Archive for the ‘Rant’ Category

My mystery wife

Monday, October 8th, 2012

As a side-effect of living in the 21st century, I get a lot of junk mail through my letterbox. We all do. It’s the times we live in.

Some of it doesn’t have any name on it. Some of it is for “the occupier”. Most of it has my name on it. But a few are for “Mr and Mrs Simms”. My mother is Mrs Simms, as are some of my cousins. But none of them live with me – there is no Mrs Simms at this address. And yet a few people insist on sending mail to me and my non-existent wife. They are all charities, I notice. I assume they feel that their letter might be thrown in the bin by me, but that my tenderhearted imaginary wife might take pity on them and read the contents.

However, they are completely wrong. I get annoyed by this, and refuse to read them at all. I don’t understand why they do this. It is clearly a deliberate strategy to add an “and Mrs” to their address database. But it’s wrong – I’m single, and I like being single, and I object to being assigned a wife.

So stop it charities!

Today’s Rants

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Two things wound me up today.

The first was the stupidity of politicians and others who were complaining about the police response to the rioting in London and elsewhere.  Many of them seemed to be wilfully ignorant of the fact that policemen are human beings, and not expendable. Of course they didn’t wade into massive crowds to arrest people – they would have been killed. Literally killed. It’s not acceptable for politicians sitting in the comfort of the house of commons to berate the police with such a naive attitude to the safety of the police. They did not sign up for this! It is unprecedented, and it’s not their fault.

The second, completely unrelated story, came from Wired this morning. I am appalled at the principle of this, of urging shopkeepers to wilfully destroy their competitor’s comics. I know it’s a small thing in a troubled world, but it just irks me that perfectly good comics should be destroyed like that. I’m not even a reader of comics! But it’s so wasteful – a classic example of how it’s acceptable that greed should overcome all common sense. Marvel really should be ashamed.

Technology Trouble

Friday, March 6th, 2009

I’m just going to recount this sad tale of woe, to get it off my chest. Sorry folks, but it’s good therapy 😉

  • My ipod charger doesn’t want to work in America. That’s odd, because it worked fine in Japan.
  • But that’s okay, because my little laptop works fine when plugged into the wall. So I can charge my ipod from the laptop. Crude, but workable.
  • When I plug the ipod into the laptop, Amarok comes up. It can see all the music on my ipod. It can also access it to play it. Clever.
  • But when I go out for breakfast this morning, my ipod says that it has no music on it. NO MUSIC!! It actually still has all the music, but can no longer play it.
  • A bit of googling discovers that Amarok does this to ipods. How clever of it.
  • So I need to upgrade Amarok on my laptop.
  • But on upgrading, I run out of file space (it’s a very small laptop).
  • Fixing the upgrade just doesn’t work – it’s gone too badly wrong.
  • So I had to restore my laptop from a backup on a memory stick, that I always carry with the laptop.
  • And then upgraded Amarok.
  • Twice, since the upgrade failed the first time due to network issues.
  • And I’ve set the appropriate id in the Amarok config.
  • And now I’ve got all my music back.
  • Though I seem to have spent quite a lot of time in my hotel room.

Sorry to share with you, but it is enormously frustrating.

BUT at least there’s a happy ending!

What are they teaching them??

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

A friend bought a reading book for his young son the other day. Highly commendable! I approve.

But when he showed it to me, I was unexpectedly horrified.

The first page introduced the characters, by showing them all in a line with their names underneath them. You can find the same characters here, as it’s also been made into a television series. Mum and Dad – seems perfectly reasonable. No problems there.
Then Biff. Now that seemed odd to me, for lots of reasons. For a start, Biff had long hair in a ponytail, which says to my simple mind that Biff is a girl. The text confirms this assumption. But I thought Biff was a boy’s name. It certainly is in Back To The Future, and the Hardy Boys books. A quick wikipedia search for the name Biff shows a reasonable list of people, and crucially all of them seem to be male. But that’s not all – most of them are also American, so I assumed that this must be an American book.

We move on. The next character is Chip, Biff’s brother. Well, that clinches it – it must be an American book.

Then the final child in the family, Kipper. No, hold on, Kipper must be the dog’s name. No, the dog is called Floppy. So the family called their youngest child Kipper.

That’s not American – it’s just NUTS!

Then I discover that the book isn’t American at all, it’s published by the Oxford Univerity Press. So what are they trying to teach our children? Apparently Biff and Chip are twins. Friends of mine had twins recently, and I gave them many helpful suggestions for twin names, – Zig and Zag (which is beautifully simple), Laurel and Hardy (which works very well – Laurel is a nice name for a girl, and Hardy has just the right amount of upper-class twittery to make it a fashionable boy’s name in these troubled times in which we live), Lilo and Stitch, Shrek and Donkey (or, I suppose Fiona). But none of these suggestions are as silly as Biff and Chips. Especially if Biff is a girl.

So what are the boffins at Oxford University trying to teach our children? I’m only an amateur conspiracy theorist, but I have to say that this sounds like some kind of grand psychology experiment to me. Apparently these books are very popular, and lots of children read them. What kind of ideas are they planting? And why? Quite frankly, I have no idea. But I worry for the poor kids, whatever their names may be…

Onions Everywhere!!

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Despite this blog being called “Destroy All Onions”, I’ve  gone fairly easy on the subject of the onion, and its unspeakable evil.

But I was out for tea a week or two ago and saw this in arestaurant, and felt I had to warn you all.

