Sunday, January 31, 2010

Greed is good

I have just finished watching a documentary about the internet.

Very good - I particularly liked the piece which delved into its humble beginnings. Like a lot of inventions it's the story of a world changing event which at the time is little more than a solution to an annoying problem in the office.

I have lots of annoying problems in my office, mostly related to the expectation that I actually do something whilst I am there. I am currently working on some simple solutions to that particular issue, mostly focusing on persuading someone else to do it but given the terms empowerment and delegation have already been invented I need to be more creative if I am to benefit from it financially.

What’s not to like about Sir Tim Berners-Lee though? He excels in good old fashioned British understatement, has a radio 4 voice and basically gave the internet to the world for free.

Yes - for free! For the good of mankind apparently.

Not sure I would have done that, but you have to doff your hat to someone who would.

Bill Gates is the same.
I spent most of the 90s cursing him on a daily basis. He was the fucking specky twat who invented the piece of shit which kept crashing whenever I wanted to save the hours work I had just completed. To rub salt into my seeping MS inflicted wounds he is also pot ugly, richer than anyone on the planet and could do pretty much anything he liked.

Very easy to dislike and then he goes and spoils it all by announcing he was going to give all his money away. Not only does he announce it – he does it.

Saying something and actually doing what you say are two totally different things - suddenly it becomes difficult to keep hurling abuse at him as he single handedly starts to cure Africa.

Who else? ………David Beckham - Twat, stupid voice, emaciated wife but still its very difficult to find fault. Yes he is a celebrity, yes his choice of spouse is extremely ill advised and yes he talks like a girl. However his work ethic, his determination and his down to earth attitude makes it, again, very difficult to actually dislike the man.

I don't want to like everyone - where’s the fun in that?

I, like a lot of people, have an inherent distrust of success but when that success is combined with what appears to be a decent person I start to get confused.

It’s not possible to be nice and successful – is it?

Tim Berners-Lee earned a knighthood for his idealism. Bill Gates is already on the road to canonization. David Beckham will most likely become prime minister. Gordon Gekko the CFO of Oxfam.

Who are we left with?

Answers on a postcard please.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Thick or what?

I have a reading problem.

It only becomes apparent when reading certain things, a good example comes from the BBC website today:

“Dr Glenzer said that experiments using slightly larger hohlraums with fusion-ready fuel pellets - including a mix of the hydrogen isotopes deuterium as well as tritium - should begin before May, slowly ramping up to the 1.2 megajoule mark”

The reason this is troubling, is not because I have any aversion to megajoules or have a allergic reaction every time I am in the company of a hohlraums. No this is troubling because no matter how many times I read this I still cannot fathom what on earth it is telling me.

It could be something extremely important, something dramatic. The mix of deuterium and hydrogen could offer me everlasting life or alternatively kill me instantly. It could also be something, somewhere in between.

The point is I simply don't know.

I read the paragraph and it hurts my eyes as my brain sees a word, it doesn't register in my, albeit limited, data bank, it tries again, moves on, goes back, tries again and then gives up. Every incomprehensible word is blanked out leaving me with another, shorter, unintelligible paragraph.

Dimensions are another problem for me.

The first 3 are ok, I get them:
Move up one to the 4th dimension – time – and I am still ok. It's a struggle but I sort of get it.

Move up one more and my brain starts seeking out the easy words.

“In physics, the fifth dimension is a hypothetical extra dimension beyond the usual three spatial dimensions and one time dimension of Relativity. The Kaluza-Klein theory used the fifth dimension to unify gravity with the electromagnetic force.”

So that's the 5th dimension – something which unifies gravity with the electromagnetic force – simple.

And it goes on, apparently all the way up to 11 and I challenge anyone out there, anyone, with the exception of someone with a name like Kaluza, to explain them to me in a way which I will understand.

Personally I think its crap, made up crap at that. I bet there is no one called Kaluza and even if there is how can they say – “up to 11” surely they either know how many there are or not, up to 11 is a bit too vague. Why don't they just say there is up to 375, it would make no difference, at least to me.

My February resolution is to not try and understand, like I avoid thinking about infinity, space and why are we here. I will leave that to the theoretical physicists and hippies.

Actually thinking about it, being a theoretical physicist must be very easy. Just think of something, say space worm holes. Explain using a piece of paper that you just fold space like this and hey presto they “might” exist. No need to prove it exactly how someone might achieve the simple act of folding space. Theoretically it just might exist or be possible. Instant travel to Australia is possible all we need to do is squash the earth so thin that we can burrow our way there instantly.
All we need to do is solve the small problem of squashing the earth.

I have just changed my February resolution.

I am going to become a theoretical CFO of a FTSE100 company, a theoretical premier league football player or a theoretical super cool guy.

