Invictus Games: UK Versus USA
Apr30

Invictus Games: UK Versus USA

When Barack Obama and Michelle Obama challenge Prince Harry with respect to the upcoming Invictus Games he brings out the big gun in response…...

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Benefits Of Brexit
Apr30

Benefits Of Brexit

It won’t be long until the Britain votes whether to remain in the EU and risk the terror of what we know or to leave it (the horribly-named Brexit Option) and risk the terror of what we don’t know. Everyone who can vote and who intends to vote has already made their mind up about it. There are no undecided people left but there is a lot of airtime to fill and column inches to write and website articles to get spidered and ignored and so here comes my explanation of the benefits of leaving the EU just for the hell of it. 1. Pension Excitement In case you’re wondering why it’s mostly older people or those incapable of adapting to the fast changes in modern life in favour of leaving the EU then the answer becomes obvious when you realise that many of these people are bored. They’re already retired or approaching that age. There’s a life being lived by younger people out there filled with thrills they’ve missed out on through the lottery of being born too early. Leaving the EU gives them something to get the heart racing; it gives them an uncertain stock market and a higher likelihood of a reduced pension. Take a hypothetical old man who’s currently looking at living for decades in a well-insulated house during our increasingly milder, shorter winters, knowing he’ll always be able to afford another couple of cardigans to put over the three he’s always wearing even if he can’t actually break the bank to switch on the heating for the one chilly weekend that causes the Daily Express to announce the start of a new Ice Age. Where is his joy? Now consider a diminished pension pot and not even being able to buy a solitary cardigan. That excitement of not knowing if he’s going to survive a winter is back! That social joy of attending somebody else’s funeral in January is a given! And that’s why he’s voting to leave the EU. 2. Better Foreign Holidays If there’s nothing you like more than escaping this dreary country at every opportunity to go spend a few weeks in one of those warmer countries you’re desperately trying to distance yourself from when you vote for Brexit then just think how much better it will be when it’s that much harder? For most people in favour of leaving the EU the best thing about foreign holidays is complaining about airport queues and how foreign everything is when they get where they’re going. The benefits of Brexit are no more fast-tracking through the EU citizens queue and less of a...

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Star Princess: South America Cruise (Part 1)
Apr25

Star Princess: South America Cruise (Part 1)

This March, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of our first date and to celebrate the fact we’d managed to save up long enough to afford it, my wife and I took a holiday with Princess Cruises on the Star Princess from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso. This post forms the first of two long parts documenting the holiday’s highlights as well as giving some hints and tips about cruising in general and cruising with Princess in particular. Some tips will probably update those presented when I wrote about our first Princess Cruise around Asia in 2008. The Air France Experience To say we were a little worried in the lead up to our cruise would be an understatement. Do we need visas? Have we got travel insurance? Did we arrange the parking for the right day? Are our passports valid? Did we really get travel insurance or have I mistaken that for the Iceland trip last year? And so on. One of the major concerns was that we’d arranged to fly out to Buenos Aires through Princess (there are flight protection benefits doing it that way) and this meant we had to fly Air France from Heathrow with a change at Paris Charles de Gaulle. Yes, we’d be risking the entire vacation on French air traffic controllers being at work. As it was, the air traffic control worry never materialised. Instead, after a short hop to France we settled into our seats for the 13+ hour flight to Argentina. Settled into our uncomfortable seats. If you’ve ever wondered what happened to those hard plastic chairs you used to sit on at school then I can tell you now that someone put a tea towel over them and installed them on Air France planes. Painful seats, equally painful food. I know that airplane food doesn’t have a good reputation, but French food does so we had high hopes they’d cancel out into something average. But no. It’s something when you and your wife disagree what something is before you eat it – I thought potato, my wife thought egg – then both change your minds to “Is this some genetically-engineered tasteless fish? Is this entire trip a psychological test or TV prank?” We still don’t know what we ate on Air France and were too scared to ask in case someone told us. Arrival: Buenos Aires, Argentina We picked up our luggage, got through security, spotted some Princess Cruises representatives, and were directed to the end of the airport where someone would take our luggage and put us on a coach to the ship. The representatives in the airport were having...

