Sunday, June 28, 2015

Alrightreads: June

After spending a month at the grown-up table (with a couple of exceptions), it was back to lightweight books in both senses for June. It was much more enjoyable, taking me back to those days of dipping in and out of several library books a night. Do you remember libraries? And pavements? And weather?

It's not only so I can get through this quicker. I prefer concise stories that are less likely to leave me lost and confused when my attention wanders every couple of chapters (especially treacherous with audiobooks) and having to catch up with the Wikipedia summary that's been floating in my tabs all week.

And when there's the occasional non-fiction topic I feel like reading about, and I convince myself to turn to an authoritative book on the subject rather than click through a few quick web pages that would satisfy that curiosity in a matter of minutes, I'd rather not be bogged down with the encyclopaedia.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ranking the Dizzy games, even though it's 2015 and I'm nearly 30

When listening to audiobooks, I like to have something to keep my eyes busy without being too much of a distraction to the old noggin. I used to do this by going on day trips and walking around. More recently, I've been playing through every one of Codemasters' Dizzy adventure games on Amiga and Spectrum emulators. I am nearly 30 years old. I liked some of them better than others.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Helping the misfortunate

Like all humble philanthropists, I don't like to talk about my charity work. Though in my case that's because I don't do very much, beyond a monthly Red Cross direct debit that could be a lot bigger, the annual Herring, buying the occasional charity eBook to offset my guilt for stealing all the others and dropping coins into cups on the rare occasions I head into civilisation. I'm no Jimmy Savile, is what I'm saying.

Living in what can inaccurately but emotively be called 'the third world' ('developing country' isn't any more accurate), you can imagine that my first world guilt is pushed to its limits every day as I walk past malnourished men, women and infants sprawled out on cardboard in the street, the ones who still possess a modicum of strength extending a withered hand in a silent, impassioned plea.

Well, you'd be wrong, as like all foreigners and aspiring middle-class people here I shield myself from the distasteful poverty by living behind guarded gates, out of reach of the zombie-like peasants' aimlessly grasping arms. I feel like a right prick when we look at prospective houses in gated subdivisions, but I know this is an unfortunate necessity to keep the more desperate locals away from my door and so I won't have to switch off the lights and hide in the dark when the trick-or-treaters come calling.

I try not to shut myself away completely though, and stay updated on all the latest depressing news stories more than I ever did back 'home,' where things just objectively weren't as bad. Are the Tories reducing your access to free medical care? That's a shame, we're just dealing with inevitable annual supertyphoons, the threat of war with China and the government handing over part of the island I live on to terrorists. I'm not so self-involved (LOL!) to not let my cushy, shut-in life be affected by the miserable hell outside, even if I feel powerless to do anything beyond the one-to-one level.

I've often wondered what it would take to shock me out of this apathy and to take a stand, and today I finally reached that level. Reading my favoured opinionated local news blog - which is the best I've found even if you have to tolerate the occasional homo/Islamophobia - my heart went out to one of its regular contributors, who valiantly bared his soul to tell us:

"I have the misfortune of having to live with house-help who enjoy watching local TV that is utterly filled with errors and worse. As much as I’d like to put a stop to it, I try to be a gracious host and employer and allow them to watch whatever it is they want. “To each his own” after all."

Goddamn, feels like someone just ripped the aorta right outta me.