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INAPPROPRIATEPLANK

Art, Life & Earth. THROUGH THE EYES OF A DEAF SNOWBOARDING MUSIC NUT.

Category Archives: LIFE

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Saw the sky beginning to get a bit colourful from the top deck of the bus on my way home, so I shot indoors, grabbed the camera and ran to the riverbank. Spent the subsequent two hours sat on a pier clicking away in awe. What a glorious night.

All images we’re taken in Newburgh, Fife, with the fantastic & highly recommended Sony Nex5 camera.

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River Tay

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I’m lucky enough to now live on the banks of Scotland’s longest river, the mighty Tay. A dream prospect for an avid photographer. So, in no particular order, here are some of the resultant shots. All images ©dOSs.

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It’s far from perfect but I’ve always been immensely proud of what we, as a nation, have tried to create in the British Broadcasting Corporation. A bastion of, sometimes flawed, but generally reliable truth amidst a sea of heavily distorted news sources. A concept which becomes increasingly more important as our news sources become controlled more by click throughs than by any form of moral editorial duty.

That said, I’ve been a hater of the BBC’s Top Gear programme for some time now. I find it’s crass, sensationalist, offensive and base level “humour” appals me and is the TV equivalent of internet service’s “click through chasing”. Article’s within it are made with an eye on “you have to see that piece!” mentality from BOTH sides of the argument. It’s a Richard Littlejohn on the television. A show designed purely to be “spoken about”, good OR bad, which fuels it’s own fire of fuckwittery. It has less and less to do with either cars or with motoring every series. In fact, it seems to exist purely to rile good people and to add fuel to the fire of morons. It is heavily immoral in my eyes and goes against much of what the BBC was built to represent.

I have friends who have appeared on the show in one of their “skin of his teeth” races between the mighty motorcar in a strange terrain and some “experts” of the odd terrain. I won’t say which particular “race” on here, but they both told me that the presenter involved wasn’t there for the first two days. It was during those 2 days that ALL of the exterior shots of the race were filmed. The shots where the mighty motorcar battled gallantly against the elements supposedly driven by the “expert” presenter. Then, on the 3rd day, the “star” arrived, filmed a few hours of internal shots and was promptly helicoptered away, presumably to film a ‘science documentary’ for the hard of learning wearing more hairspray than Joan Collins c1986.

The race was then presented on the show as a noble battle in which the car won, or lost, by a nose after it looked like all was lost then like the car was miles ahead only to find out it was level pegging as they approached the line. Ooh! The tension….. Did their scriptwriter used to write those Tony The Tiger Frostie’s ads?

In all fairness, this was made to entertain idiots. And it succeeded. Most viewers were probably thrilled by the pseudo-seat-of-the-pants spectacle and were none the wiser. In fact, some probably knew it didn’t happen exactly as it was presented to them on film but didn’t care. No harm done really. It was just a silly fake race between an expert and an idiot.

BUT… if you take this engineered and pre-scripted approach to “entertaining” and then use it to enforce a political agenda then it takes on a far more sinister angle. As George Monbiot reported in today’s Guardian the show has seen fit to take this formula of “entertaining” films and use it to make a bullshit propaganda film to promote the show’s Climate Change Denial agenda and attack, directly, manufacturers of electric cars. They purposely ran down most of the car’s battery prior to starting the film, a fact proven by the car’s onboard records, JUST to insinuate in their film that electric cars are unreliable and a waste of time.

Last Sunday, an episode of Top Gear showed Jeremy Clarkson and James May setting off for Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire, 60 miles away. The car unexpectedly ran out of charge when they got to Lincoln, and had to be pushed. They concluded that “electric cars are not the future”.

But it wasn’t unexpected: Nissan has a monitoring device in the car which transmits information on the state of the battery. This shows that, while the company delivered the car to Top Gear fully charged, the programme-makers ran the battery down before Clarkson and May set off, until only 40% of the charge was left. Moreover, they must have known this, as the electronic display tells the driver how many miles’ worth of electricity they have, and the sat-nav tells them if they don’t have enough charge to reach their destination. In this case it told them – before they set out on their 60-mile journey – that they had 30 miles’ worth of electricity. But, as Ben Webster of the Times reported earlier this week, “at no point were viewers told that the battery had been more than half empty at the start of the trip.”

