Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Come The Revolution, only in 140 characters or less

The new i-atollah pads on a stick gathered quite a following

Happy Thanksgiving Lums, 

I read an article about Thanksgiving the other day because I'm generally quite clueless about the whole thing. It was about the technology the early pilgrim fathers relied on to survive.  The author said "Barrels were quite big back then" like they were a new thing. As if a reformist James Dyson came up with the rolling box idea when in fact they had been a big thing for 3000 years or something.  

Anyway, back to me, another day at the foot of Mt Olympus, the radio alarm goes and I find my self punching the snooze button as if it dispenses Tromadol, not to cancel the day ahead, just  to delay it a little until I'm ready to wade throat deep into it.  

Delay it because my hypocrisy-ometer has been ringing like the bell on a bored budgies swing. 

What has been getting my goat is the governments plans (dreams) to criminalise social networking during times of civil strife or, in the view from their comfortably feathered nests, revolution.  
Its the usual jerky knee'd reaction that we should be used to by now from our elected populists .  Remember when there was a spate of baby eating devil dogs apparently snacking their way through a whole generation of the UKs carelessly placed children.  Shoot them, no, lets castrate them, what? No, we need to castrate them, then shoot them, then take all their teeth out and shoot them again.  
In the end, I think we went for licensing them at the post office.  A reasoned  position probably, though if we did shoot all those ugly, firkin chested, in bred freak hounds, would we miss them.  That will be a No, and why don't they have suitable legs, its like the conceptual design was presented with a potato that had cocktails sticks for walking on. 

Anyway, the inevitable reaction to riots in London this summer? Ban the kids from messaging with their blackberries, no more flashtwitters and lootbook status updates.  
I suppose its natural to immediately want to blame something, and the established position is to blame something new and synonymous with the young but hold on, social networking is perhaps one of the most valuable and inevitable products of the connected age.  To suggest the state should control it, censor it or deny it to those that are not deemed responsible is a prospect that seems totally foreign not only to the free, but to digital natives anywhere. Once we are there, or the laws are passed that allow it, what next, authorised press, no congregating in groups, permission to speak?   

Anyway, that's one thing, the hypocrisy that really pressed my begrumpled button is that a few months ago, we, including the government, were praising the brave souls in Tunisia and Egypt, lapping up their YouTube clips and live twitter feeds from Tahrir Sq, with claims that social networking is the new engine of democracy and social change.  
Maybe its that thought dawning on our governors that has got them a little spooked. Its strange we don't hear the reports to the same degree coming from Syria or Iran.  Either the press have been told not to report them, Arab spring fatigue maybe, or more likely, those regimes, that aren't afraid to machine gun demonstrators and drive tanks through villages and schools probably do a decent job of controlling access to social sharing platforms.  

Its not only the government struggling to come to terms with what the connected and newly chatty world means.  The Sun, that paragon of reporting virtue, with the comic timing of cancer, had to deny a rumour posted on Twitter this week, saying there was absolutely no truth in it, like that's important to them or something.    

Continuing on the theme,  apparently any two people on Facebook is only 4.74 connections away from any other. That means a Facebook friend of a friend of mine is likely to be a friend of a friend of anyone of the other 721 million users.  I don't really know what the significance of that is, if any. 

" Why sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London.  No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life, for there is in London all that life can afford"   

So said Samuel Johnson, though they say he had tourettes so he probably ended in a fuckity flourish.  He certainly would if he had to pay beer prices in Canary Wharf today, all that life can afford only applies to the robber bankers if they've had a good day at the trough snorting up pensions, still, it gives me ample opportunity to air my favourite aphorism to the barmaid, 

" Hey hen (I never claimed they would understand it) that pint (£4.80 by the way) I want tae drink it, no pit it on ma mantelpiece"  

Lang may yer lum reek.  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Change of government? Can I interest you in a Junta Sir?

That's the Devils PIN number,  they would know that wouldn't they
Reeking Lums,

I've just watch the Remembrance Day memorial service from The Cenotaph, old soldiers always make me tearful and at 11 o'clock  with Big Ben ringing out I wonder of the thoughts and memories that are flitting through their minds.  The Korea veterans marched past with a Dimbleby reference to The Battle of Imjin River and I thought of Uncle Mickey who passed away this year and who took part in it, swimming for his life across it with a million Chinese Red Army soldiers chasing at his back.   They all, weather they are a name on a plaque or marching in thousands of services up and down the country,  are totally deserving of our admiration and pride, and we should all remember how lucky we are to have them.  Because sometimes, in some countries, the Military go bad.

