I've not been sleeping so well lately. I had a tooth removed last week, my right shoulder is playing up and the rain has been relentlessly lashing down for days. Parts of Brighton are starting to flood. Wheelie bins are going rogue.
I decided to treat myself to some new toys this weekend. I'll take some proper time to review these later, but I now have the latest-gen Apple iPad (not the air nor the pro, but the 'low tier' 128GB one) and a new mechanical computer keyboard. I also have a new full size MIDI controller in the post. A huge indulgence for sure, but just consider the money I haven't spent in pubs this year.
We watched the new Borat film on Amazon Prime today. A total cringe-fest within minutes. Baron Cohen has lots to say, and he does a great job of exposing ugly attitudes. Is it as good as the first film? It's different and darker. I would argue it has a stronger structure, with an expertly crafted twist at the end that plays into current worldwide events. I would recommend watching before the US election.
I would postulate that 2020 is currently the most unique year for humanity since the 2nd world war. Ironically I have very little to talk about. It’s been eight months since the pandemic kicked off, prompting widespread changes in our routines and livelihoods. For the vast majority of this time I’ve just been sitting indoors piddling about on the internet and maxing out the slow cooker with my girlfriend.
When you don’t go out, work from home and avoid all social activities, time just slips away. Each month feels like the last. Things that happened last year feel oddly recent, as if they happened only a few weeks ago. Even my life feels vaguely meaningless; there’s a certain limit to what can be achieved from behind a computer screen.
I am neither elated nor depressed. Neither excited nor bored. Neither engaged with reality nor apathetic to it. I’m waiting, patiently, for the situation to change. I wish my compatriots did the same in the Spring and that our government wasn’t so incompetent at handling the crisis.
I congratulate New Zealand for how they’ve managed things. Jacinda Ardern seems to fully deserve winning her 2nd term in a landslide victory yesterday. It’s a shame the rest of the world didn’t follow their example. It’s interesting that the countries led by bombastic right wing strongmen - Brazil, India, the USA and Britain - are also the ones faring so poorly.
Esta situación será un recuerdo desvaído. Aplaudir no salvó al NHS.
It's day 9,000 of the pandemic. I have embraced this new way of life, cast off my social obligations and only venture outside to purchase chilled bottles of lager from the local Sainsbury's. WFH has been good to me for the most part, the only downsides are trying to concentrate while the neighbours on all sides argue/hoover/garden/chainsaw constantly.
Having saved a surprising amount of money by not eating out or going to pubs, I decided to get a new gaming PC. After spending weeks researching how to build my own out of various parts, it eventually hit me that the stress of waiting for several individual packages to arrive (likely at times when I'm too busy to answer the door) would be too much. As such, my 'pre-built shame' now sits next to my feet. Actually, I'm very happy with it - if a little intimidated by the raw power and pulsating RGB lighting. I only really got it to play GTA on high settings, though the purchase coincided with the Steam summer sale which prompted me to try out a few new games. I'll have to review them properly after I've finished but here are my initial impressions:
Fallout 4: I've spent more time in the character creation screen than playing the story.
Far Cry 5: I can't stop listening to the cult radio stations... "Let the water cleanse your sins!"
Yakuza 0: I played this for like 2 hours, and 1.9 hours were cutscenes.
Cities Skylines: I can't figure out how to stop my citizens from all dying of typhoid.
Red Faction Guerrilla: ReMarstered: This one is actually really fun thanks to the destruction physics.
Armed Assault III: I've been mucking around with the fantastic editor, but I have no interest in the campaign or multiplayer.
Saints Row IV: Totally jumped the shark. I miss the gang warfare from the 2nd game.
I've also started restoring and upgrading my old 2011 MacBook Pro (13 inch, i7 processor) - I remember 9 years back as a music tech student, I along with everyone else on the course, was pressured into blowing the entire maintenance loan on an Apple laptop that our professors exclusively developed software for, oh, and the dreaded Pro Tools and Logic Pro studio. It was my first laptop and she has served me so very well over the years. I decided to give it a good service this week: I doubled the RAM, slapped in a 250GB SSD and upgraded the OS to High Sierra. I still need to replace the battery, change the thermal paste and patch it to Mojave afterwards. My newer Lenovo laptop is now staring at my MacBook in jealous rage.
