Sunday, June 26, 2011

New maps of hell

When I was growing up I used to read a lot of science fiction, because that is what you do when you have no girl friend and an interest in science. After going to University I read more literature. At some stage I got bored of modern literature, because I reading a lot of stories about Professors who taught English literature, or creative writing. Frankly, most stories were very well written, but boring and pointless

So after a few years, I thought fuck it, let's go back to reading science fiction novels. This is just a unfocused introduction to saying that, I have just read "New Maps of hell" by Kingsley Amis. Amis was part of the English literature establishment, so it was surprising to see him write a book length review on science fiction The book was published in the early 60s, so before the infusion of some aspects of science fiction with the literary main stream. He was mostly reading the science fiction magazines, such as Amazing.

I got the impression that Amis also liked science fiction because it was more interesting to read than say the books his son now churns out.

My criminal dream

I have been trying to record my dreams, as I wake, because I usually forget them. Not really sure why, but they make better "chat up lines", than my rambling stories of lost German pyramids.

However, I totally freaked out when I read:

Forging Peter Mandelson's signature to get computer accounts

before I remembered the related dream, I had dreamt the previous week.

Mandelson was one of the main slimey scumbag bastards that made up the inner circle of New labour. He was a minister in the labour Goverment, before having to resign (several times) because of his gloated love of money. Of course now that we are ruled by this new lot of evil shit Tory politicians, I miss his rule.

Just to be clear. I did forge his signature on 10 application forms, but I never sent them. People kept asking me about them, before I woke up.

The adventures of English

As I vainly attempt to learn this German language, I have started to get interested in other aspects of language -- particularly those that don't involve memorizing large tables of verb endings.

So I read "The adventures of English" by Melvyn Bragg. The book is a history of the English language from its German roots towards modern times. I discovered that "dales" is actually a word from the Vikings.

Also I didn't know that the black death plague (around 1348) had a good consequence. It killed many of the "masters" of the land, who spoke French, and also killed many of the clergy who spoke Latin. Yes, the Kings of England spoke french after the Norman invasion in 1066. English was the language of the masses of Britains.

RIP Glasgow laptop

Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. All good things end. I turned on my laptop last night and all I heard was a grinding sound. The hard disk is dead!

Perhaps not surprising, given that I got it when I first moved to Glasgow five years ago. The fan was loud and the disk drive was small, but I still loved it. I mostly used it to watch digital TV and Itunes. Oh the memories of watching Kung fu movies in German.

Please excuse the rambling nature of this post. This is the first laptop that has died on me. Normally they get stolen -- or work want to keep them.

Friday, June 17, 2011

1000 uses for severed heads

Last night I dreamed about severed heads. I was running around the backstreets of some houses, trying to work out the time since a head was severed from a body. Just before i woke up I had figured something out involving formaldehyde and a needle.

I wrote the above paragraph about a week ago. I have already forgotten the dream, but the text shocked me. What caused the dream? I had been reading Truth Dare Kill by Gordon Ferris. This is a great cheap book on the kindle about a serial killer set in 1945. The hero is a private detective, who suffered a bad head injury in the war. His own paranoia starts to rise as he searches the streets of London.

1066 and all that

There is a famous book called "PCT spin statistics and all that". The title was based on a book called "1066 and all that". Given that I am on a history trip, I decided to read it last week. I enjoyed the book, but I don't know enough British history to appreciate many of the jokes.

The best part of the book is the preface, where they claim that this is the end of history.

No internet for Craig

Boohoo isn't life unfair! I have not had proper internet access now for three weeks. One day it stopped working -- after doing some investigations I found I had no dialing tone. Because of the language issue I had been putting off ringing the help line. Anyway I rang it on Wednesday. The guy helpfully asked if it would be better if he spoke English. He did his tests and agreed to send a technician out on Friday morning.

OK -- fine. So I wait in on Friday morning for a slot between 8 and 12:00. After 11:00 I knew he couldn't come. My emotions run from rage to despair and back again. I ring the helpline again at 12:30. They say the guy will be here soon. At 14:00 I get a text to say he will not come and to ring the help line to get a new date for the guy to come round. I started sulking immediately. So I have no fast Internet access over the weekend, and I have to stay home on Monday.

I was listening the BBC program click via the Iplayer. They had a piece on whether having Internet access was a "fundamental human right". Umm, don't know about that, but I do feel digitally castrated. I can't even download books to my kindle.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rocannon's world

I don't like taking my kindle with me, when I wash my clothes in the laundrette. I usually take a small light book with me, just to read something while my clothes dry. Last week my book was Rocannon's world by Ursula K.LeGuin. It was an interesting science fiction novel, nor perhaps as grand and wonderful as Dispossessed or The Left Hand of Darkness. There was an interplay betweeb magic and science.

Looking at wikepedia, I see that it was her first novel.

Monday, June 06, 2011

The Shrapnel Academy

I have just finished reading "The Shrapnel Academy" by Fay Weldon. This was an amusing book about a set of crazy people snowed in a private military academy. Mixed in the book was a bit of military history that mirrored the events of a dinner party gone horribly wrong.

Friday at the bus stop in Manchester

So I was back in England last Friday for a quick visit. I got the train from Manchester airport to Manchester to get the bus to Burnley. The Bus for Burnley goes from Chorlten street. I had to wait for a while, while people were going out for Friday night drinks. There are lots of bars and pubs near a canal.

Over the road two rough guys were holding cans of strong lager and leads to small dogs. The older guy with white grizzled hair and a small black dog, suddenly stops, and says "oh no." His dog, stops and takes a big shit on the pavement. He then walks off to follow his friend. A taxi driver looks disgusted, but waits for future passengers.

I saw a number of people walk over the crap, and stop and complain to one and other.

On my side of pavement a big group of women dressed in the same pink costume. They were clearly on a "hen night" out. I wanted to start a big night out in Manchester -- going from pub to pub in the warm air. The buzz of people, as the alchol slowly warms my body. At the end of the evening my inteligence and mind would be blown. "Ah, England", I thought as I got on the bus to my mum's house for a gallon of tea.