CRRRaSh! 376 The Bureaucracy Bureau

By Roy Mathur, on 2021-03-22, on 23:04:05--00:07:39, for Captain Roy's Rocket Radio Show, Listen

I Wasn't Alright

Everything got a bit much for me recently and I had to go and have a bit of a lie down. Read about "minority weathering" if you are interested. I also hurt my finger, but in comparison, that is a little trivial.

The point is I'm back and I'm not going anywhere. Though I won't promise to never rant again, because how can you not get angry and sad at things like the recent news of the disgusting racist mass murders from the US, deep breath, I'm going to make this pod a refuge away from the stresses of the world. We could all do with a bit of that, right?

You were expecting this episode a week ago, but that didn't happen. I wasn't quite right yet, and I don't feel brilliant now, but it feels like it's time to start taping these again. We are, therefore, back to our twice weekly schedule of an all geek topics show taping on Monday and releasing Wednesday and a retro revisit taped on Wednesday and released on Friday. In recompense for my conspicuous and long absence, tonight's episode is considerably longer than usual.

Fantasy Island

Reboot of 80s mystery show. Though it started fun, like tropical Scooby Doo for grown-ups and the horror element was great, there was too much explaining and not enough mystery.

The twist ending was weak. Also it suffered without the charisma of Ricardo Montalban and Herve Villechaiz.

The Head Hunter

2018, released in 2019 is fantasy short story about a mourning super-powered monster-killer in the hire of the local aristo. He disposes monster after monster until he meets an old foe.

The twist at the end was good, but the way it happened made absolutely no sense. Watch it and you'll see what I mean.

Bill and Ted Face the Music

Silly duo, Bill and Ted, failed rocked stars; fighting middle aged spread and spousal issues (they married actual princesses, so...) are tasked by the future to sing a song that will unite the world.

Ted telling the bass player, a very The Seventh Seal Death, "Dude, you were playing forty-minute bass solos!" seemed right on the nose.

The band, recruited from throughout history, included Death (of course), Mozart, Hendrix, Louis Armstrong, and a very confused caveperson drummer was... excellent!

It's a kinder, warmer ending the trilogy of the B and T saga. It's certainly, and consciously, redressing it's very white male origins without losing any of the comedy.

Charming cast, Doctor Who, Harry Harrison books, Time Bandits, a touch of the John Carpenter-style incidental music, a Rick and Morty-esque muscle scene.... ha ha ha, and I'm saying that as an ex-gym nut. Hey, when you get to my age, you're and ex-many things. I digress awfully. In summation: station!

A Glitch in the Matrix

2021: simulation theory (are ewe actually in the Matrix?) and a disturbing key interview subject in this mild interesting documentary about simulation theory.

I think Devs is better and I didn't like that much either, but as a Philip K. Dick fan I loved the sections about his either theories or delusions.

Sound of Metal

After hearing about my vaccination appointment (more later), I celebrated by watching this film, then zonking out. Hence this pod was taped later than expected.

Apparently, this began as a project called Metalhead starring real-life band Jucifer, but since the fictional band in Sound of Metal seems to be a punk band, I think the title is more filmic licence at this stage, because I donít think the Sound of Punk sounds, well very metal. I digress horribly.

Riz Ahmed stars as a punk drummer who experiences sudden hearing loss (SHL).

Let me take the opportunity to say I'm always impressed with Riz Ahmed, because he's a great British South Asian actor who actually gets non-stereotypical roles and recognition for doing so. For this role he learned to drum and to sign and the film has attracted Oscar attention. So it's a good film, which I didn't like.

The creators and cast, collectively, have experience of music, hearing loss, deafness and deaf culture and I believe the consensus is that this film promotes deaf culture in the journey of the character though grief, bargaining, and acceptance.

Except, for me who's father went through late hearing loss and myself experiencing some hearing related problems (right now even) and as a lover of music (aren't we all?), this felt like a disturbing horror movie. Let me explain.

