Every Day Carry

One of the blogs in my reader is the well-known “every-day carry” where people show how they carry all the gadgets and gizmos they might need day-to-day. There are some “loadouts” that are survivalists, bristling with military hardware, hand-guns and fighting knives which are absolutely absurd, usually carried by fat men with thick spectacles acting out walter mitty fantasies, and would be illegal in the UK. There are also some minimalist and stylish collections of fine leather goods and beautifully chosen tools. It’s a good place to go and indulge my small leather goods fetish, or my desire for beautiful tools, like these William Henry Knives.

I find it absurd, for example that a decent multi-tool would be (sort of) illegal to carry in the UK. Most have blades which lock in place (far safer than a UK-legal slip-joint folder) and blades greater than the maximum 3″. If you have an excuse to carry a multi-tool, then it’s legal. So if I carry one, it lives in my Bicycle tool kit but I regard the fact that I might have to justify carrying something so self-evidently useful as a leatherman, as a gross intrusion.

Generally speaking, the EDC is a philosophy of preparedness, at all times, while keeping the weight & bulk down. This requires thought about the objects you carry. So should your pen double as a self-defence tool? Your key-chain a tool or light? Memory sticks? Do you need a knife AND a multitool? Notebook, pens, sunglasses. Can you carry stuff on your belt, without looking like a total twat? These are all important questions.

Here’s what I carry with me every day, bearing in mind I’m a cycling stockbroker. It’s heavy on pens and business cards and light on firearms.

Omega speedmaster reduced (the automatic version of the moonwatch).
Wallet, business card case and pen holder by Aspinals
Parker 51 fountain pen, pencil & Victorninox Tourist which live in the pen-holder.
Fisher space pen & extra-small moleskine notebook, carried in wallet.
Brass Zippo
and of course, a phone: HTC desire, in an ultra-slim leather case by Senna.

More often than not, the Kindle plus cover by Piel Frama will come with me when I leave the house. Especially if there’s public transport involved. If I’m cycling, I will wear Oakley half-jackets, and will certainly carry a flash-light, in case I need to cycle after dark. In the bag, I carry a waterproof, high-visibility jacket & overshoes (if not carried, it WILL rain), a small first aid-kit (gauze, iodine mesh, tape, antiseptic spray, tweezers, Ibuprofen scisors and a space-blanket), spare lenses for the Glasses for different light conditions, spare batteries for the bike lights.

In the small saddle-bag there is always a CO2 pump, plus spare canister, inner tube, tyre patch, puncture repair kit, tyre levers, zip-ties, a cycling multi-tool with Allen keys and a chain-breaker. I also carry a spokey, spare nipples and a kevlar spoke, enough to get the bike home after almost any disaster. This lives permanently on the bike.

Finally I usually carry an electronic gizmo “life support system” in a small pencil case, which contains a multi-usb plug, leads, adaptors and a power-monkey, a spare battery for the phone, with which I can charge any of the electronics I carry from either a computer or plug.

Is there anything else I need? It seems like a lot, but the first picture fits in my pockets, the second takes up the smallest pouch on my courier bag, including the contents of the third picture. Generally speaking, I’m ready for most things that the day might throw at me.

Bloggy Hiatus

For reasons beyond both authors’ control, AVBD may well be taking a couple of weeks off. If you would like to post a guest post, and you’re not certifiable, or a rancid lefty whinging about “the 1%”, please feel fee to drop me an e-mail (It’s to the right) with your post, and I will do my best to post it, if I have Internet access while I am away and If I like it.

Can I point you to My Fiance’s new novel in the mean-time. It really is rather good. If you don’t have a Kindle and want to know when the Hard-Back is coming out, follow the Blog.

See you all again in Decemeber.

GMT, BST, CET & The Changing of the Clocks.

Twice a year the clocks change. We’re robbed of an hour in bed in spring and get it back in Autumn to no end as far as I can see. And every year, we have to deal with the pointless debate that we should either have British Summer Time all year round (stupid) or worse, co-ordinate our clocks with Europe.

