“Let me know how much you’ll charge me”

Sometimes it’s just about doing it for the sake of it; because you can. ¬†Money is irrelevant once you have enough to eat and pay the bills. ¬†I never forget what it felt like when I could do neither – or either. ¬†I hope I never do.

Do one good thing, every day, just because you can.  Tell no-one you did it.


This is how a fair trial works…

  1. We all listen to a litany of things about how you did / didn’t do it.
  2. Twenty-four hour news hacks (the kind we would not invite to watch our dogs) give the accused emotive nicknames and spout undiluted vitriol in great gushing splashes against our screens.
  3. All the circumstantial evidence means we just know you did it.
  4. We bay and crow in true lynch-mob style.
  5. The jury go away and look at the actual proof of guilt versus innocence.
  6. They come back and say, based on the evidence you’re innocent.
  7. We do not have an alternative verdict in the USA of “not proven”.
  8. So, quite rightly, you are free.
You see, this is how justice works. ¬†We do not kill people just because we’re ‘fairly certain they did it and besides, they totally acted like they did it’. ¬†We condemn people when there is proof that is so compelling that there is no doubt at all¬†that they did it.

And then we kill them…after a suitable number of double-checks to make sure we got the decision right the first time. ¬†Even then we sometimes kill people for crimes they did not commit or let them out just in the nick of time after their life has rotted almost from view.

This is the crux of the problem. ¬†You can’t give that life back.

 We no longer storm the courthouse and string a screaming unfortunate from a tree limb or streetlamp.  We realize that mob justice is no justice at all, not even if it piques a sense of revenge that must be avenged.  We defer to a proxy of twelve people whom we have determined are good enough to make a fair decision based on what they have seen and heard unsullied by the quality of TV graphics and dramatic on-the-hour soundbites.  When they decide, we allow them to decide for us all.

This is…civility. ¬†This is…how things must be.

Even a man rent on a rack and broken by the spasms of electricity and beatings will not always tell you the truth.  Find the facts.  Show them to our diligent dozen.  Allow perspectives of guilt and innocence to be ascribed.  Even allow lies Рas long as we allow the lies to be shown as such.

Short dresses and inexplicable hot body contests make you seem weird, cold, callous or bizarre but they do not prove you a killer. ¬†A knife, a gun, bullet wounds, ligature marks, broken bones, photographic evidence: ¬†these work. ¬†But when there is no proof…then the case is not proved, even if it makes you want to scream MURDERER or write letters of protest and when the case is not proved then you are innocent and you are free to slither or crawl or trot on high-heels in a go-go skirt because that is what freedom means.

The victim is still a victim…however she died, she did.

Skype adds ads

So today Skype have announced that they will start putting adverts out to all customers, even those who pay. ¬†I can see the point, after all it’s all about the money honey. ¬†Isn’t it?

Wait – I have a *paid* account. ¬†In fact – I pay quite ¬†a lot for my Skype account. ¬†Not just a few cents here or there – over a $100 a year plus extra if I call UK-based cell phones or ridiculous ‘easy-to-remember’ numbers for people like the bank or the tax office.

I pay.  I pay a lot.

I do like Skype – really, it’s an awesome service and without it I can pretty much say that it would have been difficult, if not impossible for my wife and I to have met and formed a decent relationship. ¬†We used to use over 2500 minutes a month talking to each other on Skype. ¬†Hours and hours talking to each other made it so we knew each other like we’d gone to school together – despite at that point never having met in person and a physical separation of two continents and 4000 miles. ¬†Skype helped us fall in love. ¬†Skype helped us stay together through tricky traumatic reams of government paperwork and visas. ¬†It played a big part in the arrangements of our first nervous meetings. ¬†It allowed us to cry together, laugh together and grow one year older together. ¬†Skype was there, drenched in tears of happiness the day I called a sleepy future wife to tell her my interview at the US Embassy had gone well and we had the necessary permission for me to fly over permanently and for us to be allowed to marry.

That day was one of the most heart-burstingly happy moments I have ever had.  I know Lisa felt the same way.

Nowadays Skype helps me work. ¬†In fact, without Skype my work would be a quiet message-filled experience snowed under a pile of time-shifted emails. ¬† It means I can hear my mother’s voice, even though she has no computer and it plays a critical part in letting me wave at my sister, my nephew, my Dad and his future wife and pull silly faces at them in a range of strange hats. ¬†Soon Skype might be there as I perform poetry to a foggy rain-damp UK audience whilst I stand, sun-brushed on the balcony of my apartment in the USA.

Skype…you are a good friend. ¬†Please don’t become a knuckle-dragging¬†Neanderthal who drops adverts in my lap and screams sound-bytes in my ears. ¬†I *pay* for you to sit in the audience with me – if you invite along adverts who yell out at the wrong time and ruin the moment I’ll buy a new friend, one who values our friendship and the color of my money…

Calling Vonage and Google Voice – are you listening?

Spring blues

I’m feeling a bit conflicted today. It’s my mother’s fault..probably. She called me today ticked off about an (inaccurate) threatening letter she had received on my behalf. ¬†I can’t remember the last time I ever had any difficult words with my mother. ¬†In fact, probably not since I was about nine years old. ¬†I’ve been through the details with her and sorted out the drama to some extent but it’s left me a little…blue.

