Showing posts from January, 2017


I am still on a “Mission to Explain,” but what I had in mind requires more reading in order to explain correctly, and we must now also contend with the new term “alternative facts,” coined in the last week, i.e. facts that counter the facts most unhelpful to your own cause. Instead, I have a very important piece of information, discovered in the last couple of days, that made the world a little better for having discovered it. The extremely well-known sound effect, “DUN-DUN-DUUUUNNNN!!!,” used as the most over-the-top reaction to, well, anything, not only has an actual name, but a composer as well. Its correct name is “Shock Horror (a),” credited to Dick Walter (whose website is at, and comes from the “Classic Comedy” album produced by “library music” company KPM, now known as EMI Production Music, a division of Sony/ATV Music Publishing. I wouldn’t be surprised if the original reaction to this is, “who cares,” but, to me, knowing that the ubiq


Until now, I only knew this about the Czech Republic: SS Normandie, one of the fastest ocean liners of the 1930s, had a rudder made by Skoda Works, of which the car company was a part. Therefore, I was glad to come across something that ordered me to look further. In September 2016, I heard the government of the Czech Republic had decided to officially adopt “Czechia” as the short form of the country’s name, to be used in everyday life, much like “United Kingdom,” “Great Britain” and “England” are used to substitute for a much longer name. More information is available at the Czechia Civic Initiative’s website This adoption actually took place six months earlier, but was really only reported in the UK when a British Government committee, the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names, advised all British people to start using the name. The reasons the Czech government gave for adopting “Czechia,” chiefly to avoid confusion on what the short name f


I am lucky that my time studying for a degree was before the internet became the place where everybody, and everything, lives. Researching for essays between 2001 and 2004, I had to physically go and look for information, in bookshops and libraries, making copious notes and photocopies, and thinking about what it all means – I am in my thirties, making myself sound old. It is not enough knowing where you can go, it’s making sense of what you find. I am still doing that with the world now, let alone all those years ago, and that is how it should be – anyone who thinks they have it all worked out should be checked to see if they are already dead. What stuck with me since is how the world was interpreted, in the latter half of the last century, as a time of “postmodernity.” Many thinkers, most of them French - Jean-Fran ç ois Lyotard, Claude Levi-Strauss, Jean Beaudrillard, Walter Truett Anderson, and so on - made their own observations, that have coalesced into a theory, born


The first act of 2017 appears to be replacing circling hippos with an aerobics class. After ten years, BBC One has replaced its channel idents, themed around “circles,” evocating the globe logos it used for many years, in favour of snapshots of groups of people, directed by photographer Martin Parr, themed around the idea of “oneness.” So far, we have just four idents, out of a promised twenty-four – the aerobics class, a group of sea swimmers, and a slightly different version of each one. They are a bit sparse, with no music or sound apart from what is in the scene, and too mundane when compared with what they replaced. There are also too few idents available right now, risking outstaying their welcome by the time the next ones appear. I thought that enthusiasm for TV idents was just an online pursuit, where you can go into as much detail as you want, but I am no longer sure. I really should know, as this happened before. The first time I appeared on the radio, said in