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Don’t whine at me, Argentina

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Who knew that rather than just being a member of an archaic institution and a somewhat dysfunctional family as well as a well known but strategically insignificant member of the armed forces, Prince William was in fact a one man invasion force capable of toppling a country of 40 million people, storming the place all by himself with more weapons on his back than a first person shooter videogame character, in the bare space of a month and a half? Not me, I had no idea at all.

Can’t think why – I mean just look at the fucker

Oh, wait, no, he’s just one guy, the war’s been over for just slightly longer than he’s been alive, and it’s not a even a combat posting – there not being any actual combat – but a few weeks of SAR duty.

The Duke, a Flight Lieutenant with the RAF and second in line to the throne, will complete a tour of duty as a search and rescue helicopter pilot on the islands in February and March.

So why…

April will mark the 30th anniversary of the start of the Falklands War and the arrival of a member of the Royal Family at such a time risks inflaming the already tense relations between Britain and Argentina.
La Nacion newspaper in Buenos Aires reported that there was “ample evidence of discontent” at the Argentine Foreign Ministry over the announcement and said the Argentine government believes the move adds to London’s “aggressive attitude”.

Oh, please. The British Prime Minister hasn’t got the balls to tell a diminutive snail muncher to get to fuck and has only ever shown any signs of being at all intimidating when it comes to his own MPs, and even then he delegates the job to the fucking whips. I’ve stepped in more aggressive puddles.

Look, Argentina, what we have here is a fella whose real job doesn’t become available until his gran and his dad cark it and in the meantime is trying to feel useful. Fair play to him for that, because I’d say his dad’s as much use as a glass cricket bat in the hands of an Australian batsman. So why spoil it for him?

Sheesh! Talk about mountains out of molehills.

Another one for the Ambush Predator’s collection

Yesterday a Perth teenager said she’d been raped whilst out jogging, and today

A 15-year-old girl who claimed to have been raped while jogging in Mt Claremont has now confessed to police that it was a lie.

Why? Just… why? I can sort of understand, though certainly not condone, crying rape after a drunken shag or one night stand that’s regretted the morning after, but from the sounds of what the ABC say she simply made the whole thing up. Unfortunately the made up description of the made up man who made up attacked her certainly fits the description of a lot of men who are actually real.

Police launched a search on Monday for a sexual predator, who the girl claimed was 20 to 30 years of age, fair-skinned with long light brown hair and had an Australian accent.
Police appeared hesitant about the claims but still issued a description to the media, which included that the assailant wore “long dark pants and a dark hooded jacket”.

Okay, the lie came out before anyone was arrested but that description would have put thousands of men in Perth in the frame, and there’s every chance a few of them were in Mt Claremont and wearing dark trousers and a dark hoodie. And if one of them had been dragged in what would she have done then? Confessed that it was all a lie? One would hope so but since these things are known to escalate it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that she’d have said: ‘Yes, officer, that’s the man.’ Okay, because he’d done nothing the charges would eventually be dropped or at worst he’d be found not guilty – well, probably – but even an overnighter in the cells along with the associated DNA collection and so on is enough to taint a life.

Senior Constable Naomi Smith yesterday said the girl was still being interviewed about her claims and police were still waiting for a forensic analysis from the girl. [Forensics? Possibly what prompted the admission that it was made up? – AE]
Today Senior Constable Smith said police were now following up the circumstances of the report with the girl and her family

Which I hope means they’re considering charging her. It may not have gone very far and it didn’t, thank goodness, actually point the finger at any individual, but all the same this could so easily have been an horrific experience for some innocent but unlucky bloke. I’m not normally one to support prosecutions on the basis of what could have happened, though in practice the police in most jurisdictions don’t seem shy about the idea and I doubt West Oz is an exception, but even if nobody is arrested after a false rape claim it is not a victimless crime. I’m not talking about the unquantifiable effect it has on real rape victims, though I’m by no means saying that that doesn’t happen. No, the victim is everybody who pays for policing since the police themselves have had their time wasted, and because they have much better things to do than follow up on crimes that have simply never happened – an excellent example of which is coming up tomorrow – I don’t have a problem when they charge people for it.

