Archive for January, 2006

On the plus side, I have 8meg broadband. On the minus side, I may have to kill some people.

So yesterday, I had to fly back to Stansted still feeling hung over from the previous night, a night during which I had managed to insult almost every member of my family individually, and then told them collectively to go fuck themselves. Or something along those lines. Not that I wasn’t provoked, my family are what you might deem provocative. Upon successfully returning home without being sick, which was a close run thing, what with having to get a bus, a train and then a tube from the airport, I went straight to my precious laptop, which had been left in the kitchen in my absence.

Why was my most expensive possession in the kitchen, one might ask. Does it double as a fridge? Is it useful as a doorstop, or coaster of some kind? No indeed, my laptop is in the kitchen because Bulldog Broadband sent me what is quite possibly the worst adsl modem in existence, and because none of my housemates currently have a PC. While waiting for it to boot up I filled myself a glass of water from the tap, which may not seem relevant at this point but is in fact a salient element of the story.

I open up my web browser, and instantly I am hit by a river of shit. Adult web sites, a hundred different pop-up windows… I am bombarded with pictures of scantily clad females touching each other, and a dozen fucking installation requests from all the pieces of cyber-trash that have managed to lodge themselves in my hard drive. To call myself unimpressed by this turn of events would be the understatement of approximately 4 centuries. It is at this point that I pick up the glass of water, and realise that it is grey.

Exasperated with this clear lack of a correctly functioning universe, I set down the glass of water, and go to get my washing. Upon returning to the kitchen I open the door of the washing machine. I suddenly realise at this juncture that since picking up the glass of water, the part of my brain which is not running through all the possible methods of killing Josh for downloading porn, has been attempting to call my attention to something else, namely “Why the fuck was the water such a funny colour?”, a question whose immense pertinence strikes me at about the same time as the stream of disgusting mucky water coming out of the washing machine.

In summary, our water is bust.

I cannot express in words how delighted and enchanted I am by this new adventure. Perhaps an interpretive dance in which I repeatedly bang my head off a brick wall would encompass my feelings more completely. There have been times in my life when I spend several minutes screaming internally the question “Why is nothing ever easy?!”. I am compelled to admit that last night came very close to being one of those times. I will not even start on how blatantly silly it was of my housemates not to bother leaving any sort of note about said water when they went to bed. Mere moments after I had my incident Julia arrived home, and said the memorable words “Oh, you know not to use the water right?”. My facial expression at this point may or may not have been justified.

I have evolved the theory that my life is governed by some sort of hilarious irony, the source of which I am not privy to. Of course god has a sense of humour, if he didn’t, I’m not sure I would exist. I strongly suspect I am the light relief of the cosmos, highlights every Wednesday night after celebrity big brother. I may not be quality entertainment, but I’m better than George Galloway’s cat impression. Incidentally, he’s my MP. Hah! And on that note of amusing and mildly unsettling incompetence, I’m going to do some work.

I’m running out of interesting and provocative titles. So you can all go and shite

I live in the vague hope that no-one reads this thing. Seriously. I mean, I have no intention of including personal shit about my life, but the opinionated ranting is stuff that would normally be confined to text files on my laptop, or scribbles in the journal I carry around. Any entries concerning what I have done that week/day/month, are pretty much for the benefit of, well, my mother. (Yes, I have a mother, it is a little known fact that I was not, in actuality, spawned from a union of demons). Hi mom, thanks for stopping by.

Yes, my mother reads the dreadful arrogant torrents that I spew here. Why? Because she knows me, and this is how I bloody talk. So really its not like my personality is coming as a shock to her. And personally, I think my mother is quite an exceptional person, not least to be able to put up with the rest of my family, a derogatory assessment in which I most certainly include myself. So I suppose its no surprise that she takes this, along with most of my oft random and occasionally insane endeavours, entirely in her stride. I just wish she didn’t expect me to keep emailing her as well… I mean, I can only write so much without my hands falling off.

I. Hate. Blogs. They suck. They are in the main badly written, badly presented, self-indulgent wank. I have no problems with people writing them. I have a huge problem with people expecting me to read them. Because I have to confess kids, they are fucking boring. What you did yesterday at the beach, while it works fine in a two-way real-time conversation, is in written form about as interesting as counting the hair follicles on my arm. In fact, in comparison, the hair follicles on my arm comprise an interesting frequency distribution analysis.

Aside from the subject matter, they are generally grammatically atrocious, and spelling is optional. Not to mention the fact that “bloggers” tend to treat punctuation like a ballistic weapon. They aim it in a vaguely correct direction, but it could end up absolutely anywhere. The combination of these issues means that I will never expect or particularly desire anyone to read this. Likewise, I will react badly if I am told to go read someone’s blog because I have asked how they are.

For the most part, people do not write well. The art of literature is dying a slow and painful death. But everyone thinks they are a giant of prose. Waxing lyrical about your soul and how its affected by the angle of light on the river evokes absolutely zero depth if your sentence structure was utter bollox. It jars my brain when a genuine insight is marred by bad representation. Its not the whiney emo content of blogs that pisses me off so much as the butchering of said content by sloppy thoughtless literary diarrhoea.

In summary, don’t read mine, and I won’t read yours. Or hell, read mine, whatever spanks your alligator.

Ulysses

“Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are we are
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”

Alfred Lord Tennyson

……

69% of statistics are not made up on the spot. But they might as well be.

People do not understand statistics. The most basic elements of statistical analysis, the most elementary logic concerning odds, appears to be beyond every non-technical person on the planet, and some of the technical ones. I once had an argument with a friend about the existence of God. Always a touchy subject, but in this case she used a particularly annoying argument, all the more annoying because I knew it was wrong at the time but took days to realise why. At the time I was arguing for the side of atheism, and she was Christian.

The argument she gave was a huge bunch of statistics on the projected odds of life ever beginning on the earth, how rare the circumstances were, how astoundingly coincidental that they had all managed to combine. She cited this as logical proof that this had not come about by chance, that odds this low clearly constituted a miracle. I found this deeply irritating. What the hell is a miracle? Surely it is the doing of the impossible, not the improbable? If I toss a die and get a 6, that’s not a miracle. If that die has a million sides, its still not a miracle. A miracle would be if I got, for example, a zero.

I witnessed a debate in work a few months ago on the likelihood of a certain set of numbers coming up in the lottery. Everyone was sure that it was less likely that a sequence of consecutive numbers would come up than any other sequence of numbers. Bull. Shit. Human pattern matching does not have an influence on which way little coloured balls turn.

If I flip a coin a hundred time, and every time it comes up heads, what are the chances of it coming up heads the hundred and first time? 50/50. Past performance is not an indication of future performance. The coin doesn’t know about the statistical anomaly it is creating. Statistics are meaningless. Ever heard the one that says you are more likely to be killed by falling off a donkey than in a plane crash? Absolute nonsense. The fact that more people one year were killed falling off donkeys, or being hit by lightning, or whatever, than died in plane crashes, does not make it any more likely that I, a person who has never travelled via donkey in my life, but frequently takes planes, will be killed in a donkey related accident rather than plunging to my demise in a burning aircraft.

Use some of the other 85% (apparently) of your brains, kids. Maths, much like life, just doesn’t work that way.

The Tube – Great innovation, or modern method of torture? It’s a mystery!

As someone who has always lived in cities with a shitty infrastructure, I once listed the tube/ metro/ underground rail system of choice, as one of the greatest inventions of mankind. To an extent, this is true. There have been many times even in the few short weeks that I have been here, at which the ability to travel the city quickly and directly, with easy to follow routes, has been invaluable. However in just those few short weeks, I have learned that I will very soon despise the experience of the sprawling subterranean monster that is The London Underground.

