Tuesday, 22 April 2008

A Salute to Greasemonkeys

by Rabbie Macintosh

I believe that I am currently being visited by the Karma faries. For my mild rant of disgust aimed squarely at the commuting masses (of which I am one.) The Deities which I so squarely placed my motoring trust have decided to abandon me. In quite a non-leathal manner, I'm glad to report.

Instead, they saw fit to have my car broken.

This is the worst possible thing that could happen to me at this juncture in my life. Well, apart from something terminal occurring anyway.

However, having something like this happen proved to be a very costly expenditure. I feel that Bambi (my fearless renault megane 1.9dCi, which has notched up a number of wildlife casualties. I was considering getting some stencils made and painting their numbers onto the doors as some sort of badge of honour.) was probably in need of some TLC anyway, being about halfway through her useful life.

I learned 3 very important things through this experience.

1) I know far less about automotive things than I should. However, even I could tell that something was wrong with the fan belt by the horrid shrieks eminating from beneath the bonnet, around the fan belt area, funnily enough.

2) It is critical that within your group of friends, you should have someone who knows a lot more about automotive things than most people. This can save you great deals of money when speaking to mechanics.

3) Always ask to see the parts that were replaced on your car. If they can't provide evidence that things have been changed, don't pay.

So, after discovering the problem (requiring complete replacement of fan belt and belt tensioning pulley, and a separately diagnosed fault of something called a dog bone mounting, which holds the gearbox in check relating to the engine.) and getting some quotes, I was fortunately well prepared to get the painful, yet required work carried out.

£280 later and I feel slightly violated, but relieved to have a working car.

The kicker in all of this. My fiancee blames me entirely because, and I quote: "You should have bought a German car."

It is the uncompromising nature of the statement that reinforces my affection for my little French motor.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Speak softly and carry a metal chair leg

by Charles Pooter

Vindico has been harassed by the local rat boy fraternity:

Yesterday I encountered 6 or 7 youths, aged about 13 or 14, as I made my out of a car park. You know the kind - probably have kids older than themselves, and a box full of ASBOs. As they looked at me and shouted "how's it hangin'? to the left? to the right? is it sweaty? tight?", I was tempted to respond "to the left, very sweaty and very tight, want a look?"
The rat kids in the Sussex countryside are obviously a cut above the type we have here in South London. Ours have no concept of rhyming or scansion. Now if they had unnerved him using iambic pentameters I would have been really impressed. As for his comeback, such things are better pondered and then played back ad-infinitum in the comfort of one's own head, without risk of knife attack or an even wittier rejoinder. Realtime quips should be left to the Fonz.

Of course, Tobias knows how to deal with their kind:
The second course of action, which I employed recently when I discovered some particularly rat-faced specimens sniffing around the back of my house, is to shout obscenity-laden abuse whilst brandishing a metal chair leg. If you take the second course of action you must give the impression that you are mentally unstable, care not for your personal safety and that you are capable of unprovoked acts of extreme and random violence. You have to unleash without reticence: the more spittle, the more violent the threats and the more unhinged the profanity, the better. Just conjure the vilest words in your vocabulary and string them together like a jazz-poet with Tourettes.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

The Commute (also know as the march of idiots)

by Rabbie Macintosh

Now, unlike most of my esteemed content contributors, I live outside a city, and have to use a car. Most of the city dwellers will of course have forgotten about cars due to the most excellently executed public transport solutions that the British councils have embarked upon in recent years to better deal with congestion and overcrowding on the roads..... Ahem, I'll get my coat then.

Aaaaanyway, I have a nice little job providing information to individuals who are far better educated, but also far more ignorant of technology than I am. This is a fulfilling task, and I get some ever so slightly jaded sense of satisfaction from having people whose prefix of choice is "Dr." asking for my assistance. I'm sure that I'll get over it. In time.

However, this job requires a modest commute of about 60 miles per day. This time is well spent on many wondrous and varied things. For example, I am able to arrive at work alert and ready to commence solving complex and interesting (TM) computer problems thanks to the wonder of idiocy that is the M4 - Every day that I make it in, I give a small prayer to whatever Deity governs my good fortune, knowing full well that one day, they will still be asleep.

One of the things that makes this little journey more bearable is the fact that I get to throw my modestly powered vehicle (diesel. 300 miles a week requires it.) round some interesting B roads. Which, are actually in a very good state of repair. Much better than the M4 anyway (although there are quarry's which have smoother road surfaces than the M4), and they allow me to break from the excitement of dodging the suicidal, the insane, and the ever so slightly unhinged as they speed their way towards London. Oh, and trucks. I love trucks, me. They're so competitive. Always moving out into the 2nd lane to overtake their friends, who they are travelling 1 mph faster than. I can advise them that they are only going to have to wait a few minutes for them to catch up when they have to park up at the truck stop for the day.

