Ode to my Smart-Phone

I realised when I logged in to this site, that I hadn’t blogged anything since June last year (2015) where’s the time gone?

Well…. a house move has filled some of the time and unfortunately my writing in all areas has suffered, I’ve just started work on another Steam Punk book, I’ll keep you posted on the progress…… I want it to be an 80,000 word epic but it will probably be another 10,000 word novella.

I wanted to go to an open mic prose/poetry night this week but realised I hadn’t written anything new since last time I went…. So I looked through some notes for a blog piece I was going to write about modern smart phones verses old massive super computers, some of the ‘facts’ I had learnt were….

A modern smart phone…….

Has a million times more memory than all of N.A.S.A’s computers in 1969 had

Can do more calculations a second than I.B.M’s Super Computer ‘Deep blue’ that beat Gary Kasporov at chess in 1997

And a birthday card that chirps ‘happy birthday to you’ has more processing power than existed in the whole world at the end of The Second World War.

All the above ‘facts’ are taken from the internet so the validity of them should be approached with caution  but following Moore’s Law they could well be true…. Anyway I thought instead of of a blog piece (even though I’ve sort of done it above) I’d write a poem for the first time since a teacher said something like…. ‘For your homework I want you to write a poem on…… (insert random subject)’ thirty odd years ago….

If it doesn’t scan right or the rhythm is wrong to you then…. I don’t give a monkeys…… as I’m quite proud of it for a first attempt at poetry in decades.

Oh and the irony is EE suffered a breakdown whilst I was writing it, so my phone at the time was either…. A thick-phone or a smart-brick…. Anyway for your reading pleasure here’s…. (and as with all poetry it needs to be read out loud)

Ode To My Smart-Phone

A small computer resides in my pocket

more memory than in NASA’s rocket

Faster greater than IBM’s Deep Blue

How they fit it all in, I haven’t a clue

————–

Turing could’ve used it to break the Enigma code

The Sat Nav can guide me to the door of your abode

With Google I have a large Cyclopedia

Families send photos on social media

————–

On You-Tube I can watch your epic fails

Am I always at work as I get my emails

I could make a phone call from it I suppose

Or stand up and from it loudly read prose

————–

What do we do with all this power?

Listen to music hour after hour

I can order a meal, not bothering to cook

But mostly we share videos of cats on Facebook

 (c) Simon Elson 2016

An ambition accomplished……

I used to run a karaoke business and have even tried a cabaret spot at a social club (which went okay but was bloody hard work…. so went back to karaoke hosting)

But singing to backing tracks is one thing but I always wanted to sing with a live band or ‘Jam’ with someone…. At a garden party recently I collared two members of a band and after a five minute chat and a thirty second rehearsal we came up with……Bye Bye Love and then followed it with Billy Joel’s Piano man… Here’s a short burst of Bye Bye Love

Photo credit – Glenn Adams

Video Credit – Laura Elson

Natural Ingredients… Always a good thing?

Just a quick blog about something I thought about earlier… Food products often have plastered across them in big words…. ‘Only Natural ingredients used’   Well sugar is a natural ingredient…. Also if put in food, Deadly nightshade, Coal (and as a friend pointed out – Uranium and Radium) could also be considered Natural and an ‘ingredient’ – don’t think you’d want to shove any of those in your mouth…. Just musing out loud about how we can be led to believe anything is good for us…

Ten Things Predicted in Classic Sci-Fi Literature

Technology is moving forward at an incredible pace, there is a large metal doughnut under most of Switzerland smashing atoms together at almost the speed of light to err…. do something or other…. I’m not sure what exactly. There are government departments all over the world working on top secret projects, technology unthinkable a generation ago will exist within the next century because the building blocks are there we just have to push the boundaries further and we will probably react with a shrug and a ‘whatever’ as no new technology amazes us, in fact we almost expect things like teleportation to exist sometime soon.

Sci-fi writers of the past working with the restrictions of steam power and valves had to use their imagination to show the future. So here are ten things that were predicted before Quantum Physics and Silicone chips.

