Debtris by Information is Beautiful

2010 was a bleak year in financial terms. Here’s an infoanimation created by Information is Beautiful which puts the vast amounts of money involved into a nice visual setting. If you like this why not check out too.


Is the Catholic Church A Force for Good?

The Intelligence² Debate – Stephen Fry (Unedited)
Uploaded by Xrunner17. – Full seasons and entire episodes online.

Stephen Fry debates the value of the Catholic church.


Homer Does Barcelona

Bellas Flores, Belle Fleurs, Bei Fiori, Schöne Blumen, Piękne Kwiaty & Beautiful Flowers to you all. Yes, I can now speak six languages fluently. Seven if you include taking rubbish.

It’s been a busy few months since left the city of Leeds and moved to Barcelona. So, what’s happened to me since I left? Well, upon arrival I had to sort out a home and all the relevant accounts, finding a nice place was hard. I must have seen thirty odd apartments the first couple of weeks. Eventually I found a sexy pad with all mod cons unfortunately the landlord turned out to be a proper peanut. And he was short! And Spanish!! Well he was tight, so tight in fact he used to come round every day to watch the TV and use the phone!

Anyhow, he wasn’t declaring anything (taxwise) therefore would not let us register anything at the address, it was like been an immigrant, what’s more the doors which he passed off as stairs & cupboards upon viewing the apartment turned out to be two more bedrooms! That meant there were 6 people living there, all foreign or derivatives thereof. This was too many, especially with only one bathroom and kitchen to go round. With it been rather unsociable too, the apartment filled the full floor of a building so normally you would just bump into people in the corridor occasionally, as people were constantly leaving however you didn’t get to know any of them. Didn’t feel very homely at all, more like a motel. What’s more none of them spoke English either, or so I thought. There was a Venezuelan guy living there, he had only grunted at me for the first 2 months. Then, suddenly, a couple of days before I left he wanders into the kitchen and says “I hear your leaving” in perfect English. I nearly fell over!!!

I had to stay in that apartment for the first couple of months, the agency handling my contact messed up the payments, I didn’t get anything for the first 10 weeks so I had to spend every night freelancing. Kinda pee’d on my parade having to work all the time still but at least I was working in the sun which made things much better. But, I did need to find a new home, I was getting bored with the lack of banter, my Spanish conversation is limited, “Hello. Where are you from? Where do you work? Do you like eggs? Oh, I like eggs too!“. Thrilling stuff. What’s more, my jokes don’t seem to go down very well in Spanish. Not that they really go down that well in English either but at least I usually get a few groans.

So, finally I had been paid. It was time to make my exit from the big brother house. I went to the local hardware store and bought a spade, 21 metres of sturdy rope, a large bag of arsenic and 2 rubber ducks… Hang on. Sorry, that’s a different story.

Well, to cut a long story into a not-so-long story I had to be a little devious so as not to loose my bond to the tight short man. Knowing he was on the fiddle I told him my boss needs receipts for all my expenses. He told me I had to leave. Hehee, the fool. Then he tried to charge me for a cleaning lady which didn’t exist and days that I wasn’t there. But he eventually gave me everything back in a huff as I’d sneakily written instructions in Spanish about how I had to submit any losses to accounts to reclaim them and the solicitors then handle it. So I won! Hahaa, it’s like they say, you’ve gotta get up pretty early in the morning to do a milk round!

So I’m now living in a nice place, no so swanky but got cool housemates so it’s much better.

Work wise. I’m at an Interflora-type company called FloraQueen helping make the website look less 1980’s. I’m supposed to be learning to be more European and less British, I say what old chap! It’s run by a tight Israeli who thinks he knows everything but would actually suit a name like Mr. Offenrong, so it’s about as organised as a bag of sand.

I’m running late so I’ll tell ya all about the fun, frolics and fondling that’s happened in the next chapter.


You Don’t Have to Be Crazy. But it Helps.

Geniuses are Bordering on being Insane.I saw this article in a newspaper. Another piece of research suggesting it’s not a bad thing to deviate from the norm and be a little bit special. Go on, flout your eccentricities. You’re not a weirdo, you’re a genius…

Click here to see the full article


Where Do Ideas Come From?

