Sunday, 31 January 2010

Mercy Killing?

In the last couple of weeks there have been a couple of news stories that have interested me. I mentioned months ago that I thought euthanasia should be legal, or at least not legislated against, which is basically the same. However given recent cases highlighting the issue of consent, I feel the need to clarify my position.

The cases I’m referring to are the deaths of Thomas Inglis and Lynn Gilderdale by their respective mothers. Both deaths actually happened in 2008, but they have only just been resolved in court. Frances Inglis was given a life sentence with a minimum of nine year, whereas Bridget Gilderdale was cleared of the charge of attempted murder. Despite this seeming contradiction, I broadly agree with both of these verdicts. Although the sentence is questionable, Mrs Inglis acted immorally, whereas Mrs Gilderdale was perfectly within her right to do what she did.

The difference between these two cases is consent. Thomas Inglis had brain damage and was unable to make the choice of whether or not he wanted to die, Lynn Gilderdale was desperate to end her life. Frances Inglis too her son’s will into her own hands, where as Bridget Gilderdale was acting in accordance with her daughters wishes. Lynn wanted to die and we should not begrudge her to right because she is unable to do it herself. No-one could have known whether Thomas wanted to die or not, and even if he did, his mother had no right to take his life into her own hands, even if it was out of sympathy.

What makes the Inglis case even worse is that the doctors said Thomas would recover. Mrs Inglis refused to believe this and took her own, subjective and uninformed opinion. She might have been acting out of compassion, but it was out misguided and ill-judged compassion, based not on reasoned judgment, but on gut instinct and blind ignorance. She murdered her own son out of a misplaced sense of pity.

Thomas Inglis was in a vegetative state having fallen out of an ambulance following a pub fight. He could not communicate with anyone or even move. Obviously this is a thoroughly unpleasant way of living, indeed it barely represents a life at all, but it was not permanent. His condition was not terminal, despite what his mother chose to believe. It is another case altogether to be in a vegetative state from which one can never recover, and, while this explains Mrs Inglis’ actions, it does not make them any more excusable. Thomas Inglis had a poor quality of life, but he would recover and potentially lead a pretty normal life. He was robbed of this opportunity by his mother, claiming to be acting in his best interest.

Inglis was wrong to do as she did and should be punished accordingly. Killing someone without their consent, even out of compassion, is murder. One cannot take the life of another into one’s own hands, no matter the circumstances. She may not be guilty of malicious intent, but she is guilty of acting purely out of passion and instinct, not reasoned consideration. Her unthinking, ill-judged actions cost her son his life; a life which could have gone on for many years had it not been cut short.

Contrast this with Mrs Gilderdale’s actions. Her daughter had repeatedly expressed the desire to die and had even attempted suicide in the past. She was entirely conscious and capable of making a decision about her own life. Her ME had caused her great suffering over 17 years, through which her mother had given her constant support. She had begged her not to take her life, but when it became apparent that Lynn was desperate to end the pain, she reluctantly conceded to help her. She acted out of the same compassion and love as Mrs Inglis, but she did it with reluctance and only with the consent of her daughter.

Both of these cases are tragic, but in one the right thing was done and in the other, the wrong. The law must make a distinction between these cases and has done. Mrs Gilderdale is innocent of any immoral act, and the ruling reflects this, Mrs Inglis is guilty of murder and her sentence reflects this. While Euthanasia should not be legislated against, killing someone without their consent must be.

Monday, 25 January 2010


What’s this? A movie review? The first in about a year. And I though I’d be doing more of these, but no, apparently I don’t like going to the cinema. I would promise to do more because I like doing them, but I doubt I will. Here’s hoping I guess. As always there will be spoilers, so go watch this film now then come back (or don’t, the plot is not why you watch the film, but if you do care about the plot then don’t read this until after watching it)

Anyway, the film I just watched was Avatar. James Cameron’s 3D, CGI extravaganza set on some alien planet somewhere which the evil human race has come along and tried to mine for hard-to-get-ium or something, the motives were pretty paper thin let’s be honest. Anyway some clever scientist has created technology to allow a human to go into the brain of one of the giant blue aliens specially bred for the purpose. Again the reason for this not exactly made clear. But that’s not really important to the film.

