It’s the last one of these for 2019 and the last of the decade. Woo. All the best for 2020 and the new decade ahead.
I’ve watched a lot of TV this year – the quality and quantity of TV thanks to the many streaming services that have launched is in some ways overwhelming. Highlights in no particular order: Line of Duty, Chernobyl, Watchmen, Fleabag, The virtues, The Mandalorian, Euphoria, The Expanse (binged seasons 1-3 in prep for seasons 4 – all good), Giri/Haji, Succession Derry Girls, Game of Thrones, This Way Up, The Boys.
As for films – Avengers:Endgame, Apollo 11, Booksmart, Fast Color, The Irishman, Marriage Story, Ad Astra. Gaming was strange this year – not much out as next year is new console time for both Sony and Microsoft so little to recommend apart from Apple Arcade.
This is bizarre. Sonos offer a 1/3 discount on your old product if you turn on “Recycle Mode”. But this bricks the device and makes it unusable. WTF!?! I’ve got a few Sonos devices but this will make me think twice about investing any more in their system.
Great article on the love for The West Wing right now. It’s one of my favourite TV shows ever and thanks to The West Wing Weekly podcast I’ve been rewatching all 7 series. There’s only 4 more episodes to go so it really will be a case of what’s next after January? If you’ve never watched The West Wing give it a try alongside the podcast…and if you’ve not watched it since it originally aired there’s no better time.
Not long until the big day and prep work is done. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing I hope you have a good Christmas.
100 per cent
Two big stories from the weekend all around racism in the UK. First up – Stormzy. He’s got a new album out so has being doing a lot of press. In one interview he said that the UK is racist and it’s worse under Boris Johnson. I don’t know anyone that would say the UK doesn’t have a racism problem. If they do then they are part of the problem. As for Johnson, he’s got form and has normalised everyday racism in my opinion so Stormzy is spot on. However that didn’t stop the media spinning the story.
One of the worst was ITV who claimed that Stormzy had said the UK is 100% racist. A very different meaning to what was said. A few hours later they backtracked, deleted the tweet and changed their story, but the damage was done and the story spread over social media. To see why it was such a bad article, read the original interview in the tweet below – he did not say the UK is 100 per cent racist.
Ps. Afterwards, during my interview with him, #Stormzy elaborated his opinion on racism in Britain and he expressed his negative remarks about PM Johnson. So, to have the full picture, please read my full transcript below, which is the original and only reliable source of it. pic.twitter.com/uoM9370V7R
The media spin has now become a bigger story a bit like how the election issues were spun into something else to avoid tackling the original issue. Let’s get back to the real issue – racism is on the rise in the UK. What’s to be done?
Racism in Football
This year especially has seen an increase in racism at football matches in Europe especially but also the UK. This weekends Spurs v Chelsea game saw a player targeted again. Step forward Gary Neville who, on a live show, articulated what many were feeling. Something needs to happen. Authorities need to do more. The main political parties have to clean up their act.
Sky Sports host David Jones though didn’t agree. “I am compelled to say, they are the views of you, Gary Neville, and not those of Sky Sports, that is my duty.” “I’m here to try and hold a balanced debate” he later said. What the fuck? How can you have a balanced debate about racism unless you bring on Tommy Robinson, Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson? It’s bad enough people at football matches feel it’s OK to do this….but there must be hundreds of others standing around hearing this and doing nothing. People need to step up.
The rise in nationalism across the UK is partly to blame. The ability of social media to amplify the minority and give voice to right wing extremists is another. Racist views that had long been stamped out and at best kept behind closed doors are now more prevalent as people have become emboldened. Johnson and other right wing media establishments have profited from being openly racist. Johnson even has the cheek to threaten the footballing authorities with action unless they clean up their act. He really has no shame. However I do hope the football powers that be do take more meaningful steps. Small fines at club and international level aren’t enough. And it’s not just an English or European issue. It’s the Old Firm match this weekend which see’s many racial taunts from both sides. This is Glasgow today.
TWO weeks this has now been on display in our city on the main motorway. TWO WEEKS, and nothing done about it. Can't help but think if it was racism towards any other ethnic minority it would be taken seriously and removed immediately. @GlasgowCCpic.twitter.com/lTCqmEoeJb
Labour is going through an awful lot of infighting after one its worst performances in decades. It will take more time and analysis to truly understand what went wrong but it’s clear that it and its union friends are picking the wrong battles. An ex Labour MP, Anna Turley, took Skwawkbox to court after being slandered in an article in 2017. She won her case but Unite spent over £1M defending the story on Skwawkbox. If you are a Unite member paying your fee’s, are you really comfortable that so much money has been spent in this way? Why not on the election campaign?
