Robert Hampton

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This is my little corner of the world wide web. If you're visiting for the first time, you might want to start by reading a bit more about me. I blog here about anything that interests me: mainly culture, Liverpool, politics, trains and a whole lot more besides. The latest posts are below and there's more in the archives. For other sections of the site, follow the links in the navigation bar above.

18th January 2015

You can’t spell YouTube without O-U-T
Posted by at 1.12pm | Gay | No responses

Twin brothers Austin and Aaron Rhodes phoned their dad with some news (spoiler alert: they’re both gay).

There’s a lot of cynical comment over their decision to film this moment and put it on YouTube. I, for one, am glad they did, as it highlights the immense difficulty that gay in coming out to their loved ones. I doubt there’s a gay person alive who doesn’t remember a moment like this. The tears. The anxiety. The sentence started but not finished: “I am…”

It shouldn’t be that hard. If we want to make life easier for LGBT youth, let’s start here. Educate parents. Educate teens. Stop making gay kids feel like they have some strange “otherness” to them that people won’t accept.

16th January 2015

Encryptonite

Cameron on the Phone

If anyone thought 2015 was going to be a better year than 2014, the attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo and elsewhere in France have surely put paid to that misplaced optimism.

World leaders gathered together in Paris in an impressive show of solidarity … then shortly afterwards started concocting new ways to impinge on our freedoms.

Cameron’s latest wheeze is to attempt to restrict the use of encrypted communications. “In our country,” he said, “do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?”

Erm… yes? Cameron wants services such as iMessage and WhatsApp to give up their messages to the security services, but there’s a bigger picture here. Encryption, and the privacy it provides, underpins commerce on the internet. Put your credit card details into Amazon, or do some online banking, and your personal details are encrypted using an algorithm which is very difficult to break. Even social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter default to HTTPS connections these days.

As James Ball points out in the Guardian, weakening that encryption risks damaging the digital economy. If the spooks can listen in, potentially anyone can.

It’s frankly terrifying that someone tasked with keeping the country safe is that ignorant of the way the internet works.

2nd January 2015

I bought a diary from a pound shop
Posted by at 5.32pm | It's My Life | No responses

2015 Diary

I’ve tried to keep a diary for several years, to record hopes, dreams, idle fantasies about chaps I fancy, that sort of thing. Usually my efforts have been inconsistent. I forget to fill in one day and before I know it I’ve slipped out of the habit and there are months of blank pages.

I might do better this year, because this diary is AMAZING. It’s chock full of useful info! Too good not to share, in fact.

According to this diary, France still uses the Franc, Greece still uses the Drachma and Germany is clinging on to the Deutsche Mark. And Deutsche Mark is spelled incorrectly.

diary-2015-3

It thinks Berlin is still split into West and East, giving separate dialling codes for them (even though the codes are identical).

2015 Diary

Best of all, though, is the First Aid advice. Here’s what to do if someone is choking:

Diary

“A small child can be held upside down and thumped. If this does not work tickle the back of the throat with the finger-tips in an attemt to make patiens cough or vomit.”

Hm… hold a child upside down, thump him and then stick your fingers into his throat. Seems like a guaranteed way to get yourself arrested.

1st January 2015

Travels with Hampo

Happy New Year to all three of my readers!

On a personal level, I think what I’ll remember most about 2014 is the travelling I did. The start of the year set the tone, as I headed down to that London to say goodbye to 2014 in the company of Ian Jones. We checked out some interesting theatrical stuff and I also saw one of the most precious artefacts known to man:-

Tom Daley's trunks

I suspect a gay man is curator at the Museum of London, but I can’t be certain of that.

Ian was also around in March when I headed out to Amsterdam. We eschewed the budget airlines in favour of the rail-based option, travelling to the Dutch capital via Eurostar and Thalys. That was a fun trip, but I feel that what happens in Amsterdam should stay in Amsterdam (actually, we checked out some museums, rode the Metro a bit and we looked but didn’t touch in the Red Light District).

