The Emperors’ New Content?

I recently commented on a guest-post on a popular marketing blog. It was rather 4chan-esque in it’s execution such was my frustration; ‘Obvious post is obvious’ I got a few replies asking for my own website (because obviously a badly implemented personal wordpress blog can really compete with a professional on a professional platform!)


Apparantly these things are not obvious to all which leaves me wondering: Am I genuinely smarter and better than the people who claim to have more experience in the field or am I missing something in a really big way?

Common sense and humility tell me it’s most likely the former but since the reply to my troll-y post was ‘common sense is not that common’ I am now seriously beginning to wonder. It’s like bad writers blogs where everyone talks/writes bout writing in order to avoid anything which might actually *be* genuine writing – and thus lead to judgement, and possibly negativity and crushing of fragile egos by the unwashed hordes of ‘Teh Internetz’


Does this not then make vague universal statements the safer and easier choice? Therefore, like the little girl, I need to be brave, take the risk and call ‘hokum!’ on about 85-90% of the market-blogosphere out there. Show me hard evidence, stats before and after and proven techniques rather than vague advice no no actual ideas, inspiration or actions to undertake listed! Since conceptualising this post I am glad to this this post written up on the same blog. This is why I read copyblogger in the first place.

Sorry Seth you don’t do it for me despite your quirky looks,

lots of books and
somewhat stabby,
Writing Content.

This website gets 10/10…

I learned only today that as many as a third of online reviews are fake. Some of you might say ‘no surprise’ and I guess it depends where these reviews are from but even taken that it is interesting though not surprising when I think about it.

I have personally seen (rival) companies who have bought ‘likes’ on facebook. Ditto with twitter followers and so on.

I have a friend who is on Amazon vine, gets expensive thing for free and writes (usually prositive) reviews. I know whenever I review an expensive branded electronic non-geek item I get down voted to oblivion since I’m a “cutting edge hard ass internet badass” according to my reviews. Because I think shelling out an extra £199 for another .1ghz in your cpu and an extra 2gB of ram on a laptop compared with another model is stupid, this is bad since the product (in a vacuum) is good. Apparently. #notbitteratnotbeingonamazonvine

And literally today I discovered that the US military is actively planning a mass social media propaganda campaign.

While one can guess that all governments and politicians use social media/the internet to spread their version of propaganda, this time they’re taking it a step further.

Where does this lead me – well essentialy mass public use of the internet is young. The 60 year old with life wisdom and experience is less than or equal to the 12 year old with the latest apps. Inbetween them are the ‘metasploiters’- politicians, professional journalists/bloggers/writers (because typist sounds dull and keyboard warrior is condescending)

Anyone with the will and means (ie getting paid to do it) can become an ‘influencer’ and manipulate our views. The internet is easy to manipulate. I recall a poll on abortion in Northern Ireland getting more votes for ‘yes’ than people who actually live in Northern Ireland.

The reason is that honesty is difficult, transparancy is difficult because when you say ‘56% of people support the rights of Dogs to eat cats’ which people, what did you ask them, how did you ask them? Our information is often in ‘headline form’. The headline ‘56% of Jews are exclusivly gay’ is misleading if those Jews were attending the annual Jewish LGBT conference. Sampling is an area of science that has to be carefully chosen and controlled, the same applies for the so called ‘social sciences’.

Magna est Veritas et Praevalet

I don’t get it

I don’t get blogging. I know that this is one, but the reality is that I want to use it to display my nerdisms and wordpress is easier to use for that than proper website software.
But I really don’t get it.

There are blogs about everything – that’s a given, though one particular type of blog annoys me. Blogs about blogging. (Not blog posts, but whole dedicated professional blogs about it)

Specifically ones which are written by someone apparantly famous whom I’ve never heard of, (presumably because I’m not ‘in’ that crowd) usually with a ‘bold’ sense of fashion (because words aren’t enough these days), who dispesnes advice on such topics as blogging, CONTENT, increasing readership, CONTENT, marketing, CONTENT and creating content.

You need to make content. Isn’t the writing of a blog by defintion content? Or is it make conTENT as in ‘make love’? – make content, for you are average at life and need to learn to live normally like everyone else?

I tend to choose the former, clearer defintion of making as creating content, though as mentioned, actually writing the blog is creating content. But writing about writing your blog is content so actually it’s just a large circle of smoke and mirrors.