This probably matters little in Torquay. But Shetland, 700 miles & 10 degrees of latitude farther north, in the winter only gets 6 hours of daylight. BST would see first light on December 29th (the Latest sunrise – a few days after the winter solstice) until 10:10am and see last light at 15:56 on the 19th December (the earliest sunset is a few days before the solstice). GMT, UK winter time sees an earlier dawn around 9am in winter and an earlier sunset at around 3pm, which feels more natural.

The argument in favour of abandoning daylight saving usually suggest BST all year round – GMT+1 giving lighter evenings in the winter. Well even where I live, just north of London, in the winter first light is 8am (9am BST, 10am if we co-ordinated with Europe) and last light is 4pm (5pm BST, or 6pm European time). Both commutes would be in darkness under whichever clock. On balance, I think (as most people who get up early) I would prefer earlier mornings for longer. There is some evidence (most of it dated) that lighter evenings reduce accidents. But work patterns and social habits have changed since most of the research on the subject was done; and recent research suggests that the decrease in evening energy use barely exceeds the increase in morning use.

Either way, it’s irrelevant. The time is (or should be) based on the natural phenomenon of the solar cycle. Noon is the point at which the sun is highest in the sky. The idea that we are slaves to a machine, the clock, rather than the natural environment I find faintly disturbing. If workers want to get up long before dawn, to enjoy a lighter evening, people are free to set their day accordingly. Some people, for whom I have nothing but contempt, think it reasonable to start their working day at the slovenly and frankly disreputable time of 9am. I’ve heard some idle, slothful people start at 10am, though the only one I’ve actually met “worked” in advertising. Quite what such “people” want to do with the extra hours in bed, apart from extravagant masturbation, is beyond me.

Instead of a top-down imposition of a working day which suits some, allow people & businesses to set their working hours according to their individual needs. Leave the clock to be set by the natural phenomena, and let people, not Government decide their hours. We aren’t at war and the Government shouldn’t be telling me or anyone else what time to get up.

GMT all year round – the libertarian choice. BST (or worse CET): a monstrous instrument of tyranny.

On Becoming a Writer…

Guest post By LB Mara.

“The Dawn Herald” is available on Kindle! At last! After five years of writing, rewriting, hair-tearing, nailbiting, absurd hope and crushing disappointment, “The Dawn Herald” is finished. Five years of carefully crafting submission letters and blurbs; formatting text, cold-calling, networking, hoping and praying. Five years of ‘it’s not for us, though it’s very well written’ and my favourite *ever* response to a pitch that took six hours to write: ‘no thanks’. Five years of not having my work read; of having it returned crumpled and coffee-stained, ripped by too-tight rubber bands, of drawers full of rejection slips. Five years of near-hope as I have the book accepted, only to discover that the publishing house is an out-and-out scam; five years of ‘waiting for my life to start’ (a sentiment shared by writers and enneagram lovers, particularly Number 4s). And five years of rejecting the self-publishing option due to the all-pervasive snobbery surrounding it: if you ‘do it yourself’, you’re not quite good enough/pandering to your own vanity/doomed to literary failure/won’t be taken seriously. I’ve come to view the last sentiments as absolute rubbish.
The traditional publishing model is dying. Going the same way as vinyl and 8 tracks. Bookshops are becoming coffee shops lined with books. Digital media isn’t the way forward: it’s the status quo. While there will always be a place for the tangible book as opposed to its virtual cousin – the sumptuous coffee-table art book, the delectable cookbook, the weighty law tome, the lavishly illustrated children’s book – people are becoming accustomed to carrying their literature with them in the form of bytes rather than print. It means that you can read what you like, when you like, without a literary snob squinting at the spine of the book you’re reading and raising a derisive eyebrow. Accountants can read Harry Potter on the Tube; High Court judges can dive into the murky world of chick lit and Aga Sagas without being rumbled. Digital media is a great leveller, entirely democratic. It’s available to all. Everyone can educate or entertain themselves wherever they happen to be for a few pounds. Access to literature is not a closed shop any more (excuse the pun). And today’s writers are finding it equally freeing.
The typical publishing model means that a writer is tied into a contract for x-number of years with a whole host of caveats concerning what they can and can’t do with their own work. They may have unknowingly sold the rights to their story in a particular format, which means they can’t reissue their work in a different format, have it illustrated independently, or distribute it as they wish. If they’re not careful, their characters may end up in cereal packets or as a Ready Meal toy or, in a case that incensed book lovers and nostalgia hounds the world round, Paddington Bear in an advertising campaign for Marmite. They have to fork over a hefty 70% of their royalties to the publishing house; advances are drying up; and there’s no guarantee that their book won’t be edited until it’s unrecognisable, marketed in a way they find inappropriate, or illustrated in a way they hate.
Publishing to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple et al turns the publishing model on its head. You keep 70% of the profit. You choose your own artwork – I’ve used the best illustrators out there: Andy English, who is creating three exquisite woodcuts (one for each part of the novel) and Abi Daker who has produced a delicious map and a series of watercolours to illustrate the whole.You can amend your book whenever you wish, market it freely, and control what happens to it. So, although self-publishing is in one sense an absolute leap in the dark – I feel rather like a mother sending her child off on the first day of school and hoping said child doesn’t get kicked or dumped in the litter bin. What if no-one likes it? – it’s an awful lot more freeing. I know that I am the creator of my own success; the amount of effort I put into marketing The Dawn Herald will be commensurate with the number of people aware of it. Isn’t it a hundred times more satisfying to know that you have earnt the proceeds of your hard labour? As Dale Carnegie said: ‘The harder I work, the luckier I get.’

