Monday, 29 April 2019

travails with my bike


I've only recently taken to cycling again, after a prolonged gap. There's that creaky feeling when starting again, during which I wonder how I'd ever managed any longer distances. Then they come along, almost without noticing. This time the meaning of recovery days is slightly more pronounced, with an unexpected slowing in the act of standing up, as various muscles protest at the effort.

I'm reaching a sensible 'Training Stress Score' which illustrates the accumulation of the various efforts, with the shaded blue part of the graph representing fitness, the pink line indicating fatigue and the yellow line indicating form or freshness. Fortunately, the effects of fatigue only seem to last a few hours, so I'll be back on the bike later today.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

meta multi verse


The Sopranos bumped off the audience:'You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?' said Bobby Baccala foretelling the clever fourth wall disruption.

Now we've experienced Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Fleabag talk to camera, starting with playful quips but spiralling into neurosis.

But I was really surprised when it happened in another series (OA 2). Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij's multiverse completely flips on itself and then back onto the viewer. Metaverse?

It's the second time that Marling has caught me out. It happened in another earth too. I can remember the weatherboarding on the house being different. Like a fight club burning film moment. Before the great reveal.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

the wide, wide time of East End in Colour 1980s


I've been marvelling at the East End in Colour, by Tim Brown, published by the Hoxton Mini Press. It's their second book on this theme. Tim was a tube train driver and took the series of photographs in the early 1980s, chiefly around the routes of the Docklands Light Railway, which was being built to serve the deserts of the Isle of Dogs, before the yuppies arrived.

It's a startling book, because I know most of the area depicted and it's fascinating to see it during the massive makeover that became Docklands. What I find interesting is how normal everything seemed at the time, yet nowadays how it becomes a look back to another time.

Among the seemingly mundane is a picture of Leytonstone High Street, showing Leytonstone Motors. We all used to go to that exact shop for spare parts for the eminently repairable Ford cars we all drove around at the time. Always difficult to park, then through the doorway into a narrow and dark space where man in a brown coverall would look at the part before reaching around to find something appropriate.

Similarly a snap of Monument, just around the corner from the office where I worked in a hideaway on a secret project.

I can retrace the steps to the sandwich bar inside the tube station where we grabbed a bite of lunch. What sets the book up is that the series of pictures are all of an era that has some signs of today in it but plenty more of a bygone era. At the time it all seemed so normal, yet now it would be difficult to recreate accurately.

It starkly illustrates the chaos of major redevelopment, with the hints of vanquished pubs and the randomly parked Cortinas, Granadas and Vauxhalls along little known side streets of Shadwell and down to the wharves of the docks.

Wide time, without a smartphone in sight.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

highly evolved leveraged lawn mowers


Now we see new parties being formed to try to break the two party system but not taking account of the role of leverage in the system.

Behind the MPs stand their party membership, directly influencing the selection of representatives. A cosy little club really, Just 124,000 Conservative members influence the selection of 313 Tory MPs.

The MPs, in turn, are in thrall to these people, who sit in their beery Conservative Clubs around the country and pontificate dogmatically about the state of the Nation.

Membership highly funded with money from business shadowy sources giving the wherewithall to manipulate the agenda.

Labour's 540k members drive 246 MPs to Westminster. There's a tapering effect from the rest, through SNP, LIB Dem, Green, Plaid Cymru and with zero members, UKIP.

And now, I've just received the polling paper for the election of a councillor, admittedly not to Parliament, but I'm wondering how I can make a decision based upon what has been beamed to me.

A half-hearted news sheet with a picture of the politico mowing lawn (everyman), then with a group of care-workers(caring) and finally, standing by a local landmark (knows the area).

The second lot have something rather similar, but with a different mower and a big poster on the back designed to be placed in the window.

The third and fourth representatives couldn't afford to send anything out, so I suppose I'll have to guess or research their mowers and web-sites.

But back once again to the renegade masters. "Highly evolved," springs to mind. Here's CTF Partners (aka C|F, aka Lynton Crosby)

The wizard of Oz slithers into focus again. Sir Lynton Crosby has been the wicked witch behind much of the manipulation of the vote in the UK.

He strategised to help David Cameron get elected, Boris twice for the Mayor of London and more quietly for Boris when he was planning Brexit.

CTF Partners played the dog whistle racism dark arts so quietly that we could easily forget the £23,000 loan to Boris for office space that CTF Partners provided. They've provided fees to other MPs too, and pop up 186 times in a recent search of parliament's web pages.