I'm talking of Military Juntas.  These were en vogue through various times in the last hundred or so years and had quite a revival in the 70's and early 80's.  A quick look through the record books though and I've noticed that only two countries in the world have functioning military juntas, Egypt and Fiji, bad news for the worlds braiding and dress uniform manufacturers.

A Military Junta is a government led by a committee of military leaders normally as a response to the threat of the populace doing something with their free will that they don't agree with, like electing a socialist party to power.  
Then they give themselves names like "The National Peace Keeping Council" (Thailand) or "The Military Council of National Salvation" (Portugal) or the honestly named "Regime of the Colonels" (Greece) and perhaps the least honest "The National Reorganisation Process" (Argentina).  Especially when that reorganisation process was the systematic seizure, torture and murder of tens of thousands of people under an annihilation decree.  Its hardly getting your CDs in order is it.
These grand disingenuous names are so it looks like they are doing you a favour, "Honest, we don't want to be in charge, its just that somebody has to do it properly".  By that they mean whatever the CIA want of course.
Anyway, military Juntas seem to be a thing of the past, with not even Bolivia having one at the moment, and they've had nine.  Saying that though, Military Junta has a facebook page which is refreshing and shows that The Junta is in tune with the modern youth, maybe they plan a re-branded comeback.

Looking at our leaders all looking solemn in Whitehall today, well Miliband looked as solemn as a Wallace and Gromit character can look, I wondered what our alternatives were, is there another way,  like the pseudo stay at home demonstrators at St Pauls think.  

Well, there are a few systems out there.  What about a Matriarchy?  This is a society ruled exclusively by women!  On the plus side, they might be able to do more than one thing at a time but that's far outweighed by  the effect on policies, with their total lack of a sense of direction and parking skills.   Then the metronomic swing of their moods, foreign ambassadors would be in a state of confusion, not knowing if they were in the good books or bad.  It would take the country ages to get ready to go out, we would always understate our Gross Domestic Product by a few pounds, and anytime another country said something nice about us, we would immediately think they wanted sex.

There is always a Kritarchy, a government of judges.  Knowing Britain like I think I do,  we wouldn't end up with Judge Pickles or Judge Judy, we would elect Trinny and Susanna.   Imagine that, a leadership made up of Michael Winner, Louis Walsh and Claudia bloody Winkleman.   The special relationship with the USA would be over, after we critiqued there ugly shoes and the habit of wearing t-shirts under there formal shirts. The cabinet meetings would consist of those tired and cliched Strictly Judges holding up out of ten scores for every suggestion.  It would be horrible, nothing would ever be good enough, because if it was, they would suddenly feel out of a job with nothing left to contribute.

This is more familiar, a Kleptocracy, a government of thieves.  Actually, when I see the league table of successful kleptocrats, I don't think any of our leaders come close, they may have been as unrewarding, but I don't think any of them gorged themselves as much as the following top ten;

  1. President Suharto of Indonesia, $15-$35bn
  2. President Marcos of Philippines, $5-$10bn
  3. President Mobutu of The Congo, $5bn
  4. Nigerian Head of State, Sani Abacha, $2-$5bn
  5. President Milosevic of Yugoslavia and Serbia, $1bn
  6. President Duvalier of Haiti, $300-$800m
  7. President Fujimoro of Chile, $600m
  8. Prime Minister Lazarenko of Ukraine, $114-$200m
  9. President Aleman of Nicaragua, $100m, and finally, at 
  10. President Estrada of Philippines, $78-$80m,    Hold on, The Philippines have been caught out twice with someone with their hand in the till.  Inexcusable, or maybe they just thought $80 million dollars just wasn't worth making a fuss about or embarrassing the President for. 
So, that doesn't sound like a good way to run a country, why not try Gerontocracy, a government of old people.  It would give them something to do and somewhere nice and warm to go in the winter months but imagine the rules they would bring in.  The speed limit would be reduced to 20s plenty, and The Ministry of Sound would have its licence revoked unless it turned into the Ministry of Tea Dances, waist height restrictions would be removed from trousers and Werthers Originals would be accepted as currency in some situations.    

