Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life still isn’t for me
Piracy and the recent … er… I’ve been tweeting and not blogging for such a long period now that this huge plank of lettered buttons in front of me and this vast empty square on the screen is making me feel…
*suffers panic attack*
*runs back to Twitter*
Ok, cement milkshake consumed, hardening the fuck up has commenced. Now, piracy and the recent attempt by part of the Australian Liberal Party to sack its leader and our Prime
Mentalist Minister. What has one to do with the other? Well, Game of Thrones. Okay, I admit the connection is a bit tenuous but bear with me here.
This is why we can’t have horrifying things
Some time ago I blogged on the news that the Australian nannies had recognised that the majority of people in Australia are adults and that many of those adults like to play computer games, and finally persuaded the Australian censors that bringing videogame classifications into line with other media was overdue. This was to be achieved with the addition of an R18+ classification by the end of 2011, although to no great surprise (though my general blogging neglect meant I didn’t write about it) it ended up being delayed again. But at the beginning of this year Australia finally allowed adults to buy adult themed computer games, with more than half a dozen games given R18+ ratings in the first two months of 2013.
Great, you might think. Okay, so there’s a few games that have been classified for adults when the content seems pretty much the same level as games that got MA15 ratings in the past, but since one of the objections to the absence of the R18+ category was that some games were being classified too low that’s probably not a real problem. Besides, if parents decide their younger teens are mature enough to play something that involves lots of gore and splatter and/or occasional tits and ass then they can just go buy the game for them and allow them to play under whatever supervision they feel appropriate.
Unfortunately the censor hasn’t been given its marching orders and is still able to refuse classification, and since all media must be classified anything that’s refused has been given a de facto ban. According to Wikipedia…
Content which may be Refused Classification include:
- Detailed instruction or promotion in matters of crime or violence.
- The promotion or provision of instruction in pedophile activity.
- Descriptions or depictions of child sexual abuse or any other exploitative or offensive descriptions or depictions involving a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 years.
- Gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of:
- (i) violence with a very high degree of impact or which are excessively frequent, prolonged or detailed;
- (ii) cruelty or real violence which are very detailed or which have an extremely high impact;
- (iii) sexual violence
- Depictions of practices such as bestiality, necrophilia or other practices that are revolting or abhorrent.
- Gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of:
- (i) activity accompanied by fetishes or practices that are offensive or abhorrent;
- (ii) incest fantasies or other fantasies that are offensive or abhorrent
Which is mostly pretty cut and dried, not to mention reasonable, but appears to give them a number of relatively subjective outs. Top of the list there is the term “offensive”, a meaninglessly subjective criterion since what offends me may not offend you and vice versa – I find it offensive that there are still laws being written in any nominally free nation that include concepts as fucking vague as “offensive”. “Gratuitous”, “exploitative” and “abhorrent” aren’t a lot better.
So I’m kicking myself slightly for feeling at all shocked that in the last week – within the same 24 hour period, in fact – two games aimed squarely at adults, Saints Row IV and State of Decay, have been refused classification and thus effectively banned in Australia.
The Saints Row 4 video game has been refused classification by the Australian Classification Board due to the appearance of an anal probe weapon and “alien narcotics” in the game.
“The game includes a weapon referred to by the Applicant as an ‘Alien Anal Probe’. The Applicant states that this weapon can be ‘shoved into enemy’s backsides’,” wrote the Board.
“The lower half of the weapon resembles a sword hilt and the upper part contains prong-like appendages which circle around what appears to be a large dildo which runs down the centre of the weapon.
“When using this weapon the player approaches a (clothed) victim from behind and thrusts the weapon between the victim’s legs and then lifts them off the ground before pulling a trigger which launches the victim into the air.
“After the probe has been implicitly inserted into the victim’s anus the area around their buttocks becomes pixelated highlighting that the aim of the weapon is to penetrate the victim’s anus. The weapon can be used during gameplay on enemy characters or civilians.
“In the Board’s opinion, a weapon designed to penetrate the anus of enemy characters and civilians constitutes a visual depiction of implied sexual violence that is interactive and not justified by context and as such the game should be Refused Classification.”
The Board also took a dim view of the game’s drug use, especially as it gives the player character extra abilities.
Or as the Board itself put it in a PR:
In the Board’s opinion, Saints Row IV, includes interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context. In addition, the game includes elements of illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards. Such depictions are prohibited by the computer games guidelines.
Okay, it’s pretty weird even for a computer game weapon and certainly not something suitable for the Candy Crush brigade, but it’s also cartoonish violence, isn’t it? And I can recall at least one alien anal probe based cartoon gag on the small screen.
I’m assuming this episode of South Park wasn’t banned in Oz, and if not I have to wonder how Cartman, with his gratuitous effing and blinding plus the fire farts and alien communications antenna unfolding itself from his arse, got a pass and the equally ridiculous alien anal dildo launcher weapon in Saints Row IV didn’t. Yes, drug use was mentioned, but even without getting into the case for legality there’s been plenty of drug use in movies and TV over the years. The Wire, Trainspotting, Pulp Fiction – did all these and others all not get an Australian classification? Don’t even bother to answer since I have them on DVD.
