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Monday, April 30, 2007

Rotten core

'Apple has said that "some batteries" in its range of MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops have "performance issues".
The company has issued a software update to fix the issue and has offered to replace defective batteries.'


Now, I'm not in the business of deliberately incurring the rage of Mac enthusiasts (I've seen what a crazy bunch you can be) but I simply can't help thinking: has Apple EVER made anything that doesn't have some sort of battery/general functionality problem? As I remember it, back in the dark days when I made a living writing about the company, virtually every product ever released had some sort of fault to which it generally took Apple months to admit.
On top of which, I've yet to meet a person that hasn't had battery issues with the older generation iPods.

What the hell is going on? Terribly pretty their products may be, but really, how difficult can it be to get them to work properly?

Breaking News

According to today’s Channel Four’s lunchtime news, Al Qaeda is no longer an ‘organisation’, but is in fact ‘a cult’.

Either way, young men the world over can still become ‘members’ of this shady international group, the only organisation with global reach that is centrally managed and flawlessly co-ordinated by a man nursing kidney failure in an Afghani cave.

Hope that helps clear things up a bit.

Friday, April 27, 2007

OH HOW I WANT



Seriously, how good is this?

Just Because

Lessons in PR, week 1

This story - apart from being very funny - is a perfect lesson in how NOT to throw a charity dinner.
Diseased livers on the menu at a liver disease charity? Generally a no no.


Children’s Liver Disease Foundation’s Gala Dinner was to serve cruel foie-gras

'Foie gras – a form of diseased duck liver – has been hurriedly removed for the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation’s (CLDF) gala dinner menu. Foie-gras is produced by force feeding ducks or geese large amounts of food in order to disease their livers, causing them to swell to up to 10 times the normal size. Most birds are held in cages so small they cannot move and a pipe is thrust down their oesophagus to allow food to be forced into the stomach. The process is repeated two or three times daily for three weeks until the birds develop fatty liver disease, when they are slaughtered.
“What a horrible irony that a charity set up to fight liver disease was prepared to serve diseased birds’ livers at its fundraising dinner”, says Viva! campaigns manager, Justin Kerswell.'

It’s like rain on your wedding day

Forgive me if I’m wrong, but isn’t former head of the KGB Mr Vladimir Putin praising a Soviet dissident for his defence of human rights … well… in the (almost) words of Alanis Morrisette, a little fucking ironic?

“The celebrated Russian cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich has died at the age of 80. A master musician, Mr Rostropovich was also renowned for his backing for human rights and opposition to Soviet rule.
He spent much of his career abroad, in self-imposed exile from the Soviet Union over his support for Nobel prize writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn. But he returned as communism collapsed and performed a Bach suite as the Berlin Wall came down. A month ago the Kremlin lavished praise on him as he celebrated his 80th birthday. President Vladimir Putin said then the musician was not only "a brilliant cellist and gifted conductor," but also "a firm defender of human rights."

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Girl Power

"She's gorgeous. She has taken the best bits of both of us. He will always be a part of my life. I will always love him. I couldn't hate Eddie. We had a dream life."

Yes.... I'm all for Melanie Brown maintaining her dignity after the ever-chivalrous Eddie Murphy publicly humiliated her in the cruellest way possible while she was pregnant with his child... but, "I will always love him"?? REALLY, Melanie? You sure?

Allow me to remind you....

Shortly after she and Murphy split at the end of last year, a TV interviewer asked the Hollywood actor if he was excited that Brown was pregnant.
"Now you're being presumptuous because we're not together any more," he replied.
"And I don't know whose child that is until it comes out and has a blood test. You shouldn't jump to conclusions, sir."

OH DEAR

"John Travolta, wife Kelly Preston and their daughter Ella are to star with Robin Williams in a Disney comedy, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Old Dogs centres on two best friends who suddenly find themselves responsible for seven-year-old twins."


Oh dear, oh dear.

"The film will be directed by Walt Becker, who worked with Travolta on box office hit Wild Hogs."


OOooooooooooooh, DEAR oh dear oh dear.

"Meanwhile, Queen Latifah is set to star in a remake of the 1984 Steve Martin comedy All of Me."


Ohhhhhhhhhhh, dear oh....you get the idea.

Bad dog

"Rapper Snoop Dogg has been banned from entering Australia after failing a character test, according to officials.

