rashbre central

Sunday, 27 November 2022

Our Tragic Universe

I originally trialled mastodon back in 2018. It was much more of a DIY project back in those days and I even tried setting up a home made decentralised server. I did my usual thing of setting up a test userid, but now I can't find it. Like those bitcoins I left on a server that I eventually scrapped. 

C'est la vie. 

This time I followed a message from Scarlett Thomas, which took me into the world of Mastodon. Thomas has been a positive influence on my attempts at novel writing and also the appreciation of the artifact of a book. A couple of her marvellous black-edged paper novels continue to inspire - The End of Mr Y and Our Tragic Universe. 

Mr Y freaked me out with ideas of homeopathy in a parallel univese and Tragic Universe plays big with these ideas, blending cosmology, physics, tarot and foxy narrative theory, Our heroine(s) in both books wend their way through asking many questions including whether they are a superbeing. I realise that my own novel The Watcher must have been subconsciously influenced by these ideas. 

And at the prosaic end of fun, Tragic Universe also - even after ten years -  has a particular new-book inky-aroma from the pages, which works well if you open it slightly and dive in nose first. 

Penhaligons, take note:  'He's got his nose in a good book' etc. 

And back to Mastodon, and its 7 million subscribers. A subtlety is its distributed nature. Instead of big central servers, the architecture of Mastoden requires the servers to be spread around. Add to that the inconsistencies of the User Experience, different on a web browser from within a smartphone App. 

I can't help think there will be a tipping point when the Signal to Noise tragically increases to the level of other well-known social platforms. I'm following an experimentally curated set of users to see the way that things change. 

Or not.

Thursday, 24 November 2022

#LTN: watching and waiting

Twitter has become the news in its own right, a little like some journalists who stumble into the story. I'll bide my time to see how it plays out. After all, many well-known names have been around on the system for a long time. I guess I'm also a #ltn (low twitter number) 

Anyone can find out this stuff.

Despite all the naysayers, I suspect Musk will weed most of the pile-on-noise-merchants out of the system.

But then, I'm holding economically priced Tesla shares as well, since they temporarily became discounted.

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

tout va bien - A Book of Days - Patti Smith

I've been reading Patti Smith's new book - A Book of Days. It proto-blogs years of her experiences across art, music, photography, poems and features many great moments from a life. Every day of the year features a picture and a short text. 

It's a work of loving art.

I first obtained her music - Horses, - with that Robert Mapplethorpe photo of her emulation of Rimbaud, back when I had a red Ford Escort and worked in Germany.
The cassette - long since gone - accompanied my trips from Ostende to Stuttgart.

Then later - Just Kids - a slim memoire of her relationship with Mapplethorpe all the time continuing music and art. 

In the new book she features many: Murakami, Camus, Kurosawa, Lou Reed and Martin Luther King. Hendrix and the Electric Ladyland Studio where she made Horses and argued with producer John Cale. There's Virginia Woolf’s bed with its embroidered bedspread, Georgia O’Keeffe’s with a more humble covering ; Frida Kahlo’s with a spooky black skeleton above it; John Keats’s, which 'seems to contain the luminous dust of his consumptive nights'.

She holds a Polaroid Land Camera 250 on the cover of the book, which she used in earlier times to take the photos. Later, on her daughter Jesse's advice, she took to Instagram, where she now has many followers.

It's a book to dip into as well as read. There are so many inspirations, given and personal.
8 January
‘As a young girl, I admired the skater’s attire, eventually adopting the look as my own. The plate belonged to my mother who always tried to make me wear bright colours. The skater won out. He dwells beside my copy of Ariel, given to me by Robert Mapplethorpe in 1968.’

Tuesday, 22 November 2022


I'm not watching that football thing. Even as many others are queueing up to see it.

They are staying at the ritziest of hotels, where the sponsor's beer costs $29 a bottle. And fine dining on sliders, which are complementary if you buy 5 bottles of beer.
I suppose if you want to get away from it all, the 60,000 berths of budget priced guest accommodation in shipping containers at £200 per night, might suit.
Surely FIFA is having a laugh?

Friday, 18 November 2022

let the alpha birds sing?

I heard from a little bird that there's been a resurgence in interest in Friends Reunited (2000-2016) over the last few days. I wonder why? 