It gets worse. As Webster points out, in order to stage a breakdown in Lincoln, “it appeared that the Leaf was driven in loops for more than 10 miles in Lincoln until the battery was flat.”

When Jeremy Clarkson was challenged about this, he admitted that he knew the car had only a small charge before he set out. But, he said: “That’s how TV works”. Not on the BBC it isn’t, or not unless your programme is called Top Gear.

At a time when the fossil fuel crisis is causing panic in Govenments across the world and at a time when wars are waged for these very resources Top Gear has deemed it necessary to undermine the work of manufacturers trying to find a way to circumnavigate the problem in a safe and beneficial way. Whether the car is amazing or not, to purposefully undermine the entire concept purely to fit with their infantile and long running “anyone who drives a Prius is a dickhead” campaign is not only immoral it breaks the BBC code on many levels. Not least this part of the charter:

We will be rigorous in establishing the truth of the story and well informed when explaining it. Our specialist expertise will bring authority and analysis to the complex world in which we live

If they want to pretend that a race across Loch Ness between a Ford Fiesta on waterskis and a Transit with wings is a tight run thing, or that a Range Rover would beat a Sherman Tank in a race across the breeding grounds of rare birds in the name of “providing entertainment” then fine, I won’t watch it personally, but many will. Not a problem. But to abuse their position as “experts” of motoring to push their own political agenda is an appalling misuse of the BBC’s airtime and a massive violation of their code.

None of which even touches on their series of sexist and racist flavoured idiocy about Mexicans, Truck Drivers, women in general and anyone who dares to not agree with their “ooh! Motorcars are ace” infantile drivel.

Overseas sales have been keeping this show dragging along for years now. I’m sure that cash is most welcome in times like this. But personally, I’d rather the BBC put a motoring programme bout motoring on the TV and let Clarkson and his gimp go and spout bile elsewhere. I haven’t watched the show in years, I urge you to do the same.

Moreover, I insist you watch this clip of Stewart Lee discussing the multitude of other reasons why Top Gear is utterly deplorable. Not only briliantly accurate it is one of the best stand up routines of recent years.

 

 

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I’ve lived in Edinburgh for over a decade now and can count on the fingers of one hand how many times we’ve had snow settle on the ground, let alone enough to get out and shred on. The year before last that changed. I don’t know if it’s as a result of Global Warming but the last two winters have seen Edinburgh get hit hard by snow. In December 2010 it started snowing and just didn’t stop for almost a month.

During that time it melted a bit, then froze, then snowed again several times meaning we had a pretty solid icy base to keep all the fresh snow that fell in good condition. Chuck some beer in the mix and you’ve got street shredding on tap.

My mate, who for now we’ll call Idiot, and I started going to the pub fully tooled up with snowboard gear and boards ready for some action as soon as we’d got some dutch courage. There were some insane spots to hit. Unfortunately, on the first big night out we hiked up to the top of Arthur’s Seat (Edinburgh’s urban “mountain”) in total darkness only to find the snow was SO deep we could barely ride the shallowish inclines back down.

We went back to the pub where Guinness reminded me of a spot Id seen in the summer. An abandoned building site visible from one of Edinburgh’s hills. It was fenced off all the way round but with the help of an upended barrier we managed to climb in. And there it was….. a field of fresh, untouched, knee-deep snow with massive earth structures aplenty to climb and slide and old school graffiti backdrops.

We only had a basic DSLR with no tripod so we spent more time shredding than we did worrying about photos. But I did make sure I’d at least tried to snap a few of Idiot before we left. He told me he’d done the same. All of the photos so far are the ones I took of him. The following are of me.

He managed to take 20 odd shots of nothing, either completely mistiming it or with the lens cap on. And the only 2 he got of me were minus my head, out of focus and basically shit. He’s an idiot.

So when he landed this one, slid out and whacked his face off the drainpipe on the side of the alley…. Karma.

Good times. Fingers crossed for some more city snow this coming winter!

How Much Does “Free” News Really Cost?