Happily this shouldn’t be too hard to put a dollar value on for when people admit they’ve spun the police a fantasy story. So, what’s the going rate for some initial forensics, a Senior Constable for about a day or so and I imagine several other officers for at least several hours?

Could have been put better – UPDATED

‘Live blog’? Really? You don’t think that perhaps that’s an unfortunate phrase to use?

And has this obsession at The Teletubbygraph with live blogging got a little out of hand? Of all the things you could live blog is the death of a well known businessman, or even the death of anyone at all, the right sort of event? It lends itself to ongoing stories, so floods, earthquakes, political party conferences and other disasters are all suitable for live blogging. But this? How’s that work?

1.55 Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has died.

2.20 Steve Jobs still dead.

2.40 He’s still dead.

3.05 Still dead.

3.20 The Daily Telegraph has spoken to medical experts who have confirmed that not being alive is a very common symptom of being dead.

3.30 Steve Jobs persistently not alive at this point.

3.45 Still not alive.

For Pete’s sake, Tele, you’ve probably got obits for every other famous name all teed up somewhere ready to go the moment they drop off the twig, and sometimes before. Why not just dust it off, update it and click publish? The only reason I can think of for live blogging this is that Steve Jobs’ death has been falsely reported a few times by reputable sources as well as hoaxers (that one was only last month), so there’s an outside chance of an update to the effect of ‘It’s just another bloody hoax’ around half five or something. Since even Apple’s home page is showing a tribute photo and ‘Steve Jobs 1955-2011’ – which The Tele must know as they’ve used it too and they said where they got it – this seems a lot less likely than parts of the MSM still trying to work out this new media thingummy.

As for Steve Jobs himself, whatever I’ve had to say about his company (and there’s more on the back burner) and some of its products, his death is still sad. I’m not joining this trend for mourning people you’ve never met, but the guy had a family and 56 is no age at all these days.

UPDATE – Oh, Christ.

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Who cares?

So Sarah Palin, someone I’d probably agree with on several issues while at the same time suspecting she may be a little mad, has supposedly had some Bolivian marching powder while on a snowmobiling trip, smoked marijuana at college and had a one night stand with a professional basketball player. And to that I’d say simply, so what if she has? Seriously, so what? Who died as a result? Nobody. I don’t see the attraction but coke has gone up enough noses, particularly noses of fairly wealthy people and certainly some politicians, without doing any appreciable damage to much beyond their own septums that I really can’t see what difference one more or less makes. As for weed, many students past and present have smoked it, and again some will end up being politicians. Do you really believe Bill Clinton didn’t inhale? Really? Or Obama? In fact we can be pretty certain he did because when asked he said he thought inhaling was the point. Ah, but the basketball player. Scandal, sharp intakes of breath, miscegenation, ruined marriage… oh, give over. If it happened it was before she married and in this day and age should be a non-issue, not to mention it’s bugger all to do with anyone other than the people concerned. Come on, if she’s supposed to be as mad as a crate of badgers there ought to be something better than that to put everyone off the idea of her being president. Except there’s not really a lot of point since she’s not running for president, so the question stands: who cares?

In other news, son of former Labour leader so useless he couldn’t even defeat John bloody Major is accused of being gay by wife’s enemies who are trying to prevent her becoming PM of Denmark.


This isn’t news, it’s fucking soap.

The yPad

I’m still struggling with this bloody gadget. Not struggling with using it because I haven’t got one, but struggling to understand the point of the bloody thing. On the one hand it’s like a smartphone that’s way to big to fit in your pocket and can’t make ordinary phone calls, and on the other it’s keyboardless laptop with a shite OS and not much processing power. Maybe I’ll undergo some Damascene conversion one day but a year and a half or so on the iPad and its spawn still look to me like the worst of both worlds. And now it turns out there’s yet another reason for not buying one: the office won’t fucking leave you alone.

