Friday, 28 January 2011

What's New, Magnum Myers?

Don't worry, we're not dead!

Here's some things that have been happening:

We finally perfected our new track Magnum Myers, and if you're the kind of folk that want reference points it sounds something like Lalo Schifrin, John Carpenter and The Cure.

Instead of our usual process of documenting tracks with a demo for prosperity, we're going to cut straight to writing another, then record a live EP of the new material (and maybe some old favourites if we fancy it). This will essentially be an open-door recording party to which you're all invited. We've got a sweet venue lined up; details to follow in due course.

Speaking of live EPs, it really is all action at Great Men HQ as we have in our possession the mixes of 3 tracks we recorded live in London last year, and I've just polished off the CD artwork. There'll be a limited edition run printed up in the near future, watch out!

Then last night we had our first ever radio play, thanks to The Fabulous H-Town Savage on the Down The Nile Backwards show on ILL FM. Avid listeners will recognise Number 6, but won't recognise this exclusive sneak preview mix from our album! While the album is still under wraps, feel free to listen to our demo version of the song on Myspace, or if you're really geeky the original Widdleman version.

We'll speak again soon friends, but in the meantime why not keep up with us on Twitter and buy a t-shirt for everyone you've ever met?

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Epicurean Dreams

Here at Chrome Towers we’ve grown used to Paul Anthony Ulterior’s (or Honey to his friends) delusion of grandeur. We smiled sweetly at his claim to have circumvented the 2nd Law of thermo dynamics with a magnet powered car and shuffled nervously away from his all too organised plan for non-masked vigilantism…Lately his Father Dougal like in-ability to discern dreams from reality have taken a truly supernatural twist.

Having been watching watchmen a little often Honey has been regularly dreaming that he is in fact 100 feet tall and made of blue. So regularly he rarely speaks of anything else and is now actually planning what he would do when it really happens. Really… His first act? To eliminate the two largest evils of the world: Religion and Mankind’s ability to end it self through thermo-nuclear destruction.

(although if I got Ally Sheedy as my girlfriend I think its worth the risk).

As a fine anti-theist he was able to support his decision with a Hitchenite booze fuelled moral certainty and cheeky flick of blonde hair. But, countered the assembled hordes of strike team, if you did indeed have the power to banish religion would you not run the danger of merely swapping one god for another albeit bluer one?

Knowing full well that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” Honey was confident that if he explained the scientific mechanics by which he was able to achieve these fantastic events, he could prevent people worshiping him. He wouldn't be God or Godlike just himself...but 100 feet tall (where would he get a 100ft leather jacket?) . I admire his resolve but can't help but think a combination of humanity's proneness to genuflect and the allure of power would make a leader-follower relationship almost impossible to avoid. He might have to come up with some rules, some impediment to false idols.

This began to remind me of something…something a little Chuck Heston... something a little Exodus 20:1-17.

You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord Honey, am a jealous Honey, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

If possible, an omnipotent, omnipresent Honey explaining his actions through regular testable scientific means would seem to be the last nail in the coffin for God.

Or does it.

Since the enlightenment, God has been increasingly living in the gaps in scientific knowledge and become entirely super natural. If we grant that a big blue god-like being with big blue god-like powers can explain those powers through natural testable laws, then we have to concede that other god-like beings regardless of their colour can also do this. God then stops being entirely super-natural and therefore (ever-so slightly possibly) exists.

We can now believe in the existence of God. As long as my friend is a 100 foot tall, naked, blue man who can do magic. Looking for some decent leather. Which he isn’t. Yet.

Makes as much sense as any other revelation I suppose…

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

VAT: You Do The Math

If there's one thing (actually there are lots of things) that annoys me, it's bad maths. And this week, with the VAT rising from 17.5% to 20%, the media has been full of it.

If you can already do school-level mathematics, feel free to skip the next paragraph.

For the benefit of anyone who isn't sure, the VAT rising by 2.5% means the increase in price paid by you the consumer is actually about 2.1%. E.g. if something cost £100 without tax, then the previous 17.5% tax would be £17.50, meaning you pay a total of £117.50. Now with 20% tax that price would be £120. The extra £2.50 you've paid as a percentage of the price you used to pay is 2.50/117.50 = 2.13%.

Many of the papers still haven't learned this since the last VAT change. Furthermore, is 21p on every tenner really that much? In my opinion this is generally a good way to raise a lot of money in tax with minimal impact on most consumers - especially as many essentials for living are exempt from VAT (or at a reduced rate). By the same token I thought the VAT drop to 15% a couple of years ago was an unnecessary move. [I do openly admit throughout this post to be ignoring the impact on businesses - this is more about ignorance than economics]

Here's an example from a BBC article which captures a sadly typical level of consumer ignorance:

Andy in Rotherham says:

"I receive £65 per week in Income Support Benefit, the government gives this me with one hand but yet takes away £13.00 in VAT with the other, leaving £47 to survive on. You don't see the benefits rise, but the VAT does."

Well Andy, an easy way of working your VAT out now is that 20% VAT is £20 out of every £120, i.e. one sixth: so divide your price by 6 and that's the VAT you've paid. So assuming you've spent your £65 benefits entirely on goods and services which attract the full rate of VAT (so none of it on essentials of living such as basic foodstuffs, water and heating), you'd have paid £65/6 = £10.83 in VAT. Not £13.

"The government should bring some type of chip and pin ID card out for the poorest people on the breadline so folk can claim back limited VAT on food and utility bills."

Good news Andy! The government read your letter, went back in time, and made VAT exemptions. The full details are clearly explained on the HMRC website, but to save your clicking finger:

"Food and drink for human consumption is, in general, zero-rated", i.e. 0% VAT.
Utilities (e.g. water) are 0%.
Fuels (e.g. electricity and gas) for domestic and residential use are a reduced rate of 5%.

And it gets even better: Great Men t-shirts have stayed at their wallet-friendly price of £8 for 2011! Hey Andy, the £2.17 extra per week you didn't realise you had can buy you a Small, Medium or Large within the next 4 weeks. Style those January blues away!