And then there’s the reasons for State of Decay, which I though sounded like a straightforward zombie shooter but is apparently also a non-stop drug fuelled haze.
The Classification Board’s report, obtained by news.com.au explained that it banned the game because it contains the option of self-administered drugs throughout, in order to restore players’ health or boost their stamina.
“These ‘medications’ include both legal and illicit substances such as methadone, morphine, amphetamines, stimulants, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, codeine, aspirin, ‘trucker pills’, painkillers and tussen,” the report reads.
“Of these, methadone, morphine and amphetamines are proscribed drugs and the term ‘stimulant’ is commonly used to refer to a class of drugs of which several are proscribed.”
/sarc How can I have been so silly? Of course an open world zombie survival game is going to reward players whose characters in game spend their whole time ripped off their tits rather than running from, hiding from and hacking up zombies. And naturally whenever this happens the player themselves feels the effect by the magic of, er, game magic. Come on, we’ve all puked in our own laps after making Shepard get shitfaced to the point of passing out in that bar in Mass Effect 2, haven’t we?
You didn’t? You know what, neither did I.
So we’re back where we were a few years ago: adult gamers in Australia having to wait around for the game to be specially ruined for the Australia market because the censors didn’t like something in it that in terms of the whole game was a really trivial point.
“State of Decay has been refused classification by the Australian Classification Board (ACB). We’ve run afoul of certain prohibitions regarding the depiction of drug use. We’re working with Microsoft to come up with options, including changing names of certain medications in the game to comply with ratings requirements. Whatever our path forward, it’s going to take a bit.”
Or, as several commenters wrote on both of The Age’s articles, people will just buy Refused Classification games abroad or online. And we shouldn’t be surprised if at least a few take the path of least resistance and get a pirated version instead of paying. But if the government and its regulators are going to make doing the decent thing too hard that will be the inevitable result.
All of which makes me think that if the censor refuses, for sometimes quite subjective reasons, to pass games that people want to play but, for obvious practical reasons, can’t stop people getting them elsewhere there isn’t much point in having a censor at all.
One for the Ambush Predator’s zoo
I’ve noted before that with the move online newspapers have found they have far more space than they used to, and on slower news days seem to have often given in to the temptation to fill up some of that vast space with, well, shit. To be fair they always did this with the dead tree editions before there was an internet and they’ll probably continue for as long as the cult of Sleb exists no matter what the medium. No major crimes, wars, political stupidity and/or ill advised affairs? No problem, just write half a page of repeated gossip about some soap actress and follow it up with a page and a half of speculation.
But with the move to the digital media newspapers came up with a brand new form of crap padding: images. Almost every article, no matter how mundane, must be accompanied by a picture. David Cameron made a speech? Quick, get me a photo of David Cameron in case everyone’s forgotten what the fucker looks like. And make sure it’s a picture of him talking in case the readership has forgotten what making a speech is as well. Shooting incident? Get me a picture of a gun right now, even if it’s the wrong gun. Yes, even if it’s not the right kind of gun. Warble gloaming and claims about the hottest decade on record? Get me an image about something hot… yeah, of course a stock photo of a hot girl will do just fine. I’ll be in the gents for ten minutes if anyone’s looking for me.
But where they often smash through the bottom of the barrel is with filler in the form of a pointless picture gallery, such as this one about a train crash yesterday south of Melbourne. Why? What extra information does The Age think we’ll get from 16 photos of train wreckage that we can’t already glean from one of the initial articles plus follow ups and video? Worst of all is when the gallery exists solely because of some minor entertainment story or for no apparent reason at all, because that’s when they seem to give the job to work experience kids, bored couriers waiting for someone to sign for a delivery and, perhaps in the spirit of Douglas Adams’ Megadodo Publications, random people who wandered into the building by mistake and haven’t found their way back out yet.
Why the fuck I even click on these sometimes is beyond me – I’m sure someone will say it’s an addiction, which may be the topic of an upcoming blog – but from time to time I do. And just now I spotted one that belongs in JuliaM’s collection of wolverines labelled as bears, deer standing in for moose, jaguarundis with ambitions of being jaguars, and infinitely interchangeable buffalo and bison. The gallery is about celebrities who look like animals, and in it Liza Minelli is somewhat unkindly compared with an emu.
Personally I don’t see much emu-ness about her in that picture but these things are necessarily subjective. The thing is I don’t see much emu-ness about the picture on the right either, and that might be because I’m pretty sure that it’s a fucking ostrich.
The neck of the Emu is pale blue and shows through its sparse feathers. They have brown to grey-brown plumage of shaggy appearance; the shafts and the tips of the feathers are black.