What is wrong with the tube? Allow me to supply a list. Firstly, between the hours of 07.30 and 08.30, and 17.30 – 19.00, the tube is like an attempt to squeeze a Live Aid audience into the Point. The aim of the game is to get out as quickly as possible, while still arriving at your correct destination intact. A balance must be struck between the unpleasantness of squishing oneself onto a bursting at the seams train, and the inefficiency of standing on the platform, going nowhere, while others endure this unpleasantness.

Secondly it is blatantly unreliable. Because there are so many trains running so frequently, different bits of it break down with an amusing regularity. At least, it is mildly amusing for me, because now I know how to get a bus home. During the first week of my stay the lack of a tube would have been a disaster of phenomenal proportions. Several lines run slower than others, several lines are just plain crap. Until you have to use the damn thing every day this seems totally irrelevant.

Thirdly, though public transportation is a fine thing, and I wholeheartedly support anything that reduces the number of superfluous cars in this world, it encourages blatant ignorance of basic geography. For the first time in my life, I do not actually know where I live. If public transport went belly-up tomorrow, I would have to embark on a fantastic adventure in order to figure out how to get to work. And it would take me the best part of an hour, if not more with all the wrong turns I would undoubtedly make.

Then there is the sheer disgustingness of the tube itself, the dirt, the smell, the reprocessed air made of farts and BO, the stale taste and smell of the breeze pumped through the walkways, the knowledge that touching anything will mean you have to wash immediately you find a bathroom. And the fact that there is no phone reception. Yes, I realise it is underground, it would be perfectly possible. If my phone works on the Stockholm underground it can work here.

All these points however, seem fairly normal. Why am I so bitter about the hardships of using such a brilliant facility? Squishing into a train? Fine, they’re fast, lots of people want to use them, fair enough. Ignorance of my surroundings? A fair trade-off for such efficient public transport, and my own fault to boot. Unreliability? Just get up a little earlier so you can take the bus if necessary. Dirt and smelliness is normal for an underground railway used by millions But there is one crucial point about the tube that if altered, could negate the potency of all the drawbacks I have mentioned. It is the one thing I just cannot get over.

It costs a bloody fortune.

No, I didn’t see the whale. Sounds to me like a stupid reason to stand beside a smelly river for an hour.

I will not lie and say I am totally indifferent to the whale. On balance, all things being equal, I would have much preferred it if said whale had survived its unlucky sojourn into one of the most disgustingly polluted bodies of liquid within a thousand miles. I could call it water, but I feel that would be a dramatic stretch of credulity, having recently seen the Thames.

So I wish it had survived. But in my opinion, any creature stupid enough to end up in the Thames deserves the ensuing process of natural selection that is certain to occur. The most regrettable part of the incident was that every idiot interviewd about it on british news, all of whom made at least one terrible joke, were not thrown in there with it.

That is all.

And now for a load of boring shite

Apparently all the people who told me that working in financials involved long hours were entirely correct. I have not even been here for a month yet, and I spent an hour at home last night finishing a report I needed for this morning, because I had training all day yesterday. Since week one I have not left at 5.30. This is of course my own doing. I plan on doing pretty well here. I have no qualms with putting in some effort to that end. I don’t want money I can’t earn.

When I started here, I realised that I was significantly younger than everyone else, and wondered if this would be a problem. Because you see, I never mentioned my age in the interview, it is not on my CV, and they didn’t ask. In England it is not only normal not to finish secondary school until 18/19, it is normal to take a year or two out before going to college, presumably because fees are not paid by the government. So logically, even if I was quite young I’d have started college at say, 19, done 4 years, and then had the year and a half+ of work experience that appears on my CV, making me around 25, at the minimum.

My mild concern was validated yesterday, when I mentioned that my birthday was just after St. Patrick’s day, and a colleague asked what age I would be. After dissembling for a minute I eventually just sheepishly told her, at which point she laughed, and said something like “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to you know, you don’t have to make one up”. This girl is 7 years older than me. Dilemma. I didn’t lie, but what do I do the next time someone asks? “None of your business” is not a good way to make friends in a new workplace.  And I’m not lying about it. But I have no desire to be seen as a kid.

