Dec 20

If there is one thing that is guaranteed to put me off going to see a film*, it’s hype. I understand that talking up your latest movie is just a part of the business and I accept that, but when the talk and the praise and the hype all goes OTT it actually starts to put me off the film entirely. I don’t know why I have such a reaction, but there it is. When I think about it, I still haven’t seen Moulin Rouge because so many people I know said “You MUST go and see Moulin Rouge!” when it came out**.

That’s where I am with Avatar, the latest James Cameron film. Between people I know talking about it, mentions on Twitter and various reviews I have seen the words “revolutionary”, “awesome”, “spectacular”, “fantastic” and “gamechanger” tossed around like so many tossed salad leaves at a tosser’s convention. I’ve even seen one celebrity be a bit of a prick about it on Twitter when someone dared to even question the greatness of the film in the smallest degree. As the hype continues to build up I can’t help but think if this film were a person, he or she would be glowing white and floating six inches off the ground as lepers and cripples begged to be touched and cured.

Please don’t get me wrong: I’m actually quite keen to go and see the film, because I’m a geeky fan of all things science fiction and it looks like a passable enough way to pass an hour or so. But – and I say this with all due respect and in as mild a way as I possibly can – IT’S JUST A FUCKING FILM. Now, you want to talk about revolutionary ideas and “gamechangers” that’s fine. Democracy? Gamechanger. Polio vaccine? Gamechanger. Telephone? Gamechanger. Those scientists who mapped out the entire genetic code of cancer? Gamechanger. CGI-stuffed story with blue aliens, spaceships and action sequences that will be out on DVD and Blu-Ray within the year? THAT WOULD BE A FILM.

* And if you want to put me off reading a book, make a film of it and then print a copy of the book that uses the movie poster (or a scene from the movie) as the cover image. What, we won’t buy a book unless it has someone famous on the cover? What is this, the Heat magazine approach to literature? I saw a copy of “A Christmas Carol” in Tesco last week and in addition to the movie poster being the cover, there was text all along the top that said “Now a major motion picture”. You know, because being a classic bit of literature wasn’t enough.

Christmas Carol book cover

Above: If only Dickens had thought of blue aliens first.

** Is this cutting off my nose to spite my face? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I just don’t like the glassy-eyed zeal that gets into people’s eyes when they are absolutely convinced that you would love something and that you should go and see it right away. I like apples and salt and vinegar crisps, but I don’t go all shiny-eyed cult leader on people and try to convert them to Granny Smith’s Golden Wonder Church of Walkers. Plus, Nicole Kidman pisses me off. An entire video singing with Robbie Williams and she doesn’t slap him silly once. Wasted opportunity.

Dec 08

When I read this Shortpacked! strip today I couldn’t help but have a look at the site that it mentioned, Stand for Christmas. I thought the cartoonist was just making it up, or if the site existed he was perhaps exaggerating for the sake of the joke. I was wrong, and obviously underestimated the capacity some people have to generate outrage where no outrage has any reason to exist. What I love most of all is the fact that some of the people using the site are so angry that the spirit of Christmas* has not made it into their shopping experience that they get angry and feel the need to ditch any semblance of basic manners or decency in their rush to get on their computer and bitch relentlessly about a shop not playing the proper music or an underpaid checkout person not throwing in a “Hallelujah!” with every receipt.

Some of my favourite comments on the site are: “Too liberal! I’ll order online.” (that one was talking about Borders) and “I visited Babies R Us today. No mention was made of Christmas when checking out.” (that would be Toys R Us, but in all fairness their giraffe overlord might not celebrate Christmas). If you have five minutes and want to see what happens when a group of people who could give Daily Mail readers a run for their money get all stirred up and angry, go have a look. It all goes to prove a point that I would like to make by means of a diagram**:

Venn diagram

* I’m reliably informed this is stuff like love, kindness, compassion, understanding and what could be termed an overall sense of good fellowship. If my wife is reading this, it also involves BUYING YOUR HUSBAND MANY MANY COOL PRESENTS. And making him a sandwich when he’s sitting reading.

** The sad thing is, I am actually quite proud of the diagram even though it was just a matter of five minutes in Fireworks. That’s effort, that is, effort that you don’t often see in this day and age.

