Thursday, 26 July 2012

Slower! Lower! Weaker!

It may come as a surprise to you that I love the Olympics. You’ve probably seen my past posts, phlegming on and on about how sport is a dead spider in the early morning mouth of humanity. You probably even think that I lied in the first sentence of this blogpost in a shameless, pathetic way to get your attention in any way possible.

And, of course, as you quite tediously always are, you’d be absolutely right. I straight-up loathe the Olympics. It’s got to the point where if someone starts to even say the word Olympics, I have an instant Pavlovian response and bury them up to the eyes in rage-infected stinging nettles. This also makes collateral damage of people talking about olive oil, so I hope Seb Coe’s happy.

Now, let’s face it, there’s no shortage of reasons to hate the Olympics. From its mindless nationalism to its astonishing sexism, from its brain-bulleting brand protection rackets to its essentially falsified promises of economic rejuvenation, it’s a stupendous example of unabated godawfulness – and always has been in its modern form.

However, it’s none of those reasons that I’m going to discuss today, although they’re all equally (by which I mean considerably more) worthy tributaries that should flow into anybody’s hate-river. Today we’re looking at the indescribable uselessness of the games.

Now, if you were going to spend £9 billion (and counting) on a project, you would expect it to either be something that was worthwhile one-off (in which case it would need to be seriously worth the outlay) or something which kept bubbling out goodness across a number of years. That is to say, it needs to be a single event worth £9bn, or it needs to be something that delivers some return on the investment, whether financially or for the good of humanity.

The Olympics, of course, is neither. Let’s take the latter first. The Olympics falls into a much-hyped ‘Summer of Events’ in Britain, where Euro 2012, Wimbledon and the O-bomb itself all smashed into each other, creating a bloody horrible messy wreck, like coaches all carrying nuns, puppies and the last vestiges of human decency smashing into a fatal pile-up on the M1, except far more tragic.

And with the other two events, what happened? There was a brief beery fervour as England tried and failed to do the only thing that they’re tremendously overpaid to do, and then the day after we were sent out of the running, half the country completely forgot about the tournament completely, followed shortly by the second half when whoever it was who actually won the bloody thing, had done so. Was it Lithuania? It was probably Lithuania.

The same goes with the Wimbledon. In a fictional survey of 40,000 people, only two and a half humans could actually name a single winner in any of the tennis matches, although most of them could remember the embarrassing moment when a Scottish simpleton shouldered his way into the arena and confusedly cried for an hour.

So it will be with the Olympics. Scientists have actually coined the Olympicosecond, which is the amount of time that passes between a sports event ending and 99% of the population continuing to give a single, lonely fuck about it. By the 13th August, we’ll have entirely forgotten the vast majority of the events and the names of the winners and the losers. Unfortunately, by the time the next Olympics are announced, we’ll have also forgotten all the shameful scandals surrounding them, allowing ourselves to be tickled into fervour anew by the masturbatory hype they self-propagate.

Make no mistake, hype is all it is. If we were to remove the hype from the Olympics, the following would happen: sponsors would drop out faster than a speeding javelin, it would be off the television in a snap and all that would be left would be a few underdressed dunces jogging confusedly around a local park, winking at non-existent cameras.

As for the Olympics being a single one-off event worth £9 billion, I think we all know the money would have been better spent if we’d thrown 1,800,000,000,000 five pound notes into a furnace that powered a gigantic robot to comprehensively stamp all over London’s road and businesses.

The real wang in the custard is that nobody in the entire stretch of two weeks is going to do anything to further the course of humanity. People splutter on like old taps about how the Olympics pushes forward human endurance, and it’s a celebration of humanity, but that’s total rubbish. The arts and science genuinely stretch our boundaries and change humanity forever – the Olympics may result in a person running a millisecond faster around a course than has been done in that specific setting before. We won’t discover so much as a new way to make rice pudding from this. People will say yay and then be bored until someone else does it another millisecond faster.

We’re asked to consider Olympic athletes as heroes and told that we should celebrate them, but functionally they do no more than the man setting a Guinness world record for how far he can walk backwards with a glass of spoiled milk balanced on his stupid nose, or a woman wearing more pairs of socks than anyone else has ever worn. The only actual difference is that one type of activity we’re told to revere, and the other we’re taught to revile. Olympians may spend their whole lives practising to try and run a short distance slightly faster than everyone else who has spent their whole lives practising to try and run a short distance, but this is a cause for tragedy, and possibly counselling, not celebration.