A Technocracy, a government run by technical experts, a geekocracy if you like. Which in this day and age is scarily close to a Corporatocracy which is a government run by, you got it corporations, The USA for example, but increasingly the rest of us too with the rise of Google, Apple, Facebook and those other dubiously and curiously benign and friendly providers of our social oxygen.   

The one I got most excited about, a Ochlocracy, which I thought is obviously a government of stern Scottish Presbyterians that respond to every issue and set back with a resigned Och aye or Och naw!! That would be perfect, finally a system that will provide fiscal prudence and a rich and hearty attacky diet for everyone, but it wasn't that at all.  Its the rule by  mob, never a good thing because a mob is so easily influenced by persuasive idiots,  so lets forget that. 

It looks like we'll just need to stick with a democracy then, on the face of it, its not so bad, we might get unpopular leaders but we generally don't get any that will murder us, torture us and rob us blind. Plus, our military are unlikely ever to go rogue on us, aren't they?. 

Lang may yer lum reek.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Billionaire pals and power cuts

HiHo Lums, 

Its always nice to get a message from an old dear friend, even those you cannot remember ever going to school with, or working together or even knowingly being within a hundred miles of. 

So, imagine my surprise and delight at getting an e-mail this evening from someone who regards me as a friend and one that I hadn't heard anything of since he kind of went off the radar about a month ago.    
My friend is of course Al-Saadi al-Gaddafi, isn't he every ones? 

"Dear friend" he starts, a little familiar I thought, we haven't spoken, like forever  "This e-mail will not come as a surprise" it goes on " if I've been following the Libyan revolution on the news", again, a little presumptious though I guess he is ignorant to the fact I'm not widely known as a go to guy for deposed despots.  
He explains that he is the third son of slain ex president of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, its at this point I begin to think, surely if I was his BFF I would have known that and it would need no explanation, but maybe he just likes saying it.  
Anyway, some urgency gets introduced when he goes on to describe his situation and he might not have much time, this is because he is under house arrest in Niger.   I spent 4 hours stuck on a mysteriously diverted plane in some dusty military airport in Niger, so I have some sympathy at this point, Niger is pretty shit.  But I thought he was the subject of a good old international man hunt so he probably shouldn't have told me that. What he needs is an Information Security Manager, what a coincidence, it just so happens I'll be considering offers soon, if he can hang on. 

So, to business, my old pal Al-Saadi,  I'll call him Al, has got 60 billion dollars of his old dads money to filch before the National Transition Council gets a hold of it and trys to spend it on improving the lives of Libyans, he didn't actually say that last bit, but I knew he meant it.   Al says if he can hide it in my bank account he'll give me 30%, 20 billion dollars, which is very generous in anybodies language, and a further commission of 10% on all the deals he'll be doing, and I'll throw in the Information Security consulting work for my friends rate.   
Despite that this would make me about the fifteenth richest person in the world and give me the wherewithal to hollow out volcanoes and build my own death stars,  I've decided to pass up the opportunity, there are far more needy people than me, Berlusconis, Frankie from X-Factor, Greece, I should pass on their details.  The richest man in the world incidentally is a Mexican called Carlos Slim, does he sound a bit sinister to you, I'm sure it should be Carlos the Slim, The Carlos Slim is either a cigar or a handbag sized Latino sex toy.  

Speaking of X-Factor, there was a technical fault that delayed this evenings transmission by 15 minutes, no big deal for most people, lets face it, countries are going bust, wars are being fought, the oils running out and the ice caps are melting quicker than the rain forests are being burnt down.  
But apparently X-Factor fans were "furious".  The official X-Factor Twitter account, which the news agencies must monitor for, well, for inane shite was a storm of complaint.    Apparently, among those expressing their dismay, no, disgust was someone called VeeVaVoom1, who posted " So #XFactor was scheduled at 8.15, it's now 8.50pm and technical difficulties or not- we have only seen one act! " and then,  "I think the 'technical difficulties' were a deliberate sad attempt to increase ratings." 

