One of my photos

Charlie Brooker on Darwin

March 26th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Life

This evening I found a great quote from Charlie Brooker, taken from a 2008 Guardian article:

Darwin’s theory of evolution was simple, beautiful, majestic and awe-inspiring. But because it contradicts the allegorical babblings of a bunch of made-up old books, it’s been under attack since day one. That’s just tough luck for Darwin. If the Bible had contained a passage that claimed gravity was caused by God pulling objects toward the ground with magic invisible threads, we’d still be debating Newton with idiots too.

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Revenge of the Egghead

March 26th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Life

When people my age hear the name CJ the first thing that pops into our head is “I didn’t get where I am today”, but that is closely followed by the bloke who used to be on Eggheads and then wasn’t. I stopped watching Eggheads a while ago for no particular reason but last week I noticed something called Revenge of the Egghead on the EPG and decided to watch it. [Read more →]

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Your views?

March 25th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

Does nobody in Crawley have anything to say? I find that hard to believe, but the Crawley News has a page entitled “Your Views”, which is probably what a focus group or media consultant told them to call the letters to the editor page. Much of the page is taken up by a reader’s photograph, the local MP’s column and an advert for laser treatment for fungal infections. (I wonder if it would work on the local MP? Boom! A bit of politics for you there!)

That leaves space for two long letters from local councillors, two medium length letters from local councillors and one short letter from a non-councillor. Does the editor really receive 80% of his post from councillors who do have plenty of other chances to give their opinions? Perhaps the page should be called “Your Councillors’ Views” instead?

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Going back home

March 25th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Music

Well the new Wilko Johnson/Roger Daltrey album was released today and is available on Spotify, so it looks like I sorted out that embedding thing just in time! [Read more →]

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A logic-free zone

March 24th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

The Crawley News has a story this week about a Tory councillor’s reasons for not going to many meetings that he is supposed to be part of. He says that the reason for his poor attendance is that he stopped going to development control committee meetings because they are “a logic-free zone”. He said:

I am a one-man band. I can’t overturn anything.

I got one vote in development control against the rest, who willy-nilly accepted anything the (council) officers (who make recommendations) put before them.

This seems to be a particularly strange attitude to take, for a number of reasons. [Read more →]

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Embedding Spotify

March 24th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Music, Technology

A friend has suggested that, if I mention a track or album on Spotify I should embed it in the post. Previously I have sometimes put a hyperlink in though often I haven’t bothered. I thought I would try installing a plugin and see what it does. This is just a test of that plugin (Spotify Embed by Dominik Schilling).

First off I’ll try to add a track (Liquid Sprit by Gregory Porter. Not the sort of thing I normally listen to, but I saw an advert for it on TV and it sounded pleasant enough to be worth a listen)

Now I’ll try to add an album. How about Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road which has just been re-issued as a 40th anniversary special edition.

And now a playlist. I’ll try a playlist of Norwegian artists: one of my shorter playlists.

Seems to work OK – though only if I paste the links in ‘Text’ mode rather than ‘Visual’ mode of WordPress.

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New tunes. Sort of.

March 18th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Music

I always seem to be late to the party. I have lost count of how many times Spotify recommends a new release for me by an artist I have never heard of, I try it and really like it, then find out the new release is actually a re-release of a 30-year-old album by a band that broke up 20 years ago or something like that. That is exactly how I discovered ESG and Information Society decades after I should have.

I’ve done it again this week, but I’m not quite as far behind the curve this time (only about 15 years in one case and 9 years in the other) .

The first discovery was Habib Koité from Mali. I don’t know how I avoided hearing him for so long. He has been putting stuff out internationally since about 1999 and  it right up my street, sounding quite a lot like Baaba Maal – his more traditional stuff rather than the more westernised stuff produced by Simon Emerson (which I admit I do really like).

The other new (to me) act is The Souljazz Orchestra who sound nothing like what the name made me expect. I was expecting smooth jazz but it turns out to be very much like Fela Kuti (and Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti) or Tony Allen. The real surprise was looking at their biography and finding out that all this afrobeat is actually coming from Canada. It was like when I found out that Fat Freddy’s Drop and their delicious reggae comes from New Zealand.

Following the ‘related artists’ links throws up even more nuggets, like The Whitefield Brothers who also play jazzy, funky, slightly afro-beat music and come from Germany.

If anybody feels like a bit of a change I can thoroughly recommend either the Souljazz Orchestra, Habib Koité, Whitefield Brothers or Fat Freddy’s Drop.


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Sounds of the nineties

March 16th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Music

On the walk back home from canvassing today my mp3 player shuffled up a few 90s tracks including a long Orb album track and Ebeneezer Goode by the Shamen.  These are not things I often choose to listen to, but I don’t know why because i really enjoyed hearing them again.

We all know what the 80s is supposed to be (new romantics and synth bands) and the 70′s (punk/disco/prog) and the 60s (Beatles, flower power, Motown) but I don’t really think about the 90s. Listening to those tracks I realised that it really was a great time for dance music. Or maybe it was a great time for dance music for people who normally listen to rock music?

Apart from the Orb and the Shamen there was Deee-Lite, Stereo MCs, the Chemical Brothers, Propellorheads and all the rest of the ‘big beat’ bands. There was a lot of good reggae – I think 1993 was a classic year for reggae. We had Betty Boo, Apache Indian, Deep Forest and Afro Celt Sound System. It may be true that the 90s is when I got into African music in a big way with Angelique Kidjo and Baaba Maal, and French music. It was also when I got into Faith No More, Metallica, Megadeth, RATM, Crowded House, and other rock acts, and when the whole Brit Pop thing came along but, looking back, I listened to a lot of dance music then.

I have decided that, henceforth, I shall think of the 90s as the dance decade, despite all the other things going on.



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Tony Benn

March 15th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

Tony Benn at the Tollpuddle festival in 2009

Tony Benn at the Tolpuddle festival in 2009

Though he had been ill for some time, I think Tony Benn’s death was more of a shock than Bob Crow’s, possibly because he has been a fixture for so long I just sort of assumed he would always be around.

I saw him speak a few times but only met him once, at a fund-raising event for Emily in Shoreham before the last general election. That same evening one of our young members from Horsham was there, bringing along his copy of Arguments for Democracy to get it signed. I was impressed that he could still generate such hero worship from teenagers.

I have met a few well-known politicians and other famous people in my time but I think that meeting Tony Benn was the only time I have really been starstruck.

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Steak & blowjob day

March 14th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Apparently this is a real thing. Someone decided that Valentine’s day is for women and so men should have a special day as well, a month later, marked not with flowers and chocolate but with steak and blowjobs. I had thought this was just a sort of Facebook and Twitter meme that didn’t cross over into real life but Jayne reckons that her shop shifted a lot of steaks today.

She says they also have steak on special offer so you can’t really say whether the extra sales are because of the demand from optimistic and chauvinistic blokes or because of the pricing. Likewise you you can’t say for certain whether the shop came up with the promotion because of the occasion or not. It could be that the supermarket is aware of the date and acted accordingly or it could all just be a great example of the post hoc fallacy. (with the added pun bonus of being a post hoc phallus-y?)

Anyway, I suggested a way to test this out: do a bit of cross-promotion and stack bottles of mouthwash next to the steaks and see if they fly off the shelf as well.


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