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25th December 2014

Home for Christmas
Posted by at 12.32pm | Liverpool | No responses

Christmas Day this year comes after a fortnight of grim news, what with the Sydney siege, the Pakistan school massacre and the lorry accident in Glasgow.

Amidst all the sad news, it’s worth remembering that human beings, as a species, are generally good. There are many people out and about this Christmas helping those less fortunate. The Whitechapel Centre, for one, are out and about on the streets of Liverpool this Christmas. They will be giving support and advice to the homeless and, today, serving Christmas dinner to rough sleepers.

It’s definitely an organisation worth supporting. I can’t think of many things worse than spending this time of year on the streets – surrounded by festive cheer, yet strangely apart from it all. For those who are taking time out of their Christmas Day to help others, I salute you.

Merry Christmas everybody!

24th December 2014

Value of Nothing

David Cameron has given a Christmas message:-

At this important time of year for the Christian faith I send my best wishes to everyone in the UK and around the world celebrating Christmas.

Among the joyous celebrations we will reflect on those very Christian values of giving, sharing and taking care of others. This Christmas I think we can be very proud as a country at how we honour these values through helping those in need at home and around the world.

Politicians banging on about religion almost always sounds like cynical pandering. It’s especially so when it’s David Cameron – leader of a government which has pushed many families into poverty. 90,000 children will wake up homeless on Christmas morning. Shelter reports that the number of homeless families living in B&Bs has trebled this year.

So merry Christmas, Mr Cameron. I will wait until May 2015 for the top present on my wish list – your exit from Nunmber 10.

21st December 2014

Rolling Ronny
Posted by at 8.30pm | Films, Gay | No responses

Ronny & I is an entertaining LBGT short film and a nice take on the well-worn “coming out story” genre. It’s shot in the style of handheld mobile phone footage so it’s a bit shaky and disjointed, but once you get past that it’s a fun watch. Well worth 20 minutes of your time.

One extra thought from me (with a minor spoiler) below…

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20th December 2014

End of two eras
Posted by at 2.59pm | Television | No responses

‘Folks, if this is your first time tuning into the Colbert Report, I have some terrible news’

The world of US late night TV continues to be a mystery to most Britons. In the UK, after the late news, there’s a dearth of original programming. No-one is going to spend money on programmes which will go out when most people are getting ready for bed.

Over in the US, however, many networks stay up into the small hours with a multitude of late night shows. Most of them follow the format established decades ago by Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show: a topical monologue from the host, a comedy sketch, then some celebrity guests and a performance from a musician or stand-up comedian before the closing credits roll.

Shaking up the landscape in 2005, however, was The Colbert Report. Dispensing with the tried-and-true format, Colbert went with political and media satire. It’s often cutting, occasionally brutal, but always uproariously funny.

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17th December 2014

An open letter to people who write open letters
Posted by at 7.54pm | Uncategorised | No responses

Dear people,

Please stop writing open letters.

Best wishes,
Robert

16th December 2014

Time to meet your maker

Mario Maker is one of the more interesting games to be released for the Wii U in 2015. It’s a level editor allowing players to come up with their own 2D Super Mario games. A range of graphical styles are available, from the pixellated perfection of the original Super Mario Bros. to the HD glory of New Super Mario Bros. U

It seems, in part, to be inspired by the demented ROM hacks that get released on the internet. There have been countless tools released which allow you to step into Shigeru Miyamoto’s shoes and assemble your own levels. Nintendo have just gone and made it official.

I love a good level editor. As a teenager, I whiled away countless hours on my trusty Acorn A3010, concocting levels for Fervour. If you think about, adding a level editor is a great way to extend the lifespan of a game – there’s an infinite number of levels.

So yes, I’m looking forward to this. Now, I just need to actually buy a Wii U…