Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Socratic Argument! You can't beat it!

Listening to The Middle of Nowhere by Orbital

There came a plaintiff cry from the top of the stairs last night. My daughter was standing there with her illuminated globe, plug trailing on the floor, to announce that she was taking it into school today as she had to bring in something with Africa on it which she could point to. Now we vetoed this on grounds of there probably being a globe at school already and that taking in something almost as big as she is might cause some problems. We eventually located some World Atlases, which sent her to sleep happy. The point of this is that I cannot remember having to bring anything in to school when I was only 5. It seems that the National Curriculum is trying to make kids develop far sooner than is normal.

I did start taking things into school in the juniors; very often they were my Mother's medical books with their strange pictures of people with various afflictions (and little black blocks over their eyes to protect their identities). I don't remember ever having them confiscated as being too gruesome for small children but they were often objects of interest for my fellow pupils. The section on brain surgery was very popular though it only had drawings instead of photographs. My mother never actually commented on the huge space in the bookcase, which I suppose shows a tolerance of strange behaviour on my part. My wife tells me a story about a small boy she once taught who had an obsession with washing machines. He would run dementedly to the door when people visited to drag them along to watch the drum turning round. No more strange than taking in medical books to school. Anyway, all this has left be oddly un-squeamish though once I stumbled across a website with a picture of someone who had been caught by a speedboat propeller which was as about as gory as you could get and still be recognisably human. Made me feel slightly odd for a day or two.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Everything I know about is just one big circle.

Listening to Wah Wah by James

(The producer and the mixer have something to do with it a well).

All those years ago when I started this blog, I wrote about Frida Kahlo. I was reading the Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera which was, I think, the first book I wrote about here. Well I only got a third of the way through it before I dumped it but this weekend we finally got the DVD of Frida and because I have a butterfly mind and have just finished Her Husband, I have started it again. Within a page of the bookmark, I found two nuggets of info that the film-makers just had to include because they were filmic. Maybe I will get around to completing the review. I did have some weird idea that finishing the review of Frida would mean the end of the Blog.

Back to Her Husband. Plath's suicide seemed to be reached almost without signpost. It is almost as if the biographer didn't want to dwell on it; rather she wanted to discuss the aftermath, Hughes' life after 1963. It did that well though it seemed, as is usual with these post-Plath time-lines, that the prose was rushed just to get the thing finished. I sometimes feel that the writers subconsciously dismiss Hughes' life after the suicide as not as important as that before it. This book is obviously different in that it is supposed to concentrate on Hughes though the author deliberately refers to Hughes' biographer meaning not her. (This must be Elaine Feinstein.) Having said this, there is a refreshing air of reality about these chapters. I think Middlebrook even says that some biographers see their task as being to show how much like the rest of us these geniuses, worthy of so much analysis, actually are. I cannot remember (or more likely work out) whether Middlebrook is trying to do the same. Whether she is trying to humanise them or not, she manages to do so quite well. The film Sylvia obviously tried to romanticise the lives of the poets; it had them living in terrible squalor, dirty walls, dark rooms etc when in reality Plath would never have put up with that sort of life for long. No photos of them show this 40-Watt lifestyle. The book finishes with some nice speculation as to the real time-line of events and as to the possible whereabouts of the Plath journals which Hughes famously "destroyed". Roll on 2023.

All this salacious, salivary speculation has left me empty and hungry. Appropriate alliteration will be permitted on the last Monday of every month as long as it is in good taste and doesn't hurt anybody. Somewhere, the light comes into a room full of papers, all colours and all sizes, lined up on a table, spilling over boxes. Here and there we see half-destroyed sheets, some singed from fires meant to hurt rather than annihilate. Some chanting catches the edge of hearing, maybe outside but more probably just quiet. And there is a ghost of someone here, crying blackly though he has not cried before for anyone but us here. Maybe we are twenty years into the future and this lost spirit aches at what it has promised.

