Wednesday, September 27, 2006

When women bite back

Following Tony Blair’s joke about Cherie not running off with his neighbour at the Labour conference yesterday, Radio Five Live were inviting other ‘wife jokes’. After a series of slightly stale, broadly sexist jokes presenter Shelagh Fogerty stepped in…

“Are men, can’t live with ‘em, can’t chop them into little pieces and boil ‘em”

Monday, September 25, 2006

I'm sorry, you're looking for WHAT?

I'm trying to avoid my web logs, it's too easy to be obsessed with them. Sometimes its hard to ignore some entries. Like the person who Asked Jeeves to find a site which displayed "Respectable adult baby nappies".

It begs the immediate question of who might this person be. It might, for example, be someone with acute incontinence looking for a resolution to their delicate problem without having to trawl endless sex sites.

Somehow this seems unlikely, so perhaps it is a baby adult fetishist looking for something to wear under their normal clothes, so he can secretly enjoy their guilty pleasure whilst presenting to the board the details about startling 3rd quarter growth.

And here's another theory. Perhaps its one of those zealots campaigning for their right to wear adult nappies without persecution. Perhaps they're planning to, one day, just turn up at work in a big diaper and maybe they're looking for something suitable, with a sharp crease, and maybe a double cuff.

Whatever the reason, it turns out I'm the third site you need to look at to find them.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Head office calling

So, I get a phone call from Government Department A because we mention Government Department B in a piece of promotional literature. Why have we done this, she asks, because Government Department B report into Government Department A under some new government initiative (and one which is incomprehensibly named – its all letters – like Swahili translated into text message language).

Because we worked with Government Department A to develop the product, I say, 2 years ago, I say. She then proceeds to try and change things that have been in place for the last two years, things that can only be achieved if we go back in time. For example, the original decision by Government Department B to develop the product. She tells me we should have developed the product with Government Department A, even though when it was developed Government Department’s A and B weren’t linked and, it turns out, she wasn’t working for either. Also, on the same piece of literature, Government Department B are named as users of the product. Who are the people who have used the product, she asks, was it officially sanctioned by the department? When was it? Who authorized it?

I have no idea, I say, after all; they are merely contacts on our customer database. They’ve bought the product, but I have little understanding of what was going through their heads when they decided that the product was for them.

She then proceeds to tell me that they should have been authorised centrally and that they have no record of this happening, etc. etc. Unfortunately I can’t tell her who the people are due to the Data Protection Act.

Why is it that people in government departments seem to assume that you know how they work? It’s like you’re being held responsible if they don’t follow their own protocols and bureaucratic processes. I’m very glad for the government; the roads they lay, the lighting they put up, the criminals they catch. But I’m not really interested in the minutiae of their inner workings, or the endless restructuring. If something is not working at their end. That’s surely their problem.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Proud to be black

So what is Music Of Black Origin if its not every genre of popular music over the last 50 years? The key contribution that ‘whites’ have made to popular music (specific individual talents not counting) is the ability to sell music as a product and speed up its tempo so you can’t dance to it without the help of drugs – for this read: speed metal and hard house.

We’ll put aside the questionable racial divisiveness of the set up, the spirit of the MOBOs appears to be to give ‘black music’ a platform and a voice, which assumes black music can be defined and doesn’t currently have a voice (try telling that to Beyonce and Jay Z). It also assumes there to be some sort of clear divide between blacks and whites and that one needs to sell its vision to the other, which may lead to the millionaire Beastie Boys' to question how they've got away with their 20 year career.

It would be easier to accept the MOBOs if the music it represented was absolutely incomprehensible and/or unlistenable because it would, at least, allow music that is otherwise not heard (because it is so unpalatable), to be heard. In fact, MOBO music is so desperate to maintain its mainstream appeal, most of its contenders remain stuck in the Mariah/Whitney school of vocal gymnastics, what was known as ‘soul music’ and is now called RnB despite it having no blues in it and precious little rhythm.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Direct debit

At the football, every substitution (and remember, there can be six in a game) is followed by the legend '...sponsored by Debt Doctor, prescribing a life without debt'. Personally, I'm scared of debt, credit cards in particular. I don't know why, but they seem more sinister than debit cards, like they have hypnotic powers that can seduce you into spending huge amounts of money. I've always steered clear, I don't even know what a 0% balance transfer is.

