Monday, November 28, 2011

Three Day Weekend

After what could only be described as a hellish first week at work (I may write about that, I may not), it occured to me that for a lot of people (especially me), a two day weekend just isn't long enough.

Here's the thing. When you factor in travel times, I'm basically putting in 11-12 hour days in a very stressful job that's one of the most mentally challenging things I've ever done. My workday also goes from 7am-4pm...meaning I've got to be on the road by six and get home shortly after five.

Yeah, I know...welcome to the real world. It's time to pull on your big boy pants and suck it up... but have you ever noticed how the weekend never actually feels like two days off?

For me, a proper day off is free time where you don't have to think about, adjust your behaviour for, or schedule anything around your job.

People say the weekend starts on Friday. While Friday is certainly the Beloved Prince of the Work Days, it's definitely not a day off. The fact I have to get out of bed at 5am proves that...and in my case, I can't enjoy Friday night because I've just finished a week of 11 hour days. When I get in on a Friday evening, I'm so exhausted, I just want to get in, eat something and go to bed. (Although out of an obligation to 'not waste the weekend' I instead sit on the couch like a zombie because I feel like a complete tit going to bed before at least 11pm on a Friday)

Saturday is a proper day off, because as I said above, I don't have to think about work, plan my day around work or get out of or into bed because of work. I can sleep until I wake up and if I feel like staying up until 3am or drinking a case of lager, there's nothing to stop me because there's nothing I have to get up for the next day.

Sunday is not a proper day off. Sure, I can sleep in again if I want to, but I can't stay up late or go anywhere Sunday night. The 5am start on Monday cripples Sunday evening.

Basically, the weekend is not two days off. It's a single day off with a bit of a buffer on each side.

What we really need is two proper days off. The average workweek should run from Monday to Thursday and give you Friday, Saturday and Sunday off.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

This is what's wrong

So I opened the paper this morning and discovered a story about a guy complaining about the National Health Service.

Here's the whole story: The guy weighed approximately 60 stones / 800lbs from eating around 24,000 calories worth of chocolate and fast food every day. So, the NHS spent over a million pounds on him, giving him gastric bypass surgery. This surgery was successful and, at this point, his weight has halved to 30 stone/ 420lbs.

Now he's in the paper, complaining about being 'left high and dry' and 'abandoned' because the NHS (read: the British taxpayer) won't pay an additional £40,000 to have the excess skin that was left behind by his weight loss removed. Oh, except they're not saying they'll never pay for the op. They're saying they're waiting to make sure his weightloss has stabilized. He just wants it right now....which is totally unexpected from a guy who would rather undergo a major op than show some self control and lose weight naturally.

So, in short, this guy has spent years deliberately and wilfully destroying his body. He then has the NHS, which is already stretched to the limit, spend a million fucking pounds on a major operation to make it physically impossible for him to eat...and now he's whining because they're not going to hand him another 50k until they're sure the fat fuck will stop eating.

Oh, and all his actual health problems are gone. The excess skin is purely a cosmetic thing. Here's the deal, guy: Instead of bitching at the NHS to fix it, maybe at this point you should put your hand in your own pocket (now that you can actually reach the fucking thing) and get that done privately.

Yeah, you look fucking ridiculous and people are pointing and laughing, but maybe you should learn from that instead of bitching about it. You see, there are consequences for forcing down 24,000 calories a day. Yeah, you avoided the main one (a slow and painful death), and you avoided that by putting the responsibility on our shoulders by making us pay for an operation instead of you exercising a little self control. Maybe being able to do a Batman impression by sticking your arms out is a small price to pay.

...but let me put this whole thing into perspective. Like I said, this guy got this way by eating too much and never getting off his fat ass and exercising. We paid a million quid because he thought it was too much trouble to get off the couch and go for a walk, or say "No, seven pieces of cake is enough, thank you".

Isn't that a lot like me stabbing myself over and over in the legs and, instead of just, you know, not stabbing myself, going to a doctor and making them spend a million quid grafting knife-proof armor on my thighs...and then complaining that the armor looks stupid and I don't like the colour?

Here's the deal, you fat fuck: You're not going to get any sympathy from me or anyone else, because while you've obviously spent years cultivating this self image where you're always the victim, nothing is ever your fault and you never have to take responsibility for your actions... the rest of the world just sees a whiny, selfish, greedy fat fuck who's like a drowning man who's only drowning because he's too fucking lazy to swim.

You think anyone's going to see your perspective that the NHS are in the wrong because they're not spending more money on you? If it was my call, anyone who gets gastric bypass surgery on the NHS would also get a mandatory forehead tattoo that reads "LAZY SELFISH BASTARD"...because that's exactly what you are.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Times Change

Duke Nukem Forever got pretty much universally panned by critics when it was released. People have come up with various explanations for this, from the idea that after a 14 year wait it could never live up to it's own the idea that the various developers were puerile idiots who hate women.

