Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

April 2006

GeneralSaturday, April 8th, 2006, (6:03 pm)

What is it about a sunset that makes us so often stand there and watch them. Who among us hasn’t stood transfixed by the setting sun at least once in their lives? I can’t imagine a life where a sunset wasn’t able to amaze me, just once. Where the awesome spectacle is able to cut right through whatever it is you’re doing or thinking and just arrest you in that moment.

I’m lucky enough to live on the West Coast of England near beaches where every day the sun dives into the Irish sea in endless variations of spectacle and wonder. Sometimes it leaves quietly, slipping away almost unnoticed. But on other occasions it draws the last few moments of that daylight to a dramatic and breath-taking conclusion, painting the clouds and sky like a masterpeice where dreams take wing.

I won a filmmaking award once for a movie I shot of a sunset on my digital camera. It was a simple little film, just one minute long. I shot it in order to gift my American friends with the sunset before it got to them that evening. The funny thing is, I think the little film maybe captures more of me than it does the sunset.

I went to the beach at New Brighton this evening to watch the sunset. I took the picture above while I was there. As I stood there watching the occasional plane make it’s way to the horizon I was reminded of a ‘meanwhile article‘ I wrote entitled ‘Waving at planes.’ At the end of that piece I wrote the following:

I often go to beaches not far from where I live to watch the setting sun spectacularly dip into the cold yet somehow inviting sea. No two sunsets are ever the same. The sky fills with saturated shades of reds and oranges fading into deep dark blues.

It’s then when the distant planes look their most alluring as they vanish into the sunset. Beneath them the golden waves of the Irish Sea then after quickly passing over Ireland, just mile after mile of nothing but Atlantic Ocean. To me this is what hope looks like: a clear sky, an empty ocean and a plane chasing the sun, leaving only a vapor trail fading in its wake.

I know they can’t see me as I wave. They don’t need to see me.
I’m not waving for them… I’m waving for me.

Meanwhile : Waving at planes

GeneralFriday, April 7th, 2006, (12:37 pm)

Since writing that I didn’t like President Bush in that last post I lost 16 subscribers!

I’m sure it was just a coincidence. Maybe I should go back to posting about benign stuff. People like all that stuff, nice and unchallenging. People prefer something nice and light I know. No wonder the newspaper that sells the best here in the UK is the one that famously has a topless girl on page three.

The lesson here, I suppose, is that as interesting as politics is, it’ll never be as interesting as a nice pair of boobs.

Interesting article about Page 3 (includes no pictures that would offend conservative folk who may not have seen nipples before)

PoliticalWednesday, April 5th, 2006, (4:36 pm)

It’s no news to anyone that I dislike President Bush, I can’t think of one person I know outside of the United States who holds the man in anything else other than complete contempt. He has smashed fragile relations with foreign countries and trampled on the goodwill of Americas allies to such an extent that the level of anti-American sentiment in the world is surely at a record high.

While I know that president Clinton wasn’t as popular domestically as he was on the global stage, I am astounded that he was laughably impeached for getting a blowjob then lying about it. Yes he was wrong to lie, but I’m left wondering where the hell Ken Star is now?

President Bush has lied about things that have cost more than a dry cleaning bill that’s for sure. His ‘quick’ war in Iraq has turned into a disaster with no end in sight. It’s costing the American people one hundred and seventy seven million dollars each and every single day, not to mention the lives of more than 2200 American servicemen and women and who knows how many innocent Iraqi people.

He’s lied about other things too, not least the fact that he knew the catastrophe that hurricane Katrina would bring upon the Golf Coast. But it seems that for some reason while he may blow at his job, it’s fine just as long as he doesn’t actually get a blowjob.

If Clinton’s lie was such a huge deal then I don’t understand why Bush’s isn’t also viewed in the same way, if not worse? It seems to me that sucking while working in the Oval Office isn’t restricted just to Ms Lewisnsky, though this time around it’s the American people being taken to the dry cleaners and not some cheap old dress.

Found on the web and PoliticalTuesday, April 4th, 2006, (3:50 pm)

Isn’t it funny how the most hideous government acts always have the most misleading names. Over here in the UK it was the ‘religious hatred act’ designed, we’re led to believe, to increase religious freedoms, but in reality it does quite the opposite. In the United States you have one of the most hideous legislations with a name a horribly divisive name, the Patriot Act. If you don’t support it then what the hell kind of American are you!

I found a funny site with a game called “The Patriot Act: Home Version” styled much the same as monopoly. The game is not for sale but was distributed as a political commentary and teaching aid in relation to the Patriot Act which it calls “a poorly thought out piece of reactionary legislation”, legislation that came about in just eight days following 9/11.

