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Stunted By Reality Just another know-it-all talking about life, business, technology, sports and music.

16Apr/140

No instructions necessary

Listening to Bob Marley's song 'Stir it up' the other day I was reminded of how the art of making good music and combining it with equally good lyrics with depth and meaning seems to have largely passed this generation by.

'Stir it up' is a beautiful love-song tinged with overt sexual connotations implied by the well-written but simply structured lyrics. The suggestiveness is easy to miss given that the song has a touching melody accompanied by the catchy 'stir it up...., little darling,....stir it up....' refrain. However it's so well put together that unlike a Sean Paul classic, you could imagine it being played to the Queen if she happened to be touring a 'successful' multi-cultural community centre and nobody would bat an eye-lid. Well apart from Prince Philip, who like me has an inflated view of his wit.

In fact it would never have been a surprise if someone asked me what Marley's song meant, which I believe is testament to singer-songwriters of old that had the ability to use deeper language than the music I come across today. The use of similes, idioms and metaphors in music seems to be a lost art. It's possible I'm listening to the wrong music and there are some literary geniuses out there putting out good music but one thing is for sure there aren't many in pop music. (Not withstanding the unfair comparisons of ordinary musicians to Bob Marley, but hey please bare with me, I'm trying to make a point!)

It can be pointed out that the creative vision of artists from the past has been known to be over-exaggerated as George Town University did by starting a degree in Philosophy with Star Trek. However this could be as a result of the current creative dearth in art in general. I only need to refer to the infinite number of cover-songs and movie remakes to conclude that maybe I should test my own theory, that I can accurately guess the ending of 50% of all song lyrics, if you only tell me the first two words.

It's hard to think of too many songs currently on the airwaves which we will in all seriousness ask ourselves what the meaning was in a year or two. Ten years ago the British band Kean had a song about their disappointment with authority following the Iraq war. However the catchy melody of the song would have been equally at home in a Bridget Jones movie just as she once again raised her hopes in yet another Mr Right! I believe that is saying something about the skill of writing a song with a strong message using subtle enough lyrics that the record can be interpreted in various ways. Not pretentiously abstract, but just enough to be able to convey other emotions.

Indeed, if there wasn't video of Bob Marley singing 'Stir it up' you could imagine some expert in 100 years claiming that Marley could not possibly have written his music because it was just too good to be him. Just like those Shakespearean naysayers with PHDs. Hmmm mmm....

For current musicians, it seems that the only time we're likely to question song content is when we're wondering who some veiled or not so veiled reference to another famous person is. Although Beyoncé does have a famously second-guessed song about her ego, but even that does not display any amount of depth when it comes to word-play (apart from the possessive being applied to the ego when it is in fact apparent that she is talking about her male interest's ego as belonging to her). Beyoncé talks about the 'ego' being too big, too strong and not fitting (lord knows where?); pretty much in those words. I'm guessing here, but I'm sure I'm right that at the age of three Beyoncé was capable of writing the exact same lyrics to describe her four year old grubby-handed playground-crush's tantrums. It's a shame, but that seems to be the depth of language in current popular music. No one will be asking Rihanna what she meant on Rude boy; "Come here rude boy, boy, can you get it up?" or Taylor Swift on 'We are never ever getting back together'. No one.

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15Apr/140

How the horse-meat scandal could have brought the world down

It's been just over a year since the horse-meat scandal and I'm reminded of how close we came to upsetting the natural order of things for all eternity.

It might have escaped a few people at the time because I didn't blog about it, but animals have only one way to avoid being eaten and that is to somehow convince a human being to give them a name.

Most often, this happens by either being good at licking human faces or by being excellent at running and jumping for the benefit of human entertainment. If an animal does not manage to tick one of those boxes it risks ending up on someone's plate.

horse-meatThe horse-meat scandal was much more of a crisis than people realised because as the 'big brother' in the human/animal relationship we reneged on that unwritten rule. We  risked bringing down the motivation for horses to do stuff for us simply because a few horse owners felt they should make more money by selling their horses for meat rather than glue (which would have been acceptable). Can you imagine what would happen if a horse knew that whether or not it was good at jumping it would end up as meat? Or if a cat was not motivated to lick it's owner's face for fear of ending up in a kebab? Well I don't know what would have happened and will leave you to speculate, but it can't have been anything good that's for sure.