I'm reminded just how many social media systems have been out there and flopped, including Google+, Vine, Friendster, Periscope, Meerkat, Buzz, Friendfeed and (almost unbelievably) still hanging in there, MySpace. 

Useful characteristics of winners are that they must be simple, work on phones and make it easy to copy information to appear to be smart. Photos- especially selfies - help, too. 

Some consumer insights are useful. According to the graphs, I'm a Boomer, although my interests span far wider. Now look at the Generation Alpha (2010-2024) influences.
The incoming and outgoing technology makes for interesting reading. As does the 2.2 billion Generation Alphas by 2023, now we have a planet with over 8 billion people.

Thursday, 17 November 2022

Deeply unfashionable

Blaming Boris might be unfashionable. So might blaming Brexit, which I'm told has been expunged from the Conservative lexicon.  Only the con part remains.

Thus I know I'm deeply unfashionable, because I can still consider these six-year aberrations as a starting point for the mess we are in. The 'long, unpleasant journey' as some Middle Englanders may call it.

Monday, 7 November 2022

twitter as a metaphor for life on mars?


I was a low serial number twitterer. I watched it grow and the signal to noise ratio worsen. Then the sheer dumping of extra spam into my twitter feed as the SEO businesses muscled in. No, I don't want your protein pills and my shirts are fine, whatever label they bear. Now we can watch as the whole noisy and increasingly self-referencing platform gets dis-assembled. We can wonder if it will ever have its original promise again. Mars colonisation ?

Thursday, 3 November 2022

round trip with sound

They say it is indistinguishable from magic. Advanced technology. There I was, on my 430 mile round trip, and I'd asked the car to play some music. 

"Play Regina Spektor," I said and it had selected "What we saw from the cheap seats." 

I let it run and then noticed that in with the album were mixed a few other tracks, which eventually took over the play list. I could understand if they were 'curated commercial tunes' but this was "Neutral Milk Hotel' and 'The Magnetic Fields'. Even a track by Nico and several by bands I'd never heard of, but all (with a few exceptions) good to listen to. 

 I compare this new car with the sounds played on my prior one, which were mainly from a connected iPod which had 160Gb of tracks I'd downloaded from iTunes/Music. 

This car is permanently connected to the Internet and so has a few more tricks up its sleeve. But the music. It really is excellent.

Wednesday, 26 October 2022

gyre and gimbal

Oh well. A few weeks ago I was away in Greece and we changed Monarch.This time, away for a few days and we seem to have changed Prime Minister...again.

It seems that there is a limited talent pool, because I gather that the contenders included the has-been slug from the Premiership-minus-one and the runner-up from the recent selection, voted upon by the finest brains of the membership.

This time, a panic to prevent a further vote, after the frabjous and blatant lies from the slug who pretended to have enough Parliamentarian votes. Vorpal sword time. Snicker snack. Ironically, if his bluff had worked and he had got through to the next round, we'd have probably had him back in power.

Rishi Sunak has his work cut out. I still blame Johnson the most. He was partying hard at the pole wheel, in between his copious vacations, including during term-time. There are no words. 

Truss was the unconsciously incompetent replacement and now we have Sunak as the consciously competent one, although perhaps about to be dragged into the mire by some of his so-called associates. 

Hasta la próxima.

Thursday, 6 October 2022

Movin' on down

Johnson didn't set the controls on the plane so that it would crash into a cliff face. He was much too busy squandering political capital to think about steering. 

Truss picks up the plane when its front view is all of that rapidly approaching cliff face. A new leader so new political capital? Not this time. Walking on stage to Heather Small singing the M People anthem - "Moving on up" - shame no one vetted the lyrics.

"You’ve done me wrong, your time is up

You took a sip from the devil’s cup

You broke my heart, there’s no way back

Move right out of here, baby, go on pack your bags"

Insta-squander. She lives in a bubble of unselfawareness. Her attempt to unite her party has become, instead, one to ignite her party. Crash, Crash, Crash.

She talks about growth yet is now 38 points behind Labour in national polls. A highlight of her speech was the interruption by Greenpeace, which gave her a chance to adlib over the perfectly valid point raised by Greenpeace that nobody voted for her ideas. 

t was telling that she chose to aim at an “anti-growth coalition” whose members include a nameless elite who “taxi from North London town houses to the BBC studio". She looked pleased with herself to pull this off although it's all London-speak, no doubt been prepped by a speech writer. It also sailed clumsily close to the 'elite from North London' - a phrase usually eschewed nowadays.

