Friday, May 19, 2006

Happy Friday

"Doing it all for the wonderful Clare White, every Friday."
- The Friday Thing

Of course, other Clare Whites are available, so I don't *know* that this is for me, but it's cheered me up no end anyway.

I've been meaning to give The Friday Thing a plug for a while, it pops into the inbox each Friday and is brilliant. I have to do something complicated to the formatting now to print it out since saying (sigh) farewell to Treo, otherwise it comes to 36 printed pages. It provides constant entertainment well beyond Rugby (one for their quotes column there). It also tells you a lot you no longer get round to reading in the newspapers because they're such nonsense. I have in common with them the preference for emphatic stars and wonder if they too have the irritation of having to say no, I *really* mean stars, when clever email programmes do their own formatting. I have generally been inspired by them every week in various ways, many plagiarous (sp? real word?).

It is one of the very few things I subscribed to, paying some forgotten amount of money ages ago for some magazine. I had concluded that I would pay for it again if their subscription system was up to asking me but this week they announced that I don't have to. TFT is going free. As some readers know, I have a bit of a belief in subscription-based fine writing, so I'm hoping they have an alternative model that is based on them selling enugh words to pay their writers. They probably do, the lovely chaps.

Anyway, enough gushing or I'll become a target for mockery. Fickle, fickle TFT.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Basic beliefs

I know I’m not the only one who feels they should be more proactive about getting their point of view across to decision-makers about the issues we care about. I have a rolling list of things to write to my MP about and am thus put off by the fact that it is too long.

But I also slightly resent the fact that it is these expressions of public interest that are deemed to be the most effective in Getting Things Done. In most cases, it seems a bit silly to be writing to my MP with sentiments like ‘I feel very strongly that the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in Darfur should be stopped’ so that some parliamentary assistant can put it in the pile marked ‘against genocide’, stacked up against the Friends of Khartoum amongst Stoke’s populus.

Couldn’t the UN organise a massive survey to once and for all ascertain everyone’s views on certain key issues? They could then use this to spur governments into action at appropriate moments. It could go something like this:
* Should carpet/suicide-bombing, murder, rape or torture be allowed, ever? When answering this, bear in mind that the victim could be you next.
* Should people be locked up without trial, or should we find out if they’re guilty, just to be absolutely clear in our own minds?
* Should the trafficking of human beings for sexual or other forms of labour be tolerated in a free market global society, or should we come down on it like a ton of bricks?
* Should we allow countries to run their own countries in a way that has the consent of the people (with the option of peacefully protesting to show opposition if they wish), or should we use the supply of food aid as a gentle incentive to push out the democratically elected leaders we don’t like?
* How many deaths, by whatever means but lets start with starvation and civilian killings, are acceptable, before action is taken to stop the deaths?
a) More than 2 b) More than 500 c) More than 5,0000 d) More than 500,000 e) It depends on the country

Finally, one from the Sun
* Should the Human Rights Act be scrapped?
You can probably still vote on the Sun’s website, unless they’ve taken it down now - the vote when I looked was 81 per cent saying "er, *no*", which didn’t seem to be the answer they were looking for.

Answers to be returned to the UN, New York.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Cold Turkey

So, some of you know that my lova affair with the Treo 600 turned a bit sour, due to a combination of lost cables, stints in snow (my fault) and crashes, mangled emails and a huge bill ('their' fault). I was finally seduced by a good offer and a 100 song MP3 player to switch across.

On Monday, the Treo was Switched Off.

Suddenly I realised what a life without Treo meant. From frustrating emails to no emails, limited notepad space to *no* notepad space. And predictive bloody texting, didn't it all seem so clever once, before they actually managed to fit a keyboard onto a mobile phone. Oh, what a drag.

In theory, I can access the internet with my Motorola ROKR and BBC news works quite well on it, but I've yet to crack Gmail and am only even trying during the free offer period, after which data downloads become stupidly expensive. There are no downloadable applications, according to the official website, unless they involve pictures or ringtones. So no decent memo pad. The buttons are in really silly places.

Most of all, my email link on the train is Gone. I try to accept that email is an addiction. That, just like all the people who have their Blackberry by their right hand all the time, I want to feel that somebody has emailed me, that I am important enough to *need* to check my emails every hour, if not every five minutes, just to on the safe side. That email is a delightful distraction which can be dealt with just as adequately, if not more efficiently, in alotted periods of time, rather than every time my mind wanders and I want the buzz of the new message, even if it is only a notification that Blockbuster have received my DVD safely.

I can break the cycle, I can fill my ears with educational and entertaining podcasts while another part of my brain scribbles inspired ideas into a notebook. I can live without it. Money saved, addiction challenged, all for the good.

Today I missed my Treo.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Oh, heck

Nice one. Vote BNP, she says, below. Bugger it, they're not listening. And they do. Not exactly droves of them, but 5 elected in Stoke. Nick Griffin picks Stoke to come and celebrate. Nice one, voters (bless you for at least bothering).

Still, the nice thing is our council overall looks pretty multicultural to me. Lots of Asian names, no Labour control and a new leader. Should be a good learning experience for our new BNP leaders.