It is past the end of the world, the end of our world, and something loud will come to us to take us back to the safety of the small wars we let happen to keep ourselves safe. Now we are beyond the events of hatred that we make ourselves, the little pressure of fingers on buttons that start off bombs on the other side of the world. There are broken things in here, small, dark things which will end us all. He cries more and we hear it close now. Those dusty shelves are more like some slick archive, a computerised removal of their charges' lives, kept shut away to keep them young and happy, watered and safe. Number 7 of Howls and Whispers, that heavy plate of engraving and some hand-written re-draft that says so much about what the author meant. Number 7, a weight left unread because everything in it is copied away, Number 7, a meaningless thing sold for gain and all its insides spewed across the world like the guts of some flat animal by the road, all life squashed into the air. Where do the thoughts go in that instant. I see mine just fading away but what if I end up the cannon fodder of some modern war, blown apart on the train, or vapourised in some accident. I will get through this and be there for the opening. We will watch on a high-numbered channel as they open that box. There will be no dust for such reminders of the squalid real world are banished in these clean-rooms. They could make electronics here except by then all machines will be made by machines and we will have nothing to do other than sit by the pool and read while the sun beams out through the CO2 and burns us.

Maybe this is a joke. They will find nothing in that box, a few worthless trinkets. He thinks of us like our colonial ancestors used to see the savages they landed amongst. Here have this beautiful mirror; you can see yourself in this glass diary, we are just you but more eloquent or believing of the things we need to believe in to become like this. Believe in all this rubbish and you too can be a poet, a writer. Or maybe you want to be a lover. We love you. That's why we're here.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Architecture and Kobayashi Maru

Listening to ABoneCroneDrone by Sheila Chandra

Have you listened to all of your comfort music and eaten all your comfort food or have you just got trolleyed like everyone else? Now the audience was under 20 million for most of the time. Allowing for 20 million kids (and some of them will have watching too) that’s about half the adult population. Where was the other half? I think they should be prosecuted as traitors I really do! No mercy! Make 'em clean out a canal or something! Soon have a lot of clean canals that way.

Sorry about that. I just had to get that out in order to function properly. Now where did I put that design for an Irony mark?

We finished watching Spirited Away yesterday and bits of it reminded me of all sorts of books I have read. There is an very atmospheric ride with spirits on a train which runs out across water which for a reason I can't quite place, recalled The Third Policeman. Maybe it was the whole film which did it. The train ride also reminded me of the third bit of The Bridge, the first Iain Banks Novel I read, where the protagonist leaves the surreal world of the bridge itself and takes a train out over the rest of the world. Why he does this I can't remember but as the main pieces of action in this book relate to the goings on in a coma victims mind, I am not sure it actually matters. I also got some sort of image of those badly-dubbed, Eastern-European series which the BBC used to show. Some of them were not even dubbed and had the original soundtrack left on while some actorial type narrated over the top describing the action. This may put you off seeing Spirited Away but it should not. It is a wonderful film and contrary to the accusations of rambling that I mentioned yesterday, I felt it held together a complex story very well.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Looks like one of those brown china things.

I am hovering. Or maybe hoovering. I am afraid I have not resisted the overwhelming force which came over me after watching the BBC's Comedy Connection about The Goodies. I have just ordered The Goodies ... At Last which should go down well at home. I watched the Comedy Connections show prepared to see that The Goodies were not actually all that funny and yes, the editors may have shunted together all the standard clips - the giant kitten, Eckythump, Tony Blackburn as Black Beauty etc - but it still made me shiver. Had to order this. Maybe have to watch it first before my daughter gets to see it. Heavily into slapstick she is at the moment. There was a suggestion that the BBC did not show the episode satirising Apartheid - Apart Height - but I am sure it must have been shown at some point because I remember the phrase 'You're not black are you' (uttered in strong comic South African accent) being a brief mantra around school. I'm not sure the satire was visible to any of us at the time.

One whole paragraph. I was looking at an archived page yesterday and could not believe that I actually wrote it. I don't seem to think about the same heavy things now. I did use the occasional Oblique Strategy then so maybe that is the answer.

Yes it is a bloody long sentence but no one cares but you so shut up.
Siberia and Techno

We watched an hour of Spirited Away yesterday. My wife was slightly cautious after my daughter stopped watching it on Saturday because Chihiro lost her parents. Having only seen an hour I can review the style without worrying about revealing any ending. It opens like some laid-back French film and then becomes something else entirely. Occasionally it has the trademarks of typical Japanese animation, the peculiar style of walking and running or the exaggerated expressions of surprise which seem to take a single frame to affect a face completely. We also watched the dubbed version which gives the other common trademark when long, fast speeches in Japanese have to be translated and the English comes out as stream of words with no gaps between phrases or sentences.

