Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

June 2005

GeneralFriday, June 17th, 2005, (10:54 pm)

On my way home tonight I came upon a wobbly cyclist who was not safe to pass in a great hurry, so being the gentleman driver I am (insert witty remark here) I slowed to allow the cyclist an opportunity to collect their wobbleness and stay safely to the side of the road, and also to allow myself good visibility before passing.

The thing is the cyclist was not really doing the best job of staying to the left at all. She, yes she, would wobble wildly to he right and into the middle of the road before wobbling back over the the left and so on. Out of curiosity I slowed to the point where I was actually now simply following the cyclist, mainly because the country road was not really conducive to passing a bike that was dangerously unpredictable, and also because I was curious as to whether she would actually fall off.

Moments later I had my answer. With one not very elegant wobble to the right and a ill advised and badly timed swerve to the left she was unceremoniously thrown from her bike to the ground where she laid motionless and bathed in the lights of my car.

I assumed she would get up quickly and brush herself down rather embarrassed, but no, she lay there… asleep! After a few moment I decided that I should investigate to see if she was okay, so I approached her and asked if she was okay, to which she replied, still with her eyes closed “Yes, I’ll be okay in a minute please.”

She was, as I had suspected, completely blitzed out of her brain, but I have to say, even in her very bedraggled state of drunkenness she was actually drop dead gorgeous! I knelt down beside her and managed to learn that she had cycled quite some distance from a party where she had been celebrating a friends 30th birthday and she was now actually very close to home. Helping her to her feet and the side of the road she revealed that this was actually about the forth time she had met the road in such a manner tonight, and that she wasn’t entirely sure whose bike it was but that she had not stolen it.

I would have helped her home but my car is very small and there simply would have been no room for her and the bike. In hindsight maybe I should have just hidden the bike and then written down where it was given her the note and driven her home safe, but I didn’t. Instead I just helped her straighten her handlebars and reattach the wicker basket to the front of the bike. Then she wobbled her way back onto it and gave me a hug for helping her!

I then got back in the car and continued my journey home. She wasn’t too far from home she said, so hopefully she got there okay.

PoliticalThursday, June 16th, 2005, (10:51 am)

I don’t know if any of you watch PBS or NPR, but if you do you might be interested to know that a house subcommittee voted yesterday to sharply reduce the federal government’s financial support for public broadcasting with a view to end public broadcasting funding within 2 years.

I suppose that shouldn’t come as a great surprise though, I mean money must be a little tight over there now since another subcommittee just added $49 billion more for funding the Iraqi occupation on top of the $82 billion recently appropriated (along with your new national ID cards) as part of the $491 billion 2006 National Defense Authorization Act.

Public Broadcasting Targeted By House
An online petition to save NPR and PBS
Chicken Noodle News : Keeping America dumb and ill informed
At least you can get some ‘good news’

General and PhotographyWednesday, June 15th, 2005, (4:45 pm)

If trees could talk I wonder what they would tell us? They stand there like silent witnesses watching the world go by as the years to flow over them like water over rocks in a stream. They shield us from rain, shade us from sun, tower over us like our parents once did. They see so much but reveal nothing, keeping their silence like a Dr patient privilege. If trees could talk what would they say?

I took the above picture just a few minutes ago. It’s been added to a collection of pictures I’ve taken out of the window since 2002. I don’t really know what I am going to do with those pictures. My plan was to take one a day for a a whole year so as to catch the seasons change. But I’m often gone for weeks on end, so instead I have just taken pictures on various occasions building a collection that spans the seasons of the past 3 years or so.

My windows don’t really look upon anything amazing. This is the most interesting in my place. In the winter you can see the thatched cottage next door, and in the summer you can’t see much of anything but the large green leaves. But you know what, that’s okay by me.

PhotographyMonday, June 13th, 2005, (11:22 pm)

Okay, I want to get a bit interactive with you if you’ll allow me. You lot seem utterly unmoved by my writing so I have decided to try a new approach, just for fun.

I need you to stand up and step away from your computer. In fact I need you to step about five or six feet away from your computer by close enough to it so you can still see the screen. Once you do this the picture above will, or at least it should, reveal itself to you. – Go ahead try it.

(Ah come on, be a sport, don’t just sit there, get interactive. get out of that seat!)

So, did you see it? An American flag right? The rest is a little hard to make out but as the picture on the right reveals it’s a painted mailbox. Only the picture above is made up of nearly two thousand one hundred pictures I’ve taken the last four years in America.