This would be bad enough if it was The Teletubbygraph and its dyslexic approach to zoology again, but in this instance it’s an Australian website stuffing up the identity of a bird that doesn’t exist anywhere apart from Australia, the coat of arms of Australia and, until he died, under the fake arm of an Australian entertainer. So for people everywhere chained to desks without food until they’ve made a pointless photo gallery for the online edition of some newspaper here’s a very easy way to tell the difference: ostriches are the ones with the teeth.
The retiring type
Props to President Hollande for mindless optimism in the face of harsh realities.
France’s new socialist government cut the country’s retirement age in the face of the eurozone’s deepening crisis, citing “social justice” to explain a move that goes against austerity efforts across the region.
Workers who entered employment aged 18 will be able to retire at 60 rather than 62, under the decree agreed at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
The decision follows pre-election promises from the new president Francois Hollande to reverse the rise in the retirement age introduced by his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010.
Actually, props to him for keeping an election promise. I thought politicians weren’t supposed to do that anymore? Perhaps it’s a French thing. And perhaps France is currently able to make it work. I know next to nothing about France’s economic situation or how this move will affect it, but I’m prepared to believe that at least in the short term the answers could be ‘not bad’ and ‘not much’ respectively. But assuming that France, like most western nations, has an ageing population how well does lowering the retirement age work in the longer term? As in the kind of time which will likely see the man who’s now the new president happily retired and writing his memoirs.
You see, the thing about ideals such as social justice is that mathematics really doesn’t give two fifths of a faint fuck about them, and so if the tax base isn’t there to support all a state’s retirees plus its other spending – and of course this is a point some countries have already passed – then it’s just not there. Borrowing to make up the difference will keep things going a bit longer but eventually even that won’t be enough, though by then you’ll have a lot of people expecting to get what they’d been promised years earlier and a lot more expecting the same or better when it’s their turn, and Greece is an indicator of how that could turn out.
Alternatively a state could take a different approach: leave retirement age to be sorted out between individuals and their employers.
Politics of the first resort
I wish I could say that I find the reaction of this politician surprising.
Google has refused to explain why it paid just $74,176 in Australian tax last year, despite making an estimated $1 billion in revenue from the Australian market.
The opposition communications spokesman, Malcolm Turnbull, said yesterday the growing digital economy was creating headaches for lawmakers. He said corporate giants like Google were able to generate billions in revenue within Australia, ”much of it at the expense of local media outlets”, but pay minimal tax by creating subsidiary offices in low-taxing foreign jurisdictions.
For readers outside Australia note that this is the opposition communications spokesman here – Malcolm Turnbull is a member of, and has even been the leader of, what persists in calling itself the Liberal Party in the absence of any real interest in liberty that I can see. To answer the implied question, it’s called the global marketplace, Malc, and this is no more than an indication that Australia’s tax regime is sadly uncompetitive. Instead of getting your cock in a knot about the relatively small dollar amounts of tax that Google and Facebook pay here why not consider why it is that these companies do not choose to pay the bulk of their tax in Australia. I’m guessing that it’s something to do with them preferring to pay tax at 15% in the Irish Republic than pay at 30% here.
Now it strikes me that we could piss and moan about it, we could talk about changing the tax laws and generally fight like hell to avoid doing anything as simple as matching or beating the Irish on tax rates and the general desirability of running large parts of an international business here. We could do that… Or we could start by just looking at the dollar value Google paid the Irish taxman at Irish rates. Because if it’s more than $74,176 – and I reckon it will be substantially more – it would seem to suggest that you’d get more out of them by making Australia a more tempting place to pay tax than Ireland.
You see, Malc, and it really pains me to have to explain this to a member of a party whose website says (my bold):
* In … a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative
* In government that nurtures and encourages its citizens through incentive, rather than putting limits on people through the punishing disincentives of burdensome taxes and the stifling structures of Labor’s corporate state and bureaucratic red tape.
* In … the encouragement and facilitation of wealth so that all may enjoy the highest possible standards of living, health, education and social justice.
In short, we simply believe in individual freedom and free enterprise…
You see, Malcolm, if taxes are a necessary evil then in this modern world where companies can establish their operations wherever it’s most profitable nations are in competition for taxpayers, and the more successful governments in that competition may not be the ones that take the biggest slice of their GDP pie but the ones who realise that a smaller slice of a much larger pie is actually a greater quantity of pie. The Australian Tax Office, and it seems both main parties in Canberra if Malcolm Turnbull’s an indication, are more concerned with the size of the government’s slice than the size of the pie, and as long as that holds I expect Google, Farcebook and others will continue to choose countries such as Ireland as their preferred nations in which to pay much of their taxes.
Not just the UK where the main political parties are largely alike. Why is being competitive the last resort even of a nominally liberal politician?
Dear “captain ranty”…
Let me be very clear that that’s not – repeat not – Captain Ranty the libertarian and lawful rebellion advocate, but “captain ranty”, someone who seems to have got his cock in a knot with the true occupant of Ranty Barracks for some reason I’m not remotely interested in finding out about and to such an extent that he’s using his ever diminishing time on this planet to leave comments in the Captain’s name and with a copied gravatar with people on the CR’s blogroll:
Thanks for your contributions to my blog in the past, i have decided i do not want any more of your comments as they are not in the style and have the content i require in order to advance “lawful rebellion” in a new direction.