What is important is that it looks to goddamn pretty. The 3D works most of the time and the CGI as a whole is truly stunning. The whole thing was so wonderfully animated that I could not take my eyes off it. The creatures moved so naturally and the environment interacted with them so well. Combined with the 3D it made one of the most visually stunning films I have ever seen. However, I was constantly reminded that I was looking at an animation, not real life. Little niggles in the 3D, little problems with the way the water looked or the way that everything was just a little too perfect. Even when the evil humans were killing lots of the aliens it was all too perfect. It lacked the little faults; the subtle imperfections that make things look real.

Avatar was essentially a show case of how far we’ve come in terms of technology and how pretty we can make our films look. However the technology will continue to improve and, while stylistically Avatar may still be beautiful, it will be surpassed and made to look ordinary compared with other films. A film simply cannot ride on the strength of technology because the technology will always get better. It is not enough for a film to be pretty and we should not settle for that. Good use of technology is not good art. That is not to say that stylistically Avatar is not good art. Cameron has shown as he always does that he makes very visually good movies. Avatar will continue to look good in spite of its outdated technology, not because of it.

However visual style is not the only thing that makes a good movie. A movie can look as good or bad as it likes, I honestly don’t care. I don’t pay good money to go to a cinema to look at a display of the latest in CGI; I go to be told a good story, with strong characters and beautiful writing. I did not get this with Avatar. I got a simple story, with interesting, but underdeveloped character and mediocre writing. The film gets away with it because it’s a well told story with a truly wonderful setting.

The story is pretty predictable and wafer thin; a very poorly disguised metaphor for imperialism which was largely predictable from the off. There was nothing complex or intriguing about the plot; it was straight forward and distinctly predictable. It set the evil humans with their technology and guns against the ‘Noble Savage’ aliens with their bows and arrows and connection to the earth. Predictably the aliens repulsed the evil men with the help of a man who had become one of them and seen the beauty of their simplistic ways. Obviously Cameron had devised this story in the midst of a serious bout of Imperialist Guilt.

The problem was that it was so straightforward. All but about half a dozen humans were unquestioningly gung-ho about killing aliens and the aliens themselves were unrealistically virtuous and wonderful. Such almost child-like simplicity becomes quickly tiresome. As did the glorification of the simple ways of the savage; the aliens ran around half naked, living among the trees and being at one with nature. This romantic view of the world is painfully simplistic, to the point that it was laughable. The reason why these savages were so much better was never really examined; the unsophisticated, unthinking way in which they lived was only contrasted with the worst of human progress, never the best. The film makes outlandish statements about human nature without ever examining them because it’s too busy showing off its beautiful CGI.

Similarly the characters were all underdeveloped. The lead was an ex-marine who had been crippled in the line of duty. Is he bitter about this? Does this make his dislike the military? Who knows? The film never explores the character so we have no reason to care about him. If Jake (his name) had died at some point I’m not sure anyone would have cared. If anything I might have been glad to be free of his inane narration and painful one-liners. Similarly the main Antagonists seem to have very little motivation for what they were doing. One is a big heavy military nut job who just wanted to kill everything that moved for no real reason. We could infer that it was because he hated the aliens because they gave him the scars that were all over his face, but this is more inference than anything the film actually told us. He was almost comically heartless and larger than life. I questioned whether he was any more human than the mech he was driving at the end. The other antagonist was a pen pushing corporate type who had about as much personality as he did screen time – so not very much. He was possible a more knockdown evil villain than the heavy – at least the heavy was entertaining on screen. There were also several Alien characters, but again the film spend too long showing off to really make us care when most of them died. They’d spent as much time on screen as the corporate scarecrow so the reactions of the other characters and the fact that they weren’t human were the only things telling us to be sad when they popped their clogs.