Maybe it’s the persona, the projected Artisté with the aura of slightly detached superiority who, in my weaker moments, makes me feel less worthy of sharing the internet with them. Maybe its the fact that since entering marketing I have found it more and more ephermeal with very little substance. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of good marketing things to do (email your contacts, generate leads, research competition, customer profiles, make materials and so on) but it’s the vague ‘create content to engage your audience’ that bugs me. Take this:

The key to success in 2014 and beyond is coordinating and synchronizing your content marketing with your marketing automation and marketing analytics.

Content is what ultimately connects you with customers and prospects. It is that builds trust, especially as some data-driven marketing pushes consumers into….

Well that is sort of *your* content to engage *your* audience. What does it say – to succeed automatically synchronise your marketing based on your analytics? It’s that not blindingly obvious? This is what makes me worry – either there’s a lot of idiots out there with a lot of influence or else I’m totally missing the point. I’m genuinely not sure any more.

Additionally very little in the commercialised world is free. Yet advice is to give something to the reader. Advice they can get anywhere unless you are an expert, in which case you’re most likely a professional in which case you probably don’t want to give your secrets away. (It’s different for hobby bloggers but they’re not the people I’m targeting here)

Finally where will it lead? – newsgroups led to message boards led to forums lead to blogging leading to microblogging. In the future when we all have iBrains and can directly connect to each other at near-light speed until it becomes a battle of wills and the looser’s head explodes?

My wife tells me there’s a social component to blogging. it’s never happened for me because I simply don’t read that many other blogs and don’t comment since it’s all opinion. There’s a reason I don’t live on social networks – I know from experience (ie my option) that there’s a lot of idiots, trolls, timewasters and so on. I’ve given up crusading as it’s very difficult to have meaningful ‘conversations’ or change opinion via the internet.

Maybe it’s fear of a total Crash that makes me worry, or maybe it’s because I’m not that sociable online, or because I don’t have time, or because I’m trying not to care.

Though really it’s because I’d rather sit outside with my pipe watching silly youtube videos not arguing with the legions of gibbering clowns that haunt it’s comment pages.

Someone is wrong on the Internet





Melincholic Obtenebrous Dipolar Compression of (the) Spirit

If I had just discovered major depressive disorder in the 5th Century BC I think I would have ended up calling it ‘Melancholic Obtenebrous Dipolar Compression of the Spirit’ (MODCoS). While Melancholy is a good description of the every day world wearyness that one can experience with ‘general’ depression and is probably best summed up by Dürer’s engraving, entitled ‘Melencolia I‘ :

Melencolia I (B. 74; M., HOLL. 75) *engraving  *24 x 18.8 cm *1514


That’s ‘Melancholic’, what about ‘Obtenebrous Dipolar Compression of the Spirit’ ?

Tenebrous is simply shadowy, gloomy or dark. Obtenebration is the act of darkening, so by inference Obtenebrous is the adjective of darkening, a thinning similar to what the Hobbit, Bilbo says ;’like butter spread over too much bread’.

Dipolar – not bipolar as in ‘both’ or ‘twice’ (bi-) but di- (both) because when one is Melancholic and Obtenebrated one is almost entirely a different person. You can do (and say) things that you would otherwise never conceive of. You have a different frame of logic, which to the dipolar you is *perfectly* rational.

Compression of the Spirit – basically the Black Vise that I described before.

The Black Vise

Where then is my hope– who can see any hope for me? – Job 17:15

Depression is a funny thing. Funny as in queer (in the traditional, Tolkienesque sense). It is an emotional, spiritual illness as well as a mental one, and often a physical one. To this end there isn’t a medical-only cure. Unlike ‘the diabetes’ where you take insulin and it has a physical, biochemical effect on the body, depression medication doesn’t ‘fix’ the problem. It can help, like how clean water and bandages can help a deep wound, but without eventual stitches and antiseptics you will keep bleeding and get infection. Indeed many essays, poems, art and all sorts of creativity have been expressed to try to explain or at least convey the feeling. Churchill called it his ‘Black Dog’, something that would hound him and kept lingering, coming back to drag him away.

This is how I would describe depression using pictures from a popular collectable card game. In this instance the depressed person is the cute little doll thing:


Basically you’re stuck. You can’t escape. You move and pointy things poke you, you don’t move you get squished by pointy things. You need external help to free yourself.

It’s dark all around and seems hopeless. You’re tired from struggling, struggling hurts and makes you more tired and more weary of the world since it’s dark all around anyway. Even with help escaping the Black Vise is hard.

When you wiggle free you are crushed, battered and hurt and reduced to your core self. It’s still dark around but it’s not as oppressive. It’s like being that little match in the darkness. Finite, but not being extinguished just yet as it falls to the ground below the darkness.

To regrow you need to fall onto fertile soil, like family, friends, medication, counselling, love, comfort, reassurance. Something that keeps the ember of that match warm while it germinates in the darkness, while your inner fire gathers itself.