Of course, B roads provide their own set of innovative and unusual features. Wildlife for example. It's very real, and quite solid, and also very, very dumb. I have a broken bumper, and a bonnet dent to testify to both the solid and irrepressible nature of such things. My car has been christened Bambi in honour of the fatality.

But, all of the above aside, I seem to make it in without a scratch most days. However, I'm never really sure of how this comes about. I sincerely believe that I have been a gnat's bollock away from a very large and unpleasant multi car pile up on any number of days. People are by and large exceptionally impatient when it comes to driving. I'm happy enough to let them push their respective vehicles beyond the limits of their driving talent, as it is their own grave that they are digging. But, I did wonder how much actual progress could actually be made if one attempts to drive like a loon. So, a test was in order.

Now, I'm no driving angel. I'm currently toting 6 points on my licence due to indiscretions on the road in the past 3 years, but, in the interests of conclusive results, I decided to forgo my now-usual "letter of the law" driving style and see what could be done.

If I approached my commute like a veritable Lewis Hamilton, I can make it to my desk an entire 6 minutes earlier than if I drive sensibly. Yes, for all the 'skin of the teeth' overtaking, tailgating, aggressive driving and unpleasantness, I got a whole 6 minutes ahead of myself.

I was less than impressed. For a start, I damn near killed myself to do that. All I got as a reward was an additional phone call from someone who was having difficult finding the 'any' key on his laptop. I don't understand why people would want to subject themselves to that on a daily basis. There's not a good reason. You spend more money (higher fuel consumption, tyre consumption, higher stress levels on the engine and various components of the vehicle, etc. All adds up!), and more time at work. Surely the lower that both of those figures are, the better off one is as a person?

Then I sat down and started to think about how many other people's day I had potentially ruined. Driving like an idiot is a very selfish act. I started to think about the other road users that I would have encountered, and how I feel when acts such as those I had made, are made against me. I potentially upset a lot of people. I don't know if it bothered them for more than a minute, but sometimes, you just don't need stuff like that when you're trying to get to work.

And then finally, I thought about people some more. I have a particularly good group of friends, that I would consider to be a bit old fashioned. As in they are respectful individuals, who have a sober sense of responsibility, dignity, politeness and good manners. They would, I believe summarise what it is to be British, although they themselves (and you too as well, possibly) would disagree. However, why is it that all of these traits seem to be left outside of the car when the individual behind the wheel steps in? It's not hard to be nice. We've been doing it for a long time.

I also have a German fiancee, who has all of the above, except the politeness bit. Although she is about as diplomatic as crapping at the gates of a foreign embassy, she is a gem nonetheless. Also, this means that I holiday in Germany from time to time. Which, in turn means that I have to deal with their road system. You'd think that with only 2 lanes on the German motorways, and no speed limits on large stretches of road, it'd be terrible.

Far from it. They have more discipline in their approach to driving than anyone here could ever hope to muster. It was one of the smoothest, most enjoyable (if slightly dull) journeys I have ever embarked upon.

I lament that this is something we will never know in the UK.

Also, I promise that I will never, ever, ever talk about driving again. Ever. This is far more than I wished to write on such a subject.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

In Praise of The Body Beautiful

by Edwin Hesselthwite

This "End The Olympics" banner is released by LMWN on an attributions, creative commons license, use it as you will

We at Little Man, What Now? have never been opposed to exercise and sports. It is true that in the 19th century the staff team was more of an explorative bent for exercise (Richard Burton and Captain Oates were both on the staff) than a competitive one, but Adam Hawks himself was regarded as the greatest curler of his age. In the more recent years of the early 21st century, LMWN became one of the leading lights in British Snooker blogging.

And yet The Olympic Games has always been treated as an object of suspicion by this publication, ever since it's inception in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian war. The Olympics' modern themes: nationalised competition, the political impartiality of sport, the cultural supremacy of Ancient Greece, amateurism, drug-free bodily perfection, and the emphasis on grandiose theatrics all have their roots in the traditions of German Naturism and early fascism that was the focus of the 1936 Berlin Olympic games.

The events theatrics as established by Leni Riefenstahl and Joseph Goebbels are arguably the single greatest cultural hangover from the politics of the Third Reich. And following WWII when the Olympics became a proxy battle in the Cold War, these traditions served to lubricate the tensions between the two regimes, the apolitical aspect of the events allowed the daily politics of the era to be swept under the carpet for a festival of nationalism (which couldn't be more political). Not to over-egg the pudding, but when it's workaday (such as Athens or Syndey) these traditions are rather silly. When these issues become politically charged, as they are at present, they become altogether more menacing.

We are firm supporters of international sport, and believe there is a place for a major event showcasing athletics worldwide. It is simply that this event should not be a continuation of the discredited Olympic Games (and a tax rebate for The 2012 Games wouldn't hurt).

And so, today we begin a minor movement... Any blogger who chooses to place the banner presented above on their page will be linked to on the following list:

End The Olympics (a low key campaign)

Little Man, What Now?

