Politics: Pay Attention

I’m sure a good number of you know about this already, but give the discussions of “V for Vendetta” recently, this is perhaps an appropriate time to flag this one up, just in case anyone has missed it:

The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill.

This is a bill that will, broadly, allow ministers to change the law without requiring the changes to be ratified by parliament. Students of history may remember that similar laws were passed in Germany in the 1930s. Now, it’s only fair to point out that this bill has a number of curbs in place, like for example, ensuring that any term of imprisonment resulting from crimes arising such change not exceed 2 years.

Shall we just look at that again?

Under this bill, it would be possible for a minister of the crown to criminalise almost anything they felt like, provided the sentence wasn’t greater than two years.

Is there anyone here not boggling at that?

And it can get worse, but I won’t ask you to take my word for it.

Just go and read one MP’s view of the subject.

I cannot urge you strongly enough to stop by WriteToThem.com and ask your MP to vote against this bill.

More design nonsense

If anyone should happy to be feeling bored and creative, I could really do with tiny (20×20 pixels) icons to represent http://www.alasdair.biz and http://www.black-ink.org. And something in the same dimensions that says “Calendar”.

Usual beer and undying gratitude offered.

An Old Mentalist Fragment

I was reminded today that some time back, I took part in the 1000 journals project, and after a quick check, I discover that the long forgotten piece (written in about 15 minutes) is available on line. This is what I wrote, just so I’ve got a record of it:

It’s tipping it down, so naturally, the randomiser on the iPod threw up The Pogues “Rain Street” the minute I stepped out the door.

Do you believe in magic?

Loaded question. You can’t answer it properly until you’ve defined what magic is.

So, move towards definition. You can make yourself believe anything, according to Robert Anton Wilson, whose model of the human brain composed of “Thinker” and “Prover” doesn’t entirely convince, but offers a start point, and would suggest that there’s magic wherever you think there is, that consensus reality doesn’t matter.

He’d suggest that if you think something to be true you’ll encounter mountains of evidence in support. Your brain’ll prove what you feel. In evidence, he offers “23 skidoo”, the idea that if you convince yourself that the number 23 is important, you’ll soon find that your life is inextricably tied up with that number. It’ll show up everywhere. Important phone numbers, house addresses, restaurant bills, all on its own.

“Whatever the thinker thinks, the prover proves” is Wilson’s phrase. It’s both the heart of magic, and it’s biggest weakness. The suggested answer would be that magic only exists if you believe in it, and if you do, you’ll see magic everywhere. Against that, of course, one might easily point out that this engenders credulousness.

Perhaps the Art of magic is as much in sifting out pattern from random chance, in diving meaning from chaos, and still maintaining some semblance of healthy sketicism. Looking at it square on, that seems like the heart of magic – another filter on the world through might we may imbue any event with meaning, render it more significant. And if we give it more power, more impact, who’s to say it doesn’t have it? And if we’re lending something power, creating something from nothing, isn’t that magic?

Alasdair Watson
22/1/2003, in Journal 203

Points to anyone who find the slightly obvious hidden message.


If anyone out there is a designer/generally handy with photoshop, and wants to do me a favour (and earn themselves a pint), then if you wanted to pick one of these logos (the ones with white backgrounds, for preference) and adapt it so that it looks more or less the same, but with the name of the company replaced with my name, I’d be hugely grateful.

(I’m looking for something in the 350 wide by 90 pixels high area, if possible.)

Life’s Little Joys

I think it’s very important to pay close attention to the things that make you smile, each and every day. The little things. You life will be infinitely better if you do.

For example: I no longer work in East Acton. This is one of those things that’s continually brought home to me, and always makes me smile. Today, it was brought home to me because I have just eaten a sausage roll for lunch.

Were I in East Acton, this would have been a Greggs special, made from lips and eyes and genital parts. Grey, and rubbery and flavourless, encased in pastry made from salt and lard.

But I am in Battersea and the local sandwich shop sells sausage rolls that are sourced from a particular farm, and made with real meat taken from lovely, lovely Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs. I half-suspect that if I had pressed him, the owner might have been able to tell me the name of the specific pig whose fleshy parts I have just had for lunch. It was spicy and meaty, and the pastry was perfect. Hurrah.

So, now I have a new thing to be happy about.

What has life brought you today to make you smile?


I had a bloody marvellous weekend. You should all be very jealous. Friday night, I went to see the might Golgol Bordello, gypsy punks. (Side note: I am listening to more and more Eastern European/klezma tinged stuff in a variety of genres. I am not sure what this means, although More 4 was at pains last night to inform me that Russia is dying, which may be significant in some way.) The gig was ace, although I boggle that they were originally supposed to be in the Mean Fiddler. They got bumped up to the Astoria proper, and it was a full on sardine-tin job. Still, they had even more energy live that Flogging Molly, something I had not hitherto thought possible. Complete Eastern European mad bastardism. See ’em when they come round again.

Then there was a slight drinking accident with the rest of Friday night. ewa is home, and obviously it’s all her fault, because I would never do a thing like that on my own.

Still, the hangover was beaten back with the aid of a large fry-up, and then it was off to see the Yamato Drummers. I’ve seen a few different Taiko outfits now, and I think that these people are the best I’ve seen. Kodo have the more traditional show, and possibly even a more physically impressive one, and Yamato are all about laughter and marvellous energy. It was a matinee show, and there were a fair number of kids in the audience, loving it, something I have a hard time imagining them doing at a Kodo show. My only gripe is that I wasn’t allowed to take photos, and that only because some of it looked so good, I’ve have had to be asleep not to get decent shots out of it. They’re on for another week, and there may be a few tickets left. Go if you possibly can.

On, briefly to coffee, and thence to johnmazzeo‘s birthday drinks, to wish the aged one all the best, and say hi to a few people all-too-briefly, since I hadn’t seen half of them in months.

And then to sushidog‘s extremely civilised port and cheese evening. I am now officially a middle-class grown-up, but somehow it’s less ghastly than my sneering eighteen-year-old self thought it would be. Thanks to one and all for making the idea of being a respectable adult almost as palatable as the port.

Sunday was rather more relaxed, and certainly rather better rested, spent as usual in the delightful company of lovely people. And so back to werk.

Apropos of not very much: I have my new dead-air.org domain running (in a slightly-concealed manner, at least until I can get a few last details sorted out) but I need a) suggestions for new sources for mad science news, or just feeds full of unusual and horrible things to wire it into, and b) a WordPress template with an urban or radio-styled theme. Anyone able to help with either?