Dec 07

At the end of the year the internet, papers and TV schedules are always jam-packed with retrospective stuff. Who died this year, what happened this year, I loved 2009, all that sort of stuff. Some of it is good and some of it is bad, but it fills column inches/airtime and I suppose it allows Paul Ross to earn enough to eat for the next 12 months. With that in mind, I decided to get in on the action early and write about the things I had planned to do this year and didn’t. I may or may not offer excuses as I go along.

1) Learn to play piano

For my 30th my friends all clubbed together and bought me a USB keyboard I could use with my Mac. I’ve always fancied learning how to play the piano and so bought myself a book and DVD to start me on my way. The DVD featured a stern Australian woman who promised to have me playing the piano in no time (and believe me, she was stern, I was not about to argue with her). Of course, life being life things got in the way, things got busy, the keyboard was put to one side and hasn’t been picked up since. Trapped on the shiny DVD disk, I think the stern Australian woman is probably screaming like an angry Genie by now.

2) Lose weight

This was all part of a big plan for 2009. I want (and need) to lose weight. Couple that with my being a big SF fan and generally geeky person, you can understand why I planned that if I lost enough weight, I would dress up as the 10th Doctor for Halloween. Motivation for saddoes is a difficult thing to understand, but believe me this was the plan I set. Because, you see, when you’re my size and you wear a battered old pinstripe suit then the overall look is less this…

It's less this

And more this…

And more this

So given that I achieved just about 0% weight loss, you can see where that plan went. If I had pushed ahead regardless, I remain convinced that the overall effect would have been less “Last of the Time Lords” and more “Ullo John, got a new TARDIS?”

3) Start running

This is related to point 2. I had grand plans to get up early every morning and start the day with a run. Well, I say a run – at first it would be a moderately fast lumber, then I hoped to graduate up to a run as time went by. Plan derailed because a) I am lazy and b) Scotland is COLD in the mornings.

4) Read “The Republic”

I bought “The Republic” a while back and it’s a book I keep picking up now and again to have a go at it. I like to read – in fact, it’s one of my favourite things to do and probably contributed towards my failure in point 2 – but this one is a tough read…and to think I used to laugh at one of the guys at work, who has tried and failed several times to make it through Joyce’s “Ulysses”. I’ll keep at it, but at the start of this year it was on my list of books to have read by the end of the year.

5) Get better at DIY

I included this in my plans at the start of the year because I am terrible at anything remotely practical *. My wife is the go-to person in our house for DIY, changing plugs and all that sort of thing. At the time of writing I am still likely to electrocute/stab/impale/burn myself when doing anything that involves tools. I did manage (with my wife’s help) to put up curtain rails when we first moved in, but that wasn’t without some tension on my part beforehand and a hot cup of tea afterwards.

6) Write more

2009 was going to be the year for me to write more, to be creative and enjoy having a blog. Granted, very few people would read it (I’m pretty sure the wife only does so occasionally because of that hypnosis tape I play when she sleeps her love for me) but that wasn’t the point, the point was to get in touch with my creativity more and see what I could produce when I put my mind to it. I’m afraid to count the number of posts I actually made this year, but I think it’s pretty small.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad by any means – there is plenty I have managed to do this year and I am lucky in that I have time to have another crack at the ones in the list above. There is just something about this time of year that makes me think about what I had planned to do and didn’t make the time for. Someone should make a television show about that…hold on, I have to go, Paul Ross just turned up at my door and is worrying the neighbours.

* Oddly enough, I am very good with flat-packed furniture. Seriously, you want a bookcase from IKEA building, I am your man.

Dec 02

So my mum wants to buy one of my brothers a laptop for his Christmas. Being the geeky one in the family, I’m the person that parents, aunts, cousins etc come to with computer enquiries* ranging from “This isn’t working!” to “What’s my WiFi password?” to “This thing is running slowly…fix it!” with all sorts of things in between. In this case, it was “Can you find me a good laptop at a reasonable price?”. I didn’t mind helping out, so I started to look around for a decent deal. The requirements were simple – a general laptop for basic use, nothing too fancy that needs to play games or anything like that, as the boy in question has a games console for that kind of thing. Fair enough, says I, getting to work.

As it turns out, it was the wife who found a laptop that fitted the bill nicely. It was in John Lewis, looked good, decent spec, and came to a price that suited my mum. Cracking, I thought. Done and dusted. Except that when Saturday rolled around and I went up to mum’s to show her the thing, it was out of stock on John Lewis’ website. Undeterred, we had a quick look at Out of stock there too. Now starting to feel a bit foolish, I checked and with no small amount of relief, saw something very much like the following:

When they say this...

In stock. Two words that don’t often raise a smile, but let me tell you, they did on Saturday. Without any further hesitation we put in the order and boom, that’s Christmas sorted for one boy. Except that it wasn’t. I mean, come on, you’re not stupid. You’re sitting here reading something called “Screw you,” so it doesn’t take the biggest feat of logical deduction to come to the conclusion that something is about to go wrong.

Monday rolls around, and I notice that the cost of the laptop hasn’t come off my bank balance. I phone’s customer service, and this is where several things happen:

  1. I almost make myself late for an important meeting.
  2. I get a headache. Seriously, I really did. One of those “pounding behind one eye” kind, the sort that makes you really nauseous.
  3. I come to realise that I am not getting this laptop.
  4. I find out how many times someone on the other end of the phone can repeat the same line to different questions.
  5. I consider going onto Google Maps to see how long it would take me to get to headquarters and swing for someone.

It turns out that between my clicking “Buy” on Saturday and the order going through, they ran out of stock. Or had run out of stock already, they weren’t too clear on that. Turns out that’s massive website, on which the entire company is based, isn’t updated on weekends but rather is updated on Mondays. The laptops were dished out on a first come, first served basis and despite my having ordered it in good faith with the whole “In stock” thing, what I could actually do was either piss off and buy a different laptop, or piss off and wait for them to restock. Which takes 28 days, according to their rep. So a perhaps more accurate would probably look like this:

They mean something a little more like this.

That’s right. 28 days. Because it’s not like there’s something that happens in December that is less than 28 days away from the 30th of frigging November, is there?

I’ll give the customer support rep her due credit to some extent. She did say that if she had the laptop, she would send it out to me. She does lose points for consistently refusing to let me speak to anyone else at, for talking over me several times, for not answering any questions I put to her, for saying that if our situations were reversed she wouldn’t mind waiting 28 days for them to restock that laptop and for saying something at one point only to immediately deny ever having said such a thing in the very next sentence, but I will give her a little credit for being sympathetic. A very little credit.

So the upshot of it all is, I have to cancel the order and then find another laptop that fits the bill. Which I did, but what annoys me – beyond the crappy website that apparently operates on a two-day delay compared to the warehouse – is the fact that at no point did anyone at think it would be a good idea to contact me and say “See that laptop you ordered? Sorry old chum, it’s out of stock and you might want to think about ordering up another one.” No, they were content just to leave it as it was. The order page on their site didn’t even tell me the damn thing was out of stock, it just kept saying “order taken”.

December is a busy month and most of us have money coming out of our accounts left, right and centre as we buy presents. It’s not impossible that someone could have ordered that laptop and never got around to chasing it up until it was too late, especially as “order taken” doesn’t give the impression that it actually means “we have done piss all, and won’t until after Christmas, so I hope you’re not holding your breath for this laptop”. Not only would this have made me look a complete tit come December 25th, it would also have delivered a fairly solid kick in the knackers to a young boy’s Christmas. I’m no retail magnate but it seems fairly basic courtesy to tell someone that the thing they have ordered is out of stock. Basic courtesy, however, is not something that a company like has to indulge in at this time of year – they know that they have the consumers by the short and curlies because people need presents at this time of year, and with shops going under quicker than swimmers with lead boots on, online retailers are fast becoming the best place to go.

Anyway. Crappy experience, solution found, spleen vented and if I was ever on that rep’s Christmas card list I’m probably off it now. I’ll just wind this up by saying screw you,! Your time will come and when it does, I’m afraid that any sympathy I may have will be out of stock.

* Every family has one of these people in it. Every single one. They’re the one that usually has their job description shortened to “works with computers” by older members of the family. Oh, and if you’re sitting there thinking, “Well, my family doesn’t!” then guess what? IT’S YOU!

Oct 20

Fresh from a nice bit of twisting the knife about a young man’s death, the Daily Mail has seen fit to write an article about how the X-Factor is…now, you might want to sit down for this one, take a deep breath and prepare to be shocked…staged. Faked. Not actually a talent competition, but a polished, edited, made-up-in-advance product. I know, I know. When you’ve stopped crying and your ears have stopped ringing from the sound of your world collapsing around you, here’s the article itself. Be strong.

