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Monday, August 23rd, 2010
9:50 pm - Dave Has, Probably, Completely Lost It
This is hugely random for my first LJ thing in an age, but it's on my mind so I thought I'd throw it out there. It's a maths/statistics puzzle sort of thing which I'm vaguely thinking of incorporating into a thing (Murder Mystery Puzzle, you know) but not knowing the first thing about maths or statistics I have no idea how to even frame it properly, let alone solve it.

So, anyway ...

Let's imagine we have three things - three DVD's that belong in a box set slipcase, say - and we want to keep them in sequential order. We're just compulsive that way. Two of them are in the case, one of them is in our hand, and the thing is that we can't remember which of the three it is. The light is too bad for us to read which one it is on the cover, so we are going to have to put it back into the case in the figurative dark.

My intuitive feeling is that putting it between the other two gives the best chance of getting a sequential order, but I have no idea why I feel that, or whether that feeling is completely wrong and it's all just random anyway. Also, how do things change if we want the order to be 1-2-3 rather than 3-2-1? Are we talking double the odds against or some entirely other order?

Anyhow. That's all vague and rambling, and there's no way anybody could actually teach me maths stuff properly this late in life ... but does anyone have any easily-explained thoughts that might help me get into talking about this stuff without sounding like a totally innumerate arse?

current mood: arsey

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Friday, May 14th, 2010
8:35 pm - Am I Missing Something Blindingly Obvious?
Another trying-to-work-out-my-thoughts question to People Who Know.

All the talk about raising VAT, as opposed to raising Income Tax. I suppose you could call that 'fair' in the very specific sense that everybody, whoever they are, has to pay it when they buy stuff.

Except ... they don't, do they? Say, I bought a new and really expensive Mac and justified it as necessary for my writing work. Now say - and it's a stretch I know - that my writing work was successful enough that I was well off. That would put me over the threshold where I could claim the VAT back.

Seems to me, simply, VAT is a tax on the poor shlubs who end up buying stuff without being rich enough to claim it back. How, in any way, is that fairer than adding a penny, or whatever, to the rate of tax on those who are generally rich enough to afford it without too much pain?

I know I've got things wrong on this, somehow, but can someone tell me just how?

current mood: puzzled

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Thursday, May 13th, 2010
11:30 pm - Quick Straw Poll
Absolutely no agenda, just trying to get my own thoughts in order and I'd appreciate any input.

Hypothetical questions: If there hadn't been a popular surge in LibDem popularity during the campaigning process, and it had pretty much been a Labour/Tory choice come Election Day, would (1) Labour be in power now with a majority, and (2) would that be a better or worse prospect than what we have now?

current mood: quandric

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Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
8:20 pm - Oh Dear Fucking God
I'm remembering 1997, I'm remembering how a thoroughly discredited government was dead and the Opposition could have been elected on a platform of eating dead babies. We like eating dead babies, they could have said, we like eating dead babies, yum-yum-yum. Or, at the very least, they could have won on a ticket of professing and sticking to policies that contained a certain breath of actual socialism.

Instead, of course, we got Thatcherism Lite, and a slimy frontman who crawled up Dubya's arse at the first opportunity, all the while keeping eye-contact with us with his fixed grin and his buggy, staring, slightly mad-looking eyes.

And so now we have, courtesy of a patently unfair system of election, a collection of people who Came Third with the power of tipping the balance between nasty and nice, actively evil and a breath of good, a chance that for once in our fucking lives the votes we might cast in the hope of influencing those lives in any larger sense ... and they've blown it comprehensively.

God forgive me for knee-jerk prejudice, but my alarm bells went seriously off when I heard phrases, on Radio 4, like 'a public schoolboy, just like Cameron' and 'the chemistry between Clegg and Cameron', and my heart such as is left of it sank.

Conspiracy theory is now my home. Meet the new boss, same as the old, and sabotaging any chance of changing it. The worst part is that I think these people honestly feel that things are fair for everybody ... everybody who matters. And there's the problem right there.

Not exactly coherent, here, because I'm incoherent and frankly incandescent with a fury at the state of the world that I haven't felt for a while.

current mood: bilked

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Tuesday, May 4th, 2010
10:00 pm - I'd Get Out While the Getting's Good, if I Were You
One thing about moving into a new place, and getting out of three years and eleven months in what was basically a solitary-confinement oubliette where I totally shut down, is I can feel certain parts coming alive again, to a certain extent. I plan to start talking about things again, about my general state and the various circumstances and problems of it.

Thing is, I know full well that anyone who actually knows me would call my personality generally ... abrasive, let's say, to put it kindly. I have the uneasy feeling that, for a lot of people, this abrasiveness translates into a vague perception of strength. Doesn't matter what you say about or say to or do to Dave, the obdurate bastard can take it.

So, just to be clear before we go any further. No it doesn't. And no I can't.

current mood: Awake

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Monday, May 3rd, 2010
9:02 am - Better Than I Could
This sums up, almost perfectly, my own feelings on a certain recent unpleasantness.