A closer inspection of the picture will reveal those 2092 images to you. It’s got a few faces in it that a number of you will recognize. There’s Erin and Amy Davis, Matt and Jude, Jess, Roy and maybe a few more, I haven’t had a close enough look myself yet.

The pictures were chosen and arranged by some clever software. All I did was chose the original image I wanted to create a Mosaic of. It took hours and hours to compile and has created an image roughly as big as a highway billboard! I’m going to create a couple more, but I’ll mess around with the setting for those. In fact I think this first one isn’t all that great as the mosaic image itself wasn’t the best choice.

The original image was taken a couple of years ago in New England near Rockport, north of Boston. However the mosaic image comprises of pictures taken in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, and of course Texas.

MusicMonday, June 13th, 2005, (10:42 pm)

I got Coldplay’s new CD the other day. X&Y from Coldplay may well have a stupid title but the ‘album’ itself, complete with a A side and B side listing, is really very good if you ask me.

Sure, it’s commercial and steers a safe musical journey down the middle of the road, but nonetheless it’s very very playable with some tracks that will still sound good in 20 years I bet.

Some people will of course say that this new CD follows a tried and tested commercial formula that the record company love because it’s a money spinner winner. But this is only the bands third album, so what exactly do the detractors expect? Listen to U2’s first three albums and they pretty much sound the same, or at least they did/do to me.

If I were a poncy-up-my-own-ass music critic writing for some poncy-up-their-own-ass music magazine I’d give this CD 4.5 stars, leaving that last half star out just to be cool. Coldplay could be happy with that, but in the end what do they care what the critics think. They’ve sold something like a million copies of the CD in just a week here in the UK so I imagine Chris Martin and the rest of the band will be happy enough with that.

Coldplay’s official website

Found on the web and PoliticalMonday, June 6th, 2005, (7:30 am)

I read something on Karen’s blog that reminded me of an online game I wanted to share with all of you.

Back in November last year I wrote a post I called ‘Children of the ruins‘ about the military action in Iraq, in particular the bloody battles on the streets of Falluja. At the top of my post were two pictures. One of a man holding an injured child, another of a small girl being frisked with a metal detector by an American soldier. As I wrote that I looked at pictures on the Arabic news network Aljazeera and considered how different the lives of American and Iraqi children are right now, and how an Iraqi child does not remain a child for long.

Karen commented in her post about how the owner of a shop had said in a conversation with her about the war in Iraq “How can you kill their women and children and then expect them to embrace our democracy?” Karen herself poses the question “Doesn’t it seem that our nation’s responses to 9/11 have all been motivated by fear?” This got me thinking about a game I found a while back online called ‘September 12th, A Toy World.’

The game is produced by a team of independent game developers who believe video games are not simply an amusement but also a tool to make us think about what is going on in the world. “Periodically, we will use games and simulations to analyze, debate, comment, and editorialize major international news.” They say.

Originally launched on Sept. 29, 2003, ‘September 12th, A Toy World’ analyzes the situation of the United States War on Terror. The game uses traditional videogame aesthetics to model a political paradox: current US tactics on the war on terror affect the civilian population and generate more terrorism.

The basic idea behind ‘September 12th’ can be described as violence generates more violence. As you try to kill the terrorists, you will always kill civilians (‘collateral damage’). Other civilians will mourn their dead and turn into terrorists. After a couple of minutes of play, the screen is full of terrorists, says Gonzalo Frasca, lead designer and former journalist at “Our games are original because they are not meant just to entertain. Through this piece we want to encourage players to think critically about the efficacy of the United States current strategy against terrorism. Terrorism is a terrible problem and we think it should be fought in a more intelligent way.”

The game is actually a lot of fun. The player gets to blow stuff up with missiles aimed and fired through a target. The sound effects make the experience very playable but the point is dramatically proved when the player accidentally kills an innocent victim.

While the idea of American-style democracy might be attractive and logical to you and me, it’s nothing short of intensely arrogant to assume that countries throughout the world should follow our lead and embrace a culture that is as foreign to them as theirs is to us.

The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have far exceeded initial estimations. And curiously now the search for weapons of mass destruction has been replaced by the capture or extermination of terrorists who we are told are now fighting to destabilize Iraq in its newfound democracy.

But the wars have not just cost billions of dollars, there is also a far more tragic and sobering cost. In Iraq alone, nearly 1700 soldiers and a much greater number of civilians have been killed since the war began. A war that, people seem to forget, President Bush proudly declared was over and won on May 2nd, 2003!

September 12th, A Toy World.
Bush declares war is over in victory speech
Bush Victory speech gets mixed reaction
Aljazeera new network
The body count
Karens original post
Children of the ruins

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