Let him sit alone in silence for the Lord has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust—there may yet be hope – Lamentations 3 28/29

Then with a bit of light, you poke out a root, re-embedding yourself in Life. Anchoring might take time for not all seeds grow at the same rate. Some need more water than sunlight , some need more warmth than light – we are all different. But eventually you can extend a shoot with a little leaf and absorb all of that goodness that exists in life. Yes nighttime comes once a day, and some days are cloudier than others, but with all that nourishment you brush it off until you regrow and hopefully flower once more.



Ten Things of Thanks

1) More Cricket on Wedesnday – this time a ‘T20’ game – its more ‘showy’ than First class cricket. And lasts only about 3-4 hours and had a great time with LostInTheWoods. The game came down to the wire and Hampshire won by literally one point. It was extremely exciting and tense, excited that I didn’t go deaf from the shouting. I do think the bar screwed up and gave me ‘full fat’ (if you have the Diabetus read that as 50g of sugar!) but that kept me going until tea time! Great fun too. 🙂

2) More 40k with Neph. He won naturally. Crowning moment was when he got 4 sixes on 4 dice. Completely overkill! Still he enjoys it and I sneak maths and basic multiplication into it so that’s gotta be good right?

3) Nicotine. Useful in moderation for its mild stimulant (and consequent relaxing) effect. Functionally it is similar to caffeine.

4) Fairy Power Spray – great for stripping paint from old toy soliders. Doesn’t smell horrible or strip skin from your fingertips as much as dettol. Squirt on the offending paint job, leave it a while/overnight, old toothbrush and water = easy paint removal with no gunk or horrible smell.

5) Tea out with friends for a birthday. Lovely Italian food at Puchinni’s followed by ice-cream at Sprinkles.

6) New shiny toy solider army book – with fake scaly skin cover. It’s extremely childish but they are my first ever army as kid so I enjoy it a lot more than I probably should being a grown man with small plastic and pewter lizard men.


7) Lovely Lizzi. She was wearing pretty dresses today. 😉

8) Maple Pecan danish. Lovely wifey got me some when I was having a rough day due to my 2nd late night hypo in a row. They helped.

9) Sluggaz Club – had a good time playing 2 games and chatting with people equally as nerdy as myself!

10) Sleep. I’m finishing this being unable to sleep on Sunday morning. So I’m thankful for the sleep I have had throughout the week.

D&D for 5 year olds.

Lesson 1 in dealing with short attentioned children you need visuals – cue ‘Wrath of Ashardalon’ board tiles, miniatures, dice with spots (easy to count up) and little green glass beads for ‘hearts’ (hitpoints/life points).

Basic rules:

Attacking: A 5 or 6 on the dice to hit/blast/zap/explode or otherwise incapacitate the bad guys.

Movement : 1 dice = number of squares can move

Fighter: If using a fighter type thats only a 4,5 or 6 to hit in combat. They have armour. But no magic and 4 hearts. If the fighter has a weapon that is good against a tough baddy then they get a bonus +1 on the dice. (so using a hammer against a stone gargoyle gives a bonus)

Wizard: If using a wizard-y type, they can hit all baddys on a tile within 2 tiles on a 5 or 6. If they want they can do a line (lightning bolt) which goes for 2 tiles in a line.  If they have a type which is strong vs the baddy (so ice vs fire dragon) then they only need a 4, 5 or 6. They can make up the type ad hoc.

Armor: Goodies are hit on a 5 or 6, except by minions (hit the goodies only on a 6) or if they have armor (ie fighter types – need a 6 to be hit). Super baddied (the boss, and big things hit the goodies easier so need a 4 5 or 6 vs wizards and a 5 or 6 vs armoured fighters)

Hearts: Wizardy types get 3 hitpoint beads, Warrior types get 4. Normal baddys get 1, big baddies (trolls, ogres etc) have 2 and the boss has 4

Big baddies appear every 3rd tile. (they have 2 hits and attack on 4+/5+) Little Baddies appear on a corner. They can move, attack and move again (hitting only on a 6) because they are fast and stabby. Pick them randomly out of the bag once a new tile is explored.


1) Cricket



I went to my first ever cricket match between Hampshire and Glamorgan. It was a first-class cricket, first of 4 days of innings. It was really chilled out, the game started 90 minutes late, which was fine, more time to chat and read the paper. It is uniquely British -I don’t just mean England and the UK, but also ex-empire colonies like India, Pakistan, Sir Lanka Australia etc. That said the Netherlands have a world class team… ok so maybe it’s the attitude which is British. Only the British would invent a game which takes ages to play, is relatively relaxed and unsuited for British Summers as well as having players who take their time to play the game. Then again they invented soccer so they might be a nation of paradoxes. Anyway it was thoroughly enjoyable and I spend most of a day with my friend David. Next week I hope to go to a ‘T20’ match which is more fast paced and *only* lasts 5 hours.