"He doesn't seem the sort of bloke we want in this country," Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews told Sydney's Macquarie Radio."


I mean, REALLY. At this rate the chap is going to have to start taking his summer holiays in Florida.

But hey, they’re good for tourism

“The decision to send Prince Harry to Iraq is being reviewed by senior Army officers, it has emerged. It comes amid an increase in violence in the country and the deaths of 11 British service personnel this month.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said his deployment had always been under "constant consideration" and it remained its intention to send him. The Army has always known the prince, the third in line to the throne, would be a major terrorist target.

General Sir Richard Dannatt, head of the Army, will have to decide whether to stand by his original decision to sanction Harry's deployment. Last week two British soldiers died while doing the same job Prince Harry would be expected to do during his six-month tour.”


As anyone who knows me will already be aware, the whole Royal Family would be guillotined if I had my way (or at the very least demoted to live in the Butlins campsite at Skegness – the big one at Minehead is a bit too classy for them, in my opinion). However, that aside, it seems extremely poor to me that a member of the Royal household (who, let’s face it, is actually only the ‘spare’ anyway) should be held back from going to Iraq.

I don’t want to see the boy killed in Iraq any more than I wish to see anyone else in the armed forces killed there. But at the end of the day, the kid is in the ARMY. If you’re in the army, service in Iraq is an unpleasant reality, is it not? Whether or not his presence in Iraq would cause unnecessary additional danger to his colleagues – as is feebly being suggested – is not a question I have the right expertise to answer, but it certainly sounds suspect (I’m presuming he’s not going to be wearing a dead-giveaway crown while he’s there?)…

This is a young man who joined the army knowing full well that he would very likely see action in a war zone. Without wishing to state the obvious, if he didn’t want to go to a war zone in his capacity as an army officer, he would not have become an army officer.

There have been 11 British service deaths in the last month alone, among them talented young women, men with wives and infant children, teenagers and young people. Nobody suggested that they were “too important” to be killed in action.

For anyone who seriously labours under the misapprehension that we live in a meritocratic society, that their lives are regarded as being of equal importance to those of the rich and privileged: think again, yes?

In Britain in 2007, as was the case in Britain in 1907 and 1807, a 22 year old spoilt little Nazi-saluting aristo is always going to be considered more important than everyone else – even those who put their lives on the line in our country’s military – so long as he comes from the right family.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Really not bootiful

'Bernard Matthews will get £589,000 compensation for the birds compulsorily slaughtered to prevent the spread of bird flu, Defra has said.
More than 160,000 birds were killed after an outbreak of the virulent H5N1 strain of the disease on a farm owned by the firm in Suffolk in February.
The company said it always maintained biosecurity standards, and had taken steps to enhance measures.
The Conservatives have criticised the decision to award compensation.'


Sorry, WHAT? I am not remotely surprised that the Conservatives are getting hot under the collar about this. I can't say I'm altogether pleased about it myself.

First of all, Bernard 'Turkey Twizzler' Matthews buys in a load of cheap, rancid turkeys from a farm in Hungary that had ALREADY BEEN CONTAMINATED with bird flu on a previous occasion.

He imports it to the UK, wherein he intends to produce hideous, salt-ridden lips-tits-and-eyeballs 'poultry product', the sale of which will line his pockets at the expense of the general health and wellbeing of the nation's gluttonous children.

Then the company discovers that they've got a load of infected birds on their hands. Is their first action, then, to contact DEFRA immediately in order that action can be taken immediately to minimise the spread of infection? Or is to panic first and foremost about its own business reputation, and wait a full two days to contact the correct authorities?

First person to pick the correct answer wins a packet of Bernard Matthews turkey burgers, along with a bonus prize of salmonella and early-onset diabetes.

For this remarkably laissez-faire attitude toward the nation's safety, Bernard Matthews deserves to be amply compensated, apparently.

For your further information, here are the contents of a Turkey Twizzler (anyone know what a 'permitted sweetener' might be?)...Bon appetit!

Turkey (34%),
Water,
Pork fat,
Rusk,
Coating (sugar, rusk, tomato powder, wheat starch, dextrose, salt, wheat flour, potassium chloride, hydrogenated vegetable oil, citric acid, spices, onion powder, malt extract, smoke flavourings, garlic powder, colour [E160c], mustard flour, permitted sweetener [E951], herb, spice extracts, herb extracts),
Vegetable oil,
Turkey skin,
Salt,
Wheat flour,
Dextrose,
Stabiliser (E450),
Mustard,
Yeast extract,
Antioxidants (E304, E307, E330, E300),
Herb extract,
Spice extract,
Colour (E162).

