What’s wrong with this Christmas?

As I’m sure most of you have heard, many parents / carers have been encouraged to lie to their children regarding the identity of a fast-moving light in the sky on Christmas eve. If we manage to spot it, what we will see is not Father Christmas but the International Space Station (ISS). Rather than discuss with children this incredible project begun in 1993 with the first component put in space in 1998, resulting in the largest artificial body in orbit being visible to the naked eye from space on Christmas eve many parents will tell their children that an obese, judgemental trespasser is wibbling past on his reindeer-powered sled.

I’ve spoken to some people about this and they’re surprisingly defensive of this cover-up and indeed the Father Christmas myth in general. Don’t worry, I lied to my children too, so you can trust me (hmm). To compound problems, many people tell their children that ‘Santa’ gives all the presents. I should note that I wasn’t brought up like this, in my house he only delivered the things which he choose to leave on the end of my bed, wrapped in my mum’s old tights (not weird, eh?). So what’s wrong with him giving all the presents? Doesn’t that make him super-duper generous? Well… the practical upshot of this particular pack of lies is that unavoidably the wealthier the family, the more he gives to their children. In the cases of the poorest families the children may be totally ignored. Why would he do that? I’ve always found children to be very logical, perhaps more so than adults, and at some point this inequality will be realised in their brain (perhaps just subconsciously) where it will sit along with all the other confusing things in life such as why our parents sold our milk teeth for 50 pence to a mythical creature. In effect Father Christmas is a sort of anti-Robin Hood, OK, he’s not stealing from the poor, but he’s giving to the rich and neglect of the poor is hardly a kindness.

Getting back to those defensive parents. Forget your past, and imagine now a choice: You can have a jolly annual celebration with time off work and an exchange of modest (or not) gifts along with an excess of food and drink, OR you can have all of the above plus you get to pay bizarre homage to a religious icon you likely don’t worship or really believe in, lie to your children about the provenance of their presents and then be pressurised by the media and your peers into layering more and more nonsense on the initial guff to the point where we ignore a chance to gaze upon one of our greatest technological achievements. After some time, typically 7 or 8 years, your children will be plenty smart enough to recognise you for the confusingly selective charlatan you are (no offence, I’m one too) and will then have to try to come to terms with the confusion,  disappointment and unnecessary nature of what they’ve just been through. A realisation of long-term deception causes trauma – ask any psychologist. Amusingly we usually see this particular trauma as part of ‘growing up’. What children really love is seeing their family, sharing presents and time together, eating, having time off school and being able to completely and utterly trust their guardians. They enjoy all of the good stuff naturally, the rest of the stuff is what they’ve been trained to believe they enjoy – so why bother? Children don’t actually like being lied to. No one does.

Which do you choose? Easy, isn’t it. You take all the good, ditch the lies and away we all go. You’re not 6 now and you don’t believe any more, right? Wrong! You do believe – not in Father Christmas but in the myth of Father Christmas, the value of the myth and the importance of perpetuating it. You have to believe that as to think that you were deceived for no good reason and to acknowledge how that feels is much, much harder than just repeating what you experienced. I feel the same. That’s why I lied / lie to my children.

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Party every day, party every dayayay

It’s clear from the regular supply of news articles and documentaries that what this country needs is more reasons to drink excessively. One way to bring about change is to normalise that which you are trying to encourage. You can do this by attributing a catchy or amusing name to something that typically already has a perfectly functional name. In of itself this seems harmless enough and it gives us something to smile about. One example of this would be ‘Thirsty Thursday’ – an amusing piece of alliteration that is popularly used by bars to get folks to come out boozing a day earlier than they might otherwise. It sounds fun, is somewhat logical (it’s nearly Friday so your thirst is building etc.), and it means we get a longer weekend – win-win.
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Another example I’ve heard recently and seen in action is ‘Sunday Funday’. Sunday Funday works well with Thirsty Thursday as you now have a four night weekend – oh, and you actually drink all day on a Sunday Funday. You can see the opposite of this too, when people refer to the weekday evenings as ‘School nights’. In that case it helps to normalise/encourage ‘not drinking’. Attaching this prosaic title to something as tempting as a Wednesday night can work to bolster someone’s will power as it defers responsibility for decision making – I don’t have to say ‘no’ I just say it’s a school night and immediately my peers will reduce the pressure on me – because it’s a SCHOOL NIGHT – and that means something. Sooo, what I wondered is do we now have drink-friendly names for every day of the week? I’m aware of Thirsty Thursday and Sunday Funday, I can imagine Twatted Tuesday could work or even Titsoff Tuesday. Wankered Wednesday goes without saying. But…. what do we do about Monday?!

