No Time Like The Future

A rare heart-felt ballad from Vivian Stanshall (1943-1995), founding member of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. They were a huge influence on my musical tastes, eccentric to perfection, in a peculiarly British way that was also groundbreaking in its effect on music and culture. Vivian Stanshall personified the intoxicating, surreal, art school, dada, music hall, trad jazz, psychedelic pop mix.

Stanshall appears in this 1991 BBC documentary, Crank, introduced by John Peel in a special obituary show. Anarchic genius.

Comical Genitalia

It’s not often you get a chance to use that phrase. I’m deeply grateful to an unsung staff reporter on the Sun for unleashing it on an unsuspecting world in this 2007 article, ‘Rude Buddha’ causes outrage. It was later lifted almost word for word in a Metro article – Cops probe Rude Buddha – a headline so brilliant you can forgive them the plagiarism.

The genitalia in question – a banana and two eggs – are welded onto a bog-standard statue of a seated Buddha. The work, by artist Colin Self, was probably considered rude by the good people of Norwich for a number of reasons. A banana and two eggs are surely innocent objects in themselves, but placed in the lap of a seated figure in an upstanding position, they acquire a whole new meaning. Then there’s the bronze colour of the foodstuffs, which stands out against the black of the Buddha. Finally, there’s the position of the hand curled in the lap – a classic meditation posture – suggesting an alternative activity is taking place. I’m reminded of a greeting card, with the picture of a seated mystic and the caption, “If that’s the sound of one hand clapping, I wonder what the other hand is doing?” Oh, and the statue was facing out into the street.

A Trilogy: The Iconoclasts is actually a witty spoof, melding ideas of sacred art with pop art, and evoking all the metaphorical associations of bananas and eggs. It’s a pity some people were so prudish as to complain to the police, forcing the gallery owner to turn it round so it faced into the shop. But I’d be surprised if it didn’t sell very quickly with all the free publicity. Perhaps Self got his friends to make the complaints.

So thanks to that staff reporter for adding an essential phrase to the English language – I hope it goes viral.

DuckDuckGo: Dada and the Search Engine

With the upcoming changes in Google’s privacy policies, I’ve been digging around to see what they’re up to. From March 1, they will combine 60 separate privacy policies into one, amalgamating the data from all their products into a single marketing treasure trove. To Serve Man, apparently. I had posted a full YouTube episode, but the scumbags at CBS had it taken down.

Now I’m not suggesting that Google is controlled by space aliens who want to add us to their menu. Not quite. But Google does have an endless appetite for our user data, including marketing preferences and where we like to travel on the Internet. Which is very useful for targeting us with advertising crap. So if they have an integrated user profile, gleaned from every Google product you use, then the advertising crap just hit a much bigger fan.

While I like many of their products – Gmail, Google+, and Google are brilliant – there are some things up with which I will not put. So I use Adblock Plus for the advertising crap and Ghostery to block the Web’s creepy crawlies from tracking my movements.

Unfortunately, Google can still gather data about me. I can stop them from using it as advertising fodder by disabling Web History, but it’s still available for internal use, being anonymized after 18 months. They have another sneaky trick up their sleeves, though, and it’s not something Google likes to draw attention to. Did you know that they tell the website you’re going to where you’ve just come from? So do many other browsers. Google appararently stopped doing this for a while, until the outraged squawks of their advertisers prompted a U-turn.

It was only when I stumbled across DuckDuckGo that I discovered Google were doing this. DuckDuckGo (Wiki entry) doesn’t track users, and it doesn’t try to personalize the hits to what it thinks you might be looking for. I know some people like that, but to me it’s patronizing and an insult to my intelligence to think that I can’t handle challenging ideas.

So I’m using DuckDuckGo exclusively now. I love the name, which is pure Dada, and the uncorporate feel there is to this search engine. If it all goes pear-shaped, you will be first to know.

If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly

Ceci, ce n'est pas le pis d'une vache

While researching yesterday’s Divagation, which talks about the invented religion of Bokononism, I came across a video that tells the story of its founder, as described in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Cat’s Cradle.  It didn’t fit in that particular post, but it’s too good to waste.

Cat’s Cradle: The Story of Bokonon is probably the worse video I’ve ever seen, so naff that it’s brilliant.  Not Plan 9 from Outer Space bad – one of Ed Wood’s finest – but bad as in the intentionally crude animation techniques used in South Park.

Russell Milton’s video animates Barbie Ken and a collection of Lego figures/constructions, using photos as locations and a bathtub with a toy boat to represent the sea voyages.  A brilliantly cheesy soundtrack completes the package.  It’s pure Dada.

You don’t have to know anything about Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle, or Bokononism to enjoy this video.

As a bonus, here’s Plan 9 from Outer Space in full.