Raging Against the World

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Monthly Archives: December 2010

God is a Busy Man

And on the 8th Day God got up a bit late, mooched about the kitchen and decided to carry on with his redecoration of the Universe. 

Lucifer’s keeping an eye on Adam, poking him with a stick now and again to see how he responds to stimuli.  Good old Lucifer.  My favourite angel.

“So,” thought god, “what next?  It’s a lovely universe, all spotless and fresh.”

 True, the Earth was a bit gloopy, being made out of water, it probably needs a bit of thickening.  What better to solidify it than to fill it with something hot which’d bake the inside?  Lovely, hot molten rock, that works.  I can grab some from the dinosaur planet.  Those poor dinosaurs.  How was I supposed to know they would insist on eating the fruit from my banana tree?  I told them it wouldn’t agree with their constitutions but I turn my back for five minutes… 

All dead, God mused sadly.  Won’t make that mistake again.

And God did lift up the surface of the earth and sweep the bits of dinosaur world underneath

Simmer for 1 day, perfect.  Oh whoops, I forgot to pick the dinosaur bones out.  Ah well, never mind, it’ll all be underground, buried out of the way, that’ll do.  On the plus side, everything seems to be taking me an exact day to do!  I predict I shall have Adam flying about in a machine by day 14 at this rate!  He’d like that wouldn’t he?  Good little Adam.

And on the 9th Day God did question his angels for suggestions of additions to Adamworld.

  • More Adams!
  • Different temperatures in different places.
  • New food (not Manna)
  • More flapping things
  • Corporate Responsibility
  • More yapping things
  • Some way of knowing when the day was going to become the night
  • More shelves.

All good ideas!  I do love brainstorming with my angels.  Though someone’s taken one of the manna biscuits out of the pack before I did.  I don’t want to seem overly bossy, but I am the employer after all!  They’re only here because of me!  Lucifer has said he’d keep an eye out for future infractions.  Ah he’s a good lad, I don’t know what I’d do without him.

Anyway, I’ve decided to try out more yapping and flapping things and also this “different temperatures” thing.  Could be interesting.  OK, I’ll just do a bit of Adam-watching for a while.  Watch him scurrying around with that little dangly thing wobbling, it does make me laugh.  I do wish he’d stop playing with it though.  I put it there for my entertainment, not his.

Oops. Day 9 and I haven’t made anything yet.  I’d best get on with it. 

And later in the day…

I did create a prototype quadruped with a big horn, but Lucifer said it was basically the same as the horses.  He’s right of course.  I’d better knock up something quickly before the day’s over though, because night’ll be… oh, it’s night-time.  Tomorrow.  Tomorrow, I’ll come up with more creatures.

And on the 10th Day…

OK I’m bored with Adam now.  I thought it’d be a fun toy, but it’s not quite as interesting after the first few days.  Maybe some add-ons?  I quite like the idea of giving him a horn on his head.  I tried rolling some balls at him and he enjoyed that a lot, so that was nice.  I mean, I do like him, but there’s only so many times you can watch him sleep befre you want him to do something!  I’m tired of waking him up.

I made a horse with wings, but Lucifer says they’re too flighty (pardon my pun!) and would get out of the Eden horse enclosure too easily.  So I thought: how about a big fat bird?  If nothing else they’d be funny to watch!  Lucifer okayed that when I showed him the prototype.  I do value his judgement, it’s nice to have an objective eye.  Sometimes I feel too close to this project.

Oh!  Temperatures!  I nearly forgot to say!  I made the top and bottom bits of Adamworld cold.  I dropped Adam down there but he just collapsed and stopped moving so I put him back in Eden before anyone noticed.  He seems alright though, so no harm done.


What has happened to the News these days?

I grew up with the BBC.  In my upbringing you were either a BBC house or an ITV house.  You chose your allegiance and stuck to it loyally.  Magpie?  Ugh, no, Blue Peter.  Tiswas?  Give me Swap Shop any day. 