I recently attended a seminar on Generating and Developing Business Ideas. One of the questions raised in the presentation was ‘Where Do Ideas Come From?’

The presentation then went on to state:

There are just three types of idea:-

  • A borrowed or adapted idea
  • A genuinely new idea (invention)
  • An idea based on what you know

Coming up with ideas has never really been a problem for me. It’s finishing them off before coming up with another spiffing new idea which is the greater problem. Nevertheless, it was still an insightful look at the idea development process. Some of the points and suggestions made are outlined below.

List your skills

  • What do you love to do?
  • What do you do well?
  • What would you like to do?
  • Do you have any talents, hobbies, skills, passions & experience?

Personal SWOT Analysis

Make a SWOT analysis about you, list:

What do you enjoy doing most – (skills/experience/hobbies, knowledge, personal traits)

What do I least like doing – (ie. no business skills, not good at numbers, lacking in knowledge)

What’s around the corner – (what external factors may help you, what can you learn from others, where do you fit the bill)

What could cause you problems – (how will external factors affect your business or venture)

Recognising Trends
A few of these could be:

  • The growth of the Internet
  • Environmental
  • Working from home
  • Demographic Changes
  • Credit Crunch
  • The Grey Pound
  • The Pink Pound
  • Ethical Trading
  • Social Enterprise

Markets Create Opportunities

  • The specialists (niche markets)
  • A market with some resurgence in demand
  • Products that hold their value
  • The local supplier
  • Meeting a need for which there is only occasional demand.

What are the Problems and What are the Needs?

Ever noticed something which could be done better. Could you do it better?

What’s the solution? Is there an opportunity?

  • Is there a better idea?
  • What is the idea?
  • Can it be developed?
  • What are the operational needs?
  • What are the Technical requirements?

Is there a Market?

  • Will they buy it from me?
  • Why won’t they buy from me?
  • Who do they buy from and why?
  • What do they really want?

Evaluate it!

  • What sort of business could you create?
  • A full-time or part-time operation?
  • A business to fit your lifestyle?
  • A service-based business or product-based business?
  • A ready made business (existing or franchise)?


    • Be clear about your business idea
    • Be honest about your skills
    • Research what support is available
    • Research your customers, competitors and suppliers
    • The “Market”… Know where you fit
    • Parato principle – aka the %80/%20 rule
    • Develop a business plan
    • Always start with all the cash you need
    • Prepare and plan for contingencies
    • Take all the professional advice you can get
    • Create an action plan/lists
    • Network, network, network

    Changing Minds

    Painting The Mind“When builder Tommy McHugh and chiropractor Jon Sarkin suffered massive brain traumas, they suddenly revealed a previously hidden talent: to create art that amazed critics and collectors”

    This program, shown on Channel 4 was a very interesting watch. When it can be seen so clearly how much an individuals personality and intrinsic values can change when the brain experiences trauma it raises questions relating to the Nature Vs Nurture debate. The events covered in this program also reflect that of the classical example Phineas Gage, used in many philosophical studies.

    Given the fluid and intricate nature of our personality and self identity I am usually of the stance that nurture is the greater of the two dynamics. Genetics does indeed give rise to the Id, our initial, animal desires or the inclination to act in a certain manner yet as our brain develops so does our understanding. Past childhood no healthy person should be led by their emotive desires. True, we are all products of our society, constructing our personal values and perception of the world by observing and experiencing our environment, parents, friends etc. but  yet we are not slaves to this given ethics.

    The concept of Freedom applies not only to our physical states but also to the mental. We have free will. We are also incredibly lucky to live in a liberal society where we are free to express ourselves as we wish. The only downside to this being that in some areas it may be excessively free. Mass media has been allowed to create a pseudo-reality which enforces a world view, a view which is intended to make you want or buy. I do not in any way condone censorship of thought however I do not believe sufficient measures are taken to educate the public. To give all the capacity to filter and asses all the biased information which is fed to them.

    Before I digress too much the point here is that we all have the freedom of mind to question or own beliefs. To examine our thoughts and actions, to apply logic and reason then decide if the way we behave is right or wrong. The biggest step here of course is deciding to do so.