Musician suddenly and inexplicably loses hearing. He is invited into a deaf school arranged by the mysterious and unseen Hector on the phone. Abandoned by his girlfriend at the deaf school, situated in the middle of nowhere, he meets the man in charge who takes his phone and van keys away and says he can help fix his mind. The musician stays at the school, learns sign, but surreptitiously sells everything he has for cochlear implant surgery. Cut to cold, clinical, Cronenberg-type scene with drilling into the skull. He is kicked out of the school/cult by the cult leader for doing this. The implant results are mixed; he rips them out, and ends up staring into the sky accepting the silence. Couldn't this be seen as a particularly bleak horror film? It's a good movie, but I did not sleep well.

I briefly considered calling his episode The Sound of Silence, but I have recently rewatched Detectorists and I don't want to be laughed at by MacKenzie Crook.

WandaVision

I actually remember I Love Lucy, I Dream of Jeanie, Tabitha, etc., so the in-joke of the first episode outstayed it's welcome for me, and I wanted to get right to the point of the story, but that didn't happen.

It's not bad, and I've been told it's a good show, but I'm not in any desperate rush to boxset the series quite yet.

The Walking Dead

Season ten returns and somehow I'm still hanging on. Damn you Robert Kirkman! (Did you know his son's name is Peter Parker Kirkman?! Double dame you Kirkman, stop stealing the good kid names!

There are, of course spin offs in the works, when the next and finale season ends, inc. a Carol and Darryl' show, but when season eleven ends, I'm out.

Superman and Lois

First there was Lois and Clark, the Smallville, and now Superman and Lois.

Clark Kent and Lois Lane/Kent, together with slightly unruly teenagers, leave The Big Apricot and return to the Kent's Smallville farm when Clark's mother dies.

The image in my mind is of an old comic book series I remember; one with and iconic picture of Clark carrying a broken tractor on his shoulder.

For all Mankind

Season two, and we're now in the 80s and heading off from counterfactual drama into wild sci-fi in which the world of this alt-NASA is heading towards a superpower conflict on the Moon.

Eventually, that is, because it's moving very slowly this season. I'm thinking this is like the holding pattern The Expanse seemed to be stuck in the latest season.

Bloodlands

I was once rude to James Nesbitt, it wasn't intentional, it was embarrassing, but it was a long time ago and I doubt he remembers, though in case he does, sorry Mr William James Nesbitt.

That off my chest, Bloodlands is a thriller starring Northern Irish actor James Nesbitt, based in Northern Ireland. It is about the hunt for an assassin who once bumped off terrorist paramilitaries from both sides of the divide, and who may have worked for the security services.

I liked it because it showed us a side of the Troubles that we never thought of, or at least I didn't, and has a grim and unexpected ending.

The inclusion of the iconic Goliath crane from the Harland and Wolff shipyard---they built White Star Line's Titanic---gave Northern Ireland a distinct identity all of its own and was a nice touch.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Recap: in Avengers: Endgame (2019), Captain America (Steven Grant Rogers), went back in time at the end to live his life with Peggy Carter, and in old age passes the shield to Falcon (Sam Wilson) in the present.

The series begins with Sam heading a rescue with a very high body count. Not wanting to become the next Captain America, he hands the shield in to the government. Then we see some of Sam's personal life; apparently he's from a family of fishermen.

We also see what has become of James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes (the Winter Soldier) since his pardon. He's trying to come to terms with the guilt of his years as a conscienceless programmed assassin... by making friends with an old man who's so he murdered. What?! I know.

It's an exciting show and the aerial combat scenes were great, but the EXO-7 Falcon suit effects were, frankly, a little too CGI. I also felt that this show comes off strongly as US military propaganda and what happened to superheroes who didn't kill people?

Trivia: the room where Bucky sees his shrink; is that the same room as the room used in The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), and good knows how many other films since then? Or is it just the same wallpaper, you know the one with the trees? Where the hell is that location? Tell me, and then just stop using it. It's annoying.

Returning Technology

Remember that computer I returned to eBuyer? Not only did I have to pay the postage, I was also dinged with an extra GBP 10 "charge for the original collection of the item, due to no fault being found."

If you're wondering why Amazon (though not third party merchants on Amazon) are winning, this is why. eBuyer is not the only companies with such draconian returns policies; I had the same trouble with Andertons, and others over the years.