As a result, aside from a mortgage and car loan, I'm debt free. I suppose I can't really comprehend what a luxurious position that might be, not like the folks featured in the Picture adverts. Pictures, of course, are friendly inviting things, they gently entertain, add mood, invoke deep emotions. Generally, they're positive, which is probably why a it's so odd that its the name of a debt management company.

There are two Picture adverts with the same formula. A family, evidently very happy living in a big beautiful house, call the company. In one it's a man, who has a chat about football with the call centre person whilst his wife, er, follows him around with a video camera. In the second it's the woman on the phone whilst her husband and child shout out asking where things are. 'It's always like this round here' she says with a laugh.

Both families have clearly spent a lot of money on their houses, video cameras etc. and seem so happy with life they must be deluding themselves. Sure enough both are looking for £25,000 loans. Curiously in both the caller cups their hand over the phone to double check with their spouse '25,000?' they mouth silently as though they haven't actually talked about how much they need before the call is made. In both the spouse gives a big smile and a thumbs up, like they're getting free money... which probably explains why the fucking imbeciles are so deep in the shit.

'Woh, that's much less than we're paying at the moment' is the response to the quote. They get off the phone, talk about how friendly and easy it all was, and continue with their blissful carefree lives. A white box then appears on the screen explaining a £25,000 consolidated loan will have total repayments of £42,000. Which is about the equivalent of buying a Vauxhall Astra for the price of a top of the range Mercedes Benz R Class.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Tip top laptop

It didn't take much badgering, but I've got a new work laptop. My relationship with the old one was like a marriage gone cold. Once we were inseparable; we'd spend hours just doing stuff, being together. But, like all relationships, the initial zing and excitement was replaced by comfort and security. Gradually though, I started to want something else. It didn't look particularly good, it was getting big and heavy, it never wanted to go and see the big wide world (the USB port was dodgy, and I couldn't get onto the Internet). Eventually we just fell into a routine and stopped going out altogether (it became to heavy to carry around). I have to confess that my eye began to wander, and I found myself attracted to sleeker, slimmer models. Eventually, I walked, for a new Hewlett Packard wotchamadoobey.

Its much sexier, it does exciting things the old one wouldn't do no matter how much I pleaded; we watch DVDs and play around with photographs (in Photoshop). It's better looking, and I'm proud to be seen out with it.

But, y'know, she it doesn't know me like the old one used to. It doesn't know my favourite websites, it doesn't remember my passwords, it does things that are just plain annoying. And beautiful though it is, sometimes I just hanker for the familiarity of my old laptop.

This new laptop, and more specifically, the virgin version of Windows installed on it, is absolutely insistent on checking I'm alright at every turn. Every move generates a little speech bubble; open Explorer and it pings 'did you know you've got some pop-ups that didn't appear', eveytime I fire it up it reminds me that it's got some hidden icons, or that there may be upgrades and do I want to install them now. Nag, nag bloody nag. Don't get me started on the bloody cat it keeps in Word.

Still, I've still got my PowerBook for guilt free, no strings attached fun together.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Try and see it from my angle

It seems that the Bermuda Triangle is losing its powers. The phenomena was one of those things that disappears from your memory until something dislodges the block and causes it all to flood back. In this case it was hearing Barry Manilow on the radio.

When I was small the Bermuda Triangle was a truly scary thing. It literally sucked planes out of the sky, wrecked sturdy tankers and killed all on board. I didn't know where Bermuda was, but it could well have been near Gibraltar, which is near Spain, which is near France which is where my family went on holiday. My life was in real danger.

Now according the Wiki, the most recent major incident was in 1975, and the last incident of any note was 1999. I decided to investigate further, but though Google's number 1 ranked web resource on the subject appears comprehensive, it is also a subtle homage to the triangles powers. Any attempt to navigate it is pointless, before long you'll be lost deep inside its bowels.

Now the Bermuda Triangle is simply rubbish, this site claims a more recent incident but that was five years ago. Comair Flight 5054 got some ice damage on a flight to Orlando, I get more damage on my car parking it outside the house on a Saturday night.

Monday, September 11, 2006

On this day in history

I used to work at home on a Tuesday, the legacy of a study leave arrangement with work. And I actually used to work at home as well, I'd start at 9am, work until 12.30, start again at 1.30 and finish at 5pm.