I expect the consequences of this pandemic will stay with us for a generation. I've never known such a rapid change in society and in daily life. Each day, thousands of people with the coronavirus are dying. Even 24 hour news struggles to report on every dramatic turn this crisis takes.
Just a few weeks ago, this flu was a distant rumble in the far east. Now the schools are shut, the pubs have locked their doors, the supermarket shelves have emptied and everyone is being told to remain indoors. Saying 'goodbye' has been replaced by 'stay safe.' Much of this is reminiscent of disaster movies.
The ills of society have been thoroughly exposed. The fragility of employment, the selfishness of the few, the vulnerability of those we rely upon. The UK government seem two steps behind the outbreak, but even their reaction is very uncharacteristic of Tory policy. Everything is turned on its head.
It's difficult to say just how bad things will get. I am lucky enough to get to work from home, but most of my friends and loved ones don't have that luxury. Yes, there is a limited provision being made for those unable to work - but the process is unclear and it doesn't cover the self-employed.
The sooner everyone properly self-isolates, the quicker this will be over.
Cuídate. Hora de quedarse adentro.
A THUMPING Conservative majority and an utterly disastrous result for Corbyn's Labour! As a lifelong Labour voter and a Remainer, I actually find myself feeling a bit relieved I can now accept defeat and allow such a decisive result to swiftly kill off my hopes. No more minority government drama to keep me glued to the news!
I don't trust our dear leader, Boris Johnson, but if he can now get an orderly Brexit over the line, negotiate mutually beneficial trade agreements and at least partially stick to his promises on the NHS, then he's effectively delivering what the UK have just voted for.
Labour need to take a good, honest and hard look at themselves to figure out how to win back their old heartlands in the midlands and the north of England. I liked Corbyn as a bloke, but I didn't rate him as leader of the opposition. A lot of the blame for this defeat is squarely down to his unconvincing debating, 'free stuff for all' manifesto and the over-aggressive campaigning of his Momentum fan club.
Democratic Socialism need not be abandoned by Labour, but there needs to be an orderly cull of their front bench. Their next leader needs to be more credible, more statesmanlike and more moderate. Keir Starmer would be my choice. John McDonnel, Dianne Abbott and Emily Thornberry ought to be relegated to the backbenches - not because they are bad people, but they are bad politicians. They just don't resonate with the public. Labour will need to bide their time while Brexit 'gets done' and keep holding the Tory government to account, every step of the way. If it gets to 2024 and the UK is on its knees, impoverished and fed up with Boris and his Brexit aftermath, Labour should be there as the obvious and sensible alternative.
Let's just see how much child poverty and homelessness rises in the meantime...
Debemos amar a los que no están de acuerdo con nosotros. Nuestros valores centrales siguen siendo los mismos. No dejes que los extremistas nos separen.
A lot of things are hanging in the balance. It's a very busy week at work, I'm trying to put out fires everywhere. An exciting opportunity has come my way and I may find myself working somewhere new shortly after Xmas if all goes well. I'm keen for change. I need to get a good night's sleep, but the election results are tonight and if the exit poll predicts a hung parliament... There's a lot at stake, for me and my country.
El cambio es inevitable. Quiero un cambio, pero el cambio tiene que ser bueno.
Election day in the UK draws nearer, and a Tory majority looks likely. Turkeys will vote for Christmas once again. I'm slightly terrified. Perhaps we'll have a pleasant surprise in the form of a hung parliament like in 2017, but I am bracing for a crushing disappointment.
Dicen que nuestro querido líder nos salvará. Pero no creo una palabra de lo que dicen.
I travelled as far north as the Orkney Islands; a quiet spot for archaeology, single malt whisky and traditional folk music - a great place to go if you want to escape dense metropolitan areas.
