Boomer Hypocrisy

I think it is one of the things that I’ll never really get used to, is the sheer chutzpah of boomer hypocrisy. There is this sense of ‘do as I say, not as I do/did’ that rankles at every turn. Every ‘cost-cutting’ measure or statute of limitations or benefit denied. And yes of course, these were enjoyed in lavish quantities by the generation setting down the laws. They do it from their lofty positions of seniority and power : this is for everyone’s benefit, they say! Make do with less. Do more, with less (the myth of productivity).

Basically, boomers, go fuck yourselves.

Poem: “(Not) Out of Date Galaxies”

I wrote a short poem about my out of date Galaxy Cookie Crumble from WHSMITH in Coventry Station. I bought it for one pound, same as it costs IN DATE at Tescos and other leading supermarkets

Here are some pictures:

O Galaxy Cookie Crumble
How I love to eat you when my
Stomach rumbles
On the slowpoke
London Midland train
from Coventry To London Euston.
Rain
Falls now

Through darkening skies
And we cling to each other
Your pink foil and cookie pieces
Your out of date slightly stale structure
Coat my hunger
There is a rupture
From reality!
For a few seconds — then I realise
I am alone and soon I will be dead

Review : Walkers Lime and Black Pepper

The vending machine here at the Westwood Centre for Teacher Education (Warwick University) is a real blast from the past. Some classics : Fry’s Peppermint Cream, a Nestlé Crunch bar, a row of Rio canned fruit juice. It appears to have been stocked completely at random by a British office worker. It also featured one of Walker’s use it or lose it campaign with new flavours. The lime here is weak and reedy – like a dilute cordial – and the pepper also weak and chemical-tinged. Let’s be honest : this is mass-produced food as chemical engineering, and it shows. Pleasant enough but it seeks to replace Salt and Vinegar – not a chance, buddy.

2/5

East Ham Village Diary: Volume II

Some musings on East Ham.

GREATFIELD RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION

A change is in the air.  The mood in East Ham is one of flux.  Just off High Street South, the White Horse pub has been brought crashing down; the plot will be re-developed.  I am no great drum-banger for the pub – its St George’s flags draped over all the windows gave the interior a dark, gloomy mien, and the pub itself had a certain reputation.  It was of its time.  But in its place will rise some flats (of course) out of keeping with the Victorian redbrick surrounding it.

WhiteHorse

The flats will be a smaller sibling to the massive Upton Gardens development that has been so lustily plunged into by Barratt and Gallimard.  Money talks: and it is singing loudly in E13, the pace of the works carried out at the breakneck pace that is only undertaken when there’s a pot of gold at the end of the…

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Yacuum

 

 

We sat in the cold air for a while,

Talking.  As if talk was any good, at this point,

In this world, on this day.

Talk is no good, he says.

Yacuum talks to me and I stare into the sky

Thinking that perhaps if I concentrate

Hard enough

I might

Disappear.

Some Thoughts on Digital Platforms and Accreditation

TDW 

I recently spoke to an academic who is a Director of Research for a department at a sizeable institution.  Our conversation was broad ranging – from ideas for books to the notion of not having enough bookshelf space and through to Open Access.  Open Access always seems to come up, because it is, quite clearly, a huge issue.  It’s been over a decade since the initial manifestos and declarations in Budapest and Berlin.  In that time, the journals ecosystem has shifted hugely and the academic books world is now, at the time of writing, also undergoing seismic shifts.  We are seeing initiatives like Knowledge Unlatched gather steam, and fully open access presses like Ubiquity, UCL Press and White Rose University Press.

In the UK, we’ve had the Stern Review, published in 2016, and the Finch Report in 2012.  Both had elements that expressly dealt with open access.  The Finch Report recommended that open access become a central requirement of the (funded) academic output in the UK and the Stern Review dealt with the requirements of the next Research Excellent Framework and how open access might be mandated for inclusion.  So much, so familiar – this is has all been dealt with in so many places, and in so many ways, by the pro-open access lobby and the anti-open access lobby (that feels open access would be a bad thing for an already established publishing ecosystem).