So it’s far from being a worthwhile one-off event, it’s the ultimate exercise in pointlessness, roughly on a level with building a small market town to be inhabited only by dead leaves and glossy photographs of Pat Sharpe.

Overall, I hope everyone enjoys the two weeks of nonsense, traffic jams and general shouting. But don’t forget afterwards to ask yourself: was this really worth the £143, 700 it’s costing per person in the UK? Because I’d rather have had a robot chauffeur. I’d already picked out a name. It was going to be Mankles.

Monday, 25 April 2011

All this Junk inside my Trunk

Hello Misters and Missuses of the blog pool. Shield your eyes from the gory glory, for yea, I do returneth.


To ease myself gently back into blogging with all the subtlety and grace of a TNT hippo bellyflopping onto a bonfire, I’ve picked a well-trodden subject rather than anything particularly controversial or exciting. It is this: spam.

Not spam the curiously watery animal by-product, but spam the sensationally annoying email pest. Like televised sport, it is ubiquitous and unavoidable.

Also like televised sport, it is wasting a lot of money. Not just for the long suffering search engines and ISPs who must pay extra money for their creaking servers to bear the loads, or even the slack-jawed moronicals who actually respond to the damn stuff, but for the spammers themselves.

One small but pertinent study suggests that only around 1 in 12000 people respond to pharmaceutical spam, and 1 in 200000 for viral warning sites. Even if spammers are paying just 0.00007 pence per email, that would still potentially leave them thousands of pounds out of pocket – per day.

Obviously, spammers can’t be doing this – crime generally pays, so tell your kids – but even so, they could easily do a hell of a lot better if they just improved their marketing. At the moment, it’s shoddier than a poke in the eye with a sharp John McCrirrick.

Now, far be it from me to give such jerksters tips; that would be akin to loaning gangsters guns, or investing in Endemol. However, it is difficult not to gleefully point out just how wrong they’re going. It is almost like they are deliberately bad to get people to mock and publicise them their in blogs like idiots. Anyway, let's dive into this festering pool of human mind-clots:




I can’t decide if the sender here is actually named Judithbaby Baby, or if it is a calling card style description of an infant. In the same way as a crime-busting cop might yell Malone, FBI!, she is Judithbaby, Baby.
I don’t know whether the former or the latter would be better – after all, if your surname is already Baby, don’t name your child Judithbaby. There’s one too many babies in that name already.

What I am basically saying is that whether it is overenthusiastic naming or an unusually eloquent child, this is already way too strange for me to be interested in any friendship – sorry, Judithbaby.



GUYS! GUYS! OIL PRICES are starting to DROP! Jesus, we’d better enlarge our penises – FAST!
Also, I know they’ve spelled it ‘pils’ to get past spam filters, but where I come from, a pils is a type of premium lager. Maybe they’re offering me more drink? ENABLERS.







How much time would it have taken to make up a simple subject line? Really? My guess is ‘less time than it takes to make up the name Milton Forficule’.
Milton Forficule sounds like the kind of guy who wears three gold watches and plays tennis in whites that are far too tight on a slightly pudgy body. I bet his Golf Club Buddies think that a subject line is too good for me. Well I’ve got NEWS for you, MILTON – I am a SELF-SUFFICIENT and PROFESSIONAL MAN and maybe I don’t have TIME to read your MYSTERIOUS EMAIL. So get back on your platinum-plated pony and OUT OF MY INBOX.




I don’t normally read e-cards. There’s just something so… unfancy about most of them. Seriously, I’m only going to read an e-card if it’s really super fancy. This one seems to promise some degree of fancitude but, well, I just don’t buy it. Needs much more fance.



Oh my god! An email from my local bank, Banque Atlantique! Very few people realise that Banque Atlantique operates in both the Côte d'Ivoire and Cornwall. For some reason they just can’t see the link. But what’s 3000 miles between friends?





One thing that HMRC are well known for is that they are positively eager to give out tax refunds. So eager that they often send out more than one email at a time, so that you simply will not miss the opportunity to get you a super-large chunk of their money. People who characterise them as a bunch of money-grabbing, thieving jerkholes who would rather make soup out of their own toes than willingly give you any money back are clearly mistaken.




The FBI in Washington DC want to talk to me (probably because of all my important foreign government secrets). But wait - they want to talk to me… about the FBI in Washington DC?

How deep does this rabbit-hole go?