CTF, via Mainstream Networks, have helped the 'members' tell their MPs what to do in the Brexit votes via about £1million of Facebook campaigning. "Press button to send a letter to your MP". Of course, now the other groups are starting to do the same. A race of the javascript robots. Elizabeth Denham at DCMS has her work cut out to investigate this lot.
Conservative office paid £4million to CTF to assist May's electioneering. But Lynton is coin operated. It'll be Theresa May's shoes sticking out from the house when it crashes down this time.

Last October Jacob's Mobb hired the Australian to run interference across Theresa May.

This will push Boris to the front of the queue to be leader in the so-called BAmber alliance. The Moggsters have already started their Project Boris with a few pizza parties (sorry Mikey, you're not invited) and now they can target the 124,000 Conservative members to get their way.

As well as numbers, this has to be a chess game. Boris has been told that it's no good being the leader if the whole Brexit shebang goes sideways - what would the members say?

That's where the Lynton double bluff ("Is it the Russians?") comes through. Harvesting remainers and targeting destabilising messaging both through the local and Euro elections becomes the name of the game. Hold on to your hats.

Monday, 15 April 2019

tacky adverts in the moment of next and how to get rid of them


That character shown shares my angst at the increasing number and type of annoying and useless adverts that appear when web-browsing. It's not the historic pop-up and embedded ones, which are relatively easy to suppress, it's the ones at the end of a piece and in the side margins of the page. Now I know why the print press called it gutters and why taboola and outbrain are increasingly involved.

These adverts have titles like "How to recognise if you have loose windows", or "Ten top shampoo tips" or "Would you even recognise this film star now?" - which are supposedly designed to make you click through. Some take you directly to the 'sell', others take the unsuspecting to a series of photos which have associated advertisements. Every click counts in this game and following the fascination of "do you recognise this car part?" or "20 uses for vinegar" clicks around the related advertisement count. More clicks / interest in the pictures = more money for someone.

I took a look at the technology behind this. It has all kinds of diagrams of the architecture, but it appears to be a case of putting some clothes on the emporer. It is never more telling then the advertorial provided by one of the purveyors which took until about slide five to explain how the billing to advertising clients worked. My chart is from the helpful NAI (Network Advertising Initiative), which shows that adverts are aggregated and then sprayed out via a publisher to an unsuspecting consumer. There is supposed to be a special filter for context, geography, propensity to buy, but I suspect, based on my own experiences, that this is all cookie-derived hokum.

It relies upon the principle that the adverts are 'native ads' in terms of the original web site. In other words, that the publisher of the web-site has given permission for them to be added to the site - although I'm not sure whether they wold give the same permission to add a dive bar to the side of their corporate property. Once the native application dealing software is there, it can tip out all kinds of adverts personalised towards the reader and different for everyone who stumbles upon the page.

But why doesn't the virus checking software, or the advertising suppression software remove this stuff? I notice that these advert-dealing frameworks are designated as PUPs (potentially unwanted programs) and that they cannot be automatically suppressed because 'someone'(?) might want them.

It's a part of the business model of one of the advertising blockers to let this kind of thing through - a kind of protection service one might say.

My examples show adverts derived from an Israeli company called Outbrain and the proposition is now to sell their technology to reputable sites. I notice too, that Smartfeed is an Outbrain company.

There's another company called Taboola (co-incidentally with its R&D in Israel) that does the same thing. And further ones that download themselves to a client computer and then install into the browser.

One way is to block the adverts is at source, by editing the /etc/hosts file and filtering the domain addresses of the offenders. Another is to 'set shields high', in the adblocker software of choice. That's my preference.

It's that final non-obtrusive ads option that does the trick. Unchecked it'll remove the PUPs from the browse - no more unwanted adverts.

So who is doing this? It's coming from the deep and dark world of security software scooping up the cookies. We all know that cookies are there to track us. That they have an innocuous sounding name that is a bit like breadcrumbs. As well as Google and Facebook, there's the curious world of Adroll. Notice there's taboola, outbrain and rubicon listed on this slightly misleading scrolling list of people with whom they interact.