Thermians from Galaxy Quest

Above: What the Daily Mail thinks TV viewers look like.

Was there ever, in the entire history of human civilization, an article that needed to be written less than this one? Are we really so stunted, so stupid, so unable to see the plain facts in front of our noses that we need some journo from a sixth-rate rag to tell us that the X-Factor is fake? So you’re telling me that Leonard Nimoy has normal ears? What about that spherical robot on Terrahawks, did he steal Windsor Davies’ voicebox or not? Is Salma Hayek a vampire? It’s a world gone mad. Who knows what is real and what isn’t? Here’s a hint – generally, what you see on TV isn’t. It’s edited. It’s perfected. Usually, it’s scripted in advance so they have some idea of what they’re going to be broadcasting (I don’t think “Surprise TV” is going to be the next big thing – will it be an episode of Casualty, or someone reading Heat magazine for an hour?).

Honest to god, it annoys me that people can be so dumb. This is why we have adverts that have to stress that parts of what we are seeing IN AN ADVERT might be made up to make the product look good. Anyone who’s not a blithering halfwit knows that when you open a jar of face cream a cloud of particles don’t come flying out like hyperactive nanobots to be smoothly absorbed into your cheeks. You just get a slight smell of face cream that reminds you of your gran. In the adverts, though, we need to be told that bits have been dramatized, enhanced in post-production etc. Oh, really. Thanks.

While it annoys me that some people can be so dumb as to fall for this tripe, what really gets to me is the manufactured outrage when they do, and the pandering that’s done to avoid it happening again. Do I think the X-Factor is a genuine talent competition? No. I think it’s a very heavily edited show that’s about as realistic as an episode of Mork and Mindy. It’s entertaining, don’t get me wrong, but if you think it’s about talent then you’re…well, wrong is about the most diplomatic thing I can think to say. I also don’t think that women phone one another up and say “Hut?” once they’ve dropped the kids off at school, that Cheryl Cole’s hair is really worth it or that fitting a ninth blade to the Gilette Slashatron 2000 will give me a better shave than the razor I have now. Why is that? Because when you take into account all the autonomic functions my body needs to stay alive, I have at least one brain cell left over for thinking duties.

Aug 06

After an enjoyable lunchtime sandwich, ten minutes of reading “The Pickwick Papers” and a cool bottle of diet coke (which was doubly welcome as, like a moron, I had worn my jacket only to find it was hot outside) there I was, wandering back to work when I passed a woman talking to a child with her that had (I assume) just asked for something to drink:

“Awright, take a drink then, but if you go aw looneyball on me, ah swear ah’ll batter ye.”

Parenthood, thy name is…well, I’m not sure. Anonymous woman in Glasgow? Chavtastic mother? What was she giving the poor child to drink, anyway? Heroinade?

I want to point out that this scene played out after I saw a man take a big drink from a plastic bottle, vomit and then take another drink. All in all, it’s not so much been a lunchtime as an adventure with a sandwich thrown in.

Jul 09

Oh yes, time once again for one of MCF’s wonderfully random polls, and as a loyal reader (and occasional commenter) on his blog I feel compelled, nay duty bound to contribute my own answers. Maybe a day or so late, but who cares? It’s a random poll, and answering late only magnifies the randomness. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Anyway…

1) How much is too much communication when expressing or maintaining your interest in another person?

Oh, right off the top a bad question for me. To be honest, I don’t know. I’ve always been self conscious and not very confident in my dealings with the opposite sex, so I think I’m the wrong person to ask. As an adult, if I had to give an answer, I would say that it’s always good to leave a little room for more*. Keep it light, keep it funny and see what happens from there. If something is meant to be, there will be more. If not, at least you came off as a cool person and not some creepy type. If you asked teenage me, it would probably involve mumbling, staring at the floor and going a very bright shade of red. Young child me would just say “Girls? Yuck!” and run off.

2) Do you ever find yourself mentally mashing up the lyrics to Billie Jean and the Diff’rent Strokes theme song?

I would have to say no, though I am a bad one for getting tunes stuck in my head. Some – like Spanish Flea – are ones that I find myself whistling for weeks, which I’m sure is a treat for the wife. This one is another culprit, not helped by the fact that it is being used in a TV advert just now.

3) Can you touch your toes?

Yes I can touch my toes, I can even see them when I look down. Hard to believe, but there you are. You do mean with my fingers, right?

