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Opportunist racism of my morning commute

Yesterday morning I was witness to a bit of casual racism which really got me annoyed and ready to rage at the dickhead who uttered it. There were no bad words used but, nonetheless, his confused intent got to me.

The Setup

The train was pulling into the station as I was waiting to board it with my fellow commuters. I have come to recognise a few of the people who are regulars on my train. One of which is a young lady I tend to notice, as she also gets off at the same station as me at the other end.

As we were boarding, another lady squeezed herself and her travel bag between the first lady and the train in order to get on quicker. The affected lady didn’t seem bothered as she wasn’t barged or anything.

However, a man stood just behind me decided to pipe up and make his thoughts heard.

The utterings of the opportunist racist

Man to lady : “I think she wants to get on there.”

The lady smiled politely.

Man to lady : “She must be important as she’s got her bags.”

Again, the lady acknowledged him but didn’t reply.

Man to lady : “You can tell she’s not British”.

You can tell she’s not British. Like… What the fuck? The lady who squeezed ahead didn’t say a word and to be honest, didn’t seem phased at all by his comments. And while I don’t condone squeezing past people in order to get their seat on a train, I condone even less any excuse for racism.

Firstly there was nothing about the woman to indicate she wasn’t British (whether she actually was or not is completely irrelevant). Secondly, I don’t even know if this idiot knew what he meant by the term “British”. I can guess what he thinks it means though.

In Closing

It really annoys me when people who could otherwise be smart, have this unfounded ideas of “us and them”. The seeds of which are usually planted by the mainstream media or in people’s filter bubbles in Facebook, twitter et al.

We as a people can solve so many complex ideas and theories, we can put people on the moon, but we can’t all get along in an open and friendly manner.

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The house always wins

Let me preface this post with a message: I am not advising you to gamble here whatsoever. Obviously if you can afford the loss and fancy a game, the best of luck to you. But in the end the house always wins.

I have recently been getting into Matched Betting. Matched betting is a system of unlocking and extracting the free bet offers given by every bookmakers under the sun. I won’t outline the method here but Matched Betting is NOT gambling due to the fact you always lay your bet to break even. (You gain the money from breaking even on the free offer)

As a result of my matched betting I ended up with £65 of my earnings in my account at SkyBet.

With this money I thought I would have a little go on the live roulette. I’d never played proper roulette before so thought I’d give it a whirl.

As it turned out by betting small each time, I managed to bring my balance from my £65 starting up to £199.50!!! However I fell victim to the gambler’s falacy and bet £25 on black after a long streak of red.

It came up red again – I lost £25.

I repeated (the house limit was £25) – it came up red again. Now £50 gone.

To cut a long story short, I dropped my balance down to £35!!! That’s £30 lower than I’d started with. I was greedy and should have stayed on my top level.

Luckily for me, when betting small again for an hour, I managed to work back up to £150.60. And that’s where I’m gonna keep it. I’m already £79.40 up on my balance and so should just stay ahead.

The feeling of the ball bouncing around the table before it settles is such a gut-wrenching feeling. When I first started having a play for fun it felt like just that – a bit of fun, but the more I played the more I found myself trying to analyse the order of previous results. Of course there is no analysis – it’s a random result each time that is always tipped in the house’s favour.

Next Day

I stupidly thought I’d have another little go and try my luck. My balance dropped to 10p. I was gutted to say the least – can’t help but think of what I would do with that extra money. I have to keep reminding myself that all of the money was out of Matched Betting and I am still £135 up overall with it all.

I guess this is the best way of learning this lesson; with free money I’d earned from Matched Betting as opposed to using my own money.

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I’m too much of a consumer

We as people are consumers. Whether that be basic necessities, extra items of comfort, or the never-ending barage of information from media and any social networks you may be a part of.

I’ve come to the realisation that I am, just like everyone else, too much of a consumer and not enough of a creator.

I want to be more of a creator.

Whether that means drawing, painting, writing or something else I dont know, but I’ll just go with any ideas as they come.

That’s not to say I’ll stop consuming completely; eating is a necessity after all, but I think I’m going to close all of my social network accounts and cut down on TV I watch. I think it’s important to still absorb art whether that be paintings, TV, film, music – but just TV for TV sake, no. Also with social media I think it’s just a huge time sink. I don’t even want to know how much of my life I’ve spent so far refreshing Twitter’s home page.

What a waste.

That is sort of what this site is for too: a place for me to write any thoughts, feelings and ideas through life without any pressure to fit within a particular topic.