Will British Capitalism Bring Us Our Own Glenn Becks & Sarah Palins? 

I get more news and opinion via Twitter than any other single source. I like how it allows me to choose WHO gives me my news. This is important to me. And I like that it’s free. I don’t pay for any of it. Which means more money to spend on Guinness, music & films. This is also imprtant to me. I like Guinness.

An article recently caught my eye on Twitter. Entitled “Robot Cat Football Decapitation”. Who wouldn’t click on that! It was, as advertised, a robotic cat playing football so badly that it fell over and lost it’s head. It was a bit shit. But I watched it.

A few seconds later I saw “Angelina Jolie might return for Salt sequel“. I haven’t seen Salt, not really my cup of tea. But still I wondered why a politically driven publication such as The Guardian was posting this inane drivel in it’s news stream?

Intrigued, I clicked it. The story was also as advertised. A non-story about Mrs Pitt being undecided as to whether or not she’ll play the lead in a sequel to a film I hadn’t seen.

This annoyed me. I had selected the Guardian as one of my news providers as, politics aside, I felt I could trust them to provide me quality news items that would inform and educate me. And yet here they were thinking that I might give a shit about a pop actress possibly making a pop film.

The Robot Cat link had been posted by The Telegraph, another publication I held in high enough regard to trust to bring me intelligent news. Of course I replied to both posts with some witty “is this really news?” sentiment. I hoped they might register said annoyance, think about the nature of their posts in future and return to important and intelligent news. In short, I’d “had a word”.

But a force way more quantifiable and demanding than the annoyance of a random sweary bloke with a keyboard is controlling their online output. A force known as click throughs.

If I had been intrigued enough to absent mindedly click on the Robot Cat piece then I imagine I was not alone. I bet thousands of people, all just as bored as I was, clicked and chuckled as the shit cat fell over and his shit head rolled further than his shit shot did.

The Online Editor must have been rubbing his hands together at my boredom, before ordering staff to find another “Robot Cat” and informing the advertisers that the advert they’d placed on the page had been seen by XXX thousand idiots. “Same again tomorrow, sir?”

This annoyed me more than  Mrs Pitt’s non-film or the crap cat. The fact that money is already so directly influencing the respectable end of news publication is a frightening and brutally apparent fact.

Although these two cases are bland and innocent they raise questions. Like how long before a hypothetical mobile phone manufacturer spending hundreds of thousands in advertising threatens to withdraw said cash if a link to phone induced brain damage is reported? Or a German Beansprout outlet does likewise over health scares?

But something else dawned on me. Something bigger than even Salt II or the Robot Cat FA Cup Final….. I didn’t pay for ANY of this news. So what right did I have to get all sanctimonious about it when I was getting a 100% “free” service?

After all, someone somewhere along the line had to pay the journalist to write about the shit film and the shit cat. And if that wasn’t me then the paper needed to raise revenue somehow. This whole quandary felt very now. A most modern mess unfolding before my eyes.

However, it’s not. In 1928 a young man called Eric Blair had his very first article published. It was a letter called “A Farthing Newspaper” and GKs Weekly ran it. Mr Blair would of course, go on to have many articles published under the pseudonym George Orwell.

In this essay, Orwell discussed the multitude of genuinely free press operating in Paris at the time. From Communist Propaganda to Royalist papers, in every language imaginable.

His main concern was that a new paper had emerged and was selling very well at a mere fraction of the price of any other paper.

The Ami du Peuple is a Paris newspaper. It was established about six months ago, and it has achieved something really strange and remarkable in the world where everything is a “sensation,” by being sold at ten centimes, or rather less than a farthing the copy. It is a healthy, full-size sheet, with news, articles, and cartoons quite up to the usual standard, and with a turn for sport, murders, nationalist sentiment and anti-German propaganda. Nothing is abnormal about it except its price.

He went on to explain that despite it’s manifesto claiming to be of “pure public spirit, not for profit” The Ami du Peuple was in fact owned by a “great industrialist capitalist” and that it’s politics were “anti-radical and anti-socialist, of the goodwill-in-industry” and clearly covertly pomoting it’s owner’s propaganda while he hid in supposed anonymity.