This makes me think that VeeVaVoom1 hasn't really thought that through, that by somehow not having the show on for 15 minutes will increase ratings seems somehow the opposite of a good strategy.  She wasn't the only one, if VeeVaVoom1 is a woman, I'm willing to bet Als 60 billion dollars that she is, FootyCath said: "Am I the only one that thinks technical difficulties are entirely within your control for you to sort out?!?"  YES!!! FootyCath, you are, it was a power cut, remember  Cath, for I'm pretty sure that's your given name, X-Factor isn't run by the bad X-Men that like fucking things up.  

Lang may yer lum reek.  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dartchery, you heard it here first

Hello again Lums,

Another Gold for Britain, YAY!
And another thing...

Policy dictates I'm not allowed to talk about work in a blog, and I wrote it, so its obviously a really important and relevant policy but I have a couple of things to say about sport IN A TOTALLY NON-OLYMPIC context you understand.

I'm probably a little put out because my suggestions for improving next years galaxy games by introducing Kerby were rejected out of hand.
I had it all worked out, a mock suburban street in the Olympic Park,  pavements, a regulation 6 yards apart with kerbs 6 inches high.  There would be parked vehicles that the football, or kerbyball (its really just a football) could get stuck under and occasionally traffic would come along and suspend play for a few seconds with the shout of CAR being given by whatever player was in possession.   It would be first to twenty, simple knock out.
The Americans would be rubbish because there roads are too wide and the African nations would struggle, given the absence of kerbs, it would be an easy couple of medals for us, a test of accuracy and skill.  Still, for whatever reason, they didn't go for it.
Or my invitation to consider revamping the cycle road races by allowing Dick Dastardly style tactics like changing direction signs or fake diversion notices, sprinkling drawing pins on the road or releasing slippy oil all over the road behind you, or my favourite, discretely chaining the back of a fancied opponents bike to a lamppost just before the off. Think what a spectacle that would be. It would be nice to see the cyclists sporting big Victorian moustaches and the international teams turning up in their national stereotypes from about 1910, but that's optional

Undeterred, I have another idea, to improve an existing game rather than introduce a new one.
I got the idea when I went along to watch some archery and quickly realised how boring and pointless (HAHA pointless, get it?)  it is.  Not if your an archery fan I understand, but globally there are only about 112 of those, the rest of us are not getting that excited.
But don't worry sports fans , I have a plan.
We will keep the field of play the same, that is 70 odd metres from the target, the bows and arrows will be the same too so the archers don't need any new skills or anything.  No, what we are going to do is change the target into a big dart board.  It would need to be quite a big dart board of course, if we imagine the bulls eye to be about the size of a side plate, that will give you an idea how big it will need to be.  From there on, the rules of darts are heavily borrowed, subtraction from 501, a double finish, all that, I'd even bring back boozing on the sidelines.  Thanks to Miss S Jonesy Jones of Newport, I've got a name for it, "Dartchery".  The fans are happy, the television audience are happy, the sponsors will love it as it goes global on ESPN, even the players must be less bored and they get to drink beer and they can give themselves cool nicknames like er, thunderbolt, shaft ,bowfinger  and deadeye.

Build a big dart board and fire arrows at it and they will come....

If they don't go for this my last suggestion is for the chubby games, I got the inspiration for that from The Biggest Loser, it would be similar but kind of the opposite.

Lang may yer lum reek

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wiki-hell, a test of mind and body, yours that is if you start reading this

Yes, we know, its very wrong
Hello Lums,

What about a game of Wikipeadia  Russian roulette.  You perhaps remember that's the game where we select random article from Wikipeadia and see how many you have to go through before any of them have already reserved a little kernel of your grey matter.   I've not attempted that for a while, maybe all the hours of reading zombie lit and playing Gran Turismo will have improved my stats.   So here goes,