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For the many not the few…

I’ve not long got back from voting in my first ever General Election. Then after about ten minutes of trying to decide whether or not to put some money on Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister, I closed the browser window – I just don’t have faith in this country to put the right person in power. I really do hope I’m kicking myself tomorrow for not having put that bet on.

I’ve never been a politically-minded person and as such had never voted in any capacity until the Leave / Remain vote last year. This is something I have made a conscious decision to change as of this week. It really is important to get off your ass and vote for the people that you want to represent you over the following four years. Just sitting back and saying “My one vote isn’t going to make a difference” or “They’re all the bloody same” just isn’t good enough. It’s lazy and it’s dangerous.

For my recent political awakening I have Russell Brand to thank with his Under the Skin podcast and Trews video series. Him and and his guests have opened my eyes up to see past all of the sensationalist bullshit that floods the news stands every day. I also have a new appreciation for more ideas around me as well questioning things that I hear; not always taking what I hear at face value.

Here is the video of Russell Brand urging people to register to vote. In the past I had the impression that Russell was a complete idiot. He’s now one of my biggest influences online as well as being one of the sanest political voices out there. Thanks Russell!

If the Conservatives gain power for the next four years, I believe that this country will enter a spiral into an abyss of fear, eroded human rights and regret.

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Let’s talk about the term ‘Terrorist’

Over the past three months the United Kingdom has witnessed some horrific acts of terrorism. The ones I am specifically referring to here are the Westminster attack on 22nd March 2017, the Manchester arena bombing on 22nd May 2017, and the London Bridge attacks of 3rd June 2017. These are disgusting, unforgivable acts of terror. One of the issues surrounding these, as well as other similar events, that I find frustrating – other than the events themselves, of course – is how the word ‘Terrorist’ or ‘Terror Incident’ gets used.

Seven people have been killed and dozens injured during attacks in two closely connected areas of London on Saturday night. The police are treating the attacks as terrorist incidents.From the Guardian website report on June 2017 London Bridge attacks.

Officers – including firearms officers – remain on the scene and we are treating this as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise.From the Guardian website report on March 2017 Westminster attack.

Terrorist

The below definitions taken from Dictionary.com

noun

  1. a person, usually a member of a group, who uses or advocates terrorism.
  2. a person who terrorizes or frightens others.
  3. (formerly) a member of a political group in Russia aiming at the demoralization of the government by terror.
  4. an agent or partisan of the revolutionary tribunal during the Reign of Terror in France.

adjective

  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of terrorism or terrorists:
    terrorist tactics.

Let’s not mistake what is happening in these events: people are commiting horrific acts of violence and desctruction; killing, harming and scaring many innocent people – they are, by definition, terrorists. However, within the media you will find quotes like the ones above, discussing how incidents are only being treated as terrorist incidents. One even goes as far as to say “[…] until we know otherwise”. I mean, with all the facts currently available at the time, nothing could change the fact that it is a terror incident.

What do they really mean?

I think what they are really talking about is the origin, nationality and agenda of the attackers. While this is important to find out in the context of the investigations, it makes no difference to the fact that that person, or persons, are terrorists. Plain and simple. If a Christian fundamentalist goes into a crowded place and kills a bunch of people, they are just as much of a terrorist as if a Muslim person did the same – any religeon for that matter (or none). The origin, nationality and agenda of the attacker(s) makes no baring on the outcome they are aiming to achieve.

So why is there such a reluctance to classify an incident, like those mentioned above, as terror incidents until further information is gathered? When the events in question so blatently are.

I was first woken up to this way of phrasing such news by Akala on Frankie Boyle’s Election Autopsy 2015. I have timestamped the link but I strongly urge you to watch the whole discussion.

Continue the discussion

I am not a politically savvy person; these are only my initial thoughts when reading the news of these tragic events. I encourage you to reply if you feel I am completely missing the point in what the news is trying to say. This post isn’t written to just try and get people angry. If anything, I’d like it to get people to think.

Thank you for reading.

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Going through old books – memories of times long past

Yesterday I finally got round to sorting through a load of old books of mine that I have collected over the years. To anyone watching from the outside these will just look like a mess of old books on varying subjects – Clive Barker novels; Derren Brown-recommended psychology books; Music Theory and scale books. To me, these represent certain pockets of my life so far; different interests that have grabbed me and become an obsession at one time or another.

Sorting through these books is the first time in a long time that I have reminisced about times gone by, if only for the moment of time it took to carry them upstairs.