But this disguised sentiment is not what troubled Orwell. Above all else it was the price that worried him most. He went on:

… all that is beside the point at this moment. The important questions, obviously, are these: Does the Ami du Peuple pay its way? And if so, how?

The second question is the one that really matters. Since the march of progress is going in the direction of always bigger and nastier trusts, any departure is worth noticing which brings us nearer to that day when the newspaper will be simply a sheet of advertisement and propaganda, with a little well-censored news to sugar the pill. 

Now Orwell may have been more concerned whether news and information was to become driven by political forces in order to mislead the masses than he was about the threat of Robot Cat Football inanity. Rightly so. And in that respect, at this point the UK online press offers varied and balanced opinions from all sides of most issues. From the Guardian to the Telegraph, the Daily Mail to The Mirror. Whatever your leaning the choices and voices are intact, for now.

But my fear is this, if we continue to demand news be given to us for free via onlne sources and buy less hard copy newspapers, then some publications will fall. It’s inevitable. We will be left with fewer, consolidated sources of news of which almost all will be exclusively online.

Without circulation sales these papers will have to look for new ways to raise revenue. In short, advertising. Online advertising. This will soon be the news “papers'” principle means of income.

As hard copy sales continue to plummet Robot Cat Football pieces will become golden nuggets in their revenue streams. And as the papers become more dependent on online advertisers’ monies their advertisers will demand more and more click through spikes like this. But novelty news click-baiting is just the tip of the iceberg. There are far more dangerous online problems on the horizon.

A well used, successful, click-baiting method, and the one that really troubles me, is what I call the “Littlejohn”. You know the piece, “heartfelt” caveat followed by sensationalist bile and then an “I didnt mean THAT” disclaimer. Designed not to inform, but purely to whip up a storm and cause a furore.

This is where online news services have changed the game. In the old days we simply didnt read “the other side”. Now, we all check them like morbid drivers self-righteously rubbernecking the scene of a car crash. What’s more we send the link on in “Have you seen this idiot?” emails and tweets.

In doing so we make the opinions of such people incredibly important to the advertisers. And the advertisers are incredibly important to the editors. You see where this is going…! Whatever your political views may be we are inversely giving power to the very people we oppose. Before you know it, the UK press will be rammed with yet more sensationalist Littejohns. Bile spouting arseholes will be the written press’s new darlings. Would Jan Moir have kept her job in the days prior to the ability to gauge accurate readership levels? Instead of being an embarassment, she became a big earner for her paper.

TV news networks are also reliant on advertising revenue and they will look for their own walking, talking versions of these poison pens…. enter Glenn Beck. We’ll be looking back on Kay Burly in “good old days” terms! This style is already clearly evident in the way many radio stations operate. Talksport presenters for instance, always pairs, eschew their own opinions in order to appear polarised and “spark debate”. They intentionally provoke their listeners into calling the show to “put them straight”.

The most frightening stage to this will be when the political spin doctors catch on. Always on the lookout for ways to seduce the public, our political parties will undoubtedly notice the popularity of these polarising figures. As such they’ll be looking for their political counterparts, enter British Sarah Palins. A horrible thought.

So, what should we do? This is a period of transition for the press the world over, not just here in the UK. And it’s a landscape changing by the day. George Orwell spotted this potential situation long before the robot cat kicked his first ball. And he predicted it will “crowd out of existence one or more of the less prosperous papers…..  they will presumably either be destroyed, or they will survive by imitating the tactics of the Ami du Peuple. Hence every paper of this kind, whatever its intentions, is the enemy of free speech.

So if free online news is slowly morphing into “the enemy of free speech” that would leave paywall protected The Times as our only worthy news source and Rupert Murdoch the guardian of freedom. Oh. Ironic? Yep. Confused? Totally.

In all honesty I cant see the world at large choosing to pay for news ever again. Not when it is so readily accessible in it’s “free” form from such reliable sources as the BBC. And that aside, Murdoch put up the paywall to create an uber-viewer that high end advertisers crave. So he’s way ahead of this click game, unsurprisingly.

