Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond

Entries Tagged as 'Rant – Politics, Spirituality, etc.'

G20 protests – a change is gonna come.

April 1st, 2009 · Comments Off on G20 protests – a change is gonna come.

picture of protesters outside the Bank of EnglandToday I went down to the protest outside the Bank Of England that coincided with the meeting of the G20 in London. It was a multi-angle protest, seeking to bring together the shared concerns of the environmental movement, anti-capitalists, the climate change brigade, the stop the war coalition and those who wanted to see a greater degree of culpability placed on the financial systems and institutions that presided over the current global economic collapse.
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Tags: Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc.

Earthhour – Inspiration, collective meaning and the dangers of virtual absolution.

March 30th, 2009 · Comments Off on Earthhour – Inspiration, collective meaning and the dangers of virtual absolution.

photo of a candle burning at st luke's church, holloway8.30-9.30 on Saturday night was Earth Hour. The idea was for everyone to turn off their lights for one hour as a symbol of their recognition of the problem of climate change, and the effect of our energy consumption and its environmental impact thereon. (at least, that’s my paraphrase).
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Tags: Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc.

Women in Technology (Ada Lovelace Day)

March 24th, 2009 · Comments Off on Women in Technology (Ada Lovelace Day)

Ada LovelaceToday is Ada Lovelace Day. Ada Lovelace was the “first computer programmer“, and an inspiration to techie women the world over. The idea for Ada Lovelace Day is to highlight the role of women in tech, flagging up particular women who we find most inspiring.
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Tags: Geek · Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc.

Atheist Bus Campaign? Oh, grow up!

January 6th, 2009 · 44 Comments

So the Atheist Bus Campaign are delighted that they’ve raised £135K to put up adverts around the place telling people not to worry cos there probably isn’t a God.

So, let’s get this straight – their logic is that putting God-bothering ads on buses is a stupid idea. So in response they… put up anti-God-bothering ads on buses. Genius! An eye for an eye. An ad for an ad. Maybe we can just start having whole conversations via 15 word slogans on the sides of buses. it’s a pretty nuanced way to talk about things.

Oh no, my mistake, it’s a fucking stupid way to discuss anything. Regardless of my own beliefs/faith/whatever, I’ve always been baffled by posters stating ‘facts’ about God, or with bible verses on them. It always smacked of some kind of talismanic evangelical witch-craft; ‘if we use bits of the Bible, it has special powers and people will be saved‘… Surely actually talking about this stuff is more useful. As some fab Welshmen once said, ‘this is my truth, tell me yours‘.

But, to counter it with equally bogus ‘there probably isn’t a God..’ banners helps no one. It does as much for discussion of the merits of faith and atheism as the original posters do. Precious little.

The picture at the top is my contribution to the debate. Happy new year, whatever your faith-persuasion. 🙂

Tags: Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc.

My response to Balance PR

December 24th, 2008 · Comments Off on My response to Balance PR

money, that's what I wantHere’s the email I just sent to Balance PR: (read the full account of the story thus far here )

The money is finally in my account.

Thanks for the extra to cover the DAYS I’ve spent chasing you to finally actually get paid. Oh no, my mistake, there isn’t any.

God only knows how long it would’ve been if I hadn’t bothered.

Inexcusably bad service. I hope that anyone I know that you ask to do any freelance work for you in the future asks for the money up front, or writes some MAJOR late payment penalty clauses into the contract.

I wouldn’t have had time for that, because, if you remember that long ago, I dropped pretty much everything I was doing in that week to help you guys out. I postponed 2 days of teaching work, and didn’t demand to see a written contract, given that you only had 3 days to get it together. Even when you cut the amount of work in half, half way through the project, I didn’t kick up a fuss, just got on with what I was doing.

Sadly, your appalling contractor relations meant that I have now had to spend God-knows how long chasing the money from you – it’s not like it’s a lot of money in the context of PR – wasting time when I could have actually been WORKING.

I hope, for the sake of the freelancers you employ, you never pull a stunt like this again, never rack up this many missed deadlines and lies about when you’re going to make the payment, and that you just implement a simple policy of paying by bank transfer on or BEFORE the 30 day grace period after an invoice has been submitted.

For my part, I’ll be telling everyone in PR who cares to listen the story of your late payment, poor communication, lack of apology and failure to offer any recompense for my extra time.


…let’s see what they say in response…

(photo at the top is by Jenn Jenn)

Tags: Random Catchup · Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc.

British Airways wrecked my bass :(

December 18th, 2008 · Comments Off on British Airways wrecked my bass :(

So, we’ve arrived in Ohio, hanging out with Lobelia’s family.

We flew into Newark airport at the weekend, with British Airways, the plane was very late taking off, late getting into the airport, and we took ages getting through immigration. As a result, I was exhausted and didn’t check my bass out at the airport, cos the case looked fine.

