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Showing posts from April, 2017

BUT HERE’S THE ONE THAT’S DRIVING ME BERSERK

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Earlier this week, I was told that I reminded someone of the character Sheldon Cooper, from the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.” I said I have only seen the show a few times, but I had seen enough to know that wasn’t quite a compliment. There is a huge difference between knowing a lot and being smart, and I know I have, at least, some social skills, as I had to have a conversation with someone for this stink-bomb of information to come up. However, the character, and the show, is successful because we can see ourselves (and others) in it, and because that identification makes us laugh – entering “The Big Bang Theory” into an internet search engine now brings up the show before the actual theory. While I am not a fan, I am aware that making a show about people previously described as “nerds” and “geeks” into a worldwide hit is simple: compare the type of people most of us don’t know, with those we do. Add in the usual American sitcom production line, writers’ room, big-budget sala

HEY MR D.J., PUT A RECORD ON

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Was there ever a time when hearing music on the radio was considered rare? Whole services are built around non-stop music these days, but there was a time when playing out a recording of a song, the same sort you would buy to listen in your own time, was restricted. This wasn’t considered a bad thing at the time, until people’s tastes changed. Put simply, there used to be a system in place named “needletime,” literally how long records could be played on the radio. This was a protective measure, as the two groups in charge of it were the Musicians’ Union, who wanted to preserve opportunities for their members to play live, and Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL), which represented record companies and music licensees.   PPL had been formed after a 1934 court case, when a coffee shop in Bristol was successfully sued for playing records for its customers, creating the notion recordings cannot be played in public without receiving the permission of the copyright holders. In 193

RULE BRITANNIA, MARMALADE AND JAM

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It’s nice to know that, over in Slovakia, their equivalent of the Ordnance Survey and the Land Registry cares about calling our country by the correct name – in fact, they care about it more than we do. Bratislava’s Geodesy, Cartography and Cadastre Authority has jurisdiction over a certain law passed in 1995, two years after The Slovak Republic, to use its full name, separated from Czechia (see http://www.dancingwiththegatekeepers.com/2017/01/paradise-on-earth-it-is-to-see.html for more details). In the last week, the Authority announced it would start enforcing fines of up to £6,000 if Slovak newspapers and other media kept referring to the UK as “Britain,” instead of the correct “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,” although the shorter “United Kingdom” is still OK. It is not a law that has really been enforced previously, but the Authority wishes to raise awareness of referring to their neighbours correctly, even though a spokesperson for the British Emb

I AM A MOLE AND I LIVE IN A HOLE

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Houses never stand still – I have lived in our family home all my life, and I have seen every room change, with new ideas coming and going, furniture moving around, and how the home has grown with the size of our family. Years ago, we had looked at moving, but it was either that the housing market was too poor, or the taxes involved in moving were too great. Therefore, we extended our home sideways, as the size of our family grew, and out back, to take advantage of the view in our back garden. What we never even contemplated, however, was our going underground. Our back garden, while being home to birds, bats, foxes, and the occasional badger, is also where some of our drainage system lies – playing with that will either wreak havoc on ourselves, or on the houses next door. Even more of a concern would be the total lack of direct sunlight – a basement room would be a fine place to tuck away the washing machine and tumble dryer, and anything that might otherwise be stashed away