I was treated to a scenic walk along the edge of the uninhabited Brough of Birsay on an unusually clear autumn day. You could spot the Scottish mainland, dozens of miles across the horizon.
Sometimes you won't see another person for several miles. The air is a pleasure to breathe. Owing to persistent winds, few trees grow in Orkney, giving it a distinctive rugged appearance.
BOOMTOWN - A RADICAL CITY
August 7th 2019 - August 11th 2019
Several months earlier at a pub in Brighton, my partner and I were invited by our friends to join them at Boomtown. In the days leading up to the event, we watched the weather forecasting with increasing worry. Hopes of sunshine quickly faded when the yellow weather warnings emerged for storms, rain and wind. So be it, we shrugged, and went shopping for waterproof trousers and wellies.
Boomtown isn't anywhere near as big as Glastonbury, it is quite a new event (this was the tenth year) and had been growing quickly. Most people bring their own tents (there are posher accommodation options for those who can afford it) and there are a selection of camp sites. You can 'slum it with the masses' at the sites near the festival centre e.g. The Lion's Den. Or if you don't mind walking it's a good option to camp further out where it's quieter at night. We eventually found our way to Whistlers Green - the most chilled area of the whole festival - the fringe zone for hippies and Pagans to set up stalls for 'upcycling' workshops and carving wooden spoons.
The ground was very chalky, which made pitching tents extremely difficult. A lot of people arrived without suitable camping gear and failed to peg their tents down. As 50mph winds started hitting us many of the tents simply blew away, often slamming into neighbouring campers. I found myself up all night feverishly hammering down stranger's tents in the howling rain for the sake of self preservation.
The next day we went exploring into the beautifully decorated Psy Forests, Tangled Woods and then the Town Centre itself. The stages were ornately done with love and craft at each and every corner. There was also a surprisingly good selection of hot food available catering for veggies and vegans too. We had packed a lot of soup sachets and a camping stove, but we ended up buying hot jacket potatoes, Thai street food and vegetarian chili filled baguettes for dinner instead. T'was yummy, and good fuel for dancing!
Apparently after the previous year there had been complaints about the sound quality at the stages, so great technical care went into this year's set up to make everyone sound louder and clearer. It paid off and every band I got the privilege of seeing sounded amazing, even when standing toward the back. I won't try to list every single band and DJ I saw (I lost track anyway) but here were the highlights for me:
-Asian Dub Foundation
-Salt N Pepper
-Prophets of Rage (the energy at this gig was unreal, there was A LOT of moshing)
-Beans on Toast (manages to be political and positive at the same time)
Due emergency tent maintenance during the storm I sadly missed:
-Infected Mushroom :( :(
Here's a link to a poster showing the 2019 line-up.
There were other artists I wanted to see, but Boomtown schedule strategically to clash the popular events and avoid everyone at the festival pooling at one particular stage. I would recommend you plan your day in advance and make a decision on which artists to prioritise seeing. You won't get to see everyone you want to I'm afraid.
There was a very large presence from Extinction Rebellion. I spoke with various activist groups, we were encouraged at every turn to recycle and there was a good provision of recycling points within short walking distance.
I don't believe this is the fault of Boomtown as such, but this event increasingly attracts a variety of selfish prick colloquially known as 'The Bucket Head.' Bucket Heads, or "Roadmen" (a new word for "Chav") arrive en mass, take large quantities of bad acid, Ketamine or MDMA and proceed to get off their faces, causing a nuisance for everyone else. For these cheeky boys, a festival is a 5-day-long bender in a field, an excuse to be rowdy, classless and obnoxious. Theft was a problem too, so was sexual assault. The private security firms were widely critised for being ineffective at tackling criminal behaviour, targeting the wrong people, even in some cases acting as the criminals themselves. Reading up on the Facebook event threads afterwards, it seemed that hundreds of people had been a victim of theft or vandalism. Further scrutiny is required here.