Coffee - or is it

Do you see it?

Do you see what they are trying to do to poor simple coffee drinkers??

Look at it again upside-down if you have any doubts!

Onion Coffee

You see it now don’t you – a big horrible onion drawn on the top of the coffee. It can only mean coffee with some kind of vile onion syrup!

Beware the onion, gentle readers! They can be hiding anywhere!

Education, education, education!

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

Heard an interesting article on the radio this morning about the International Physics Olympiad, which is being held in Vietnam this year. I think it sounds like a nice idea, to hold a competition for something more constructive than running around after a ball, but then I would say that wouldn’t I, since I never had much success at catching the ball, or knowing what to do with it when I did accidentally catch it.

But anyway, the article focussed on the difficulties of the British team. They said that twenty years ago the UK A Level Physics syllabus pretty much matched the international standard that the competition demanded, but that nowadays our A Level students know only half of what they should. That appalled me. We all know about the lowering of our educational standards over the years, and the consistent denials of it by our government (who of course only do these things because they love us, and want what’s best for us).

To be told that our students had to cover about an extra year’s worth of physics (in a space of a week) just depressed me a lot. I know when I did physics, (and that’s a long time ago – not very far off twenty years), we were often told of things that we wouldn’t be learning because they were no longer on the syllabus. That used to disappoint me, that there was knowledge that was being deliberately withheld from us, where previous students got to learn about it. And things have continued to go downhill since then.

But where does it end? If standards aren’t falling around the rest of the world, what will happen to us? Are the British going to become the stupidest people on earth?

Only time will tell.


Friday, June 6th, 2008

This article in Wired caught my eye this morning, and made me think about one of my favourite things – gadgets. Their theory is that the iPhone won’t catch on much in Japan because they’re already got supercool phones that do a million things, and won’t be interested in a phone that only does a hundred things, even if it does those things in very nice way.

It’s an interesting question, and one that boils down to one of the age-old dilemmas – do we want quality, or quantity? Some restaurants thrive because their portions are very big, but others because their portions are small, but completely delicious.

So what kind of shopper am I? Well, I think anyone who knows me who agree that I am a bit of a gadget fiend. I like complicated things. While I am shocked and appalled at some of the things that are sold in Japan, that’s generally because of the horror of the marketting (go away Hello Kitty! I am not interested!), rather than not liking the over-engineering of some of their ideas.

As some of you may know, I am no lover of Apple. I suppose some of that was the dumbed down simplicity of some of their products, like the old one-button mouse, which I particularly hated. But that’s old Apple. New Apple computers now run on top of Linux, practically the most complicated way to run a computer on the planet (beaten only by MVS on IBM mainframes I’ll wager). And the new Apple mouse is so over-engineered it’s astonishing. But the result of this is something that at first glance looks simple and uncomplicated, but underneath has enough complexity to make a hacker weep with joy. It’s a killer combination, and has gained them a lot of friends. It’s quality in top, with unexpected quantity underneath.

And so although the iPhone may not go down well in Japan, in the computer world, they’re winning over the gadget lovers. Oh, I hates them. Nasty hobbitses…

The end of the beginning

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

I’m sure we’re all relieved to hear that the selection of the Democratic candidate for the forthcoming American election has now finally finished. What a waste of time, money and effort! It has taken months, and cost millions of dollars to decide which of the candiates gets to be number one, and which one gets to be number two (because let’s face it, it’s inevitable that they would go into the actual election together, one way or another). I admit that if they had decided by tossing a coin, or sitting down months ago and negotiating it, it might have had a different outcome, but set that risk against what all that they’ve gone through, and it starts to look like a reasonable solution to me. I think there’s a number of lessons in it.

  • Never put the word democratic in the name of a political party. Sooner or later there’s a time when it would be better for a group of leaders to make a decision, instead of putting things to a massive vote, but because of the name, the party is left with no choice. I can see the DUP hitting something like this too in the near future.
  • There would seem to be a long tail arrangement in the Democratic primaries – one analysis this morning indicated that the Clinton campagin focused on fewer, bigger states, with the assumption that the smaller ones would come into line. Obama seems to have foxed that strategy by winning a large number of smaller states, which added up to more votes in the end. That’s very Long Tail (which I haven’t finished reading yet, but I’m getting there).
  • I can’t help being depressed that at the end of all this, the actual proper election campaign hasn’t even started yet. It’s always possible that the American people might choose McCain instead. Let’s face it, after all this effort, it’ll be a real disaster if he doesn’t win the actual election, and ends up having to make environmental documentaries.
  • There’s a part of me that is vaguely troubled by the media coverage of American politics in general. The British media has very little good to say about George Bush, ever, and yet his popularity in America has only slumped fairly recently (after all, he did win a second term in office). I think that means that the American media are probably presenting him differently to ours. Is it possible that the truth lies somewhere in between? If that’s the case, do I really understand enough about American politics to have an opinion on any of this?

Hotel Showers

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

I spent most of the week staying in a hotel this week. It was quite a nice hotel. But as usual, it was impossible to have a shower without flooding the bathroom.

What is the deal with hotel showers?? Why is it so difficult for them to work out how to put up a shower curtain that keeps the water in the shower, instead of all over the floor? I don’t understand why almost every hotel is the same. What is wrong with these people?

And I can’t believe I have chosen to talk about shower curtains on the internet.

Nurse – sedate the patient!