In the public interest?

I have to say that, for the most part, I do not believe in the repression of newsworthy materials on a big story. It’s a journalistic thing I suppose.

However, I can’t help feeling that in the case of the mentally-deranged young man who murdered 32 people in Virginia this week, the release of his own self-selected material was probably not terribly wise, or indeed in the public interest:

‘The student who shot dead at least 30 people at Virginia Tech sent a package to the US TV network NBC News on the day of the shootings, police said. The package contained "disturbing" photographs, video and writings, NBC said, posted from the college campus between the two rounds of killings. Cho Seung-hui is shown pointing guns at the camera, and ranting angrily. A total of 33 people, including the gunman himself, died in shootings at two locations on Monday. "You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today," the 23-year-old gunman said angrily, in an excerpt shown on NBC Nightly News. "But you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off," Cho said. "I didn't have to do this. I could have left. I could have fled. But now I will no longer run," the gunman said.’

What the material shows us is that the man was, as previously stated, mentally deranged. However, as he went on to kill several people including himself, I would have thought that that particular gem of information was already painfully self-evident.

What else does it show us? Well, more than anything else, it shows us that the man was suffering from dangerous delusions of importance. That these ‘schoolground killers’ (the Columbine pair included) fantasise about becoming macabre ‘celebrities’ through their murderous actions is a fact that has already been explored in several studies on the subject. These are depressed, often geeky, socially-excluded people who crave attention and validation, and somehow they believe that by achieving this type of notoriety, they will forever be remembered, they will evermore have value through the most dubious brand of ‘fame’.

This kid made damn sure that he achieved his moment of glory by posting what would, a week ago, have seemed rather ludicrous and pathetic videos of himself to a news network. The videos – and his image – have duly been beamed around the world, letting any number of potential killers-in-waiting know that – should they go ahead and gun down their classmates – they really will become as famous as they are in their sick dreams.

So I ask again, should NBC really have given Cho Seung-hui exactly what he wanted?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ronnie O'Sullivan

"I've had Marco Fu, Stephen Maguire twice and now Ding in the first round," said O'Sullivan.

"It's definitely fixed. Whoever is doing that is trying to stitch me up."



Ahhhh. It hasn't even started and he's already off and running. Legend.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Trigger happy

“US police have identified the gunman who murdered 32 people and injured 15 others in the worst university campus shooting in American history.
It is not yet clear what happened in the time between the first and second shootings and why the gunman was not apprehended - some students have already voiced their anger.The man, who has not yet been officially named, opened fire in a dormitory at Virginia Tech college in Virginia.
Two hours later he began firing again, this time in a classroom.
It is not yet clear what happened in the time between the first and second shootings and why the gunman was not apprehended - some students have already voiced their anger.
College police chief Wendell Flinchum said authorities believed the first shooting was an isolated incident and there was therefore no need to close the campus.”


Erm… is it just me, or is somebody being SHOT on the premises a good enough reason to close a place – that is teeming with people – down for a bit? You know, just to check what’s going on, like?

If gun crime in America has become so bad that a mere “single shooting” is no longer cause for anyone to so much as look up from their Gameboys and doughnuts, might it not be time to take another look at the gun laws, people?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Royal nonsense

Apparently in my enforced absence from British shores, a balding man in his early 20s has split up with his missus. This, apparently, is the cause not simply of acres of newsprint being churned out on the subject, but - oh yes - is actually a valid subject for political comment.

"They should be left alone now without reams of stuff being written"
Tony Blair

Sorry, WHAT? The Sun newspaper and the less imaginative members of British society being concerned about the sex lives of staggeringly tedious purpose-less posh people (i.e. The British Royal Family), yes. I don't like it, but I accept it.
But the Prime Minister?

Mr Blair, despite serious effort having been made on your part over the years, you've never looked more pathetic.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

What's in a name...




A couple of Swedes want to call their newborn 'Metallica'. Chortle. Poor bloody child. What's interesting about the story, though, is that, apparently, Swedish people have to get "the approval" of the country's authorities before they're allowed to pick their own name or that of their child. EH?

