I am a Spam Magnet

This is what passes for spam these days in my email account.  Did I sign up to a “quietly domesticated home-owner interested in becoming a keen gardener” discussion list? Did I once give B&Q my email? Are sheds the new black market?

Whatever the reason, whatever the source, I can’t help but feel faintly insulted.

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So here’s a thought.

If I get two days off a week and one of those days is a week day, what’s to stop me from going through the large sheaf of song ideas I have written down and recording one of those songs on that day?

Really, what’s to stop me?

Is it too late for a New Year’s Resolution or is it the perfect time?

Notes on the inevitable.

They’re one of those things, as men, we “don’t think about”.  Mirrors.  Especially bathroom mirrors.  We’re trained to use them only to check our ties are straight (so that’s once a year for me), to check for food stuck in our teeth and to avoid injuries while shaving.

The story we hear from women (well to be honest, it’s mostly regurgitated quotes from “women’s” magazines and the like, not from any of the women I actually know in real life. Strange, that.) is that mirrors are there to be avoided. That they’re evil and to look into one is to have yourself transported to centre stage on the Jeremy Kyle show, naked, in front of a howling audience. You must never catch your reflection in the eye.

I was thinking about that today while wondering if I could be bothered shaving.  I couldn’t be bothered, as it turns out, but I thought about looking in the mirror. I thought about peering into that awful reflection.

So once, when I was 39, I did.

And it seems that I now have double the number of grey hairs in my beard than I did before I last shaved in June.  Is this what the panic is about?  Is this the terrible promise of the mirror?  Maybe this is the slowly encroaching horror of the looking glass, and I’m being turned to stone one beard hair at a time.  Class.  Maybe by the time I’m 60 I will have a beard made entirely from stone.  People will come from miles around to see it.  I’ll be a famous local attraction.
But they’d better not look in my mirror.

US creates “shadow” networks for dissidents and revolutionaries

In one of the most ambitious developments, the State Department and Pentagon spent at least $50 million on the creation of an alternative cellphone network in Afghanistan to prevent the Taliban from shutting down mobile connections in the country.

To accomplish this, cellphone towers have reportedly been installed at protected military bases across the country.

The independent network allows cellphone users to communicate when local Afghani networks are shut by the Taliban. The disruptions typically occur between 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., so that the Taliban can conduct their operations unreported to security forces.

via rt.com

In times that include the Patriot Act and Echelon routinely monitoring domestic email and telephone communications, times that see Homeland Security agents interviewing school-children for allegedly making terrorist and/or seditious remarks in class after being reported for same by their teachers, times that see global airline passengers routinely strip-searched and subjected to pointless and invasive body scans, the United States is encouraging foreign citizens to communicate outside their own countries’ infrastructure and legislation.
I have to wonder if this is an opt-out of totalitarianism or a defacto opt-in to US Secret Service’s information gathering network, feeding the beautifully poetic fear of terrorism and justification for further military intervention.

Please juxtapose the linked article with the following two pieces, the first a news report, the second an editorial piece:

http://americathegrimtruth.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/america-the-grim-truth/

Airline passenger conversations to be monitored under EU project – Telegraph

So Brussels is finally bending their knee to the USA in this too.
Flying is by a huge percentage less dangerous than twenty years ago, which was in turn a huge percentage less dangerous than twenty years before that, yet the culture of fear and dependence that the US Government, closely aped by the major EU powers, is insisting we live in would have us see the world in a state of deadly terror under constant but non-specific threat of annihilation.

“We are encouraging the world of social and behavioural science to share their ideas and expertise with us to do this. Academia and industry may be able to provide invaluable assistance and advice in helping to prevent terrorist attacks.”

We must learn from the software industry that this kind of knee-jerk, cure-all, attack-the-symptoms thinking simply forces those few would-be wrong-doers into more and more devious exploits, much like the ever-narrowing gaps between new anti-piracy measures being launched and cracked versions of new software appearing on torrent sites.
It’s like MRSA – hyperfocus on wiping out a threat and the threat develops immunity and becomes stronger.

Why don’t authorities see that dealing with terrorism effectively means dealing with root causes, like disaffection, isolation and demonisation?
Are there no obvious lessons to be learned from, for example, Northern Ireland? Is Politics so concerned with saving face that it cannot acknowledge that the foreign and domestic policies of sovereign governments can cause adverse reactions both within and outwith that country and that addressing this can only start with both admitting and ceasing to make mistakes?

Airline passenger conversations to be monitored under EU project – Telegraph

So Brussels is finally bending their knee to the USA in this too.
Flying is by a huge percentage less dangerous than twenty years ago, which was in turn a huge percentage less dangerous than twenty years before that, yet the culture of fear and dependence that the US Government, closely aped by the major EU powers, is insisting we live in would have us see the world in a state of deadly terror under constant but non-specific threat of annihilation.

“We are encouraging the world of social and behavioural science to share their ideas and expertise with us to do this. Academia and industry may be able to provide invaluable assistance and advice in helping to prevent terrorist attacks.”

We must learn from the software industry that this kind of knee-jerk, cure-all, attack-the-symptoms thinking simply forces those few would-be wrong-doers into more and more devious exploits, much like the ever-narrowing gaps between new anti-piracy measures being launched and cracked versions of new software appearing on torrent sites.
It’s like MRSA – hyperfocus on wiping out a threat and the threat develops immunity and becomes stronger.

Why don’t authorities see that dealing with terrorism effectively means dealing with root causes, like disaffection, isolation and demonisation?
Are there no obvious lessons to be learned from, for example, Northern Ireland? Is Politics so concerned with saving face that it cannot acknowledge that the foreign and domestic policies of sovereign governments can cause adverse reactions both within and outwith that country and that addressing this can only start with both admitting and ceasing to make mistakes?

From the archives: EU visitors to have fingerprints taken – Times Online

I was gonna publish this with some comments last year when this article was new, but in waiting for a follow-up, it slipped between the cracks.

Given now that the various security database and mandatory ID measures threatened by the UK government have been all but abandoned, I now wonder if this issue has been revisited by the press, and whether, now that the U.S. government have had their way and forced RFID chips into most nation’s passports and invasive disclosure into everyone’s airport experience, have these plans also been shelved?