(no subject)

I am clearly a long way behind the curve when it comes to adblockers. This may explain why I am still stuck on this website, which was basically aimed at slightly awkward and introverted 14-23 year old girls living in the early naughties.It seems that a lot of people are using them and so never see adverts. Whereas for me they are everywhere on the internet.

I am not sure that anyone admits to clicking on them, it seems everyone feels adverts do not influence them. But the global advertising industry is huge, so either the whole thing is just absolute bullshit. Or people are more influenced by adverts than they admit. Right now John Lewis is trying to sell me a couple Kenwood chef attachment - icecream maker and a grater - and three sofas that don't look hugely different to the ones I bought a couple of months ago. Frankly I have nowhere to store anymore vary similiar sofas and it just seems too soon to upgrade. I suspect it is about normalisation the idea of consumption of something. Do I really need an icecream maker? Or if they cost thousands would I lament the fact one could not be acquired for just £25? Probably not, but just knowing they are out there and not really all that expensive means I may acquire one. I don't feel confident in stating I would never buy one, and I suspect the more I see them the more I might think getting one is a good idea.

I guess I am probably doomed to see more of these things as everyone else is blocking them. It seems a little bit unfair that you should block adverts. I mean no-one wants to pay for any intellectual content on the web, so adverts are all there for creators. And yet people seem to find the adverts are too much of an imposition. Presumably the big players - who are basically Facebook and Google have ways around this.

Iain Duncan Smith

The big news this week was the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith. I first mentionned him on my journal back in 2001(I did not even really get his name right which just goes to show the limited impact he was making back then.

Alan Duncan Smith, what is all that about. Can the Tory party not see the man is a bit doggy to say the least? Now I am a labour supporter, but I still feel the Tories will get back one day and he is not someone I would want governing the country. The man is so far to the right it is insane. He is perhaps the most anti-European man in parliament. He is reactionary on social policies. He is a man for the Alf Garnetts of this country. I am sure that the people who voted for the BNP cheer his Little Englander views. - way back when

His resignation this time was supposedly about cuts to disability benefit. He objected to them despite not objecting to them a few hours before resigning. Or maybe had always objected to them, but felt that this was the time to speak out against them. Oddly it seemed like the weirdest time to resign as it seems he was winning the argument. The cynical viewpoint is that he resigned because he hates Europe and I suppose that if we vote to leave Europe he can form some sort of government around Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and himself.

I watched his interview on the Andrew Marr Show. What was interesting was how angry he was, often politicians claim to be angry about injustice. Yet they look sort of normal. Whereas IDS seemed furious, like a man on the edge. I am not sure he can be that good an actor, otherwise I am wondering why he hasn't acted at being a bit more likeable over the last fifteen years. I suspect he really was pissed off.

Paul Daniels

Everyone of a certain age will probably remember one of these:-

The Paul Daniels' magic set. The tricks were sort of okish(you'll like them - not a lot), but Paul Daniels was massive in the 1980s. He was very much a man from the past. His style was a bit music hall, he cultivated a cheeky and slightly smarmy persona.

Magic moved on, TV moved on and his show got cancelled. New magicians are more mysterious - Derren Brown, Dynamo and David Blaine and are more psychological in approach. They seem to use less of the chatter(although in his live shows Derren Brown is funnier than when on TV). They seem darker. And they approach was more that they had some sort of super advanced skills that rather distanced them from the audience. Whereas Paul Daniels always seemed to imply that he was just sort of doing simple tricks - some of which you could buy and perform at home.

Now he is dead, perhaps not a huge tragedy as we was not terrible young. But overal he was a big part of television in my youth and has a better reputation than some of the other big names from that era(Rolf Harris, Stuart Hall, Jimmy Saville). He reminds me a bit of Bob Monkhouse, in that he did rather go out of fashion as style and tastes in their respective areas of performance changed. Yet both of them probably were at the pinancle of skill for the old fashion way of doing things. Both of them also did gameshows which seem to require an interest in and ability make ordinary people sparkle, however briefly, in the spotlight.

Nightclubs are closing

There was quite an interesting article on the BBC website about the decline of the nightclub.