Shall we start with Jules Verne?

Giant Submarines

Although submarines had been around as a concept since ancient Greece, by 1867 they had advanced to an 46 foot steam powered example. Just three years later Jules Verne published 20’000 Leagues Under The Sea which featured a giant electric powered submarine with a full crew compliment which could stay under water for weeks recycling the air. It was commanded by a renegade Captain and was chased around the oceans by the then world’s super powers….. Cold War? Hunt For Red October?

Taser

Also in 20,000 leagues under the sea, they went hunting with an invention of Verne’s that he called Leyden balls which used the principle of the ‘Leyden Jar’ an early type of capacitor invented in the 18th Century to discharge an electrical current contained in a glass and lead ball into the body of the target, a full century before the concept became a reality with the ‘Taser’ the go to weapon for police wanting a non fatal stop.

Moon Shot

In 1961 John F Kennedy delivered a speech announcing that…. ‘I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.’ Nearly a century earlier (1865) and before any type of rocket other than glorified fireworks had been launched, Jules Verne described a successful Moon mission and described all the problems that N.A.S.A had to overcome in the next century.

Moving on to John Wyndham…..

G.M Crops

Genetically modified crops are a 21st century ‘thing’ right?….John Wyndham wrote about the Triffids, a Orchid/Venus fly trap concoction in the 1951 novel ‘Day Of The Triffids’ It was created to solve a global food crisis, it also discussed the importance of productivity/quality over Health and Safety. The Triffids were bred to help starvation, providing easily harvested vitamins and nutrients. They were also ‘designed’ to produce a sustainable source of oils to do away with the reliance on fossil fuels, Bio fuel?

Satellite Weapons

In 1951 when Day of The Triffids was written, the first artificial satellite ‘Sputnik’ was still six years away and Ronald Reagan’s (not implemented) ‘Star Wars’ speech was decades in the future. But Wyndham got it spot on describing how weapons were in orbit above the earth ready to inflict catastrophic disasters against a countries enemies. In the book bright lights burnt out the retinas in your eyes, Ronald Reagan described high powered lasers……….

The ‘Celeb’ Culture

Not exactly Sci-Fi but Wyndham predicted the 21st obsession with fame in a short story entitled ‘Where O where is Peggy Rafferty?’ A teenage girl Peggy Rafferty is obsessed with becoming famous, to this end, Peggy applies to go on a quiz show (the nearest the thing to reality T.V when it was written in the 50’s) she’s a hit with the viewers and is coached by the station to become a star appearing in movies, when she later goes back to her town they don’t recognise her as she looks the same as all the famous girls in the magazines they read……..

Atomic Bombs

H.G Wells wrote an almost exact account of an Atomic bomb explosion in his 1914 novel ‘The World Set Free’ while he predicted ‘The Manhattan project 30 years early, even he was beaten to by the lesser known author Robert Cromie in his 1895 novel ‘The Crack of Doom’ In this novel Cromie describes an explosion from splitting the atom that the world witnessed fifty years later over two different Japanese cities.

C.C.T.V and communication monitoring

No list of predictive Sci-Fi novels would be complete without Orwell’s grim view of the future in 1984. C.C.T.V is everywhere and monitoring of communication channels. The reasons may be different (depending on your political views) in 1984 it is to monitor and control the proletariat or ‘prols’ (as Orwell calls us), everyone is monitored throughout their lives by cameras and you have to walk down back streets and write on normal paper rather than computers to avoid detection, town centre C.C.T.V and government monitoring of emails and texts? It is obviously done for our safety now and not control but the technology is still the same. In the book same he also predicted perpetual war and switching of alliances based on political need.
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In-Vitro fertilisation

Aldous Huxley in his 1931 novel ‘Brave New World’ predicted both what the tabloids describe as designer babies and what used to be called test tube babies, now called ‘In vitro fertilisation’ which although it sounds posher and more ‘politically correct’ because it’s in Latin. It actually means exactly the same thing In Vitro translates as ‘In glass’. Huxley wrote the book a full twenty-two years before Watson, Crick and Wilkins sequenced human D.N.A and nearly half a century before the worlds first ‘test tube baby’. He also described a similar society to Orwell’s ‘1984’ where people were conditioned to play a particular role in society determined on their intelligence……. Jeremy Kyle show?

