I bought an Acer 8204wlmi laptop second-hand off a mate a few months ago. It was a bargain and I was very happy with it.
I went out last Friday, leaving it open on the coffee table in the front room. I ended up staying out all night and getting back late the next evening. My cat doesn't like it when I stay out all night, and vomited on my laptop keyboard in what can only be described as a dirty protest.
I cleaned it up and left it to dry out for about 36 hours. It wasn't long enough. I turned it back on to a load of scary bleeping noises, then after rebooting the keyboard didn't work. A week later most of the keys work but not all of them, and I think this is pretty much permanent now. Worst thing is one of the keys that doesn't work controls the screen brightness, which is now permanently set on dim. I can't find another control for the screen brightness anywhere.
I've attached a USB keyboard, and lucky for me I have a friend who runs an IT support company and is used to fixing this kind of problem - though usually beer and wine are the culprits and not cat sick. He's ordering me a new keyboard. Not sure how much that's going to cost yet but he'll do the repair for free - the cat used to be his.
Anyway, the main reason I'm writing this is because if anything like this happens to you, for god's sake leave the machine off and open for at least a week so it can dry out. I was too impatient.
I wasn't angry at my cat at the time - she's just a cat, she didn't know what she was doing. I definitely don't like her as much as I used to though.
"Collapse" by Jared Diamond.
Reading this on the recommendation of quite a few people, including our very own Jump the Ladder. It looks at factors which cause societies to fail or survive, taking case studies of Easter Island, desert American Indian tribes, the Maya and the Viking Greenland settlement in the ancient world, and Papua New Guinea, Japan, Rwanda and the US itself in the modern world.
Factors such as erosion, weather conditions, and resources are taken into account. The prevailing theme is that a society will expand according to its resources, but then cannot deal with change that brings about a reduction in those resources.
It is very interesting. In particular I enjoyed reading about Easter Island and the Viking Greenland colonies. But here's my problem - there is a lot of repetition. Diamond obviously wants to be as thorough as possible to properly state his case, but the factors that led to the societies' collapse are usually pretty similar. I ended up skipping quite big chunks, because it's a big book.
His work on Rwanda is probably the most controversial part of the book. He argues that overpopulation was the primary cause of the genocide, and makes a very convincing case based on statistics, a case study made before the genocide, and the patterns of killing in the genocide itself.
I have read a few books about the Rwandan genocide prior to this (the best being "We Wish to Inform you that Tomorrow we will be Killed with our Families" by Philip Gourevitch) and I think Diamond understates the political and colonial dimension. However, his assertion that a simmering and quite bitter struggle for resources was already underway in the tight-knit rural communities that make up the country goes some way to explaining how such a horrifying and perplexing war came about. Whether it was a causal factor though I'm not sure.
"Collapse" is a fascinating read, taking a scientific, anthropological perspective on issues that are too often politicised and riddled with opinion. Highly recommended.
A much better book than it looks this one, another fascinating look at the bizarre place that is Los Angeles, to maybe read as a companion piece to City of Quartz by Mike Davis.
Labyrinth looks at black street gang infiltration of the LAPD in the years following the Los Angeles riots. Sullivan's theory is that following the riots race became too sensitive an issue for the LAPD to tackle, allowing wealthy black gang members such as Suge Knight of Death Row records to wield influence within the force by recruiting or bribing black police officers. Sullivan also implicates Knight in the high-profile murders of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, and the LAPD in a cover up that followed.
Obviously this is tricky territory and I did take Sullivan's theories with a pinch of salt. Very occasionally his language nearly tips over into political-correctness-gone-mad territory, but not often or explicitly enough for me to think he has any kind of agenda.
It's a ripping read. Suge Knight is a terrifying character straight out of a comic book, threatening rap artists with guns, a tank full of piranhas or even sodomy to get them to sign over the rights to their songs. People like Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg, who compared to me and you are pretty fucking hard, live in fear of him and eventually buy their way out of their contracts just to get away. Couple this with his business acumen and you get a formidable organised criminal network that Sullivan believes is much more powerful than people think. Sullivan also writes well, and manages to get across a good amount of atmosphere without clouding his investigative journalism.
After reading the book I was left wondering what he's up to now. Did he have to go into hiding?
Saw Cloverfield. Wasn't too keen on the idea of this - there are just too many bad monster films, especially ones about Godzilla-type creatures terrorising New York - but was actually blown away by it. Despite the extremely annoying, vapid characters, the depiction of the 9/11-style terror and chaos of Manhattan under siege is brilliantly done and actually pretty frightening.
Also saw Jumper. Just don't bother, it's shit.
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