On holiday now until next year. Needing the break as tiredness and health haven’t been great the last few weeks. Looking forward to a lazy recharge over the next couple of weeks.
General Election 2019
So clearly many people spent last Thursday kicking children and pensioners into traffic as well as voting Tory. Since then the Labour Party have imploded, the LibDems have disappeared and lost their leader while the SNP are pushing Scotland to independence much like Wales and Ireland. Hard to see there being a United Kingdom by 2025.
Moment of the night was Swinson losing her seat and Sturgeon celebrating. Some will say its unbecoming of the FM. Bullshit. Show’s the cut throat business of politics.
So we end this year/decade on a downer in my opinion. The worse off in our society will be further penalised while the have’s feel less of the impact of Brexit. What a mess.
Greta Thunberg – Time Person of the Year
Time’s person of the year is often controversial but hard to argue with this years choice – Greta Thunberg. Her story is remarkable and she’s had a massive impact on the conversation around climate change even if it’s not delivered a material difference yet. The difference in a year is striking.
Everyone hates passwords. This article proves that almost half of users iterate their passwords. No surprise in this day and age of complex passwords, three out of four characters, number, symbol types etc. We need to do away with forcing users to change passwords every x days and help and support with alternative methods or allow them to set a complex password but not enforce the frequent change – we’d be far more secure.
The 2010’s have seen some great gadgets and The Verge has a nice top 100 round up. Stand outs for me from the list – iPhone 4, DJI Phantom and the iPad. That iPhone 4 design is such a classic.
The Deep Sea
Almost my new favourite thing, The Deep Sea is a great website that you must visit. Just keep scrolling….it goes on for a long time.
This is amazing. AI Dungeon popped out of nowhere a couple of weeks ago. Years and years ago text adventures were all the rage. However they were limited by the path the developer wanted you to take – think Bandersnatch. Not so with AI Dungeon. You can ask it to do anything you can in written language and it has scope and scale to grow according to your commands. Give it a go while you still can – it’s costing the dev’s $65k a month to host.
A while back I blogged on how I was using the Apple Watch to keep active. So much so I hit a streak of 365 days. That was a long time ago and like Forrest Gump said “For no particular reason I just kept on going”. Today was day 1000 of the streak.
I still find great benefit from doing this. It gets me out and about on days that I would literally do nothing apart from sit at a computer screen. It’s also kept my weight in a fairly good place despite not being able to get back to running or other more active pursuits. I know I’m being gamed doing this but if it’s helping what’s the harm?
There have definitely been days when I wanted to do anything apart from a 30 minute walk. Sick days, wet days, snowy days, windy days (remind me of this tomorrow when I’m getting blown away during a downpour), far too hot days but I’ve stuck with it. I’m sure I’ll keep going too until there’s a sick day that just stops me from continuing but hopefully thats a while away yet because there’s always more podcasts to listen to while walking. Onwards!
In four days time Britain has yet another general election. Like many I’m sure, I’m sick and tired of vote after vote that seems to make very little difference. I’m sick and tired of referendums. Distilling complex issues into one yes or no question is not democratic especially in this day and age where politicians can lie without any consequence. There’s also no point in having them if the result is never carried out or commitments around “once in a generation” are then walked back within weeks.
I’m sick and tired of TV debates that achieve nothing and where politicians are not held to account. I’m sick and tired of leaders who can duck out of anything that looks challenging or could lead to a slip up.
However what annoys the most is the current crop of politicians in the UK. By far the worst in my lifetime, the state of the parties and their leaders gives me little choice in next weeks vote. We seem to be heading to voting for personalities rather than parties. All the parties are focussing on their leader and less on policy. They’ve always done that to a certain extent but this year more than ever. First past the post doesn’t help. We really need to move to some form of proportional representation to better balance the views across the country.
Frankie Boyle’s Election Countdown whilst funny makes for depressing reading but I agree wholeheartedly on his rule’s for voting Tory. Britain is broken right now. We shouldn’t need food banks. We need to fund education and health properly. Universal credit doesn’t work. We need to reverse the last 9 years. We need to hold current parties to account for their leadership. It still amazes me that the SNP get a free run in Scotland despite the mess of education and the NHS. I lie though – until independence is delivered they’ve pretty much got 50% of the vote. Like Trump, they could literally do anything and their supporters will still vote for them.
While I don’t like Corbyn and think he’s one of the worst leaders in decades I’ll be voting for Labour on Thursday. They are offering a radical alternative to todays ill’s and while I don’t agree with all their policies they better align with my moral compass than any other party.