At this point, I could rant on about my emotional state, which has fluctuated lately, and been of some significance. However, I have zero intention of using this blog for anything but opinionated ranting, and updates on my activities for anyone who’s interested. I will not be talking about my feelings, my relationships, or any other drivel like that. That’s nobody’s business but mine, and if I ever had a blog that contained that stuff, it would contain all of it, and I would certainly not be telling any of my friends about it, because it would be about them.

In other vaguely relevant news, we had our first house party, which I deem a complete success, we were all hammered, but no-one made a fool of themselves and nothing got broken. And the clean-up was in no way horrifically tedious the next morning. Ali made lamb curry for dinner last night, and it was incredibly good, I was previously unaware that Indian food is meant to be eaten with your fingers, and found this fascinating, which was doubtless somewhat off-putting for poor Ali.

That’s about it I think. For anyone who wants to know, I will be coming to Limerick on Friday night, and staying till Sunday afternoon, so if you want to meet me during that time let me know in advance if possible, by email or text. And anyone who doesn’t have my English number should mail me if they want it, I think I screwed up my contact details mail somehow and it didn’t get to several people.

Women – not as evil as I hitherto suspected

I find it amusing that because I have strong opinions, and generally believe them to be correct, that some people assume I never change my mind, that I am too stubborn to re-evaluate my decisions. This is not the case. It is because I wish to be right that I must constantly re-evaluate, check my premises, and think things through again. If they are still correct, great. But if not, obviously I need to acknowledge they are wrong, and change them. So a new category of entry appears. “Change of opinion”.

Since I left secondary school, I have always preferred male friends to female. My time there left me with the impression that women were nasty, petty and stuck-up. With a few notable exceptions whom I think a lot of, I left school despising my “friends”, for their attitude, for their snobbery, for their meanness. On the rare occasions when I felt safe really talking to someone during that time, or needed to share something that was happening with me, but didn’t want it shared with half the world, I constantly risked opening myself up to people who placed no value on trust, or friendship, or perhaps they did, but they placed no value on mine. With almost no exceptions from anyone except the notable individuals I mentioned above, this invariably resulted in me being embarrassed, upset, angry, or feeling stupid. Generally all four.

I left school determined not to be shat upon by any more nasty bitches. During my first two years of college I had maybe three female friends, only one of whom I saw with any regularity. Gradually the number grew to 5 or 6, but I have never since been in a circle whom I would consider to be “girlfriends”. I did not trust groups of women, I did not like them, and I rarely felt a need for their company. Until moving to London, because the two people I know best here are both female. I very much like both of them individually, but when all 3 of us began to hang out together I experienced some misgivings.

Last night I realised that I don’t dislike the company of women. In fact I have an astonishing amount of fun just being with female friends, we laugh more, we do more (as opposed to sitting around asking “What should we do?” “I dunno”… etc.) we are more enthusiastic about things… I could go on and on. This is not to say I no longer want to make male friends, but I will no longer assume that an all-male group beats an all-female one.

Women are not all nasty, petty, evil bitches. Just the ones I knew in school. Roll on Class of 2000 reunion. I wonder if they all still live in Limerick with their parents…

Your opinion can go fuck itself. Join it if you’re feeling lonely

  1. If I hold an opinion, it means that I believe that opinion to be correct, or at the very least I believe it to be the best opinion available. If I did not believe either, I wouldn’t hold it.
  2. By definition, if I believe myself to be correct, and someone else holds a diametrically opposed opinion, I will believe them to be wrong.
  3. I believe that the right of anyone to an opinion, and the right to express it, is sacrosanct.
  4. The above does not in any way mean that I respect any given opinion for any reason other than its merit in my eyes.
  5. Your opinion does not deserve my respect just because you have one.
  6. You do not deserve my respect just because you exist.
  7. If elitism is only having time for things I believe are worth something, then I am elitist.
  8. I do not believe that every question has many answers, or that any question has none.