Bonus points – I got to go to the members only area (since David is a card carrying member and I was a ‘guest’ !!) and we had a lovely carvery lunch with beef, carrots, cauliflower cheese, small rost potatoes, gravy and a yorkshire pudding the size of a small childs head! It was lovely. Bonus bonus points that they had costa coffee and so I got a hot chocolate later on! AMAZING!

2) Lizardmen  

This happy chappy below is a Lizardman ‘Skink’ skirmisher. It’s not mine but the colours are pretty much what mine are painted like. I think they are cute and ferocious at the same time. I’m excited about these because they are getting a new lease of life and I am hoping to return to playing with them more that I have been this last 5 years or so. They were a large part of my young-adult/older childhood. YAY TOY SOLDIERS!


3) Carcassonne Evening

Friends of ours have an über set of Carcassonne with a zillion extras (builders, robbers, rivers, traders, pigs, flying machines and wizards!) with which themselves and ourselves played for 3 hours on Monday evening. Lizzi who was loosing all the way through came 2nd in the end, myself 3rd and it was all quite close! Carcassonne is a relatively relaxed game where you build a map and cities and get points for various things (completing roads and monasteries and cities). It can be a little competitive but is largely chilled out.


4) Scrubs

I’ve been watching this via the intertubes. It’s about medics who survive in a surreal hospital setting. The main character has Ally McBea- like fantasies where the weird things he thinks are visualised fore us. He puts up with his crazy mentor who is brilliant, egotistical and cynical and also from constant harassment by the insane plots of the taxidemy loving crazy janitor. It’s a wierd blend between reflective introspection, comedy and drama. In line with a well done TV series it has a nice array of music which helps set the mood. It even cross references House and self-parodies itself. Sometimes at the same time!

5) Wifey


She always makes the list. She’s amazing. We did belly bumping for sheer randomness and fun. She’s crazy and lovely and I love her. She also got 3 new fish which are cute and zippy. (a bit like her!)

6) Wargaming with Neph

We played more games of Warhammer 40k lite. He won of course 😉 However it is fun and nice to spend time with him mano-a-mano. It’s interesting how he concentrates and is quite ‘mature’ about it in that he’s not smashing 2 space marines together going ‘bang whizz’ and understanding that dice are how it works. He can count the dots on the dice to add things up and I’m using it to try to teach him some basic multiplication.

These ones are mine. (from a while ago)

7) D&D (again!)

It involves odd shaped dice.

I do love D&D. The group survived an encounter (battle) 5 levels higher – which was pretty interesting since that was supposed to be nigh on impossible! They thought it was going to be really hard, but the fact that they overcame it, not easily but without any major losses, shows how strong and co-ordinated they are as a group. It’s fun for me to be able to make stories and things and I think they enjoy exploring the world. Hopefully we’ll all continue to enjoy the adventures and stories.

8) Rain

OK not the actual rain per se but the fact that it ‘watered the grass’ and brought the insane temperatures of Thursday (~30ºC) down to a manageable level for the cricket and just general outdoor life. I didn’t leave the house on Thursday as it was simply too hot. I don’t do well in the heat and it seriously effects the diabetes – I’ve been hypo 3 times in the last week, which is not a regular occurrence. I might get hypo once every 2 months or so, but when it’s hot it is a bit worse as everything metabolises faster, the insulin works faster and its JUST TOO HOT!

9) The Tobacconist

A dying art is that of the tobacconist. Back in the days before Hitler (vehemently anti-smoking and vegetarian – ergo smoke and eat puppies otherwise you’re a Nazi?!?) and before realising that asbestos was bad for you,  these were a staple of most towns and cities. Now there’s only a few well established shops left but still enough to supply demand. Anyway it seems that pipe-ists are a bit of an esoteric lot these days but thankfully the interweb provides a wealth of information for wannabes like myself. My dad is a veteran pipe-smoker since forever (My current theory is that being young and exposed to nicotine all the time I was amped up mentally and doing fine until I moved away and got ill due to passive withdrawal!) and I have always enjoyed the smell of pipe tobacco (well some of them) This is very different than the cancer-stick variety which is thin, anaemic and full of additive chemicals and which I have always despised. I’m an odd fish right?