Anyway, this lazy leap into the spam-hole means hopefully semi-regular updates again! So let's all rejoice and clap our hands and turn on the TiVo, because there's gonna be rubbish to read on the internet again!


Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Lordy!

Hello all!

In place of a normal post, I have a short story here for y'all. It's super short, so don't worry, you don't need to sigh heavily and slump to the scotch cabinet for a hefty refill in order to face it. Even though I know you're going to anyway. You're so melodramatic, you know that?

It's a bit of silly playing around with the literal idea of God and, in part, the ontological argument for the existence of God. It's not intended to offend anybody, and I doubt it will. Being offended by this would be like being offended by candyfloss. A sticky great mess of sugary silliness.


The One Mistake

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.


But the Word was brittle and fragile. Endings could snap off or winkle on to change the Word, and this would not do. Besides, Words are only three-dimensional in the imagination. God was to be ultimate, the most that could ever be. Immutable, unexceedable. God outgrew the Word, and the Word became the slightest shadow of God’s glory.

Nonetheless, the Word was still holy, and God placed it in a special box to save for later.

That is, He created a box, and then He placed the Word inside it.

In order to create the box, God created the heavens and the earth. He created light to feed, water to nourish, and ground to root, so that He could create trees and shrubs for the wood for His box.

God looked at the box, and saw that the box was good. The best box there has ever been, for it was God’s box, and that is hard to beat.

The trees that remained were strong but pointless, now that God had made His box. So God, in His wisdom, created fruit to hang from the trees. He was pleased, for He Loved the fruit, and they became holy objects through His Love.

As a bit of an afterthought, He created animals, and every living thing with which the water teems, and every winged bird according to its kind. He liked the animals, but could not be bothered to keep making them, so He invented sex too.

Finally, to make sure everything kept ticking over, God invented janitors.

God then grew weary of the Earth, and set off for a while to create supernovae and black holes, to polish quarks and paint nebulae. He left the janitors in charge, charging them to look after His things. In return they would rule over the fish in the sea, and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moved on the ground.

--

On God’s return, He noticed that the janitors, named Adam and Eve, were acting pretty shifty. They hid behind trees from God, which was pointless since God had created all and everything, and could certainly see through trees if He wanted.

They were ashamed of their nudity, and though God could understand their reticence around certain scraggy areas, this was news to Him.

“Why are you ashamed?” He asked, “for I have been looking at those for ages.”

“Eve ate of one of your belongings, the forbidden fruit,” Adam whined.

“Shut up!” cried Eve, “and besides, you did eat of the forbidden fruit too, thou hypocrite, thou.”

“She made me do it!” Adam did appeal unto God.


The Lord was furious that the janitors had thought to eat of His fruit, since they were Holy. Having eaten from the Tree of Knowledge, they surely would eat from the Tree of Life too, since they would definitely Know about it now.

"Consider thyselves banished!” He shouted, “And what is more, Adam, thou and thy kin shalt toil for thy food, and Eve, thou and thy kin shalt undergo excruciating pain during childbirth,” which might have been considered going a bit far, but it was God, who is perfect and infallible, and therefore it was completely just.

To underline His point, God created an Angel with a flaming sword to chase the pair out of Eden. Again, this was absolutely fair enough.

With Adam and Eve removed from the Garden of Eden, God did take himself out of the world for some serious introspection.

“Why did I create the janitors without My steel morality, and with the propensity to steal?” He pondered, “perhaps I am not as perfect as I believed.”

Our Father briefly considered removing evil from the instinctual make-up of humanity, but rejoice, for He was then sidetracked by a more interesting thought.

“Wait,” thought the Lord of Creation, “I am indeed perfect, and ultimate, for that is what it mean to be God.

“Yet I have accidentally created imperfection. Does this not mean that I Myself am imperfect?

“But to be God implies perfection. Therefore what I have done must be perfect. So even if I can imagine something more perfect, it does not mean that what I have already done was not perfect. I have simply created a new level of perfection for Myself to attain, which, being God, I naturally automatically have done.”

The Lord was pleased with Himself for this logic, which He had created in the first place. He made himself more perfect, and everything He did was automatically infallible, even though everything He had done had been perfect before anyway.

The Lord found Himself with a new problem, however.

“I am perfect, and ultimate, as the Creator of All must be.

“However, this means that I cannot think of ways to further improve Myself. If I am unable to think of ways to improve Myself, then my powers of thought are limited. Yet if I can think of ways to improve Myself, then I must have created room for improvement by my thought, at which point I become imperfect.”