  1. Askari Mian Irani, some Pakistani painter that designed a postage stamp once, never heard of him, but hardly surprising that is it, I'm no philatelist and having virtually no awareness of Pakistan other than the fact that when I was growing up in Dunblane, there was a restaurant called the Indo-Pak.  This was the 70's, so not that long after the fracture of the sub-continent so I expect the Indo faction, and the Pak part probably didn't get on that well, goodness knows what affect it had on the food and how they partitioned the tips. FAIL: Wiki 1, Lum 0
  2. Jan Inge Hovig,  mmm, here we have a Norwegian Architect who's most famous work was the design of The Arctic Cathedral which I'm guessing was made out of ice bricks and had ice bells that tinkled instead of rang.  He married a famous Norwegian TV chef then tragically died a week later of a myocardial infarction, a heart attack, which I'm sure wasn't brought on by anything he ate.  FAIL: Wiki 2, Lum 0
  3. Colwich, a little closer to home, but not close enough, its a parish in Staffordshire of four and half thousand souls.  Shugbourough Hall is close by, I like to think that it was founded by someone called Shug.  FAIL: Wiki 3, Lum 0
  4. Linsdale Urban District, This isn't getting any easier, its an old council district in Buckinghamshire that was once part of the Leighton Buzzard Rural Sanitary District which was no doubt as horrendous as that sounds, what is a sanitary district anyway? I'm genuinely hoping its not the sewage district, post code SH 1T, with the poorest estate agents in the country, oh well, potentially not all bad then.  FAIL: Wiki 4, Lum 0
  5.  Reformed Church of Tappan, Five in and the first religious reference, but not any of the well known ones like er, The Pope, so  no good to me.  Its a church in Rockland County in New York which can trace some history back to 1716, which is probably about the time of the creation in the pastors mind.      It was used as a morgue after the Baylor Massacre which was a gruesome sounding battle during the American Revolution and no doubt makes it a totally creepy place to spend the night in order to inherit a fortune from your long lost mad great Uncle. FAIL: Wiki 5, Lum 0
  6. The Consumer First Energy Act 2008.  I know a few Acts,  but not this one.  Its American so I expect it has more to do with the interests of the Texan Oil Barons and less to do with consumers of America.  But since we're on the subject, in 1968, the year of my birth there were 48 Acts of government passed in the UK, including the Race Relations Act, the Theft Act, which hopefully made it illegal, The Caravan sites Act, The Hearing Aid Act, I SAID, THE HEARING AID ACT and The London Cab Act, which repealed most of what was in the Race Relations Act.  FAIL: Wiki 6, Lum 0
  7. Concordia Parish School Board.  This is what it says on the tin in Louisiana and apparently it requires all students to wear school uniforms, it doesn't say what the uniform is, it could be white gown and pointy hat for all I know.  It doesn't even make any claims to supersonic flight.  FAIL: Wiki 7, Lum 0
  8. Rhionclavis longicaudatum.  A Sea Snail, that requires someone to submit a description on Wiki.  I'll have a go.  A Marine Mollusc Gastropod, about half the height of Ermintrude the Sea Cow, commonly spotted wearing a battered straw boater, red scarf, goggles and snorkel. Often found in the company of Zebedee, an overbearing mustachioed spring that seems to know everybody's business and Dougal, a wasted sea dog of some description who turned to drugs after that night with Florence.  FAIL: Wiki 8, Lum 0
  9. Seydliste.  Wikipeadia, you are clutching at straws, Seydlitse is apparently the name of several villages in The Czech Republic, which is and always will be useless to me but it has at least given me a new found respect for the Czech Post Office. FAIL: Wiki 9, Lum 0
  10. Raclaw, West Peomeranian Voivodeship.  Nope, this has me beat twice, I've never heard of Raclaw and I have no idea what a Voivodeship is though it did get me thinking we don't use enough Vs in the English language. FAIL: Wiki 10, Lum 0
  11. Eye of the Beholder, YAAAS, you beauty, I happen to know this is a film starring Criefs very own Ewan McGregor.  Wiki seems to think it was rubbish, using words like bomb and flop.  One critic called it impossible and muddled and it acheived a score of 9% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is quite an acheivement.  To put that in perspective IMDB has scored it at 4.7 whereas The Last Airbender  which I know is totally shite, scored 4.5, so all in all its almost just as bad.  k.d.lang is in it as well, which should put it in the horror category rather than the thriller. GET IN, Wiki 10, Lum 1.  
So there you go, a score of 10-1.  This is good for me, I must be getting brainier. 

Still, its a sad day when you have to turn to Wikipeadia for some inspiration in your life. 

Lang may yer lum reek