These companies have a right to make money, but sometimes being a bit less miserly with the purse strings is better for goodwill. It also perhaps ensures the possibility of further custom, rather a guaranteeing the loss of any future custom.

The Old Computer is the New Computer Again

Given that I sent back the Xenta computer from eBuyer and I still needed a computer, here's some good news: the old computer is now the new computer again. I managed to reinstall Windows 7 on my Mac, after a series of cock-ups that an IT bloke shouldn't admit to, like wiping out his MacOS partition by accident.

Through this saga of cack-handed stupidity, however, I am guessing that there is a problem with APFS and NTFS living side-by-side. At the moment, I have the default older pre-APFS, HFS on the MacOS partition and the NTFS on the Windows partition and I don't intend upgrading the MacOS side unless I go back to only using MacOS over the whole disk.

I'll spare you the technical details, but the gist is that the Catalina side of MacOS (and Mojave sometime in the past because something roughly similar happened before) managed to screw the booting in a way Windows didn't like and Windows also didn't like the disk geometry. Going back to an older version of Mac OS X fixed things... sort of. I'm not entirely sure, but I also think installing Windows first on an entirely MacOS-free Mac helped. However, as has been the case with most of my installs of any modern OS over the last few years, every single install, even multiple installs of the same OS on the same hardware has been different. The complexity of hardware and software has grown to the point where there is no zero consistency of experience.

Or maybe I'm just stupid.

I Bought a Hacking Book

After faffing around as a scripter and programmer in my past work life, and my need to be wizardly, I thought it was about time to do something, and while cruising for an O'Reilly animal book that would be useful and fun, like Sed and Awk, or The Vim Pocket Guide (both of which I used to own at one stage).

I bought RTFM, the book with the hilarious double entendre title, because I love short snippets of code and one liners and the book hooked me on the first page of its Amazon preview.

I have often talked about doing bits of code on this pod, but there is very little you have seen. I wanted to get back into coding by making a game, but that is extremely time-consuming. Backend bodging is, on the other hand, quick, and usual to your everyday life. E.g. learning who to plug holes in your systems.

I'll test out the code by pentesting my own many home systems.

NHS Vaccination and Kafka

I tried to book my vaccine appointment online, as instructed by a couple of NHS text messages. I visited the NHS websites. Unfortunately, that failed because of a message box I couldn't get past:

"There is a problem
Select a date"

After many refreshes, I tried again and was offered a slot for the first dose, then told there was no slot for the second! Can't this app work out date ranges!? I was also offered other dates, then told on a later page that they were unavailable. I also tried both the latest version of Firefox and Internet Explorer, just in case this was a browser level problem; it wasn't.

It was a fiasco and in the end I had to do the most undesirable thing possible and phone my GP (because they almost never answer). It was pointless as the special vaccination number the NHS has for my GP is for over 75s only. A recording told me to dial the main number and not to leave a message, at which point a message beep sounded. I, of course, tried the main number too: engaged.

So, back to the NHS, this time on 119. I waited. And waited. And waited. And... was disconnected.

In summary, the NHS vaccination website is failing, the NHS vaccination and track and trace number 119 is failing, and contacting my GP is nigh on impossible.

Oh, and that original SMS message told me to book by Thursday. So that's great.

But it doesn't quite end there. I kept trying and trying to get through to my GP and two hours of calling an engaged number, then finally a connection and a place in a queue, then an eternity of holding and then... success! The appointment was for Thursday. The whole surgery was geared up and ready for war. There was quite the production line set up for mass vaccinations and people were coming through a few at a time. I was given the Astrazeneca vaccine and a card with the vaccine name and date of vaccination and I will be called in again for my second dose. So for me, at least, it was a happy ending, aside from the fever, aches, pains, stomach upset and headache 12 hours later that lasted for 24 hours, but that is a small price to pay when the alternative could be death.

If you are getting the runaround, let me know. Yes, I know the government is under strain, but what is the use of ordering people to get a vaccination when the NHS can't cope with the demand? I really think the government should mobilise a door-to-door vaccination strategy, otherwise I can see many people who need to be vaccinated missing out through no fault of their own. I now have a burning desire to read Kafka.