Posts Tagged ‘ rant ’

A rambling post about Valentine’s day.

I took a walk down to my local Co-Operative several days ago for milk and sugar. I got what I went out for, but I also came out with a feeling of annoyance and disappointment, reminded yet again that consumerism exists after successfully shunning it for the most part after the Christmas rush.

I walked past the bread and toward the cakes, picking up some apple pies on the way because they are tasty business. I turned the corner and walked down the confectionery aisle, picking up a bag of Tyrrell’s salted kettle chips and a six-pack of Cadbury’s Creme eggs. Out the aisle, turn right and up the toward tea and biscuits, picking up a pack of chocolate digestives and finally remembered why I’d stepped outside in the first place.

I walked up the aisle and turned round to the left on my way to the sugar when I was almost blown from my feet by an astonishing pink glow. I was completely distracted by it and, for a second, couldn’t draw my eyes from the display of chocolates, sweets, teddy bears and heart shaped things. It was then I remembered that Valentines day was approaching.

In a little under two weeks from now, couples across the world will exchange presents in an effort to show how much they love each other. They might even go to a moderately priced restaurant but because it’s ‘romantic’. The lucky ones may even be treated to a romantic city break to Paris.

Ooh-la-fucking-la.

The entire concept of Valentine’s day is something I generally can’t abide. I’m not particularly one for romantic gestures, but I’m even worse when I’m pressured into them by everyone around me. One of the things I loathed about working in a call centre was when everyone told everyone else what they were planning on doing for their other halves on Valentine’s day. It quickly turned into a pissing contest as the men started weighing up how much their gifts cost and the women compared how grand their ideas were in comparison to everyone else’s. This would continue for several weeks prior to Valentine’s day.

There was then the issue of Valentine’s day itself. Women would walk around wearing the badges that came with A2 sized cards. Massive teddy bears would be littered around the place, on desks, chairs and in locker rooms. Over-sized helium balloons could be seen bobbing about the call centre, tied to the backs of their recipient’s chairs and boxes of chocolates would be opened and scoffed throughout the day, their contents shared with all and sundry. And the worst part of Valentine’s day? Bouquets.

Fuck, they were annoying. When working for a certain car insurance firm on Valentine’s day, I counted no less than 9 different bouquets of flowers on my floor alone (one of six floors). Each one carried in by a different man wearing an Interflora uniform, each one received with a gasp and that stupid thing ‘women’ do where they squeal and shake their hands about in front of their face like a fan while going “ohmygodohmygodohmygod” for about five minutes.

Now, the problem I have isn’t with the ideology behind Valentine’s day. I certainly don’t mind people showing their partners how much they love them. I do have a problem with the way Valentine’s day is expected of me. I have a problem with how it’s sold and I have a problem with how other people react to valentine’s day.

I have a problem with people who feel the need to compare the gifts they got with other people. I have a problem with men feeling they need to one-up their friends by spending more and more money each and every year. I have a problem with how people moan about being single on Valentine’s day while everyone else is basking in the warm glow of their own materialism.

I don’t think that people should be given a specific day to show their partner how much they love them and I certainly don’t think that the way to show this love is with a token gesture, a bunch of flowers and a box of chocolates. I think that while it’s lovely that couples go on weekend breaks to Paris, why do you need to do it during the second weekend in February? If it were me I’d rather just wait ’til the summer and go when it’s warm. You can still have all the sex you would have had in February, but with the added benefits of outdoor warmth and statistically less rain.

Surely if you’re in the right relationship, you’ll want to express your love for your better half all year round. Waiting for a specific day is a nonsense. You shouldn’t have to wait until the 14th to take her to that frightfully expensive but ultimately delicious restaurant. You shouldn’t have to wait until the 14th to break out the French Maid’s outfit and do all the things he sees in porn. I certainly wouldn’t like to think that a large number of couples only really engage in romantic gestures on Valentine’s day.

I do get pretty pissed off at how people feel the need to tell everyone within a 50 mile radius about what they did with their partner or what they got from their partner on Valentine’s day. I dislike picking up newspapers and seeing ad after ad for personals sites, depressingly juxtaposed by Valentine’s day messages from idiots to their loved ones, or even that person they get on the bus with every day at 8:23. I dislike seeing online shops being dressed up for Valentine’s day, selling the same things they usually sell but in red or pink versions and the option to send a personalised message (see Apple and their iPods).

I’m a believer in the notion that the little things are often the most romantic. While extravagant and expensive gestures once a year may be fine, I think I’d be just as happier with my partner remembering the little things I like throughout the year.

There was a time when I’d been telling my partner about how much I wanted a Monome and while I was at work she took the time to make one from me out of a cardboard box and a couple of pairs of rubber gloves stuffed with various scraps of fabric to make the buttons all 3D. It wasn’t Valentine’s day, nor was it my Birthday or any other special occasion, but it was infinitely better than a bottle of aftershave and a card on Valentine’s day. Other items I’ve been given by partners for no reason include a book about maths, chilli rice crackers, chocolate, exotic tea and a hoodie. These are all way more awesome than aftershave.

So don’t wait till the 14th to do all the things you’re planning on doing, just do them anyway. Don’t wait for it to be socially acceptable to send your girlfriend a bunch of flowers at work. Just do it because you want to. If you’re out and about and you see something your partner would appreciate, just buy it. It doesn’t need to be small, just something that means something to them from someone they love.