Despite the tenor of the debate, even if the journal is open access, the path to accreditation at promotion panels is clear.  A journal article is put against someone’s name, and they become the Named Author.  An open access book is the same thing: people understand what a book is, and they know that, as long as the book has merit and is not vanity published or plagiarised, that it is a good thing.  ‘How good’ is matter that depends on the prestige of the press, the reception of the book in the outside world, the sales figures it accrues, the reviews it garners.  But we understand it.

What about a 8,000 word piece that goes onto an online platform (either free to access, or behind a subscription paywall)?  How is this rated, and how will this go down at panels?  In their rush to set these sorts of subscription platforms up, have publishers considered that academics might be wary of writing for cash payments, and for their work to be absorbed into a mass of millions of words?  Will these sorts of things be articles that are admissible to the research assessment frameworks that exist across the world?  How are the metrics of success to be extracted – clicks?  Numbers of subscribers (publishers are very, very reluctant to release this information)?  How is the reputation of the subscription platform to be judged – will we need some sort of ISI ranking for subs products?  They are incredibly varied, and it is case of compares apples with oranges for the most part.  This doesn’t even touch on the work that academics put in to MOOCs and online course materials.

I don’t propose to deliver answers here, but it is certainly something that I will be thinking about and writing about in the near future.  Please do get in touch with me if you’d like to contribute to that process.

High End Audio

207naimcd555
It is very easy to get sucked into the world of high end audio, or ‘audiophilia’.  It can start very innocuously.  It might be, as with me, that your trusted CD player (part of the classic Panasonic SA PM 20 midi system) had started skipping, and you wanted a solution in order to play your collection of Compact Discs.  It’s a very swift process and before you know it you are staring at a review of a £15,000 NAIM CD555.  Words like ‘confident sound reproduction’ and ‘stunning timekeeping’ are bandied about as if normal CD players had self-esteem issues, or a woeful sense of 1-2-3-4 (despite being digital devices).  The mind boggles at the speakers and amplifier that an audiophile might pair with this kind of CD player, which (lest we forget) only plays ‘Red Book’ CDs (the kind you and I know as ‘CDs’) rather than any of the high-resolution variants like SACD.  It won’t play your DVD collection.  It won’t let you plug in your iPad.  It plays CDs.  For £15,000.  A suitable speaker set up might be the Wilson Audio Alexandria XLF that cost £200,000.  Then there the ‘interconnects’ to buy – the incredibly expensive high end audio leads that provide ‘loss-less transfer’.  By no means is it an exaggeration that you could speak £300,000 on a stereo in this rarified world, and of course, at that point, you’re unlikely to have 1 set of speakers, 1 CD player, or 1 amp.  You’ll probably want a pre-amp, for instance.  And a vinyl player.  And this is just the digital world of chips and transistors. There’s another world altogether where tube amplifiers are the range.

Wilson_XLF2

The gateway drug to all of this was the label on my Panasonic CD player.  It states that is is ‘MASH’, the acronym given to ‘Multi Stage Noise Shaping’.  It was the proprietary trademark name for their late 80s and early 90s series of DAC chips (‘Digital Analog Converter’), which acted to convert the 1s and 0s from the digital disc back into the waveforms that make up an analog sound wave that our ears can comprehend.  DACs are now themselves incredibly contested territory and prestige DACs go for many, many thousands.  There are heritage sites dedicated to famous DACs, of which the Panasonic/Technics MASH family are low-price upstart wedding-crashers.   Here is a list of famous DACs, and a rating of the ones in the Technics MASH family.  I have ebay alerts set up to try and snag a bargain Technics CD player but of course, by now, a lot of the other components in them will have started to ‘go’, too – the capacitors, the drive-belt, the chip boards themselves.  They won’t give me that true RED BOOK SOUND ! What is a man to do?  (I turn back to streaming digital music on on old HP netbook via my FiiO E7 DAC into the Cambridge Azur 640A amplifier, in case you were wondering, which I know that you probably weren’t.)

Vinyl is a six decade old format that completely avoids this conversion, hence the purists and vinyl fans and their love of their heavy plastic frisbees.  It is never converted from analogue to digital unless of course its from one of the many studios that now record to digital, use sound editing, and then send it out to master.  Fans duly arrive on forums to knock CDs as nothing more than ‘shiny plastic mug coasters’.  Then the cassette tape fans pile in and everyone starts laughing.  I’m not sure if anyone mourns the MiniDisc.  But there is probably a very active internet forum somewhere…