Idle Eye 117 : The Silence of the LANs

Way back in 1995, when Brian Eno unleashed his 3 1/4 second micro-ditty on the new Microsoft Windows startup, he unconsciously escalated the extinction of the human race. Bold, I know, but think about it: Ever since then, we have acclimatised ourselves to endless pings and pongs (none of which last long enough to be truly irritating, though still being the aural equivalent of nails down a blackboard), reminding us that an email is in, a lorry is reversing or the filter on your water softener needs changing. It’s the price we pay for living in an increasingly computerised world, where machines take the drudgery out of those tiny, mundane tasks we used to just do unthinkingly.

And now we are once again free. Free to linger twenty seconds longer when we put out the recycling, free to eat another bun before leaving for work, free to swap the ringtone from Coldplay to Kylie, and free to take the time to consider our freedom. And if we forget to do this there will always be another sonic nudge, composed by a teenage digital guru of whom we are supposed to have heard, denying us the luxury of our own free will. Silence has become the flaccid hangover of yesteryear, rather than an essential neutral space from which all ideas spring forth. And slowly, we are morphing into the cabbages we now have more time to chop:

BING BONG!!! Based on the median temperature taken in your area over the last eight months, it is an above average day outside. You will not be needing your walking boots or Echo & the Bunnymen trenchcoat.

SPLOSH!!! Based on nocturnal activities over the last twelve hours, we suggest you hang on to whatever fluids you have available. However, immediate release of solids is recommended to facilitate motion of any kind.

QUACK QUACK!!! This light-hearted alarm call suggests that you have an amusing, alternative persona and would be fun to go out with of an evening. You, and 15,000,000 others just like you.

UUURRR UUURRR!!! No, it’s not an air raid. Time to call your mother.

FWHO-HOO-HOO HOO-HOO!!! Somebody you’ve never heard of has just texted you on the train. Either that, or you are shit at whistling.

All these little intrusions incrementally chip away at our ability to act for ourselves. We know this and accept it without resistance. In time, we will inevitably become pathetic, dependant amoebas, like die-hard listeners to the Radio 4 comedy slot, hopelessly reliant on whatever dross is out there yet powerless to affect any meaningful change. Ironically, we do have the ultimate say: By turning off our devices, flipping our laptops onto silent and taking the reins of our lives for once. By denying the fat controllers of our local area networks the autonomy they so desperately seek by merely flicking a switch. But we don’t. Because they haven’t made an app for it yet.

Idle Eye 59 : The Merrie Month of February

Oh no! An entire month of alcohol abstention is fresh out of the blocks and let me tell you, gentle reader, it is a far, far worse thing than you can possibly imagine. Makes a swift waterboarding at Guantanamo seem like kindergarten, and the relentlessly brutal assault of everyday reality, once successfully held at bay at evenings and weekends, is now free to scythe down its quarry at will. Why, in God’s name, do people do this to themselves? It is no accident that hops/barley/grapes/junipers etc…are widely available across the planet for our consumption, nor that we have honed the requisite skills over centuries to arrive at todays bountiful plateau of choice. To reject them is tantamount to sticking a finger up at creation, evolution and the education of the soul.

Anyway, never mind that now. I’ve only got 500 words and I’m not going to waste them on semi-literate Zen rhetoric. I do, however, need to get across the barren nature of my pursuit and get you lot back into the Idle Hour. It’s my job. And if anyone emerging from their own month of sobriety is under any doubt whatsoever, remember this:

The initial body response is, to be honest, not all that stringent. In fact, it’s a bit of a novelty. No more night sweats, morning tinkle now the hue & viscosity of elderflower cordial (not Castrol GTX), the twin throb of angry kidneys has backed off a bit and I can make it through an entire episode of Borgen without falling asleep and dribbling. However, that’s about as good as it gets. Suddenly I’m acutely aware of the banality of existence, the inanity of radio comedy, the dirty patches on the stairs I said I’d hoover in November, the fact that nothing works properly, that all the stuff I’ve hoarded my entire life has swollen to gargantuan, suffocating proportions and needs urgent attention (the last time this was an issue I moved house rather than deal with it.)

And then there’s evenings. These little bastards stretch off into the distance like the Yellow Brick Road and now that I’m clean, I feel compelled to fill them by doing something useful. But what? DIY would be utterly fatuous. Cookery? I don’t think so. Tidy my room? Ahem. I opted instead for cleaning New Year mud from my leather Stormtrooper boots in the bathroom sink and succeeded in blocking the U-tube and jamming shut that bullshit style-over-content hinged plug.

You see? Alcohol prevents us doing this kind of nonsense for a very good reason. Because it is UTTERLY POINTLESS, and our time would be far better spent earning the money to pay someone else to do it instead. In fact, the more we drink, the more we can help kick start our ailing economy on many, many levels. So please, do as I say and not as I do. You’ll thank me for it.