Presumably the hope is that the recipients of these comments will get the hump with the Captain and remove him from their blogrolls, although I have to say that if so then it’s an overly optimistic hope given the piss poor impersonation. There were a few things that shouted ‘impostor alert’ and one in particular made it certain, but even before looking at those there’s the fact that species as yet undiscovered on the bottom of the oceans can probably manage a better Ranty impersonation.
Anyway, I digress. I just wanted to make it absolutely crystal clear that this post is to “captain ranty” rather than Captain Ranty.
Dear “captain ranty”
I don’t know who you are, I don’t know what your beef is with Captain Ranty, and I honestly don’t give a remote fuck about it. I do care that rather than debate whatever it is with the Captain at his blog or your own you’ve taken your row to other people’s. While I can’t speak for anyone else it’s not welcome here.
Why? Well, let me put it like this. Imagine this isn’t the internet but the real world. Now imagine that I came and stood outside your home with a loudhailer yelling all the reasons I think that Andrew Demetriou is a dickhead, or even yelling that I am Andrew Demetriou and I don’t ever want to see you anywhere near me or anything to do with me ever again. Probably you’ll be wondering who the hell Andrew Demetriou is but almost certainly you’ll be wishing the tool with the loudhailer at your gate would go away and tell it to someone who cares because nobody appreciates someone else’s fight taking place on their lawn.
That, buddy, is what you’re doing. You’ve come here claiming that you’re someone else and asking me not to contribute to their blog. If you want to use me to get at someone for you at least have the fucking courtesy to offer to pay me for it. I’d turn you down flat but I’d have a little respect for you. Not as much respect as I’d have if you just blogged why you think the Captain is wrong about whatever the fuck it is you’re at war with him over, but a little. Not knowing what what arcane aspect of lawful rebellion is involved I may or may not agree, though I’d be lying if I said that doing what you’re doing doesn’t prejudice me against you because you seem to prefer it to making a convincing argument. But far more likely I still wouldn’t know about it because, at the risk of repeating myself, I’m not fucking interested.
So, paraphrasing Mr Wolf, pretty please with sugar on top… just fuck off.
The Angry Exile.
Not what I would prefer to be blogging on a Saturday afternoon, but necessary. As a result of this the comments policy has now been updated. The class of comments I will remove as soon as I’m aware of them is now as follows:
- Spam, whether porn or otherwise
- Anything blatantly libellous and which some fuckwitted legal system somewhere will hold me responsible for even though someone else actually said it
- Impersonators of other bloggers/commenters attempting a bit of social engineering
P.S. I won’t delete “captain ranty’s” comment on the last post as it was made before this addition to the comments policy, but I will tinker with it a bit. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
P.P.S. Or maybe I won’t seeing as I’ve just noticed that on top of everything else the knobber’s misspelled the word ‘captain’ in the name. I’m not sure I should fuck with it when I can’t improve on the original.
P.P.P.S So much for me thinking that it’s a falling out over some fine detail of lawful rebellion. From one of the Captain’s tweets it seems he’s just another wowser.
@Sir_Olly_C He is just another anti-smoking ringpiece. They are incapable of anything remotely clever. Sorry for the disruption.
— Captain Ranty (@CaptainRanty) March 2, 2012
Right-on Dave strikes again
Cameramong’s latest brain spasm, it seems, is to force companies to appoint women, showing once again that he has absolutely no understanding of the concept of freedom.
David Cameron warned that the UK’s inability to exploit women’s full potential as entrepreneurs was “failing our whole economy”.
Okay, this may be true, and I think we can take it as read that in an economy the size of Britain’s there will inevitably be a number of positions occupied by men which could have been done better by one of the female applicants for the job. However, that doesn’t mean that the answer is quotas because it’s just as certain that some of those positions could have been done better by one of the male candidates. Or someone who didn’t apply for the job at all because they were happy where they were. You see, Dave, companies try to get the best person for every job but if they were always successful then nobody would ever be fired, would they? Sometimes they get it wrong and very often the best person isn’t available anyway, but in any case if someone isn’t free to screw up then they’re not free full stop. Why not just let those companies run by misogynistic morons who insist on hiring less capable males over women because of the CEO’s rampant vagina-phobia carry on doing so, and let those who aren’t fussy about applicants’ sex hire those more capable women who were rejected by the vagina-phobes? In the long run the latter should become more successful and the former are more likely to go tits up (pun very much intended).
The Prime Minister is attending a summit in Stockholm to learn from countries such as Norway and Iceland, which have successfully introduced quotas to increase the number of women in boardrooms.
