what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Friday, January 30, 2015


Strange the way the mind works….the original intention behind yesterday’s post was to give a simple description of the trouble I’m having deciding what sound system best fits my needs……
Instead I found myself resurrecting memories……and sketching a way of life that will strike the present generation as …..well…...weird!
The idea of debt still had religious echoes in those days – the injunction ”neither a borrower nor lender be” still resonates in my mind. That’s why the word “sin” suddenly crops up in the post….

This led my thoughts back to a book which made such an on impression on me a few years back that I bought an additional couple of copies to ensure that I had it on hand more easily – Michael Foley’s The Age of Absurdity – why modern life makes it impossible to be happy
Drawing on philosophy, religion, history, psychology and neuroscience, he explores the things that modern culture is either rejecting or driving us away from:         
Responsibility – we are entitled to succeed and be happy, so someone/thing else must be to blame when we are not
Difficulty – we believe we deserve an easy life, and worship the effortless and anything that avoids struggle (as Foley points out, this extends even to eating oranges: sales are falling as peeling them is now seen as too demanding and just so, you know, yesterday…)
Understanding – a related point, as understanding requires effort, but where we once expected decision-making to involve rationality, we have moved through emotion to intuition (usually reliable) and – more worryingly – impulse (usually unreliable), a tendency that Foley sees as explaining the appeal of fundamentalism (“which sheds the burden of freedom and eliminates the struggle to establish truth and meaning and all the anxiety of doubt. There is no solution as satisfactory and reassuring as God.”) 
Detachment – we benefit from concentration, autonomy and privacy, but life demands immersion, distraction, collaboration and company; by confusing self-esteem (essentially external and concerned with our image to others) with self-respect (essentially internal and concerned with our self-image), we further fuel our sense of entitlement – and our depression, frustration and rage when we don’t get what we ‘deserve’

At that point I shook myself and tried to get back to the issue in hand – should I buy a Denon or a Bose? Should it be Bluetooth?

But now I felt I needed to explain why I was needing something apparently portable when, for the first time in 25 years, I am no longer nomadic….(.or at least only between 3 locations…….!)
In 1990 I had left the West of Scottish and found myself “on assignments” – my “user name” indeed on most websites is "nomadron" – and what does my wicked mind then divert me into? Nothing less than memories of Dick Barton, special agent to whose radio programme I was, with many millions of others, an avid listener in the early 1950s!!!
I duly inserted the Wikipedia link but was then tempted to have a look at an old black and white movie from the period. Did actors really speak and behave like that in those days???

So let’s start again……clearly music is important to me….but, until a year or so ago, I had been content with simple radio/CD players. The collection has grown - in all 3 locations I now call home…
But the demise of one the simple music systems called for a replacement and a simple bit of research and the accident of one of the quality Denon music system outlets being located on one of my regular beats in Sofia had me installing it in my mountain house – to my great satisfaction….

Now my ear had a standard of comparison…….I am on the primrose path to hell……..
My education about technical options grows by leaps and bounds! The Bose branch at the Bulgaria Mall in Sofia wasn’t exactly heaving with goodies – and could offer only a 2 week delivery date for most systems…..And I could listen only to the smallest  – a 19x6 cm Bluetooth Soundlink Mini at 450 levs (that's 230 euros). That didn’t offer the depth which the larger Denon portable speaker does at 400 levs…..
But there is another quality Bluetooth option – SoundTouch portable at 850 levs which also offer at the same price a non-portable version (ie with electricity connection). The full Bose range is here

A Technopolis branch in the same (empty and soulless) Mall offered a Logitech 2600BT with 2 subtle cones (connected obviously but with a fine small white wire looking like Lasagne) and costing (with a tiny adaptor) only 289 levs…….only problem – the guy couldn’t get it to work……….And, as the review video says, they’re not really portable……and lack quality sound…….But interesting….

On balance I’m left with 3 options –
- Stick with my simple 5 year-old 50 euros Philips radio whose tones are reverbating powerfully around my flat’s large sitting room as I write
- The 400 levs Denon – with as good a quality as the complex headphones with digital to analogue converter at 550 levs (let alone the 2000 levs amplifier and speaker systems with cables…..
- The as yet untested Bose SoundTouch options – cheapest of which (both portable and non-P) are 850 levs…….

Much as I am tempted to stay with my old Philips radio, it doesn’t allow streaming – or audio for films from Zamunda (the Bulgarian PirateBay)!!

Choice! Choice" Or as the Germans put it - Die Qual der Wahl!!
And they say this is the "instant gratification" generation! More like "paralysis by analysis"!!

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