This not to say that the story was bad or the characters were all terrible. The story was very well told and, while simple, it was quite nice. The characters were not bad, they were just underdeveloped. I guess what frustrates me is that Avatar could have been a brilliant movie. With as bit of work the story could have been compelling and original and the characters could have been fascinating and human. The emotions the audience felt at key moments could have been more than spoon deep if only the film had stopped trying to overawe us. All this could have been achieved in the almost 3 hours that the film lasted, but too long was taken establishing that the film is really pretty for sufficient time to be given to what actually matters about a film.

Avatar is a showcase held up by a tolerable if a little predictable and simplistic story. The characters have potential but that is disregarded in favour of aesthetic appeal. It is worth seeing because it is extremely entertaining and so damn pretty. It’s not like the film is just a showcase of technology; it does have a story and, while not the greatest, it is decent. It certainly holds up the movie well enough for it to show off its impressive technology. I fear that movies will simply use 3D as a gimmick to make up for a nonexistent storyline. Avatar does not do that, but it is still not one of the classic films. You should watch it if you haven’t already and don’t be worried that I’ve given away some of the plot, that’s not why you’re there.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

The night of the Lemurs

Ok, this week might be a little odd. You might notice on the side of this page my Twitter feed. You will also notice that I am asking some stranger from the internet if I can take up some challenge she posted to some other stranger from the internet. (If you two are reading this, you’re not strangers, you are both awesome.)

Anyway, the challenge is to “evaluate the statement ‘one day, the lemurs shall evolve and rule us all’. Give your response.” My evaluation is that the concept of Lemurs evolving and ruling us all would make for a pretty entertaining short story. This then is my response:

The couple walked down the rain soaked path through the park. The dark blanket of night was falling, leaving only that dim half-light; the fading memory of day. The lampposts formed pools of yellowy-orange light every ten yards or so. The trees that lined the path blocked part of the moonlight that fell from the clear sky. The trees rustled slightly in the wind, making the moonlight dance on those parts of the path not drenched in the light of the lampposts. The breeze made it a chill night, so the couple hugged each other close, part out of a desire for warmth, part out of affection.

They paused their slow walk briefly and inexplicably. James looked up at the moon and smiled a half smile. His head turned from the sky and down to Eleanor and his half-smile turned into a broad grin the exploded over her face at the same time as it did his. The leant together and kissed. James closed his eyes and held her close for no reason other than that he could. Over the quite buzz of the city enveloping the park, the trees rustled. Louder than before, as if blown by a stronger gust of wind. The moonlight danced around the embracing coupled.

But there was no stronger gust of wind. The couple did not notice this inconsistency however, nor did the notice the light thud behind them as the loved ones, continuing their walk, holding each other closer now that before. They had no reason to notice. The park was full of strange noises; nocturnal animals waking as the human world put itself to bed. This was no different of course; these gentle nocturnal animals were just waking up, hungry for a spot of breakfast. And breakfast was there, blissfully unaware as they wandered through the park, lost in each other’s company.

“We should get back.” James said, not turning to look at Eleanor, or slowing, or changing direction. “It’s getting dark.”

“Mmm” it was neither and agreement nor a disagreement. “Not getting tired I hope.” She looked up at him, smiling a coy smile.

He looked down and bent slightly to kiss her again. “Come on, let’s go.” She drew him into a fuller, more passionate kiss before making towards the nearest exit. They walked with a little more purpose now, their hands clasped together.

They reached the rusting Iron Gate that always stood open, welcoming walkers to the quite park. The barrier between the quite world of the park, trying in vein to emulate the beauty of the countryside, and the loud, polluted world of the city, constantly encroaching on the paradise within its bounds was guarded tonight by two small furry creatures.