I was reminded of Marine Boy all the time. Having said that, Spirited Away is far above any other animation I have seen. The detail is exquisite with some frames appearing almost as treated photographs rather than drawings. The ideas seem to have comes from some oblique strategy system that provides strings of ideas, all of which are interlinked. I have not seen much Japanese animation (Akira a long time ago and of course Marine Boy) and so this overall concentration on making a complete story seem so off-the-wall may be a common trait but to me it is new. I seem to remember that Alice in Wonderland is one of the famous Japanese literary obsessions (along with Shakespeare and the Brontes) and it seems clear that Miyazaki has read it. One of the minor dissenters the IMDB reviews of the film says that the film could have benefited from a little rigour in the storytelling rather than the rambling introduction of sub-plots and other distractions. My thought about Oblique Strategies seems to confirm that and maybe I should wait until I have seen the rest to comment further. Whatever the result of that, I would still say see it.

I am about half way through Her Husband now. Despite the fact that the lives of Plath and Hughes are described in a Novelistic way, jumping back and forth in time, I would say that I am getting a far clearer view of things than I have from any other book on either of them. The book makes no judgements either consciously or otherwise. It tells the story, gives personal interpretations of various literary outputs but never comes down on anyone's side. I am not sure any book has ever said she was right and he was wrong but I often get the feeling that a biographer is either for or against one or the other.

I love this rainy weather. It was a wild night with high wind and heavy rain and personally I love the clear air that results. I used to keep a paper journal years ago and I dedicated a lot of it to categorising the different types of rainy day. It was lost years ago so I cannot lift anything to put here but I can recall the category of 'grit-splasher'; rain heavy enough to lift small stones into the air. What were you expecting from an adolescent's diary?

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Late-Night Line-Up

Listening to Gathering by Kathryn Tickell

The chapters in Her Husband which include some stuff on the natal astrological charts of Ted Hughes were set to annoy me. However, the biographer has chosen not to believe in the literal interpretations and has simply included them to show what Hughes himself believed about them. All this is not the main point of this which is instead to refer to a couple of notes I made while reading this bit. I wrote 'Astrology and doing the right thing - the moral and ethical component of all ancient disciplines.' I knew what this meant and what part of the book it was sparked by. Today all that has gone and the statement is disconnected from the thought that was sparked by last night's reading.

The next note said 'Ditch the Rationality' which I do know about. From reading more about Hughes and Plath I find myself criticising them for their belief in the irrational side of the world; things such as astrology and other divination. My mother made a conscious effort to not let us have what she considered airy-fairy stuff like fairy-tale books and that we grew up within the realm of science and more definite fields. However, our grandmother (wife of Herbert) took steps to supply us with all these things. Now I like to think I am rational - no way will that Derren Brown ever fool me - just because I don't understand how something happens the way it does, I am not going off to suggest some supernatural explanation. I don't know exactly how a lot of technology works but I don't start thinking of little men inside the machines I use like all those animals inside the Flintstone's consumer durables. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. My point in the note is to say that maybe I should start believing in the other side etc and that will make me a better writer, a better poet especially. Maybe not.

Spot on story here. I know the feeling well though I don't think I have admitted the extent of my own issues to anyone. Not bad at the moment. To be honest, the physical problems have focused my worries and left the mental issues behind. There were a few days just out of hospital when I felt really bad but then again, as everyone here has told me, you don't leave hospital at the end of one week and start back at work the next. Certain un-discussable issues forced my hand on this one which is my excuse. Solutions to mental problems are always mental rather than chemical. .

Maybe I should be like the Goodies who tried their best to annoy Mary Whitehouse after she praised their show. I am seeing myself as a mass of conflicts at the moment. I suppose you could me pro-choice but I get far more worked up over the injustices of late abortion due to hair lip or even the fact that it is legal to abort a foetus after the stage at which medical technology can keep the foetus alive after spontaneous abortion. I have no problem with stem cell research. I cannot think about this more. For all my supposed rationality, there are plenty of things which upset me when I should be trying to ignore the emotional side of it.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Interrupted Mid-spat

My Father's day present was not chocolates. It was instead Her Husband which was delivered via the normal arrival of daughter with card and presents after a suitable period of lie-in time had been allowed. It was also accompanied by a more traditional Paternity-affirming, Crockery-based gift of the beverage-containment variety - oh all right - a mug with "World's Greatest Dad" on it. We were going to Quarry Bank Mill which up until recently I thought was one of these outlet villages but instead turns out to be a National Trust museum. Circumstances meant that this trip has been delayed but I will report back afterwards.