The wording of this sentence is extremely interesting. It says that they’ve successfully introduced quotas, not that the introduction of quotas has been an economic success, and since on a list of countries ranked by recent growth Norway and Iceland are both well behind even the poor performing UK I’m interested to hear what evidence there is that it’s made any bloody difference at all. If it was me, Dave, I’d be thinking of going to summits to learn from, oh, I don’t know, maybe the top four or five growing economies – Qatar, Singapore, Paraguay, India (yeah, that’s right, India which the DFID insist still need UK aid) and Taiwan – rather than countries ranked at 159 and 180. Out of 183. Christ’s sakes, Norway and Iceland aren’t even in the top five for Europe, though to be fair neither is the UK or anyone in the Eurozone, and the only EU member in the top 5 is Bulgaria – draw your own conclusions.
Government figures suggested that Britain’s slow progress was costing the economy more than £40 billion in lost potential each year, roughly equal to the defence budget.
Ah, and more corporate red tape will help, will it, Dave? Ideological state interference with the actual running of a business will do more than clearing the way for the ones with the best business models, which I’d anticipate would probably include not giving a rip either way about the contents of senior employees’ underpants, to become successful? It’ll help more than reducing the tax burden on both businesses and their customers so that turnovers and profits can go up, businesses can expand and more jobs can be created? It’ll help more than doing something about the estimated £65 billion annual cost to the economy of Britain’s continued EU membership?
Mr Cameron said the Nordic-Baltic Summit would generate ideas for how Britain can “help women become entrepreneurs and take up leading positions in business”.
Electing a government that stopped screwing up the economy would be a terrific start. Just my 2¢.
A government policy paper, presented to the summit, estimated that if female entrepreneurship reached the same levels as in the US, “there would be 600,000 extra women-owned businesses, contributing an extra £42 billion to the economy”.
And ignoring the possibility, which I’m sure is vanishingly remote, that this figure of £42 billion (wasn’t it £40 billion a minute ago and what made it increase by 5% in a few paragraphs?) wasn’t just pulled out of someone’s arse at the Treasury, is the extra rate of female entrepreneurship in the United States because businesses there have federally imposed quotas for hiring females in senior positions along the lines you’re thinking of, Dave? Because if it’s not and the Obamarised US has no such law – which this 10 week old Forbes article suggests is the case – then it’s all pretty irrelevant, don’t you think?
Dave, you really are the most clueless twat Britain’s had for Prime Mentalist since… erm, well, since the last one.
Doomed. We’re all doooomed.
iPads are for pussies
Both my readers (hi, Mum) will probably be aware that I’m a bit schiz when it comes to Apple. I’ve been using Macs for years and will always tell the technophobes who are constantly asking me, an infrequent Windows user, how to do something on their PC – usually fix it – that half their problems would go away if they moved to OS X. “Oh, but I’m comfortable with Windows, I don’t want to have to learn how to use OS X” is the usual reply, which is fine except for two things: firstly, they clearly haven’t learned how to use bloody Windows if they keep ringing me up and asking me why their computer’s stopped doing something it should and whether I think it’ll work again if they de-frigg the hard drive (the honest answers being “How the hell should I know” and “Unlikely, but why didn’t you just try that before calling”); secondly, the learning curve to use OS X to the same standard as they can use Windows is a hell of a lot shorter than the one they coped with when learning Windows, not least because they’re familiar with such things as desktop icons, folders, contextual menus, aliases (i.e. which is Apple for shortcut) and what a mouse is just from using Windows.
But that doesn’t mean I’m an advocate for Apple themselves. I like the products – actually just some of the products, but I’m getting to that – but I can still despise the company. I think they’ve swallowed their own hype that “Macs just work” to the extent of being unable to accept that even Apple’s quality control will let the odd dud through, they’ve refused to honour warranties because their computers hate passive smoking too (I really wish I was making that up), and they seem to have an almost constant copyright/trademark war over every teensiest thing, especially if it begins with a lower case i, and with almost everyone (an Aussie supermarket with a logo that’s kind of like apple peel – really, Apple). This leaves me with a foot in both camps, that of the Apple haters and that of the Mac fanbois. I’m just glad they’re not separated by a picket fence or I’d be very uncomfortable even on tiptoe. As it is I’m quite comfortable telling anyone who’s a casual user and less than keen on doing the computer version of oil and filter changes and setting the plug gaps that they’d probably have less aggro if their main desktop computer was a Mac, but also that they should hand over their money through gritted teeth because I think that the Apple themselves are a bunch of bastards.
And I’m probably less of a fanboi because of the Apple products I don’t like. I’ve said for years that Apple are unable to make a decent mouse with a gun at their heads, and though that’s less true these days it’s a fact that the mouse that came with my current Mac, the machine I’m using right now, has never been out of the box because I’d had one before and thought it was shit (to be fair the $75 Logitech mouse I was using and loved died last week, and they don’t bloody make it anymore). Nor am I enamoured with their mobile devices, partly because my own row with them was over a MacBook Pro, partly because I’m becoming sufficiently middle aged and farty to be content with a mobile phone that makes phone calls, and partly because despite my inner gadget head wanting one I still can’t work out what I’d actually use an iPad for. Plus I’ll always think of this when the name’s mentioned.
