Guilty Until Proven Innocent

I was always told that people were innocent until proved otherwise.

It’s about something called “The Benefit of the Doubt”.

It’s a default position. It puts the onus on the accuser so that we can all get on with life without having to defend ourselves constantly.

It’s a good idea; the bad guys get caught and the good guys that are wrongly accused are safe.

Except that it’s no longer true.

It worries me that “allegations” and “accusations” have predominance in the media these days.

As far as I can tell – at this point in time nothing has been proved against Jimmy Savile, Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen, James Levine, Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK and many others.

So – in law and supposedly IRL – these guys are safe and innocent until a jury decides guilt. Right?



Important Status Update

All major headlines require you to make an official response on social media. It’s a new law.

Previously, important people were expected to issue a statement to the press when something big happened, like the death of an important person, an earthquake, flood, tsunami, volcanic eruption or act of terror.

Today, however, EVERYONE is compelled to do this.

This is because, in the past, it took a great effort to put pen to paper, lick a stamp, walk to the post box and then wait for possible publication in the letters page of the organ of choice, but today it’s a social media status update, done in a few seconds with a thumb.

You are, at the very least, expected to respond to the news post by clicking on an emoticon for crying, or that depicts shock or anger. If you really are bothered enough, you may make an actual comment.

Sometimes there is a call for further action – to “share”, to sign a petition, to send thoughts and prayers, or even to change your avatar profile picture to something with a flag on it.

Doing nothing is not an option.

And what do you do when there has not been a major event and you have the usual burning desire to comment to your followers and friends? You have to find a meme or fake news,  or anything that allows you to issue a public statement and share your dearly held views.  There are plenty of meme generators click baiters for that very reason.

We’re all important broadcasters and commentators now. Infatuation with information has met with egocentricity and narcissism.

Infatuation with information merges with egocentricity and narcissism.

And when that happens, nothing could be less social than social media.

Sometimes I wonder if this is the way the baddies might win. I often wonder why we register or acknowledge such events and then move on to the next thing. Perhaps if we didn’t feed them, the monsters would quit and leave us to have a social time on social media.


Sky QoS Sadness

This is basically a moan about the time soaked up by technology. And another “lost” weekend.

Broadband is supposed to be a basic human right, or something close to it, but we’ve always struggled with it, and it’s been costly in terms of time, effort and hard earned cash.

We had a really crap internet speed for years, along with a noisy phone line. We switched several times. Then we switched to Primus – who promised on the phone to sort it out by getting us a new connection outside, from a new green box. This meant losing the phone number I had had here for over 20 years, and doing without broadband for several weeks, but we went for it. In the end, nothing improved, and we switched again – this time to BT, and they actually did change the outside line – and we got another new phone number. Then we were sued by Primus for the full year, and we had to pay up.

BT was expensive, so when the renewal was due, knowing we had a good line now, we switched to Tesco broadband – and it was cheap and good and we were happy.

Then Tesco decided to stop doing broadband and phone, and passed us onto Talk Talk. As soon as the switchover happened, our speeds dramatically reduced. We complained, we got new routers, we even got free netflix – but as the speed was so bad, it was unusable. We were losing business, the children were upset that their games didn’t work, so we switched to Sky (we have few options on our exchange). Sky said they would manage the switchover for us. Cool.

As soon as the switch to Sky happened, our speeds quadrupled! We were delighted. However, we got charged for the full year (again) by Talk Talk for leaving them before the contract was up.

The thing about broadband and phone is that what we do, what we want, changes over time. The children game on-line more, and we are now video chatting – Skype, Facetime and also uploading back-ups of photographs and videos.

The download speed matters, of course, but increasingly now the upload speed matters too. Our upload speed is less than 10% of the download.

To back up our photos to flikr or Google has taken months, and is still not done. This is not merely because the upload speed is poor, but because uploading is killing our downloads. Meaning we can only upload at night.

This is apparently a QoS issue – but Sky routers do not have QoS settings. However, as this is not fibre, I am able to connect another router. So this weekend I dug out the old Tesco router, connected it to the laptop and set it up via a browser. I set the channel, turned on wifi and gave it a cute name SSID. Then I connected it to the Sky router. Connecting the Sky router to the laptop I turned off wifi. Now the phone line and validation goes through Sky’s router, but all the wifi goes through the old Tesco router.

We noticed an improved wifi range and signal strength, but the Tesco is too old to have a QoS setting. Bummer. Looks like I am going to have to try to buy a router – unless I can persuade someone at Tier 2 Sky customer relations to crank up my uploads.

They MUST be able to do this, forums are full of uploads set at 797kbps – an unusual number and happening too often to be a coincidence.

TL;DR: Yet another bunch of hours soaked up by computers and internet. More stress, and headaches. Time I will never get back!