Personally I'm glad it all blew over because horses could have ended up being as useless as chicken. We all know that chickens are good for nothing except eating. It's no doubt because they can't lick your face or run and jump for our entertainment (unless you're a sadistic gambler and are into cock-fighting).

Needless to say one year on it's cause for celebration that the natural order of things is still firmly in place. Horse racing is once again in full swing and dogs are still oblivious to the fact that they could have been licking people's faces for nothing. Lick, run, jump, get a name. It's motivation for them and it's companionship and entertainment for us. It's simple but it works. Let's keep it that way.

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12Apr/140

Defending the indefensible is not illegal, it’s just costly

Much to the relief of the social media generation the Oscar Pistorius trial has turned into the media circus we all thought it would be. Cat videos and loo updates seem to have taken a little bit of a back seat on Twitter and Facebook but sadly the same can't be said for selfies.

Just in case no one believed he was there.

The first commentary coming out from the trial centered on the defence, who got to be the warm-up act in what would turn out to be a false dawn for Pistorius's hopes of walking away with his freedom. I'm no lawyer but I've been surprised at people giving props to Barry Roux. Personally I think that Pistorius's strategy of not admitting guilt on even the smallest charge is suicide. Unless Oscar is so up himself that this is his idea, then his lawyers have got to take the blame. Having said that, for a million dollar fee I would happily have a go at a couple of witnesses before sitting back and letting an egotistical killer hang himself on the dock.

Maybe I'm the only one, but I get the feeling that Barry's hardest job was convincing Pistorious to sell his house to fund that fee. Just as well because this isn't a movie and Columbo is not going to show up and force the guy to confess before trying to do a runner in a crowded room. But if that happened and there were still some outstanding legal bills you can bet that he wouldn't get very far though as Barry Roux will definitely catch him regardless of whether or not Pistorius was wearing blades. The last thing a lawyer wants is to lose money to other lawyers in trying to recover money owed!

I'm guessing that Pistorius's idea in fighting these charges is that wealthy people have in the past bought justice and that he should be no different to other wealthy criminals. It's just the way it is right? You have money you use it. For good or ill. That's life. There'll be time to repent later. Well I would say that he won't be a wealthy criminal for long with this ridiculous strategy of not accepting any responsibility for his catalogue of misdemeanors. Showing that you can accept some responsibility is the best way of being given the benefit of the doubt in the event that you want to deny being responsible for something unpleasant. Like murder.

Far be it for me to give tips on how to get off of a murder charge, but hey it's the times we live in. If I'm not commenting on this trial then it would probably be cat videos or loo updates!

 

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5Apr/140

Hope not hate

It's natural to have a problem and think that someone else is responsible for causing it. Whether you're in a relationship that is not going as well as it should or have a child who's not doing well at school. The default reaction for many people is that..."well I didn't cause that".

But a default reaction is just that, a default reaction with no analysis of what's gone wrong and why. And that is my overwhelming feeling about race hate in Britain and indeed throughout the ages. The 'others' are always an easy target when one isn't bothered about analysing what's actually going wrong, whether the issue is high unemployment or high cost of living.

That is why you often get two opposing logics being used to support hateful thought. In any event I believe that there is always hope to correct such misconceptions not withstanding that I believe Britain to already be a tolerant society by most measures.

More can and will be achieved and that is why I support Hope Not Hate. Their campaign has looked at the problems around race hate and chosen to fight that, first by educating with facts and more importantly by using democracy and the law. Cheers to them for being existence for ten years but hopefully such campaigns will be so successful that they won't be necessary.