Above all I can’t work out why the hell I’m supposed to drop between nearly A$600 (for the very basic one with no 3G and little storage) and nearly a grand for the top end on something that’s less of a computer than a $300 netbook. Okay, because I don’t have children obviously I’m not able to appreciate its <sarc>obvious function of being a toy for toddlers</sarc>, but I do have pets and they’re about as bright as a mildly retarded toddler. And if you think I’m buying them an iPad then you are simply fucking insane.
If you thought you’d seen everything as far as iPad applications go, you haven’t seen the RSPCA’s cat app.
Designed for techno-cats who already have everything, it features games for felines who would have enjoyed playing with a ball of yarn in the days before computers.
Are you serious? Look, I love cats and in particular I love my cats (who didn’t wake me up at 6.30, unlike another quadrupedal member of the household), but I’m realistic about things. I can tell you with certainty that “felines who would have enjoyed playing with a ball of yarn in the days before computers” would still enjoy playing with a ball of yarn today, and they will tomorrow as well. As will all cats for, at a conservative estimate, the next few million years. Many long term cat keepers (the old joke is that dogs have owners and cats have staff) will tell you that they’re capable of real affection and even very limited two way communication once you’ve learned to “speak” cat. But most of us will admit that they can’t even grasp the concept of a mirror, much less a computer, so to talk about cats who would have enjoyed playing with a ball of yarn before the computer came along is anthropomorphising a bit much.
There is even a virtual ball of yarn…
… not to mention a game where puss has to protect cheese from invading mice.
This is… oh, let’s just have a look at it, shall we?
So basically, the aim of this game is for the cats to protect the cheese…
You sure? You checked with the cats? Because I suspect that as far as they’re concerned the aim is to make the funny flat prey things die.
Little Simmy here’s just 8 weeks old, but she’s obviously the cleverest. It only took her less than a minute to work out if she’s double taps the app it’ll go to the main menu.
She’s done no such thing. Cats move quickly – ever heard the expression ‘cat-like reflexes’? – and both fight and catch small prey by rapid batting with their front paws. Little Simmy’s not double tapping shit, she’s still just trying to make the funny flat prey thing die.
Moggies can also pit themselves against other cats to work out which one is smartest.
No they can’t. Look, they’re no more able to conceptualise who or what is smart than they are computers. Unless you’ve taught them elementary maths all this guff with the high scores is little more than a random number generator. This isn’t for the cats – like the whole thing, it’s really for the
Okay, I know, I’m being a bit unfair. I do realise that nobody’s suggesting that you buy an iPad just for the cats, though I’m sure someone with more money than sense will, and I did see that the app is free. Clearly it’s aimed at cat staff who are also already iPad owners and who work for cats who spend most or all their time indoors, which isn’t unheard of in a country where there’s a genuine feral cat problem and, as a result, places where there are cat curfews and even bylaws restricting cats to the property. But Jeez, we talk wistfully about the long(ish) gone days where we made our own entertainment and then stick several hundred bucks’ worth of electronics in front of an animal that by nature is predisposed to entertaining itself. Cats, even house cats, will be as happy with some relatively inexpensive toys from the pet store and even cheaper ones like scrunched up envelopes and Post-Its as they will with a computer game. Most of all they’ll be happy with another cat around for when they want furry company and enough room to bugger off and be alone when they don’t, a sunny spot or two to sprawl in on nice days and a selection of warm spots when it’s shitty outside. That’s pretty much the list of priorities and I don’t think they’d be a lot different even if cats were brighter than they are.
If they were the smartest species on the planet I reckon they’d have invented central heating before the wheel and have email that’d let you know what the other cat’s arse smelled like when they clicked send, but maybe they’d also appreciate the effort that’s gone into an app like this. Maybe even little 8 week old Simmy would double tap it for the menu. As things are… nah, ours will be happy with being fed, petted and looked after plus a selection of $5 toys, bits of scrap paper and all the bogong moths they can catch. And I’d bet the same could be said for cats in general.
Quote (and other things) of the Day
From, not surprisingly, The Daily Mash.
Ed Miliband cost Britain the best part of a billion pounds yesterday.
The Labour leader’s brave, popular stance against RBS bonuses led directly to the bank losing £900m of its value as investors reckoned that if Ed Miliband was calling the shots they may as well buy shares in a mangled badger.
Which is ironic given that’s pretty much what his old boss, the cyclops with the faecal Midas touch, did when he spunked away nearly £40 billion of taxpayers’ money on buying a company that had the thick end of two fucking trillion in liabilities.
