Saturday, December 31, 2011

Our Jez again

Here's an interesting fact about the 'Clarkson insults India' row...

There are many more internet articles about this 'row' than there were complaints about the TV programme that caused the 'row'.

The world is full of shit and blather and people with nothing better to do than pretend there is 'controversy' where there is none.

Mind how you go...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Christmas / Last Christmas

For those of you who have been asking what a top international acoustic artiste does at Christmas I shall tell you what I'll be doing this year - taking lard to Cleethorpes. Yup...I shall be travelling to Cleethopes - and taking lard.

It doesn't get much better than that eh readers?

Incidentally, how does 'last Christmas I gave you my heart, but the very next day you gave it away' work? Presumably this means that I fell in love with you at Christmas but on Boxing Day you somehow transferred this affection free of charge to another person? So am I now in love with someone else due to your actions? Would that be so bad after all? Oh well, I'll ponder that for another 20 years...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

99p calendar? That'll be £10.87 sir!

Now here’s a nice Christmas pressie idea for yer old Mum...A Vistaprint photo calendar on special offer. Upload your photos – 99p. That sounds OK doesn’t it? I guess they’ll send me spam and try to sell me stuff in future but that’s OK, that’s the deal. I might even have a look at what else they do and they might well make me a regular customer for loads of stuff. They might not, of course, but I’m presuming they’re taking this risk hoping it’ll work out for them - or having done lots of number crunching and market research. I got the info on a leaflet. And that’s all fine. What used to be known as a loss leader I believe...

However, it might be worth mentioning that the cheapest you can actually get one of these 99p calendars is by paying £4.89. That'll be £3.08 postage for a start...If you want it within 21 days that is of course. Plus some tax that they don't seem to have previously mentioned. If you want it within 7 days that’ll be £10.87 altogether. If I've worked it out correctly...which I may well not have as they want over 8 quid postage for that...

Incidentally, they add VAT to the total - including the postage. Now I may be wrong here but I thought they weren’t allowed to add VAT to postage. That’ll be why it’s called ‘shipping and processing’. My guess this is what stops them being prosecuted for breaking the law.

So that’s another company I don’t like then!

Thing is Vistaprint, if you have something I want I’ll pay for it. I like special offers and I understand that what you really want is more of my money – but don't tell me something costs 99p when it costs nearly 5 times that at a minimum. I might end up telling people you're a lying bunch of twats...

Now then, where can I buy gig tickets for the amount marked on the ticket?...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The triumph of technology / pantomime season

I’ve mentioned before how it seems we’re all screwed when the power goes off or the containers of cheap batteries fail to arrive from China. All kinds of mechanical things are powered by electricity that shouldn’t be, presumably to feed our obsession for gadgety novelty and to save us a tiny bit of effort (leaving aside the effort of buying the new cheap gizmo when the old one fails to work after 2 minutes). Here’s a related example of the over use of technology and what happens when it goes wrong...

I went to the local Co-op today. I picked up the last of double packs of some bread roll things – 63p. I took then to the till and they scanned the packet. The till came up with an error message. They tried again. And again. They tried another till. Nope, the system wasn’t having it. Barcode not recognised. So they asked me if there was anything else I wanted instead. ‘Not really’, I said, ‘I kind of came in for bread rolls and you have these, so I’d like these please’. Stalemate (No pun intended). They didn’t know what to do. The till wouldn’t let them sell them to me. What were they to do?

At this point I started getting slightly annoyed (in a polite way) and decided to give them some encouragement. ‘Look’ I said, ‘you’ve got some bread there with the price on; I’ve got the money here and this is a shop. Surely between us we can work out a way of doing this?’

In the end there was an obvious solution. Did you spot it? Yes, that’s right, of course you did – to sell me some matches at a discounted price!

The way it works is this – they must have an item to put through the till. And of course they can’t open the till without scanning an item. So, what do you do? Well, you scour the shop looking for an item that costs around the same price as the item you’ve got in your hand that you want to buy. The closest we could find was matches at 70p. So they put the matches through at a discounted price of 63p - they are allowed to discount it would seem - it’s just the selling of bread with the wrong barcode that’s forbidden I guess.

They handed me the bread and I was on finally on my way having completed the complicated transaction of handing over 63p to the people behind the counter of a shop that sells bread costing 63p.

Thanks to the wonderful modern foolproof stock-checking software the Co-op now have an extra multi-pack of matches they shouldn’t have, they’ve apparently lost a 7p discount on the deal – and there’s some missing bread somewhere. That's progress...

Getting a man in...

Well, here’s a difficult one. Lots of potential to be misunderstood here...But this is about an email that arrived a while back…It’s says that the “25th November is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women”. Blimey! That’s the first thing that struck me – an ‘International day to eliminate violence against women’. Well, if that could be done then I’m all in favour. But it’d be a hell of a big day wouldn’t it? Like eliminating poverty or greed or hunger or something. In a day. But let’s assume that the grandiose title really means ‘saying some stuff about an issue and getting a bit more publicity by calling it an ‘international day’. Fair enough I suppose.

The message goes on to explain that “The White Ribbon Campaign involves men in opposing violence against women. Please help us and encourage as many men as possible to come along on Friday 25th to show their support for this initiative or come along yourself!”

So, OK, there’s a campaign to involve men. So far so not so bad. They want men to come along. OK, I’ll consider it, tell me more – for a start what’s this white ribbon stuff? The poster attached to the email explains...“Men, Take the Pledge and Wrap a Tree!” What? Women are being beaten up and much worse all over the world and you want men to pledge and wrap trees? Mm, well OK, it’s a good cause, I’m still listening, tell me more...

The poster carries on to explain: “Men involved in the campaign are asked to pledge that they will not commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women. We were the first city in England to achieve White Ribbon City status in November 2010. To celebrate our first year, we want everyone in Leeds to know that we are a White Ribbon City and what that means”.

So let me get this straight...Presumably you don’t think that the average wife beater will read this poster and decide to take the pledge? Presumably the flier isn’t pinned behind the bar at the betting shop or the Dog and Racist either? (or the golf club come to that) – so I guess this campaign is aimed at the likes of me is it? You want me to pledge not to be violent against women? For what reason exactly? Should I take a pledge not to mug little old ladies or drown kittens? Or to not do any other thing that I wasn’t actually inclined to do anyway? I suppose there’s the condoning and staying silent I guess I should try to stop anyone else mugging old ladies and drowning kittens too. OK...but why exactly am I pledging this? And who benefits from this pledge?

So I’m afraid I started to get a bit worried at this point – is this about making nice liberal men feel good about themselves by signing a pledge that says ‘what a good boy am I’?

Moving on...the flier further explains – “Meet at the Reginald Centre, Chapeltown for refreshments and the start of a gentle walk to wrap a tree with white ribbon and encourage men to take the pledge. ALL MEN PARTICULARLY WELCOME!”

Oh blimey, where do you start? I’m fine with a meeting point and refreshments. But a ‘gentle’ walk. Presumably the sort of men who are against male violence walk gently do they? Maybe I’m reading too much into this (because of the ribbons coming up possibly...) but is this for pale weak men who can only walk gently after refreshments have been served?

But then we’re going to wrap a tree with white ribbon are we? Well, no actually, we are not, I’m not turning up! If my wrapping a tree with white ribbon would stop a single man from doing a single bad thing to a woman then I’d do it, but it won’t, it’ll just make me look like some sort of fey new age namby pamby weirdo who wants to draw right-on attention to himself. Then we’ll all take the pledge...We can burn some incense and pray to Gaia and the Wiccan Goddesses while we’re at it. We could issue an apology to all our sisters on behalf of the men of the world. Mm...

Then we move on to the line ‘All men particularly welcome’ - in block capitals. Presumably Barry from C wing who nearly killed his pregnant girlfriend because she ‘wound him up’ would not be quite as welcome as some others? Maybe a bunch of scaffolders willing to build a platform round said tree and measure out how much ribbon would be needed for a 2 inch deep wrap would be more welcome, but let’s let that pass. But if this thing is about men gently walking and pledging (that reminds me, just look at the dust in ‘ere) and wrapping trees, then why say that men would be particularly welcome? Almost as if men are unlikely to attend? I wonder why? Maybe because they’re just utter bastards who hit women. Or maybe they’re mostly just people who don’t want to wrap ribbons round trees to no useful purpose. Unfortunately there’s nothing in this event to actually attract men, at least not most men or even large numbers of men.

There’s never been a ‘men’s movement’ (leaving aside various slightly questionable types I guess) because blokes just can’t be arsed and don’t like doing that sort of stuff. That’s not so say they condone or excuse violence against women but men generally need a target, a challenge, something specific to do.

So to summarise this particular man’s reaction - If you put on an event to wrap trees in ribbon then you’re likely attract the sort of people that will tie ribbons round trees. So I didn’t go. Sorry.

But let’s not be negative...Let’s look for a positive...

I guess the ‘international day’ might persuade the odd lazy journalist to report it and so it might help raise the issue.

And to finish on a high - I noticed that the white ribbon campaign also organised a ‘High Heels Walk’ (for men) – Now that’s more like it! It was in Hebden Bridge – oh bollocks! Not Rotherham then? But leaving that aside, why is this loads better? – Well I think it’s because men do like to muck about. So maybe this is a way to show that men do care about the issue without turning them into New Age hippies. This kind of lark might actually get blokes involved. Let’s er, skirt over the issue of cross-dressing. So here’s part of the report from the local paper:

“THEY tottered and they towered over shoppers - the men of Hebden Bridge have once more pulled on their heels to strut their stuff around the town. Each year the White Ribbon campaign calls on men to titter and totter around the town’s cobbles to raise awareness of domestic violence. Some went further and donned dresses and wigs to add a splash of glamour to the day organised by the Mytholmroyd-based charity. Councillor James Baker from Hebden Royd Council cut the ribbon and then heels clattering against the cobbles with cheering from onlookers. The group of 12 brave men and boys tackled the streets of Hebden Bridge and the issue of domestic abuse by walking a mile in their heels. Onlookers gave their support to the men and helped raise £600 for the campaign”.

So there you go. Check out the website -

I’m on their side. But no gentle walks to tie ribbons to trees please...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Senior Integrated Communications...

Job adverts continue to be entertaining...I fondly imagine that the people who write some job specs are fully aware of what they’re doing and that they sling huge quantities of bullshit and nonsense management speak in just to see if they can get away with it, to see if anyone notices or dares an Emperor’s New Clothes moment. The idea that people actually take this stuff seriously is surely too frightening to contemplate...

Anyway, here are some recent examples from a job vacancy for a “Senior Integrated Communications Officer”. That doesn’t sound so bad surely? I’ll attempt some sort of possible translation as we go along...

Their role will be “to generate, analyse and disseminate stakeholder intelligence across the communications directorate and to other colleagues within the department” - Disseminate stakeholder intelligence eh? Perhaps that means ‘telling people stuff’?

They’ve helpfully included a list of “Key Accountabilities for the role”. That’ll mean being accountable for the keys then I expect...Or perhaps not.

Anyway, here are a few other things this bod will be doing if they get the job...

They’ll be using various means “to gather intelligence about the mood, activities, opinions of key stakeholder e.g. staff representative groups and professional bodies, the national media” – ‘Listening to what people are saying’? – Or maybe they’re spying on colleagues?

“Creating user-friendly mechanisms to share this insight with colleagues” – ‘Passing information on to people’? Funny how it's become 'insight' all of a sudden though eh?

“Building on existing stakeholder intelligence systems such as the Communications Temperature Checker to meet future needs within the communications directorate and wider Department” - Blimey! Maybe ‘tell people this stuff in the same way as we do now’? I wonder if they'd show me their 'Communications Temperature Checker’ if I show them mine?

“Championing the use of intelligence in communications planning and strategy” – Presumably this must be ‘Arguing that the stuff you’re collecting is worth collecting (or you’ll be out of a job)’?

“Supporting senior members of the team to deliver communications about pensions reform to staff. This will be vital as elements of the reform ratchet up over next 6 months and will also entail feeding into the Departments industry relations policy group” – Well this one is a corker eh?! Presumably that translates as ‘you’ll be helping management screw your colleagues by taking their money’ then?

Among the experience and skills required are “A sound understanding of the full range of communication disciplines including PR, marketing, internal and external communications, stakeholder management and e-communications” – That’s another easy one – ‘you must be absolutely full of shit’.

I didn’t apply for this one...

Friday, December 02, 2011

Jeremy Clarkson explained

Since most of this blog's readers are from outside the UK I thought I'd better explain...

There's this bloke in the UK called Jeremy Clarkson. He pretends to be an idiot blokey bloke (a kind of Homer Simpson parody of a 'typical guy' I guess) who's hopeless at most things but likes to drive very expensive cars too fast. He co-presents a television programme called 'Top Gear'. They fake footage (like pretending he's in a car while the army fires live bullets through it) and he pretends he has no social conscience for comic effect - and presumably to wind up people who do have a social conscience but have no sense of humour (or humor...)

Sometimes these jokes are quite funny and one likes to think that on occasion at least he's sending himself up. He makes a good living out of doing this. He's 'controversial'. I mean that he's generally controversial in that tired and predictable lazy comedian way.

So for example, not only does he still complain about caravans (trailers?) on the road (even though you hardly see them and there is so much traffic over there that they hardly slow the traffic at all anyway) but he's likely to say that all caravan owners are, oh, I dunno 'people who wet the bed' or something. And he's likely to say that all caravans should be burned or all their owners should have their portable gas bottles stuck up their arses (that'll be asses) and exploded. You get the picture. Sometimes funny, often not funny, caricature right wing views, extreme in that right over the top 'massive exaggeration is automatically funny' type way.

There was a one day strike of public sector workers over here. They object to the government's financial deficit being paid off by cutting their pensions. Billions of pounds of taxpayers money was given to banks who I'm pretty sure are now giving it away to their shareholders. People who move money from screen to screen seem to be valued very much more that people who do things like looking after elderly people and children and so on. Anyway...

Our Jeremy was on a television programme to plug his new DVD (I think it was called 'Crash Bang Wallop What a DVD' - sorry, that's a joke none Alan Partridge fans). The presenters asked him about the strike having warned the audience that he was 'controversial'. He said that the strike was great because it kept the traffic down but as it was the BBC he'd have to be balanced and say something negative about the strike. So he said that the stikers should be taken out and shot in front of their families.

So...a poor joke for a start 'they should be taken out and shot' is a very old line on a par with 'string 'em up, it's the only language they understand'. So one would think the obvious reaction to this would be a shrug and a 'mm, Jeremy's not on very good form'. No further comment you would think.

But unfortunately we're suffering from a number of social maladies. One is that people seem to be waiting to be offended. A second is that this is encouraged by the media, in particular the popular newspapers. Related to this is the fact that too many people have a very low tolerance of anything, and stupid people are encouraged to express their lack of understanding and their stupidity through all kinds of modern methods. People who have so little sense of humour that they don't even recognise a poor joke are also apparently extremely sensitive to any offence of any kind anywhere and feel it is their duty to complain. They also (ironically) demand retribution in the most outrageous and extreme ways. So for example they will call for a person to be sacked because they made a poor bad-taste joke.

So...trades unions actually looked into taking legal action against him. For saying that 2 million people should be shot in front of their families! Thousands of people piled in afterwards to 'complain' to the BBC. I even heard the suggestion that children would be frightened because this programme went out at 7pm and they 'could have been watching'- and might have taken this all seriously. Anyone familiar with the work of Chris Morris (Brass Eye for example) would have been hooting with laughter by this point.

So, it all kicked off. The national news headlines became an utter joke. The BBC, instead of saying nothing or 'please stop complaining you're making yourselves look like pompous babies' apologised. They do this a lot these days. It seems that if anyone on television says anything remotely offensive (or possibly offensive) they will be censored and / or sacked. The BBC is still well respected over here and seeing it kowtow to pettiness and damage free speech is well, disappointing to say the least.

I heard an interview with a representative of one of the trades unions who had decided not to proceed with any legal action not because they were sorry that they'd acted like babies or over reacted or believed they'd be humiliated in court or realised they were behaving like pompous humourless idiots - but because Jeremy Clarkson had publicly apologised.

This story took over huge swathes of the national media. Not since the royal wedding was our national broadcaster so trivialised and humiliated.

Right, well, I've run myself into the ground on this one. It seems the world is now ruled by morons or pranksters with Twitter accounts whipped up by the parts of the media who are mad as hell that a publicly funded organisation does it better than they do.

The most worrying thing is the lack of perspective and proportion. It looks ages for anyone to say 'look at this, this is madness, just stop it'. Television executives and editors and whatnot should make judgements about what is news and what is meaningless blather. They should be able to differentiate between the voice of the people and the twitter of idiots. They're getting it wrong far too often.

That's far too much on this. Sorry...

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Johnery Plarkestone says

Johnery Plarkestone says sack (and shoot) everyone who says anything silly while promoting their new product - then shoot the infantalised nappy whingers childish enough to take offence! Mummy, mummy, that man wants to kill you in front of me - I'm frightened - SACK HIM!!! HOUND THE BBC! CALL THE POLICE! NEVER GROW UP!!!

My God this is horrible! Childish whingers get het up over bloke in the pub type comment, lose all perspective and burst their over tight nappies all over the BBC and the media, presumably in an effort to shift Jeremy Clarkson product in time for Christmas.

Is the word 'perspective' or 'proportion' in the English dictionary any more? Just look at yourselves people!