A survey of 300 Australian IT workers and their bosses has found employees were frequently using their own smart phones and tablets to send work emails.
Thirty-four per cent had sent work emails while on holidays, surprisingly, the same amount that had sent a work email from public transport.
Other private places where work emails were being sent were the bed, for 23 per cent surveyed, and restaurants, for 21 per cent.

So as many as two fifths could have ended up working when they were either getting lucky (come on, they were awake for a reason) or lining it up? Fuck that.

Nineteen per cent had worked from a place of worship.

Not the confessional, surely? Even though there’s an app for that (yes, really) the Vatican have put the kybosh on the idea. But still, if you’re the sort to go to church what the hell are you doing answering office email, and if you’re not the sort to go then you’re either there as a tourist or at a ceremony for someone else, i.e., a wedding, christening or funeral. And in any of those cases you’re there on your own time and what the fuck is so important they can’t leave you alone ’til Monday?

More to the point, this isn’t iPads and iPhones provided by companies but the employees own devices. My boss knows where to get me every single waking moment, even when I’m parking my breakfast, but then I’m him so he’s got an excuse. When some poor bastard doesn’t have the upsides that go with that and is always getting his ear bent anyway via a device he’s forked out the thick end of a thousand bucks of his own money on it’s just insane. As I said before, fuck that.

Learn to be out of touch, guys. If anyone wants me leave a message.

Oh God…

… no, please, no.

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Here we all were worrying, albeit only very occasionally, about the zombie apocalypse and none of us had any idea it would include TV shows that had died and been buried as decently as possible. Most depressing of all is that 5.1 million people had nothing better to do than watch it, though it’s possible that some of the stricter churches might think this is actually good news as it strongly suggests that masturbation has gone out of fashion. And who are the slebs these 5.1 million people settling down to watch on this three month freakathon? So I’ve been to the CBB site and half inched the publicity thumbnails without reading the bios, and oh dear. Either I’m getting middle aged or the barrel bottom has been scraped all the way through the wood and out the other side.

list_size_pamelabach Pamela Bach-Hasselhoff – no idea, but I recognise half her surname.
list_size_sallybercowSally Bercow – Mum I’d Like To Shut The Fuck Up, Please.
list_size_amychildsAmy Childs – like Pamela Bach-Hasslehoff, no idea. But more so.
list_size_paddydohertyPaddy Doherty – nope, no idea who he is either.
list_size_jedwardJedward – gestalt talent show also ran with annoying bog-brush hairdos.
list_size_kerrykatonaKerry Katona – incomprehensible Scouse tabloid darling and Iceland ad queen.
list_size_lucienlaviscountLucien Laviscount – no idea but with that name I’m assuming porn star.
list_size_darrenlyonsDarryn Lyons – again, no idea.
list_size_tarareidTara Reid – er… nope, sorry.
list_size_bobbysabelBobby Sabel – no idea either.

So that’s precisely three people I’d actually heard of, or four if you count the gestalt creature Jedward as two, and of those three Jedward is the only one whose celebrity, if that’s even the right word, seems anywhere near deserved. Sally Bercow is famous only for being the wife of a the Squeaker of of the House of Commons, and the only reason a lot of people know him is because of the knives that were out for his predecessor over the parliamentary expenses scandal. Seriously, hands up who’d heard of Sally Bercow say three years ago when Gorbals Mick was Speaker and her hubby was just another Tory backbencher? Anyone? No? As for Kerry Katona, I know the tabloids always seem to be talking about her and she’s been seen now and then on British TVs going ‘Dat’s whoi mams go tah Iceland’, but to be honest I’m not entirely sure what she did that made her well known enough to be chosen to front ad campaigns for the Britain’s 9th most popular supermarket chain.