At the end, my friends and I 'left no trace' but disappointingly so many people abandon their pop-up tents and the pastures are strewn with plastic rubbish. For all the promoting eco-awareness Boomtown makes, thousands of people are just inconsiderate wankers and dump their crap regardless. Some self-policing could be helpful here, if people are brave enough to call others out on littering.
Oh, and anyone who tried to get a National Express coach out of Boomtown on Monday will tell you, in terms of desperation, it was like Dunkirk meeting the last helicopter leaving Saigon.
Bucket Heads, bad weather and stinky compost toilets aside, it's all good memories from Boomtown 2019. The festival looked and sounded amazing. The bands played well. The vast majority of people were lovely. We arrived home tired, soaked and smelly. I think we slept for two days straight. I'm being asked if I want to go to Boomtown 2020? That will depend on the line-up
Priti Patel as home sec? Jesus fucking wept... I guess mild treason gets easily forgotten about in today's brave new world. Oh, and psycho Raab as foreign sec? A cabinet so far right, so chaotic, so dangerous it's unreal... Good luck everyone and strap in. Let's hope this utter madhouse eats itself before it eats us all.
Theresa can't even negotiate her way out of a car.
After 8 years of dismissing Yo! Sushi, Zara has finally shown me the error of my ways.
Happy international women's day everyone! I believe it's only reasonable to recognise all humans are entitled to the same rights, privileges & protections. Massive respect to all the campaigners for equality out there!
I really don't care for Theresa May. But who does? She's a weak and wobbly authoritarian, her voice cracking each time she repeats the same meaningless propaganda. She seems tired and lost. Her campaign has failed to present any good reasons why anyone should offer her a vote today. Her decision in calling this unnecessary snap election was a show of arrogance - an opportunistic power grab whilst the electorate are influenced by fear and uncertainty. I don't trust her. She avoids criticism, dodges interviews and hasn't the courage to attend debates. Theresa loves the power. Lurrrves it. She'll pass the buck and point her finger at everyone, never taking any social accountability. She wants to lock down the internet, curb free speech and scrap your human rights. She wants to rip apart cute little foxes and sell off your NHS in chunks. She sells arms to the Saudis and blames Corbyn for promoting terrorism because he's a pacifist. For crying out loud, I really don't like Theresa May. She makes this country seem like the dystopian Britain from Children of Men. She's pulling some V for Vendetta style bullshit. She looks like she eats babies to stay alive. I ask each and every one of you to consider just how much five further years of May at the helm will suck. She's terrifyingly awful, like, shockingly. Please, Britain, particularly the folks around my age, I need you all to go out today and cast your decisive vote.
Everyone on the news looks worried.
And now this lonely little island represented by gullible fools, xenophobic fossils and irresponsible elites will be at the mercy of Trump and Putin. Not to mention a destabilised Europe - whose people will remember this day as the peace inevitably runs out. Good luck everyone.
Adiós 2015. Glad I got to spend it with so many old and new friends. So lucky to have won the heart of the magnificent Zara Chung! The new year promises great things. Mirth and merriment to all of you on this new year's eve!
Seems like most hating on Corbyn are lizards without principles or spineless fannies determined not to rock the sinking boat.
Devastating. Last night was the nail in the coffin for left wing politics in England, and a massive blow to liberalism on a whole. With a Conservative victory, Britain is now ideologically split between the shires (Tory), cities (Labour), Scotland (SNP) and NI/Wales (Clusterfuck). We've followed the European trend - a lurch to the right and surges in nationalist support. With the right more powerful and unified than ever, things are going to get unimaginably worse. We'll most likely exit Europe, the NHS will be sold off in chunks, arts funding will be decimated, £12bn in heavy handed austerity cuts every year will continue bring poverty - especially child poverty - to appalling levels. The snoopers' charter will return and the human rights act will disappear, stripping away our personal freedoms and privacy.
Students, renters, pensioners, public sector workers, councils, single parents, disabled people - you're all going to be picked clean.
If there was ever a day to be cynical - it's today.