    I myself am a Panpsychist. Areas of Quantum mechanics, Philosophy, Psychology, Buddhism and various other religions all indicate that there is an interrelationship between matter and consciousness. The way I understand it is that the most fundamental form of conciousness is “being”. Simply to exist is to possess a subtle form of consciousness, not the kind we experience yet consciousness all the same. The higher form of consciousness we possess, along with Sentience comes later down the line. This requires a brain.

    Therefore if our mental life requires the presence of a physical brain does this mean they are wholly codependent? Well yes and no. The simple answer is we just don’t know enough about how the brain functions to answer this. Now this is not an area I’m an expert in but I do know we have developed beyond phrenology and other similar archaic beliefs which stipulate the brain is fixed and can be mapped.

    Although, with the aid of modern technology, we do have a good idea regarding the functions of the various lobes, and specific regions of the brain, we are very far from understanding it.

    Previous studies into developmental psycology and psychosocial development have given me the firm belief that we are products of our own aspirations. Although our “default settings” are initially beyond our control the option to customise and remodel your mind is yours.

    The way we lean is general to specific. What you may see as an egg-cup is in fact a lifetime of relevant experience, the material, the shape, the function, the dangers and the pain or pleasure associated with the item. All this is processed by our unconscious then presented to our conscious, perceived and comprehended as a nicely simplified singular object.

    As Hebbian Theory suggests and is often simplified down to “cells that fire together, wire together”. Meaning, literally thoughts enhance thoughts. If you have a bad thought towards a certain object, person or place you are giving it strength just by thinking it. Instead you need to re-associate any latent meaning ie. think good thoughts about the article you dislike/fear/hate. Initailly this will feel unatural and contrived but eventually it will become normal and slip into the unconciouss. There is a chapter in Derren Brown’s book, Tricks of the Mind devoted to memory. This is a recommended read and goes deeper into the matter of how memories are stored, retrieved and how they can be replaced.

    So why is this relevant? Well, Neuroplasticity is an old concept. Rejected by the men of authority when initally proposed yet now a fact. Albeit a fact we don’t understand. The brain can remodel itself, even compensating when half the brain is removed in Hemispherectomy patients like Kacie Caves. Given this, that that the brain changes physically, what can we assume about the direct impact on the mental? Whats more, is it possible to achieve the same amount of mental remoddeling via emotional trauma or even by free will?

    Throughout our lives we devlop, we change. Your priorities, prefernces and character all change. Imagine a room filled with yous. Yourself at ages 5, 10, 15, 25, 50 and 80. Given a selection of subjects to discuss would you agree with your(other)selves. Would you share the same dreams and desires in life. Would you respect or even like yourself?

    The Theseus Paradox is a philosopical conundrum, questioning whether and object is the same if all it’s consistuent parts are replaced. Apply this thought to your body. How old do you think you are? Although it’s hard to determine an exact figure (with recent studies even suggesting the aging process itself is flexible) most studies say no cell in your body is older than fifteen and a half years.

    Then to summarize. The physical aspects of our bodies and brains change. Somtimes when this a happens there is direct impact on our psyche. However in some instances massive physical changes can be compensated for. Alternatively our mental activity forms the physical composition of our brains.

    Lewis Hyde, in his book the The Gift talks of the creative potential we all posess. How it is fundamental to our everyday lives and involved in from getting dressed to cooking to navigation. The problem (and loss) occurs because the skills are stifled and as discussed previously, the less practice and repitition the more difficult and unatural things become.

    Perhaps then there is an artist in us all. Our true creative potential buried deep beneath a lifetime of persitent neglect. Waiting for our attention to awaken them. Or, for us to have a stroke, whatever comes first.

    A couple of recommended references:

    Philosophy of Mind

    Freedom: The Philosophy of Liberation



    Catchy Colors Photoblog: Narajas de Colores

    Saw this photo and had to share. Love the surrealness, created when an ordianry object takes on irregular colours…

    Makes me feel like Peter Pan at the dinner table!


    Art by Goldie

    I saw Goldie on the Paul O’Grady show recently. He’s trying his hand at been an artist now. I do have to admit thought he does have some talent…


    So. What Do You Think?