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Sunday, May 2nd, 2010
8:19 pm - I Can Cook Again!
Oh dear God thank you I can cook again with a certain degree of proper. In honour of the occasion I present …


All quantities, when I remember to give em, are for two normal people or one gluttonous porker who should be thoroughly ashamed of himself. Caution: Does not contain beans. I hate beans. I loathe their pasty texture. Beans can fuck right off. Onwards:

Chop three or four cloves of garlic finely. Chop a big onion slightly less finely. Chop a couple of shallots somewhere in between. Get two big flat mushrooms, peel em if you like, take off the stalks and chop *them* about as fine as you chopped the garlic. Chop the mushrooms themselves about as big as the onions.

(You can add a finely chopped carrot if you want to bulk it out or you just still feel the need to chop things up. Knock yourself out, sweetheart. Who am I to tell you what do do?)

Pan-fry the garlic and the bits of mushroom stalk in olive oil until the garlic, at least, is nice and brown and crunchy. While you're doing this, brown around 250g of lean mince in the largish saucepan in which this godawful mess will ultimately percolate.

When that's done, heave the onions and shallots into the frying pan, and dump half a tin of chopped tomatoes into the saucepan with the meat. When the onions are softened, heave in the chopped mushrooms, get them coated with oil, and leave it all to fry until generally golden brown.

While that's happening, turn your attention to the trusty saucepan. Crumble in a couple of OXO cubes and add a good belt of nice strong-tasting brown beer - about as much as the water you'd have added if you mixed em up with water, Now heave in a good splash of Worcester Sauce. Now heave in a good splash of Mushroom Ketchup. Now heave in a couple of teaspoons of paprika, and as much chilli powder as you desire and/or can physically stand.

Heave in the lovely garlicky, oniony, mushroomy mess from the frying pan. Fling the frying pan at the head of your valet, or major domo, with stern instructions to give it a good clean. Give everything in the saucepan a good stir while heating till it boils furiously. Clutch your left eye in screaming agony as a gob of something shoots out of the pan and hits it.

Turn the heat down, you fool, so that it bubbles away good-humouredly and whack the lid on. Check every half a minute or so to stir the juices back in. You know you're done when you check and hardly any juices have bubbled to the top.

Now comes the hugely complicated and strenuous bit. Turn off the heat and let the saucepan stand. Ideally, it should stand for hours, overnight, even a day - so if you were planning on serving it to the ravenous horde in the next few minutes then you're fucked, quite frankly. Even so, turn off the heat and leave it to stand for as long as you possibly can. Then, before serving, reheat the mess until it's piping hot, adding a dash of nice, strong-tasting brown beer if it gets too desiccated.

Whack into a couple of bowls. Top with grated, really strong Extra Mature Cheddar, a sprinkle of parmesan and black pepper. (You can then stick the bowls under the grill for a bit, if feeling extra swank and poncy and don't mind the burns from forgetting the oven gloves.) Serve with tortilla chips, which you use to scoop it up and stick it in your gob.

That is all.

current mood: Culinary

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Saturday, May 1st, 2010
8:53 pm - So, I've Moved
Full details shall occur, not least about how in the process I've seemed to manage to break everything I've touched.

I thought I'd be incommunicado, netwise, until the 21st, since that's the earliest BT can get the phone line in - but then I discovered the joys of a cheapo-reduced pay-as-you go 3-Mobile modem from WH Smith. £19, I plugged it in and it just seems to work.

So various people expect emails about my new address and whatnot in the near future, once I sort out the place - and the fact that some people say it has one postcode, some people say it's another, and neither seem to actually be right.

current mood: Moved.

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Sunday, April 18th, 2010
11:05 pm - Writer's Block: Take me as I am
Would you be upset if a long-term partner confessed that s/he'd committed a serious crime before you met? How do you think it would affect your relationship?

Depends if the loot's still buried somewhere and I can have some of it.

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Saturday, April 17th, 2010
7:46 pm - Lost: One Production Designer's White Stick
God alone knows, I'm the last person to rail against changing elements of the popular television show Doctor Who, but the New Daleks, visually speaking, are just fucking awful. Tony deciding what the hell we'll invade Iraq fucking awful. Something so fucking awful that it pisses away hope and goodwill and can't help but taint what follows after, however good it might be, because you'll always remember how fucking awful it was.

I'm genuinely too angry, at the moment, to detail the aesthetic blunders in any technical sense - but what visually-impared idiot thought that these new-look Daleks would look in any way iconic, or scary, or cool? It's like one of those things you see in Top Gear when the 'new and improved' model of some classic car is a lumpen abortion.

Forget about covering their eyestalks with a coat or something. Just hit em on their massive, bustled fatarses with a bat.


current mood: genuinely angry

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Saturday, April 10th, 2010
11:03 pm - A Random Thought
Just putting this down somewhere, while I remember.