My ethos in life is to have a Positive Mental Attitude. ¬†It’s done me well for the last few years in the face of bags of stress from endless government paperwork, emigrating/immigrating, working for myself (and sometimes for others) – plus other truly emotionally-shredding things in the last year that one just can’t discuss with a blog. ¬†No, nothing to do with my marriage – she’s lovely and my step-daughter is lovely too – just, stuff…you know..stuff. ¬†Made worse really by the fact that it’s nothing to do with my wife or myself but we’re left to pick up the pieces and stick emotional bandages on the trauma. ¬†At least if it was of our making then we could blame ourselves or suffer some sort of remorse or guilt but when you’re totally on the receiving end of piles of crap because of someone else’s¬†reckless¬†behavior then it’s a bit galling having to go around and sort things out and wait for the hammer to fall, even though it’s meant for them not you.

Sometimes that little survival pack of PMA energy runs down below the fill line and even I, Mr Positive, can feel a little…happy-challenged. ¬†It’ll pass. ¬†I ate a whole packet of Apple¬†Sour Punch Straws which cheered me up no end. ¬†But..you know..meh..

A few more months of the silliness we’ve been forced to put up with (for the last seven months or so) and then we should be on the way to sunny outlooks. ¬†Well, literally, since in a month or so the snow will be gone and the Spring temperatures will march upwards back to that lovely, balmy barbecue weather we are so lucky to enjoy here in Omaha. ¬†To any Brits reading this – I can thoroughly recommend living in what geographers call a “semi-arid” region. ¬† Rain? ¬†I’ve forgotten what rain looks and feels like. ¬†Result. ¬†Snow, on the other hand – you have NO idea what REAL snow is. ¬†Brrrr.

So – a list of good things, just to cheer myself up:

  • Lovely wife. ¬†Seriously; I couldn’t imagine not being with her. ¬†I know now what people mean when they say that. ¬†She is the perfect Batman to my Robin; the perfect Dr Watson to my Sherlock; the Ying to my Yang. ¬†Result.
  • Ditto to the step-daughter. ¬†Such a good kid and I’m proud to be her stepdad and I genuinely think her life is better with me in it too. ¬†Awww.
  • My dogs – who keep me company whilst I work and who live for cuddles and friendship. ¬†Everybody should get some Big Yellow Dog cuddles – they’re ace.
  • The Parrot – who has taught me that birds can be smart..but also awkward and¬†wily. ¬†I am gratified that my hand-speed (a side effect of many years of full-contact martial arts training in my youth) has not diminished and is approximately five nanoseconds faster than a grumpy Amazon parrot can snap its beak shut in the direction of my fingers. ¬†She says “woof” in a human voice to the dogs and that makes me laugh and forgive her finger-snipping ways.
  • My work – I still have to kick myself to realize I do the job I always wanted to do since the age of 14..and get paid well enough to do it. ¬†I still have a huge guilt complex about the inequality of generous remunerations that society places before people like myself in comparison to the mostly-inadequate amounts given to midwives and visiting nurses like my sister. ¬†Both are arguably skilled jobs but, really, someone who takes life at its most frail is surely worth more to us than that? ¬†Apparently not. ¬†It’s nice to wake up and want to work and be able to. ¬†I never forget that.
  • My family, both in the UK and the American side (even if some are in Italy right now).
  • Good health etc etc.
  • Also, America is a truly brilliant place to live and Americans, in general, are much more fun to be around than you could ever imagine. ¬†The biggest problem for most Brits is that they are exposed to American culture and lifestyles by films and TV. ¬†This is like learning how to speak French by looking at pictures of Canada. ¬†America is HUGE and each state can be significantly different in culture, food, body shape, traditions, landscape, weather and so on and so on.

Really, overall life is just so brilliant.  Can we just fast-forward a couple of months though?

MySpace is not your space

I got a begging email from MySpace today and, suitably nostalgic, I logged in and took a look.

I’ve canceled my account now – when you do it there’s a chance to say why. I think my optional “account cancelation reason” pretty much makes it clear. I’d love to talk to someone at MySpace about what, as a consumer, I just don’t get about the site.

The redesign is HORRIBLE…but I visited anyway to take a look again at MySpace – perhaps I’d just not given it a chance.

Within minutes of updating my profile – despite having privacy settings set up and not really having much on there – was spammed by several obviously spamming accounts with pictures of barely-clad girls inviting me to go to phishing/porn sites.

This is just very very poor.

The design of the site is just impenetrable and seemingly purposeless. The question that remains unanswered, for me at least, is “what would I need to use MySpace for?”

Sadly the answer is..nothing. So I come back to cancel my account to prevent further spam and to avoid my details being used by people I don’t choose for purposes I do not require or wish.

I know I can change privacy settings – mine were already set to balance privacy over usability – but without a reason to use the site (any really, why is MySpace there?) then the best action is to run away as fast as possible.

I hate to be negative like this – I am a professional developer, designer and UI specialist and it’s crushing to receive horrible feedback on your product – but seriously, MySpace needs to raise its game or it’s going to die a death of a 1000 cuts and that’s really sad. ūüė¶