The subverters are lining up: 'worst (conference) since the 1970s', 'It feels like we've already lost', (accusations of) 'organising a coup', 'get a grip', no mandate to reverse the 2019 manifesto (Gove), 'if we don't want to deliver on the deal, we need a fresh mandate' (Dorries). And I have;t even got around to Mordant, Shapps or the dislikable Rees-Mogg.

Still, she can recover discipline wth hard line tactics, credit piracy and blame avoidance. 50 MPs of the 357 Conservative MPs backed her in the first round. She can tell the rest they must back her or they are sacked, or at least tarnished with reputation damaging innuendo. Some would call it cutting her way to glory. Some one should tell her it doesn't work. 

Let us consider:

  • a cost of living crisis
  • stretched public services
  • interest rate rises
  • a big jump in mortgage payments
  • escalating cost of fuel
  • the market's fiscal uncertainty
  • decline of the GBP
  • losses on the stock market

These are not the traditional signs of growth. Although maybe she wants to start from a low place?

Wednesday, 5 October 2022

a different kind of arm waving

I can't see this Growth, Growth, Growth thing that Truss is talking about. 

She copied the Blair 'Education, Education, Education' triplet of 1996, but having just seen that TV show about 'Would you like to be a Prime Minister', it all came across as, well, a bit like something from The Apprentice.

I checked a number. The FTSE. Share prices aggregation, from when Truss took over to now. Its about a 3.39% drop, drop, drop. We're scraping along just over 7,000. No wonder there's a new tranche of US Funds being launched.
Then I tried the GBP to USD. Without the forceful intervention of the Bank of England the GBP would be tanking now. Tank, Tank, Tank. The problem that it creates is that interest rates have moved up and thus the price or mortgages, which has caused almost 1,000 products to be pulled.  Fall, Fall, Fall. The one thing that is growing is the cost of mortgages. Fail, Fail, Fail.

Then there's the trashing of the environmental pledges. The levelling down of the cabinet. The threats to her own party if they don't stay loyal.
Truss can still remember the chants and how to read the autocue. Shame she can't read the numbers.

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

competence is a long road

I remember that management thing about 'consciously incompetent' and 'unconsciously incompetent' etc. I think I worked out the prior Prime Minister on the scale, and I think I've a clue about the current one. 

The thing is, I thought that the previous mendacious buffoon would only last a short time, but I was wrong. Three years to steer the plane towards the solid rock face and then to abandon the controls. Whoever haplessly picks up the stick after this was probably on a hiding to nothing. I want a large proportion of the blame to stay with the last person though. 

But a new pilot who imagines she is great and wakes up every morning thinking, 'what would a Prime Minister do today?' could be significantly dangerous. Ten year gilts up 4.3%. Emergency bond buy-back totalling £65 billion. Sinking pound until bale outs. Mortgaging tomorrow. Sorry kids, you'll have to pay for it. 

I suppose the 81,326 shamelessly unaccountable party members who made the unconsciously incompetent decision that we get the current leadership can dig in and say its for the best. 

We have an unmandated leader who hasn't even noticed the manifesto. Her answers to questions are like Thatcher's. A broken record of 'select track and play'. I know they are trying to backpedal now, but the situation illustrates how they have no depth at all in the hollowed-out remains of the Conservative Party. 

If that oh-so-loyal Rees-Mogg and his cronies have their way then there is much elite hay to be made at the expense of everyone else. The encouragement to champagne-fuelled hedge-fund managers to bet against the GBP shows how we are being manipulated by the people who are building the UK Freeport and Casino.

And what's the point of giving anyone else a say in any of it? Not colleagues, not the cabinet, not even the press. Just bankers shorting the pound. Let's add in threats to dissenters with their removal from the Party. Loyalty or bust.

Levelling up? I don't think so when seven times as much of the revised funding goes to London as to the north. Rees-Moggs' levelling up is to flatten large swathes of the north and make it into fracking sites.

I can already hear the slithering into position of others who believe themselves to be heir or heiress apparent. Trouble is, they are as unconsciously incompetent as the ones in power.