We also have Spirited Away which we started to watch on Saturday morning until my daughter got scared, not of any of the ghosts but instead because the little girl had lost her parents. An afternoon was spent watching Shrek 1 in preparation for my daughter going to a cinema party to see Shrek 2. I was not expecting anything by Eels on the soundtrack.

Reading properly written books makes me realise how crap I actually am at putting thoughts down. When I first started the blog I was surprised at how easy it was to write things but looking back at the early posts I spot all sorts of naff stuff and embarrassing cliches. It probably sound very pretentious to say that I try to keep the idea of not using cliche in my head at all times. I realised a long time ago that poetry is especially prone to overuse of stock phrases and that I should try and think of other ways of saying things as well of trying to develop the poetry away from saying things about the normal range of topics. I like to think that I have managed this with the poems I write now though they do slip back into the crass and boring far more regularly than is proper. However, writing prose is much more prone to this sloppy reliance on existing phraseology and I seem to have lurched into a certain house style gleaned from various music magazines (One single-letter title in particular and I don't mean Oprah). I have obviously been falsely convincing myself of my ability in this field. After all it was rather pretentious to pretend that my Random Friday style could be considered like Joyce in any way. I still haven't finished Ulysses (Page 1003 of 3500 - obviously stuck after the milestone of 1000 pages) myself.

All this means that I have been considering stopping blogging all together. It is of course not that simple; part of the beauty of blogging is that it is so easy to start and so easy to continue so I think I will probably carry on as normal. I do realise that I do tend to write a lot which actually tells you nothing. I purport to review the things I read and watch with so little depth that I might as well just extend the instant music log (listening to ...) to be Reading and Watching. Maybe mentioning this in itself will prompt longer entries on the stuff. Maybe I will go for writing every other weekday instead of attempting the daily entry.

By the way Listening to today is Ex:El - 808 State

I do have an idea for a poem, the first in weeks. On the negative side from this creative trigger, it was inspired by something I read in Her Husband, which as you know from dutifully clicking on the link to it above, is about Ted Hughes though unlike the Elaine Feinstein book, acknowledges that a huge fraction of the audience will just be after the bits about Sylvia Plath. I think I was expecting this to be a better book that some of the other biogs of the genius couple; the author - Diane Wood Middlebrook - wrote a very good biography of Anne Sexton but it is clear that she has an ability to pick up on details which other might have missed. Although expecting a better book, this is actually breath-taking in its differences from the existing stock on the same subject. It is closer to literary Criticism, than biography but without ever being boring. On a trivial note, there is a wonderful photo in the book, captioned Ted and Sylvia interrupted mid-spat (maybe not quite those words but 'spat' is in there. The picture is used on the cover of this edition of the book and gives a feeling of reality to a tale which has often been marked down as being a conflict between titans in some weird twilight of the gods. I can believe it all now for Her Husband tells of human beings, clever people in the real world, the same world in which My parents existed rather than some film-makers vision of poets and artists. I see what they see in the distance, things that inspire them to wonderful outpourings but the same things we would see and dismiss and meaningless.

My poem is to do with radar and early warning and empty land.

Friday, June 18, 2004

How to Wear White.

I do complain a lot. All I have is a cold and an aching shoulder. There are of course people who get as grumpy as me about the things they have to suffer but a few are deserving of our acceptance of this. One such person is Ivan Noble. In the manner of all great self-help tracts, I will cheer up until something worth being grumpy about comes along.