Norwegians can be Proud of their Country Today.

Anders Behring Breivik. This is why racial profiling doesn’t work.

Needless to say the killing of nearly 100 people, probably by a right-wing Christian extremist called Anders Behring Breivik in by bomb in Oslo and by shooting on a nearby island youth camp yesterday is a terrible crime. A spokesman for the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s Labour party said

“We meet terror and violence with more democracy and will continue to fight against intolerance…”

I can’t help thinking that if Bush or Blair had said something similar in the wake of 9/11 or 7/7, Britons or Americans would not be living in the unpleasant police-states in which they now find themselves.

Everything Stinks, But Nothing will Change, Except for the Worse..

Britain has, expenses scandal notwithstanding (which would make news in only a handful of countries), a pretty high standard of honesty in public life. Perhaps this is BECAUSE we have such a vile, unscrupulous, yet tenacious press? The Late & Unlamented ‘News of the Screws’ may be history, allowing the Dirty Digger to sell off a Leaner and more streamlined 7-day Sun Newspaper, as well as the venerable Times. Due to publicity and the greater bargaining power of management, Murdoch may get more than perhaps he could have expected even a few weeks ago.

But even the sale of The Sun and The Times changes little in the long run. The newspaper industry is dead. It doesn’t know it yet: the strongest brands may live on in mobile-device subscription and on the Internet, but the logistics of paper-delivery mean that lower circulation will lead to its eventual demise. It seems News International agrees: perhaps their strategy of putting their brands behind a pay-wall isn’t yet successful. It certainly remains a risk, one which Murdoch is happy to divest himself of. In order to allow the purchase British Sky Broadcasting without having to divest the potentially valuable Sky News, he’s prepared to sacrifice his papers. Before passing judgment, ask yourself: do you know more about global media than Rupert Murdoch? Me neither. His revealed preference is for Broadcast media over print. Sell Newspaper stock, all of it. Now.

The rest of Fleet Street? Well, News of the World and other NI titles weren’t even the worst papers. The Daily Mail is by far the worst – cheerfully breaking the law to get stories, with the Mirror, a paper read by Morons, second. The entire UK newspaper industry are all in a brutal pit-fight over readers and advertisers to keep a dying business-model going. I suspect that results – juicy stories which sold papers – resulted in a “See no evil” approach from senior management. Thus even if Coulson and Brooks had plausible deniability, it was the result of a degree of negligence which left them culpable, but not criminally so. With different media interest, this would be a “punish the perps, move on…” story. So why is this such a big scandal? The fact is the removal of the powerful operator, News International, from the UK media scene benefits a lot of people, in particular opposition politicians and competitive media organisations. Even the Police benefit from keeping the focus on News Corp and away from themselves.

