The cutter and the clan

I’ve almost got 100 tracks by Runrig now and growing. I’ve bought most of the albums I care about and have even ventured into iTunes. I’m listening to an eclectic mix from both before and after Donnie Munro left the band – including some rarish live recordings made in 1997 when the band did a tour of Germany to mark the aforementioned departure. They’re very very good live and I think I’m going to have to swing by one of their concerts to see them in person. Incidentally, Sharpemusique looks to be a pretty cool way of paying for digital music on Linux. I don’t mind paying 0.79GBP for a single track (that’s reasonablish) but I don’t want to not be able to play the track on my Linux PC. Using a combination of Sharpemusique, DeDRMS, a CVS build of faad and lame, it’s finally possible to pay for music online and store it onto your ipod from Linux. Not easy, but possible. Reminds me of the old days back in 1999/2000 when I first started playing with nist and css-cat as a way to playback test DVDs on Linux – in glorious 50% framedrop mode (at a push a 400MHz PII managed 50% soft playback). Those were the days.

I swung by the GP surgery (in the UK, we call our general medical practitioner a “GP” and can turn up for prebooked appointments all on the NHS – National Health Service – it’s called a welfare state and it’s something the US government has never understood) for some vaccinations against Typhoid and Hepatitis A. With a racing pulse (I absolutely refuse to visit a doctor unless I’m desperately in need of doing so – something to do with being in hospital for months once and never getting over having two blood tests per day in my arms and hands) I waited until I was called (they’ve got a red LED display now that shows your name when you’re called up, but they’ve stopped announcing the name so I can only assume they have some way of coping with those who need such an announcement made) and then sat for another 5-10 minutes after telling the nurse I needed Typhoid and Hep. A, while she refigured that out. I got a super-combo jab in one arm for those two and she offered to give me flu while I was there. With an offer like that, who could refuse? So if the right strain of flu tries to get me, I’m ok. Still nothing for bird flu and the jabs I had probably won’t be effective by Thursday, but meh. I feel better for going through the motions. I also started the anti-Maleria drugs this evening.

We saw a TV show tonight called “Wife Swap” (I think that this also exists in other countries). Ordinarily, I don’t watch this shite, but I was drawn in by the whole benefits issue. You see, in this country, we have the aforementioned welfare state, which also provides those who cannot work with an income. There’s a slight issue of one or two bazillion people who think it’s a good idea to leech off the state and just not work (because they’ll get benefit) but on the whole it’s a good idea. My view is that I’d rather pay for those people and accept that as a wastage in the system – the government wastes 300 million GBP per year on failed IT projects and lots of other useless things like ID cards, so even a billion wasted on benefits for those amongst the populus who probably could just be forced to get a job isn’t an issue – this contrasts with the views of those who read the Daily Mail and have a warped and twisted view (conversative view) that this country is overrun with such people as well as asylum seekers, etc. etc.

Unfortunately, this show had a stereotypical example of a couple on benefit who claimed they were making the choice to be at home with their kids and not work (wouldn’t that be nice if everyone could do that?). I’m all for the genuine example of one parent not working or of single mothers who need to look after their children, but this wasn’t anything like that. In this case, one of the older kids looked after her siblings while the dad went to the betting shop and the mother did whatever else she did in between smoking a million tonnes of tobacco, eating and uttering the odd “football, innit, wot” type things you might stereotypically expect. I still think it’s better to provide a welfare state for these people too (in addition to those that actually need it) but I understand how some people are annoyed that those who push the system sit at home with nice 40 inch TVs while others pay for them. One solution I propose is that we have government consultants who offer those in such situations financial bribes in return for allowing them to do the equivalent of what happened on this TV show I was watching – go into the family environment and make some useful suggestions, stay for a week and help them get jobs. It’ll never float as an idea because it’s too invasive, but it might work.


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