And on a closely related subject, which I might have titled ‘Twat of the day’ if I was making a separate post of it, I see that Fred the Shred has been de-knighted, stripped of his honour for services to the banking industry nominally because of his disservice to the banking industry, but I suspect mainly because it’s politically expedient to give him a good kick in the balls despite the fact that he committed no actual crime. Or perhaps, given that he’s been the target of this kind of thing on and off since Harriet Harperson suggested three years ago that the ‘court of public opinion’ (which is entirely different from Harperson herself and other champagne socialists) had decided his pension arrangements were unacceptable despite being in a legal contract, it’d be more accurate to say that it’s still politically expedient to kick him in the balls. I can’t think of any other reason why, as the Tele points out, Goodwin has been singled out for being no worse than a big business fuck up while others, some of whom have committed real actual crimes, have been allowed to keep their gongs.
Lord Jeffrey Archer, disgraced peer and best-selling author, he spent time at her majesty’s pleasure for perjury in 2001, having lied about sleeping with a prostitute.
Ex-HBOS chairman Lord Stevenson was awarded a CBE in 1981, a knighthood in 1997 and was made a peer in 1999. Like Goodwin he played a significant role in his bank’s near-collapse in 2008 and apologised to the Treasury Select Committee for his over-reliance on wholesale funding markets.
Lord Taylor of Warwick, the son of Jamaican immigrants who rose from humble beginnings to become a barrister and a member of the Upper House, was exposed by the Daily Telegraph for swindling £11,000 in fraudulent MP expenses out of the taxpayer and subsequently imprisoned, yet retains his seat in the House of Lords.
Labour peers Lady Uddin and Lord Paul, and the crossbencher Lord Bhatia all received lengthy suspensions from the House of Lords after wrongly claiming thousands of pounds in expenses yet retain the right to re-ent
(EDITED TO ADD: Captain Ranty reminds me in the comments of the case of Lord Ahmed who killed someone in a car crash on the motorway shortly after sending text messages from the driving seat. As I recall there was no real evidence that texting brought about the crash and he was not actually charged with causing the death of the other man, but his lordship was convicted of dangerous driving and sentenced to several months. The Captain points out that he served only 12 days and that he too still has his title.)
To which, it could be argued, we should add the names Sir Howard Davies and Sir Callum McCarthy, chairman of the Financial Services Authority from 97-03 and 03-08 respectively, though perhaps not Jonathan Adair Turner, Baron Turner of Ecchinswell, the FSA chairman since May 2008, who’s getting some stick in various news website comments but really wasn’t there in time to have prevented anything. But we could certainly include the various Sirs, Dames, Honorables, Right Honourables and so on in parliament and on whatever committees approve these things who all so thoroughly applauded what ex-Sir Fred was doing that they put him up for and awarded him the fucking knighthood in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of ex-Sir Fred and in fact I’ve called him some unpleasant names and expressed hope that he fall down some stairs and land on his testicles, but if all this really is, as it’s being said, for bringing the honours system into disrepute surely the spotlight should rather be on those who give out honours to idiots, fuck ups, crooks and inconsequential slebs.
In fact never mind his bloody honour, such as it is these days, you don’t need to look far to find people saying he and other bankers should be arrested and jailed. For example, this comment at Huffpo
They should throw him in the tower of London for a good number of years as well.
Good. Now put him in jail.
… and this one commenting on the same article
He should be locked-up in prison.
And best of all, this one from a web forum.
in my opinion, taking away the knighthood means nothing. This bastard should have been tried in court and sentenced to jail.
he basically played around with other people’s money while paying himself a high salary and then when $hit hit the fan, asked for a 45 billion bailout. Im sorry, but if someone steals 10 dollars from another, he is called a criminal and can get a prison sentence. While this idiot stole billions, and people are arguing about some stupid title that means nothing.
Dump this idiot in prison…then we can discuss his knighthood.
Oh, and also one I spotted a few months back by Jon Snow, long serving journo and former law student.
Veteran Channel 4 newsborg Jon Snow blogs on the eeeevil bankers, and specifically asks why they haven’t been arrested, and by extension I imagine charged, tried, found guilty, purged, flayed, subjected to the Pear of Anguish and possibly also the Banana of Discomfort and the whole Fruit Salad of Much Inconvenience, and finally hung, drawn, quartered and buried in five limed graves each. But that may just be the impression I get.
Click for linky
The publication of the Vickers report into British banking reform sparks the question why the UK has so far failed to prosecute a single individual for his or her misdeeds during the financial meltdown of 2008.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that maybe no actual crime has been committed. Negligence, probably yes. Gross stupidity, almost indubitably. Financial irresponsibility and incompetence of such breathtaking degree that it’s comparable with what some governments spunk away every week, for sure. And some of that may be tortious, but is there evidence that an actual offence has been committed and is there enough of it to make a successful prosecution likely? Because if the answer to both is no, Jon, there’s your reason why.