Summer Better Than Others

There is a heatwave in Glasgow presently. It’s Not Good. It’s uncomfortable in too many ways. It is certainly not a feast for the eyes. A holiday this is not.

Days of relentless sunshine have taken their toll on Weegies and their usual activities. The bums who drink cheap wine and superlagers in the public parks year round now have to contend with families and pets, and vice versa.

Everyone is sunburned or tanned to a burnished mahogany.

As a man, the thing that gets me is that females whittle clothing down to a risqué minimum and then, as they mince around or lounge about on bits of grass, frown at you for having the audacity to glance at them during a scan survey of possible places to set up camp with the family.

I am genuinely not interested in lusting after their bodies, and would prefer it if they either stopped dressing like that, or stopped trying to make me feel guilty. Their frowns and eye rolling compete with my eye rolling, sad head shake, and exasperated tutting.

The truth is that my eyesight is not what it was. But they won’t know that. In addition, I am happily married and perfectly satisfied, so I would like to be left in peace and equilibrium.

Then there are those women who wear veils and black gowns. Why are they going to sunny parklands or beaches – I don’t get that. I have no problem with them doing so, it’s up to them, but I have to say it doesn’t look comfortable, and they ain’t getting a tan that is for sure. They also seem to be attracted to me; they always set up camp very close-by. Unlike the scantily-clad girls, these women see me as an elderly unthreatening safe haven.

The main annoyance with a large group of these women and their children is that if you feel that they are too noisy, and decide to relocate, it looks like you are a racist or something.  If they drop litter everywhere, you feel you can’t say anything, so you sit in silence, and avert your eyes.

You decide to make the best of it – get out a sandwich or a wee sausage and a soft drink from the cool bag. This brings over the dogs.

The dogs walk onto the blanket, knocking things over, and stick their noses into things – while their owners shout and come over to pull their away by the collar. You feel like saying that the sign clearly states that all dogs are to be on a lead, but you don’t. You just throw away the contaminated picnic into a bag for the litter bin later.

Time for a kickabout with the lad. In consideration of everyone else, you play one-touch – passing the ball back and forth as quickly as possible using alternate feet, but your son treads in a big runny dog poo. The wipes are produced and everything is disinfected.

You settle down for a read, but the breeze has changed and the smoke from the portable barbecue fired up by a hipster and his moll catches your breath.

A man in a red Adidas track suit, accompanied by his sister or daughter (possible both) – also in an Adidas track suit, settle down and decide to play their favourite Now That’s What I Call Very Ethnic Music 25. It’s lively and has complex beats and traces of melody, and it is just loud enough to gain your full attention despite their crap smartphone speakers.

You think about relocating, but there are groups of people drinking wine over there, and screaming babies and prams over here. It’s getting busier every minute, and you realise that there will be a traffic jam to get out of the park unless you make a move right away.

As you pack up, you are hit on the head by a tennis ball. “Sorry!” you hear, as you toss it back to a tattooed man in shorts and slip-ons. His son is (despite the heat) wearing a Spiderman onesie.

You try to put your litter in the bin, but it is overflowing, and covered in flies and wasps – and large seabirds have pulled a lot of stuff out and everything is strewn about the area of the bin. You try to stop your daughter seeing a man peeing into the nettles by suddenly coming to life as super Dad the child lifter-upper.

As you pack the car, the midgies come out and nip you to the edge of reason. The drive out of the park is fraught because cars have been abandoned in passing places – which have been grabbed as parking spots by the SUV drivers. The air con hasn’t kicked in yet, but you can’t open the windows because the air con is switched on. It’s hot and the traffic lights only let one car through at a time.

Every petrol station has a queue for the car wash.

There are road restrictions because there is a Women’s 10K run on, as well as roadworks, diversions, and a funeral procession. The supermarkets have run out of ice cream, water and sun lotions. There are rows of empty shelves in the beer aisles.

You park and take the family for a stroll after the hot car trip home. But all the pubs and restaurants that can, have the windows open and for once the smokers are at one with the rest of the drinkers and eaters. Dogs and ciggy smoke everywhere.

There are a lot of bad tan lines, uncomfortable looking people trying to get through this infernal heat and unnatural blue skies. The holiday clothes have been dug out of the suitcase and pressed into service early.  Men are wearing long shorts, which, with socks, reveals only 25 mm of actual leg to the elements.

Adult men in shorts is, was, always has been, and always will be an abomination. I do not need a tan on my legs because I am the only one who sees my legs, so what’s the point? Also wearing long shorts looks really bad, and it is not in the slightest bit cooler.

It is weird having holiday weather at home because it is not holiday. You don’t have a pool or the sea to cool off. It’s got all the downside and none of the upside.

I’m praying for rain, and looking forward to my real holidays!


Miss Pronounced

Miss Featherstonehaugh is pronounced “Miss Fanshaw”. It seems crazy.

It was once patiently explained to me that there is a disconnect between verbal, printed and written English when it comes to names, and an extreme bureaucratic and legal example was a chequebook.

It was possible, my teacher explained, for each cheque to have the account name ROBERT BURNS printed on it, but for the signature to be a cursive form of BARAK OBAMA, and for it to be verbalised or pronounced MARGARET THATCHER.

IMG_20150503_165205929_FotorThe teacher added that the signature could be an X, a scribble, or a drawing of a fish. The fish would represent the account name ROBERT BURNS, and both be pronounced MARGARET THATCHER. How bizarre!

Places near Glasgow must give non-natives a lot of trouble – “Milngavie” is pronounced “Mul-guy” – and “Culross” is pronounced “Koorus”.

Mhari Dalziel worked at Menzies in Milngavie with Siobhan Cockburn.

The Kerrs were a family I went to school with. Everyone back then pronounced “Kerr” as “Car”, and the film star of the time was Deborah Kerr (pronounced Car). My teacher was Miss Perkins, and this was pronounced “Parkin” by everyone, and I don’t know why. People seemed to just know how things ought to be said. But now it’s changing.

People are pronouncing “Perkins” as “Perkins”, and “Kerr” as “Kerr”, and I heard a news reader recently say “Feather-stone-haw”. I hear it all changing daily – “Men-zeez”, “Consort-ee’um”, “Con-tro-versy” and so forth.

Once no-one was put out by the sight on the telly of Norman St.John-Stevas, nor by the fact that it was pronounced as “Norman sinjun stee’vaz”.

At Oxford, it strikes one as rather odd that people speak of “Modlin college” and then it turns out to be written “Magdalen College”, while at Cambridge there’s Caius college pronounced “Keys”.

I have no idea if all this happens in other languages, or if it is an uniquely English thing. There I did it again. I used a peculiarity – you see I was taught that one MUST not have stuttering vowels, so I couldn’t write “a uniquely”, I was forced by education to put down the “n” to make “an unique”. I still do this with “co-ordinated” and “co-operative”, despite my computer going crazy with “the squiggly lines of error”.

“An Hotel” rather than “a hotel” is better writing , and leaves the reader with the choice of a stuttering vowel or a silent “haitch.”

I have noticed a parallel movement in naming children recently – some parents try the phonetic, such as Ruri, and others try the cryptic, such as Ruaridh. I sometimes feel sorry for the little tykes who have to live their lives spelling their names over the phone.

Then again Avien is not “Avian”, but “ah-vee-‘en”. But how would you know that?

Air Con

One of my pet hates is looking for a vacation. It drives me crazy, and I do not understand why it has to be so annoying, I really don’t.

Travel Agents and Airlines advertise in the most annoying way possible – for example, I saw an ad on the side of a bus offering flights to Amsterdam for £29*.

The asterisk marks the point where sanity departs. This £29 is one-way for one person. Fair enough (you may think), except that it then states that this figure is “based on a group of four”. This comes to £232.

You and your three amigos – if you have three amigos AND they are available – AND willing to travel to Amsterdam with you on CERTAIN dates (a long shot I know) each pay £29 x 2 or £58, because you have to get back home, don’t you? – in total this is 4 x £58, or £232 – plus the taxes and baggage and who-knows-what-else.

It’s a con. I hate when the price per person is dependent on going with others, it’s usually four – but what about single parents with less than three kids, or couples with only one child – or more than two children – why are they penalised? And don’t get me started on the single room surcharges!

Years ago, while working for myself, I would end a project, and be free to go anywhere pretty suddenly… unfortunately websites do not like that.

My destination would be unimportant, the dates pretty flexible, this meant that I had to play the websites like a one-armed bandit, trying destinations at random, airports, dates. Very frustrating indeed.

Even now that I am married with children, and I more-or-less have to take vacations during school breaks – when the prices take a hike up a sharp hill. It’s the same thing – I have to input destination, dates, and pick an airport (Glasgow) – when I obtain no results, I am left pondering what it was that caused the failure: what will I try next? Change the airport? the dates? the destination? It’s a stab in the dark. Holiday Roulette.

Anyway, this is just my long-winded way of getting round to announcing that I have managed to get a vacation booked for the Easter break. And I’m exhausted and in need of a flippin’ vacation now.

Check this out – to drive 3 hours and then to fly from Newcastle (in England) compared with Glasgow (local) is significantly cheaper. In fact, going for TWO weeks is cheaper than a single week’s break flying from my local airport. We’re talking about £350 cheaper – how mad is that?

No wonder everyone in Scotland drives to England to fly abroad.

I am forming a personal theory that this is why Scots have such a reputation, not just for being thrifty and penny-pinching, but for health issues – the stress and anger generated by travel websites — and the stress and angst of long drives to English Airports on infamous death-trap roads like the A1.

I just thank goodness that I do not live in Inverness or the Islands!