So, one mostly famous for being famous, one mostly famous for being married to someone who got a job most people normally don’t give a shit about at a time when for a brief period a lot of people did temporarily give a shit, seven people who I have absolutely no clue about at all, and the gestalt creature with stupid hair which did moderately well in some talent contest or other despite the massive handicap of having the gestalt creature attached to its roots. Could there be anyone in the country who genuinely knew of each and every one of them three months ago? I wouldn’t put money on it.
So, a note to Channel Five: the word ‘celebrity’, guys, please just buy a fucking dictionary and look it up. And a note to the five million people who watched: be honest, masturbation probably would have been a more productive use of your time, wouldn’t it?

P.S. Mrs Exile thinks Kerry Katona was in some girl band or other. This rang a bell and eventually we realised that she was in Atomised Kit-e-kat. We are both deeply ashamed that it turns out that we knew this, though Mrs Exile claimed mitigation because she doesn’t know who Sally Bercow or the Jedward being is.

What the hell is Obama talking about here?

Seriously, can someone who speaks American make sense of these remarks on the subject of America’s worrying debt level and the possibility of the country losing it’s top credit rating?

“…we might as well do it now – pull off the Band-Aid, eat our peas.”
“They’re in one week and they’re out one week… You need to be here. I’ve been here. I’ve been doing Afghanistan and bin Laden and the Greek crisis. You stay here. Let’s get it done.”

The words are English and I can understand them just fine, but the some of the sentences have left me confused. Don’t mistake this for snooty English criticism of how the Yanks use the language. They can use it any way they want or not at all as far as I’m concerned. If they want fanny to mean arse and bum to mean tramp and all those other little difference that’s more than fine by me as I need only learn a little vocabulary rather than a whole language, and like lots of others I watch enough American TV that I’m pretty confident in my ability to get by. But this time, and admittedly it’s not unprecedented when it comes to American presidents, I just don’t know what the fuck he means.

Sorry, but I did not order the late night snack or the earthquake

I’ve not had to argue hotel bills too often in my life. I avoid the ridiculous phone call rates by using my mobile, I won’t use the internet for much the same reason unless it’s included, I steer clear of the minibar and its stupidly overpriced contents, where possible I pay as I go for food and drinks, and it should go without saying that there’s no way I’m going to watch their ruinously expensive porn channels. That way when I’ve checked out I’ve not had to do much more than make sure the number of days I’m being billed for is right and that the room service bill is for what I ordered and nothing more. On one or two occasions I’ve had to argue that I didn’t get a paper or a club sandwich that they thought I’d had but generally I’ve been able to glance at hotel bills, pay and leave. Simple as.

I’ve never been stayed in an hotel when it got hit by an earthquake either, but it would never have occurred to me that that would be a reason not to pay even for things I did have.

A guest trapped in Christchurch’s earthquake-hit Hotel Grand Chancellor for nearly four hours feels “kicked in the guts” after being billed $NZ300 ($A232) (£155, US$247, €173, blahblahblah I’m not doing it in Harry Potter money, I’m just not – AE) for his stay.

Well, if the earthquake had prevented him from staying there then fair dos, but as we’ll soon see that’s not exactly how it was.

A New Zealand man and his wife, who declined to be named, were trapped on the central Christchurch hotel’s 22nd floor and escaped hours later by braving collapsed staircases, smashing down doors and crawling on to the roof of an adjacent car park.
He received a $NZ300 bill from the hotel for his two-night stay, including an $NZ18 parking fee for a car that took more than two months to recover.
When the February 22 quake struck, the couple were watching a movie for which they were billed $NZ15.20, in their 25th-floor room.

Okay, so since they were in their room watching a movie and their car was parked downstairs I think it’s safe to say that they’d checked in. In fact they were very checked in.

The couple have been unable to get an insurance payment for the $NZ15,000 worth of luggage stuck in the hotel because their insurer says the belongings could still be recovered.
They had so much luggage because they were about to move to Australia.

Now it might be a bit shitty of their insurer to deny a claim for possessions that are stuck in a damaged building to which there is no public access and which has been scheduled for demolition, but that’s not the hotel’s fault. And if all that stuff is still in there then I think it’s safe to say that the couple were in the hotel and using its services – parking, TV entertainment (hopefully not some Roland Emmerich disaster porn – that’d be unreasonably cruel of life) and accommodation – at the time.