James went down onto his haunches, straining to get a better look at them. “Hello little fella” he said in a soft, patronising tone. “What are you guys doing out here eh?” He smiled and looked closer at the creatures, trying to work out exactly what they were.

He rose to his feet again. “Do they look like any breed of dog that you know of? You’re into that sort of thing.”

Eleanor shrugged. She was about to respond but was interrupted by a sharp, high pitched bark from one of the creatures. The two flinched back at the alien sound. The looked down at the small creature who had made the ear piercing sound. It was more aggressive now, snarling and pacing towards them. Although it was only small it painted a vicious picture in the fading light.

James laughed nervously. “I think we should try a different exit. Leave the strays in peace.”

“Ye. I’m not sure they’re dogs James. They look more like monkeys to me.”

“Monkeys?” James snorted. “This isn’t a zoo dear.” He pulled her into a reassuring hug nonetheless. There was another bark from the creature, angrier this time. “Well whatever it is we ought to leave it be. Come on.” He turned and was confronted by another of the creatures. He stopped half turn.

“Look at that tail!” Eleanor exclaimed. “There’s no way that’s a dog.”

James smiled. “Whatever they are they’re very cute.”

“I think they’re more angry than cute.” There was a fear in her voice as she looked at the creatures prowling around them.

“Probably because they want us to leave them alone and get on with whatever it is that monkeys do around here. Come on, let’s get out of here.” The monkey-like creatures did not make any effort to stop them moving past and further into the park, now covered in darkness but for the occasional circle of light below the lampposts. They seemed further apart now, and the air seemed colder. The moon has disappeared behind a cloud. The animals kept their wide eyes focused on the two. James had not noticed how huge their eyes were until now. It troubled him that he recognised them, but could not place what they were.

They walked faster now, hurrying to get home and put the strange creatures from their minds. They tried not to pay any attention to the fact that they followed from the shadows, more of them, racing on all fours. From the rustling of the trees it was clear that they were swinging from the tree tops as well, easily keeping up with the couple. Monkeys indeed. The ominous sounds of tiny feet urged them on to greater speed.

Suddenly Eleanor stopped. “Lemurs!” she exclaimed out of the blue.


“Yes, the creatures, that’s what they were; Lemurs. I saw a documentary on TV about them.”

“I thought they lived in Madagascar”

“Yes they do.”

“Then why-“

He was cut of by the soft thud. They both looked up to see one of them, standing on two legs, rising up almost as tall as Eleanor. It snarled and they noticed the sharp, off-white teeth. They turned to go in the opposite direction to be faced with another such creature. It hopped like a kangaroo. It was almost comical in its ungainliness. Nonetheless they jumped backwards and Eleanor let out a yelp in fright. All around them Lemurs of all sizes closed in around them. They spun, searching for an escape, but there was none. They both turned to see the first Lemur, standing toe to toe with them. Although it was shorter than both of them, it’s large eyes and bared teeth more than made up for the deficiency.

The couple’s eye met for the last time and love danced with fear in their gaze. The Lemur jumped at the couple and breakfast began.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Only Revolution/Locked Out from the Inside

Having apparently polished off last decade a week ago, I’m now going back to it in the shape of a review of two albums which came out late last year. They’re both albums I bought with part of my Christmas fiscal stimulus package courtesy of family members close enough to feel obliged to give me presents and distant enough to have no idea what I might like. Anyway, the first is Locked Out from the Inside by Nine Black Alps, which came out in October and the second is Only Revolutions by Biffy Clyro, which was released in November.

Locked Out from the Inside is the third album from the criminally underrated Nine Black Alps. Their previous two releases, Everything Is (2005) and Love/Hate (2007) were essentially ignored despite both being superb albums and I fear the Locked Out from the Inside will suffer much the same fate. Despite this I honestly think it’s my favourite album of 2009. There has always been a strong undercurrent of anger in Nine Black Alp’s music, especially prominent in Everything Is, however this time around they have managed to channel is far more effectively than before. Everything Is was a directionless, structure less album with some great songs but very little unity. Love/Hate by contrast tried to impose a theme on the general passion inherent in the sound of Everything Is, but this was too broad and at the same too restrictive; it felt like the emotion was being restrained somewhat.

