Monday, October 08, 2012

storm in a tee cup

A couple of follow-up thoughts on recent posts:

I meant to add to the previous post, having inflicted the terrible lame punning title on you, that if journeyman European Tour pro and one-time tournament winner Graeme Storm ever makes the Ryder Cup team (which I strongly suspect will never happen), then I will be extremely disappointed if the media don't come up with a headline of the form STORM ON THE RYDERS or something very similar.

Also, more shouting at the radio today - the Book Of The Week concerned maps, and therefore sounded interesting, well, until it started anyway. As soon as it did it incurred my wrath with a lot of waffle about Google Earth and satnav and "well, couldn't it be said that maps these days point the way not so much from A to B as from, in a very real sense, ourselves, to, as it were, erm, somewhere else", compounded by the oft-repeated claim that fold-up paper maps are a quaint relic of a bygone age, an accompaniment to some imagined soft-focus 1970s family outing with the Cortina estate and the gingham tablecloth and the Spam sandwiches.

In fact, as the constant stream of stories in the media about people having to be rescued demonstrates, setting out without a paper map is a recipe for disaster, regardless of whether you've got a GPS or a smartphone or some other electrical gizmo with you. Electrical gizmos get wet and malfunction. Electrical gizmos have batteries, which run out. Electrical gizmos get dropped on a rock and broken. Electrical gizmos lose sight of the satellite they're getting their information from. And then, in pretty much all those circumstances, you're fucked. Unless of course you've got a map (and ideally a compass) on you. Granted, this does presume you have the ability to read a map and operate a compass, but if you can't do that then it's probably best you aren't allowed out of doors unsupervised anyway. All the major walking sites, as well as the gizmo manufacturers, issue dire warnings about never relying solely on electronic navigational aids. The additional pitfall of using a smartphone in particular as a navigational aid, of course, is that in a subset of the circumstances described above (wetness, smashage, battery death) you've lost not only your ability to navigate but also your ability to call for help.

So the paper map - or the ritzy laminated versions if you're going somewhere like Dartmoor or the Peak District where it will more than likely shit it down constantly - is still very much alive, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. That Dash4It link is the place to go for OS maps, incidentally, as they are much cheaper than in the shops, and they do free delivery. So if you're currently lost on Dartmoor, pull up the site, order the relevant map, put your last known GPS coordinates in as the delivery location, and then hunker down behind a grassy tussock with a KitKat until help arrives.

I should add that I have no beef with electronic navigational gizmos per se - I own a GPS which I use regularly (though mainly for recording track info rather than navigation) and the smartphone apps using the OS data like BackCountry Navigator and ViewRanger look pretty good. I do take a map as well, though. I assume that also taking stuff like waterproofs, a torch and something to eat goes without saying, but you never know.

Finally, books. I was over at The Mall the other day, and a bit of browsing around WH Smith and Waterstone's revealed the in hindsight completely unsurprising fact that literally everyone is now writing 50 Shades Of Grey rip-offs (or rips-off, if you insist). If you think I may be exaggerating for comic effect, I quite literally am not, as I trust these photographs prove:

It's very difficult to criticise these books purely for their choice of subject matter, since after all what people get up to in the privacy of their own bedrooms, or indeed rubber-lined porn dungeons, is no-one's business but their own, and as long as everyone's past the age of consent and enjoys themselves and no-one gets hurt (unless they want to) then it's all good. Nonetheless the themes (in 50 Shades anyway, I can't speak for Bruised Perineum Of Guilty Delight and the rest of them) of female abasement to some mysterious super-rich but troubled pervert whose penchant for stalky manipulation and bondage induces (for some reason) uncontrollably orgasmic sexual frenzy in his (always younger, always virginal) lady friend raise some questions over the psychopathology that underlies all this stuff, and whether it's entirely healthy.

Bizarrely, one can't even escape into the safe and comforting world of children's literature, because the shelves over in that section are literally groaning with the various instalments of the Twilight series, which is essentially just the same sort of thing but with added teen angst and weird crypto-Mormon sexual morality. And werewolves.

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