More train adventures…

cofI like to finish books once I’ve started them, but yesterday I gave up after thirty pages of disappointment and just left one on a train for someone else to find.

The Fuzzy and the Techie was recommended in a recent newspaper review. It tries to address the Humanities Vs STEM debate and calls for a the two fields to work together for the betterment of technology; to make it more human.

The author makes his point well very early on, but writes in a style that just didn’t sit well with me. It’s not quite businessy, and not quite academic but because of its breezy simplicity, made me think that – ironically – though it’s probably aimed at the more sympathetic humanities audience, he’d probably pitched it at time-poor and thinly (as opposed to widely) read techies.

I abandoned it with a note in the front cover to say that I hoped that whoever finds it will enjoy it. It will probably just end up in the bin the next time someone cleans the train though…

Tired of being tired?

train adcofI can’t remember the last time I was tempted to whip out a sharpie and scrawl on a train ad, but this one had me getting pretty close.

“Tired of being tired?” it asks, as you can now take this liquid to wake yourself up.

It’s such a well-placed ad, seeing as most people will only see it on the way to work (feeling tired) and on the way home from work (feeling more tired!).

What I wanted to scribble though, was “Try switching your phone off and going to sleep at a decent hour!”

A petty thing, I know, but I never cease to be amazed at how the commercial pressures that we live under constantly get us to pay to make ourselves ill, and then try to sell us a cure as well.

Frankenbook…

I like a good Frankenstein metaphor, and The Guardian’s recent review of Anti-Social Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy has a corker when summing up the story of the social media giant:

“Facebook was founded by an undergraduate with good intentions but little understanding of human nature. He thought that by creating a machine for ‘connecting’ people he might do some good for the world while also making himself some money. He wound up creating a corporate monster that is failing spectacularly at the former but succeeding brilliantly at the latter. Facebook is undermining democracy at the same time as it is making Mark Zuckerberg richer than Croesus. And it is now clear that this monster, like Dr Frankenstein’s, is beyond its creator’s control.”

Having not been on the platform myself for several years, I can honestly say that I don’t miss it. It’s not even the privacy issues that got to me (there’s no such thing as free!), it was the behaviour of people around me and their addiction to it. Apparently the stimulation it provides to the reward centre of the brain is akin to produced by sex, chocolate. Only with social media, you get endless ‘dopamine loops’ – constant itches that you have to scratch.

Yes, the monster’s out there alright. And, the irony of course is that in Shelley’s novel, what the monster craves most is the community and connection that he is constantly denied – exactly what most people seem to crave along with their neural pleasure hit.

So how do you kill the monster?

I just hope that Facebook isn’t as enduring as the the creature…

Houston, we have a solution!

cofApparently the rare hot spell, along with the World Cup, has conspired to put a drain on supplies of CO2, meaning that some pubs are unable to serve all of their beers.

Now, we have a global overabundance of CO2, hence the global warming phenomenon. Couldn’t we find a way of storing that surplus and pumping it into pubs so that they never run out again?

We’d step back from global disaster and have cheaper beer as the gas would no longer be an expense for pub owners.

Everyone’s a winner surely?