Tuesday, 5 July 2011


It seems I'm sliding unwillingly towards technological impotence. Since the demise of my old PC, I've been using an Eee PC, and not a new one. Part of the schtick of the design is that one can't add on bells and whistles, nor upgrade the existing bits and bobs. Some time ago Facebook upgraded their systems, and since then I've not been able to reply to friends' status updates. I notice more and more that people are using more modern versions of video programmes, which I can't watch. Today that change or some relation of it has come to Youtube. I was midway through watching some '70s adaptation of an Agatha Christie story when I discovered that the next video was just a black block. No controls, no loading symbol, no possibilities. I closed and reloaded the page, tried a few other pages, went through some of my other links . . . nothing. I seem only to be able to watch Youtube videos when they're embedded. If I seem to have lost my senses and begun to embed dozens of videos on this site, you'll know why. Heh!

Shucks, as they say. Well, they don't say it often. How common a word is shucks? Is it common parlance in the playground? I doubt it. It's hard to believe it ever was. I bet it's as common as my response to spine-tingling danger: a tight-lipped "Jiminy Cricket!" as I narrowly avoid skiing over a precipitous drop or slam on the brakes when some fool decides not to check his mirror and jerks out from a queue of immobile cars into the lane in which I'm doing seventy. I saw some report in the 'paper the other day about the wonderful benefits of adrenaline and the joys of stressful situations. Will I establish a pattern for ending paragraphs? Yes. Heh!

On a brighter note, my superglue arrived this morning, so those Lego bulwarks from last time have been attached to the sides. Do note that I spent a few hours last night and this morning gluing rivets on. If you do, I shall be ever so grateful! Well, I'll be more grateful if you forbear to mention that I really should have got round to casting things from resin by this stage. For years I abhorred such novel technology, and now, when I'm ready to embrace it, I certainly can't afford such profligacy! Time for another? Say it with me, people: Heh!

You may have perceived and surmised that only the original has those 45-degree angled blocks on the front. I have yet to dig around in the box and root out another eight for the additional vehicles. To be honest, I have been a bit tardy for a pair or related reasons. Having been denied the distractions of Youtube, I have been waylaying my productive self by having a gander at the online text of Carnacki, The Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson at this site. He's something of a late Sherlock Holmes, but dealing with supernatural goings-on and he is far more prone to human emotion than my beloved Baker Street boffin. I do rather enjoy these turn-of-the-century spookinesses, ever since I learned of M. R. James' endeavours in the field. I've tested them on a few friends, but there's something of a problem, as they aren't scary any more. To reiterate my earlier opinion on the former ubiquity of "shucks", it's hard to credit that ever they were. Murderous demonic masses of hair don't frighten a modern audience accustomed to seeing black comedies with more frightful protagonists. The number of friends of mine frightened by the cinematic portrayal of Patrick Bateman, the eponymous protagonist of Brett Easton Ellis' American Psycho, is greater than the number of fingers on the Addams' Family's deftly dexterous friend.

It's a problem in other settings, too. A friend of mine is incapable of enjoying Star Trek's original incarnation with its pastel shades, distinctly dated scientific foibles and its '60s sexism. For me that's all part of its charm. Lest you think ill of me, dear reader, I had best swiftly explain that last! Sexism is of course far from charming. However, to watch a show made when sexism was a much more malignant force than it is today is repeatedly amusing. In one of the better known episodes, containing "Jack the Ripper", it's explained that Scotty might have developed a hatred of women because one of his subordinates made some error which saw him blasted into a wall. A female subordinate, of course. I can't but laugh at that sort of rot. This isn't to say that I simply giggle my way through these old shows; but I do have a snigger when it's aptest.

However, I have to admit that sometimes things once commonplace and these days hopelessly outdated do shock me. For some reason, my spell check doesn't recognise the word snigger. Is it uncommon in the United States? Anyway, a suggestion it offered me - before I told it to add snigger to its memory banks, naughty computer - was to remove the letter s from the front. I think that might rather change the sense to something positively Confederate rather than Northern. It also reminded me of Dorothy L. Sayers' Murder Must Advertise, which I read some days ago - note to self, update Shelfari - and then watched on Youtube. Happily, I managed to fit it in before the Coming of the Great Youtube Darkness.

Anyway, that and a few other racial slurs were tossed in haphazardly, much to my surprise. Of course, a protagonist in the '30s who's a member of the aristocracy won't speak like wot you do, Pete. But still, it's a surprise when the hero - who goes out of his way to say that it's how one behaves that maketh the man or woman, not where or whether one was educated - suddenly reveals that his charmingly egalitarian positions are wholly dependent on skin colour. I mentioned this to Mum, and she remarked on Sayers' anti-semitism. Still disappointing to the modern reader, but given the image that I have of inter-war Britain, not particularly surprising. I'm not saying that everyone was cosying up to old Adolf the Distinctly Unpleasant, but nobody forgets such as the Mitfords. My newspaper helped by running some fanciful story about Thingummy Mitford bearing Hitler's child. I can't tell you more, because even an unemployed man has better things to do with his time than read every silly story The Daily Telegraph thinks is front-page news!

Sliding seamlessly onto that topic - Pete, it isn't seamless if you draw attention to it - the slow death of print has made many changes to that old newspaper. For some reason it seems to run fewer articles about how vegetarians are dangerous anarcho-communists plotting to destroy the state and spit with glee on the upper classes. If you don't know me personally, and had assumed the blog's address was simply a pair of strangely conjoined words, you can now infer differently. ;-) They also acquired a columnist from The Daily Mail, Somethingorother Heffer, whose columns typically accorded with what would find in said newspaper if one didn't die from shock induced by Muslim immigrant house price EU cancer AIDS first, I suppose. A common disease in certain parts of the UK, some people tell me. They've recently divested themselves of him - or vice versa - I was happy to see.

Backsliding, comrade? Opposing the change at the dying organ of the media just as surely as you decry the changes to your up-to-date media? Are you sure you don't just dislike change? Well, I've spent a few years so doing, but there's good reason to oppose change when it prevents things from working properly. Speaking of which, ooh, hot weather's a deplorable thing. My radio just told me that there's a high of 19 Celsius today. It's 24 or so in here today. How to stop me working? The lethargy induced by hot weather is the perfect way. Wait - I hope you won't use that knowledge for evil! It reminds me of schooldays. "When shall we put the exams?" "Let's have them at the hottest time of the school year." "Excellent plan!" "And also when hayfever's striking down sufferers?" "Brilliant work, that man!" If you've read any of Terry Pratchett's works, you're probably be familiar with his conceit that trolls are designed for lower temperatures than humans. Every summer I identify more and more with my rocky imaginary brethren. Pete brain no work in hot time!

On which sophisticated note, I shall take my leave of you. Oh, a reminder that my recent foray into Ebay is drawing to a close. There's a little more than a full day left, so if you have a fancy for the shiny baubles therein contained, do have a look. Details and link to Ebay are in this post from a few days ago. Until next time, dear reader, may all your attempts bear fruit!

Post Scriptum: It looks as though my travails with Youtube yesterday were a temporary blip. It's working again, so huzzah for my not wholly unsatisfactory technology!

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