    Thinking DummyA chain of serendipitous occurrences, all those probable and deliciously improbable events, lead us here. To this very moment. And, in this moment, in this life, I find myself grateful to have been bestowed with the indulgence of an agile and malleable imagination.

    As a child I remained positively jubilant left to my own devices, often with no more than a cardboard box or a humble stick to entertain myself, in fact I actually spent a fair few months wearing a plant pot as my favorite hat. Yes, I did indeed look rather dapper.

    As I’ve grow older and begun to rot I no longer wear plant pots (normally).

    I think. I think a lot. I think about serious things, about random things, about stupid things and about very, very funny things (well, at least I think so).

    Over the years I’ve lived a somewhat adventurous, diverse and, at times, an ever so slightly hedonistic life. I’ve been in some fascinating situations, I’ve questioned everything I have seen, all I have be told and all I have known. However, there are a few peculiarities in life which managed to escape the inquisition, to even avert detection entirely?

    These colloquial elements so familiar, so vehemently blatant and obvious to us are entwined, unconditionally and totally, into that which we experience, believe and expect.

    These illusive subjects? Well, the first one at least, is Identity.

    I do not refer to those little plastic cards you have about your person nor to that artifact so often pilfered by internet so-and-sos. What I mean is You. Or rather “I”. Where does this overwhelmingly and reassuringly constant feeling of individuality and unique singularity come from?

    As a wee child there is precious little awareness of these other worlds, these subjective sudo-realities. Usually, developmental studies show this starts to develop by the age of four. Realisation that there are various opinions, beliefs and desires which may compliment or oppose your own. But why? Why do you think the way you do. Why do you like fuchsia, adore pizza yet despise tomatos, traffic jams and distrust people called George?

    More importantly still what kind of person are you? Are you a caring, ready-to-help-anyone person or a short tempered places-to-go-things-to-do person?

    The commonly held belief seems to be that you are A person. You have AN identity. That identity is YOU.

    Phenomenally the liberating consequence of studying a subject in depth is that you tend to find out that the general beliefs are, at best simplified, at worse plain wrong.

    I hope in the following posts to illuminate, if only a little, some areas including identity, subjectivity, perception and consciousness.

    A few references to start with would be:

    Questioning Identity: Gender, Class, Ethnicity (Understanding Social Change)

    The Natural and the Social: Uncertainty, Risk and Change (Introduction to the Social Sciences)

    Ordering Lives: Family, Work and Welfare (Understanding Social Change)

    The Psychology Of Perception


    Est. 1982

    Mario - Made in the 80'sWhile writing a spoof autobiography for yours truly I seem to have strayed a little into the fascinating world of 1982.

    The 1980’s was a time of  vibrant cultural revolutions, the birth of the yuppy, the introduction of the power-dressed-big-shoulder-padded business bitch and the post-it note went mainstream. A paradigm shift was well under way, people wanted new beginnings, new experiences, wealth and success.

    In 1982 the the airwaves were dominated by Dynasty and Night Rider and in November that year the UK was introduced to it’s fourth terrestrial TV channel.

    And in the world of music, the world would be introduced one of the most influential musicians and albums this half of the century. Madonna makes her debut and Michael Jackson would release Thriller.

    Check out the below website, what was at number one when you were born. What was the culture like which created you. I was surprised at how many tracks I recognised…

    As for the cinema, was this any different? No, ET was raking it in at the box office while Blade Runner, a film now considered to be a cult classic was not doing so well.

    In this day and age the transition from obscurity to celebrity and back to obscurity can happen in under five minutes. Perhaps ten minutes if the return goes via reality TV.

    It seems to me that even some of the one hit wonders from back them are memorable. Albeit memorably bad. The movies were groundbreaking and the TV programs are now iconic.

    However, is this really the case or am I just getting old. Nostagia is setting in and I’ll soon be telling young whippersnappers that “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.”

    In the 80’s
    Wikipedia – 1982
    Wikipedia – 1982 in Music
    Wikipedia – 1982 in Film
    Wikipedia – 1982 in TV

    Madonna released her debut single “Everybody”

    I Love 1982 Events