One of my photos

First past the post explained

October 29th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

This is a bit annoying, because I happen to think that proportional representation would be a good thing, but I thought of a good analogy to explain how first past the post isn’t necessarily unfair if a party gets fewer votes but wins more seats.

I should throw in the caveat that by ‘good’ I don’t mean good in the absolute sense, just better than my usual crappy standard of analogies. [Read more →]

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Everybody wins

October 27th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

With all the doom and gloom around, it was nice to see some good news this week -  that one of our Tory councillors has been selected as a parliamentary candidate in Stoke-on-Trent. This really is one of those times when everybody wins. [Read more →]

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What’s in a name?

October 23rd, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Music

I watched a bit of the MOBO awards last night, but only about three minutes’ worth. As I tuned in there was a category where two of the nominees were Jessie J and Katy B which made it sound like they were not so much recording artists as child protection cases being granted anonymity.

It seems to be a bit of a trend. Look at the charts (*) and you can find Jamie T, Juici J, Charli XCX and Schoolboy Q which sounds even more like a child protection case than all the rest put together.

When did this become a thing? I blame Jay-Z


(*) Or don’t. Not if you are my age. I looked at the official top 100 singles and I reckon I only know about three of them. And that is only because Snow Patrol are inexplicably in there with Chasing Cars.

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Genesis: together and apart

October 6th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Music

I got round to watching that Genesis documentary on the iPlayer today. (Still available for a few days). It was entertaining enough but didn’t really have much in there for fans. It was good to see the five main members together in one room talking, but not much from that session was actually used – there were a lot more clips from earlier interviews which have already been seen umpteen times.

The main thing about it was that it showed just how good the spoof documentary about Brian Pern/Thotch) was.That spoof was so well observed not only in the way it sent up interviews with bands and their members but also the way it got talking heads slots from music journalists, managers, producers, promoters and record company executives spot on as well so that when you see the real thing it still feels a bit like a spoof.

I think the problem is that there are so many music documentaries on BBC 4 and Sky Arts and so much archive footage available on YouTube that it is hard to tackle a subject without using a lot of material that is familiar. It was always going to be hard to fit the story of a career as long as Genesis’ into 90 minutes, especially if you want to include solo careers as well, and something has to be left out, but I do wonder how they managed to leave out:

  • Wind and Wuthering
    One of my favourite Genesis albums. Having taken a sort of chronological approach, punctuated by album releases with a little graphic about when they were released and what chart positions they reached, the documentary seemed to include all the albums except this one and…
  • Calling All Stations
    Maybe not a fans’ favourite or great critical/commercial success, but it did happen and wasn’t actually that bad.
  • Knebworth 1978
  • Steve Hackett’s solo albums
    Maybe his solo works have not been as successful as Gabriel and Collins, but he has had a couple of dozen solo albums with the first six being top 40 albums, as well as some success with GTR. Certainly a more prolific and noteworthy solo career than Tony Banks whose solo work got a good mention.
  • Brand-X
    There was no mention of other projects that the various members had been involved with and Brand-X was one of the more prominent ones and significant because it shows how Phil Collins had other side projects before his solo career.
  • Any of the live albums
    Especially Seconds Out which still is the definitive live version for many of their songs in the same way that Yessongs is for Yes.
  • Drummers (apart from Phil & Chester)
    Especially Bill Bruford who played on tour with them and any of the drummers before Phil Collins joined the band
  • The flute
    Gabriel’s flute was a big part of the early sound but didn’t even get a mention.

While the documentary was not terrible it came across as not something made with the band’s co-operation so much as one made by the three remaining members of the band and only including as much about other members as they wanted, while airbrushing out Ray Wilson and other parts of their history – although that still doesn’t excuse leaving out Wind and Wuthering.

I think this is going to be for sale to support the R-Kive box set, but although it was OK to watch on TV I think buying the Thotch show on DVD would be more rewarding.



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The Scottish referendum result: a correction

October 2nd, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

I missed all the fun of the Scotish referendum the other week because I was away on holiday, which for me means no internet news sites, no newspapers, no Facebook, no TV news, no Twitter, not even any RSS feeds. I did actually find out the result on the Saturday afterwards when I suddenly remembered all about it and asked the barman at the hotel if he had heard anything about it.

Today at work I started to wonder if he had given me some duff information because I was searching on one of my company’s websites and found this on one of the drop-down lists for choosing countries. Notice anything unusual about it?

A drop-down list on one of our company systems

So… Scotland voted ‘No’ but Aberdeen voted ‘Yes’?


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A great success story?

September 30th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

Remember this story back in May? William Hague was visiting L-3 in Crawley with Henry Smith MP and Howard Bloom, leader of Crawley council.

At the time Henry said that L-3 was “a great success story for Crawley industry and a great success story in terms of employment and exports as well”. What was not reported at that time, no doubt because the Tory editor of the paper didn’t want to embarrass his Tory friends, was that the company employing about 300 people in the town had just announced that it was making about 100 of them redundant, so not such a great success story for employment after all.

The process of consultation, selecting candidates for redundancy and working out notice periods takes some time and today was the last day at work for many of those 100. Of course, Howard Bloom lost his job as leader of Crawley council a bit sooner than that, despite the best efforts of the media to hide bad news, and only continues as a councillor because he made the chicken run to a safer seat.

With any luck the curse of L-3 will strike again in seven months and Henry Smith will lose his job as an MP and William Hague will lose his job as a government minister.

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September 7th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Life

The Crawley News has a story about a man having to be cut out of a wheelie bin, which really gives you nothing about the incident except that “it is unclear why he was in the bin”, but the article starts spectacularly. It says:

THE life of a firefighter is never dull. At the weekend we told how firefighters had been called to East Surrey Hospital to help a man who had a ring stuck on his penis – which had to be cut off with a hacksaw.

I can’t help thinking they could have worded that a bit better.

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Can’t stand me now

September 5th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

The required number of Southgate voters have called for an election and so there will be a byelection on October 9th. Which is a shame. Southgate was the first place in Crawley where I lived, and where I usually find myself on election days doing knocking up so I might have fancied putting my name forward for the selection but the timing is just plain wrong because I’ll be away on holiday for two of the four weeks of the campaign.

Good luck to whoever we select, I just hope it is someone good to keep Raj company.

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If I could live anywhere

September 3rd, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Life

If I could live anywhere, I think I would like to live on whatever planet they use to film the many TV adverts for bathroom supplies. Actually, there may only be two companies advertising bathrooms on TV, and they may only have one advert each, but they are shown so often that it feels like a lot more. Also they seem to be just about the only adverts Sky News shows that aren’t charity appeals or ads for ambulance-chasing lawyers.

Anyway, I think I would like to live there, because there must be so much space. All the bathrooms are the size of a squash court, so imagine how big the other rooms must be.

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Computers do it faster…

September 3rd, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Technology

…but people do it better!

I was quite amused to see the BBC news at lunchtime. At work we have it on screens in the lobby, with the sub-titles on. The sub-titles are, I am pretty sure generated by some computer speech recognition software, and it was having some trouble with David Cameron at PMQs.

As I was walking past, the sub-titles said something like “jewel gnasher…. joule nationality”

To be fair though, that is about as much sense as he usually makes at PMQs.

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