Check out the marketing spin - Adam Singolda of Taboola: “Today, Taboola is used by thousands of companies to empower over a billion people worldwide to discover what’s interesting and new at the moment they’re ready to experience new things, In doing so, we partner with companies to attract, and strengthen, their customer relationships.” - spectacular doublethink for guerrilla advertising topped only with: “The idea behind Taboola was to create a software that would help consumers discover things that they may like and never knew existed, wherever they may be – to go after that ‘moment of next’ where people are predisposed to discover something new and interesting that is relevant for them.” - or - to send a huge number of adverts at everyone in the hope that something sticks.

I found an example of this buried in a font directory on my computer. Smacks of virus, doesn't it? Then there's adblade, content.ad, ayboll, yahoo gemini, rev content, adnow, as a few other examples.
As well as monetisation of websites, content and access to consumers, there's also the shady world of profiling and the interest displayed not just by advertisers, but also by state actors.

Oh well, as they say, that's the way the cookie crumbles.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Unaltered Carbon - nano thin


As well as this week's Altered Carbon discussion, I suddenly found myself at a physicist meeting about Unaltered Carbon.

It was a briefing about graphene actually. I could recollect that graphene was created by scraping graphite down to one molecule of thickness. I seemed to remember that it could be made into a matrix and that whilst alone it was transparent, it could be rolled into something black. I remember sculptor Anish Kapoor got into a scuffle over an ultra-black graphene derived paint vs a pinkiest pink paint.

Anyway, it turns out that there's a whole lot more to graphene.

Like commonly available silica sand is used to make the chips in everything, graphene is derived from the fourth most common element - carbon. Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms, tightly bound in a hexagonal honeycomb lattice via an atomic bond. My artist's impression makes it look quite neat, but when I checked out an electron microscope view, it's actually messier than this.

Carbon is an interesting substance. Being allotropic means it can take different forms as a solid, like diamonds, graphite and coal.

In carbon's graphene form it is the thinnest compound known to man at one atom thick. But that's not all: It's also the lightest material known (with 1 square meter weighing around 0.77 milligrams), the strongest compound discovered (between 100-300 times stronger than steel), the best conductor of heat at room temperature and also the best conductor of electricity.

What have we been doing all this time?

Nowadays people are looking at applications of graphene in high-frequency electronics, bio, chemical and magnetic sensors, ultra-wide bandwidth photodetectors and energy storage and generation.

Unfortunately, we can't just take a pencil lead and shave it to get graphene. We need a chemical vapour deposition rig using ethylene or benzene onto various metals, such as Platinum, Nickel or Titanium Carbide to make the layers of graphene.

With the right high temperatures a graphene layer forms on the underlying substrate. It can be one molecule thick (G-2D) or sometimes multiple graphene layers on top of one another (G-3D).

There's also a 'showered' manufacturing method which can create nanotubes of graphene, like the ones used in the Vantablack paint that Anish Kapoor craves.

More significantly, these nanotubes can be used to fabricate screen displays that flex or have a very large size. We've all heard of OLED, wait for OLET - organic light-emitting transistors. Wafer thin flexible screens both portable and for the wall. Coming soon to a phone near you.

Graphene in batteries creates another jump. High density lightweight storage with very rapid charging. Automobile manufacture maybe? solve the battery range problem now with graphene anodes.

Or something to improve flex and weight in tyres? Vittoria's latest bike tyres are already on to Graphene V2.

The implications of this last example show that prices are dropping as the scale of production finally ramps up.

I took a quick look around and noticed that Tesla is talking about graphene for car batteries, Samsung for their next generation of phones. Apollo already make a graphene charger for iPhones, with a 0 to full charge in 20 minutes. Apple and others are hesitant in case there's any teething problems in their actual devices - causing a massive recall.

Although Apple, as always, have a few patents lying around. The one I notice first from Apple is to use graphene in headphones and speakers.

I have to say that a 15 minute empty to full recharge sounds a lot more interesting. Maybe a 10 minute induction battery recharge on the motorway wouldn't be so bad either.

Friday, 12 April 2019

hard boiled altered carbon


I 'finished' Altered Carbon just in time for the dystopian meeting in the pub. I'd opened the kindle and read the first dozen or so pages thinking, 'wow!'

Then something changed.

I did hesitate slightly with the first person account, which was styled on Raymond Chandler noir, although by comparison Philip Marlowe has light and shade. Underneath Marlowe's wisecracking, hard-drinking, tough private eye, there's contemplation and enjoyment of chess and poetry. Marlowe isn't afraid to risk physical harm but doesn't dish out violence merely to settle scores.

That's all very different in Richard (K) Morgan's writing. Our Private Investigator Takeshi Kovacs has no such Marlowe personality traits. In fact, I'm not sure that he has any personality at all.