A lot of big names have bitten the dust lately. Amy Winehouse and Osama Bin Laden died over the summer, Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie departed Earth within a week of each other and today marks the long anticipated removal of Colonel Gadaffi. Libya isn’t going to magically transform into Utopia any time soon but I quietly welcome news involving the death of malevolent dictators. Humanity seems to be short on baddie characters now, with only fundamentalist clerics and isolationist weirdos making any memorable appearances. There also still exists North Korea; it’s just kind of there, occasionally embarrassing itself and pretending nothing happened. The new leader looks like a fat baby.
With the student loan due to drop and payday in three weeks promising upwards of £600, it means I can at last buy a MacBook Pro without worrying about starvation or eviction. Once I get Logic, SuperCollider, Max/MSP and a bootable copy of Windows on that bastard, it’ll be a dream machine.
My personal projects including the electronic music and game creation have ground to a halt (The last album was released nearly a year ago), but I was able to fix up my MIDI setup with my Yamaha keyboard by updating the drivers and with the new sound card. The latency is now very low, so I have a controller comparable to the equipment at ARU. With a MacBook, visiting the lab to complete work would become unnecessary.
University work is piling up fast, so I need to get some of the CMT guys together and book a studio for band recordings. There are plenty of possibilities with the entire department filled with pianos, interfaces and microphones so I think this will be more of a motivational challenge. I did, however, opt to work independently on the Electronica project. I have some experience making both Ambient and Chiptune tracks so the mixtape task should be doable, but still an interesting challenge.
It's proving to be an exciting news week. I haven't mentioned the protests in Egypt yet but they are reaching a critical level of unrest. They are also working, with President Mubarak constantly forced to try and appease the masses. I like this. Tunisia's government was overthrown a couple of weeks ago and there is growing unrest in Jordan and Yemen. It looks as if Northern Africa and the Middle East are going to be rather unstable throughout the 2010s. I said to Walid and Bagdat today that the pictures coming from Cairo will probably be London in the next few months.
Jan 18th: You don’t have to do anything, you lucky, lucky thing. Just sit there in that little room and consume what society throws in your direction. Complain about the system, hope for revolution and eat supermarket bought food paid for by student finance maintenance loans. Wipe your arse with branded toilet paper, head towards the communal kitchen and compare the capacity of your liver with other lost souls who determine the quality of a person by how many virtual profiles they’re linked to on social networking websites.
Only now are you forced to give something back, selling yourself out to the corporations you grew up to hate but rely on to survive. Develop loyalty through loathing and pride through disappointment. You know the system is flawed but you’re too small to re-imagine it, let alone recreate it. Trapped behind youth you avoid real responsibility and escape the world through intoxicants.
So, Wikileaks publishes sensitive information for everyone, for free. They’re the bad guys because the leaked information can damage governmental bodies and corporations. Of course, Facebook is well known for publishing its users’ personal data without notice if they neglect to specify their preferences for privacy. It’s worth noting that Julian Assange isn’t hosting Wikileaks for a profit although I’m sure that Mark Zuckerberg must have had at least considered the bathtubs of cash he’d receive thanks to Facebook. Zuckerberg is hailed as a genius of our time, a hero and an innovator. As for Assange? Well apparently he’s some kind of rapist.
Back in the digital world, I’ve already made big plans for Total Anarchy and Overthrow. I’m filling up the new sketchbook quickly, with the notion of getting TA1 wrapped and released as soon as possible with a handful of missions and all the rough edges cut off. TA2, which is still a working title, will have the 3D cars and the ‘chinatown-rendered’ pedestrians and be a major release. Set in the present, I’ll be able to legitimately use lots of my own, friends, local and international creative commons music. When I release that game (hopefully before the Summer of 2011,) I’ll begin work on a Lost and Damned style expansion pack or ‘episodic content,’ except that will be set in the past with a new story line. I just hope all this planning materialises.