4) Will Claire getting a girlfriend on Heroes boost ratings?

The cheerleader? She’s getting a girlfriend? That isn’t…I dunno…what’s the word I’m looking for…tacky? Desperate? Don’t get me wrong, if the relationship develops and it’s something that you can buy into with the characters that’s fine, but many times on TV these things are just included to get some girl-on-girl licky action to do wonders to the viewing figures. Besides, as a Shortpacked! fan I’m just interested in seeing one lesbian relationship make it. Leslie deserves some happiness (if you don’t get that reference, go read the comic!).

5) Do I know the meaning of the word “rhetorical”?

Would I feel any better or worse if I answered this one?

6) What would you do if you smelled smoke outside but couldn’t determine the source?

Probably say “Can you smell burning?” to my wife and see if she could help me work out where it was coming from. It would depend on the strength of the smell – if it was faint I would just assume someone was burning rubbish somewhere. If I was choking on it then I would probably want to get help*.

7) What is the strangest porn spoof you’ve ever heard of?

I’m surprised that when I think of it I can actually name a few, but the two best ones (that I assure you are real) would have to be “Lord of the G-strings” and “Playmate of the Apes”. You know, when I read that sentence back, I get a real tingle of pride. By god, this was what they invented the internet for.

8 ) Is it good to speak your mind?

Yes and no. There is a time and place to speak your mind, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it’s wiser to keep schtum for a while and think. We all get into situations where we want to say what we want and damn the consequences but we live in the real world, so you need to think about what you want to say. Will it hurt someone? Will it help you achieve what you want to achieve? If you say what you want to say, what will the consequences be?

In my life I have met people who take a great deal of pride in being straight shooters, who are always going on about how they “say it like they see it” and other such rubbish. In my experience those people are just rude and are looking for a face-saving excuse to cover up that fact. There’s nothing wrong with having your opinions and knowing what you want to say, but it’s a wiser person who knows the difference between what you want to say and what you should say.

9) Would you rather be hit with a nuke or a biological weapon?

Depends how hard you swing it!* Blimey, this is a heavy question for a light-hearted poll! If I had to pick I would probably say a nuke, at least that way it’s over in the blink of an eye (assuming you’re close to the ground zero). Anyway, knowing my luck I’d probably survive a biological weapon attack and smash my glasses just as I found a bookstore.

10) Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

I dunno, but you should know that she also travels in time, so you might need to check the same spot at different points along the space-time continuum. Could she maybe have stolen someone’s transport?

So there you go – ten question, ten answers, and about one or two laughs if I am lucky. Thanks to MCF for asking the questions!

* That’s what she said.

Jul 02

Tonight my wife and I went on a date. We had a quick bite to eat after work, and then headed out to see The Hangover at the cinema. It’s an excellent film, very funny, with Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis as the stand-out performances. The structure of the film is also very clever, with the characters having to work out what happened the night before, and plot elements connecting nicely as they piece things together. All in all well worth picking up some tickets, though I have to say that Ed Helms is annoyingly musically talented, as well as being a good comedy actor.

While the film was great*, what I really enjoyed was heading out on a date. I hope that I never get so jaded that I can’t enjoy just heading out to the movies with my wife**. Of course I ate too much chocolate ice cream (damn freezer right next to where you buy the tickets, with the larger tubs right there in front of you) but it was a great night. Still too hot though. What I wouldn’t give for a clear, frosty night with a genuine chill in the air. So much fuss is made about summer but I’ve always been a fan of winter and the cold.***

* And even better, no-one around me talked at all during the film. Must be a record, because I always seem to attract the chatters at the cinema. I think I have a whistle on me somewhere that only pig-ignorant movie fans can hear, but tonight it seemed to be broken. Yay!

** What I mean is, there are married couples that still enjoy doing date-style stuff after they get married, and some married couples that just stop doing that sort of thing. I enjoy going on dates, even though we’re married, and hope it continues for a long time.

*** And sorry about all the footnotes. I should really rewrite the post and find a way to integrate them into the main text, but it’s too hot and a cold can of diet coke is awaiting my attention.