It probably won't, but I'd love to think that years from now people will look back on a historical oddity and point to it as one of those small, inconsequential things that are actually consequential. One of those silly little things that people do that somehow become big.

It's this: The double-segment ads for Marmite that were just waiting for a general election to be announced. The ones about whether you want to vote for the Love Party or the Hate Party.

I'd just love to think that this tiny thing, like the foreign matter in an oyster that culminates in a pearl, helps to crystallise a general mood - by all right thinking people who love Marmite at least - of voting for absolutely anyone else but the Hate Party, i.e. the Fucking Tories.

That is all.

current mood: pointless

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Thursday, April 8th, 2010
12:14 pm - Oh Dear God, What is Happening to Me?
I went out today, putting on the usual pair of sweatshirts, jumper, gloves, woolly hat and big coat, and after a while I realised that something was very, very wrong. This sort of watery substance appeared on my skin, as if it were oozing out of the pores themselves, and I felt a general lassitudinous sensation that could only be described as a chronic fever.

It got so bad that, in the end, I had to resort to undoing the zip on my cardigan. I am clearly very ill indeed. Somebody call a doctor.

current mood: death's door

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Saturday, April 3rd, 2010
7:29 pm - Everything That Ever Happened, Or Ever Will
I've always loved that phrase. Insert smiley.

current mood: Hopeful

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Tuesday, March 30th, 2010
12:18 am - Is it Just Me ...
... or wouldn't Ian Dury's 'Dance of the Crackpots' be a perfect song to come up at the end of a movie?

I can imagine at the end of a feelgood movie where everybody wins, or as an ironic counterpoint to a tragedy where everybody dies. I have this vision of an old-timey sepia insert of someone dancing in a loose and baggy-trousered way like the guys did in Oh Brother Where Art Thou as the credits roll.

So now I just have to come up with the idea for a movie in the first place that would justify it.

current mood: Random

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Thursday, March 25th, 2010
11:57 pm - A Quick Sounding
Say you were thinking of writing a sort of allegorical state-of-the-nation thing, along the lines of Orwell's 1984.

What name would you give the central character that would have the same sort of impact and connotations as the name Winston did in 1948? I've been wracking my brain, such as it is, and I just can't think of one.

('Tony', incidentally, is not the thing I'm after at all. I'm after the sort of name that a Briton here and now would be genuinely proud to have.)

current mood: quandric

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Thursday, March 18th, 2010
7:39 pm - Comics
If you're aware that there were such things as Bobbins and Scary-go-Round, good for you. If you ditched when Bad Machinery started, shame on you. And you've missed a cliffhanger like this:


current mood: That Is All

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Wednesday, March 10th, 2010
9:13 am - Oh Dear Me Recurring
Almost everybody reading this will have seen this, but if you haven't, look at this article from ReadWriteWeb ...


... look at the disclaimer they had to put up, and then look at the reader-comments that meant they had to do it.

A salutary reminder that, when you think you've plumbed the depths of human idiocy, you're in fact standing on a trapdoor.

current mood: despair

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Sunday, February 7th, 2010
9:35 am - And There's More
Dear Radio 4, am I alone in finding your constant references ro double-dipping on the news highly offensive? Frankly I do not ...

Ah. I am reliably informed that I'm thinking of something else. Carry on.

current mood: Ha.

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Friday, February 5th, 2010
5:39 pm - I'm Thinking of Starting a Petition
So, I was thinking about what my personal Manifesto would be if I wrote to the Mark Thomas thing, and I've come up with two so far, but I got sidetracked into thinking about - if I had the power - what I'd force the BBC to do ...

1) Dear BBC, do whatever it takes to keep Radio 4 on longwave, but without the religious stuff and the cricket. If I'm right in half-remembering that it's longwave that leaves the Earth and keeps going, wouldn't any sane person want humanity to be remembered by Gardener's Question Time and shows about number theory that include an interview with Count von Count off Sesame Street for no other reason than it's fun?

2) Dear BBC. Please take the money you've saved from Jonathan Ross, etc, contact Joss Whedon and commission him to do ANYTHING THE FUCK HE LIKES, without interference, for thirteen episodes. 45 minutes per episode, £1M budget per episode, the only proviso being that it must be a continuing thing rather than 13 self-contained things. Then work out what to do with it. I suspect, given those conditions, that Joss Whedon would do it for free (on deferral, I mean) ... and the revenues it subsequently generates would fund the BBC as it is till 3010.

The above's all a bit confused, of course. I'm just riffing confusedly while a bit pissed and belatedly mourning the death of Dollhouse.

current mood: blah

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Monday, February 1st, 2010
11:53 pm - It Only Ever Happens All The Time
Sooo ... given that what I'm working on at the moment, and trying to finish, is an unashamedly bone-headed, bad-taste romp around the idea of Assisted Suicide, what's the worst thing that could come up as a cause celebre - and who's the worst person to provide a focus for it?

current mood: bugger

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