Kovacs has come out of jail, where he was locked away for a sentence of 200 years. Don't worry, only his cortical memory stack was imprisoned and he was re-sleeved into a new body when he was bought out of his sentence by a Very Rich Person (Bancroft). New bodied as an ex-Envoy (marine-like super fighter) he's now wired on neurochems, enzymes and hormones to make him ultra-tough.

This is in the opening sequence and really quite interesting. But I'm already getting a hint of the anti-character mapping of our man. We don't get anything of his mixed race Asian/Eastern European roots. He lives entirely in the moment. Apply a stimulus and get a response. I understand the process. It's like designing one of those shoot-em-up games. All about the gratification. Forget Apps, Remember Gpps. Gratification Per Page.

Ryker's mission is to solve the murder of Bancroft, who has rebooted himself into a new body, using a backup clone of his own cortical stack. Bancroft is an ultra-rich Meth (Methusalah) who has been through countless body re-boots and is probably north of 350 years old. He can afford to live in a castle in the sky, surrounded by exotica.

Bancroft wants to know how he got murdered, because the police have put it down to suicide. It's Kovacs/Ryker's job to investigate the case, in return for a freedom bought by Bancroft. Yes, it's that Bruce Willis/Vin Diesel dilemma - go back to jail or help solve this crime.

Still an okay set-up. But remember we are also inside the head of Kovacs/Ryker. It's really too unpleasant in there. Both oozy and ferocious. He was longwindedly feral in his instincts. I use the door test as a quick example. In Kovak's world no-one could ever stand by the door.

Instead of "she stood by the door", we'd get, "Taut body framed glistening in the doorway, her breasts lithely straining from the skintight leopard print." Okay, I made that up, but it gives an impression of author Morgan's writing style.

On the other hand, if it's a man by the door, then it follows the Raymond Chandler line: "send a man with a gun through the door" - oh yes, that happens on about every second page.

So after the world and quest set up, the rest of the narrative turns into a first person shooter game, with funfair style pop-up baddies interspersed with eye-candy females. The gratification per page formula continues for so many pages that at one point I just skipped 150 of them, to be sure of finishing the novel before pub-time.

My skip came just after one of the torture scenes, when Kovacs was flipped into a woman's body (to be tortured) and then flipped back into Ryker's afterwards - Highly questionable - This would not pass Alison Bechdel's test.

The body switch back also needs to be added to the list of evil overlord No-Nos. "Never give an angry Envoy-level fighter back their original body." It could go near Nr. 4 Shooting is not too good for my enemies.

I did land back in the story with enough pages left to see the quest's plot deliver, although I didn't feel that I'd missed much in my needlecast jump to the future.

The book also has an epilogue. I assumed it would be a hook to volume two but, intriguingly, it seemed to have some reflection as well. Somehow, by now, this marginally more soulful section didn't ring true and felt like a bolted on patch to the smashing plate stack of the novel.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

walk this way


Can't get enough of Brexit? This rock 'n' rollercoaster show has just been renewed for another series, with the next finale planned for Halloween.

Recapping - the zombie leader is malfunctioning, and a set of potential replacements are jostling for dominance within a leaky dark star. Red fleet commander Jeremy can't fly his battle cruiser and his reputation is to only bring lollipops to a firefight.

Meanwhile, forces of the Federation are flying in spectacular formations, with an occasional wingman breaking away for hassle duty.

Cap'n Theresa has been hastily reprogrammed by a ground crew, but they only had a few plug-ins available. She must appear functional but has but a choice of smile, walk unsteadily and a selection of seven phrases on continuous loop.

Even by cliffhanger standards it's not looking good, with Cap'n Ther' defiantly trying the same moves over and over again. Some would call this madness, but it's an even more catastrophic failure, sharpened by her tragic belief that she is doing it for the will of 'her' people. She's also penned in, being unable to cross over any red lines or red carpets.


As a last resort, two specially equipped floaters have been enlisted to provide a steering mechanism, which can be operated away from camera angle.

It's a clever trick, with one providing diversion, whilst the other operates the complex controls and steering mechanisms.

The term floater was introduced by the Federation, originally as a playful nickname, and indeed the ones steering the Cap'n are so good that their lanyards display double gold floater status.

Back on the planet, feelings are still divided.

There's the saboteurs, led by a villainous steampunk time traveller and a red-faced man from the Rayleigh galaxy. Their destructive antics intend to make a farrago of the federation.