Okay, he might not have finished his law degree but you’d hope that the course would have covered the tiny detail that people need to be at least suspected of having committed a crime before they can legally be arrested, and if not that he might have picked up the fact at some stage during a long career in journalism or even just by being a fucking adult. I’m reasonably sure I was aware that you couldn’t be arrested, Constable Savage style, for bullshit offences made up on the spot by the time I was in my late teens.*
All of this cockwaftery about arrests and prison stretches have the same thing in common – a complete absence of any mention of an actual crime Goodwin or any other banker (with the notable exception of Bernie Madhoff, whose fraud was genuine but actually had two fifths of fuck all to do with the financial crisis) is alleged to have committed. Y’know, something that’s a real offence that you can be arrested for and charged with, something with a statute somewhere to make the action a crime and give legal power to punish it, that kind of thing. Christ, only one even mentions those inconvenient formalities of courts and trials, but even then the fact of imprisonment seems to be treated as a priori and the writer even goes so far as to specifically accuse Fred Goodwin of theft. Yeah, and I suppose my bank steals the money I voluntarily deposit in it too, right? Or is he perhaps referring to the money given to RBS in the bailout? If so then it should be pointed out that as far as Goodwin and RBS were concerned the exchange of funds was again entirely voluntary, and of course shares, for whatever they ultimately turn out to be worth, were given in return. The only involuntary part, the only bit where money was forcefully taken from people, was the bit where money was taken from taxpayers so as to be thrown, by Gordon Clown and his Darling Alastair, at RBS and other banks. It’s more like stealing ten dollars before meeting someone who’s lost their own money on the horses and owes a lot more, and then giving him the ten dollars as well as stealing another twenty and going out to steal again the next day – the guy who owes all that money may be an idiot but he’s not the thief.
Let me repeat that vital point: whatever else that guy is, he is NOT a thief.
How the fuck can apparently reasoning adults not understand this? Do I really have to get
medieval Reformation on their asses and quote Sir Thomas More again? Or shall I go with the misquoted version I used when fisking Jon Snow last year?
They’re eeevil bankers who are greedy, stupid and negligent.There’s no law against that.
So now you’d give the bankers the benefit of law?Yes. What would you do?Cut a great road through thelaw to get after the bankers?
And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.
Why is it so difficult for some people to grasp that when you start demanding that people be thrown in gaol without worrying about whether they’ve broken a law then those doing the throwing and demanding are in as much trouble as the actual throwees?
* Actually the Constable Savage sketch might even be part of the reason I was aware of this.
That didn’t take long
Back at the blog for only a couple of days and already someone has destroyed another cognitive dissonance meter.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, [Permanent Secretary for Tax at HMRC] Dave Hartnett says that householders have a duty to ensure that other people do not evade paying their share of tax.
Paying a builder or cleaner in cash, allowing them to evade VAT or income tax, will result in even deeper government cuts to public services, he says. People who contribute to the cash economy cannot then complain about austerity measures, he adds.
“Tax provides the funding to run the country: hospitals, schools and everything else,” he says. “Every time someone pays cash in order not to pay VAT, the nation gets diddled.”
Oh, is that so, Dave? Well, do tell us how you’d describe the state’s regular spunking away of billions of pounds on unnecessary shit, necessary shit that’s overpriced and doesn’t work properly, quangos, clampdowns on victimless crimes, subs for EU membership and more recently the use of taxpayers’ money to prop up private companies which through their own mistakes should naturally have gone to the wall. Plus the interest payments needed because all that on top of the cost of actual public services comes to rather more money than you can raise through tax anyway.
And while you’re scratching for an apt description – you could use ‘diddled’ again though I’d suggest ‘fucking ripped off’ – you might also tell us how you’d describe coercively taking half of what people earn, much of it before they’ve even get their own hands on it in the case of those on PAYE and under threat of violence for those doing returns, with no better justification than a vague assertion that you’ll be handing it over – minus that needed for your ≈£160K salary and £1.7M pension that you’ll be retiring several years early to enjoy, natch – to people who at best have vague good intentions to spend it in ways that benefit those from whom it was forcefully taken. ‘A sophisticated way of demanding money with menaces’ is one oft repeated description, though I don’t see what’s wrong with something like ‘legalised theft’. No doubt you’d call that ‘duty’ (badoom tish!) as well, eh, Dave?
Advanced calculus for journalists – UPDATED
Police said a 32-year-old Derrimut man was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital with fractures, while a 27-year-old Taylors Hill woman and a Richmond man and woman – both believed by paramedics to be aged 19 – were transported to the Sunshine Hospital with minor injuries.
An Ambulance Victoria spokesman said another man who was injured refused to be treated.
It doesn’t equal 5 either.
UPDATE – Lesson #2, from Professor Bucko of the Department of Inadvisable Cervid Power Modifications:
First up we have the story of an unexpectedly low turnout of Christmas shoppers this weekend.
Immediately following that we have the story of an unexpectedly high turnout this weekend.
Hopefully these aren’t too difficult for the subeditors to keep up with.
Seeing the light
|Click for linky|
Shoulder mounted laser? Wow, like the fucking Predator. We’ll show those little pond-life estate scum next time they get a bit fighty, eh lads? What they gonna do when we’ve each got a las… er… oh.
Expect laws restricting the purchase of welding goggles and mirrors to be around the corner, affecting only the law-abiding, non-rioting majority who won’t simply steal them when they want them.