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Feckless fools, piffling lives

There’re hundreds of complete cnuts meandering the pavements on my journey to work. These feckless fools bother me with their piffling lives, swinging their arms about like they’re trying to land a plane, or stopping dead, right in front of me with no warning and for no apparent reason. They are always wearing huge backpacks or gesticulating like a mime. Other equally twatty gangs of gormless ghouls walk five abreast expecting me to stumble out into the road just so they can continue their moronic shared opinion massaging without me getting in the way… ‘oh, like I really like movies’ ‘yeh, wow that is so weird, I really like movies too’ ‘oh wow yeh, like the way the whole story thing unfolds in a visual aural kind of thing way’ ‘yeh, like that’s it isn’t it, yeh, movies’ ‘spooky how we are sooooo alike’ ‘I know, right?’. No it’s not you morons, that’s like saying you like fun.

Aerial view taken this morning of my walk to work

Aerial view taken this morning of my walk to work

Anyway, I don’t move for them so eventually they realise they’ll have to take a break (shouldn’t be hard as they’ve probably managed to take at least one year-long break recently) from their self-centred clowncloud and get out of my way. Have a nice day.

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The female burper of North Street

Last night I was in my local off licence, Drinks 4U. This fairly typical budget booze outlet, run by a friendly Armenian is a handy little oasis of liver-challenging fluids and flammable dried leaves positioned opposite my favourite local, The Old Bookshop.

As I stood chatting with the owner a charming woman came in and immediately released a startlingly loud, audaciously sustained burp right behind me. ‘What the f#@k did you do that for?’ I asked politely. ‘Ooh, I’ve been in the bar needing to do that for hours’ she said. I quizzed her on this, suggesting her wind could perhaps have been encouraged to usher forth from her guts via her gullet on the short stretch across the road between the pub and the offy. She pondered my postulation momentarily before finally retorting ‘Well, what would you do if you needed a poo?’, to which I replied:

‘I wouldn’t do it in here.’

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No can be a positive word

Whilst it’s clear that a lot of Scottish people wanted independance and are no doubt now very dissapointed with the results, it’s even more clear to me that a lot didn’t and of those, many were genuinely scared of what Yes would mean for them, their country and the rest of the United Kingdom. Those people are now experiencing relief and the subsidence of fear as opposed to the pride and ecstacy of victory.

That notion is enough for me to believe the right result was found. Sorry for anyone who is dissapointed today and I wish you great and fair success in finding new powers of independance within the United Kingdown, rather than without.

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Uninstall DirectAccess Connectivity Assistant 2.0

You can find the ‘DirectAccess Connectivity Assistant 2.0’ here:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/download/details.aspx?id=29039

This handy little tool is provided as an msi, which operates as a wrapper for the msu contained within. I was finding it hard to uninstall so I asked my colleague and software deployment expert and he provided me with this magic:

pkgmgr /up:Microsoft-DirectAccess-Connectivity-Assistant-Package-TopLevel~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~~7.1.7601.18340

Which did the trick (at least for the x64 version).

This info came from https://support.microsoft.com/kb/940410 combined with some poking about inside the msi with 7-zip.

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An unemployed man and an employed man

An unemployed man and an employed man had an argument in front of me today as I walked past Colston Hall. The employed man was riding his bike on the pavement and his ample girth combined with bulging panniers resulted in him presenting a fairly wide load to oncoming pedestrians. The unemployed man, accompanied by a fellow jobseeker, was expressing concern that his dog was at risk of getting squashed issued a bitter complaint to this effect. Whilst I don’t wish to cast aspersions on their respective characters, it was noticeable that neither man had considered their argument or had invested them time in intellectually engaged with their own viewpoint, let alone that of their newly met acquaintance. Using short sentences liberally scattered with poor grammar and expletives the situation was not improved.

It was eventually resolved when the two men were sufficiently far apart that sustaining argument had become near impossible – you see, neither party stopped perambulating in their opposing directions. The employed man, now busy navigating a tricky sloping pavement on his overladen two-wheeled chariot gave up speaking altogether, whilst the parting shot of the unemployed man summed things up rather nicely… ‘go to work, mate; you’re an idiot.’ As I continued winding my way to work it left me pondering whether the employed man was, in the opinion of the unemployed man at least, an idiot for riding on the pavement or simply for going to work. Now I’m in work, just like I am most days of my life and have been for over twenty years, I’m starting to think it’s the latter, and he may have been right.

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