So what’s the problem with being billed for it? The earthquake trapped their possessions and their car, and presumably they didn’t see the end of the flick, but it didn’t erase time and undo their use of the hotel facilities. It was desperately bad luck compounded by an unsympathetic insurance company (is there another kind?) but the hotel company was unlucky too – they have a large and unusable building sitting there and the expense of demolition and reconstruction to look forward to, and their insurers are probably no more cuddly than that of the unnamed couple. The earthquake wasn’t the hotel’s fault and about the only thing you can criticise them for is the time it’s taken to send out the bill. Even then…

[Grand Chancellor Australia and New Zealand group manager Frank Delli Cicchi] said many guests who checked into the hotel just before the quake had received their bills in the past few days because the company had only recently gained access to the accounts, which were trapped in another quake-damaged building in the city.

So they weren’t actually able to send out bills until recently. I’m finding it harder and harder to understand why it is that the hotel shouldn’t get paid for the services it provided up to the point the quake hit. Look, if I ordered a pizza and set it down on the table before something happened that meant we had to abandon it and get out of the house, can I ring up the pizza company and expect my thirty bucks back? Of course not – they’ve provided what I asked for and whatever happens after that isn’t their problem. Anything they do do is out of the goodness of their hearts and not because I have any kind of right to expect it. So how can this be different?

Even more confusingly the hotel group has caved in and waived some of the bills, including that of the anonymous couple, but not all of them. Whether they are billing guests or not now depends not on whether the guests used the hotel’s services but on whether they were inside or outside when the earthquake happened.

[Delli Cicchi said he] did not know how many trapped guest had been sent bills. Guests who were not in the hotel when the quake struck were still expected to pay their bills, he said.
“They legitimately incurred costs.”

And how did people who were in the hotel somehow not legitimately incur costs? How does whether a guest pops out for a stroll around Christchurch or kicks back and watches a film in their room alter whether they’d legitimately incurred costs? Do I have to lick a special kind of toad to make sense of this or something?

And above all, why are those who’ve been let off having to pay for goods and services they did in fact receive and consume still complaining?

After contacting New Zealand’s The Press, the man received a phone call from a Grand Chancellor accountant who said the bill would be waived.
The man said he was still upset.
“I would never send something like that.”

I can’t think why not. If I’d done some work for someone and was about to send him an invoice when I heard that a tree had fallen on his car written it off I’d be sympathetic to the poor guy. I’d probably phone him first and talk to him about it, maybe see if he needed a little flexibility on my part. But if he told me that he thought I shouldn’t get paid at all I’d say I hope his chooks turn into emus and kick his dunny down as well.* I’d feel for the guy and I’d try to help out if I could in his time of misfortune, but whatever had happened, even if he’d been in the car and narrowly escaped unharmed, it wouldn’t undo the work I’d done. Even if he’d been killed shouldn’t somebody still settle up with me? Estates still pay outstanding bills, after all.

Is it heartless of me to think that victims of bad luck and even quite serious natural disaster should still settle any debts they owe? And if not does it make a difference whether the bill comes from a small business or an international company with a dozen or so large and luxurious hotels?

* An Australian curse I came across not long ago. You’ve got to love what Aussies do with the language.

That smartphone tracking thing

I’ve probably mentioned before that as far as phone apps go I feel that the absolute best app ever is the Talking To People Far Away Without A Landline app, which has been around since the days when mobile phones were actually called car phones because they were so big you needed a fucking car to cart the bloody thing around. I’m happy that the march of progress has shrunk things to a more convenient pocket size, improved the battery life and generally made it able to do more things. Mine plays a game about a snake that gets longer as it eats, which is a feature that I’m immensely indifferent about and only one of literally some features that the phone came with and which I never, ever use. But that Talking To People Far Away Without A Landline one is so good that when the phone eventually carks it I will be demanding that its replacement can do the same thing. Text messages are occasionally handy so I’d quite like the new one to do those too.