Locked Out from the Inside manages to do what Love/Hate failed to do; channel the raw emotion of the band without subduing it. If the current economic climate has been a bad thing for most people, it has actually been good for Nine Black Alps from an artistic point of view because it has given the band a clear target at which to aim their general disillusionment with society. This is especially obvious in the powerful anthem towards the end of the album; Buy Nothing. The topic of the song is clear from even the title. The album as a whole has a strong theme of disillusionment at consumerist, materialistic society. Songs like Every Photograph Steals your Soul and Ghost in the Shell have especially strong feelings of disillusionment and distain holding them together.

Musically and lyrically the album shows much greater maturity than previously, as indeed does the more unified and clear direction of the album. Nine Black Alps will never be renowned for writing great pieces of music. Their songs rely heavily on distorted guitars, heavy beats and brilliantly powerful solos, occasionally juxtaposed with a slower, more subdued sound. They lack the musical sophistication of bands like Porcupine Tree, but the simplicity of their songs are part of what makes them so powerful. Song structures are pretty typical and the lyrics can seem somewhat random; they are clearly alluding to something, but lack the sophistication to express it. Nevertheless the album has some incredibly strong lyrics which are at times deep and always enjoyable.

As I said at the start of this review, Locked Out from the Inside is probably my favourite album of 2009, simply because it is so easy to listen to and is yet something far more than a collection of catchy tunes. There is a clear agenda expressed with the full force of the band’s indignation at the state of society. While their previous albums were very enjoyable, they had clear flaws. This one has its problems, but they are insignificant when compared to their album’s strength. In many ways this is a coming of age for Nine Black Alps (to use a horrible cliché), it’s just such a shame that they have not yet achieved the success that this and indeed their previous albums richly deserve.

My second album is Only Revolution by Biffy Clyro. Their previous album, Puzzle released in 2007, remains one of my favourite albums of all time. After such a brilliant and well received album, the follow up was always going to be tricky. When I heard ‘Mountains’ a year or so back I was pretty unimpressed; the singing style irritated me too much for me to be able to really enjoy the song.

Sadly this problem is not just indicative of Mountains, but a good three or four songs throughout the album, especially around the middle where songs such as Mountains and Born on a Horse reside. Fortunately the rest of the album avoids this issue and is actually very strong. There are clear similarities to Puzzle; an album which is listened to ad nauseam when I first bought it and have kept returning to ever since. The Captain in particular echoes strongly the brilliance of Puzzle. The album does differ from Puzzle in some places; it seems to have a lot more anger, and this expresses itself in a much heavier sound. Much like Locked Out from the Inside there is a clear sense of indignation in the album, however it’s not always clear exactly where it’s aimed.

Puzzle had some truly superb lyrics and Only Revolutions is no different. Biffy Clyro have a much different style from Nine Black Alps; their songs are more sophisticated and complex. This is not to say that they’re any better, but the lyrics tend to be far more satisfying when given greater scrutiny. Songs like God & Satan for example contain some truly brilliant lyrics. Similarly the music has a little more to offer than Nine Black Alps. Sometimes the slightly more ambitious music gets in the way a little and makes the songs somewhat too obscure and intangible to be really appreciated. Disappointingly the complexity can detract, rather than add to the album.

Overall, while Only Revolution is a very good album, it fails to capture the genius of Puzzle. It is at times misguided and the sound of Simon Neil’s voice grates too much for this to be one of those albums that you just keep playing. We should not judge the album too harshly simply on the strength of its predecessor; it is very good album and well worth buying, but it has too many glaring flaws to be on the same level as Puzzle or indeed Locked Out from in Inside.