Personally, I think it goes a little deeper than that... and to understand exactly why Duke Nukem failed, you have to go back in time.

It's 1996. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are at the height of their popularity, everyone thinks 'The Fugees' are a good band for some reason... and contemporary PC's are so powerful when compared to their console counterparts that my Pentium 200 made the original PlayStation look like an Atari 2600.

Unlike today, where you can go buy one of a bajillion first-person shooters, there was only really one game in town...and that was Doom by id Software. Hell, we didn't even call first person shooters first person shooters. We called them 'Doom Clones'.

Oh, there were other shooters, and some of them were actually really good, but to most gamers Doom was the 'real' game. Why would you play one of the knock-offs if you had the real thing?

Then Duke Nukem 3D came on the scene.

I can only speak from personal experience here, and draw from what me and my friends talked about in the schoolyard but, to the mainstream audience, Duke Nukem was the first FPS we played that we didn't actually refer to as a Doom Clone. In fact, it was the first game that anyone would admit...gulp...might actually be better than the daddy of FPS's themselves.

Why? Because 3D Realms had 'pulled a Nintendo' ten years before Nintendo did.

You see, back then, FPS engines were a little primitive. The original Doom was released in 1993, and it would be literally years before games started to appear where you could look up and down.

In 1996, id Software was getting ready to unleash Quake...the first FPS game to feature fully 3D bad guys. Up until then, bad guys in FPS's were sprites: flat two-dimensional cardboard cutouts. It's unthinkable today, but back then, if you walked around a character, you'd see it head on, then as you got past a certain point, the sprite would change to the same badguy from a 3/4 view...then the side...

Basically, id Software had cornered the market. After Doom and Doom 2 they had enough money to throw into R&D to stay light years ahead of just about anyone else when it came to technology... and they'd also become the hallmark for big guns and ultra-violence.

So, whether it was a conscious decision or a happy accident, 3D Realms decided to compete with id Software by not competing with them.

Basically, instead of going for bleeding edge technology and ultra-violence, they went a completely different way. They didn't bother worrying about how many polygons the engine could render or how high the texture resolution was and, instead, went for innovation and humor... and instead of getting their edginess from blood, they got it from a touch of sexual content.

The sexual content is what everyone over 25 immediately thinks about when you mention Duke Nukem. While it's hard to imagine kids today getting excited about a  a pixelated, cartoon-character stripper who would swing her nipple-tassels at you (in a 2-frame 'animation') if you gave her a virtual dollar...  that was cutting edge stuff in 1996. More importantly, it was perfectly suited for the teenage demographic...we're talking about the same kids who would get half an hour's fun out of typing 5318008 into a calculator and then turn it upside down so it spelled 'boobies'.

But, more importantly, while everyone remembers the strippers, everyone seems to forget the innovation.

You could fly in Duke Nukem... and while every shooter out there had the pistol, shotgun, machine gun, rocket launcher and screen-clearing superweapon...Duke had things you'd never seen before. What fun was a rocket launcher when you could a shrink ray that let you shrink your enemies and stamp on them? Or the freeze ray that let you freeze your enemies solid and then shatter them with a kick?

Also, while the 'Build Engine' that Duke was built on was a 'standard' engine for the time, it was also about as good as it could possibly be. The rockets left smoke trails and, even though it was 'faked' with a palette switch, you could have different colored lights. Quake was a technical marvel for its time...but it was also really fucking ugly. Its characters might have been fully 3D, but they were made up of about 15 polygons each. Duke's bad guys may have been flat, 2D cutouts...but they were gorgeous for their time.

Basically, Duke Nukem was the resplendent horse drawn carriage to id Software's rattle-trap, 5mph, suspensionless, wooden-wheeled automobile. The car may be technologically better in every single way...but which would you rather ride in?

...but the visuals don't even matter. At the time, there were hundreds of shooters, all offering almost exactly the same experience at various levels of sophistication. Duke, on the other hand, offered us an over-the-top action-hero protagonist who swore and stuffed dollar bills into stripper's g-strings. He threatened to rip off the end boss's head and shit down its neck...and then did it... and all the while giving us cool things to do that you just couldn't get anywhere else.

So why was the sequel such a massive failure?

In a single word...timing.

I won't go into the full story because its so readily available elsewhere, but Duke Nukem Forever took a massive fifteen years from announcement to release.

You know what Duke's core fanbase did during those fifteen years? We grew up.