Jun 30

If, when walking from one place to another at work, tired after a late night, you start to stretch and yawn then do yourself a favour and stop walking until the yawning and stretching stops. If you don’t, as I found out this morning, your previously normal gait turns into a frightening, shambling motion accompanied by a bizarre drawn out howl. Think one of the velociraptors from Jurassic Park as if animated by Ray Harryhausen. Better to be the guy standing in the middle of the office caught unawares by a yawn, because believe me no-one wants to be the guy at work who looks like he’s torn between having a seizure and being possessed.

Jun 30

I’m a reasonably smart guy, so I know that when I read something on the news that makes me angry, it doesn’t really do me any good to let it rile me too much. News stories are inevitably written from an angle – sometimes to inform, sometimes to provoke, sometimes to mix the two – and you should always consider the angle a story is coming from when you read it. I know this – like I said, I’m a reasonably smart guy. Not “my god, the man’s a genius!” smart, but I get by ok.

Then there are times when I read something and just think, “the hell with it.”

It all started off innocently enough (and how many stories could we all start with that sentence?). There I was, reading the BBC News site and I come across this story – “Fat stars ‘make obesity normal’” I sit, I read it, and instead of shaking my head and filing it away, I let it get me angry.

Right off the top I’ll admit, I’m pretty damned overweight. Not through any huge intake of food, I hasten to add: I’m not shovelling down three chocolate cakes a night, I don’t fry everything, I very rarely eat any kind of meat and I am familiar with the business end of a salad. Given that my wife is vegetarian I have no problem cutting out meat and adopting a pretty mediterranean diet (if they ever come up with some research that says tomatoes are bad for us, I’m royally screwed). My problem is that my job involves me sitting at a desk for long periods of time and my main interests when I am at home involve me sitting for long periods of time. I did once try to go powerwalking while reading a book but after the ninth lamp-post I decided that the sore nose wasn’t worth it.

So the Professor that has provided the basis for the article believes that overweight stars on TV are making obesity normal. Putting aside for the moment that people shouldn’t be so damned stupid to look at someone on TV and use that as a benchmark to live their life, and putting aside for another moment the fact that there are worse things someone can do in this world than be overweight, I’d like to ask the Professor in the article, what is the next step? Do we ban overweight celebrities from the public eye? Do we have someone standing stage left with a scale and a BMI calculator, ready to pull anyone off that crosses over the red line? Why not go the whole hog and just disenfranchise the whole damned lot of them – take their votes away. After all, if you can’t be trusted to look after your own body, why should you be trusted with the body politic?

I don’t think that obesity is a good idea, or a sensible choice, but I don’t think that creating a culture of judgement and sneering obsession with a notional ideal average is a good idea either. Whatever happened to accepting people as they are? I know that as an overweight person, I am rolling a dice with my health in later years. That is the main reason why I watch what I eat and plan to up my exercise to start to get the weight off, but that is my choice to do that and I am not going to judge someone else for the choices they make. Whatever happened to compassion, to understanding, to not making people feel like they are abnormal just because they stand out from the crowd? What happened, when all is said and done, to basic humanity? Have we left that behind in this brave new world? Is it just a case of throwing in with a crowd and hoping to hell that you find some other group to kick the crap out of before it happens to you?

Then I read one of the related stories on the BBC site, that had this gem:

“The professor of emergency medicine at Dalhousie University in Canada will tell delegates that “obesity bias” was common among medics, including those specialising in obesity.

Other studies have shown that some doctors and health professionals have clearly associated the stereotypes of “lazy”, “stupid” and “worthless” with obese people.

Dr Croskerry said it was important that medical staff put their feelings on the issue aside.”


I mean, seriously?

Health professionals have to be told to put aside their personal judgements about people that come to them for help? A doctor – someone entrusted with the sacred duty of saving life – has to be reminded not to look at a patient, a fellow human being coming to him/her for help, possibly terrified, and think “worthless”? Well, thank the spirit in the sky for Dr Croskerry reminding them of that!

Like I said, I’m a reasonably smart guy. I’d also like to think that I am a reasonably compassionate guy. Bottom line, I believe in a basic level of human decency that we are all entitled to. What I don’t like is the increasing sense, from stories like these, that we are changing as a society into something resembling the school playground of my youth – a place where it is imperative that you fit into the average, and savagely bring down anyone who dares to be even slightly different, slightly diverging from the norm. That doesn’t make us better people, or a better society. It makes us all nasty little swines. Cheap punks just looking for the next person to swing a punch at. That’s not the kind of world I think we deserve to live in, whatever size we happen to be.