14Jun/130

Some fashion is not worth following

It's amazing that I've so far managed to ride out the era of the skinny fit trousers without resorting to shopping at Marks & Spencer, BHS and other oldie shops. For the last few years I've had an ongoing search for a nice pair of regular fit trousers and each time I've failed due to the of skinny fit trousers epidemic. Unlike my man Jay-Z, my knots will fit in a pair of skinny fit trousers, however having tried out a pair now and again I can never seriously imagine myself doing anything other than posing around in them. What about all the other stuff I'll need to do, like walking, sitting, driving and God forbid I eat some sadza at a Zimbabwean event?! Don't get me wrong I'm still lucky enough to be able to pull off slim fit trousers but the thought of trousers that constantly feel like a prostate examination is not appealing to me. Plus designers seem to skate closer to the skinny part of the name rather than the fit. You can of course find regular fit trousers in some of the 'fashionable' shops but normally as part of a suit, which I have enough of, but not enough court cases or funerals to wear them at. I would buy regular fit trousers at the aforementioned oldie shops but I'd need to get over my fear of things like, elasticated waist bands, coin pockets, non-stain materials, trouser lining and turn-ups. I know that I may be stuck in the past style-wise but I'm not yet at the stage of putting comfort above fashion. I want both and I know I used to get both four short years ago.

So the last few years I've mainly had to survive on my old trousers but I'm just not sure how long I can hang on before all my regular fit trousers are skinny-fit anyway (hint, hint, love-handles) or just worn through. In the end this might be a losing fight though because I remember that during the pointy shoes era, I eventually got a pair! I don't particularly hate skinny fit trousers but for me they fall into that category of trends that is just not worth following. Unfortunately if a trend sticks around long enough it will eventually take you in whether you like it or not. Case in point button-down cardigans. Nuff said!

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29May/130

NDAs – Nothing doing anyway

Non-disclosure agreement.

"I thought you said it was revolutionary? It's tripod!"

I subscribed to the spoof startup blog Vooza the other day and duly received my first email today, which was a sketch about the overuse of Non-Disclosure Agreements in startup-land.

A couple of hours later I was on Facebook and I saw an appeal from a friend for an NDA template. Now being an entrepreneurial guy myself I confess I have previously thought that ideas are everything. So I commented as much and thought the gist of what I wrote was worth re-blogging.

As someone who has signed numerous NDAs and who has also made others sign my own NDAs, I get where he was coming from. No one does original ideas any more and especially not in the Zimbabwean business community with its multitude of hair salon and bar 'tycoons'. However, I have now learnt that ideas are never worth as much as the execution. The person who succeeds in business is always the one who executed the idea well. Therefore, an idea done well is better than any NDA because no one will copy it if they can't do it better than you.

 

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20May/130

Porn will be a bigger issue in 3D printing than guns

I'm not too sure why everyone is getting worked up trying to explain to right-wing libertarians hell-bent on defending our 'freedoms' that 3D printing guns is a bad idea. I think all we need to do is point out to them that porn is responsible for popularising most major developments in technology and that 3D printing won't be any different. The only technology that was failed by the porn industry was the fax machine, but that's because faxes were notoriously slow at coming!

If conservative men's past form on attitudes towards sexual matters is anything to go by then their reaction to 3D printed porn would be fun to watch. I'm no expert but judging by the equal number of affairs and hypocrisy across the political spectrum, then even conservative women need gratification too; and too much time spent shooting guns and patrolling borders for defenceless Mexican economic migrants whilst the women are at home could really have nasty side (front, back and other) effects. The 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon has shown us many things about women that Mills & Boon only ever hinted at. And I'm betting that that demography includes a lot of conservative wives and their daughters. I can foresee a scenario where Daddy's plastic always runs out just when he needs new bullets and right around the same time a young lady gets a new blow-up boyfriend! That's before we even talk about men and what our collective penchant for vivid porn would do for 3D printing. Doubtless 3D printing is a cool idea, but restraint is due from everyone, whether they're in it for sexual freedom or the freedom to maim and kill. Let's stick to screw and nuts printing please. Hold the porn and easy on the guns.

