events of 9/11, as some heartless bastards out there have done – 3,000 people were murdered that day, and it would be grossly inappropriate to suggest that everyone should simply act like they’d been dumped by a girlfriend. That said, I do, however, believe firmly that America needs to get past 9/11. It needs, at least for its own sake, to significantly recalibrate its sense of proportion. Read more “Keep calm, and carry on”