I also couldn’t help but think “What if I’d stayed on that particular path?”, for a given collection of books. For example, as I started to get into Web Development seriously, learning guitar kind of took a back seat to that. Although I do still play, I don’t put in ten hour sessions anymore. Partially due to the fact that I can’t get away with three day work weeks anymore. Boo hoo for me, right? But I can’t help but imagine how much more I could have progressed with the guitar had I stayed on that path.

Then there was my whole Derren Brown phase, where – after reading one of his autobiographies – bought and read most of the books he recommended in it. I practised memorisation techniques; trying to read peoples true intentions through involuntary eye movements. I could even look through a deck of cards, with one card removed, and tell you instantly which one was missing.

But don’t get me wrong, I’m not regretful of how things came to be – after all it brought me to my lovely lady. Plus it’s not as though those things are gone, they just need to be awoken once again.

What things do you own that trigger memories of your past?

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The 5am Habit

My usual morning routine consists generally of getting up twenty minutes before I’m due to leave for the train station, rushing out and getting to the train barely on time.

However, for the past five days I have been forcing myself into a new routine – getting up at 5am; nearly two hours before I’m due to leave the house. This morning I have found the habit to have reached the next level, as I woke up naturally at 4:57am.

Getting up that extra bit earlier has given me more time in the day to get the things done I want to get done – including writing on this website.

The next step is to plan out the morning during the night before so that I can get up and get stuff done efficiently. This means that anything I would have done on that day’s evening gets done in the morning before work instead.

Getting stuff done before work gets me in a better mood as I feel I have already accomplished some personal goals before my regular day has even begun. Anything else I get done through the day or evening is then a bonus.

I recommend to anybody wanting to get personal stuff done, or even if you have any hobbies you want to commit more time to, to get up earlier and get them done in the morning.

p.s. I was inspired to begin this new habit whilst listening to The 5am Miracle Podcast.

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Big bang in Birmingham

During the Second World War many bombs were dropped on the city of Birmingham. Known as the Birmingham Blitz, this three year span did a great deal of damage to many buildings in and around the city. Not only that but thousands of people were either seriously injured or killed. According to the Wikipedia page around one fifth of the high explosive bombs failed to detonate.

Today in Aston, Birmingham one of those unexploded bombs was detonated in a controlled explosion, after being discovered more than twenty four hours previous.

Due to the location of the bomb, the main Birmingham expressway and the train line I use were closed off. Normally when news of cancelled trains hits me I immediately get annoyed with my working location – being from the other side of Birmingham. However, I couldn’t help but be fascinated that a bomb from the World War 2 air raids had lay dormant all this time, waiting to be discovered.

Although this could have been potentially very disastrous for many people, it’s still an interesting piece of history to be uncovered.

How many more undiscovered bombs remain to be found?

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5 of my favourite debut albums

Buckingham Nicks by Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks

Buckingham NicksLindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac in 1974 to make its ninth, and most well-known, line up. But just the year before, the two had recorded an album together called “Buckingham Nicks”. As a guitar player I was hugely inspired by Lindsey Buckingham, so when I found out about this album it felt like I’d struck gold.

Some of my favourite songs from them both appear on this album. “Frozen Love” has one of my favourite guitar moments from Lindsey; and Stevie’s Voice sounds so great on “Races are Run” and “Long Distance Winner”.

The harmonies that these two manage to produce together are simply phenomenal.

Light Me Up by The Pretty Reckless

Light Me Up by The Pretty RecklessIn a time when I was a little bored with the contemporary rock music coming out, and was just discovering Lorde; Lana Del Rey et al, I heard a song on the radio called “Heaven Knows”. The big sound of the band and heavy vocals of Taylor Momsen had me instantly hooked. From that song I immediately sought out the album, “Going To Hell”, which naturally led me to their previous – and debut – album “Light Me Up”.

“Light Me Up” is such a great rock album. It has everything from super-catchy heavy romps to the stripped-back and beautiful closing “You”. This is album would definitely be a desert island disc for me.

Pure Heroine by Lorde

Pure Heroine by LordeLorde – the lady who absolutely blew everyone away with her powerful tribute to David Bowie following his passing. She is definitely one of the few truly unique artists of recent times. She has a style that is so uniquely her own and her stunning debut “Pure Heroine” is a testiment to that.

The biggest hit off the album is undoubtedly “Royals“, which is where I had my first taste. Well, to be more precise it was Weird Al Yankovic’s parody cover “Foil” which led to my looking for the origin of the song.