I was 15 when I first played Duke. I was thirty when the sequel hit the shelves.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a childish 30 year old. As the clock ticked past midnight into my 30th birthday, I was watching Star Wars while playing Mario on my DSi. However, while I'm still essentially the same person I was at 15,  my sensibilities have changed and my sense of humor is  more sophisticated. I don't snigger (as much) at poop and butt jokes. I'm not going to buy a game just for a flash of side-boob... and as a 30 year old, a game that features a virtual turd that I can pick up and throw at people for no reason other than 'LOL POOPS!' is just...well...stupid and childish.

Basically, this game just wasn't aimed at me anymore... and if it's not aimed at me, then it's not aimed at anyone in that original core audience.

But, of course, there's a whole new generation of fifteen year olds who should find this hilarious, right?

Well...not really, because today's fifteen year olds are a lot more sophisticated in their tastes in media than I was at the same age.

In 2011, the First Person Shooter is a well-known, polished genre. When Duke Nukem' 3D came out, videogaming was the realm of a few social outcasts and nerds. Today, a First Person Shooter holds the honor of being the biggest and most successful entertainment lauch of all time.

Kids today are used to FPS's with Hollywood level stories, multi-million dollar production values and well written-characters voiced by A-list stars. Duke Nukem Forever was a game with a cliched story, no notable voice talent and, thanks to being 15 years late, featured no innovations whatsoever. It was written to appeal to teenagers fifteen years ago, and those kids don't exist any more.

Sure, there's still the sex and adult humor angle, but even in that area, today's teens are far more sophisticated. They're from a generation that has never experienced not being able to instantly access any type of pornography that it's possible to think of. A video game character in a short skirt that makes a blowjob joke isn't exactly going to make them run out and buy a game.

The best analogy I can come up with for Duke Nukem Forever is 'The Black and White Minstrel Show' from the seventies. In it's time it was just considered normal, every day, entertainment until its audience grew enough to see just how horribly offensive it was... and today, we've progressed so far in terms of shock value that its not even noteworthy for its offensiveness.

That's what Duke Nukem' Forever is. It's a product aimed at an audience that simply doesn't exist anymore.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


So, it's been a while since I've had a good rant on here... and I think I'm about to remedy that situation.

A couple of nights ago I found myself watching a documentary on TV about muggers. The sort of documentary that assumes that criminality is a symptom of a deeper issue in society than just accepting that some people are selfish, evil assholes.

Usually, these shows start with a convict explaining why what they do isn't their fault. This one didn't dissapoint. Five minutes in and here's some fuckhole talking to the camera:

"We all want nice things and to go out and have a good time, but we're all broke and we don't have the job skills to get a good enough job to pay for it. Not everyone can be a CEO or a movie director, but we still need the cash, so we go out onto the streets and take it. What else are we supposed to do?"

What else are you supposed to do? Are you fucking serious?

Let me take this point by point.

It's the standard fall back. "I don't have a job, I don't have any qualifications, so I'm forced to do this."

Bull...fucking...shit you are. The question I want to ask is why don't you have the job skills. You see, not only is highschool free here in the UK, it's fucking mandatory. If you don't go to school, someone comes to your house to find out why. Your parents can be fined or go to jail for not making you go.

My point is that here in the UK, you are just about dragged through high school. You actually have to work really hard to fail. Then, even if all you leave school with is a couple of D's, somewhere there's a vocational college that will take you on.

This really pisses me of because these assholes talk as if they've been deprived, but what they really mean is that no-one handed them job qualifications on a platter. Someone actually expected them to earn them, and they decided they'd rather fuck around than pay attention.

Secondly, the guy was absolutely right. Everyone does like nice things and to have a good time and not everyone can be a CEO or movie director. In fact, almost no-one gets to be a CEO or movie director. The vast majority of us drag our asses out of bed every single morning to go to a job we don't like that doesn't pay us as much as we want...but we all do it anyway.

What the fuck makes you so special that you think you shouldn't have to? What makes you think that working a shitty job is beneath you.

Finally, there's the whole "What else do you expect us to do?"

You try and make it sound like you have no other choice and you're forced into crime because blah, blah, blah.

Well, if you were in prison because someone caught you shoplifting a loaf of bread or a chocolate bar because you couldn't afford food, I'd have some sympathy. The fact you're in jail because you beat the shit out of someone and took their wallet and phone makes me slightly less sympathetic.

...and, yeah. I know how hard it can be. I'm about to start work again after a really long period of unemployment...but you know what I did? I went without. I still 'liked nice things' and I still 'liked having a good time'...but I couldn't fucking afford either so I went without, ate canned soup and mac and cheese...and the one thing I never considered was going and beating the shit out of an old lady to take her pension.