You don’t need Valentine’s day to express your feelings, you should be doing it anyway.

P.S – I haven’t gone over this or edited it so it’s probably going to be all over the place, badly structured, poorly worded and whatnot but I’m not too fussed.

We are not all Ben Fogle.

An IM conversation I had with a friend of mine on the 10th of August 2009.  I left the time stamps in because I am lazy.

—–

13:59:57 Her: so she’s using a joke for publicity
14:00:06 Her: because her music is not joke enough
14:00:07 Me: yes
14:00:12 Me: like kanye west in southpark
14:00:24 Her: fish sticks
14:00:30 Me: BTW
14:00:39 Me: will you please tell apple to NOT make a tablet pc?
14:01:03 Her: o yeah, I forgot about my place on the board
14:02:44 Her: why don’t you want them to make one?
14:03:22 Me: because it’s just a large ipod touch
14:03:31 Me: whats the point?
14:03:43 Her: there is none
14:03:56 Me: so don’t make one
14:04:01 Her: it’s more or less the same for all these middle-ground electronics
14:04:05 Me: pfft
14:04:16 Her: get an awesome phone
14:04:17 Her: or
14:04:20 Her: get a laptop
14:04:26 Her: why compromise?
14:04:35 Me: i hate apple
14:04:43 Her: I know you do
14:04:47 Her: I know you do
14:04:54 Me: everything they do just angers me
14:05:10 Me: “Shoot video, then edit it right on your iPhone.”
14:05:13 Me: NO
14:05:20 Me: A PHONE IS NOT AN AVID SUITE
14:05:23 Me: /slap
14:05:25 Her: rofl
14:05:37 Me: “Let Compass point you in the right direction.”
14:05:38 Me: NO
14:05:42 Me: WE ARE NOT ALL BEN FOGLE
14:05:44 Me: /slap

—–

“We are not all Ben Fogle.”

Such wise words from one so young.

Ready my ship, Captain!

It didn't stop you, though.  Did it?  You thieving bastard.

It didn't stop you, though. Did it? You thieving bastard.

The Internet is rife with piracy and it’s not going to change.  The RIAA, the PRS and all the Internet policing just don’t have enough pull to rid the Internet of torrents, p2p, Newsgroups, Limewire and all the millions of MSN file transfers that must happen daily.  We live in a society where music is in abundance and even the most obscure works can be found with by a persistent Googler with even basic knowledge of where to find what on the Internet.

In saying this, the aquisition of music through markets such as bleep.com, beatport, iTunes and Amazon is far simpler than trudging through twenty pages of Rapidsearch.  In less than 20 seconds I can open iTunes, find the track I’ve been humming all day, buy it and have it sent to my computer at blazing speed through my ultra-fast broadband connection.  All this for 70p?  Excellent!  The quality is good, the tracks are properly labeled and organised to keep even the most anal of music hoarders happy and the layout of the iTunes store is so wonderfully presented that it almost makes searching for new music effortless, even fun.

This isn’t to say that the pirate community doesn’t take care of it’s own.  There are, to my mind, several hundred private torrent trackers, sites and seed servers who take pride in the content they present to their userbase.  Torrent sites such as http://www.torrentech.org have very strict rules with it comes to uploading and presenting content for the community.

When creating torrents, I’ll always make sure that the auality is at the very least 192 CBR mp3 at 44,100 khz and in true stereo.  If it’s an ultra special release or something I hold very dearly, I’ll almost always sacrifice my upload bandwidth and distribute the FLAC release.  The album art is always contained, the MP3 tags are always complete and there’s no playlist information.  Ever.  M3u files are the work of satan, as I’m sure every iTunes user will agree.

The pirate community should be making these standards necessary across the board, not just on a few private trackers.  There are written and globally understood rules and regulations on good behaviour and practice for p2p participants and torrent downloaders.  Seed what you reap was the motto I was told right from the very beginning.  “As long as your download ratio is 1:1, you’re alright” said the wise man who first introduced me to the world of piracy, and I’ve applied this practice into every aspect of my online activities.

So if I’m so careful when I’m distributing content, why can’t everyone else take the same level of care?  Surely we want to be showing corporations that the quality of our free content is on par with or better than the music they release, not making laughable rips of excellent music.  Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it needs to be sub-standard in every aspect.  Cheap and cheerful isn’t what we’re looking for here, and if you’ve already gone through the hassle of making and uploading your torrent to a tracker, you might as well make the extra effort to make sure it’s a torrent you can be proud of.  This will grow the community and force record companies and music corporate enteties to re-write their copyright standards.

PROTIPS

  1. Encode your music properly – anything over 160 CBR is always welcome.
  2. Sort your ID3 tags.  It’s a pain in the arse having to go through every track in a discography download and fix everything yourself.
  3. M3u files – Don’t include them.  We’ll make them ourselves in Winamp later should we need them.
  4. Don’t password protect your RAR files.  It’s just stupid.
  5. Include album art.  It’s like the cherry on top.
  6. Use a respectable tracker.  There are plenty of them around and it means that people like me don’t have to trawl for an hour’s worth of Google to find that Autechre EP released in 1992 where only 250 of them were ever made.
  7. Seed your own torrents for at least a week after the first upload – it’s the done thing and it means that more and more will be encouraged to seed.

Oh, and for those of you who would like it confirmed, yes – I download illegally.