God found himself in a logical loop of self-improvement. He searched his perfect soul for areas of potential, and then accomplished that potential with a simple thought. This led Him back to his search.

He finally broke free of this self-contained reverie when He hit upon the realisation that an omnipresent God was more perfect than an entity, and therefore He made Himself so.

At once, He became submerged in the follies and agonies of mankind. The children of Adam and of Eve, man and woman crafted accorded to His own image, did now burn and kill and steal and hate. The janitors took no care over their charge, and so God, shocked, did fire them.

He did this by instantly compressing the Earth to a singularity, turning all of the birds and the beasts, the skies and the seas into parts of the same spectral dot, from which light could never escape.

And God saw that it was good.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

A Positive Result

Hello all! I hope 2011 burst pleasantly over you, like a showy firework or beached whale.

The other day, you'll be absolutely tickled to hear, I went and gave blood. I don't mention this to be one of those self-aggrandising, more-altruistic-than-thou smug-udders who go about with a 'be nice to me, I just gave blood!!' sticker slapped on their foreheads like a placard that says 'lick me - I'm amazing!', apparently entirely unaware that the more commonly accepted meaning of that sticker is 'utter twinker'.

I actually mention it because it is relevant to this bloggation - though if you do choose to slather me in buttery praise, then I will of course assume the position.

You see, between pondering the great intellectual challenges of our time, such as why they can't get rid of that slightly disgusting Tupperware smell, or whether you can sharpen a frozen worm and use it as a pencil, I was ruminating on the crisis of not enough people apparently donating blood - or, as the kids of today have roguishly titled it, The Great Big Bloody Mess.

Now, you can see why people might not feel sufficiently excited by the prospect of visiting the leechery. We are all driven by selfish genes, and those genes cannot really see the point in actively choosing to be interrogated, stabbed and drained - all to help some anonymous flipster who will never even know of your existence, far less thank you. What is in it for the donor?

 Blood drives need to appeal more to our selfish side. This, of course, is why they started giving out those smugular stickers in the first place. It is a way to increase your reputation in the community, which genuinely does drive behaviour, though unfortunately they are apparently unaware of the actual response of the community to the self-congratulation of it all. It won't be long before they introduce a 'Share This' option, sending a pre-populated Twitter message that says @houmousamongus is a bit woozy from bravely giving blood... but it's so important to help others, yah?

To save the NHS the bother of coming up with a better plan of attack, and to spare the rest of us our rage, I have designed some copy for a new leaflet campaign that makes use of a far more powerful - and far less irritating - selfish desire.

Donate blood and get your sex ON, ladies and gentlemen!

Monday, 8 November 2010

A Sure Plea for Pleasure

Two months since I last blogged! Two! What strange and splendid things have happened since I last coughed words onto the internet? Well, governmental cuts have been set out, X-Factor has stabbed another collection of songs to death and then burned their graves, and, of course, due to strikes the London Underground has now been replaced by a conga line of in-line skaters.

However, I'm not the sort to whittle a blog out of the redwood of contemporary events. I prefer my writing to be utterly timeless, so that when future species dig my prattle out of the charred remains of the internet, there remains something relevant for them to chuckle about deep within the salty folds of their multiple larynxes and to give a fronds-up.

So I'd prefer to talk about something universal and helpfully vague, if it's all the same to you.  And today it is the importance of pleasure.


From Bad Machinery - this is, let's face it, the ultimate dream.

Pleasure is a double-sided sword, with which one can easily slice up fresh, delicious watermelons, but also stab oneself in the gooliest of areas.

The argument for pleasure in life is little-offered from the top down. By top down, I am not making a sexy request of you (or at least, that is not my primary intention), but rather I mean that this is not something that most self-declared positions of authority take into account.

Consider the split over food. We are told by the government, television chefs and self-styled 'nutritionists'  that junk food should not be eaten, that we should only eat that which provides the very greatest health benefits. This does not take into account the argument for pleasure, in which we decide to eat things which may have all the nutritional boon of an ordinance survey map, but which give us a flutter of pleasure and joy.

Pleasure is important. Whether or not, my glimmer-eyed, sultry reader, you believe in an afterlife (I believe that the likelihood of an afterlife is approximately as high as the arse of the Mariana Trench), chances are you let pleasure dictate a lot of your choices.