So here's what it boils down to: You're not a victim. You're not a symptom of some deeper 'issue' with society. You're just really fucking lazy and think the world owes you a living.

I once heard another guy like this say he burgled people's houses because his only other option was to flip burgers at McDonalds.

So what? Here's the deal: You're lazy fucking scumbag. Your options are limited because you decided you'd rather fuck around at school than learn to read and write. You're selfish, you're obviously not that bright, you've done nothing but take from society since you were born...and you have the balls to act like any employment is beneath you?

Let me clue you in. I'm not from a rich family. Growing up I wasn't even from a 'comfortable' family...but I paid attention in school and, here's the trick of it, I worked hard. From that my grades were good enough to go to college, and after college I took out a loan and worked part time so I could go to University.

You know what did when I couldn't find work? Despite the fact I had three A-Levels and a degree, I applied for jobs stacking shelves, flipping burgers and pushing shopping trolleys around car parks.

To put it another way, I didn't assume the world owed me anything, or complain that everyone and everything was against me because a career wasn't handed to me on a silver platter.

Put simply if flipping burgers isn't beneath me, it sure as fuck isn't beneath you.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Third POV

Ok, so Rayray published this on facebook:

If anyone can show me one example, in the history of the world, of a single spiritual or religious person who has been able to prove, either logically or empirically, the existence of a higher power that has any consciousness or interest in the human race, or ability to punish/reward humans for their moral choices, or that there is any reason (other than fear) to believe in any version of an afterlife, I will give you one of my legs.

Then Evan posted his answer here.

Now it's my turn.

Let me let everyone in on a little secret. This whole argument is completely and utterly pointless.

This argument basically comes down to science versus religion: Provable data versus Faith...and that's the debate equivalent of the unstoppable force and the immovable object.

You simply can't argue faith against science. If you tell me that you feel that God is real and you've felt his presence, heard him speak to you through other people, that's not going to move me at all. There's nothing provable, nothing to measure, nothing to convince me that you're right. On the other hand, I'm sure I could lecture a religious person on the inconsistencies in the bible, how the fossil record contradicts key tenets of your faith...but you're not going to care, because what do facts matter when you can feel God in your heart?

I'm not saying one point of view is right and the other is wrong...I'm just pointing out that it's impossible to argue.

But the real reason this argument is pointless is simply that it doesn't matter.

Here's what it boils down to: You can be super religious and still be an evil, amoral person. You can be an atheist and be a stand-up guy. I don't care what you believe or why you behave the way you do...if you act like a dick, I'll treat you like a dick. If you're a good, moral person, I'll treat you accordingly.

If you and your church group spend your weekends building houses for the homeless, I don't care that you're 'doing it for god', because it's a really fucking nice thing to do. If you're an atheist and you belittle people for what they believe, I don't care how right you think you are, you're still being a massive tool.

The way I see it, if I'm completely wrong and there is a God, and that God is as good and as just as everyone says he is, I'll get into the afterlife because I've spent my entire life trying to do what I feel is right. If I'm right, and there is no god, the good religious people will die knowing they've lived the best possible life they could.

It works out. The people who brandish their beliefs like a weapon to prove they're superior to everyone else are either going to go to hell or rot in a hole. That suits me.

Friday, November 04, 2011


I got my very first job delivering papers when I was 14. After that, the longest I was out of work for was the six months after I graduated.

Then I moved to the States and regular readers will know how that went.

Well, I've been back in the UK for seven months. For the first two to three months of that, I wasn't actually looking for work because I was busy getting my life back in order in the UK and having my surgery etc... but yesterday I went for my first real job interview in just over seven years and aced it. I just got the call fifteen minutes ago. I am now officially employed and I start work at the end of this month.

I can't tell you how good it feels to be going back to work, earning some money and getting to support my missus for a change. It feels even better that I'm going to work in an IT position in a freaking major European company.

However, the absolute best thing is that I finally feel vindicated.

You see, when you're out of work for a long time, you tell people that you're sending out about a hundred applications a month. You tell people that you've hit the pavement and gone everywhere you can think of applying for jobs. You tell them that despite the fact you've got multiple degrees, you've swallowed your pride and applied for jobs stacking shelves in supermarkets. You blame your location, you blame the economy... and most people look right back at you, shake their heads sympathetically...and walk away thinking you're full of shit. After all, they have a job, so how hard can it be for anyone else to get one.

In my case I had a few in-laws who would never say anything to my face, but would talk behind my back about how I was lazy, how I obviously didn't want a job, how I was taking advantage of Sunny and, by extension, my mother in law who gave us a place to live.

Finally, after far too long a time, I can hold my head up high and point out, with proof, just how full of shit these people are. 

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


I have a job interview tomorrow.

Brickin' it.