All 12 entries tagged Grindsmygears

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October 20, 2010


Writing about web page

Getting late now so I’m just picking out the more erroneous of CJ Sykes’s “rules”.

_ 7. Before you were born your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your bedroom._

You need to stay idealistic because the rainforest does need saving. And why the hell would there be lice in the closet? eeuggh. I’m beginning to suspect CJ is a republican and probably a climate change naysayer.

__ 9. Life is not divided into semesters, and you don’t get summers off. Not even Easter break. They expect you to show up every day. For eight hours. And you don’t get a new life every 10 weeks. It just goes on and on. While we’re at it, very few jobs are interesting in fostering your self-expression or helping you find yourself. Fewer still lead to

Sure you only get 2 days as standard instead of two weeks but errm that’s what annual leave is for, d’oh. If you want to take an Easter Break, take it. Even the lowest clerical job I had had five weeks leave to go with it. My current one has eight. Plus in the real world you have the money to go somewhere neat for the two weeks, and you don’t have the anxiety of summer exams bearing down on you. And while we’re at it, if you not in a job that fosters your self-realisation, you really need to keep looking.

12. Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic. Next time you’re out cruising, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his mouth. That’s what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for “expressing yourself” with purple hair and/or pierced body parts._

Well no, smoking does look a bit idiotic when you know what damage it does, but actually purple hair and piercings look very cool. every adult knows this, but few will actually admit it because they’re too chickenshit to do it themselves and they just envy that the kids have the nerve too.
14. Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school’s a bother, and life is depressing. But someday you’ll realize how wonderful it as to be a kid. Maybe you should start now__

Again, crap. Life as an adult is far more fun and has less hassle. Sure there are bills, but if you;re not stupid about buying stuff, you can cover them. There’s more freedom, and no aggro with exams. There are pressures, but you’re used to handling them, so ultimately, less of a bother. I hope some kid who’s being read the riot act by some adult who’s read CJ’s book comes across this blog, so at least they can take some comfort in the fact that their parent is just trying to guilt trip them. CJ is just trying to be a buzzkill because he has issues.

Just checked CJ is a radio presenter and journalist. Funny .. I had him down as an economist or banker or something. Doesn’t sound like the kind of job where you’d encourage people to work for The Man, but maybe they do things differently in Milwaukee.

Some rules kids won't learn in school

Writing about web page

Occasionally I come across something that winds me up so much that I want to meet the author and start ranting at them. Obviously that’s usually a bit tricky, and is maybe a bit anti-social, so I let off a bit of steam here—and try to put the record straight.

The latest irritation is a guy called Charles J. Sykes since I came across his rules kids won’t learn in school. He’s based a book on his so-called rules. They’re a few years old now, but still need counteracting in case someone passes them on thinking they’re somehow insightful. I don’t know what’s wrong with CJ – he obviously had a way better time as a kid than anyone else I know and had a far worse a time, but his rules are nothing like reality.

1. Life is not fair. Get used to it. The average teen-ager uses the phrase, “It’s not fair” 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it so often you decided they must be the most idealistic generation ever. When they started hearing it from their own kids.

Well OK it isn’t fair, but you should never get used to it. Continue to rail against it and maybe there’s a chance you might make it a bit fairer.

2. The real world won’t care as much about your self-esteem as much as your school does. It’ll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock. Usually, when inflated self-esteem meets reality, kids complain it’s not fair._

Bullshit. Most employers know that to get the most out of their employees you need to motivate them, and the best way to do that is boost their self-esteem. Most colleagues will reinforce the good stuff you do. In the real world you get treated with way more respect than you ever get as a kid.

_ 3. Sorry, you won’t make $40,000 a year right out of high school. And you won’t be a vice president or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn’t have a Gap label._

So? Most kids I know are really happy to be earning anything at all. Move along CJ.

_ 4. If you think your teacher is tough, wait ‘til you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure, so he tends to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, he’s not going to ask you how you feel about it.
The teachers I remember were way tougher than most of the bosses I know. Well, both had their fair share of psychos in the list, but as an adult you’re in a far better position to handle them and stand up to them. And every teacher knows that tenure is always very tenuous in reality.
5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word of burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren’t embarrassed making minimum wage either. They would have been embarrassed to sit around talking about Kurt Cobain or Britney Speers all weekend._

I know people who work in McDs. They think it’s an opportunity too. But it’s not a great opportunity. There’s no embarassment in making minimum wage but it’s pretty reasonable to be unhappy about it. And I have never met anyone who would talk about Britney all weekend.

May 01, 2010

Responses to Nortongate

It’s nearly a week now since Nortongate, the inclusion of a banner trailing the following programme over the climax to an episode of Doctor Who. There was the outcry from people watching the programme (over 5000 complaints). Then the inevitable backlash from those saying that it’s typical Whovian over-reaction and it just makes them all look like nerds.

