Charging our phones to cope with the end of days…

17 02 2013


Over the years, I have contemplated Armageddon hundreds of times. Not in a how do I achieve it sort of way, but more along the lines of what happens when civilization breaks down and the ants – or worse, the programming department at MTV – take over.

Pop culture has prepared me for a worst-case scenario, normally to the sound of a power ballad and the sight of some last heroic act of defiance. With the destruction of most of the planet  now assured,  the natural consequence of this anticipated disaster is always a plucky band of survivors who set out to rebuild society, while fighting off zombies or Republicans.

This is, of course, utter bobbins. Read the rest of this entry »


Giving Thanks for Thursday

22 11 2012

Having been an overseas observer of the US festival of thanks for the majority of my 44 years, I admit that I have always found it be slightly odd.

Without wishing to take anything away from the day itself, there are just a number of anomalies that stand out and make me smile.

For millions of Americans and transplanted ex-pats, it is a day to spend with family or friends and stuff yourself full of turkey/vegetarian alternative while watching TV. Or Christmas as it is known in the UK.

America basically shuts down for Thanksgiving. Even the most corporate of evil commercial chains seem to have shuttered their doors for a few hours, while across the country, people are getting together and giving thanks for something (spoiler alert: that’s where the name came from). It’s a good day to hang out, drink beer and eat food. Perfect preparation for the shopping bonanza on Black Friday that follows the Thursday of Thanks.

That’s the first thing.

Unlike most other holidays, TG doesn’t have a set date. It exists in a nebulous “fourth-thursday-of-november” sort of way, the date changing every year – which must be really confusing if you want to claim being born on Thanksgiving… Read the rest of this entry »

And now, the end is near…

5 11 2012
Remember remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…

In 1605, a plot to assassinate King James the First was hatched by a motley crew of conspirators, who planned to replace the ruling monarch with a Catholic leader.

History shows that it was not successful. The authorities, getting wind that something was not quite right under the Houses of Parliament, descended on the seat of government on November 5th and arrested a man called Guido, or Guy, Fawkes. He was found in possession of a large number of barrels of gunpowder and, tellingly, a match.

He was sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered – an unpleasant means of death at the best of times. Happily for Fawkes, he decided suicide was a less painful option and he hung himself while in prison for his botched attempt at seventeenth century terrorism. Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Columbus Day…well worth celebrating

8 10 2012

As a proud Englishman, there are many things that my country did to other sovereign nations that make me feel a bit ashamed.

This is a discussion for another day, but as America celebrates the  achievements of Chris Columbus by allowing school kids to play outside my office window, I thought I would join in the fun by posting a picture.

Enjoy your day….

Here comes Honey Boo Boo…John Logie Baird turns in his grave

10 09 2012

If you were to sit down in a pub with your mates at this moment in time, the chances are that your conversation over the next few hours would cover a lot of subjects.

Most would be related to sport, sex or politics. In some cases, a combination of all three.

You might talk about how religion should not be the reason why you vote for a future President, or discuss why the first song to be transmitted from another planet was by a Black Eyed Pea instead of a Thin White Duke. You could even find out if anyone managed to catch the remake of Total Recall in the 47 hours that it was available in movie theaters.

There could be millions of things to discuss, hundreds of paths to go down, thousands of tangents to follow and several pints to drink.

At some point, either social media or reality TV will make an appearance. Someone will tweet or update their Facebook status, somebody else will check in at the place you are all sitting and there are likely to be pictures taken to be uploaded later as evidence of what a fun night you are all having.

Spoiler Alert: You don’t know what fun is until you have hung out with “Crazy” Tony at the local dump looking for clothes for your teenage daughter in a dumpster. Fun is something that can only be achieved by rolling around in mud, feeding six-year-olds a mixture of Red Bull and Mountain Dew and breaking wind wherever (and whenever) possible.

Welcome to the world of Honey Boo Boo. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t blame the gun, blame the person firing it…and other NRA-sponsored myths

21 07 2012


This is the full text of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It was ratified and adopted as law on December 15, 1791.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed

That’s it. Short and sweet.

The words that catch my eye are “well regulated militia”, “necessary”, “security”, “free state” and “shall not be infringed”.

It doesn’t define what “arms” can be, but I think it is safe to assume that AK47s, tear gas and full body armor were not considered to be essential for a “well regulated militia”.

Infringed is also a grey area. My dictionary defines it as “transgress, disobey, break”. It also uses the words “violation” and “transgression”.

People who believe that guns are not the problem will be working themselves into a frenzy defending their “right” to arm themselves and to own a variety of weapons – presumably these are the “arms” that the Founding Fathers were thinking about.

So my questions are… a) don’t people who go to a movie theater to watch a film have the right to do so without the fear of dying and b) didn’t the company who sold James Holmes, who was obviously not part of a “well regulated militia”, the weapons and the 6,000 rounds of ammunition think that perhaps he might not be intending to use them for hunting deer.

Just a thought.

Near, Far, Wherever You Are…

15 04 2012

One hundred years ago, a supposedly unsinkable ship hit an iceberg on it’s maiden voyage and sank, condemning two-thirds of its passengers and crew to an eternity in the locker of Davy Jones (guardian of watery seamen, not the recently deceased English member of The Monkees).

If anything sums up the fragility of human life and the over-reliance on the latest technology, the RMS Titanic was the original blueprint for a major disaster.

In the hundred years since, there have been many occasions where a large loss of human life is lamented, reviewed and blame apportioned. With the exception of war, which we expect to have a large human fatality rate, when a machine fails…it fails big time but the hand that guides the machine is normally human in origin.

The destruction of the twin towers was orchestrated by men flying machines into them, the recent sinking of the cruise ship in Italy was caused by the captain wanting to wave to his mate on the beach.

The Titanic was the biggest and fastest passenger ship ever built at that time. It would look small in comparison to the mega-liners that now routinely pootle around the globe ferrying their passengers to far-flung destinations while still enjoying a 24-hour buffet accompanied by the inane chatter of the entertainment staff.

But the Titanic was more than just a ship. Read the rest of this entry »