Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Grist. Mill. Discuss 4: Generation D; and political language

A response to John Harris today, whose piece helped crystalise some thinking around the spiritual (if not actual) bankruptness of the baby boomers, and what that means for us as members of Generation Debt.

And from yesterday: Daniel Davies on political language. It's been said before. Doesn't mean it's not worth repeating. And repeating.

Commercial 12: Wanted

The Apple iGasm

Oh come on, it just can't be me that's thought of this. Even leaving aside the whole possible 'fruit of the loins' tie in, seriously: what commercial company designs curves better? And ladies, it'd be a hell of a lot easier to persuade your partner to buy a device, if he knew he could pick it up at an Apple shop.

For her: Rampant Rabbit
For him: Athletic Apple

You know it makes sense.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Capsule 0: Where it started

Originally written for Ms V when she asked me, "What record can't you live without?" Karen, this was my Town Called Malice.

My Bloody Valentine / Only Swallow
available on the LP 'loveless', Creation Records CRE 060

You asked me a very tricky question yesterday. For I'd always assumed that this song would fall into the category of 'Song that changed my life', and not any others. But when you put it in the way that you did, which was the one that I couldn't live without, well I suddenly realized that, blimey if it doesn't tick that box as well.

Its power – and it is an almost mystical grip that it holds on me nearly 13 years on after first hearing it – comes from the fact that hadn’t heard anything like it, and still haven’t heard anything like it. The moment at which I first heard the sharp staccato rap of the snare and then the explosion of noise is still burned into my memory: It was a Monday night in November, 1991. I’d just finished some homework, got up to pull the curtains and was about to go out of my room and down to the kitchen. Mark Goodier’s Evening Session (that’s how long ago it was!) finished, and the woozy fairground music of Mark Radcliffe’s Out on Blue Six started up. Then the snare drum.

I didn’t move for the entirety of the song. It was like being pinned back by some elemental force. And at the same time trying to answer the question, what on earth was that?????

I still don’t know what on earth it is like. It is probably interstellar or something like that. There have been so many reams of purple prose dedicated to the band that I won’t even try to add to the pile. Sonic cathedrals, whale noises, you name the outlandish metaphor. It’s still hard to credit that it was made by four people with olde world things like guitars, bass and drums.

No exaggeration: without hearing that I wouldn’t be here today. I wouldn’t have really discovered the NME, alternative music, a new way of looking at the world, a belief in creativity, difference and challenging – in whatever limited or contrived way – the obvious or the status quo.

But most of all it gave me an addiction; I’m still searching for the same rush up my spine that I had that Monday night. I’ve come close on some occasions, through people, books, films, other songs. But those opening bars were, and probably will remain to the end of my days, the best hit of all.

Vote vote vote

If you get the chance, go to Don't Panic to vote for this entry in an LCC competition that they're running (you'll need to register to do so).

Yes, I'm biased, but Matt's entry is fab. And when you've done that, you can go and check his Mandatory Thinking too.

Monday, March 27, 2006

News Feed

Just an experiment: at work, I'm compiling a list of headlines of interest/note from the customer experience/user experience dimension. I'll post here too, mainly as an aide memoire. Any additions/other sources, please do say.

Complexity causes 50% of product returns

Wi-fi promises internet shake-up

Payment at your fingertips as Co-op tests checkout scanners,,1726662,00.html

A whale of a time on your mobile,,1729319,00.html

Vodafone to offer fixed-line services

Survey reveals mobile phone revenue hurdle

French MPs vote to open up iTunes

PayPal to offer text message payment

Friendster lost steam. Is MySpace just a fad? (a long, quite academic essay, but worth ploughing through)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Commercial 11: Happiness charter

happiness charter
Originally uploaded by SgtRock333.
Some thoughts on how to make a creative team happier in a currently uncreative space:

Stop and look out of the window: you'll start something else

Celebrate your successes with others; commiserate after your setbacks with others: the highs will be higher, the lows less low

Say it loud: if you find it funny, chances are someone else will

Be provocative, not negative

Keep moving: let your feet dance under the table. No one will ever know

Let others unstick you

Be oblique: it's the most direct way

Wiki wiki wiki (or, collaborate to succeed): a problem shared is a problem solved; an idea shared is inspiration doubled

Interrupt: no one minds being distracted; everyone minds being ignored

A conversation is always worth having

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Capsule 2: Comment is free...

(as discussed in an email with nycM last week. Publication prompted by this today):

Subj: I'm torn


a) really liking the idea, if not the execution

b) wondering whether the tendency towards shorter, quicker posts (because that’s what will eventually evolve) from however eminent a writer will actually aid comprehension

c) screaming at the nav/design – how do you find things? It seems to be organised by ego… sorry, that should be writer; and why is not calmer rather than so busy – goes against Porter’s stated aims for redesign of paper

d) wondering if this is an opportunity to enter the gilded circle

e) posing a question: will it fail like Kinsley’s LA Times wikitorial?