They certainly seem to be less a feature of the landscape. I used to go quite a lot and feel I have probably aged out of them, but they do seem very old fashioned. I am still somewhat surprised by the cost of alcohol when I visit a pub. And the idea of paying simply to be allowed inside a room playing loud music is quite odd. Plus a lot of the "super-dj"'s have got old. I am not sure if big DJs are even a thing anymore. The idea is a bit odd really, as basically they are just putting a load of other peoples music together rather than performing in a more normal way. I am never really sure much would be lost compared to a recording. But I never quite get it when people sit on a train or bus listening to loud(often ear damagingly loud) dance music, it seems like it is something to dance to rather than sit and listen.

I guess young people today have more things to do, there are a raft of pubs with late night opening and a hell of a lot more restaurants than there were 20 years ago. There also seem to be events and pop-up places. In my youth I always felt like a day club would be an interesting idea. The concept of living a nightclub when it was getting dark always blew a big hole in the weekend. You ended up waiting for something to happen on Saturday and then needing all of Sunday to recover or sleep. Then you would be exhausted on Monday.

(no subject)

Today was the budget, I am not sure that much is all that different. It was only a few months ago we had the last one. I am not really making a political point but it is odd that we have to have a new budget every few months. It used to be once a year, and now there is an autumn statement which is basically another budget and occasionally we have emergency ones too.

My big issue is that it seems the numbers are around what is going to happen in 2020, which is four years out. The aim seems to be have a zero balance in at the point. One a spend of £700billion spend and £1800billion national income even small differences in growth rates are going to translate into whopping variances(ie a difference in growth from 2.5% to 2% will be £48bn of income and £15bn in tax revenue).

I suppose it is all pure theatre. But it seems that tax and spending are better designed over a long time frame and not tweaked every couple of months.

Pre-Christmas Celebrations

Our work Christmas parties are always a bit tricky as...well I am not sure anyone is really that interested. We have a pretty small team and most of us simply want to go home early. We ended up with two in the end. The first was not so much a Christmas party as a reward and recognition meal. This involved me getting dragged along to a meal with a bunch of pretty senior people. We had a guided tour of the Tower of London which was cool, although it didn't start until quite close to closing time. After that we went for a meal. It was actually quite a bit better than it could have been, I seemed to be sat next to people I was able to talk too. Getting from East London to Reading was a bit of a pain though and it was too late when I got home, and it was on a Monday night. I guess you are old when your idea of a good Christmas party is one in which you are home quite early.

The second meal was a bit more low key I suppose and it was all done by 4pm. So it was lunch really rather than a party in any sense of the word. For some reason we had considered dozens of options. It had the feel of a place that was very much the cheapest we could find in the area. The portions were huge, I was already full up by the starter. But the taste was rather plan. Rather sadly I found out that someone I work with will no longer have a job. I feel for her as she has been in the company for 15 years at least, and has won various awards. It felt a bit weird that everyone seemed more concerned by what would happen next, rather than how she was feeling. But work is often quite a cold place. I did email her to thank her for her hard work and friendship. She seemed appreciative which is nice.

Rebecca has taken her first tentative steps. She can stand pretty well, and she can do one or two steps before launching herself as you. She seems to be very pleased with herself and is starting to develop a few more sounds that might be words. I think we are on the cusp of the toddler age, and will she will not be a baby for all that much longer.

It has not really felt all the Christmassy this year. Probably the lack of it actually being cold is part of it. I cannot say I love winter, so it is welcome and yet rather odd. Still we did the Clieveden christmas trail at the weekend, which got us out in the lovely warm air. It is a big National Trust place, and there always seems to be something new. The big surprise this time was a chapel which was closed before and had loads of interesting art inside. We also saw the Winter Giant which was a huge puppet that was marched down the streets of Reading. It was nice really as Reading often appears to be one of the least cultural towns in the planet.

The weekend before Christmas
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(no subject)

I feel Jeremy Clarkson has probably done it this time. I understand he is one of the few BBC stars that actually has a decent audience outside of the UK. But hitting your boss is never a bright move.

I am one of only twelve males in the UK who does not get Top Gear. It strikes me as an awkward, over-scripted and unfunny program. It is not really helped by the fact you have one presenter who feels he can keep pushing the boundaries of decency. Perhaps he thinks he is bigger than the show, but I am not sure where else he can go. He is hardly the young face of telly that ITV or Channel Four would be looking for.