Clearly then the smartphones tracking their owners thing is an issue that has largely passed me by. Yes, I know that if they really want to the powers that be can get a rough idea of where my old ‘dumb’ phone is, and therefore where I am too, but I feel it’s pretty clear that smartphones are likely to make the job that much easier. More accurate too if they’re GPS enabled, which I believe most are, and sneakily programmed to report on their whereabouts to 10m from time to time, which they’re probably not but potentially could be at any time by way of an OS update or something. And you just know that the sneaky bastards have probably covered themselves with a clause in the EULA that almost everybody overlooked because they were too keen to get the wrapping off and play with the new shiny to read 49 paragraphs of impenetrable small print. My feeling is that if this is objectionable then a smartphone is probably not for you, and if you’re concerned even at the possibility for being tracked anyway then buy a second hand dumb phone and turn it off most of the time or do without one altogether. If you bought one anyway and now don’t like it because it spies on you I will buy it off you. I’m prepared to go all the way up to five dollars, which I realise is a shit price but it’s about what the thing is worth to me personally.* Someone else will probably give you a lot more if you’re wanting to get rid of it.

So not being a smartphone user (I LOLed at Max Farquar’s ‘spyPhone’ video but to me it’s always been more whyPhone) it never occurred to me that this tracking and data logging might actually be there as a consequence of some users wanting their smartphones to be able to do dumb things (en bloc from the von Mises blog)

My initial reaction to the alarmist news that the iPhone collects (but doesn’t use unless you tell it to) information about your whereabouts is: no kidding. I mean, people WANT their iPhones to do this so that they can use them as GPSs and so that they can update their status on FB with a “check in.” It’s not my thing but it is what people want to do. There is probably good reason to make that information more secure but truly this is not a flaw but a feature, and generally a response to customer demand. In any case, it is not the case that Steve Jobs knows the location of all the opium dens you have been visiting and plans to blackmail you with that information.

A final note: 10 years ago, the idea that you could hold in your palm a device that would reveal your precise whereabouts and also permit you to broadcast this in an instant to millions of people of your own choosing would have seemed like impossible science fiction. Now that we have it, the punditry class screams in outrage.

Unsurprisingly some of the comments say that this is downplaying the issue but I think there’s a good point being made here. I don’t get the appeal of social networking either (anti-social networking, now that might interest me) and most of the features look like solutions desperately looking for problems, but I can see that there are people who do want their phones to automatically let their friends know where they are. God knows why you’d want this because if my Facebook account is any guide nearly all your friends will be people you’ve never met or even heard of, and in any case how hard is it to just tell the handful you really do know that you’re going to the pub if anyone wants to meet you for a beer? You’ve got a fucking telephone right in your hand, for Christ’s sake! I don’t understand it but then the appeal of soap operas are a mystery to me as well, yet I’m prepared to accept that lots of people do actually want their minds melted by whatever implausible thing has happened in Summer Bay today. That’s supply and demand and people are currently demanding that their phones do as much of their live’s heavy lifting as possible, which is why you’ve got services like Foursquare and Google Places being launched. People really are signing up for this shit so inevitably the phones have to have the capability, right?

That being so is it really so much of a shock that companies are looking at using this info to make a quid by sending targeted and location specific advertising at the users? Not like nobody saw this coming, is it?

Extra irony points for all the personalised advertising going on in a movie scene bagging personalised advertising

Irritating? Yep. Creepy? Potentially. Worrying? Well, when you can vote with your feet and sell your phone (seriously, I am good for five dollars for a used iPhone) or not buy one to start with unless they come without all that extra crap that the media is currently busy scaresturbating itself into a frenzy over, I’d say it’s not all that worrying. Especially when it turns out that while it is enabled by default, which is annoying but since hardly anyone would enable it voluntarily it’s also exactly what nearly all of us would do if we were in the same position, you can still actually turn it off. You won’t read that in the Mainly Fail smartphone spying scare stories, but then they’re trying to make a quid selling advertising too and leading an article about it with the solution to the problem is no more in their business interests than making a phone which allows personalised ads but has them disabled by default.