Top: Pure
Bottom: Filth

Anyway I have tried a variety of things; Circular Navy Cut, [strong, smells nice, smoke overpowering, bitter taste. Verdict: give to Dad!] a sample (5g) of Petersons University Flake [strong, smells so-so, smoke tolerable, bitter taste and  overly moist Verdict: not again), Coniston Aromatic (mild, smells ok, smoke is mild/tolerable, mind taste – simple and plain. Verdict: default!)  and Sweet Peach (mild, smells LOVELY, smoke is pleasant, tastes nice. Verdict: Favourite so far!)

Sweet Peach – look at the lovely colour!

10) Job Application & CDG people

Being ill with the diabetus, the crazyness, the endocrinez and so on I’ve been unable to work since I had to stop my PhD in genetics. So I’ve been liaising with the CDG which helps people get jobs. If they are people like me it’s a bit different than hitting you with a stick until you get a job (*cough* JobCentrePlus *cough*) However I’ve been in sufficiently good mood with good energy this last 2 weeks or so that I applied for a job that I could do and wouldn’t be too taxing for the interim. So that was achieve-y and a positive step.




Life has been pretty good. My mood is stable, there’s things to look forward to. My favourite toy soldiers are getting an update…. carno

But somewhere in the background is this annoying factor about (almost) not being able to have children. I’ve done everything according to the book – we’re young, married, have space, open to children and yet none, whereas there’s other people in a similar situation can sleep around and get each other pregnant at the drop of a hat. Which is a *little* frustrating. More frustrating that they don’t attach the same value to ‘the marital act’ or the happy results of said act. I know I can’t make everyone think the way I do, but it is still a bit frustrating. I think it is my way of dealing with it. When I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes I got angry at people getting wildly drunk or smoking lots or otherwise abusing their body with no conseqences and here was me, at a healthy weight, studying hard, not genetic predisposition and BAM, pancreas explodes!. Now I have a pipe and just think it’s people’s own choice. The issue occurs when it hurts others.

I’m a bit tired today and we’re going to have the neice and neph over so I’m going to grab a nap.

10 Things of Thanks

10 things of thanks

1 Toy soldiers with neph this morning. He was looking at my ‘robot’ and likes robots. He wanted to play. So we played a stripped down version of the ‘affair that has been over half of my life’ aka Wargaming. He ended up liking my space marines more (since they were painted) Obviously the real rules would be too complex to seem sensible to me most of the time 5 year old Neph, but largely made up ad hoc 😉 We had fun.
2 Wifeys Birthday Steam Train – basically she got to DRIVE A STEAM TRAIN. Which she loved. I got to RIDE ON A STEAM TRAIN. Which I loved. It was a great day out and full of fun. I was glad to be a part of it and join in.

3 Yesterday, Wifey, Niece & Neph went to a local-ish Steam Rally. As noted on Wifeys page, they have been integral parts of both of our youths and upbringings since we were small. I love the smell of coal smoke, steam and freshly trampled grass that seems to invoke the ‘steam rally’ feel. The sight of machines that are in most cases over 100 years old (although steam power is thought to be about 2000 years old) being so able to do so much, and not using petrol or electricity is amazing. The thought of the innovation of the human race gives me hope for our future!

4 Return to Club – Feeling quite down I haven’t been painting many toy soldiers or playing anything. I also didn’t attend our wargaming club, partially not due to having the energy and partially due to mood and motivation.

5 Brain Meds – I’m feeling a lot better than a couple of weeks ago. Either I have undiagnosed bi-polar and I’m manic (time to start fires, take drugs and drive fast cars?) or the medical help is actually helping.(more likely!)

6 Supporting and loving Wifey – she’s brilliant. Basically. Read her blog. It explains her lovelyness.

7 My friend the lostinthewoods for lunch on Friday afternoon. We solved the worlds issues, talked about nerdology and such like. It was really nice. I did get a little sunburned but it was worth it!

8 The weather which hasn’t been too bad – while it’s been mostly hot and burning, it eased off on Saturday enough that I could bear it. The increased heat has made me hypoglycemic a couple of times though.

9 My new pipe, which I have only partaken of twice in a week, and has proven itself to be a nice medatitatve relaxing experience. It gives me some ‘me’ time, lets me watch the world go by and while increases some risks by 10% is helpful for the depression (Something to do with MAOI in the brain). It also makes me feel closer to my dad and late granda who both smoke(d) a pipe. Gandalf Approves


10 D&D – We played D&D on Wednesday with friends. It went quite well. I’m hoping it will pick up again this week when the coolness of the particular dungeon comes into its own. *insert evil laugh here*

Ten Things of Thankful