As soon as I pressed play and heard the absolutely stunner “Tennis Court” I was an immediate fan boy; I was obssessed with the album – to some degree I still am.

Same Trailer Different Park by Kacey Musgraves

Same Trailer Different Park by Kacey MusgravesWhen it comes to country music I am mostly in the dark. Except for my being a big fan of Kris Kristofferson, and of course Johnny Cash, I never really sought out any new country music. That was until I was introduced to Kacey Musgraves by web designer Andy Clarke in his album review.

Since first hearing it I played it every morning on my drive into work. I would even intentionally drive slower so that I could hear the whole album before arriving. The opening, “Silver Lining”, is one of the most welcoming songs I’ve heard on an album.

Every corner of “Same Trailer Different Park” is as genuine a country album we could ever hope to hear.

Atlas by FM-84

Atlas by FM-84Over the past 12 months I have been diving into a few new genres than what I was used to. There’s been grime; pop; and there’s been synth wave. Synth wave is as cool as it sounds. It’s a style of music with the intentional sound and aesthetics of 80s film / game soundtracks. Think John Carpenter; Tron et al.

The first artist of Synth wave I heard was an artist called ‘FM-84’, real name Colin Bennett. His song “Running In The Night”, co-written with Ollie Wride, absolute blew me away and made me wish I had become self-aware in the 80s. The whole album feels like it was both made in the 80s and is an ultimate tribute to the 80s. Every song on “Atlas” is a complete joy to listen to.

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Laravel Blade push and stack

Laravel’s blade view compiler is second to none. I’ve used a couple of different templating engines and blade is by far my favourite.

Including Partials

The way in which we include partials of views within our main views is as follows:
@include(‘partials.my-first-partial’)
It will inject that partial’s content in the specified place.

Defining Sections

Within our views, we define “sections” with the following syntax:

@section(‘section_name’)

    The section’s content within here

@stop

And we can define as many sections as we need for our project.

When the same section is used in multiple places within one compilation

Imagine we have master template file as such:

// layouts.main.blade.php
<!doctype html>

...
<div class="”container”">@yield(‘partials.form’)</div>
...

@yield(‘custom_scripts’)

Let’s suppose we have the following layout template that extends our main layout one and is including three partials. This example is a form template including its various inputs from separate partials. For my own website I have a different form for each of my post types and so I have the inputs in separate partials for easy reuse.

// partials.form.blade.php
@extends(‘layouts.main’)

<form>@include(‘parials.form-title’)
@include(‘parials.form-content’)
@include(‘parials.form-tags’)</form>

Let’s next suppose that in a couple of those partial input views you need to inject some custom scripting. This is a slightly contrived example, but it will illustrate the point.

// partials.form-content.blade.php
<textarea class="content" name="content"></textarea>

@section(‘custom_scripts’)
// dummy javascript as example
$(‘.content’).doSomething();
@stop
// partials.form-tags.blade.php
<select class="tags" name="tags">
<option value="tagone">Tag One</option>
<option value="tagtwo">Tag Two</option>
<option value="tagthree">Tag Three</option>
</select>

@section(‘custom_scripts’)
$(‘.tags’).doSomethingElse()
@stop

Now, when the form page gets compiled, only the first occurrence of the ‘custom_scripts’ section will be included.

So what if you needed to be able to define this section in chunks across partials?

Introducing Blade’s Push & Stack directives

To give this functionality, Laravel does in fact have two little-known directives called ‘push’ and ‘stack’.

They allow you to ‘stack up’ items across partials with the ‘push’ directive, which can then be echoed out together with the ‘stack’ directive.

Here’s the above form example but with ‘push’ and ‘stack’ used in place of ‘section’ and ‘yield’.

// layouts.main.blade.php
<!doctype html>

...
<div class="”container”">@yield(‘partials.form’)</div>
...

@stack(‘custom_scripts’)

// partials.form-content.blade.php
<textarea class="content" name="content"></textarea>

@push(‘custom_scripts’)
// dummy javascript as example
$(‘.content’).doSomething();
@endpush
// partials.form-tags.blade.php
<select class="tags" name="tags">
<option value="tagone">Tag One</option>
<option value="tagtwo">Tag Two</option>
<option value="tagthree">Tag Three</option>
</select>

@push(‘custom_scripts’)
$(‘.tags’).doSomethingElse()
@endpush

This will now compile all uses of the @push(‘custom_scripts’) and echo them out as one wherever you call @stack(‘custom_scripts’)

When I was shown this technique by a mate at work, it blew my mind.

Have fun.