According to the Department of Justice own website the Patriot Act “eliminates barriers” in law by broadly expanding law enforcement’s surveillance and investigative powers. It was recently renewed with dozens of what the DoJ call “additional safeguards to protect Americans’ privacy and civil liberties.” and “efforts to protect both Americans and the values that Americans cherish.”

However the act is hugely controversial. It gives far reaching search and surveillance to domestic law enforcement and foreign intelligence agencies and eliminates checks and balances that previously gave courts the opportunity to ensure that those powers were not abused in way such as the recent ‘domestic spying’ revelations.

“The Patriot Act: Home Version, is a game inspired by this historic abuse of governmental powers and its effect on society.” Say the games creators Graphix4change which is an artistic and educational project designed to promote social and political change through the use of design and satire.

“The object of the game is simple: the last player to maintain his or her civil liberties wins. The equipment consists of a board, dice and tokens. There is a Homeland Security deck, a Free Speech deck, play Civil Liberties and a Vault to deposit lost liberties into.”

The game is available from the Graphix4change website.

Get the Patriot Act : Home Version
A breakdown of the Patriot Act, Freedom Act, and FISA
What the DoJ say about the Patriot Act

GeneralTuesday, April 4th, 2006, (9:16 am)

1and1 internet have to be the world’s worst web host. But what can you do if you want to complain about them? When a company want to play hardball, what can you do?

Complaining about 1and1 internetMost of us don’t have much time to complain to companies that go out of their way to make complaining difficult, and that is most certainly a tactic that 1&1 internet employ. The company swims amid a sea of complaints that they seem happy to ignore completely, knowing perhaps that their dirt-cheap prices will always attract new customers.

Last year I had reason to complain to 1and1 internet in the UK. Their call centre staff told me that “management aren’t customer facing,” a line that inspired nothing but fury on my part.

My reasonable attempts to resolve my issue with them were met with a stonewall response and nobody, it seemed, was willing or able to apply even a glimmer of basic courtesy, let alone decent customer service.

In the end I did get a resolution, but it took some dramatic action on my part in the form of an embarrassing website whereupon I published telephone calls with their call centre that I recorded.

That website has proved to be very popular indeed, and it has lead to a great many people writing to me to seek advice on how to complain to 1&1 internet.

I don’t claim to have any magic answers, or inside information, but I’ve been told the advice I give on my website that tells people how to complain about 1and1 internet, has helped a number of people get a resolution to their issue.

One thing I know for sure is that there was no advantage in choosing to use 1&1 internet. Yes they were cheaper than other hosts, but technical support was abysmal and customer service was quite simply the worst I have ever experienced.

It’s a much better idea to find a highly regarded smaller web-host like the one I use. EZPZ web-hosting have US and UK based servers and technical questions are answered rapidly by the small group of highly competent guys who run the company. (Check them out.)

UPDATE: March 2021. EZPZ Hosting became ‘The Hosting Heroes‘ in a merger with another company. I still use them today and highly recommend them to anyone who is looking for a competent and reliable web host.

How to effectively complain to 1and1 internet
Check out The Hosting Heroes

Photography and TravelMonday, April 3rd, 2006, (12:42 pm)

I went away for the weekend to see an old friend who now lives way way way up in the north of England, pretty much on the border of Scotland but curiously enough only a few miles from the geographic centre of Great Britain.

Life in her little village of Bellingham was something like I imagine much of England must have been like at one time. Everyone knew everybody else, the village shop keepers knew the names of the locals and the sence of community was strong.

Sarah has metamorphasized from the city girl I once knew who used to go out clubbing in the fashionably ‘next to nothingness’ that is the style here, to a girl who wears wax jackets, a flat cap, boots and a whistle around her neck for calling her dog. She even has a hunting shotgun licence!

Below are a few of the pictures I took over the course of the weekend.

Northumberland is as far north as one can go without actually leaving England for Scotland. The drive there was SO much more pleasant than last weeks drive to London. It was the first time I’d actually been there and the scenery even at this time of year was quite spectacular at times.

The way of life is different in the country. I think us ‘city folk’ forget that, or sometimes don’t even realise. But the things we get so wound up about here, like ID cards and the war in Iraq etc, just don’t seem to even warrent a second thought there.

Of course people all over the UK should be concerned about such things, but I think in places like the village of Bellingham peoples outlook is far more local than national, let alone international. When I was in the pub on Friday night with Sarah, the girl behind the bar was laughing at my “funny accent.”

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