One of my photos

Trolling Trump

February 9th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

I really don’t know how this is not a thing yet, but surely the best way to have a bit of fun with Trump would be for loads of people on Twitter, and news broadcasts, and newspapers to routinely refer to him as “the millionaire Donald Trump”.

The superficial reason is that it would wind him up, since he is defines himself by his wealth, but there is more to it than that. There has been speculation that he is not worth nearly as much as the up to $10 billion that keeps getting talked about, usually by Trump himself.  One journalist even estimated his worth to be in the ‘mere’ hundreds of million dollars of liquid assets. Throughout all of last year there was pressure on Trump to disclose his tax returns, which traditionally presidential candidates have done, and he still hasn’t.

I just think that calling him a millionaire (which most of us wouldn’t mind being called) would put him in a position where he had to prove otherwise or get used to the label.

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February 2nd, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

I may have mentioned before that petitions are generally a waste of time, but that didn’t stop me from signing the one about Donald Trump not making a state visit to the UK.

I did not sign it because I thought it would actually stop a state visit. I imagine that once the PM has announced it publicly it would be politically impossible to cancel it. I didn’t sign it because I am worried about the Queen getting embarrassed either partly because if she can cope with visits from Caucescu and the like she can put up with Trump, and partly because I wouldn’t much care if she was embarrassed. [Read more →]

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The good side of 2016

December 28th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

This year is generally reckoned to be a bit of a stinker, but it wasn’t all bad from where I am sitting. [Read more →]

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Swearing an oath

December 19th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

I am in equal parts baffled and irritated by this business about public servants swearing an oath to British values, not least because nobody seems to be able to say what they are. Are they the values that most people hold or the ones that people in the Westminster bubble think that most people hold, or that they think most people should hold? I happen to think that one outstanding British value is that we don’t go around making people swear oaths left, right and centre. [Read more →]

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Big in the 70s

December 19th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Music

I have just been looking at a list of the best-selling albums of the 1970s. It was a bit of a surprise because if I was a contestant on Pointless and was asked to name a best-selling album of the 70s I would probably have thought that Framptom Comes alive or Bat out of Hell were bankers, and it turns out they were not even in the list of top 40 LPs.

It is quite surprising how many other albums that everybody seemed to have turn out not to have been bought by everybody but just by everybody I knew – like Live & Dangerous, Machine Head, Yessongs, Silk Degrees, Hello! and Trick of the Tail. It is also surprising to see three ELO albums there. Out of the Blue was expected but A New World Record and Discovery much less so.

I still can’t really believe that more people bought the Sex Pistols and two different Leo Sayer albums than Frampton Comes Alive.

It is probably just as well that I never get round to filling out an application for Pointless.

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Inflation madness

December 14th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Technology

I had an email from Virgin Media the other day.

Remember how we used to just have razor blades? And then we started to have razors with two blades? They were advertised by an animation showing how the first blade left a bit of stubble and the second blade caught that? And then it turned out that the second blade left a bit too, so we got razors with three blades. And then four. I can’t remember how many blades we got up to, but recently I saw an advert for a new razor where the feature being promoted was that it only had, and needed, one blade.


Anyway, the current Virgon Tivo box lets you record three shows at once, which is nice and was the thing that Virgin pushed a lot. One of the things I have seen on the Virgin box is an advert for Sky Q which lets you “record four shows while watching a fifth”. That seems a bit unnecessary. When you get to watch those four are you going to record another five? Where are you going to find the time to watch all the things you record?

So what was in the Virgin email? Of course, it was promoting their new box, the V6 Tivo, that lets you watch six programmes while you watch a seventh. This is so unnecessarily over-the-top, that Sky are going to offer the same functionality on their boxes after the next firmware upgrade.

At some point these boxes will be able to record more simultaeous programmes that there are channels, at which point the hipsters will put aside their vinyl for a while to buy up old VHS machines because they can only record one ting at a time.

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Eric Johnson

December 14th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Music

Tonight I turned on Vintage TV and there was some virtuoso guitarist playing. It was a bit like Jeff Beck in places or Steve Vai in others, but I didn’t recognise him, so waited for the caption at the end to find it was somebody called Eric Johnson. The name didn’t even ring a bell, which is more my fault than his, since he has apparently been playing music professionally since the late 1960’s.

Obviously I went to Wikipedia to find out about him and I have to say that the start of the section about his early life did make me smile as it sounds a bit like a trying-to-be-quirky Twitter bio.

Born into a musically inclined family, Eric and his three sisters studied piano and his father was a whistling enthusiast.

That is now one of my favourite Wikipedia lines, nearly as good as the description of Tanzwut that says:

Tanzwut are known for their heavy use of bagpipes, an unusual instrument for a metal band.

Now having a listen to some of Eric Johnson’s back catalogue on Spotify and I am finding a lot of it impressive but not in a way that really does much for me –  bit like a lot of Jeff Beck’s stuff makes me feel.

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Dirk Gently

December 12th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

I see that Netflix now has a US-made version of Dirk Gently’s Holistic detective Agency available. I saw some odd bits of it while Jayne was watching it on her PC and although there were a few good gags I can’t say that I was tempted to watch it myself, despite (or maybe because of?) being a fan of the book and the BBC Four adaptation. I think Jayne bailed out before getting through the first episode.

I think that the BBC really nailed it with their version, so anything else is going to suffer in comparison.

What is really annoying is that the BBC version was discontinued because of funding. When Netflix and BBC America came up with some funding for a whole 10 episodes they should have tried to get Stephen Mangan, Darren Boyd and the original writers to continue in the same vein instead of trying to shoehorn it into an American setting.

Also, spreading it across 10 episodes might also be the problem.

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Time lapse

December 7th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Technology

Well this is fun! But also frustrating because we are now used to quite high resolution satellite imagery and obviously the whole time lapse thing can only be done to the resolution of the worst  in the dataset.

If you zoom in to Crawley you can see the major changes, like Maidenbower springing up, but you can’t get enough detail to look at individual streets or groups of streets.

One of the best places to look is Sharm El-Sheik, where you can see that the place was just desert in 1984, then an airport in the desert and then a huge resort spreading from it.

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The Oxygène of publicity

December 7th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Music

I see Jean-Michel Jarre has a new album out, a second follow-up to his 1976 breakthrough album Oxygène, called Oxygène 3. The tracks are called Oxygène Pt 14, Oxygène Pt 15, and so on up to Oxygène Pt 20.

Jean-Michel is not someone to waste a lot of time thinking about titles for things.

I have a had a little stream of it and it is OK. Better than Chronologie but not as good as Zoolook, Revolutions, Rendez-Vous, Magnetic Fields or Waiting for Cousteau. Pleasant enough to listen to, and I will probably listen to it on Spotify tomorrow while I am putting the finishing touches to a bit of VBA I have been working on, but if you really want a late-career masterpiece then best to seek out the recent releases from Metallica or the Rolling Stones.

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