There are a couple of things regarding what actually makes for good music that I have been thinking about recently that I wanted to talk about here, but didn’t want to over burden this entry with yet more when it is easily long enough as it is. I will be putting those thought into writing at some point in the next few weeks depending on what else comes up. In the mean time buy both of the albums reviewed today, they are well worth it.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Like self-indulgent butter spead too thinly over a peice of bread that is far too big


Well technically the new decade doesn’t start until next year, but if you’re pedantic enough to care then I feel sorry for you.

As is inevitable when a decade turns and I have too much free time on my hands, I have spend some time reflecting on the past 10 years, not just in my life (because let’s face it no-one cares) but also on the world in general. Obviously the most memorable (and not in a good way) event of the decade was the terrorist attack in the twin towers in New York in 2001, killing thousands and drastically changing the face of world politics. It was the catalyst for two controversial and politically damaging wars by America (with Britain tagging along in) against smaller powers as part of the uninformatively named War on Terror. Who knows maybe in the decade someone will tell us what that actually means.

9/11 was in many ways a turning point, but by no means a one off. Various other attacks throughout the decade, such as the 7/7 bombings on London and the Madrid train bombing are indicative of the dangers of the decade. The main enemy seems to be Islamic extremism, based largely in the Middle East. So far we’ve had little success in combating it.

The second major political theme of the decade has been climate change. Fears over what all that CO2 and other greenhouse gasses we’ve been pumping into the atmosphere for the last 150 years might do to the planet reached fever pitch this decade, culminating in the Copenhagen conference late last year, which certainly blogs completely failed to cover… Anyway I really don’t know what to think about climate change. I can see that the science has a point, but I’m not exactly sure to what extent the government can force businesses to change. Much has been done over the last 10 years to build up a strong case for climate change; I guess the actual action to stop us all drowning sometime this century will have to come from the bottom up, not the top down, in the next decade or so. Maybe if we stopped dropping so many bombs on innocent civilians that might help.

Politics aside, this decade has seen massive advances in technology; computers have become faster, smaller and more powerful. Technology such as music players, phones and camera have now become something that everyone carries around in their pockets, usually as part of the same piece of hardware. The internet has gown to become a huge part of everyone’s life, in a way that many would not have seemed imaginable in the year 2000. To many the fact that we don’t have AI and space exploration yet will be a disappointment, but to be honest we could do without Blade Runner style Cyborgs running around putting us all to shame and beating Han Solo up (if you don’t get it go watch Blade Runner).

With this massive improvement in the power of computers comes a massive improvement in CGI. This has expressed itself most in video games which have become bigger and more beautiful than ever. Even post-apocalypse Washington DC is looking pretty fine these days thanks to games like Fallout 3. The internet has also allowed people to play against each other across the globe and expose their wilful ignorance to more people than ever. Games like WoW and Modern Warfare have all but dropped the pretence (or dropped it entirely) of a story in favour of getting people to pay through the nose to play for hours online while getting nowhere.

To me this is a great shame. Video games provide a superb opportunity to tell a very unique story because it is much more immersive and involved than a film or a book. The story is no longer being told to you, an independent viewer entirely outside the action, you the player are actually part of the story; you interact with it and possibly even effect its direction. ‘Sandbox’ games like Fallout and, well the majority of games released recently, allow you to fully explore the setting and choose exactly what your character does and says, even what he looks like. The game leads you in a specific direction, but doesn’t dictate how the story flows or even how it ends. However often more linear games rely on cut scenes to tell the story, which is basically like playing a game for 30 minute to and hour, then turning it off to go watch TV for a couple of minutes. I’m sure with the complexity of games these days story telling could become even more immersive. Maybe in the next decade we will see games focusing on storytelling again, rather than simply dumping you in an environment and asking you to explore or even worse just dumping you online with hundreds of other idiots and telling you to go nuts. The technology is there, someone just needs to use a bit of imagination and not jump on the bandwagon of what makes money, which they have done recently (see previous post on motion sensing).