This is a luxury heavily afforded to us by our extremely lovely First World, above-the-poverty-line comfort levels. (I assume my readership to be a rough reflection of my own status - which is reasonable, given all the poncy language and analogy I use.) We have laid before us a decorative quilt of choice, and we can choose any particular patchwork we like. But it is true across the world to an extent: people take pleasure in their customs, their sports and their local equivalent of recreational drugs.

Without pleasure, our lives become grim, grey commodities of the larger group; an expenditure without return. It becomes the equivalent of watching an entire episode of Horne & Corden; unbearable.

Human emotions have evolved to give us pleasure in the same way that ants have not... but given the level of similarity between the two species, it could easily have gone the other way. Our emotions are a fluke-gained spectrum, and since we have been given the glimmering golden light of pleasure in which to coat ourselves, we should use it as best we can. There's no point in having a glorious trifle in the fridge and sticking to licking paving slabs for sustenance.

Nonetheless, authority figures lay the argument for pleasure by the wayside, like a trucker's turd. So we see the slashing of arts budgets (so much for non-contemporaneousness), the willy-nilly banning of drugs entirely disregarding evidence, angry judgement of promiscuity and the scorn from high-heeled, blood-footed fashionistas of comfortable shoes.

The difficulty with all of this pressure from above of what you should do is that it means that either people live pleasureless lives, or they scamper off in the other direction like rebellious stoats. That is to say, the latter live lives entirely dictated by pleasure, without regard for their own health or the health and happiness of others.

Now, there is nothing wrong with living a life devoted to pleasure, if your pleasure does not conflict with that of others. Someone with a passion for gardening is entirely welcome to become a gardener, live in their own garden and practise pubic topiary. Selfishness is entirely welcome in this respect. However, a life of selfishness that brings a person into violent oppositon of the pleasure of others is not cool. It's okay to blow bubbles, unless you're blowing them directly into a neighbour's eyeball.

This rejection of non-pleasure also strangulates the concept of moderation. If you decide to do something in opposition to a mandate, you tend to go further with it that you would have in the first place. Even as we speak - by which I mean, even as I carelessly hurl spiked words towards your face -  across the country teens are slamming their doors without actually stopping to think whether they even wanted to paint their bedrooms black, let alone whether they would have got that pierced if they hadn't been told not to.

So the lack of consideration for pleasure in our top-down rulesmiths leads directly to misery of others. Jamie Oliver says 'no Burger Kings, ever', and many people will forgo a pleasure that would, in some small way, have made them happier, if only for the shortest time. Many others will go out and binge on burgers, shakes and fries, in a sulky fuck you to Jamie Bigtongue.

Of course, sensible people will occupy the middle ground - indulging in pleasures in moderation, while maintaining a healthy respect for others. But sensible is surprisingly hard to find in a race that hasn't evolved with modern-day sensibility in mind. It is more common than smallpox, but less common than anti-vaxxers - a potent ratio.

So overall, remember: everything in moderation. But do make sure that you float your boat, or it will languish and eventually be used as the venue for a youth rave. And nobody wants that.


Fun Fake Fact Friday

Due to many weeks' absence, this is something of a bumper load. Don't forget - to take part, simply go onto Twitter on a Friday and make up something with the tag #funfakefactfriday. I try to put all entries on this blog, so everyone can see just how flipping clever you are, once and for all, the jerks. Uncredited ones are, of course, my own little contributions of lexical spittle to this great bucket of fun.

Capitalism is an ideology in which people pay for goods and services with Scrabble letters.

The Pope’s favourite swear is the Holy See Word.

2006: heart defect rates soar. 2007: 50% increase in Will-writing. 2008: Number of surprise birthday parties triples.

The Pope has described his trip to Britain as “the worst Saga holiday yet”.

Cherie Blair has made a “book of shame” to punish Tony when he misbehaves, full of New Statesman reviews of his book.

Last year, over twenty thousand relationships were started after people accidentally put kisses on the end of work emails.

Physiologically speaking, the closest living relative of the walrus is Andrew Lloyd Webber.

90% of call centres are based in Hull. Workers use Indian accents to disguise their poor working conditions.

The most common operation on insecure male elephants is trunk enlargement surgery.

The Sexiest Pasta Award 2010 was won by cunniloni.

New health and safety laws now require gentlemen with handlebar moustaches to be fitted with brakes.

Roger Moore is not the actor’s name, but rather a statement of his intent.

George Lucas was killed & replaced by twin brother Jorge, intent upon retroactively ruining all his brother’s successes.