Stephen Hawking - pah, he`s just a day dreaming fraud.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cold Showers and Bromide

Sex addiction?

What exactly is that? It sounds like a disease, something which one suffers from, something which is out of your own control where sufferers are victims.

Apparently Tiger Woods is being treated for sex addiction, poor soul. I guess we non-sufferers should have some sympathy for a man who’s fall from grace has been nothing short of spectacular. His income generating ability is a fraction of what it was 6 months ago as sponsors won’t touch him with a shitty stick and his wife is battering him with one.

All this because of a disease.

Of course its bollocks, we all know that. Here is a man who could have everything and anything and at some stage he must have thought the cloak of invincibility had been draped over his shoulders and decided that everything actually meant everything.

Do happily married, monogamous people catch sex addiction? Probably not.

But more importantly – I want to know how its treated.

There are one or two websites devoted to the act of sex and having spent many, many, hours researching them all I find myself not much wiser but a certainly more short-sighted. I am also an expert on clearing temporary internet files.

Seriously I have no idea.

I would imagine, they will check in to the clinic somewhere in Beverly Hills, wave goodbye to their, soon to be estranged, wives and have a couple of weeks of bromide and cold showers.

Or, more realistically, check in, wave goodbye and then agree the story to tell the wives with the owners, pay a huge fee for this and spend a week or so doing whatever the hell they like.

Either way – I couldn't give two hoots what Tiger gets up to. I don't shave with Gillette, employ any Accenture consultants or use AT&T to make calls and this isn’t going to change depending on who the Tiger is fucking or not. I do think that dropping him so quickly is perhaps a little knee jerk, he is generating more news now than he has ever done.

I`m not sure but I don't think any man would be buying their razors based on the fidelity of the man on the screen, I would go as far as to suggest that these recent events might have a positive impact on razor blade sales.

Without condoning his public infidelity and apart from the obvious schadenfreude opportunity I am secretly happy the Tiger has fallen.

I don't want my world populated by saints - I like the George Best`s, Ollie Reed`s and Kim Jong Il`s of this world. It makes it more interesting but then again I don't live in North Korea.

Ultimately Tiger has been caught with his pants down and as everyone knows to err is human.

The question is: are his wife, his sponsors or the razor blade buying public divine?

Friday, January 8, 2010


For the Swiss Family Shanks it arrived without much fanfare, a 3month old baby tends to subdue your appetite for a party.

10 years ago though we drank, we sang and waited with baited breath for the toasters to attack and planes to fall out of the sky. With retrospect it might sound melodramatic but back then I would rather have faced an angry Somalian wielding a machete, with a hangover having just heard a rumour that I had buggered his wife than be sat on a plane as the clocks moved over into the new millennium.

We took the millennium bug seriously, very seriously indeed.

The noughties have passed in a blink of an eye.
Granted it was a very long blink but for me the fact that a whole ten years have passed since I stood there staring blurry eyed at the rainy Glasgow sky spotted with fireworks is simply incredible. If I list everything that has passed through my life it sort of adds up, the life changes which have occurred to me, the career achievements and failures, the children, the travel, the friends found and lost - I found my soul mate in the Noughties.

Still it’s gone fast.

I do hate the name the “Noughties” though, sounds like a kids’ TV show, why not the "Two thousands, or the “Twentyhundrends”? What did the people call the years 1900 – 1909? Probably nothing. I believe it is a relatively modern phenomena to give a decade a label, I am guessing this annoying trend stems from the sixties and the baby boomer`s desire to give that special decade a label and a cute habit was formed. We do like to label things now though. A good example of this is the flurry of “new” diseases which have magically appeared in the noughties which simply did not exist before - even in the 1990s. Bipolar disorder, MRSA, Swine Flu, Bird Flu to name just four of these "so called diseases".

I can’t remember anyone calling in sick during the 90s with Swine Flu can you? No of course not. Back then we simply had a cup of tea, or took an E and got on with whatever we were getting on with. I accept if it was the E then it probably wasn't very productive, but we definitely had a smile on our face and there was no complaining.

Does this mean we have become softer in the last ten or so years?

Judging by the way the UK is bravely coping with the current inclement weather, probably. This is the country which gave the world Churchill, Nelson, Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, John Lennon, The Raj, America, William Wallace, football, tennis and cricket. We conquered, we defeated, we led, we stole, we built ships, we invented cities, the telephone, TV and penicillin.

We have become an anaesthetized shadow of our former selves, closer resembling our Gallic neighbours than the generation of our grandparents.

The solution?

Drag ourselves up out of our sickly bedshed beds, stop trying to capture nostalgia, drive to the pub regardless of the weather and do what we do best: have a drink or six and start a fight with someone.