It nearly brought tears to my eyes watching the Gordon Brown leave office this week. As late as Tuesday
afternoon, I was hoping for a rainbow coalition. I think Labour were the first to say 'fuck it' and
decide to move back into the 'advantageous position' of opposition. I saw it all happen live, kind of
lucky that - although I was watching the Guardian feed all day too. Clegg sold his party out, and
has just about torn away the last shreds of dignity and decency that the LibDems had. He's a
yellow Tory - glad I made a point of never trusting him. Now he and David 'the human lighthouse'
Cameron are running the country. We're 'ConDemNation.' Certainly condemned to what is
primarily a Tory government. They've already agreed to make 6 billion pounds worth of cuts -
something Gordon advised strongly against. It could be anything up to five miserable years of
austarity measures, cuts and increased inequality - I only hope this shitstain of a coalition
collapses, making both the Tories and the LibDems look even more hapless than Labour.
Miliband is most likely going to become the next leader, and they should win the next election if
all goes to plan. Dark times.
Three hundred and six Conservative seats, wow. Blue Britain. It's all up to Clegg now, is he going to
stick to his progressive morals or sell out to the Tories?? Brown must be hiding under a table as
Cameron knocks on the door!
The UK general election debate last night was interesting, Gordon Brown made a much better performance. Nick Clegg was able to grind Cameron into the ground wit issues over Gay Rights and Europe. Hung Parliament seems the only possible scenario, and Avril made an interesting
prediction that if Clegg and Brown work together in government and don't hold another election,
they could wipe the Tories off the map for a generation. I wish that was easier done than said
though, I have a horrible feeling that Cameron is going to end up as Prime Minister by the end of
the year. I'm defending the fact that Labour have brought mainly positive change to Britain and that Gordon Brown is not directly
responsible for the global recession. The Conservative party look more progressive than they used to, but I'm not buying it for one second.
It's a British TV show set in Bristol about a group of social deviants with raging hormones.
I'm at a loss to see how any of the characters are remotely realistic; Skins has been criticised of causing depression amongst teenagers for it apparently makes 'normal' adolescent lives seem monotonous and uneventful by comparison.
The portrayal of teenagers in Skins is way off. For starters, most of us in real life are never that energetic except for that brief period on Saturday evenings. If these were real teenagers, they would spend the majority of the episode rubbing their eyes, complaining about college and being asleep. Another thing that bothers me is that none of the characters have any interest in the mountain of college work they would normally have. They also seem to spend a grand total of one hour in college a week (and that hour is when the place is set on fire or invaded by aliens or something) and the rest dealing with their ridiculously traumatic social lives.
Also, is Bristol completely composed of entirely beautiful students? I mean, no one in Skins is bad looking. Even the characters who are meant to be bad looking are moderately good looking by normal students.
What's more, all the characters in Skins act like absolute arseholes. When you think about it, you'd never want friends like the ones portrayed in the program. Who the fuck does Effy think she is? She walks in, tears friendships apart, shags her way around the college, nearly kills a girl and leaves her there bleeding in the woods, runs off to some shit-heap village and still persists to tart herself around the place. If she wasn't hot I doubt she'd get away with any of her shenanigans. Even the less 'twatty' characters are cocks compared to real people. These kids have affairs behind their loved ones backs, they treat each other like shit, they treat their caring parents like dirt and cause a fuckload of physical and mental damage to pretty much everything associated with them.
And who is having these parties? These so called 'Skins parties' where everyone just gets absolutely blasted off their tits on just about every drug in the chemist. In these parties, at least three people are going home without any clothes (and missing a limb or two.) It's probably a shock to the average Skins party goer if someone DOESN'T die.
What's more, these arsehole teenagers seem to have an unlimited supply of cash. How many drugs do they take each episode, how many designer clothes do they wear, where does this unlimited supply of fags and booze come from? None of these people appear to have part time work either which must mean that all of their parents are generously loaded. So why do they treat their parents like crap?
In conclusion, it is evident that everyone in Skins is a massive dick. Apart from their social deviancy, they are also really dull people. Their only on-screen hobbies include sex, wanking, drug abuse, DJing, having affairs, setting fire to things, stealing, running away, shouting, getting into fights, getting killed, getting arrested, and generally being selfish cocktards.
I can't see where any of the characters will be 10 years on in their lives.