After comprehensively beating the Nazis, the Dambusters turned their attention to their other nemesis: beavers.

Due to its constantly opposing Poles, the Daily Mail is, technically speaking, a racist magnet.

Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie are based on the Hamiltons.

Just as water is only holy when blessed by a priest, it takes a vicar to make pastorised milk.

Newton wrote a sub-clause to his third law of motion: “Except in the tabloid press, when it is wildly disproportionate."

To discover the original Biblical Word, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider plan to smash together two particle verbs.

A sequel to The Social Network is due out in 2011, entitled ‘The Social Network 2.0: Rise of the Fail Whale’.

The Dung beetle buries poo; the Deathwatch beetle buries carrion; the Conciliation beetle buries hatchets.

The Heimlich Manoeuvre is famously named after its inventor, Dr. Manoeuvre.

According to recent scientific experiments, three things affect time: mass, frame of reference and bladder capacity.

The ‘deep film advert voice’ is, in 80% of cases, voiced by Anne Robinson.

Robbie Williams is actually a character creation of wacky-voice man Robin Williams. He says he’s “punishing Britain”.

In Latin, “Angela Merkel” translates as “angel’s bum-crease”.

Little-known forensic geography deals with criminal landscape. It has imprisoned Bluff Point, Sharp Edge & Milton Keynes.

The American Bald Eagle is now officially extinct, having been replaced by the American Toupée Eagle.

One must look into a mirror and say ‘handyman, handyman, handyman’ to summon Handy Andy.

Science has illuminated the atom & the opening seconds of the universe but cannot explain the existence of Ryan Seacrest.

A “birds-eye” view means to imagine a scene covered in breadcrumbs.

The tough and surprising qualities of the bodily fluids of Texans has lead to the development of both Goretex and Semtex.

It is predicted that by 2014, football’s status as the UK’s “national game” will be overtaken by scratchcards.

Dame Judy Dench has a chin on her brain. This is medically known as a ‘brainchin’.

Entering UP UP DOWN DOWN LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT B A Enter on the Google Analytics page will instantly triple your traffic.

N-Dubz’s Dappy cannot properly wake up in the morning without performing some substandard freestyle rap to his Coco Pops.

Exploding fireworks are execution pods for fairies.

5th Nov’s Santa is Daddy Blammo, who has a beard of sparklers. He gives fireworks to good children; burnt fingers to bad.

Technology advances mean you can now buy ADHD-ready TV, which flicks between channels randomly every few seconds.

80% of tweets containing the word 'stop' are directed at @mchammer's account.

The ‘X’ in ‘X Factor’ stands for Scientological final boss, Xenu. Tests on previous winners reveal huge thetan-counts.

In 2007 a hedgehog was discovered in Neath, South Wales, that had evolved a fireproof layer over its whole body & spikes. (waldinho2000)

The varsity boat race was originally between cambridge & hull, as oxford was indeed percieved as 'a right dump' 'til 1923 (l0fty835)

TV's Rodney Trotter, Nicholas Lyndhurst, is 256th in line to the Norwegian throne. (Waldinho2000)

Wayne Rooney agreed to stay at Man Utd after he offered a recurring character slot in Coronation Street as Lenny, a tramp. (waldinho2000)

'As the crow flies' used to mean 'upside down'. The current meaning emerged after further ornithological research. (tomOdaighre)

Most moles do not, in fact, live in holes. This myth was popularised by the hit song recorded by Mr. A. Mole of Swindon. (verbalslapstick)

Wine gums originally had teeth in, but they fell out due to all the sugar. (BigShimmeryWall)

Norman Wisdom's will specified that his pallbearers must trip and drop the coffin into the grave. (TrumptonFireman)

Donald Trump knows he looks stupid (Trumpton Fireman)

HP Lovecraft took his pen name from his favourite sauce fetish website. (BigShimmeryWall)

Former Norway defender Henning Berg is actually 60 feet tall. When playing, 9/10 of him was always under the pitch. (BigShimmeryWall)

At his first PMQs as Labour leader, Ed Milliband asked David Cameron to pull his finger. (Waldinho2000)

Fun Fake Fact Friday was voted the best Internet non-fiction read for 2010 by Richard and Judy (l0fty835)

BlackBerry and Apple are working together on a top secret joint project called Crumble. (TrumptonFireman)

Peanuts have a skin so they look more like toes because people needed reminding to wiggle their toes during long flights (2ssam)

Earlier in evolution, human knees bent the other way, so they could run away from a predator, while taunting it. (stevebunce)