Mid-morning the phone rang, it was someone from work, they wanted to know if I had some papers with me. I had the phone upstairs, so I ran downstairs to look in my bag. I picked up the downstairs phone to confirm that I did have it.

Completing the call, I went back to work. I only had dial-up, I didn't need constant access to the web. At lunchtime I went downstairs for a sandwich and looked at the news on Ceefax. The third story listed said a plane had hit the World Trade Center, I think it originally said it was a small plane and there were no confirmations of any fatalities. I assumed that this was a regular occurrence, given its minor billing.

I went back to work; at about 4pm I came down to make a cup of tea. Whilst the kettle boiled I flicked on the TV to catch up on the football news. Each channel was awash with pictures of grey rubble. The commentary was talking about a plane hitting the Pentagon. I started to question my own understanding; I thought the Pentagon was in Washington, maybe it was in New York, maybe the World Trade Center was the Pentagon. My initial reaction was denial; hopefully it was just an accident and nobody had been hurt.

I watched on and it became clear what was going on. At some point I went upstairs, and saw that the phone I'd answered in the morning was still off the hook. People had been trying to phone. In part to find out whether I was in London - the fear at the time was that the whole world was under attack and being in London was one of the worst places to be.

My initial reaction was that the perpetrators didn't know who they were messing with. Also that the worst person possible was in charge of any response. Both fears were realised, I guess, looking at the cack-handed reprisals that have materialised.

Emma got home, a plumber came round to do some work, looked at the TV and said 'That's fucking scary isn't it?'. We watched for hours, seeing re-runs of the planes slamming into the towers and then the towers falling. We turned off, or over, I can't remember... it was so horrifyingly boring; if such a thing exists.

I've never written about 9/11 before, I suppose mine is not a very interesting story. But this is the event of our times characterised by its mass participation. The Towers were at the focal point of an island that's more photographed and filmed than any other in the world. The news shot around the world in minutes; the internet allowed the reaction to echo back within seconds. Nobody was a observer, everyone was able to play a part, no other building or city would have had the same impact, no other era could have hosted such a response from everyone from firemen trapped in the rubble to people who forgot to put the phone down. Its this which makes the event obscenely perfect. What were you doing?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Emotional junk mail

I know in these media savvy times that marketing and promotion has to be targeted and edgy. It's got to go to the right person and then induce a response. Its not easy to do and lines to be trod are, as they say, fine.

However, you have to question the promotion that arrived through our door the other day. The NSPCC sent Emma a letter telling her what a wonderful experience becoming a mother is and how special the link between mother and child, but that, did you know, many children are abused - sexually, physically, emotionally etc. All of this was perfectly timed to arrive at the very point many mothers have developed a heightened state of emotional bond with their newborn. Hormones and emotions are not always under control.

To re-inforce the point there was a little book entitled Baby Names, styled like the little books you buy when you're first pregnant. Inside, on each page, was the name of a child and a four line description of the abuse they had received from a cruel relative.

Oh, and then there was an easy to fill in donation form.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

As seen on Channel 4 (kinda)

I've changed my web stat counter thingy to Statcounter. It has a filter do-dah which stops your own hits registering (amongst other things). It turns out I have a healthy number of visits per day from people that aren't me.

It didn't start too promisingly, daily visits trickled in, then suddenly last week it went bananas. Looking deeper it turns out that I was getting a tidal wave of visits to this picture of Sam from Beauty and the Geek.

I wasn't at work today. Millie has started nursery this week (at a cost that exceeds our mortgage) and now thinks that putting her feet in the sandpit is the edge of all human experience. Due to a minor but complex childminding issue I can't be bothered to talk about here, I had to take the day off to look after her.

Nursery evidently makes her very tired, because she woke at 6.45am, then after a bottle slept until 12.30. This allowed me to do a bit of work, and watch the TV. Becoming quite nauseous at Jeremy Kyle I turned to Channel 4 to see, you know, Beauty and the Geek. It seems it's being re-run which is probably driving up my traffic. It's what I call the Garraway/Tits experience where a couple of years ago I had an avalanche of hits because I'd put the two words together in a post (that I can't now find).

Not only that, the episode was the last one, the one I missed having watched the series obsessively for weeks when it was screened on E4. The world is perfect don't you think?

Newer Posts Older Posts Home

Blogger Template by Blogcrowds