Then there's the faithful. They haven't realised that Cap'n Ter's project was doomed to fail and are still rooting for the original idea. They don't have a unique thought in their head although their numbers are such that they can create quite a hullabaloo if left to their own devices.

The swaggers are an altogether more malevolent force. Mercenaries paid to turn up at special events and to throw themselves around. They come in two sizes. A thuggish larger model and a compact attractive (usually female) model designed to steal photo opportunities.

But the ones to watch are the schoolboy clowns. They may look harmless, but hide a deep-rooted ruthlessness in pursuit of personal power and wealth. They'd topple anyone in their path, renege deals and do - well - anything to slime their way to the top.

But I'm in danger of giving away plot. Let's just say Cap'n Ther' still wants it all wrapped up by the end of May.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

the inherent vice of politicians


After re-watching that Thomas Pynchon movie, I found myself considering the inherent vice in various items.

Inherent vice is a property of an object which could lead to its damage or destruction.

Eggs break. Chocolate melts. Glass shatters. Acid paper flakes. Whisky evaporates.

It made me wonder about the inherent vice of politicians.

Not the vices involving money and sleaze, but something inherent in the political system that creates a tipping point.

Red lines can't prevent it either. A red line could have been drawn to prevent something, but the strength to hold a line can becomes a weakness.

There's plenty of examples of inherent vice in politicians. Here's a few from some individuals that spring to mind.

  • someone with their own mind who never takes advice.
  • someone who adopts a slogan at a moment in time and then never once challenges it.
  • someone who sounds sincere, but is simply regurgitating received sound bites.
  • someone who steadfastly defends a position until they quietly drop it to defend an opposing viewpoint.
  • someone who says they are listening but never carries forward what they have heard.
  • someone who gains positional power, but uses it to destroy the thing they are supposed to safeguard.
I could go on but instead here's a useful tip:

Eggs that sink in cold water are good and those that float are off.

The ones that stand on end are at the tipping point.

raspberry pi


I've been helping out with a website recently. Not mine, I'm providing some 'behind the scenes' Wordpress support.

As well as the live version, we have a play version. Normally I run development versions on the internet as well, but for this one we are using our intranet and some localhost aliasing.

The test version is on a LAN-attached Raspberry Pi, and I've just run a round trip backup test of it via Dropbox to see whether we could even swap copies of Wordpress images via on-line.

Although it is slightly akin to sneaker net, it means we can keep the main site under wraps until the updates are ready.

And it's interesting to run the deck-of-cards sized Raspberry Pi without a screen and keyboard yet delivering the full Wordpress experience.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

right to reply


Now I live right on the boundary between two MP constituencies. I wrote to my official MP and the adjacent one as well. I also wrote to three of my MEPs about what has been happening with Brexit. My first emails were last October, and a further set in March.

The emails were unique and customised to their specific situation and differing party politics, albeit I repeated many of the same points to each one.

The MP feedback so far is as follows:
  • One of the MPs gave two sets of semi-personalised feedback (to two separate personalised emails) and has been carrying an ongoing torch for a new Peoples Vote. This MP has also sent me several follow up 'broadcast' emails about what is going on. I can honestly say I read the responses as carrying some party beliefs but going outside of party politics. Well done.
  • The other MP is completely following the party whip of the Conservative party. My personalised message to him received a boiler plate 'thank you for your message'. You are not representing me.

The three MEPs were less directly involved in the current UK process, so I was more expressing a general viewpoint to them. Each of the three Europhile MPs replied and one gave a fairly tailored response. The other three of my total six MEPs are all pro-Brexit.

It has made me take a quick look at the six local MEPs currently operating in my new area of the country, in case we vote in the upcoming elections.

UNSUITABLE FOR ME TO CONSIDER

1 William Dartmouth (Earl)
Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group
an Earl Brexiteer - EFD2 is the Nigel Farage Party.

2 Ashley Fox -
European Conservatives and Reformists group
A conservative Brexiteer - retweeting Theresa May party line.

3 Julia Reid
Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group
Another EFD2 Farage Party member - recently actively refuting EU Climate Change policy

CONSTRUCTIVE OPTIONS

4 Julie Girling
Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats)
Pro EU - Last speeches were reminding the EU that the 60 million Brits were still inside

5 Clare Moody
Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament
Pro EU, would be Labour Party in UK - recent statement to want to keep a strong voice inside EU.