It was also the way with news.  You’d pick ITN or BBC News.  In those days of course it made no difference which side you chose to watch your news except the hour.  9 O’clock for BBC, News at Ten for ITV.  The content was equally impressive.  The reporters had facts and would make damn sure you got them.  The presenter would be very knowledgeable and could interview anyone with ruthless efficiency and counter any politician’s evasion.

As Channel 4 came along ITN would do their news too.  You now had three great newsgathering/reporting channels.  Quality reigned.

But that was the past.   ITN have been going downhill since Alastair Stewart became Trevor McDonald’s stand-in.  He’s been the tabloid champion of ITN ever since McDonald started resting on his laurels and accepting himself as a news titan.  McDonald, keen to retain his crown, stuck with ITN as they became more and more the British equivalent to Fox News.  A typical ITN broadcast consists of shouting about the things that will frighten their viewers.  Be afraid!  Everyone’s trying to harm you, says ITN.  Watch us and we’ll keep telling you what THEY are trying to do to YOU.  It’s the TV equivalent of the Daily Telegraph.

You could always rely on BBC News to remain unbending and unbiased.  So much so that throughout the 90s they were consistently under attack from the Conservative Government who wished that they’d just stop questioning everything they did.  Why was the BBC standing up to the Government instead of being a mouthpiece for propaganda?  Look, here’s John Gummer feeding his child a burger.  See?  The meat is safe, that’s why we set up this for the cameras!  Just do our oublicity for us!

But BBC news has finally crumbled.  A new style is dominating, where reporters are telling you what to think and using more and more tabloid style bullying against those it would once report on fairly.  It may be as a result of the strife under the previous Tory government where it seemed that their backs were against the wall and real trouble was about to happen.  They got away with it then, now they seem to be on the side of the current government.

The recent student protests in London have been a glaring example.  The first major day of protest saw police, for once, not being heavy-handed and oppressive.  They were performing rather wonderfully, the minimum of force used and no serious damage.  Some protesters got a bit out of hand as will always happen in these events, a very small group of protestors pushed, shoved and some minor punches thrown.  The police dealt with the strongest disrupters and left the main mass of peaceful protestors alone.

But as some large windows were smashed at Conservative Central Office, the BBC chose to hype the violence.  It would show what was happening live, two images side-by-side.  They captioned it “Live” so that you could see it was happening Now.  The casual viewer would be appalled at the disturbing behaviour of the students.

Until they paid attention and saw the same things happening again and again.  If you paid attention you’d notice that the things on the right-hand side of the screen were a continual loop of the violence footage.  The left-hand side was the Live footage, not both sides as they wished you to believe.

As it got dark it became obvious that the footage on the right, in broad daylight, couldn’t possibly be live footage and the caption was changed to be more honest.  But by then the damage was done.  People assumed the students had been rioting for hours instead of literally a bit of pushing and shoving.    A fire had been lit outside in the street, presumably to keep the students warm in the freezing November temperatures.  Students were burning their placards as the only source of flammable material they had.  Somewhere a big pink flare had gone off, visually very captivating.  

So the BBC used the flames and smoke to hype up what was going on.  ‘It’s a WAR ZONE!  It’s chaos and destruction!’ was the rhetoric of the reporters, despite the fact that if you looked closely the students were mostly standing still, perhaps a bit of surging now and again.  The end result was a few broken windows.  Not enough to justify outrage.

The ‘riots’ have continued over the following weeks.  The Police have reverted to type faced with attacks from politicians.  They have now taken to jostling the students and the new horror of Kettling has arrived.  What this means is penning students into a small area where they are not allowed to leave until late at night where the freezing December temperatures are meant to dampen their spirits until the News at Ten has finished for the night.

The BBC and ITN have again done the misleading editing footage trick, showing the horrible students being horrible to the lovely kind befuddled policemen.  If you watched the Rachel Maddow show in the US the only footage you saw was of a policeman being pulled from his horse and another with an arm in a sling.  This footage was ‘helpfully’ provided by ITN.  I’d be surprised if the other news channels in the US saw anything different.  It’s hype, pure and simple.