It has been a shock to discover that I am older than Boris Johnson; happy birthday to Boris who says he performed the mental trick of turning 40 some time ago. See Boriswatch for what may or may not be satire, dead or alive. I have just read his Telegraph piece about Seal Clubbing and while you will gather that I do not agree with him, the point about getting priorities right gave a view of the Independent Newspaper as more like a bleeding-heart teenage vegetarian than a rational national organ. I realise that football hooliganism is of more local interest to the British which probably explains why the BBC talking points have many more letters regarding our army of occupation in Portugal than the refugees in Darfur. Solution to the football problems - let's get it out of the way Michael-Moore style and say that in any football competition, the local police set a level for the number of fans of each nationality who may be arrested after which the corresponding national team is sent home. Then of course we can spend all the time which we do analysing this terrible disease that affects the British abroad trying to sort out the really knotty problems which have no definite solution. That all sounds so glib but I have an excuse. I may just fall asleep on the desk.

My wife tells me that I was in the cubicle in casualty for three hours. It seemed like twenty minutes to me. She also tells me that I had an ECG as well, which was normal you thought I was going to say 'which was nice' didn't you? My colleague said that the EEG showed up some pretty wacky stuff but that may have been a joke; it is getting difficult to tell. It seems like Random Friday but it isn't.

Now this really is satire - I think. Can't do any of that I am afraid. It would cause pain and suffering on a huge scale. Funny though and the commercial bit is of course very true.

See you Monday after all the chocolates.

Amundsen's Forwarding Address (4)

Listening to - Whore - A Tribute to Wire

I have just finished Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose (8), a memoir of life, love and crosswords from which I have been able to decipher many of the clues which would have been previously impenetrable. Unfortunately the solvable ones did not include the headline up there which is just so right as to be the crossword equivalent of the Golden Ratio. This book is by Sandy Balfour who describes some films he has produced which I seem to remember watching. His name seems to register somewhere deep but not with any concrete definition. His face does not mean anything to me either.

Not sure what I feel otherwise at the moment. I should be feeling better but three weeks out of things seems to be taking three weeks to get back into things. My son passed on a cold last week which seems like taking the micky after everything else but like something I read in Consolations of Philosophy there is a temptation to link phrases which should be linked with 'and' with 'in order to'. For example 'The pencil rolled off the table and I am annoyed.' becomes 'The pencil rolled off the table in order to annoy me.' My current cold has no desire to annoy me; it is simply trying to continue existing as we all are. My cold will go and I will not be annoyed any more.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Happy Bloomsday

Mmnn Yes!!

Maybe too unobtuse for such a day that. And maybe he would and maybe he wouldn't. We though of hm for years before that great nose came off and he descended nto some daly drunen hell like a bat before the waves. Out and out he went, to find some awful to eat, some piss-tainted kidney lying, forgotten behind the stive in that dusty, dirty pub of his. And six pianos in the ears, a dream of a noise, like God on a day off, telling everyone which is the right religion for those clicks of damper on string, that no-pedal shortness of anxiety that leaves us all breathless. Up an octave for a chord change or no more excitement led by the clean girls up White-side way, into the nice families and their white houses with the black railings. Oh yes! We know you. Second Best bed and all that. What you know about him and his wife. Means nothing as she got the rest didn't she, the whole shebang and shake from shaft to spear and all stations in between.

We will finish this one day, get by page 3 where the drawl and trawl begins, that slavering mess of tower-bound drunks. Here come the Gardai; wait for that siren and duck down into the bubbling rocks around the bay all ye tower men. The day mostly gone now we get past twelve and what tense is this that makes us tense? Make sense of tense and have your slippery lunch to make you sleep for the second time this day. and In C now. When to start and when to stop. Up along the bay still seagulling like a mix of Welsh and Irish, bible black and pudding with fingers in his mouth - maybe his own this time, the slavering butcher, the killer in some eyes. The poisoners and painters killed some guy with his wallpaper I HEARD, over the tannoy sometime last week. Arsenic in the paste maybe.

And what makes us think we are better than the others round this table. Which one to kiss and kill and end. The only one deserving of sympathy washed his hands of everything said the guy who must have had it bad right up to embracing that horse, that lovely horse and going mad. I am so nervous at the end of the day. There seems to be nothing for it. Nietzsche Smietzche! A climb, an ascent to the to of the world makes those dirty roots into shining flowers, a random hundred years of imrovement and clubland. They've banned the dead end forays of the Ryan Air generation and made them spoil their own lands now, the dead-end drunken lakes of foul air and sickness that pour out of the soulless deserts every night thinking they are the men and women of the moment, taking drink like air and making heaven hell in seconds.