"A Swedish couple has run into trouble with authorities for trying to name their baby Metallica.
Michael and Karolina Tomaro are locked in a court battle with the country's National Tax Authority about naming their daughter after the rock band.
The six-month-old has been baptised Metallica, but tax officials have dubbed the name "inappropriate".
Under Swedish law, both first names and surnames need to win the approval of authorities before they can be used.
Offensive, unsuitable or inappropriate names, as well as those that could "cause discomfort for the one using it" cannot be used."


Good Christ. And there we were thinking that New Labour runs a nannying state system.
Tell you what, though, I'm delighted to see that Swedish folk have a jolly sense of humour:

"Baby Metallica is not the first Swedish child to fall foul of Swedish name laws - the names Ikea and Veranda have also been rejected in the past.
The name Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 - pronounced Albin - was also rejected by authorities in 1996. The boy's parents had chosen the name as a protest against Swedish naming laws."

The Real Thing

And, moving swiftly on from the Chocolate Christ, we now have the Coca Cola-swigging Saviour. Oh, there'll be swinging crucifixes over this one, and no mistake....

What do you mean, it was COKE that got the hump?!?

"An Italian film which features Jesus drinking from a can of Coca-Cola will miss its Easter release date after the drinks giant complained.
Seven Kilometres from Jerusalem tells the story of an advertising executive suffering a mid-life crisis when he meets a man who appears to be Jesus.
In the course of the film, Jesus drinks a can of Coke, and the ad man exclaims: "God, what a great endorsement!"
Coca-Cola said permission to use its trademark had not been granted.
"We don't think it's appropriate to use the subject of this film to create publicity for our brands," it said in a statement."


(I wonder if Cadbury's or Nestle - or whichever chocolate was used in the manufacture of the Choco-Christ - similarly pre-emptively fear the wrath of religious folk with nothing better to do....?)

Clarkson Rocks




Can I be the only person who thinks Jezza should work for the Foreign Office? (Well, if Boris Johnson can work in politics....)


"Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson has come under attack in the Malaysian parliament for labelling one of the country's cars the worst in the world.
The BBC presenter has been filmed attacking the Perodua Kelisa with a sledgehammer before blowing it up.
Mr Clarkson has voiced his frustrations with the small three-cylinder model in both magazine articles and on the Top Gear motoring show.
In one article, he said its name was like a disease and suggested it was built in jungles by people who wear leaves for shoes.
And on the show, he described it as "unimaginative junk, with no soul, no flair and no passion".
He then smashed it, hung it from a crane with a one-tonne weight attached, before blowing it up.
Perodua is Malaysia's second national carmaker and began producing small compact models in 1995."

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Losing conscientiousness

"When the donations went down because of the bad media, I rang a few editors and said, 'Y'know if you wanna pick on me that's one thing, but you're actually harming lives, don't you feel conscientious about that?' and they said, 'It sells papers, who cares?' and that devastated me."
So says Heather Mills of the effect of her own personal publicity on the landmine and animal rights charities she 'supports'.

You rang "editors", and they said of landmine victims "It sells papers, who cares?"

Really Heather? Really? REALLY?

Name 'em, then.

Ashes to Ashes




Tremendous stuff:

"Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards said in an interview published on Tuesday that he once snorted his father's ashes mixed with cocaine. Richards, 63, whose fondness for drugs has been openly acknowledged for decades, was quoted by music magazine NME as saying his unusual experiment with paternally enhanced cocaine came after his father's death five years ago.
"The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father. He was cremated, and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow," Richards said. "My dad wouldn't have cared," Richards said, adding, "It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Suing Dead Men

Erm… there is absolutely no way in the world I want to comment on whether or not James ‘PCP’ Brown was guilty of having raped a woman at gunpoint back in 1988, but, (without wishing to point out the obvious), isn’t it really rather late to take him to court over it?

“The US Supreme Court has refused to revive a legal case brought against James Brown over an alleged rape.
The singer's former public relations assistant Jacque Hollander claimed he raped her at gunpoint in 1988. She was seeking $106m (£53.5m) damages.”