3dPrintedSteakCartoon

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2May/130

Irony

I've just bought three different tools to help me fix a rattle in my car. After fiddling around for 10 minutes it was clear that none of the new tools was going to get the job done. So I reached out for an old wrench I had and used it to just wangle the pesky sheet of metal out without any mind to the screws meant to be holding it down.

It then occurred to me that this was an example of what the grammatically challenged Alanis Morissette called irony. A mildly unfortunate incident. It's a good thing I'm not a musician otherwise this might have made it onto an album of some sort. But as this is the information age it will merely be an inane rambling that allows me to maintain my online existence. Ironic or not, content is king dear readers. If one has an album or a blog to fill, the bottom of the barrel will occasionally be scraped.

22Feb/13Off

Banksy

I've always believed that art and music are universally liked by everyone. The only thing that differs in each of us is what type of art or music one likes.

Unlike music when you listen to art types who are part of the establishment you get the feeling that only they can acknowledge what is and isn't art and whether or not it's good. Music certainly has it's snobs but it does not feel like any one genre 'owns' music.

I've just been reading an article in the Guardian entitled 'Banksy: overated purveyor of art-lite'. I knew it was link bait just by reading the headline but thought I should read on to see what angle the author was coming from.

The impression I got was that Jonathan Jones thinks that art should be deep and evoke discussion and amongst the comments those who agreed shared the same sentiment. Personally I think being deep isn't quantifiable and that the quest for it is what has left the art world on the road to ir-relevance in the real world beyond whether or not a piece is a good investment. Too much meaningless art has been created and labelled abstract or deep whilst condescending those of us who don't get it. Add to that evoking discussion seems to be less desirable than for people to get the meaning of an art piece. However in my opinion an artist must be allowed to outline their quest, be it to get attention, to get paid, to highlight an issue or even to see what junk they can get away with by labelling it art.

Anyway, I leave you with the words of one of the commenters who manages to express it the way I see it.

@TheManFromRotherham -

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2013/feb/19/banksy-overrated-art

Banksy's work has always been something you could take in as you fleetingly see it as you pass at 40 mph in a car.
I think that's a key point being missed here by Jonathan Jones.
Banksy's work is designed to function as you move past it quickly, walking or on the bus, on your way to somewhere else. It is, as someone else said, like a cartoon in a newspaper.
Street art has a similar impermanence; a throwaway comment to be read one day and replaced the next. It's not supposed to be stared at and poured over like a painting in a gallery. And that's why it works and that's why it's popular. Did Banksy ever intend it to be anything more? Personally I doubt it.

image

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25Jan/13Off

Hazard’s kick exposes the sadness of life on Twitter

hazard ballboy gif

It's 12 minutes of normal time to go in a League Cup semi-final and Chelsea are playing away to Swansea. Given the direness of their performance up to this time, Chelsea are deservedly losing the tie though it is nil nil on the night and a couple of late goals could send it into extra -time with the chance of an unlikely victory. The ball goes out and the self-appointed king of the ball-boys faffes around delaying to give the ball back to Chelsea's young Belgian forward Eden Hazard. The ball drops to the floor with the ball-boy hitting the deck as fast as Didier Drogba hunting for a penalty, with Hazard still seeking the ball for there is the small matter of the game to get on with (which the ball boy is obliged to help with on account of his current employment). But no, he promptly manages to position himself over the ball like a flanker having broken free from a scrum to score a try with all at stake in the Rugby World Cup final. Hazard feels around for the ball using all his bedroom tactics for such unsighted foraging under heavy clothing and having felt the ball delivers a swift kick which loosens it from under the ball boy and delivers it on the other-side. Cue pandemonium.

What follows is a truly sad reflection on modern life.

The ballboy, who can be found on Twitter, has at the last count now accrued 90,000 followers! How sad do you have to be to want to follow the ballboy who comically feigned injury whilst deservedly having had a ball kicked from underneath him? Unfortunately twitter is full of such types despite anything that techies and journalists would like to tell you about it. Truly sad in a very amusing way.

 

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