Above are the things I am sure of. Below are things I am not so sure of

Aesthetics are the hardest thing to conclude anything about in this context. Of all things, beauty comes the closest to complete subjectivity, it is almost entirely dependent on the person perceiving it. Almost. The subjectivity will always be limited by the objective reality in the existence of what is being perceived. Is complete subjectivity possible then in a hallucination, a drug trip, a mirage? Does it even matter then, since in such a situation our standards are skewed in any case?

For something to be completely subjective it must be not only perceived by us, but created by us, and not observable, or real, to anyone else. And if it is created by us, in a hallucination or a daydream, we have no standards by which to judge it against except our own, no other analysis can be applied to it, because it exists nowhere but our minds. So consciousness is the only thing that can create true subjectivity. Interesting.

In lieu of hypothesising about the implications of this, I will now go and buy some wine for dinner with Agnes and Joanna.

Trains, planes, and automobiles…

I was shocked and appalled to discover yesterday that a train from London to Leeds would cost me £70 sterling return. Clearly my complaints about the cost of trains in Ireland were foolish and misplaced, this is phenomenally overpriced. It would cost me substantially less to get a plane. Not to mention that to get a plane back to London this Sunday would not involve the plane stopping halfway, dumping me onto a bus for an hour and a half, and then a fresh plane being supplied where the sky starts again, 60 miles further on.

On the other hand, the eurostar doesn’t seem all that extortionate, so I am planning a trip to Paris on it. I will admit to having originally envisioned a massive glass tube through which we could watch whales for hours, despite knowing full well that 1. the undersea part of the journey only lasts about 30 minutes, 2. There are no whales in the English channel, and 3. the damn thing is not made of a transparent material of any kind. Its amazing what little fixations the human brain can come up with.

Anyway, I realise I covered my first couple of days here in detail, and then completely left a blank. So I’ll summarise as concisely as possible. I stayed the first week with Agnes. I was stunningly lucky, and found a perfect place to live by Wednesday, but couldn’t move in until Saturday, so she had to put up with me until then. Sophie’s last night in London lasted most of that week, or so it seemed, I wish I could have been a more active part of it, but unfortunately I spent most of the week exhausted, having had very little chance to catch up on sleep lost on the days leading up to my move.

On Saturday I moved into the flat, along with new flatmates Josh and Julia. Josh is a cute Australian, who likes meat and beer, and carries heavy things. He’s also a chemist, who has to be in work by 8am every morning. Ouch. Julia is an assistant photographer, or maybe just trying to be one, I’m not too sure about this stuff. Apparently it involves working for free until a photographer offers to pay you. She showed us her portfolio the other night though, it was amazing. I have limited art knowledge, and no photography knowledge, but I know what has meaning, and on that scale her work is really good. Then we have Halona, who was away at the time, South African chick, but Indian descent, she’s a banker, and a bit of a girl, but she’s cool. Anthony is the token English guy, he’s an assistant photographer who has managed to get paid, he moved in last so I don’t know much about him yet, but he has a good sense of humour, and seems pretty alright.

Agnes and Moise (adorable French guy, I can spell neither his nor her name correctly without switching keyboard layouts) cooked dinner in my new place the first night, and everyone had a really good time, Joanna called over, and Jim even appeared as he was avoiding the Ministry of Sound for the evening. It was a great night, of much drinking and hilarity. Overall, I’m amazed I found a place, and much more amazed that I like everyone who lives there. We’ve all started off fairly equal, as we all moved in at pretty much the same time, and so far it’s been a blast. We get on really well. Hopefully we’ll all be staying at least the 6 months of the lease. I am also the proud possessor of a credit card and bank account. This whole London thing is working out quite well really…

I love it when a plan comes together.

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