One more thing: that image of CP Snow at the bottom of the page? Really unnecessary.

Monday, March 20, 2006

More self-reflexiveness

to be found here. Irony is that at the very moment I posted, speaker on laptop has cracked and now Chris Rock is coming out very, well, rocky indeed. Ho hum.

Tour / Nanofiction 0: Dusseldorf

10.30 Central European Time and Düsseldorf shimmers with the still-burning lights of Commerce. There was a dull, silver – old – Bentley sitting outside my hotel when I arrived. All I want – kisses, and my arms around you.

Nanofiction 1: Sure thing

The only sure thing is that there is no such thing as a sure thing. In fact,
the only thing that you can be sure of is that if someone tells you that a sure thing is a sure thing is that they sure are a fool.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Tour (desired): Ich bin ein ruler

Well, who wouldn't want to visit a place called King of Prussia in Pennsylvania? It's near Philadelphia, by all accounts. Are there other examples of the monarchs of a pre-unification (first time) Germany giving their names to US towns/suburban conurbations?

First found in this Economist TQ article.

Rock and roll still life

Skulls in situ 014
Originally uploaded by SgtRock333.
Not sure quite how this will work from within Flickr, but nevertheless, a reminder of the slightly surreal turns that playreadings can take after midnight.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A reminder for all those having treacle days (Q for Ms J)

"I reasoned, if I can't get anywhere playing by the rules, let's turn things around, see what the other end looks like; can't be much worse. Balance tips to one side, weigh it down on the other; take your destiny out of other people's hands; fucked up on land, jump in the sea. But try something different."

Hampton Hawes, as quoted by Richard Williams in an Ashes report from last summer.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Listorama 1: Some aliases of Rainford Hugh Perry

Lee Perry
Lee 'Scratch' Perry
Doctor Dick
King Perry
The Upsetter
Super Ape
Tic Tac Teac
Pipecock Jackson (or Jackxon)
Jah X
Jah Lion
Millionaire Liquidator
Lord God Muzick
The Rockstone
Small Axe
People Funny Boy
Jack Lightning
Jesse The Hammer
Daniel Dandelion the Lion
Jah Rastafari the crumbler

the ghost of King Arthur

Source lost to the mist of time. Apologies.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Commercial 10: Working life

Or at least, one of the parts of it I enjoy the most (or normally I do; today technology let me down in my scribing, and I saw the blue screen of death). I've always fancied myself as a note taker par excellence, which can then be turned into similarly incisive memos, also authored by me. Anyway, most of this is just an excuse to quote this:

If you wake up feeling witty, if
you are ready to impart your wisdom
to the world, don't count on word of mouth,
don't lose the credit. Send for Our Man
Boswell, chronicler of the time, to dog
your footsteps, record your word.
Posterity assured. Copyright respected.
Publication arranged. Two transcripts supplied.
'I am nearly dead and no one knows
I was ever alive' - Anon
Ten guineas per day. Weekly terms

Tom Stoppard, Lord Malquist and Mr Moon (1966)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Commercial 9: Brand essences 3

Why has no one involved in branding or advertising an IT company used this? dept:

“Computers are incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid. Human beings are incredibly slow, inaccurate, and brilliant. Together, they are powerful beyond imagination.”

Einstein, quoted in Honoré, ibid, p 122

Monday, March 06, 2006

Tour 2: It is a clear night in Oxfordshire

It is a clear night in Oxfordshire, and the stars and the moon have come out to play. As we race away from the dreaming spires to the welcoming blackness of the Cotswolds, they become more luminous. I stretch my eyes open as far as I can to reduce my squint, and I see the crescent moon winking back at me. The stars glitter, and then glitter again in the reflection of the car window, as the ribbon of road shifts left, right, undulates up, down. I can't tell which is truer, the sight of them, or the reflection of them. Does the infintessimal fraction of time between them make any difference? I think the smears of light through the glass might be a vapour trail. But then a plane blinks overhead red, green and two columns of plume follow it, falling away at the left as time chases space chases distance chases speed chases hedgerow chases tarmac chases car chases time.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Weekend poetry

Both culled from today's Observer:

Number 1:
'At the end of the day,' [Keith] Deller tells me later, 'it's not about drink - it's about bottle.'

Number 2 (Paul Ginsborg comparing Berlusconi and Napoleon) : "Where the one man was all steel, campaigns and conquests, the other is all appearance and promises, smiles and gifts. One talked the hard language of war, the other the exquisitely modern language of images and invention."

Friday, March 03, 2006

For Louise: a haiku functioning as preventative admonition on how to avoid discomfort after eating junk food

Burden of burger
heavy if not prepared for
snack wisely before.