So what of the ethics of the BBC? Well, they’re stoking the outrage. That they are the cleanest of the media organisations appears not to be in doubt, but they are protective of their dominant media position in the UK. The Former Director General put his name to a letter demanding that News Corporation be prevented from buying Sky. Why would they risk getting involved publicly in an issue in which there’s such a clear conflict of interest? Only Sky News can challenge their dominant, agenda-setting position. It is the BBC who decide which stories are News and which aren’t. As a result, the agenda of the Metropolitan Left gets a more dominant airing than its popularity in the country warrants, and it’s jealously guarding this power. This explains the foaming-at-the-mouth seen in leftist circles whenever you mention News International. The leftists don’t want an organisation with a different world view which challenges the cosy consensus, as a Sky News which enjoyed the full backing and resources of News International would.

The police, whose alacrity in investigating earlier allegations of media impropriety was conspicuous in its absence. It is possible that they had greater priorities at the time (Sir Iain Blair’s defence in committee this morning), but it is more likely they knew it would uncover embarrassing levels of corruption and collusion with the media. The police don’t come out of this at all well, so focusing public ire on a big bad fat cat suits them. They’re more than happy to investigate Brooks and Coulson if it keeps the inquests away from their door.

Now the Labour party is also seeking political advantage. Hilariously, because they’d been in power when the story happened for a decade, they were just as completely in bed with Murdoch’s media empire. For Gordon Brown (who employed such charming people as Damian McBride) to allege that he’d refused to play ball, and that is why he lost the 2010 election is vile. Absurd. Awful. Now it’s alleged that he planted the story about his son’s Cystic Fibrosis to make him more human, and counter-alleged that The Sun bullied him into the exclusive. Either way Brown doesn’t come out of this well. He’s either disgustingly cynical, or a spineless gimp who backs down when bullied. For Brown’s drippy homunculus, Milliband minor, to attempt to Jump on the Bandwagon, temporarily successful though it may be, is, will be exposed for the hypocrisy it is.

There’s little doubt that in egregious lawlessness, the News of the World may be different qualitatively if not quantitatively to the rest. However, this is a big story because of its closeness to the current Executive. However, that closeness ended 6 months ago when Cameron fired Coulson/Coulson quit. So Cameron is keeping a low profile, standing by his friends, but saying little. I can’t see the shit sticking to him.

For this reason, the left, and the Labour party (outside its top echelons) who’ve long loathed Rupert Murdoch as an ideological enemy, and are crowing that his influence in the UK media is waning, may be as disappointed as they are with the effect on the Tories. News International already own 39% British Sky Broadcasting and have effectively a controlling stake. If they divest themselves of the Sun and Times, then the competition commission can ONLY conclude that there is no risk to Media Plurality of the News International bid. Indeed, because it challenges the dominance of the BBC, this can only be POSITIVE in this regard. This leaves the OfCom test of whether Murdoch is “Fit and Proper”. The evidence is that his titles are no worse than the Daily Mail. So. Murdoch will get Sky because there’s nothing except public outrage keeping him from doing so, if The Times and The Sun get new owners. Nothing else will change and nor should it; we are, after all ruled not by the baying mob, stoked up by self-serving competitors, but by the rule of law. Either Murdoch will get British Sky Broadcasting, or the UK is a mere ochlocracy whose mob is being turned on a striken competitor by a hyperventilating media. Mmmm. Mob rule. Grrrreat.