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Attention K-Mart Shoppers
Jan28

Attention K-Mart Shoppers

Found via Open Culture is a collection of tape cassettes (digitised by Mark Davis) sent to K-Mart stores in the late 1980s and early 1990s to play over the shop speaker system; muzak and store announcements that you can close your eyes to and transport yourself back in time (and, in my case, to a culture only glimpsed on TV and in the movies.) The collection of K-Mart tapes can be found at the Internet Archive here:...

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American Reflexxx: Mob Violence And Gender Confusion
Jan02

American Reflexxx: Mob Violence And Gender Confusion

You know what it’s like. You’re following some random links on random Tumblr sites looking for 1980s-style neon gorgeousness (don’t ask me why) when you find yourself somewhere called Sleazeburger and during the scrolling you notice a comment from someone asking about a film. And then you follow the link in the answer. And then you spend a little over 14 minutes gawping at something mesmerising and distressing, captivating, and mind-reeling. American Reflexxx is a movie featuring that Tumblr site’s owner, performance artist Signe Pierce, and filmed by Alli Coates in 2013. It was supposed to be a short film featuring Signe in stripper gear, neon shoes, and a reflective mask strolling along Myrtle Beach in South Carolina; something pretty, something futuristic cyborg-like, in a tourist destination in the heart of conservative America; it was probably expected there’d be stares, maybe some comments, photos from phones; it was probably not expected that a crowd would form and that both verbal and physical assault would take place. Oh, so naive. There’s some interesting time-dilation editing in the movie which helps to make Signe Pierce’s cyborg seem that much more alien amongst the humans. And, interestingly, it’s very difficult to come away from this video with anything other than bad feelings towards those humans as their behaviour to the alien is distressingly… well, human. The initial interest in the sexy giant very quickly gives way to uncertainty over gender. Unable to truly know whether Signe is male or female or something else entirely the instinct becomes to assume she is wrong, and therefore bad, and therefore a threat, and therefore scary. Adrenalin’s a hell of a drug and it will either trigger a fight or flight instinct but when you’ve got the safety of the herd around you and the threat has no obvious weapons a fight with the protection of numbers in the mob is probably the result you’re going to get. I mean, you’d like to think people could think rationally, perhaps think it’s a model doing a photoshoot or even the art piece it is, show some interest maybe, then go about whatever it was they were doing before, but forming into a mass of bullies is certainly an option too. The video features Signe getting sprayed with water, someone trying to trip her, and someone cowardly pushing her from behind to the floor where she suffers a cut. In each case the person assaulting the alien is a woman. A raised reaction to a perceived raised threat from a potential rival perhaps? Or women are just naturally violent in South Carolina? I’ve not been so I don’t...

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Neil deGrasse Tyson Talks Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Dec22

Neil deGrasse Tyson Talks Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It’s become something of a tradition that famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson – how famous? He’s about 0.85 on the Professor Brian Cox scale level of famous – will take to Twitter to discuss elements of some current big thing and describe the science behind it, what’s right, and what’s wrong. Deflategate? He talked about it. Eurovision Song Contest? He talked about it. Proposed acquisition of 99p Stores Ltd by Poundland? He talked about it after converting the currency to those quaint dollars and cents they have over there. As you probably know unless you’ve been in a cave following a terrible spelunkung adventure (in which case thanks for popping by this site first on your escape from the darkness) the Star Wars universe just added a new movie to the collection in the form of The Force Awakens. I wrote a review about it. Recently. Here it is: Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Review. It’s a big thing – the movie, not my review – and that means Neil deGrasse Tyson popped up on Twitter and told anyone who would listen about the film. The scientist’s remarks about the new Star Wars film are...

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