Fast forward to this morning, and this is what greeted me –

Weird thing is, it's still in tune & plays OK - here's the cr... on TwitPic Here's the jack socket. All smashed up. on TwitPic

yup, proper smashed up. A crack from the end of the neck to the jack socket, right through the top. Yes, I was proper shocked. Shocked to the point of zen-like calm initially, which morphed into post-shock shaking pretty quickly.

This is the bass I’ve played for nearly 10 years. It’s unique. it’s perfect. It is, without a doubt, my favourite instrument I’ve ever played, seen or dreamt about.

And British Airways have destroyed it. So I started the process of getting in touch with them. Called the US number on the site ‘file a claim when you get home’… er, no, I’m here til the end of January ‘OK file the claim on the website’. Filled in the website form. got an email back,

” sorry your guitar is broken, please send us your fragile take and bubble wrap receipt.
Fenil Krishikar
British Airways Customer Relations”

So I write back “huh? Bubble Wrap receipt? what use is that? It was in a CASE. A case that has flown round the world dozens of times.”

My guess at this stage is that the bubble wrap and fragile tag bits are basically entrapment – they have clauses in their insurance terms that exclude them from liability if your bass doesn’t have bubble wrap on. Was this mentioned to me at the airport? nope. Did I sign a waiver of liability? of course not.

So we’ll see what happens, whether BA do the right thing, pay up, and help me get it fixed. Or if they don’t, we’ll get to work with the email and phone calls, right team?

Tags: Random Catchup · Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc. · travel

Interview with Jon Birch of Asbojesus…

August 22nd, 2008 · Comments Off on Interview with Jon Birch of Asbojesus…

Here’s a lil’ interview with the marvellous and lovely Jon Birch of – he’s fab, his blog’s fab, and the interview’s pretty cool too…

Tags: Geek · Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc.

The drinking ban on the tube/buses – waste of time?

July 6th, 2008 · Comments Off on The drinking ban on the tube/buses – waste of time?

OK, so this is a month or so late in coming, but I was sat on the top deck of the bus the other morning, and just across from me sat a bloke I’m assuming was a pretty far gone alcoholic, drinking some kind of super-strength lager from the can.

Now, just in case you don’t live in London or follow our news, ‘banning’ drinking on the tube and buses was the first move our new moron Mayor, Boris Johnson brought in.

Here’s the problem with it: It’s not a law. The ‘ban’ works on the fact that the tube is ‘private’ space, therefor you enter into an agreement with the tube owners when you get on that you’ll abide by their laws. The police can’t arrest you for drinking on the Tube, but the Tube’s own staff can ask you to leave. I’m not sure where they legally sit with being able to forcibly eject you.

The point at which your behaviour becomes legally a problem is when you resist their attempts to throw you off or confiscate your booze, and you can be done for breach of the peace.

And here’s what makes the law so effing stupid – that was already the case! You can be arrested for being drunk and disorderly anyway. If your behaviour in public is offensive, dangerous or constitutes a breach of the peace, the police can cart you off, wherever you might be behaving like that.

So banning drinking on the tube does nothing to make it ‘more criminal’ to be pissed and offensive on the tube, it just means that the staff on the tube end up having to put themselves in harm’s way by tackling people for drinking, who may or may not be drunk, or causing a problem, and who they can’t get any police support for until that person resists their attempts to exit them from the tube, by which time, someone’s probably got punched or puked on or generally upset. (they could feasibly have members of the British Transport Police shadowing them, or even doing the enforcement for them, but what a complete waste of police time!)

Surely it would’ve made a lot of sense to just up the numbers of transport police on the tube, and go with a publicity campaign about how behaving like an antisocial dick could get you in trouble with ‘actual laws’, rather than made-up unenforceable rules.

The other huge issue is that you have people getting onto the tube who after deciding to obey the new rule, have downed whatever their drink is just outside the station. So people are getting on the tube MORE drunk than before, not less so!

As a general rule, I really don’t like being around drunk people. I find them unpredictable and often unpleasant, and always less interesting than the same person when sober. But I know a stupid rule when I see one, and attempting to push the people who want to peaceably drink on the tube – whether they be getting tanked up on their way for a night out, or finishing a drink they didn’t want to leave behind when all their friends left the party they were at – seems like a recipe for more fights on the tube not less.

Perhaps it would’ve made more sense to have policed carriages on the tube late at night. Or depending on what the stats are relating to who exactly it was that’s being bothered, women-only policed carriages.

Or maybe the UK just needs to think a bit deeper about what is inspiring its teens and 20 somethings to go and get utterly shitfaced 3 nights a week – something that no amount of ‘bans’ on drinking are going to sort out.