I’m not a major Doctor Who fan, but like anyone born in the UK in from the mid-50s to the 70s I grew up with it, it’s not a matter of being a fan, it’s just part of your life, like breathing.You don’t consider whether you like doing it or not, you just do it.

But I complained, as did a few other people I know. And for all of us it was for the first time. But it wasn’t really just about the climax being ruined, I think it’s part of a greater fear.

I’ll try and explain.

Experiencing art is an integral part of the human condition. We need it because engagement with it transports us from our normal daily lives. It elevates us. It varies from person to person what art gets to us, but everyone really human gets it from somewhere. It might be music, movies, painting, but while we’re engaged in it the real world is gone and we’re somewhere else. Psychologists call it telepresence, writers called it the pathetic effect, movie analysts call it the diegetic effect, but it’s a precious thing. It’s why people get angry if people talk in cinemas, or if a mobile goes off in a theatre. Because it’s denying the opportunity for everyone else to experience that moment of transportation.

Putting a banner across a TV screen to advertise another programme does just that, particularly if it obscures a quarter of the screen, particularly if it’s during the climax, and particularly if it’s the first really good episode of the season. It denies that emotional experience of being taken into the moment.

Philip K Dick when discussing his inspiration for Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep spoke about a line he read from a Nazi’s diary, in which the Nazi spoke about being kept awake by the sound of crying children. Instead of a normal human response, this person was just annoyed that he couldn’t get to sleep. PKD postulated that the author wasn’t really human because he had this fundamental element missing from his psyche. He was an android, a robot that just looked like a human.

People who vandalise art, like slashing at a Picasso or something, do so because they know it will shock people. They want a reaction and to have the notoriety that comes with that. That’s bad enough, but these people are human enough to realise that people will react. What’s worrying is that someone at the BBC deliberately vandalised their own art, in fact several people colluded in it. They must have done so without realising that it was vandalism, without knowing that there could have been a pathetic/diegetic effect there to undermine, or that there was and it didn’t matter. This must only make sense if they don’t realise that this is what art is for. They have never experienced a fundamental and essential part of what being human is. I bet they talk in cinemas too.

I think this is what prompted the outcry. It’s not just that people were deprived of an emotional experience that is really a basic human need, but that there are people who are essentially incapable of experiencing human needs in control of one of the major creative institutions in the UK.

If the androids are in control, and if the majority of people don’t care that the androids are in control, then we’re really screwed as a species. The least we can do is complain.

September 26, 2009

Mr Rascal Turns Square

Listened to Front Row on my way home earlier in the week, and heard Mr. Rascal complain about file-sharing and congratulating Lily Allen on her opposition to it. It seems even more hypocritical when someone who’s into the whole Gangsta thing starts complaining about others breaking the law.

I bought the new Muse album yesterday. It’s pretty good, although the track I was listening to in the car went a bit Queen just before I got home. It was a bit of a nostalgia trip, buying the latest CD while it’s in the charts. Haven’t done that in years, I’m either buying old stuff or bands who have never made it into the charts, like the two Klangstorm CDs I bought the week before. The thing is though, I am a bit of a dinosaur now – even using words like “album”. File-sharing is the norm when it comes to listening to music, not old fogeys buying records. The music industry was a purely 20th century phenomenon and, like newspapers, it looks like it’s not going to last long into the 21st; there’s no divine mandate to say it should exist.

If you’re a musician now the reality is that you’ll sell a few, people will download it, and share it, and that’s it. The real musicians of this world do it for the music anyway, perform for a few dozen people in pubs and have some other way of earning an income. Which is pretty much how nearly every musicians has always lived. People like Lily Allen, and Feargal Sharkey and Dizzy Rascal need to just face that. Their choice is to do it for very little financial reward or just f*** off and do something else. Either way they can stop banging on about how unfair it is. Nobody’s forcing them to be musicians.

Oh wait, D. Rascal Esq. got thrown out of every other lesson at school apart from music, so he might find it a bit tricky. Poetic justice there somewhere, I guess.

May 17, 2009

Are all British politicians scum? Apparently not

Writing about web page

Intrigued by a comment by Nick Robinson that it’s not fair to say they’re all as bad as each other, I’ve just ploughed through the interesting (but very very poorly laid out)

I looked up how the MPs voted on two issues – Freedom of Information and Inquiry into the Iraq War. The conclusion that amazed me is that only 95% of UK politicians are scum. There are actually a hard core who seem to have some sense of morality and commitment to truth. How about that? They weren’t all the same who voted against the dark side both times, but a big up to Jeremy Corbyn and Peter Soulsby from labour who were – and also all the Lib Dem politicians.

It still doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in them as a species, but it will prevent me from automatically condemning them all in future.

February 11, 2009

ONN sets a new high

I can’t remember if I got this from Stephen Fry’s or Andy Powell’s twitter feed, both tweeted about it within a few minutes of each other. This is a brilliant piece of parody from the Onion – this just defines our lives.

Also stay tuned for the item on skanks.