By the time the judicial enquiries submit their reports this will be yesterday’s news, and their recommendations will be implemented half-heartedly – if at all, unless the politicians see an oportunity to remove scrutiny by over-regulation. Only they will gain by further regulating the media. It’s the press’s job to hold politicians and others in public office to account. Does anyone deny the British Press do this better than many other countries’ media industries? Their having overstepped the mark in doing so is less dangerous than politicians overstepping the mark in holding the press to account. If there’s new media regulation, I cannot see this being for anyone’s good except for the elite who get less scrutiny. Where does that lead? Yes. France.


I hope the Politicians do nothing about Hackgate, because the likely alternatives to doing nothing are much worse.

Obama’s Limo on Irish Roads

Obama’s Limo is massively over-engineered, and is in theory able to operate as a Mobile life-support system and armoured cell capable of withstanding all but the most well-equipped and determined attack. (via)

the vehicle is fitted with military grade armor at least five inches thick, and the wheels are fitted with run flat tires … The doors weigh as much as a Boeing 757 airplane cabin door. The engine is equipped with a Eaton Twin Vortices Series 1900 supercharger system. The vehicle’s fuel tank is leak-proof and is invulnerable to explosions. The car is perfectly sealed against biochemical attacks and has its own oxygen supply and firefighting system built into the trunk. … two holes hidden inside the lower part of the vehicle’s front bumper … are able to emit tear gas The vehicle can also fire a salvo of multi-spectrum infrared smoke grenades as a countermeasure to an Rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) or Anti-tank missile (ATGM) attack and to act as a visual obscurant to operator guided missiles. … The limo is equipped wit
h a driver’s enhanced video system which allows the driver to operate in an infrared smoke environment. This driver’s enhanced video system also contains bumper mounted night vision cameras for operation in pitch black conditions. Kept in the trunk is a blood bank of the President’s blood type.[citation needed] Interestingly, there is no key hole in the doors. A special trick, known only to Secret Service agents, is required to gain access to the passenger area. Furthermore, the entire limo can be locked like a bank vault.

They’ve thought of everything? No? Millions of dollars worth of high security hardware were defeated by nothing more complicated than a speed-hump or pothole. (via)

The president’s fucked when he comes to the UK then, if he hopes to drive around central London in “the Beast”. If the designers of the vehicle had any sense (of course they don’t, they’re American & American cars are all badly-designed crap, even it seems, the President’s), they’d have taken a leaf out of the Soviet book. In order to avoid such “beachings”, inevitable in a long-wheelbase vehicle, some variants of the BRDM series of Scout cars in service with light motor rifle units had a pair of ‘belly wheels’ to aid, in this instance in trench crossing, but they’d help negotiate a speed-bump too.

BRDM-2 in service with the Peruvian Military, with chain-driven drop-down belly wheels clearly visible.

Such a simple system would help the limo get round narrow, potholed or steep European roads without beaching, and without leaving its occupant looking like a dick.

Publish & Be Damned

So. A footballer, whose name absolutely everyone with an Internet connection and an interest already knows, got a super injunction which prevents any media organisation reporting the fact that he had an affair with a Big Brother 7 contestant called Imogen Thomas, who to be fair to the guy, does have nice norks.

I’m not going to name him, because I am in no mood to be the blogger out of whom the law decides to make an example, but he plays for Manchester United and Wales, wears a number 11 shirt, and he’s suing Twitter, like, right now.

Now, to my legally untrained mind, the issue comes down to the competing rights of freedom of speech and the right to privacy; specifically articles 8 & 10 and possibly 12 (marriage) of the European convention on Human rights. Just because the public is interested in with whom footballers and their ilk play hide the sausage, doesn’t mean the newspapers have a right to publish and thereby invade peoples’ privacy. But, whatever Lord Justice Eady decides, freedom of speech is, to my mind, paramount. Without a presumption of free speech, it’s the rich and powerful who have the access to super-injunctions and less blessed unfortunates who come into the view of the tabloids but don’t have the resources, get monstered. In freedom of speech, truth should be the defence. Readerships should be asking “why am I interested, I really must be a nasty, stupid, prurient, fuck to be paying to read this drivel, but then I like football and big brother, so duh…”.