CGI and special effects in general have also served to make films much more visually complicated, allowing for frighteningly realistic animation and stunts. A recent example of just how far we’ve come is Avatar, which I really need to see. The decade has been dominated by high octane action thrillers, with impressive special effects and fun explosions. These have a tendency to get in the way however of what really matters to a film; the story and the characters. Sure a film may look nice now, but as CGI gets better and better, is starts to look a little dated and all you’re left with is outdated animation which fails to impress. Let’s take the Star Wars franchise as an example. The first three films (that’s the three that were made, not one ones that come first in the chronology) are amazing films, with a superb story and brilliant characters. The animation and stunts and all that were good when they were made, but pale in comparison to what is achieved these days. Even so the films still stand out as some of the best ever made because a good story is timeless, it doesn’t matter that it looks a bit shit compared to the more recent Star Wars films because what matters is the story, not the aesthetics. Compare this to the most recent Star Wars trilogy. Looked pretty impressive at the time, lovely choreography, lots of explosions capped with some truly cringworthy one liners. Looking back now however, especially in the light of a film like Avatar, it’s not actually all that impressive any more. It no longer looks that good and all we are left with are a crap story, spoon-deep characters and a bitter taste in the mouth. CGI and special effect cannot compensate for a lack of a decent story.

Of course the film industry is not all terrible films that rely in looking impressive with no depth, films like the Dark Knight, Brokeback Mountain, Gladiator, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Minority Report and I could go on and on are brilliant films that will continue to stand out even when all rest of the bilge has paled again the slightly better looking bilge of next decade. I’m sure the filming industry will continue to play on gimmicks like 3D and CGI and produce some truly god awful films, but I’m sure there will continue to be some gems as well.

What we can gleam from the last 4 paragraphs and 10 years of visual forms of story telling is that games and movies have not gotten any better in the last ten years, just a hell of a lot prettier. Hopefully the latter will continue to be the case and we continue to get some damn fine stuff mixed in with the inevitable dirge of complete crap.

The latter can also be said for the music industry. This decade has been characterised by some truly dreadful, manufactured abominations, mostly popped out by the X factor poptart making factory run by Simon Cowell. This decade has probably seen more talentless clones singing other people’s songs than any other. Thankfully there have been some genuinely talented musicians trying and in some cases (like Muse and Coldplay if you like that sort of thing) succeeding, but in most cases (like most of the bands I like) failing to get a look in. To be honest this has and will continue to happen for the same reason that crap films and crap games will continue to be released; people are morons. Yes I lost my faith in most people’s opinions long ago and it’s hardly surprising given how popular Twilight and Lady Gaga are between them

Right, so to wrap up the decade, we have only really progressed in that we have found better and more interesting ways of blowing people up and entertaining ourselves. We are no cleverer and our stories are no better. We make the same old mistakes and will continue to for as long as it takes for the ice caps to melt and us all to drown in a flood of stupidity and water.

Before you sigh in relief that this frightening mass of self-indulgent drivel has finally finished, I have a couple of announcements to make.

Because I have decided that I still have too much free time and I got some weird flashes of inspiration, I have decided that in the New Year I will be starting 2 new different but slightly linked projects.

The first is called Project 365, the idea being that you take at least one photo per day all year so that you have a pictorial record of the year. With any luck I will manage to keep it going for longer than a month. The second and more interesting one is inspired by something called ‘postsecrets’, whereby people write shameful secrets on postcard sized images and send them in anonymously. However because I am not nearly as depressed as the people who send in these things (seriously read them, they really heart wrenching), I have decided to do a similar things, just with little sound bites that I enjoy, either from me in my day to day life, or important, intelligent people who have something interesting to say. My first comes courtesy of Wil Wheaton’s twitter (the guy who played Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation)

I shall be putting them up on this photobucket account, the Postcards every Wednesday (roughly) and the daily photos whenever I can be bothered to make an update, probably every couple of days and at least every week with any luck.