Finally some reversed prediction

Charles Darwin and Pierre Boulle

In 1859 Charles Darwin published ‘ On the Origin of Species’ outlining how he thought we had developed from single cell organisms through to apes and finally man. He used terms like ‘survival of the fittest’ a hundred years later Pierre Boulle after writing the classic ‘Bridge on the Kwai’ an account of the building of the Burma – Siam railway during the second world war, the film version had the classic scene of Alec Guiness (years before he became a Jedi Knight) falling on the detonator, realising he had helped the Japanese war effort after asking himself, ‘What have I done?’…. I digress…. ten years later Mr Boulle turned his hand to sci-fi and took Darwin’s theory full circle and had apes overtaking us as the dominant species…. will this Sci-fi come true as well?

It might if we don’t stop being so smug and clever…..

What A Bargain!

We all love a bargain don’t we?…. It’s just our definition of ‘a bargain’ differs greatly from person to person……. Here’s what I DON’T class as a bargain….

– Pair of jeans reduced from £150 to £50 in a sale….. and the buyer says …’I just had to have them I saved a hundred quid.’ They haven’t saved a hundred quid they’ve spent 50 quid on a pair of jeans they probably didn’t need….

– Buying something off Ebay for a fiver that looks almost identical to an item elsewhere at at £20…. It may look the same but invariably it will be a pale imitation of the more expensive version and the packaging will probably be more useful than the item itself within a few weeks.

What I do class as a bargain is going out to buy an item, expecting to pay £Y and paying £X (X being a fraction of Y) for the item…..

My Good lady asked me what I wanted for an upcoming birthday and I suggested a nice bottle of whisky, We don’t spend a massive amount at birthdays just what the other can afford without resorting to credit cards as we haven’t got a joint account (Why am I telling random strangers our financial arrangements and present buying strategies)

I then changed my mind and said ‘how about a set of Bluetooth headphones they’re about £30-£40 for a cheap pair.’ I got the green light and began to start trawling the net for a pair…. Then whilst shopping in a supermarket we spotted a pair reduced from £40 to a tenner, a quick google in the supermarket on my phone did show that the cheapest price for the exact same ones was £30 and some sites were charging £60, we snapped them up and I got the whisky as well. As I said a real bargain as I wanted a pair.

The other incident involved a pub… sometimes you order a round get a tenner out then have to change it for a twenty…… In a ‘certain’ chain pub this weekend, I ordered a pint, a glass of wine and a soft drink for little-un…. I was told the price and put the tenner away and got a fiver out, then got change! That’s not just a bargain….. That’s ‘HOLD THE FRONT PAGE’ type of news

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll Get My Coat

I tried doing stand-up once…. It went okay but I don’t think my nerves could cope with doing it again. I did a skit about my supposed resemblance to Wayne Rooney….

Where have you gone?….. Oh I know…. you’ve scrolled back a few pages to ‘Please Sir’ to see if I do look like him, I must a bit, as several people have said it, in fact one woman followed me down an airport departure lounge to get an autograph…..

Anyway back to comedy, inspired by Tim Vines Edinburgh Fringe winning ‘Hoover’ joke, I’ve written a few one liners……

 

What do you get if you cross D.J Psy and Dorothy from ‘The Wizard of Oz’?…..

Gingham Style

 

Why did the chicken cross the road?…..

Who gives a cluck?

 

A retired Cavalry Officer has opened a barbers in our town, twenty quid for a haircut though… He knows how to charge.

 

And my favourite

I missed a programme on Tele about Tomatoes earlier, but I’ll watch it later on Ketchup…..

 

Boom…….. Tish………

 

Photo credit: Kjetil Ree (Wikipedia)