I like the way this is going

I like to watch TV with you –
There’s really nothing that I would rather do.
Then maybe we can go to bed,
Get up and do it all again.

I like the way your pants fit,
And how you stand and how you sit.
Whatever seeds that you’re sowing,
I like the way this is going.

It’s been a long time coming, but today we finally exchange contracts and agreed to buy a house in a South London suburb. I’ve got onto the insurance policy to take out coverage for the future Sleeper Towers, and that’s sorted. Completion date? Three weeks’ time. In a spectacular display of karma, the idiot at the top of the chain who’s held things back for so long has been ejected – their buyers are going to rent instead, leaving everything in place. I’ll not go into the stress that was involved in getting our mortgage extended thanks to that particular fool again, but at least it’s out of the way now.

Cue the next couple of weeks – a mad ring around of removal companies, sorting out white goods, packing, throwing out stuff we don’t want / need any more.

The ordeal is nearly over? Hell, no. It’s only just begun.

3rd September 2010Permalink Leave a comment

Mansions of Los Feliz

Well it’s a pretty bad place outside this door –
I could go out there but I don’t see what for.
And I’m happy living here in the dark
On the edge of my mind,
And it’s nobody else’s business.

Now it’s just me myself and the secrets that
Live within the walls
Of the mansions of Los Feliz

The sky is falling!

Like many people in this country I spent much of yesterday evening watching the television trying to work out exactly what the United Kingdom has let itself in for. And, while doing so, becoming increasingly puzzled at the reactions of both pundits and the general public at the news that Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats had agreed to form a coalition to govern the country.

The election on Thursday had just one concrete result last week – no one party had won the confidence of a wide-enough ranging cross section of the country. While the Conservatives could have formed a minority government, the huge risk was that any bill that was in the least bit controversial (as almost all important new laws tend to be) would fail to pass – a lame-duck administration.

What are we left with then? It was clear from the off that a Labour – Lib Dem coalition could never achieve enough of a majority to get anything passed. They’d have  to water down anything or make huge concessions to the smaller parties, causing problems in the long term. There’s probably an element of truth in the complaints from both sides that the other wasn’t taking things seriously enough. There was just too fragility.

So, we’re left with what we’ve got, which has seemed inevitable since the results came in. Grass roots Lib Dems and Tories alike have recoiled at the news. It seems all too easy to dismiss the Liberals as having sold out or the Conservatives of being desperate. And while the parties disagree with each other on a great many things, then at least the things they can agree on will stand a good chance of getting done.

I do wonder if for some Liberal Democrat supporters the news of the coalition has been taken so badly because for so long they have been able to know that their MPs are in opposition and can therefore disagree with anything done by the party in power. A sort of underdog syndrome, if you will. Things from the ruling side will be very different and change will be feared. However, that being said, a fixed-term parliament will help this – grass roots  activists have five years to be convinced.

For me? I’m going to wait and see. A track record in government will make or break the minority party. Whichever it is, it’s going to be an interesting few years in politics.

Rock Hard Times

They told me that I couldn’t come back here again
Took me for some kind of fool.
Said I was doing things that never should be done
But I don’t care about their rules!

As if I cared ’bout the little minds
In the little heads of the herd-
There’s nothing you could dream
Would be more absurd.

The Apple iPad has been released, to much fanfare, and much derision. Personally I don’t have much interest in the device, but I can see the use. Generally if I want to watch television, I’m doing so on a decent-sized screen in my house. On long journeys I prefer to read books, the paper sort. Yes they’re heavier and they take up much more space, but there’s an emotional component to lugging around a lump of dead tree that just isn’t present in an e-reader.

No sooner had the iPad been announced, though, than the Free Software Foundation weighed in with its “Defective by Design” compaign, compaining that the iPad was DRM-encumbered, wouldn’t allow sharing of media and much more of the kind of FUD that I used to expect from Microsoft ten years ago.

Now, before I go any further: I have nothing against the Free Software Foundation. They have done a great many things I find eminently agreeable. This, however isn’t one of them. The aim is lofty and agreeable, I’ll grant, allow any kind of content to be played on anyone’s device. However…

Society just doesn’t work that way. In an ideal world we would all pay for the digital media we consume, be it music, video, software programs, or anything else. Unfortunately this isn’t an ideal world. The sheer number of people who think they have a right to content for the price of pressing the disc / the bandwidth consumed by downloading it is enormous, and growing. Who’d pay for something they can get (not entirely legally) for free? I know of a large number of people, even those who by rights should be able to pay the asking price easily, who will chip their games consoles to play pirated games, download films off the less legitimate parts of the internet and not think twice about it.

The problem is the relative level of social acceptability of piracy. It’s acceptable to illegally download films, to chip consoles to play copied games, and so on. This is the problem. The DRM is just a symptom of this. It’s unfortunate, but the producers of this content need to provide some sort of mechanism to encourage people to pay for it. If it’s easier (and cheaper) to obtain it without payment to the original distributor, a large proportion of people will do so.

Unfortunately while I have every sympathy for the FSF and their campaign to make information exchange unencumbered, I’m also a realist. At present, in my experience, allowing anyone to exchange content freely will result in the return on the investment in said content to be lowered immensely, probably to the point of content costing more to produce than is returned.

My employer spends a lot of money fighting people who counterfeit its products. These are products that are marketed direct to businesses. Anything that will save a dollar here or there is often jumped upon by the people who buy these counterfeits, even when they know that someone else is not getting paid for the work thas has been put in to generate the product in the first place.

So, FSF and its supporters. I’m sorry, but I agree with DRM, at least until it’s socially unacceptable to take someone else’s work without them or their legitimate distriutor getting anything for it. Once you can assure me that the producer of a given work will get the payment they so richly deserve, I’ll be happy to join the ranks of anti-DRM campaigners. Until then, I’m afraid I have to keep living in a world where we need safeguards to make sure that the content is paid for.

As an aside, I recently bought a film on DVD. Rather than the usual “Piracy is against the law” line, there was a simple, short sequence that simply thanked me for supporting the producers of the film by paying for it. I was very pleasantly surprised. I approve of that message.

Apple Trees

We were on this car trip
And I was looking at these rows and rows of trees
All along the highway
I don’t know what kind of trees –
Apples or something.

There were just like thousands and thousands of rows
Of a thousand trees each.
And I picked one tree that I could see
About eight trees back
In this one row in the mddle.

Just one in a billion.
That’s how I felt.

Fresh Feeling

You don’t have a clue what it is like to be next to you.
I’m here to tell you that it is good, that it is true.

Birds singing a song, old paint is peeling,
This is that fresh, that fresh feeling.
Words can’t be that strong, my heart is real,
This is that fresh, that fresh feeling.

Ahh, bliss. As is traditional every November, I’m in the middle of a week off work ostensibly to catch up on my NaNoWriMo word count. This year, though, there isn’t much catching up to do. By the start of this week I was bang on target (and I’m now 500 words ahead, and will probably get some more down before the day is out). I’m satisfying my “primary” reason for this time off, but there’s an important secondary reason.

Since January 2nd this year, I’ve had two short breaks away from work and that’s it. A couple of long weekends away, a couple of odd Fridays (which were spent travelling up north for family reasons) and the strain is beginning to take its toll. So I have ten straight days without having to go to work and it’s bloody fantastic. There’s some stuff that I need to get done, but just doing bits and pieces as I get to them rather than trying to fit them around work and everything else that’s going on, it’s lovely just to do one at at time, no pressure, chilling the rest of the time.

So, yes. Rest is fantastic. A break from everything is just what I needed, and I’m enjoying myself immensely. May my newfound chilled-outness follow me back to work on the 1st.

24th November 2009Permalink Leave a comment