Take your stinking paws off my guns you damn dirty ape!

by Charles Pooter

Here is a great article by RCP/LM/Spiked stalwart Brendan O'Neill about Charlton Heston. I meant to write something to this effect myself on Sunday, but didn't have the time.

Essentially, those who see a contradiction between Charlton Heston's earlier crusades in the civil rights movement and his later fight against gun control are missing the point. Heston was a consistent liberal and a vociferous defender of liberty in all its forms. Unlike so many modern US "liberals", he did not pick and choose a favoured set of individual freedoms, he defended them all.

Update

RCP members obviously have a "three line whip" on this subject. Here is another nice article in the Times by Mick Hume.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Don't take yourself so seriously

by Charles Pooter

It is always amusing when people are so tied-up in their own political obsessions and enmities that they fail to notice when something is quite obviously a wind-up. Take for example this post from the rather tedious Orcinus blog. The disdain for wacky US evangelicals would be justified if it wasn't for the fact that the article (and website) in question wasn't so obviously a joke:

Meanwhile, no one appears to have made the trip upwards from Capitol Hill. Beltway observers had speculated that dozens of high-profile leaders, including President Bush and Representative DeLay, would be raptured, possibly setting off a complex battle over succession within the halls of power.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

I am currently watching Big Momma's House

by Charles Pooter

I wonder what it is pushing out of my brain. I hope nothing important.

Two Baby Boomer Photographs, One Baby Boomer Quote

by Edwin Hesselthwite

















"He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy."

Can the over 60s please take their historical narrative home with them? It's blocking aisle 2.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

New Years Resolutions (the late edition)

by Rabbie Macintosh

Firstly, apologies for my absence. It seems that like all good new years resolutions, I've completely ignored mine.

It seems that I was supposed to be writing more in the year 2008 - however, it also seems that I'm 0 entries for 4 months ever since I was allowed into the fold of content contributors for this group. A truly pitiful state of affairs, I'm sure that you'll agree.

I suppose a part of this is when I look at the rest of the content that is supplied here, I get a certain sense that I have nothing of merit to contribute. When I try to sit down and think 'Right, intelligent and thought provoking comments!' I draw a complete blank. Whether or not this is because I'm sober, and therefore everything seems more complex than it really is, I'm not entirely certain, but nonetheless, I feel that my ramblings wouldn't go down too well.

Maybe I'm wrong, or maybe you're sat there, reading this and thinking 'Well, why have you started rambling now?' - you're onto something there, by the way. I'm not sure either.

I suppose partly, I wanted to discuss the latest (now outdated) news about Blu-Ray finally overcoming the HD-DVD. Then I realised that the only statement I had to make was something along the lines of 'Thanks for not taking a generation' and lamenting about Sony's continuing march to own peoples souls through the medium of PS3 (honestly, it's just a cheap Blu-Ray DVD player / multimedia-centre/ overpriced games console/ please enter your credit card details here.)

Then, moving on from that little gem (I'm not done on the Sony wheel of evil yet.) I wanted to discuss mobile tariffs. Apart from the fact that they are all painfully expensive (I don't understand how, if we're getting all of these fantastic savings, they can still post record profits year after year. Surely, if we're saving money with them, they should be looking at more modest profit margins?) I was hoping that someone could point me in the direction of the best smart phone on the market at the moment. I'm about due an upgrade anyway.

Back to Sony. Have you ever noticed that if you walk into any high street retailer, you can pick up the same game, on Xbox and PS3 formats, and have a difference of anything up to £10 for each one? Is this to cover the difference in production costs? Probably not, because if Blu-Ray cost £10 more a pop to produce, there's no way that it would've made if off the ground. Is it to cover the additional cost of development for the 2 different consoles? Probably not, most developers follow the crowbar approach, which means that they make minimal adjustments to allow the game to run on the other console, be that Sony or Microsoft. Although, as most games are developed for Xbox, you pay more money for an inferior copy of games on PS3 - a situation which is less than desirable. The main differences are games that are developed for Sony specifically (and these are very good for the most part), and a few companies that have taken time to redevelop the core aspects of the game to properly fit the Sony. These rare occurrances do produce games that are merit worthy, and that's not to be sniffed at. Shame they're so rare.

Hopefully, I'll be able to make headway on producing something that would be described as 'readable' in the coming days. I once again feel as though I've sneezed at the screen and forgotten to wipe the words away.

Jolly Comrades

by Charles Pooter

In the 1920s The Little Man was commisioned to make a series of films for the Pathe company. These were to be shown alongside the company's newsreels in British cinemas. The films varied in quality and covered an electic range of subjects in an inconsistent style. Only six films were made and Pathe did not renew The Little Man's initial contract. Nevertheless, the first film, documenting the lives of the entertainers and showmen who entertained the pickets during the general strike of 1926, is still considered a classic. Fresh from the National Film Archive, it is with pleasure and pride that we present this newly-digitised film to you today. We hope you enjoy The Jolly Comrades.