The days are longer in the summer due to it being warmer; in winter, they contract and are shorter. (stevebunce)

Drivers who crash into rubber trees are killed by the rebound, not the crash itself. (TrumptonFireman)

At the end of a tour, Bruce Springsteen allows members of the E-Street Band to bring in boardgames from home. (BigShimmeryWall)

The eye of the portraits in art galleries follow you around the room. But if you hold up a mirror they close. (TrumptonFireman)

Blu-Tack is actually a by-product of the liposuction industry. (TrumptonFireman)

Pavlov's earlier experiments included making a leopard throw up when he played a bassoon & a budgie that swore to techno. (BigShimmeryWall)

Whenever the Circle Line closes, Boris & Cameron smash particles together by taping them to their bikes and riding at each other. (BigShimmeryWall)

Ed Milliband has the exact same hand-type as Danny DeVito. (Waldinho2000)

Ribena is Latin for Blackcurrent. (Locko8668)

Approximately 1 in every 7000 bulls is born with six testicles or more. (MartynDRoyce)

Sunny Delight was invented by Sunny Dee, brother of infamous restauranteur Maître. (d1rty_w0rds)

@RufusHound has climbed Everest 9 times and has lost half of all his toes to frost bite. (Dannybooks)

Did you know that all sardines are technically Venezuelan? (RufusHound)

Fluorida gained notoriety as the world cosmetic dentistry capital - though the "U" is usually omitted. (via McGuireDavid)

The weather in Amarillo is directly proportional to the level of Tony Christie's endorphins (Waldinho2000)

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs fell out 27 years ago after Jobs accused Gates for cheating at Risk. (Dawson001)

Terry Nutkins started his career in specialists' amateur pornography. (Dawson001)

McDonalds were the official sponsor of WWII. (Dawson001)

Dracula's mum was a vegetarian. (Dawson001)

The Pope had to take a detour early to shit in the woods. (Dawson001)

It's costing the UK £100 million for the Pope's visit. £12 million while he's here and the rest for child counselling. (Dawson001)

The Popemobile would survive a nuclear attack; brilliant but the button to open it is on the outside! (Dawson001)

Hitler came up with the ice cream van jingle. (Dawson001)

The Texan state motto is: "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and Texas." (tomOdaighre)

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

While I'm Gone...

As you know, I won't be presenting you with a proper post this week. But here is a video that's relevant to an old post of mine for your edification!



Incidentally, a lot of what they discuss in this video also applies to another bugbear of mine: organic food. The same selling tactics crop up, alongside the similar level of health and taste benefits. Lordy!

Seeyousoonbye!

Monday, 6 September 2010

The Best Defence

There is a slightly sticky zone in politics of which everybody has a slightly different understanding but takes it for granted that theirs is correct. That is to say, all of flipping politics. It is very much like a man thinking of a pineapple and a woman thinking of a clementine and then both referring to fruit. Which would result in a Christmas stocking like a shunosaurus tail.

But the one particular area I'm thinking about (not that kind of area) is offence. It is a difficult mess, like a maths problem posed in beans.

The reason that it becomes difficult is that if something is offensive to somebody, that person no longer wants to see it. That is more-or-less the point of being offended. If you want to see more of something that you're offended by, then you've not really grasped the idea, you dimwitted rubber spud. Wait, I'm just fueling your fire.

However, just because something is offensive to you, does not mean that it is offensive to everybody. There is a spectrum of offence that can be taken, thrown from a bloody awful prism made of babies' tears and squashed hedgehogs. Some people take none whatsoever; others take offence at practically everything. The latter will be quite appalled at me proffering a gold-plated, strawberry-scented daisy in their direction; the former will be quite at ease at my repeatedly jabbing their infant child's cranium with a hot cocktail sausage. Mostly people, as with all spectra, sit somewhere between the two points.

This is all background which you already knew, because you are a shining and magnificent example of synaptic splendour. I would quite like to commission a statue of your gobbing great brains.

The iceburg in this post, however, is the question of censorship. At what point does offensiveness require censorship, and how are we to reach a quorum of agreement on where this point is?

I will now throw my hat into this ring, like a man frantically throwing cutlery into the nest of a titanic, threatening magpie, in the hope of appeasing it enough not to steal his shiny new car.

I am, admittedly, a (stinkin') liberal, but my feeling is that something should not be censored, whether or not it is offensive, unless it can be shown to do concrete harm.