December 23, 2008

Bad science or bad journalism

Writing about web page

I found this through an RSS feed from a colleague’s blog .. headline “Would you Adam and Eve it? Quarter of science teachers would teach creationism” with the tagline
• 29% say science classes should include theory
• Poll supports views of former education head

That’s then generated responses from Steve Jones and Richard Dawkins such as “I find this very depressing” and “If 29% of science teachers really think creationism should be taught as a valid alternative to evolution, we have a national disgrace on our hands.”

Too right, education is about lifting up people’s minds, not filling them with crap. However, reading further on in the piece, the Grauniad supplies this additional piece of information …

“that only 26% of all teachers and 46% of science specialists agree with Professor Chris Higgins, vice-chancellor of the University of Durham, who is quoted as saying “the only reason to mention creationism in schools is to enable teachers to demonstrate why the idea is scientific nonsense”.”

in other words (doing the maths) that only leaves 3% treating it as a valid alternative.

Even the statements that Reiss made (the former education head) that they’re said to support aren’t controversial – those were that while creationism had no scientific basis, science teachers risked alienating pupils who believed in the idea by dismissing it out of hand. “They should take the time to explain how science works and why creationism has no scientific basis,” – in other words treating the believers with respect (but not the belief). How else are you going to deprogramme them?

The reporter James Randerson is the Grauniad’s Science Correspondent and makes the mistake of referring to creationism as a theory – as opposed to something someone made up off the top of their head. He should really know the difference. But then he doesn’t seem to know the difference between news and something he just made up off the top of his head.

December 05, 2008

"Thought" for the day 4.12.08

Frequently when listening to the Today programme’s thought for the day, I’m struck by how rarely the item actually contains anything resembling thought – it usually just contains the re-hash of some half-baked ramblings, and an enormous mismatch between the speaker’s statements, their understanding of themselves and any sort of self-awareness.

Yesterday’s was one. Mona Siddiqui on Second Life. Now I’m not going to construct any knee-jerk defence of Second Life, it has its faults, and has been prone to hype, and a lot of weird activity does take place in there. However, in her item Mona makes some statements that indicate she hasnt understood what’s going on there very well. “For me these sites can never replace the highs and lows of real human relationships”. OK brownie points for starting the sentence with “for me” but what she’s forgetting is that the relationships people have virtually are real human relationships, even if they’re taking place in a virtual world. Again “escapism flourishes by taking us away from what is important, from the needs and desires of those on whom we depend and who depend on us”. Well sure, too much escapism might be a problem, but spending time online is spending time with the needs and desires of those on whom we depend and who depend on us. Just because they’re not in the same room doesn’t mean that those people aren’t forming a real connection with us. Sure, I feel there might be a problem with someone who has a partner in the real world, and yet spends hours playing WoW or in SL, but then, it would be just as problematic if they were watching TV or reading a book rather than connecting with the people (we assume) they’ve made some sort of commitment to. For anyone living on their own though, what’s the problem.

And of course, MS believes in God, (otherwise she wouldn’t get a slot on Thought for the Day) and what can be more escapist than that? I don’t have a problem with people having a religion (I’m not a fundamentalist atheist) but it is hypocritical for someone to criticise others for not living in the real world if they’re living in a fantasy world where they like to pretend there’s a big beardy bloke in the sky making things happen. At least the people who spend 40 hours a month online (which is pretty much everyone I know) spend the rest of their time with reality. When can Mona Siddiqui ever say that she’s engaging with the here and now, not losing her senses into a virtual existence? Which really is more of a fantasy existence?

Again, no criticism of anyone who wants to escape into religious belief if that’s what you want to do, but it then means you’re not in a position to criticise someone else for being escapist if they live in a virtual world for some of their time.

October 23, 2006

minor irritation

OK – another thing that annoys me – people who assume that socks should match. They can never offer any explanation as to why, they just seem to think it’s a given. It seems to be because they’re bought as pairs, and the pairs when you buy them match, so they should always be worn that way. But that makes no sense. No other item of clothing is always worn accompanying another. It’s like there’s some sort of unspoken assumption that they should, but that’s just culturally determined. And yet if you think about the amount of time that’s wasted on such a pointless exercise as matching them up, we could lead so much more fruitful lives if we freed ourselves from the tyranny of sock-matching. I’m sure I save about five minutes every morning by just picking two at random.

Maybe if shops just sold them as packs of non-matching socks then we could escape this rigid mindset. Hhhmmm maybe there’s a market there.

October 19, 2006

Sick building syndrome

So – winter’s nearly here and so the air conditioning has kicked into overdrive. I’m sitting here with the hood of my hoody up trying to stay warm and also trying to deal with the lining of my nose and throat being screwed over by the constant draught. The really annoying thing is that it could all be fixed by turning the damn thing off. I suppose I could just tape over the vents with gaffer tape, but I’d need to be able to sneak stepladders into the office, not the most sneakable of items. It’s just so weird that we can be expected to work in an environment that makes us ill and no-one does anything about it. If anyone has any idea about what action I can take to get this thing sorted, let me know.

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