If you were on Twitter however, you’d see the other side.  People in the demonstrations telling you what’s really happening.  Talk of the police’s horse charge was vehemently denied by the Police.  Until the Youtube video showed up proving that a group of peaceful ‘kettled’ protestors being suddenly without warning, charged.  The police changed their story to ‘a gentle walk’ and the news media lapped it up like they lapped up George Bush’s ever-changing “why we invaded Iraq” rhetoric. 

In 1994, the radio show On The Hour transferred to the BBC 2 show The Day Today.  One of the more memorable sketches showed the presenter bullying a feckless charity fundraiser who’d got famous people to make pots of jam.  In it his tone changes to a bully, telling her how pathetic she is until she starts crying.  It seemed absurd at the time, but 16 years later we have a BBC news presenter bullying a disabled man suffering from cerebral palsy who’d been dragged from his horse by aggressive police.

Starting with the weasel-word “appear” to the disgraceful question asked at 2 minutes 11 seconds in this is an appalling treatment of an interviewee.

The police are about to wheel out water cannons against the next (pardon the pun) wave of protestors.  In a usage of water cannons in Germany a man’s eye was pushed out of it’s socket.  In another protest the water was laced with chemicals which made peoples’ skin peel.  Expect the news to treat the forthcoming usage as nothing more than a bit of a soak with some water, like a fun day out at Alton Towers.

We live in a world where the BBC News 24 channel will spend all day on the Michael Jackson funeral concert instead of reporting news.  This is dumbing down all of us and I hope you are appalled.

How to Create Chapter Points in an Audio File (Windows version)

So you’re an aspiring podcaster, you want to put out a shining product which’ll look professional and stand out from the crowd?

Or perhaps you’re tired of your iTunes library being cluttered up with files labelled “Track 1”, “Track 2” and so on.

Maybe you have a comedy album with each track labelled by content. It’s fine on an iPhone, but on an iPod it’s a hassle getting the tracks to play in the right order.

There is a solution. What you do is compile all the tracks into one large file with Chapter Points. Each Chapter Point will have the name of the chapter and if the artwork changes, then that changes on your device as it plays. It’s the format you see on Enhanced Podcasts. This is how it looks on a computer under iTunes:

On a Mac you’ve been able to fairly easily do this but the software to do it on a PC has been sadly absent. Until now.

With the Chapter and Verse program you can import a selection of tracks and manipulate them easily. Each track can have its own title and artwork.

But… and this is the best bit: If you already have each track named and labelled, it’ll pull these in for you. No need to manually type each one!

I’ll give you a step-by-step idea of how it goes:

If you have an entire side of an LP you can split the tracks with cue points. Here’s how I do it in Goldwave:

You can see the white lines on the audio which show where the cue points are for each track. Goldwave can then split them, automatically naming them as (in this case) 14 seperate tracks.

Working from iTunes now, I have my 14 tracks (Side 1) laid out as so:

Now we open the Chapter and Verse program and add our tracks. I’m an MP3 kind of a guy, I don’t go in for AAC but it’s a part of the process that they need to end up as m4b files so Chapter and Verse will use iTunes to convert them for you! You don’t have to do anything! (Though it’s advisable to go through the Update Settings option the first time you run Chapter and Verse or you might end up with 32kbps mono files like I did the first time. See dialogue box, there.) It’s important here to make sure all iPods/iPhones are unplugged.

When this is done you’ll see them lined up under the Input Files tab. If you want to switch to the Metadata tab you can make sure that the overall title for the file you’re about to make is that which you want. In my case I’ll change Loyal Apology (it takes the name from the first file) to Side One.

Switching to the Chapters tab you’ll see a box in the bottom-left corner that says Input Files. Switch that to <Metadata title> and you’ll see all your chapter titles as they were in iTunes!

If you want a different image per chapter, now’s the time to add it. When you’re satisfied with what you have (you can preview it at the top of the screen!) hit Build Audiobook and you’re done! It’ll even add the replacement file to iTunes for you.

All you have to do now is delete your 14 tracks and sync to your mp3 player. It couldn’t be simpler!

The site for downloading Chapter and Verse is here: it’s freeware, but if you like this product (and I’m sure you will) why not tip them a donation?