Under this system, censorship of certain things could still occur. For instance, pro-anorexia websites, Ku Klux Klan publications and Chris Moyles could all be censored. However, simply causing offence - for instance, calling 50 Cent a 'good-for-nothing mush-minded shitpiece with the maturity of fresh caviar' - would not see me ejected from my comfy seat on Loose Women.

But the difficulty, of course, comes with defining 'harm'. Sociological harm? Psychological harm? Firal harm?

Some people believe that children hearing swearwords causes them psychological harm. I disagree, and would ask that they can provide evidence that children who have been exposed to swearing fare worse in life than children who have not. It would be difficult, though, to monitor this, since playgrounds are essentially profanity-cauldrens, brewing up fresh swears with the ease of a pigeon flying into a French window. But this is all beside the point. My point is that belief that something is harmful does not necessarily make it so.

I feel that scientific - i.e. objective, repeatable and obtained with rigorous experimental / surveying methodology - evidence should be, as almost always, the cornerstone here. The harmful effects of writing instructional guides to children about how best to burn Daddy's wardrobe are obvious, but anything even a bit less extreme than that really needs to be backed up by solid, scientific evidence to prevent mere opinion -simply a particular slot on the Offensive Spectrum - from censoring harmless activities, words and even thoughts.

This approach is important, because we currently live in a world where, for instance, this kind of debate occurs. I have, of course, not seen the evidence for the survey that the LGBT spokesperson cites in the video, and it's possible that the methodology is shot, but notice how much more cogent and sensible the argument based on evidence is, as opposed to the stale and circular argument that arises from the Focus on the Family representative, like a boring, stench-ridden mud-monster from a garderobe. She is arguing for censorship based on no evidence other than a belief and a level of offence that she has taken - and if we were all to do that, we could really quash some magnificent things.

Of course, there is also the issue of censorship by proxy. Even if it is legal, television, radio and print media have a responsibility to cater for their target audience. This almost always means not displaying unpopular, offensive views, imagery, etc. - even if they are demonstrably harmless. An estate agent taking a rich couple around will show them the finest mansions in the county, and leave out the flea-ridden one bedroom-kitchen-toilet shanty house from the tour (in other words, my house).

This can be good. It is people voting with their eyes - racist sentiment drops out of sight, for instance.

But once it drops out of sight, it cannot be addressed. And not having a platform on which it is expressed does not mean it does not exist - it means that it exists and feels injured. We need a public platorm to engage with and dismantle crazy offensive ideas, as well as to allow the voice of the unpopular and offensive idea, but which is of benefit - such as the voice of Galileo, or Kermit.

If one person is right amid a million who are wrong, shouldn't they have the right to be heard, even if it offends the majority? Anything else is just slapping ourselves directly on the brain.

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No blog next week, friends - I'm off to End of the Road festival this weekend, and won't return until Monday afternoon, at which point I'll be shattered and stinking (which is different to usual in that I'll also have been to a festival). From there, I'll keep you posted. All love!


Fun Fake Fact Friday

Pilates are named after Pontius Pilate, who trademarked and expanded upon his famous ‘hand-washing’ workout.

Despite being invited, most magpies chose not to attend Jordan’s wedding, describing it as ‘far too gaudy’.

After much speculation, the letter of the law has finally been revealed to be ‘S’. Jack of Kent says: “we had no idea”.

Luxembourg is the only country whose capital is bigger than it is.

Space Invaders crisps were recalled after testers discovered that many packets contained an alien substance.

Irony was invented by Jeremy Irons, who doesn’t know what it means.

‘Hotel California’ was inspired by an experience at the Premier Inn, Slough.

Bees buzz, wasps hum, hornets whistle. (by Waldinho2000)

In certain states of the USA you can be arrested for Randy Newman. (by Waldinho2000)

The Bermuda Triangle is more of an oblong. (by dawson001)

Chumbawamba's most famous song was penned after the lead singer strayed out into the motorway after a night drinking. (by dawson001)

Milkshakes are made by freezing cows. (by dawson001)

The Complete Oxford English Dictionary has 32 spelling mistakes in it. (by dawson001)

There aren't enough seats in heaven. (by dawson001)

Scientology is not a cult. (by dawson001)

Area 51 was created after JFK took the game of hide and seek too far. (by dawson001)

Pedo is a traditional Japanese soup. (by dawson001)

If you add tabasco & lemon juice to phlegm it tastes exactly like an oyster. (by TrumptonFireman)