And Another Thing...
See Also: Tony Gill's Blog
It may seem like there are more rants than raves, giving the impression that I'm a bit of a miserable bugger; I like to think this is not the case, it's just a lot easier to be funny with vitriolic prose than it is to make jokes out of things you like.
I detest courgettes (also known as zucchini in many parts of the World). They are the Devil's vegetable.
"Le Bra®" is the stupid name for an even more ridiculous product -- a black vinyl cover that you are supposed to fit over the front of your car, which according to the website are "the ultimate in style and full front end protection for vehicles". Apart from looking completely ridiculous and costing nearly $90, Le Bra® is the automotive equivalent of the ugly seat covers my grandparents used to cover their brand new sofa with in order to prevent it wearing out.
Don't get me started on this one. Currently in the UK, bank customers are still putting up a spirited defence against banks that try to levy charges for the use of cash machines (or ATM's in US-speak). Unfortunately in America this battle is currently being won by banks, who routinely charge $1-$2 both when other banks' customers use their ATM's, AND when their own customers use other banks' ATM's.
US Banks' Hall of Shame
Banks in the US that seem to treat their customers with utter contempt fee-wise include:
There is a ray of hope though, because there are some banks that don't charge unfair fees.
Where do I start? The disproportionate consumption of global resources? America's failure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol? The introduction of GM foods into the food chain without proper public debate?
We are being lied to, and it sucks. Don't believe me?
I'm no G7 protester, but I am concerned by the increasing encroachment of multinational corporations on public space, the workplace and free speech. If you want a well-reasoned and well written explanation of why globalisation is a cause for concern, check out Naomi Klein's excellent book No Logo.
The web of trust -- thanks to search engines that analyze inbound links (such as Google), this is how the web works around the worst by-products of the spammers' vile art. Here are links to friends' sites, in the same order as my bookmarks.
I've always liked cars, despite the fact that they should probably be banned for a number of reasons. In fact, I like them so much, I've devoted two pages to them: A page detailing cars I have owned, and another page about my current car.
I love music -- it's hard to imagine life without it. On previous websites I tried to provide a snapshot of my current musical tastes by listing recent purchases, but it was too hard to maintain. Instead, I'm just going to list a few of my all-time favourite albums and strongly recommend that you listen to Gilles Peterson's Worldwide show, formerly on Kiss 100 FM and now on Radio 1 if you can.
2003 Top Picks
2002 Top Picks
Tony's All-Time Favourite Albums
Tony's Musical Wish List - on CD Now. Hey, why not get your credit card out and give me a CD as a gift?
Beer -- it's great. Wine and spirits are pretty good too.
Reading is another important activity in my life, and for some years now I've been collecting peoples' lists of their favourite novels, which hopefully I will one day put on line. For now, my all-time favourite books are:
Crime & Punishment - Fyodor DostoevskyIndependence Day - Richard FordGreat Apes - Will SelfSophie's World - Jostein GaardnerComplicity - Iain BanksThe Glass Bead Game - Herman HesseAnd the Ass Saw the Angel - Nick Cave
Is anyone really interested what I watch on TV, video or at the movies? Probably not, but I'm gonna list them anyway:
Films: I have pretty mainstream tastes on the whole, although in recent years I've been seeing (and enjoying) more arthouse-type movies at film festivals etc. However, my all-time favourites still tend to be fairly predictable:
One quirk that I share with my friend Paul Facer is that I am very squeamish about TV & movie gore, and have been close to fainting during particularly gruesome scenes on a number of occasions -- even in seemingly-innocuous moves such as Pulp Fiction (the Uma Thurman adrenalin-injection-in-the-heart scene) and the TV drama series ER. I also never watch horror movies, as they affect me adversely and I don't enjoy it.
TV: I tend to go for comedies and documentaries on TV, with long-time favourites being Monty Python, Black Adder, Brass Eye and Ali G on the comedy side, and Horizon on the documentary side.
I enjoy taking photographs a lot, and now have a collection of several thousand photos in acid-free archival quality albums. A few of them are even worth looking at, at least if you're in them. I also recently bought a MiniDV camcorder, and have been shooting video footage with the ultimate objective of doing non-linear editing on my laptop.
Since my job involves working with people who are creating online image archives, I have also started documenting my photograph collection in an Access database (yeah yeah, I know -- I'm a trainspotter), and have a growing collection of digital images -- some of which can be seen in my online Photo Album.
It has it's faults (literally, in the case of the ever-present threat of a massive earthquake!), but I love California.
Happily, there are still some banks in the US that don't treat their personal banking customers with utter contempt. About a year ago I left the execrable Wells Fargo (boo! hiss!) and switched to the unimaginatively-named American Bank's PC Banker e-checking account, and I love it: No fees, free Internet banking including bill payment, a surreal amount of interest on my checking account, and they even refund other banks' ATM surcharges up to $6 per month.
In the UK, I've been very happy with my Citibank account (although sadly Citibank's US operation falls into the "treating customers with utter contempt" category).
In the Guest Rant section, I provide a platform for a carefully-selected guests to vent their spleen.
"What really annoys me most at the moment is Management. Not management, which is a necessary evil, but the kind of Management which adopts whichever stupid theory is currently fashionable and tries to apply it, no matter how inappropriate. When I used to manage people, I would try to pick the right person in the first place, then leave them to get on with their job. I don't see that you need any more theory than that."
"Golf has become symbolic of the spreading social, political and economic malaise spreading throughout the capitalist world.
"Golf for those under the age of 60 is used as a means of perpetuating all that is ugly in today's society. Increasingly, golfers seek to: