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Nothing else will happen this week, and nothing at all for several weeks round next June

In the same way that I didn’t care about two people I’d never met and and am not likely to meet getting married and was really quite sick of hearing about it by the time it actually happened, I don’t care that they’re now expectant parents. I’m not being curmudgeonly here. I’m delighted when people I know break the happy news that they’re having a baby, but I manage the disappointment of not hearing about it from the >99.9999% of the world I’ve never met and am overcome with indifference when it’s a sleb. What I said of the weddingathon is just as applicable now:

Despite my long standing republicanish tendencies I don’t harbour any ill will towards William and Kate. Okay, it does annoy me slightly that unless Australia ditches the monarchy he’ll be ‘my’ king one day, but that’s not his fault. The poor bugger never asked for the job and for all any of us know may turn it down when the time comes. So no, I have nothing against them, but I don’t know them and they don’t know me and it’s vanishingly unlikely that that will ever change, which means I have nothing but indifference towards them either. Sorry if this isn’t entering the flag-waving spirit that seems expected of everybody British born, but I’m just not prepared to jump on the bandwagon and sit here pretending that it’s in any way meaningful to me.

And there’s no reason anyone else should apart from the fact that millions are adherents of the cult of celebrity, of which the British Royal family is very much a part. Somewhere in Vietnam there’s probably a Mr and Mrs Nguyen who are also expecting their first child, and the indifference of rest of the world is such that not only does it not care, it doesn’t even know whether or not Mr and Mrs Nguyen exist. Worse, parts of it are probably only dimly aware of the country they live in because some good movies have been made about a bad war there.

Putting it another way, have a look at this screencap of a Google image search.

Screen shot 2012-12-04 at 11.14.00

Do you personally know any of the people in the images? Do you feel the need to express joyous feelings towards the ones you don’t know? Obviously you hope people’s pregnancies go well because you’re a weapons grade shit if you sit there wishing all the various horrible pregnancy complications on someone, but do you feel like e-mailing photo libraries asking for your congratulations to be passed along to any of the couples in the images? No? No inclination at all? So why will millions be mailing St James’ Palace?

This is something that happens to most people sooner or later and I don’t get why I should be expected to express happiness, or any emotion at all, for Wills and Kate when nobody thinks I should for any of the other 7 billion people who aren’t in my own social circle. I do get that it’s welcomed by some who can expect to get away with releasing bad news while most of the world and media are distracted for several months, and I do get that it’s welcomed by the media themselves who can milk it thoroughly for cheap news of poor Kate’s latest bout of morning sickness.

But I don’t get why it’s of more than academic interest to the rest of us and why any couple expecting a child should also expect to have to release images of the fucking sonograms to the press. Or for that matter break the news much earlier than planned because a hospital admission would only lead to press speculation otherwise.

So now we all know, okay? Any chance we can leave it there and just have the one day of multi-page coverage when the royal sprog/s is/are dropped? I ask in hope, but no real expectation, of not seeing the news filled with speculation of the baby’s name, sex, weight and eventual height and fashion preferences for the next several months.

And in other news…

Nice to see that the media are all over the hugely important issue of Tom Thumb, er Cruise being divorced by Katie Thingy… not Perry, the other one… Holmes! Yes, that’s it, now where was I? Oh yes, being divorced by Katie Holmes and wanting sole custody of the kid (unless it’s kids). The state of the marriages of all actors should be a matter of huge concern to absolutely everyone and far more important than such trivialities as, say, some uncontrollable wildfires in Colorado that have destroyed hundreds of homes, caused millions of dollars of property damage and appear to have resulted in at least one death. In fact this prioritisation of the coverage of news events is such that I have just one question for the media and everyone in it:

 

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?

 

 

This isn’t scraping the bottom of the barrel

Oh, no.

The question is who will be Australia’s own “Snooki”, with Ten announcing its own TV reality series based on the hit US show Jersey Shore.



With its stunning beauty and “tribe-like” community, the Sutherland Shire, in Sydney’s south, has been chosen as the perfect location to shoot The Shire.

Network Ten has announced the commissioning of the series – which will follow the lives of a group of “charismatic” and “controversial” characters.

“The Shire is a fascinating look into a unique sub-culture in Australia and the first time a local dramality series is being introduced to the commercial television landscape,” says David Mott, chief programming officer, Network Ten.

[...]

“The genre has been a hit in the US (Jersey Shore) and the UK (The Only Way is Essex), changing the way people view television, and we intend to do the same,” says Mott.

Not so much scraping the bottom of the barrel as smashing right through it and tunnelling all the way through the Earth in order to scrape the underside of a barrel on the other side of the world. Gets some bloody good comments though (because unlike WordPress.com you can still comment at The Age).

My ex girlfriend lives in The Shire and looks like Snooki… and acts like Snooki.
Commenter M.O. – Location Sydney Date and time Mar 19, 2012, 02:52PM

Please Death – Just take me now.
Commenter Crackers – Location Any where but near a TV showing is ….. Date and time Mar 19, 2012, 01:05PM

Free to a good home. Sony 40″ TV
Commenter Sydney Fox – Location South Coast Woop Woop Date and time Mar 19, 2012, 11:07AM

The Shire…isn’t that where hobbits live?
Commenter Brendan – Location Date and time Mar 19, 2012, 08:31AM

every time I see something like this, that Mayan end times prophecy seems both more plausible and more appealing.
Commenter Roaster – Location Sydney Date and time Mar 19, 2012, 11:31AM

And the first and possibly best…

I’m emigrating to Pluto.
Goodbye and good luck.
Commenter pops – Location Melbourne Date and time Mar 19, 2012, 08:07AM

Quite a few commenters also mentioned a show here called Housos about people living in social housing, apparently with the expectation that they’ll be exactly the same kind of people doing the same kind of things. If that’s true then it really is time to arm up and run to the hills to prepare for the collapse of society – Housos was a satirical fiction portrayed by actors.

NSFW with the sound on.

You know copyright law’s got out of hand when…

When it’s being used to attack an endangered species. Not a biological kind of species, because they usually have a queue of people trying to save them. This is a pub, and so the great and good are mostly absent with the exception of Stephen Fry.

Actor Stephen Fry, who’s in the cast of The Hobbit films, has accused their American copyright holder of bullying an English theme pub called The Hobbit.

Lawyers for California-based Saul Zaentz Company (SZC) have written to the landlady of the Southampton pub, demanding it changes its name and remove all references to author JRR Tolkien’s classic by the end of May or face legal action for copyright infringement.

[...]

Fry, who plays the Master of Laketown in The Hobbit being filmed in New Zealand, says he’s ashamed of being in the film business.

His tweet helped boost the cause of the Save the Hobbit, Southampton Facebook page, which quickly attracted more than 13,000 followers.

He’s a funny bloke, Stephen Fry. Not funny ha-ha, though he certainly can be, but funny in that I really don’t know what to think about the guy. I once called him names because he defended political expense fiddling, but I’ve also blogged at how ridiculous it was that he had to cancel travel plans to Japan because of what someone else on QI said about one of the few double A-bomb survivors. In this instance, though, it’s very easy: I think Fry is absolutely right and I’d be fucking ashamed as well. What else can you think when a company who did not create the original works but have simply bought the rights is setting lawyers on to a member of a dying trade who’s highly unlikely to be able to afford to defend herself.

SZC are doubtless looking forward to a nice cheque from the movie studio behind the upcoming film, and this isn’t exactly promoting ‘The Hobbit’ (am I allowed to say that?) as a good brand. It’s tempting to suggest boycotting the film just so SZC, who are making money from doing fuck all I can see apart from buying the rights years ago – they’re not even making the fucking movie, for Christ’s sake – get less. I won’t because this isn’t the studio’s fault, but seriously, fuck Hollywood, fuck copyright abuse and fuck the parasites who live of this kind of thing. If a #BoycottTheHobbitmovie hashtag starts appearing regularly on Twitter I reckon it’ll be SZC who deserve the credit for it.

Baaaaaaaa

Click for linky

Some highlights, though the libertarian view I’ve quoted en bloc because it’s just too good not to. I’ve balanced this by cutting the nanny campaigner’s views to shreds. I’d intended to fisk it but it’s such total arse gravy that I just wanted to stick my head in the oven. Click the link if you want to read it in full, and remember to vote in the poll while you’re there.

THE WINEMAKER STEPHEN STRACHAN

WINEMAKERS understand why some people like the idea of health warnings on alcohol containers. It’s simple, consistent, gets the message onto the product itself and is easy for policy makers to implement and monitor.

The problem is that warning labels don’t change drinking habits. Instead they impose unnecessary restrictions and costs on producers and take a simplistic approach to dealing with a complex problem.

[...]

Let’s also be clear that our goal is to reduce harmful consumption of alcohol, not all consumption. That point is lost on those who refuse to accept that, while alcohol abuse is a serious problem requiring a serious response, moderate consumption is a normal part of a healthy lifestyle for those who choose it.

Stephen Strachan is chief executive of the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia.

THE LIBERTARIAN TIM WILSON

MANDATED alcohol warning labels don’t work and perpetuate the government-sponsored drift away from individual choice and responsibility that fuels alcohol abuse.

Our society is built on principles protecting our rights to choose our own life. That requires us to accept responsibility for our actions. Every time the government steps in we promote a nanny state that infantilises individuals.

Compromise on these principles requires evidence that good intentions will work. Alcohol warning labels don’t fit the bill.

We all know there are health consequences from heavy drinking.

People choose to drink alcohol; and sometimes it is to the point of abuse to get drunk.

If that is someone’s objective, they won’t slow down from a warning label.

The objective of such regulations is to de-normalise consumption, placing government preference above individual choice.

It is straight out of the regulatory playbook targeted at another product disliked by public health campaigners.

Publicly released sample alcohol warning labels include: ”drinking alcohol increases your risk of developing cancer” and ”drinking alcohol damages the young developing brain”.

The parallels are clear, despite contrary protests of campaigners.

On ABC1′s Lateline, a public health campaigner, Michael Daube, claimed his push for text-based alcohol warning labels was ”a mile away from the kind of grisly warnings that go with cigarette packs”. He continued: ‘These are informative warnings, but they’re not designed to put people off drinking completely.”

These statements are misleading and, as president of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, Daube knows it.

As the shock value of text-based labels reduced, their graphic nature increased, coupled with other tight regulations. We can expect the same for alcohol.

Warning labels are only one more step down the nanny state path of government directing behaviour.

No one disputes that alcohol consumption has consequences. We’ve known that for at least 2000 years. Anyone who has had a few glasses of wine within an hour has figured that out.

The right direction is to create a culture of responsibility where people are free to choose, make mistakes and learn from them – not look to government for permission when it fosters a culture of us not taking responsibility.

Tim Wilson is a policy director at the Institute of Public Affairs.

THE DRINKER LYSSA TROMPF

I’M NOT answering this question from the perspective of a girl who doesn’t want to know the truth; that the beverages she’s pouring down her gullet and into the glasses of others each weekend are harmful. I know the poisons of alcohol, I’ve experienced the hangovers, heard the stories, had the addicted family members.

Despite this, I disagree with a move to place warning labels on packaged drinks. As a long-time bartender and club promoter, I know drinks will be consumed with barely an eye on the container from which the sip-ee consumes. The drinker, with the dark of a bar or party in combination with that undeniable level of ”carefree” that stops him complaining about things like the bourbon he was poured when he asked for a vodka, isn’t going to notice the label.

On top of this come the very common licensing laws that have bartenders decanting most bottled drinks, and even some in cans, into plastic containers – so again the message is lost and this money is literally thrown in the bin.

[...]

Lyssa Trompf is a bartender and music promoter.

THE CAMPAIGNER MICHAEL THORN

… A government-regulated alcohol warning label regime needs to be rolled out alongside a comprehensive education campaign.

The government has taken the first step towards pregnancy warning labels by moving to mandate labels within two years. Now it must show strong leadership and implement a label based on the best available evidence, and one that people will notice.

Michael Thorn is the chief executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.

As a footnote I admit to some surprise that The Age published three views opposing the prototypical Nanny State solution of regulation and warning labels and only one wowser supporting it, though it’s kind of irrelevant when so many people are crying – over their Sunday evening dinner with a nice glass of Pinot – to be saved from the demon drink by saintly warning labels and the benevolent guiding hand of the government.

‘Kinell! If anyone wants me I shall be up a (very metaphorical) tower with a (similarly metaphorical) rifle.

Another downside of summary justice

I’ve blogged a few times on how Australian police forces have the power to impose summary justice on drivers at the side of the road in the form of impounding vehicles, and that my concern isn’t so much that I think it’s being abused as that it’s fundamentally a recipe for injustice due to its inflexibility. If vehicle is seen doing, or in practice is merely believed to have been doing,  X, Y or Z then it’s impounded for N days no matter what, even if the person whose car it is and who’s therefore being punished was not actually the driver. Hence we have the Perth doctor who lost the use of his Lambo for a month after police stopped and impounded it for speeding despite not even being in the car at the time, never mind driving it, and despite the driver later being found not guilty of the offence; we have the Mercedes dealership who lost one of their loan vehicles to Victoria police for a couple of days after they took it away from Lewis Hamilton for being a tyre smoking dickhead outside the Albert Park Grand Prix circuit two years ago, again without anyone representing the car’s owner being present let alone in control of it; and we have the Perth Mum whose car was impounded for a month after her son was caught driving it, yet again without her even being in the car let alone at the wheel.

This is sort of more of the same, but with a couple of important differences. First is that in this case Tom O’Sullivan, the person driving at the time the car was impounded, was the owner, which means that at least they weren’t punishing someone who wasn’t even there again. Sure, it’s still an over the top punishment to lose your car for all that time for “undue and excessive noise” (Seriously? Not even speeding, just “noise”? What’s wrong with a defect notice?) and there’s that thing missing from the process… oh, what’s it called again, now? It’s on the tip of my tongue…Kang Oh yes, a fucking trial. Anyhow, that’s by the by. The point is that in this case the person who was driving is the one on the receiving end, disproportionate or not.

But then there’s the second big difference, which is that in all likelihood Tom O’Sullivan will never see his car again because it was stolen from the impound yard. And to add insult to injury it took them a fortnight to tell him.

Police waited two weeks to tell the owner of an expensive high-performance car impounded under anti-hoon laws that his vehicle had been stolen from a towing yard.

Embarrassed police told PerthNow there had been a “communication breakdown” between themselves and AAAC, the private company it contracts to tow and store seized vehicles.

[...]

It was not until February 29 that Mr O’Sullivan received a call from East Cannington Police Station to say his car had been stolen from an impound yard at Kewdale on February 17.

How much communication is even needed here? Ring ring, hello officer, one of the cars we tow away and store for you has been stolen, please tell the owner … ring ring, I’ve very sorry sir, but there’s been a break in at the impound yard and your car was stolen. Two phone calls. Two! Okay, that’s a bare minimum but it’s hard to believe that it could take two bloody weeks to have broken the bad news to this poor guy.

“The keys to every car are in the impound shed are kept on the car…..they simply jumped the fence, walked in played with the electric gate and drove my clubby out the door.”

Or maybe not so hard to believe.

Police said it was the first time such an incident had occurred.

If the keys have been in the cars all this time that sounds like you’ve got luck to thank for that.

“This is a one off and very sophisticated operation possibly done by professional people,” Inspector Bill Munnee said.

Yes, jumping a fence, starting a car with its regular ignition key, opening the gate and driving away sounds like the level of sophistication that would have given even Danny Ocean a migraine.

Needless to say Tom O’Sullivan is less than ecstatic and wants compensation from WA Police. And fair enough – he’s insured but why should he have to eat the increased excess given it was in someone else’s care at the time? For that matter his insurance company could be forgiven for wondering why the police and/or the towing company shouldn’t pay all the costs if it’s true about leaving the keys with the vehicles.

But I think Tom O’Sullivan is missing a trick here. I think he should also be asking for the undue or excessive noise charge to be dropped and any fine he paid to be returned along with any compensation. Because I think it’s possible the police haven’t just lost his impounded vehicle, you see. They may also have lost their evidence that there was a reason to impound the car in the first place.

Treating adults as children

Do you ever get that thing where you’re reading something in the paper and a throwaway phrase not directly related to the article sends such a chill through your soul that the rest of the article is momentarily forgotten? I had one of those this afternoon reading a story about a woman who died in Queensland in a street luge accident. My bold:

A 50-year-old woman and mother, who is a respected IT executive in the Brisbane community, has been killed riding a luge board down Mt Cootha this morning.

The woman, who was travelling downhill at high speed, has gone too wide on a corner and tried to brake, losing control and sliding into a guard rail.

[...]

Acting Inspector Chris Pemberton said the woman was luging, or street-sledding, down Sir Samuel Griffiths Drive around 6.15am when she lost control of her board and crashed against a guardrail on the north side of the mountain.

Acting Inspector Pemberton said luge was a restricted activity and required a permit, and it is believed the two riders involved this morning had not been granted permission for the activity that led to the tragedy.

Now up to the last paragraph I quoted there I was thinking how sad it was that someone had died doing something they enjoyed and that 50 is no age to go and what a tragedy it is for her family. But then I saw the phrase ‘a restricted activity’ being dropped in there without comment, like it’s no big deal that being a restricted activity. Like it doesn’t matter because there are so many restricted activities what with there being so many things that are potentially lethal (unlike life itself, which is certainly and unavoidably lethal). Like our governments – and don’t think for one moment it’s just Queensland or Australia – believe we’re incapable of deciding anything for ourselves anymore, even to the point where they want to be involved in our diets in case we choose a cheeseburger over a salad. And like the infantilisation of adults in western nations hasn’t been going on long enough to mean that sometimes they’re half right.

That’s the greater tragedy in this article.: the unspoken assumption that there are restricted activities that us proles may only take part in with permission from the nannies, and that there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not saying that street luge is safe or sensible on public roads when someone’s just died doing it and the whole idea of lying on an oversized skateboard and rolling under gravity down a hill that fat Aussie cars and utes are coming up under power is sufficiently cuckoo to keep the Bavarian clock making industry going for decades. No, I’m not disputing the Acting Inspector (who sounds like someone employed by RADA with the power to fine people for hamming it up) when he says that street luge and public roads aren’t a good combo.

But lots of things aren’t a good idea. Are you telling me that there’s no other option but to have a list, no doubt growing all the time, of restricted activities? Clearly when it can affect someone else it’s not just down to the person doing the restricted activity, and in the case of street luging there’s the obvious question of what happens if they collide with another road user. The obvious answer is that someone whose head is at wheel hub height is probably going to come off worst and is quite likely to come off dead, but the other person may have damage to their vehicle or bike and may even kill themselves trying to avoid a luger, and I don’t know if many have third party damage insurance. But isn’t there tort law for that kind of thing, and isn’t there some very basic road law that covers the use of inappropriate vehicles? For heaven’s sake, if under Australian laws a bicycle is legally a vehicle when ridden on public roads how can a street luge not be? And if cyclists can be fined, and heavily, for not having lights or wearing a helmet – again, not having a helmet really affects only that individual but nonetheless places cycling in the restricted activities category – much less running red lights or disobeying other road rules, then why not someone on a street luge?

I really can’t see any reason why this kind of thing can’t be dealt with by something rather less Orwellian than keeping a list of restricted activities, but sadly I suspect that so many people will have read that article and not had that creepy phrase leap off the page at them and scream in their faces that adopting a simpler approach, for instance just prosecuting and fining the idiots and fuckups and letting people who can do something without affecting other risk their own necks as they choose, is probably a vain hope.

Terrifying

At Douglas Carswell’s:

The Treasury’s policy of “Continuity Brown” means we look set to borrow more money in this Parliament than Gordon Brown managed in 13 years.

I’ve long since stopped trying even to estimate the number of times I’ve said this, but this ConLib Cobbleition government really is as bad as Labour, arguably with the additional down side that if the whole house of cards has to come crashing down before it can be unfucked and rebuilt Labour’s incompetence in general and Gordon Brown’s lunacy in particular might have brought that day a little sooner. The Cobbleition seem to be there with the purpose of prolonging the agony in the hope of winning power and prolonging it for another five years, and for that I despise them.*

* Actually I despise them for quite a lot of other things, all of which they share in common with Labour. But tonight it’s just the insane profligacy.

And then they came for the… Jesus Christ, popcorn eaters? Is this right? – UPDATED

Okay, this is just specific subset of ‘And then they came for the salad dodgers’ really, but Jesus fucking Christ on a state approved dietary regime, popcorn? Seriously? Well, since Velvet Glove, Iron Fist is taking a look at a comment piece in the Independent entitled ‘Filling your face with popcorn is not a human right‘ one has to assume that it is serious. And so insanely authoritarian that even the normally restrained Chris Snowdon has seen red.

…it’s clear that many people find it hard to resist fatty food and cheap alcohol, which leaves government intervention the only serious option.

Well, let’s not be so hasty. Are we sure that all the other possibilities have been exhausted? Have you, for example, considered the option of fucking off and leaving us alone?

Quite. It’s a thorough fisking and not wishing to steal his thunder I recommend you go read the whole thing there. There’s little I can add except for two points. First, and I’m getting a bit personal here, if one person cannot be free to smoke or drink or eat popcorn then why should another be free to walk around with a face like a dropped pie? That’s not personal abuse aimed at Joan Smith – well, okay, actually it is really, but it’s not just personal abuse. The point is that if it’s okay to be so judgemental about certain people’s harmless habits then why not others? Why not be as judgemental about who they play hide the sausage with as you are about how many sausages they eat? And why not other aspects, even physical imperfections? It’s not like it hasn’t all been done before by various other bunches of mad left-wing authoritarians with hard ons both for improving health and for the cost to the public purse. You can sound the Godwin alarm all you like, I don’t give a rip. Because it’s fucking true, d’you see?

“This person suffering from hereditary defects costs the community 60,000 Reichsmarks
during his lifetime. Fellow German, that is your money, too.” – Wikipedia.

Secondly I’d expand on something else Chris Snowdon says:

Once we have accepted the healthist world view, no principled and logically consistent objection can be made against photos of rotten teeth on soft drinks. Those who welcomed the 85% sales tax on cigarettes are in no position to oppose an 85% sales tax on bacon. They can only wriggle and squirm and hope the puritans tackle their pleasures last.

And so, in a sense, I welcome the likes of Joan Smith and Jonathan Waxman for finally coming clean and alerting us all about what is afoot.

Yes, but I think they should also be welcomed simply for reaching these insane levels of wanting to regulate popcorn intake and put health warnings on bangers and mash (also a wank fantasy of another a revolting authoritarian cunt – the aforementioned Waxman – and also fisked at VG,IF). If something is going to derail their plans, if something is going to halt the marching of those nasty little boots, then it could well be when the owners of those boots strap them onto a surfboard before going and jumping a shark.

UPDATE – Oh, Jesus, this is just so fucking depressing. How can people understand liberty when it comes to people inclined to bump uglies with someone of the same gender but be unable to grasp the concept when it comes to everyone deciding what food to insert in the other end of their bodies?

Could it be simply that they’re not supporting gay marriage for reasons of liberty but because they’ve been they’ve been made to think they should, just as they’ve been made to think that the government should be doing all their thinking for them?

Baaaa. Baaaaa.

Tell me this isn’t a coincidence

First, there’s this:

A chief examiner at one of Britain’s biggest exam boards was recorded boasting about the lack of substance in the company’s tests – and their disbelief that it has been cleared by the official regulator.
Steph Warren, in charge of Edexcel GCSE Geography, said that teachers should pick her company’s exam because “you don’t have to teach a lot”.

And then there’s this:

Now I do realise that these are from different countries but the UK and US have quite a lot in common, including the modern sleb culture and persistent worries about dumbing down of edumacation – ‘dumbing down’ is an American phrase, after all. If you want a more UK-centric example of sleb-fascination as an alternative to news you don’t have to look far. Looking at The Daily Mail’s site now their sidebar consists of the following (and I really don’t blame if you don’t read every line of this):

  • Something about Sinead O’Connor getting married again
  • A story about the average weight of British women
  • Something about Anna Nicole-Smith, who is apparently still dead
  • Something about Angelina Jolie
  • Something about Jennifer Lopez
  • Something about X-Factor judges who are apparently called Gary, Kelly and Tulisa (who, who, who and who gives a fuck?)
  • Something about someone called Selena Gomez and Justin fucking Bieber
  • A story about a single father raising twins
  • Something by Jan Moir about someone called Caroline Flack
  • Something about someone called Kimberley Walsh
  • Something about someone called Irina Shayk
  • Something about Charlize Theron’s clothes
  • Something about someone called Chelsee Healey
  • Something about someone called Kate Upton
  • Something about Prince William’s wife’s clothes
  • Something about Declan Donnelly’s car
  • Something about Katie Price
  • Something about someone called Lea Michele
  • Something about someone called Kris Jenner being upset about something Daniel Craig said
  • Something about someone called Alicia Douvall
  • Something about something called a Kardashian (who are apparently not Star Trek aliens but real people… for a given value of real)
  • Something about someone called Amanda Seyfried
  • Something by Jizz Loans
  • Something about someone called Harry Judd
  • Something about Paris Hilton
  • Something about Beyoncé whatsername
  • Something about Twiggy
  • Something about Salma Hayek’s tits
  • Something else about that Caroline Flack person again, but not by Jan Moir
  • Something about a coat owned by Emma Watson, Natalie Portman and someone called Kristen Stewart
  • Something about someone called Anna Massey in something about a loony in Broadmoor
  • Something about someone called Amy Childs
  • Something about Ray Winstone being in something
  • Something about David Jason being in something
  • Something else about Angelina Jolie
  • Something about someone called Jacqui Ainsley
  • Something about Louise Redknapp’s shampoo
  • Something about Sacha Baron Cohen
  • Something about someone called Kara Tointon
  • Something about Venus Williams
  • Something about someone called Kelly Rowland and someone called Amelia
  • Something about something called JWoww (who seems to be a person but sounds like a cleaning product)
  • Something about someone called Jennifer Hudson
  • Something about someone called Kitty Brucknell
  • Something about a transexual trying to turn him/herself into Barbie (just more plastic, I assume)
  • Something about someone called Jennifer Garner
  • Something about one of Michael Jackon’s kids being in a film or something
  • Something about someone called Christine Bleakley
  • Something about that Grilled Bear bloke meeting Mrs Queen
  • Something about someone called Andrew Garfield
  • Something about someone called Pat Sharp and her daughter, and someone called Mark Wright
  • Something about Andie MacDowell’s daughter
  • Something about someone called Rachel Crow
  • Something about another one of the Kardashians
  • Something about someone called Kris Humphries
  • Something about someone called Dianna Agron and someone called Sebastian Stan (almost current affairs in that he sounds like he might be a country)
  • Something about Shakira
  • Something about someone called Coco Rocha
  • Something about Jessica Alba’s sprog meeting Santa
  • Something that might be about sexual abuse in Mormon communities, but might be more about some Mormon piano group
  • Something about someone who’s someone’s widow being angry with Alec Baldwin for whatever he did on that plane
  • Something about Michael Jackson’s doctor getting a prison visit
  • Something about that Katherine Heigl who used to be in Grey’s Annoying Me
  • Something about that Tiff Needell who used to be in the old Top Gear
  • Something about someone called Toni Collette
  • Something about Kirstie Alley’s current size
  • Something about Demi Moore’s daughter’s arse
  • Something about something called Chord Overstreet (who seems to be a person but sounds like gameplay from Guitar Hero) and someone called Emma Roberts
  • Something about someone called Demi Lovato (who seems to be a person but sounds like musical notation)
  • Something about someone called Jennifer Hudson
  • Something about that Amy Childs again
  • Something about someone called Selma Blair
  • Something about Jessica Alba
  • Something about Lady Gaga
  • Something about Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Something about Cheryl Cole
  • Something about Christina Ricci
  • Something else about Katie bloody Price
  • Something about handbags
  • Something about shops
  • Something about shopping
  • Something about Tom Cruise
  • Something else about this Demi Lovato
  • Something else about this Emma Roberts person having a tattoo like the one in that book about the girl with a tattoo
  • Something about bridesmaids wearing tuxedos
  • Something else about Tom Cruise
  • Something about someone called Kendra Wilkison
  • Something about someone called Kevin Federline
  • A story about a fake doctor doing bad cosmetic surgery in the US
  • Something about new Top Shop branches coming to your local high street, providing you live in Australia
  • Something about someone called Abigail Breslin
  • Something about someone called Danny O’Donaghue and Tom Jones
  • Something about Jersey Shore
  • Something about Brad Pitt’s hair
  • Something about someone called Ali Larter’s son
  • Something about cocaine and Charlie Sheen and someone called Brooke Mueller
  • A story about how Christmas drives everyone fucking nuts
  • Something about that horsey woman from Sex and the City
  • Something else about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
  • Something about a body scanner, but at clothes shops to help you buy stuff rather than airports to help delay you while you’re treated as a suspected terrorist
  • Something about some people called Arg, Mark and Dougie
  • Something about Lindsay Lohan
  • Something about Nigella Lawson
  • Something else about Emma Watson, but apparently not her coat this time
  • Something about someone called Adele
  • Something about money and divorces
  • Something that might be about sexual abuse in Mormon communities, but might be more about some Mormon piano group, and appears to be exactly the same something as the something about sexual abuse/Mormon pianists from earlier
  • Something about someone called Jeff Probst and someone called Lisa Ann Russell
  • Something about someone called Patrica Klanic whose husband is a soccer player and has been accused of rape
  • Something about Blur
  • Something else about Andie MacDowell
  • Something about Cameron Diaz
  • Something about David Cameron’s hair (for fuck’s fucking sake I’m fucking losing the fucking will to fucking live here)
  • Yet another fucking thing about this Caroline Flack and someone called harry Styles
  • Something about Prince Harry and his brother’s wife’s sister, except not really because they’re only lookalikes (that’s it – when I’m finished with this I’m going to book a holiday where I’m legally allowed to shoot things)
  • Something about Katy Perry
  • Something about that woman who looked all upset when Jeremy Clarkson said he wanted to shoot strikers and how she used to have a damp spot for Jason Donovan
  • Something about a model who’s going bald
  • Jesus H. Christ in a fucking mothership, something else about Tom fucking Cruise
  • Something else about a Kardashian, possibly one of the ones from earlier but I’m so far past fucking caring at this point I just asked Mrs Exile to hold a mirror up under my nose
  • Something about Prince Charles not understanding Peter Kay’s jokes or something
  • Something about Madonna likeing Prince William’s wife’s clothes
  • Something about someone called Gamu
  • Something about someone called Zac Effron kissing Michelle Pfeiffer
  • Something about Dawn French’s clothes

For those that skipped much of that list it’s 125 articles, 95% of which involve slebs, and close to 0% of which involve actual news. Okay, sure, they do put a lot of shite in the sidebar and more newsy news in the main bit, but even there Sinead O’Connor puts in an appearance along with one or two things about house prices (wouldn’t be the Mail without them, would it?) while the story about exams being made easier appears nearly halfway down the home page.

Coincidence? I find that hard to believe. Whether it’s just an effect of successive governments prioritising the appearance of educational success over actually educating or whether it’s a deliberate attempt to create Orwell’s proles, the undereducated 85% who were conditioned to have little or no interest in the world but were easy to manipulate. As always I tend to go with Hanlon’s Razor and assume stupidity and cupidity over conspiracies, but sometimes I do wonder.

Too bad

Click for linky

Cynthia Crawford, who worked as Lady Thatcher’s personal assistant from 1978, said the Hollywood biopic was likely to upset her friends and family.
She said the opening scenes of The Iron Lady, starring Meryl Streep, were likely to be particularly distressing as they show her suffering from dementia.

I have exactly the same thing to say to offence seeking right wingers as to their offence seeking left-wing oppos. There is no right to not be offended and there never can be such a right because I for one would find the imposition of it extremely offensive (and no, I’m not saying that to be bloody difficult but because I’m a fucking adult my skin’s thick enough that I don’t need some paternalist twats wringing their hands on my behalf). If someone says something you don’t like, don’t listen. If they say something you think is wrong then debate it. If they make a film that you think is unfavourable to someone you admire in that it portrays them with dementia, even though they really do have dementia in real life, then just don’t go and watch it. And so on.

This is not rocket science. Grow up and get over yourselves.

Questions to which the answer is "No"

Cick for linky

… the question arises, should the rest of the world take over management of Europe to prevent or mitigate disaster? Specifically, should the US Federal Reserve assume leadership as a monetary superpower and impose policy on a paralyzed ECB, acting as a global lender of last resort?

And for the answer I think we should turn to one of those well worn graphical illustrations of how deep America’s debt rabbit hole goes. This one is an excellent example from usdebt.kleptocracy.us. The first image shows the approximate US public debt by the end of the year if it was a piles of actual size $100 bills compared to quite a famous landmark, and the second shows that plus its unfunded liabilities.

If you’ve read the captions on those images (you can embiggerfy, or better yet go look at the original where you can see a similar representation of the US budget for 2011) you’ll have noticed that the first of those, the $15 trillion pile, is roughly the size of the Gross Domestic Product for the entire United States. In fact the captions are a little out of date – US debt will not now reach 100% of GDP by Christmas 2011 because that happened four weeks ago.

So actually the answer to the question of whether the US Federal Reserve should act as Europe’s lender of last resort is not just “No” – it’s “With what?”

Oranges are not the only fruit death kill weapons

I know people on supermarket checkouts haven’t been hired to think, just to swipe barcodes over lasers for hours at a time, and I do realise that must be pretty mind numbing but surely something’s badly wrong when staff lack the initiative to question anything the till tells them. F’instance:

A chef was stunned to find she was almost banned from buying two limes from a supermarket – because they could be classed as a weapon.

Can I just repeat that the woman is a chef. Have you seen the knife collection the average chef has?

They keep the bloody sharp too, and since they’re for professional use I’d bet they can carry them around without getting arrested so much.

Marisa Zoccolan, 31, popped into the new Asda supermarket close to her home in Wallsend, North Tyneside, to pick up some groceries, including the citrus fruits.
But when she tried to pay for them at the self-service checkout, the message ‘amount exceeded, authorisation required’ flashed up.
An assistant then came over and told her that more than one lime was deemed a weapon – because the citric acid could be squirted in someone’s eye.

Would that be the same stuff Asda sell in convenient quarter litre bottles for less than 50p?

Marisa, a self-employed caterer said: ‘I thought they were taking the pip, but the assistant told me the same applied to lemons.”

Nope, I think you’ll find that lemons are a special case, and Asda sells the ammo for those too.

Or is it just plastic ones with ‘Jif’ written down the side?

Thankfully for Ms Zoccalan, who lives with partner Jacqui Nicholson, 37, and dog Doobie, the assistant allowed Marisa to eventually buy both of the fruits.
‘Yes, they vetted me and let me buy them.”

Oh, God. Not “They thought about it for about half a second and realised that since the whole bloody thing was patently ridiculous the best thing to do was apologise and get a supervisor to come and override the till.” No, they fucking vetted her. What this involves we’re not told, but I’m guessing Marisa Zoccolan told them she was a chef and that limes were not weapons but ingredients – it not being all that hard to find recipes that include the instruction “take the juice of two limes” – and they then asked her for something that showed she was indeed qualified to handle such lethal objects and safely make interesting desserts out of them. If it was anything even vaguely like that then that’s barely any better than refusing point blank to let her buy the limes and sticking with the retarded belief that a small green citrus was significantly more dangerous than a zillion other things kicking around the average home or office.

And in a way it’s a shame they’re not really a practical weapon because I know the perfect place to become the world’s first citrus supervillain. I’d have got away with it if it hadn’t been for those Asda kids.

The Big Orange in Berri, SA. Photo by Bilby.

Tip of the Akubra to Nanny Knows Best.

A modern parable

Spotted by Fausty.

Once upon a time the government had a vast scrap yard in the middle of nowhere. Parliament said, “Someone may steal from it at night.” So they created a night watchman position and hired a person for the job.

Then Parliament said, “How does the night watchman do his job without instruction?” So they created a planning department and hired two people, one person to write the instructions, and one person to do time studies.

Then Parliament asked, “How will we know the night watchman is doing the tasks correctly?” So they created a Quality Control department and hired two people. One to do the studies and one to write the reports.

Then Parliament said, “How are these people going to get paid and administered?” So they created the following positions, two time keepers and three payroll officers, and then hired four human resources consultants and five health and safety executives.

Then Parliament said, “Who will be accountable for all of these people?” So they created an administrative section and hired fifty people including administrative officers, assistant administrative officers, legal secretaries and a chief executive on £250,000 per annum.

Then Parliament said, “We have had this in operation for over one year and we are £25,000,000 over budget, we must cutback the overall cost.”

So they laid off the night watchman.

True, that.

The whole Libya intervention thing doesn’t get any better, does it?

After what I had to say the other day the news that both sides in the Libyan revolution, civil war or whatever we’re going to call it, plus NATO, are going to be investigated for war crimes doesn’t really require much in the way of comment.

NATO forces are to be investigated by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes during the Libyan conflict.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the court’s chief prosecutor, told the United Nations yesterday that Nato troops would be investigated alongside rebel soldiers and regime forces for alleged breaches of the laws of war during the battle to overthrow Col Muammar Gaddafi.
As well as the original charges that Gaddafi and his close family perpetrated attacks on Libyan civilians, there are a series of complaints about the Western alliance and its allies in the National Transitional Council (NTC) under consideration.
“There are allegations of crimes committed by Nato forces, allegations of crimes committed by NTC-related forces … as well as allegations of additional crimes committed by pro-Gaddafi forces,” said Mr Moreno-Ocampo. “`These allegations will be examined impartially and independently by the prosecution.”

The only person who’s coming out of this looking better than before he went in is ol’ Muammar Gaddafi himself, and even that’s only because he’s more popular dead than alive. It’s not the only bit of good news for him either.

Charges against Gaddafi could be formally dropped when the court gets official proof of the former dictator’s death on Oct 20, the prosecutor said.

‘Could’ be dropped? Christ on skates, only ‘could’ be?

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