They drink to forget but they have forgotten what and so there is no point asking them again. I came down here when I was small, a little white bud, fresh from the cell division, that natural cloning that made me like my father and all the others of us stretching off into history. And why these trees get bigger! This is proof, just a proof so don't read more into it than you have to. What can I say to get myself banned? I do not care for results; you can see that in my life, the mess and nervousness that cause this to be the only free time I have. Where we all end up save for our richly-organised lives, down in the gutter with the offal and the straw and the cholera of all generations in that dirt. There is roman grime built up in these roads, dust from the first Caligae to hit the sand of England twenty times ago, past day one of Bloomsday and back to the falling legionnaires of that most holy empire. Apis on the roadside, a honey tangle, sweetness for the soldier as he struggles to take over a land he can never understand. Rings bells that. Made molly groan that one. She thinks she once had a roman man, under the shadow of some Italian dockside, San Remo, where they hire you boats and you can change your life. In C again, back in the brain like eggs and bacon, like kidneys in your breakfast bowl, fried and lovely, a treat for any ailementary tract today, that greasy slippage of the tang of home and heart. The lights make Haggis easy, a dreamy celtic dish to match the best of Dublin. Over the railinged bridge that covers that apology for a river, back to the Black Lake, the Black Cat, an Cat Dubh, And V from mh - how does that work. Sdpeak Irish Man! or Flan - or Miles Na Gopaleen, the humourlists friend, the great absurdist, the master of the footnote, the unfinished trip to hell by bombs that never explode.

Great hell man! The life of O'Brien is some melting of two great men of this city. My mother lived here too, inside Trinity, making herself a doctor in the forties, afetr winning the war or so we thought, a classical scholar of steel and pipes made to link islands through the sand. And here, sixty years later, we have a real world mother to think about, the other parent of my own two dear children, camouflaged amongst the grass of some long-gone summer, not missed but quiet and scholarly, pollenless and happy gurgling to each other. Where do they learn of us? The end and no checks today. This is just a proof, a roof, an end, a blend, a quite end.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Trembling Arpeggios

Listening to The Guitar and Other Machines by the Durutti Column

Back-Garden Poem

I dream of rain, falling on everything,
the dripping, peeling runnels of all gardens,
from the grey sky through glass and hothouse,
in the sowed order of this elder’s place.
It is clean, mingled with the smell of powders
made to dust this good earth, the exponential
mess of broken rocks from a younger planet
turned to beds for fragile growth,
the shoots of things made easily in days,
the fungi breaking cover in a night.

This is a clean garden, a straightened mess,
grown to show creation lanes and ways,
with plans and spillings, the borders
of the un-wise man to crystal futures.
And outside this corner of the house,
this brick tree to heaven and seeded clouds,
the music is black and blue and loud,
the sound of all rain that hits dry earth
in one ocean’s worth of water,
in one day, one grain of time boiled down.

to nothing, integrated under math and lost
as old knowledge of relationships
we avoided; the sad atoms of humanity
that missed collision and exited to void.
And words ache in all this seriousness,
flown over pain of separation.

This music is so painfully of the past; it brings back half-finshed ideas from ten and more years ago. There is no reason or association that I can define; it may be just some weird confluence of this and some event which I have forgotten, some sunday spent tearing along deserted country roads with nothing better to do and the radio on at full volume. What do we know now?

Tired of this now. Bye.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Consolations of Philosophy, Day of the Triffids and All Thanks to James Burke.

I finally got beyond the first page of The Consolations of philosophy and found it more flowing than I expected. I finished The Day of The Triffids as well and found myself making huge numbers of links between both books. I was so convinced of the commonality between than that I was even going to blog yesterday (Sunday). However, family time got in the way (drat, damn and blast!!!) and it all went out of the window. Of course this has saved you from having to read many arguments which were totally against the ideas examined in the first chapter of TCOP which were the basic ideas of Socrates which in my opinion boiled down to Just because a million people believe a stupid thing, it doesn't mean it's not a stupid thing. You will of course remember from you school days that Socratic argument takes everything to a perfectly logical conclusion and very often on the way it blows perfectly logical sounding statements out of the water. Yesterday my head was full of so many things I have heard recently which can certainly be described as flawed arguments which so many people believe without any logical thought as to why they are true. Revisit the archives of this site and find many flawed arguments to start you off.