This may be a footballer, but if it’s a politician, or in America, a religious hypocrite, the right of people to know the private behaviour of public individuals is stronger. Though it still says more about the prurience of the public, “celebrities” must accept that one has to be able to defend one’s actions. The day of super-injunctions is past. Information is too difficult to suppress in this online world. Perhaps this is healthy – in a global village, every action has consequences. It’s as if the world knows you, just as if you lived in the 10th century. It’s equalising in it’s own way.

Courts can ban media organisations from divulging details, whilst the Internet is awash with the facts. An injunction probably worked until about a decade ago, when a few organisations controlled information. Now any dick-head with a key-board can find out, and spread information. There may be examples made, but you cannot prosecute every twitter user and blogger. To attempt to do so makes the law ridiculous. Sorry. EVEN MORE ridiculous. In this environment, seeking such an injunction merely renders the person seeking the injunction MORE famous than if you’d just said, “

Yes. The Gigg’s Up. I shagged her.”

Footballers, even Welsh ones with a yoga video to sell, shagging d-list tarts is not exactly a ‘man-bites-dog’ story and would be soon forgotten, but for the super injunction. The footballer, who scored a goal against in the second leg of Manchester United’s Champions league semi-final, would have been better advised to accept the media nonsense for a few days than expose himself to the cost and ridicule of legal action. Furthermore, the Footballer in question may be flying Ryan Air in future, as the cost of legal action, suing twitter and obtaining a super injunction may mean, that despite a long career of 875 appearances for Manchester United, he may end up bankrupt. Bankrupt and famous mainly for shagging Imogen Thomas, not the magnificent first goal in the second leg against Shalke, which ended a long goal drought for the 37 year-old forward.

Newspapers, even Britain’s notoriously prurient and intrusive press should have the right to publish the truth, even at the risk of invading the privacy of people paid £100,000 a week to kick a ball. Of course when a mere schoolmistress is “exposed” as a dominatrix, as a rather despicable second prize for the Sun in its campaign against Sir Max Mosley, the high cost of such legal action means people’s lives may be destroyed utterly, to no-one’s benefit. But they’re not famous, so who cares about THEIR privacy? A level playing field would see the truth being a defence in publishing details.

The moral of the story as far as footballers is concerned. If you didn’t shag a d-list slapper, prove it and sue the papers for libel if they print. If you did shag a d-list slapper, fess up, divorce or beg for forgiveness from your wife and accept that this will be tomorrow’s chip-wrapper. The Internet has rendered super-injunctions moot. This isn’t new: It was the Duke of Wellington who first said “publish & be damned”.

Unless this is all a clever strategy to build a media presence at the end of a football career. In which case, well done. I am sure there will be plenty of Giggs for you.

My Shit Life So Far.

The autobiography of Frankie Boyle.

In any case the whole of television and celebrity is simply a distracton aimed at keeping you sedated while your pockets are picked by vested interests which may or may not be lizards. You’re going to end up with celebrity reality shows piped directly into your eyes in the same way that classical music is played to fatten cattle. What kind of person buys the autobiography of a panel show contestand? WAKE UP YOU CUNT.

It continues in this vein for some 300 pages.

The winter solstice

The winter solstice is the shortest day, or more accurately the moment at which the sun at its lowest zenith in the year. Northern societies have calculated day lengh accurately for millenia – stonehenge and Newgrange were built for this purpose.

For weeks now, I’ve been going to work in the morning and coming home again in the dark, though not for much longer. By mid january we will be enjoying significantly more daylight so today is the ending of the dying of the light, and the rebirth of the sun, which is why ancient cultures celebrate it. Yule, Saturnalia and others. All religions, ancient and modern have a festival around this time, and often the theme is rebirth. The idea we’re celebrating the birth of a 2,000 year-old levantine carpenter is risible. The ancient church simply co-opted existing festivals.

I’ll be raising a glass to the coming spring this evening, because although I give the impression of being a right-wing capitalist beast, there is a mile-wide streak of hippy in there.