6 Molly Scott Cato
Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance
Pro EU - Recent hardline speech against Theresa May's recent actions.

Of course, if Mrs May's chicanery gets the Withdrawal Agreement re-opened to insert a clause from Jeremy Corbyn, then this could all become null and void, by use of cheap tricks.

Otherwise, we'll need to study the MEPs on offer quite carefully to try to remove the people sabotaging EU membership. I suspect a new UK tory leadership will want to create a deregulated, high privacy Singapore Plus tax-haven in the UK.

Excuse my hasty artist representation of Singapore on Thames.

Monday, 8 April 2019

red line


Now we have the bizarre situation where we could be expected to leave the EU with a customs union clause built into the departure. It's like leaving the EU in name (Brexit), but the continuing to follow the EU trade arrangements, without any voice or vote.

Bonkers.

I know both party leaders are in these compromise negotiations, but this kind of last minute leap is ridiculous.

The EU have said we'd need to have something meaningful to say at this time, if we want an extension. Given that the Withdrawal Agreement can't be changed and Theresa May is even fending off changes to the Political Declaration, then it really is the end of the road.

Hypocrisy to even have the meetings.

The only meaningful changes at this time are a People's Vote or a General Election. The latter option is really just adding another four month delay into everything.

SO the options become Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement with its hazy and poorly defined next stages or flavours of Peoples Vote.

The Withdrawal Agreement would simply lock UK into the next stage of a mess. Revoke can reset everything.

Ever reactive, I see the Conservatives via Gareth Fox are preparing for the European Elections with Seat CV to conservatives.com by no later than 5pm tomorrow (Tuesday 9 April 2019)

#revoke #remain #rebuild

Sunday, 7 April 2019

goin' round an' round


I've a handful of shares in a well-known high street bank.

One of those tumbleweed letters arrived. It had been on a round-about journey to get to me and wanted to know if I would like to vote in their annual meeting.

The address they still have is my old one. I notified the bank of my change of address more than a year ago, but this letter is from the Bank's Registrar, which I assume is disconnectedly based in a desert somewhere.

Or maybe it is an example of Big Data not connecting dots, or something to do with GDPR?

Easy peasy, I'll logon and change the address.

Wouldthatitweresosimple. Logon failed.

I need to set up a new online account with the Registrar for these errant shares. I attempt to do it and it asks for my postcode. I put in my current one. Not accepted. I try the old one, which goes through and lets me set up the account.

Now to log on and change the address to my current one.

Not allowed. They will need to send me a postal reference number first.

But.

They are sending it to my old address.

Now I know why I need postal re-direction for such a long time after moving house. It means I should be able to cast my vote related to the limited dis-application of pre-emption rights.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

back to gordita beach

I'm supposed to be reading a particular book ready for dystopian bookclub on Thursday. I'm about 35% through it on my kindle.

It's one that was made into a multi series Netflix show, Altered Carbon. The first few pages were great because it leapt straight into a crisp narrative, although I did wonder briefly about the first person voice it had chosen.

That's become more of a problem for me as I read further along. There's some first person squish that I just don't enjoy.

It was written in 2002, and creates a more-or-less instant otherworld, showing some decent inventiveness and consistency, with some similar themes to ones explored in recent Black Mirror episodes.

Good work for a first novel by author Richard Morgan.

And, despite the naming similarities, it took me a little while to realise that I'd seen part of the novel in that TV series.

I think I only watched about one-and-a-half episodes- which is maybe why I'd forgotten the name of the show - so I may need to go back and check it again.

It meant I got as far as what is the Hendrix Hotel in the novel, but it is shown as the Edgar Allen Poe hotel for the TV show. With hindsight, I'm guessing it was something to do with rights to use Jimi Hendrix? We'll draw a purple haze over that.

More later when I finish it and/or watch the tv show again.

I'm also reading a real hardback about the music industry, which, if I admit it, I'm slightly struggling to finish. Normally I'd enjoy it, but I'm finding it just a tad too predictable.

That's when Pynchon re-appeared on the scene. It's another one of my few remaining hardbacks and mysteriously appeared immediately underneath my current read in the (tidied away) stack.

I've maybe cheated with this one. I've read it before but it reminded me of the escapism of its own whacky movie.

Time for two and a half hours of (fictional) Gordita Beach 1970s noir. Narrated by the ex-girlfriend of the stoner detective, it's suitably bonkers and well worth a repeat viewing if you have that sort of humour.