I probably have mentioned that I complained to my aunt that so few people seem to bother to understand even the basics of the technology that they use every day. She replied that even Television was a mystery and I am proud to say that my two-minute explanation was clear enough for her to say that she now understood the basics. I of course admitted that the exact details were lost on me as well. Thinking of this made me realise that despite the fact that the field I work in is a complex and challenging one, many of the basic principles of the hardware I work on are lost on me as well.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Firing on All Truncated Cones

I'm off the tablets and back on track. My shoulder hurts a little bit still. This morning I tried to cradle the handset of the phone in my shoulder while trying a shift and click and that really hurt to the point of audible screaming. The good result from this is that I now have a rinky-dinky new phone with handsfree and headset so no more leaning into the handset.

Loads of things to try and remember from the last few weeks most of which will have vanished by the time I get to blog them. I couldn't really concentrate on anything for long enough to actually read anything though I did manage to complete the Telegraph crossword twice (The cryptic one - yes - honestly). The drug induced lethargy meant that I relied on the (£2.50 per day) Hospital TV screen which hangs above every bed getting in the way as the nurses make the bed. Nurses deserve double pay. Every time I shuffled past the situations vacant boards on the way to get the paper, I got annoyed over how the phlebotomists who so skilfully took blood from me every day seemed to get paid about half what the average manager was getting. I almost thought about hanging up a petition suggesting that the salaries were swapped. OK, its not wonderful economics and I will get accused of over-simplification but it never seems complicated when several thousand troops are required on the other side of the world. It is of course another matter equipping them with the required equipment like food and clothe but maybe that is outside the scope of today's returned idiot rant.

Made a point of staying up to watch the Imagine programme about Lucien Freud yesterday and accidentally got drawn into the history of anaesthesia on Channel 5. This was presented by the real Doctor Phil Hammond who had been a guest on Have I got News For You? who has a knack for keeping a serious show amusing wothout being inappropriate. I particularly liked the story about the famous Surgeon Dr.Liston who could amputate a leg in 28 seconds. Unfortunately he once took off two of his assistant's fingers as well. Both patient and assistant died of septicaemia making it the first operation with a 200% mortality rate. I am sure the Freud thing will be on BBC four again soon and I did the see the Edward Hopper programme in hospital last week.

The new PJ Harvey Album is very different to Stories From the City - Stories From the Sea - back to the early form almost and maybe that is a deliberate ploy to try and get back to being a bit more on the edge rather than just a slightly weirder corporate artist. There is a strange feeling of the difference in the length of the tracks that I have not noticed on any PJH album before. You know how some albums have these little short songs every so often which break up the flow. Well this is one of those. Not that it suffers because of it.

My reading has gone off track. I got through a lot of magazines which I normally skip purely because they were in the hospital shop - Q and Empire - two editions of each. Back home at the weekend I walked into the village and returned with two books from Oxfam. One was another of the Odhams Press science and technology books from the forties in the same series as Britain's Wonderful Airforce and one was Day of the Triffids. Now the opening of this is terrifying and utterly plausible. The behaviour of the human world gone blind in one go is described in a way which I imagine is so accurate that it seems that Wyndham has had some vision of a true happening. I'm half way through already and cannot stop. The real world seems to retreat while reading it, leaving me actually present in the hell of the story. If they did not get you to read this at school then read it now and know a real alternative history for the world.

Things are much better now and just the nagging doubt remains.

Monday, June 07, 2004

The Tube

Ed Broom seems to have been having a great time over in Colorado which makes my absence of three weeks so much more depressing. It involved at least 7 days total immobility in various beds and hospital trolleys, four x-rays, a gamma-scan which needs a radioactive injection and 30 minutes inside an MRI scanner which is like being in the smallest club in the world which just happens to have the loudest PA. And all this is down to one tiny, little, inflamed Sternoclavicular joint. The drugs don't help either; orthopedic medicine seems to think that anti-depressants are good as muscle-relaxants but coming off them is just nasty. Well I am back at work now waiting for some sort of full diagnosis which may come tomorrow but boy it still hurts. All that and we had to cancel the holiday. so hey! Those Anti Dees are doing some good after all.

Maybe see you soon if I can be bothered.