One thing that we can say for sure n this changing climate is that, although Capitalism will directly, or indirectly, exert increasing pressure as to the content of news it will always be us clicking a mouse button that will truly control what we read.

People really need to grasp this click concept quickly and start using the internet accordingly.

It’s our surfing that is shaping the very way our news is changing, right now.

Think, before every click.

UPDATE: 23/06/2011 Since writing this article The Guardian have announced that due to massive losses from their hardcopy based business plan they are switching their focus to a stronger online emphasis. Private Eye report (pictured) that they are diverting 80% of their resources to online news. Will this result on daily Agelina Jolie updates? I hope not. It will certainly result in more click-baiting though. Worrying times for the integrity of news delivey across the board.

Apologies to The Guardian & The Telegraph. They were merely the papers that triggered this and are far from the worst exponents of the art. I happily read both regularly and suggest you do too.

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I was once, a long time ago, one of them there skateboarders. Not a very good one mind, but a passionate, proud one. I would spend all my pocket money and early wages on new gear, magazines, cassettes (for our younger viewers they are mp3s on a roll of tape) and trips on a 365 bus to the infamous concrete shitpit known as Rom Skatepark.


DOWNLOAD: Cargo Cult – Cargo Cult

DOWNLOAD: Skoundrelz – Exterminator

DOWNLOAD: Scram – Fear

DOWNLOAD: McRAD – Tomorrow’s Headlines

DOWNLOAD: Steve Caballero – You Will Go

[more tracks at end]


I would skate all day, with no money for lunch or a bus home (45minute skate home) and never be happier.

This was back in the days of Thatcher the Milksnatcher, an era of recessions and enormous pressure on young working class families like mine. There were riots happening in numerous cities and sectors of Britain. Black youths fed up of racism and police brutality & persecution, Miners striking, seeing their industry destroyed and clashing with the police on  daily basis, Anti-War protesters, Poll Tax riots etc.

And a host of marches and protests about public sector sell offs, NHS dismantling, Incapacity Benefits and the like. Times were bleak.

With the “adults” all going mental there was a huge section of the day’s youth, also disillusioned, with no idea where to look for guidance and inspiration. Many of us found it in Skateboarding.

It was like a big family of good cunts with a “Fuck you I wont do what you tell me” attitude. The rules were simple, do whatever the fuck you want, but not at others’ expense. If someone doesn’t like that, fuck em. You could wear what you wanted, as long as it wasn’t what the plebby non-skaters wore. And the soundtrack to it all was passed around the skatepark and copied on state of the art “Tape to Tape” midi hi-fis.

The mags and fanzines were littered with anarchic rhetoric, the brands were all heavily anti-corporate and the skaters did it ‘for the love’ (mainly because thats all they could do it for anyway at that stage).  Rainy days and evenings in were spent watching skate videos (for our younger viewers they are mp4s on a roll of tape) and listening to some genuinely creative DIY lo-fi music. The sounds were varied and followed the skaters rules of “do what you like” & “FUCK YOU”, an ethos that threw up some brilliant music.

Many of the skaters we worshipped were even IN the bands. Steve Caballero made a decent fist of a Cure-esque post punk artist while Tony Alva’s Skoundrelz were a more than decent band. The reviews section of RAD Mag and Thrasher were scoured every month and the local independent record shops started ordering stuff in for us especially. Much of the music from that era still sounds fresh today. Genuine angst & rebellion rarely dates. Good times.


Fast forward 20 years and the “sport” has changed almost beyond recognition. We were so anti High Street & mainstream culture when I was faceplanting concrete that anyone wearing Adidas or Nike would have been target number one in Rom. The corporations were the enemy. Nowadays the kids are all chasing the latest shiny wanky Nike shoes all over the interweb and skaters are signing for non skate brands who want in for “cool” points.

Like most things in life, money took hold at some point and turned it to shit.

Not often I’m glad to be as old as I am. But to have been around back then is something I’ll always be grateful for. RAD days.

DOWNLOAD: Free Beer – Start The Ark

DOWNLOAD: Accused – Take No Prisoners

DOWNLOAD: Dehumanizers – Halfpipe

DOWNLOAD: Stupids – Built To Grind

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