Bravissimo

Well done, Italian telly folk: it really is time that someone put reality telly out of its misery:

“In Italy, the state broadcaster Rai has taken an unprecedented decision to scrap them from next year. It's a decision winning popular support.
"Reality television is a dinosaur," said Italy's daily newspaper La Republicca. "After all the vulgarity, all the swearing, and the smut, it's time is finally coming to an end."
From now on the reality shows in Italy will only be found on the private Mediaset network of the former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
La Republicca points to poor ratings in recent series of Italy's two most popular reality TV shows, Grande Fratello (Big Brother) on Mediaset and L'Isola dei Famosi (Celebrity Island) on Rai. Grande Fratello is said to have lost a million viewers last year.
Claudio Petruccioli, Rai's president, says his decision has been taken in line with Italy's wider efforts to improve the quality of its programming.”


Reality television makes brainless drones of us all, and chews up money that should be being spent making proper television comedy and drama. The writers are still out there, it’s only the money that’s being diverted elsewhere – like into the pockets of ice-skating rugby players, smug, pug-faced music executives and Davina bloody screeches-like-a-Macaw.

MAKE IT STOP.

Oh, and while I’m on the subject, the BBC has just trebled what it pays for the piss-poor Australian soap opera Neighbours, whose glory days ended somewhere around the time Kylie Minogue last wore dungarees. This is because a commercial channel – Channel Five – wanted to poach it. As a result, the BBC will now pay just £3 million less per year to screen cheap, shite Australian produced pap than it does to make Planet Earth.
Give that wee fact a moment’s thought, if you will.
If the BBC wants to compete with commercial channels in this way, FINE. Do it. (As it is, Channel Five is kicking your arse on viewability anyway: CSI’s Carmine vs. Andrew Lloyd ‘Free Publicity’ Webber ain’t much of a headscratcher, is it?).
But do it on an even playing field, and scrap the increasingly hard-to-justify licence fee, yes? That way you won’t even have to PRETEND to care about quality programming any more…

Banning Sweet Jesus



The gallery that was planning to exhibit Cosimo Cavallaro’s sculpture of Jesus has decided to cancel the show, because apparently it upset some Catholics. Depressingly, the gallery’s director has even offered to RESIGN over the fuss it has caused.

That’s a real shame. Quite apart from the fact that the sculture is witty and interesting – it is made of chocolate, thus combining neatly both the religious and commercial ‘symbols’ of the Easter season – it is yet another example of fear of faith closing down people’s rights to freedom of speech.
What I don’t get is this: it’s a statue, of a naked prostrate Jesus. Like what you see in art galleries all over the world, all day, every day. It’s Easter, therefore the exhibition is extremely timely and pertinent, both to Christianity and to the pagan celebration of rebirth upon which it was imposed. So what the hell are they upset ABOUT, exactly?
That it’s a statue of Jesus?
That he’s naked?
That it’s made of chocolate?
And if the answer to any of the above is “Yes”, then the answer simply doesn’t make sense…

“The six-foot (1.8m) sculpture, entitled "My Sweet Lord", depicts a naked Jesus Christ with his arms outspread.
The timing, over Easter Holy Week - the most important part of the Christian year - provoked an outcry.
The Roger Smith Hotel housing the Lab gallery decided to cancel the exhibition after the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights called for a boycott.
"We're delighted with the outcome," said Kiera McCaffrey, spokeswoman for the League. Ms McCaffrey had called the exhibit "an assault on Christians".
"They would never dare do something similar with a chocolate statue of the Prophet Mohammed naked with his genitals exposed during Ramadan."


AHHHHHH.

So now we come to the heart of the matter. It’s a childish ‘If they won’t have it, neither will we’ type of hissy fit. Righto. Well in that case, a couple of things need to be cleared up: firstly, you would never see a statue of the Prophet Mohammed with his balls out, because Islam as a religion quite famously rejects Idolatry.
Christianity, on the other hand, doesn’t. Christ exposes his (generally quite buff, in a white-skinned blue-eyed sort of way) self in churches and cathedrals the world over. With some enthusiasm. Indeed, one could say that Jesus is quite the attention seeker.

And as for erecting a statue of Jesus during Easter Week: erm….

Monday, April 02, 2007

The year's most disturbing photograph so far



FACT.

One of the following has happened here:

1. Wayne Rooney and his girlfriend have actually melted
2. Someone has made terrifying voodoo dolls of them, using cotton wool, felt tips and stork margarine
3. Their stylist has had the night off
4. Families don't...erm...'mix' much in Croxteth.