Despite opinion polls I can only hope that tactical voting and the many campaigns online switching your vote will deliver, if not a Labour majority, a chance that they could lead a minority government. If not then Labour and Libdem’s need to hang their head in shame at this missed opportunity to work more smartly and seize power. Come the morning of Friday the 13th I can only hope we are in a better place. The fear is that there are more like this guy who will do whatever it takes to deliver Brexit and vote against a fairer society.
Hard to believe it’s not just the last month of the year, but the last of this decade. Winter has set in Glasgow and the last couple of days have been really cold. If we do have a cold spell it will really impact the election which is now next week. One of our most important votes could be greatly influenced by the weather. Sigh.
This election more than ever depends on fact checking services. Every party says they are right, the others are wrong and there facts and figures are correct. The tories rebranding their own twitter account during a leaders head to head was a new low. Quite rightly there was outrage and Twitter themselves gave them a yellow card. I was amazed at first but then they got away with it, talked themselves out of it and people generally shrugged their shoulders. Wow. Now Google have banned 8 conservative adverts. Our campaigning is getting dirtier.
Hate Speech and Fakes
One of the biggest distributors of “fake news” is Facebook. Unlike others they are refusing to police political adverts. Step forward Sacha Baron Cohen who delivered a withering speech this week on Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s “bullshit” arguments against regulating his platform. It’s a half hour watch but its really worth your time. There’s something about comedians in the way they can deliver a message…no bullshit, no reason to not offend. Brilliant.
I find background noise at work so fecking annoying. Other’s, not so much. So I found this BBC article on background noise really interesting. I work in an open plan office and find some noises drive me up the wall. Thank goodness for AirPods. However the article breaks down the reasons why certain noises affect some more than others. I blame my introverted tendencies.
When do you become old? As I’m no closer to 50 than 40 (shudder) then this research says that old is over 70 and I’m in a limbo group…neither young nor middle aged. All I do know is that I’m feeling older and my pension seems a long way a way.
Not video streaming…games. Google launched Stadia 2 weeks ago and Digital Foundry have a good summary of what works and doesn’t. I tried it over the last few days via a buddy code so it wasn’t in 4K and not via a controller but I was pleasantly surprised. I played Destiny 2 in 1080p in a browser on the Mac. It was quick to launch and also didn’t need any installs. The graphics felt soft compared to Xbox One X but I was playing a full screen 1080p feed on a 5k screen so of course it wouldn’t look as sharp. The big test was control lag….and it was hard to spot any even during a multiplayer game. Not perfect but I was impressed. Not enough for me to sign up and ditch the console but a good start from Google.
Not seen this talked about much but I’ve loved Giri/Haji on BBC 2. Great cast, inventive story and even some Manga on the BBC. All episodes on iPlayer and the last episode is broadcast next week. Well worth catching if you’ve missed it so far.
It’s the end of the decade so there are many best of lists doing the rounds. This post does a great job of pulling together all the best off’s as they are published although any best of movie list that doesn’t have Mad Max:Fury Road can be ignored 😉
Really important reporting from the New York Times on the ease with which child abuse images can spread online. Encryption protects us as internet users but also makes it easier for those that want to avoid being caught. It’s a difficult balancing act and Facebook are doing more than others. Feels like legislation will eventually have to hold tech companies to account and force them to do more. The scarier part was how search engines can be used to find these images. Surely that can be dealt with?
Heard of FaZe clan? For non gamers probably not until the recent story of a young UK guy getting a life ban from Fortnite for cheating. This article shows how clans are evolving into YouTube, lifestyle and merchandise. Seems bizarre to me but I’m now an old man so what do I know?
Disney+ launched this last week unless you are in the UK. Having acquired the first two episodes of The Mandalorian I watched an hour of TV that feels closest to the original Star Wars than anything else since Return of the Jedi. Stunning to look at, a soundtrack thats growing on me and a good mix of action, humour and drama. A streaming service off to a strong start despite the technical difficulties. Watch it before you get spoiled. I have spoken.
Who’d have thought it. Sir Rod Stewart is a model railway enthusiast and his setup is epic. The detail is superb and he’s been working on it for 23 years! The best bit was he called into the Jeremy Vine show live after the host questioned how much he had built himself. Love it.
Apple’s new 16″ MacBook Pro has finally addressed the keyboard issues of the last few years by going back to an old design and ditching the butterfly keys. Marco is convinced. If the post doesn’t convince then the podcast will. Great to see Apple caring about the Mac again.