Sunday 28 February 2010

HTML madness

I’ll have to stop this. Given blogs ought to be about content I spent a ridiculous amount of time tinkering with the layout yesterday. I think I’ve become slightly unbalanced; this is very sad but I’ve been having a lot of fun.

It started early last week when I discovered that you could create pages in Blogger. This feature could have been there for ages before I noticed but thankfully this time it really is new; new to Blogger that is, WordPress has had it forever. Typically I decided to style the page list control, for which I have to thank the contributors to the help forum for pointing out where to look, but it was unfortunately the start of a slippery slope.

It wasn’t long before I started to experiment with overlaying elements. First I wanted a static non-scrolling image and then I spent an eternity with some relative positioning of the ‘contact’ images; Twitter, Facebook etc. Relative positioning alone was troublesome as it affected the layout where the images would have been. Relative inside an absolute positioned element did the trick until I found that Chrome, my browser of choice, rendered differently to IE and Firefox; you’d have thought IE would be the odd one out. I got it in the end but it chewed up an obscene amount of time. One of these days I’ll learn to organise it properly but I’m enjoying the novelty.

Today I watched the football instead, like a normal person; though I can’t escape the feeling I should get out more. I don’t think the trip to the tip counts and if I arrive at work tomorrow morning wondering where the weekend went, who am I going to blame?

Thursday 25 February 2010

It’s anarchy

Gustav Landauer
I’ve always thought of anarchy in its pejorative sense; as such anarchists were to be pitied at best, and at worse full of violence, a general urge to destruction and dangerous to the ‘common good’ – though I’m uneasy with such a term. Possibly an unfair generalisation and I am reminded of a conversation with a socialist activist friend who despaired at the appearance of the Socialist Workers Party at every demonstration. Some people, she explained, are full of anger at an injustice whereas some are just full of anger.

I’ve not a lot of time for people railing against a system without providing (credible) alternatives; thus anarchism came even lower down than socialism in my estimation. However I recently came across this quote from Gustav Landauer:
The State is not something which can be destroyed by a revolution, but is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of human behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently.
I like that. Anarchism, like socialism, would appear to have many sometimes competing facets. Gustav Landauer was murdered by soldiers one day after being arrested during the November Revolution. It serves to remind me that when I win the lottery, for which I’d have to buy a ticket, I must look to further education and the study of something “useless”. There’s nothing to stop me now of course, except time and a general weariness, I’d just like the money; though in some anarchist systems I wouldn’t need it... apparently.

Wednesday 17 February 2010

I can see clearly now

Old CRT television
Some time ago my old CRT television faded away and I ordered a new HD TV and Blu Ray player. I’d been waiting for an excuse, though my old friend rallied briefly before being switched off and dragged to the garage; where it will remain because it’s too heavy to carry any further. With my new boxes of delight I attempt to discern the difference between a standard and high definition picture; there is one, but it’s quite distracting looking for it. Now I’m in a no-mans land of indecision trying to decide between lovely cheap up-scaled DVDs and their “improved” Blu Ray counterpart.

It’s a perfect diversion from the real world which likewise seems undecided on what to do with me. That’s bollocks of course, though I do seem to be waiting for something; after which I will presumably move forward with my life. Meanwhile I put my head down and plough through the work ahead whilst wryly noting how much longer everything takes, longer than even I expected, when there are so few people around.

It’s proving a good opportunity to look at things that might otherwise have passed me by and I’m enjoying, if that’s the right word, the challenge; but it is very tiring. I miss bouncing ideas around, random Star Wars quotes, overhearing in-character discussions on the latest Xbox game, 5-a-side football, complaining to my boss, spoiler discussions on 24, arguing over whose turn it is to make the coffee. I miss my friends.

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Half way to being the new Robin Hood

There's a great moment in Blackadder the Third in which Baldrick describes his new hero, The Shadow:
What a man! They say he's half way to being the new Robin Hood... he steals from the rich, but he hasn't gone round to giving it to the poor yet.
Tax burden
This was my first thought on hearing of the new Robin Hood tax campaign; which it is suggested would be the first tax in history that wasn't somehow passed on to the consumer. Such a thing isn't possible, the market will always adjust, but the trouble is that in this country the consumer is also a sucker; probably believing there really is a big stack of unused cash ready to be spent on good causes. This is to say nothing of his gullibility as to the causes that any revenue will support – in reality existing expenditure would get cut to zero as soon as this new source of funding was secured.

Whilst we may not be the customers of the proposed targets, the market has an astonishing ability to pass on the cost, from institution to institution, all the way down a chain of which we're at the bottom. It would be more efficient to prop up the banks with less of our money and tax us directly rather than indulge in all this smoke and mirrors; but then even the suckers would know what was going on.

Friday 5 February 2010

An atheist in sheep’s clothing

Here’s the thing; despite what my profile may say, I’m probably an atheist. All this agnosticism is an attempt to disassociate myself from that rampant in-your-face element. Edward Aveling once said:
'Agnostic' was but 'Atheist' writ respectable, and 'Atheist' was only 'Agnostic' writ aggressive.
I get that. I don’t want to fight anyone and I’m not concerned with changing their belief, kicking out a crutch provides no satisfaction, being merely cruel. On the other hand, practicing atheists (for want of a better term) seem determined to give battle. Why do they care so much about other people’s faith?

The tenet that religion is the ‘root of all evil’ is a convenient fiction; a conviction that absolves one section of society from any blame. The reality is that our ills stem from a lack of tolerance; Christian to Moslem, Moslem to Christian, theist to atheist, atheist to… everyone else. I don’t doubt there have been terrible abuses, but if religion is culpable am I to blame atheism for the appalling (and more recent) crimes of Stalin, Mao Tse-tung and others?

Yes, Pat Robertson’s comment on the tragedy in Haiti was idiotic, as most of his comments are, but I find it interesting that Richard Dawkin’s response was less critical of Robertson than it was of those Christians who denounced the remarks. One might suspect that a Christian condemnation didn’t ‘fit’ and was therefore ignored as an anomaly, but of course his argument was that Robertson, unlike his critics, was being consistent with Christian teaching. You see Dawkins is like many of my hard-line brethren; in addition to only believing the one truth (sound familiar?) they like to interpret everything they read literally – oh, the irony! That must make for a terribly boring life, and one that leaves me to ponder yet again; how is it that some intelligent people can be so utterly simple? Bless them…