It’s not a conspiracy, folks. It’s just a reminder that the free market ain’t perfect, it’s just free.

* If it’s an iPad I’ll pay $4.50. 

Facetweeting – UPDATED

Bill Sticker wishes he could get rid of it and Longrider doesn’t get it at all, but I wonder if it’s because social networking, while it may come in handy now and again in places like China or Iran, is mainly used in our nominally free nations by bullshitters. At least it seems to be in Australia.

The Telstra survey showed:
ALMOST half of 18- to 30-year-olds admitted using the Facebook Places “check-in” feature – which allows mobile users at a location such as a bar of cafe to let others know where they are – to make themselves look good
ONE in 10 regularly fake where they are in a bid to improve their social status
A THIRD of Gen Ys confessed to downloading quirky iPhone apps designed to be seen by others rather than be actually used
THE same number admit to claiming Facebook or Twitter posts passed on to friends as their own in an effort to appear clever
ALMOST 70 per cent of those surveyed believed their friends use Facebook Places and status updates to appear cooler than they really were.

To paraphrase Rick Deckard, I didn’t get the appeal before and I twice as don’t get it now. I’ve never understood what Facebook offers that I can’t already do with things that came on my computer when I bought the thing, and if those exploding children 10:10 people from last year. As for Twitter, it’s probably being a smart phone refusenik that’s stopping me from tweeting, but even if or when I finally cave in and get one I still can’t see me joining in. If I’m not at the computer I probably haven’t got time and if I am then why tweet when I can just blog? And above all there’s that character limit – how is a medium which restricts you to 140 characters any good for an in depth discussion of, say, these lyrics?

And that’s before the news that half the time it’s the online version of the fish that got away.

UPDATE – this isn’t the only reason I’m a smartphone refusenik, but it is one of them.

Here comes another paywall.

What is it with Rupert Murdoch? Is he determined to make sure I only get the Grauniad/Fairfax side of things? I’m not saying he’s unbiased because The Australian seems mostly right of centre to me, but if I look at both publications, smash the contents together in my mental LHC (Large Horseshit Collider) and filter things through a layer of common sense I reckon I get something that can at least pass for neutral reporting in poor light. Rupes, however, seems determined that I should have only one point of view, and bizarrely it’s not his.

The Australian will charge people to read its website some time this year, but won’t say how much it will cost or exactly when it will become the second major Australian newspaper to install a paywall, after Fairfax’s Financial Review.

Hey Rupert. Want to know how much Times/Sunday Times content I’ve read since it went behind the wall? Exactly what was reprinted in The Australian. Want to know how much content from The Aussie I’ll read when the wall goes up?

Go on, guess.

Your idea is that I should be prepared to pay for quality reporting, or so it was said of The Times‘ paywall, and I would. I’d pay for extra content that interests me, for example, and sometimes I buy the weekend papers for that reason. But why would I pay for general reporting that is no better than what’s freely available elsewhere just because the editorial slant tends to balance that of the Fairfax mob? It’s just not worth it to me.

So what I’m going to do instead, starting from when you through the paywall up, is spend a lot more time at the websites of The Age, Canberra Times and Sydney Morning Herald. And I’m going to click a lot of the ads while I’m there, because why fucking not? If that’s where you want me looking they might as well make a few bob from it.

New Labour, Cobbleition Tories, very few meaningful differences.

I’ve said this already often enough but Douglas Carswell spells it out loud and clear today.

… From where I’m sitting, the problem is not that the Coalition is failing to be traditionally Tory. Rather it is that ministers are not being radical enough. Yes, the talk is bold, but how much has public policy really altered since May?

Cutting the deficit? Ministers say so, but not the maths. Borrowing is up. Like pretty much every other post-war government, this one seems to be using higher taxes and inflation to solve its debt problems, rather than seriously curb state largesse.

Political reform? All those interesting ideas, mooted at the height of the expense scandal, including recall and open primaries, seem forgotten. Instead we’re to have a referendum on AV – which was in neither Coalition party’s manifesto.

Bonfire of the quangos? It’s gone out.

Localism? Maybe. But what about the localising the money?

Great Repeal Bill? Try googling it.

Europe? This afternoon the government will announce we’re opting into yet another EU proposal on criminal justice. Plus ca change.

Welfare reform? Full marks. But is this a change of policy or an acceleration of the reforms Labour’s James Purnell piloted.

Defence? We carry on cutting what we need, while spending on ruinous contracts we can ill-afford.

New politics? Same sofa.

Quite, and since Douglas Carswell is a Conservative MP and presumably better able than most to see what’s going on in his party it’s a fairly safe bet the rest of us who thought the new government was depressingly similar to the old one didn’t imagine it. But it does raise one intriguing question.

Why the hell is Douglas Carswell still a Conservative when the party isn’t?

Here we go again.

What the fuck is it with Unite? I couldn’t care less about British Airways, not least I’ve flown them and they were Bloody Awful, but can’t the union see that they won’t get better as a company or as an employer if it’s crippled and bankrupted through strike induced losses? I really can’t add anything much to what I said here and here apart from this: if I was job hunting in the UK at the moment I’d avoid any industry where Unite have a big influence. Not because I’m anti-union as such but because ‘Pyrrhus‘ Woodley and his bruvvers and sistahs seems to think that actual destruction of the company is an acceptable price for victory over the bosses.

Wills and Kate.

Don’t know ’em so don’t care, and please get it off the front pages as quickly as possible. I don’t have anything against either of them but since I don’t know them personally I care about their engagement roughly as much as I do that of any other couple that I’ve never met in my life. The fact is that the sum change of this event on the lives of everyone in Britain is zero but it’ll be covered in depth in print and eventually on TV right up to the altar, and you just know that if the tabloids could get a long lens shot of the wedding night root then some of them probably would. Benedict Brogan has pointed out how the Elder Twin is likely to get some political benefit from it without actually doing anything much other than offer his congratulations:

The Prime Minister led the rejoicing this morning for the royal couple to be. “A great day for our country,” he said. What he won’t add is “and a great day for me”, not only because he is too polite to think in such crude terms, I’m sure, but because we can’t be entirely certain that there will be political advantage for the Coalition and the PM. But we should consider what benefit there might be for a government when the heir to the throne gets married. It will be a moment, like the Olympics no doubt, for national jollity and mutual back patting. Weddings generally are… In what will be a year dominated by cuts and austerity, we will be grateful for an interlude of celebration. And it will be unsurprising therefore if an uplift in the national mood doesn’t benefit to some extent the government and the politician presiding over this moment.

He’s probably right, but surely I’m not the only one close to punching the floor in abject rage at the shallowness of so many fellow Brits.

“Royal wedding, hooray!”

Wake the fuck up, people! Britain is still buggered financially and run by a collection of idiots, liars and authoritarians (often embodied in a single person). One royal wedding or a thousand of them won’t change that. If you love the royal family and think this is wonderful news, fine, but for Christ’s sake treat it as what it is: a momentary distraction. It won’t change your lives one iota and if you’re daft enough to let the euphoria of the event and months of non-stop media obsessing over it overwhelm any urge to demand the Cobbleition actually fix a few fucking things you’ll eventually come to regret it.

Blogging Marie Celeste.

And that seems to be that, because everything else has been deleted. Again. It was there yesterday and vanished mysteriously at some point in the middle of the night for me, by the looks of it. What did I miss? What is the significance of five days and what was it too long for? Is she moving the blog to another host? Is she hanging up the keyboard? Is this temporary or permanent? Do I change the blogroll? Why the mysterious deletion of the posts that would presumably have shed light on all this? Did I miss something being on AEST? To be blunt, what the fuck’s going on? Because from here it looks like the posts have all abandoned blog despite it being perfectly networthy leaving nothing behind but a cryptic message.