…and maybe they should be doing more about the people smoking crack and crystal meth on the 29 bus before worrying about the dude with the bottle of Becks on his way out to a gig… The meth-dude we encountered on the 29 was considerably more unpredictable than any drunk I’ve come across on the tube for many years…

Tags: Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc.

Social Media thoughts Pt 4 – the podcast!

May 27th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Last Friday, after the Social Media Cafe, I was interviewed by broadcaster and programme maker Penny Jackson for the Creative Coffee Club podcast. She’s a fantastic interviewer in that she asks the questions that from my site of the mic sound obvious, but are the things that make sense of a lot of the stuff I’ve been writing on here.

We talk a lot about my story, where the energy and motivation comes from to see marketing and promoting what I do as a conversation, as well as my understanding of how social media facilitates that, and allows me to make a living from it…

You can listen to the podcast below:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

[clarification – half way through, I describe what I do as being pop music, and at the end I say it isn’t pop music – I’m using the term in two different ways: First time it’s because I’m using pop forms and pop harmony for the most part, and my influences are ‘pop’ songwriters. The second time it’s because in a live setting (the context being opening for Level 42) it doesn’t engage you in the way that a pop ‘song’ does, largely because it’s instrumental, and because the looping process means it doesn’t hit you with the hook in the first 15 seconds like any classic pop song would… I really should’ve chosen a different term 🙂 ]

Does that lot make sense? Was it helpful? Do you want to hire me to come and talk to your band/college/company/record label/etc. about how this stuff works for you? I’m all ears… 🙂

Tags: Music News · Musing on Music · New Music Strategies · Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc. · tips for musicians

Dark days in London town.

May 3rd, 2008 · 4 Comments

C’mon, joke’s over, Boris didn’t really win, did he?

Oh shit, yes he did. A victory for disillusionment, celebrity and the power of the protest vote. He’s not even a convincing tory.

The animosity towards Ken is startling, and he’s largely brought it on himself of late by behaving as though he was born to rule. His posturing covered over his remarkable achievements as Mayor, particularly in relation to public transport and the environment.

The only possible consolation from all this is that Ken had to flight bloody hard for just about every significant change that happened, from increases in buses and on-the-beat policing to the congestion charge. I honestly don’t think Boris cares enough to do what he’s pledged to do to reverse some of those policies. He’s a preening elitist, in the worst sense of the word, and has precious little track record as an effective politician read this article from The New Statesman for more.

What’s perhaps even worse than Boris as a reflection of the protest vote culture is that the BNP have a seat on the London Assembly. Yup, seems like all those other countries we thought were nuts for electing insane, racist hate-fueled, holocaust-denying fascists were just ahead of the game when it came to electoral fuckwittage.

Are all BNP voters fascists? No, clearly not. A lot of them are quite understandably disillusioned with a political landscape that has seen the three major parties merge, removing the old allegiances of ‘old labour’ socialism, or ‘old tory’ nationalism… Now it’s different flavours of centre right economic liberalism, and ever increasing marginalisation for those either not on the property ladder, or not willing or able to wade through the mire of spin and marketing BS to find out what else is going on underneath the heinous tabloid-fuelled political sheen…

Today’s protest voters are Thatcher’s legacy, are those who don’t remember what the far right did in the 70s/80s, who don’t realise that the BNP formed as an even further right version of the National Front, who don’t know about the BNP’s recent obvious attempts to distance themselves from the odious views of so many of their leaders and members.

Fortunately, the BNP will probably be ‘given enough rope’ by being placed on the London Assembly, that they’ll do what happened when they won 17 seats in local elections last time round… – to quote from the Mark Thomas article:

“Out of the 17 councillors, according to the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, Luke Smith resigned from Burnley Council after attacking a man with a bottle; Maureen Stowe left the party claiming the BNP “did not care for Burnley at all”; Robin Evans, a Blackburn councillor, left too, amid claims that drug dealers and football hooligans were in his branch; and John Savage, BNP councillor in Sandwell, was so bewildered by council debates and voting that he ended up supporting a pro-asylum-seeker motion. That surely has to be a first – a BNP councillor so stupid that he couldn’t even be a proper racist. Many BNP councillors have not attended council meetings and those who have, rarely – if ever – speak there.”

It’s sad that disgruntled voters with legitimate grievances that politicians have failed to address have banded together with nu-BNP – smiling, waving, fascists – many with a violent thuggish past at odds with the spurious ‘law and order’ rhetoric of the party – to give them a space on the London Assembly… Hopefully the oxygen of publicity will just reveal them to be the cynical opportunist racists that they are…

(for reference, have a look at the Mirror’s 10 reasons not to vote BNP – just wish the red-tops would provide wiki-style citations for such things… they’re collectable, but would be nice to have them in the article.)

In the meantime, hold tight, London, it’s going to be a bumpy ride…

Tags: Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc.