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Friday, August 31, 2007

Big Bugger

Big Brother ends this week, I learn from the BBC News website. I say "I learn", because, with near tear-inducing relief, I can say that this has been the first year that the hideous gargoyle-fest that the show has become has completely passed me by.

One interesting snippet, though: according to the BBC viewing ratings, the programme achieved its highest ratings when Blah got evicted for Blah Blah in week Blah (details, like contestants, entirely irrelevant).

This 'highest rating' in question was just shy of 6 million viewers.

A quick perusal of the weekly viewing figures tells us that this peak of Big Brother excitement was deemed less interesting - and was watched by less people - than a mid-week showing of the dire and interminable knacker soap, The Bill.

Time to put it out of its misery now, SURELY?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Two for the price of One

Right, now hold on a minute. Madonna ‘baby snatcher’ Ciccone has been told she can adopt a second child from Malawi. Confusingly, you might think, given that the Malawian government have, as far as I am aware, still not authorised her first baby-raid in the country.

She is choosing to pick up another one, apparently, because she wants to give ‘a sister’ to the first Malawian baby she took a fancy to. In order to “redress the balance”.

What the fuck does that actually mean? Redress what balance?

Do you mean that as a white woman adopting a black child you need to ‘provide’ said child with another black sibling, by any chance? Of COURSE you do.

Because that’s going to do what, exactly? Fool both children into believing that you’re their parent rather than just a patronising white woman with a defunct biological clock and a penchant for cute piccanninies? Miraculously make them feel that they ‘fit in’ to your life socially and racially? Somehow bring about their instantaneous familial identification without you having to do any of the seriously hard work that being an adoptive parent - a proper adoptive parent - actually involves?

Now look, you should have paid closer attention, really. You don’t actually NEED to pick up a second child of the same race and background to chuck into your oh-so-modern multi-coloured menagerie. Oh no. Any non-white poverty-stricken urchin will do, Madonna love. Look at Angelina Jolie - she’s been out there performing her own one-woman game of global baby Monopoly for years.

“I’ve got two Cambodians, one African…. Let me see. Has anyone got any hotels - sorry, I mean orphanages - on India?”

‘MADONNA has been given the green light to adopt a second orphan from Malawi — a 13-month-old girl called Mercy.
She’s been told she can take the “smiling angel” as a sister to David Banda, her first child from the African nation.
It follows months of legal wrangling over the adoption of 22-month-old David.
And to ensure all goes smoothly this time, Madge, 49, has told her lawyer in Malawi, Alan Chinula, to “cover all legal bases” before she collects Mercy next April.
Madge insisted she wanted to adopt a sister for David “to redress the balance”. Officials asked her to view up to TEN girls before deciding.’

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

They f**k you up, your mum and dad

It seems that family strife is the theme of the day. Mere days after Britney Spears's mother announces she is taking the side of her own daughter's ex-husband in their custody battle, Britney finds herself dragged up on what sounds like an absurdly spurious child abuse charge of highly suspicious timing:

'IN another blow for BRITNEY SPEARS, the singer is now being investigated for possible child abuse.
According to reports in the States, the LA County Department Of Children And Family Services (DCFS) are "conducting an active investigation".
The star has not been accused of physically harming her kids, Sean Preston and Jayden James.
The complaint instead centres around allegations of poor dental hygiene, eating and sleeping habits.
It is also alleged that Britney's ex-husband KEVIN FEDERLINE instigated the investigation as part of their bitter divorce battle.'

Course, I'll retract without question if it turns out the undeniably-batty Ms Spears has been branding her kids with cigarettes and the like, but wouldn't you like to think that the girl's mother would try to find some way of supporting her own child through her troubles?
Let's face it, if you're prepared to make millions of dollars by dressing your teen daughter up as a sexualised schoolgirl-come-hooker, encouraging her to writhe around bleating 'hit me baby' for the general paedophilic delight of one and all, you pretty much have an obligation to stick around for the inevitable fall-out ten years after the fact, don't you?

Happy Families

Golly. Not satisfied, it would seem, with outing her as a heroin addict a couple of weeks ago, Amy Winehouse’s parents-in-law have really been sticking the boot in over the weekend. Whether it’s the rare Bank Holiday sunshine that got to them, a burgeoning taste for the limelight, or simply the crisp sound of an old-fashioned tabloid cheque being waved aloft, it appears they simply couldn’t STOP themselves from further destroying the livelihood and sanity of their one-gentle-shove-from-total-oblivion daughter-in-law.

Firstly, daddy dearest “opens his heart” to the News of the World on Sunday in order to….erm….tell us all how Amy Winehouse’s drug problems are really nothing to do with his son - NOTHING AT ALL. In fact, it's pretty much all her fault:

‘POP druggie Amy Winehouse and husband Blake Fielder-Civil have been chillingly warned by his dad: "Stop or you'll end up dead like Sex Pistol Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy!"
Pouring out his heart in an exclusive interview headmaster Giles said: "Drink, drugs and a history of self-harm is a worrying cocktail. I'm going to point out the Sid and Nancy comparison to Blake."
Despairing at his son's downward spiral since marrying 23-year-old wildcat Amy, Giles sighed: "You couldn't tell Sid Vicious what to do, could you? But I'd like Blake and Amy to think about those two. It might shake them up. I doubt it, but maybe."
…And shocked dad Giles, 42, told us: "They've fallen out and Amy's gone a bit frenzied. She's got her claws into his face.
"Blake's a dignified person. He wouldn't hurt Amy — not even in self-defence. But clearly she's gone hell for leather.
"It's nasty. The trouble is Amy does like to have her own way and she can be quite wilful.
"Maybe she wasn't allowed to continue whatever she wanted to do and this is how she reacted. Blake HASN'T been supplying Amy with drugs. But there are people close to her who do.
"And what Amy wants, Amy gets. Of course, my wife and I find that totally abhorrent….’

After disappointly failing to swing public sympathy away from the unfortunately troubled-yet-talented Amy and toward their own preposterous waste of skin and organs son, they came back for more today. And this is a cracker: they want the public to stop buying Amy Winehouse’s music. Because, according to them, that’ll stop her taking drugs:

‘The in-laws of the troubled singer Amy Winehouse today urged fans to stop buying her records – to send a message to her and her husband that they must sort out their drug problems.
The parents of Blake Fielder-Civil said that Winehouse and their son were drug addicts but in a state of denial. They also said the singer should not be given any awards for which she is nominated, to show the couple’s behaviour was not acceptable
Speaking to Victoria Derbyshire on BBC Radio 5 Live, Giles Civil said: “They are taking cocaine, we believe they are taking crack and there have been instances of heroin abuse. Clearly they are addicts but they are in abject denial.”
Georgette, his wife, said: “They both need medical help before one of them dies.” Giles added: “They are a very close couple. We are concerned that if one dies through substance abuse, the other will commit suicide.”’

Denying her professional success as a drugs intervention policy? That’s the ticket, you say?
Really. It’s a ploy that doesn’t seem to have worked too successfully with Pete Doherty. Let’s face it, he’s sold a fuck of a lot more stories about his mangy ex-missus to The Sun than he ever has albums, but that appears to have escaped this lovely couple’s attention. (Conversely, to imagine what a sudden about-turn in success would have done to the drug habits of the likes of Keith Richards or James 'PCP' Brown is too complicated a folly for this time of day, so I won't bother with it).

One can only hope that Amy Winehouse has the strength to sort herself out, and the intelligence to realise that getting rid of her grubby-looking drug-addled husband and his equally grubby family is the best place to start.
And if she doesn’t have the brains or the will to do that, let’s hope instead that her dad gets a second chance to throw a punch in the direction of the Fielder-Civils. It won’t get her off drugs, but I’d like to bet it’d make him - and the rest of us - feel a whole lot better.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Goody Lord

Jade Goody - you know, the curious-looking woman who made a lot of money from reality TV and was then crucified publicly by the same medium that made her - has split up with her boyfriend. He's inexplicably become something of a celebrity himself, apparently, judging by the fact that his phizog ended up in today's Daily Mail. Nowt so curious and all that.

Anyhow, "of no consequence", you say, and you'd be right. But look:

'Mother-of-two Jade was reportedly devasated after splitting with Jack earlier this week.
The pair, who lived together in Jade's £500,000 home in Ongar, Essex with her two son's Bobby, 4, and Freddie, 2, had been dogged with claims of cheating throughout their stormy two year relationship.
Jade's agent, Sean O'Brien said of the break-up, "We are not commenting on that".'

Now, who'd have thought that Jade Goody would still have an agent?

A (famously not very) Tall Tale

Altogether now:


'Katie blames Tom Cruise's snoring for sleeping in separate bedrooms

It's an age old problem, and many a wife has suffered because of it - but not Katie Holmes.
Tom Cruise and wife Katie Holmes are reported to sleep in separate bedrooms, so she doesn't have to suffer his snoring.
A source told US magazine, Star: "It's a situation that works for both of them".'

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Debt, Drunkenness and Dirty Kitchens

The annual ‘A Levels are getting easier’ story is round again. Hard to believe it’s that time of year already.

Rather than drone on – as I would love to do – about the pointlessness of it all (of COURSE they’re getting easier, kids are getting THICKER) I thought I’d write my response to The Times’ ‘Ten Reasons to go to University’. They say:

1. You can make A Levels a thing of the past.

Yeah, ok, I’ve got no argument against that. Apparently once you get to Uni, nobody cares what A Levels you’ve got. Personally, I never noticed anybody caring what A Levels I got when I was doing the fucking things. Least of all my school teachers.

2. The work will actually be interesting.

Rather a ridiculous assumption, this. If you’re studying molecular biology, the work might be interesting. If you get your rocks off on molecular biology. If you’re studying English, on the other hand, the work will only ever be marginally interesting, on the grounds that there’s actually only the equivalent of a day a week to get interested in. The rest of the time you can either get a proper job, get drunk or masturbate. I don’t recommend combining these.

3. Learn to get on with people and make lifelong friends.

Learn to get on with people? What does that mean? Are we to assume that, by the age of 18 and having spent every weekday of their teenage life in the competitive social environment that is school, these kids haven’t learned how to socialise with other humans? What are they, fucking autistic?
And as for making lifelong friends, well yes, you’ll meet a very small number of people at University that you like and want to drink beer with, and lots and lots of people that you’d rather stab in the eyeball with a fork than share breathing space with. A bit like the rest of your life. Oh, except there’s generally more of the latter group to go around in a University. And they’re drunk. And dirty. And noisy. And living in the flat next door. Enjoy!

4. It’s your one chance to doss around.

Oh please. Have you heard of the dole? You don’t have to pay £3000+ a year for the priviledge of sitting on your arse going quietly out of your mind on the dole. Plus if you do go out of your mind (which you will if you live like a student in a squalid cesspit of an overpriced house in the shit end of town watching deal or no deal on television) they’ll give you extra as a disability allowance. Everyone’s a winner.

5. The graduate premium (i.e. cash)

According to The Times, if you have a degree you’re guaranteed to earn more money than if you don’t have one.
Excuse me momentarily…


Ah ha.

That’s a fucking good one. Must remember to tell that to my plumber next time he pops round. In his Mercedes.

6. It’s never too late

Oh, this is the mature student bit, isn’t it?
Well, yes, yes it is. If you’re 30 and you’ve got a mortgage and a job and some semblance of a secure and contented life and you’re hit by the sudden and INSANE notion that you want to render yourself unemployed and surrounded by fuckwitted teenagers for three years, what I suggest you do is go to a friend, partner or colleague and ask them to slap you repeatedly in the face with an iron bar until you snap out of it.

7. You’ll enjoy crazy experiences that you won’t find anywhere else.

True, true indeed. Nowhere else will you find people who consider a brigade of St Johns Ambulancemen a necessary precaution on a night out clubbing. Who bring home traffic cones for a joke because they’re just so post-ironically-fucking-funny. Who think that bathrooms need to be cleaned annually. Who talk inane shit incessantly but believe themselves more intelligent than the rest of society. At no other time in your life will you be patronised and hated by everyone else in society, and suffer in the humbling and soul destroying knowledge that they’re absolutely bloody right. Should I go on?

8. Think of your country!

This refers to the skills shortage. We need more highly educated people in this country, so going to University is…yeah, like a really good thing to do, yeah? Well, yes, until you realise that, three years down the line, you’re £15K in debt, you can’t afford to buy a postage stamp never mind a home, you’re up against every other ‘highly educated’ bastard in the country in a swamped jobs market, and you fuck off to America where they’ll pay you twice as much as here. Yep. University is a patriotic act, people.

9. What else are you going to do?

This is a reason to waste three years of your life, is it? Because you haven't the intelligence to think of anything more productive to do with your time? Jesus. I can hear the underside of the barrel being scraped from here.
Here's a suggestion: how about getting a paying job that will allow you to function as a contributing member of society?
Gosh, I found that question quite easy! Must be thanks to my superior education.

10. Learn how brilliant you can be

And that statement, ladies and gentleman, (from a currently-serving work-dodger) sums up EXACTLY what is wrong with students. Here endeth the lesson.

Come in, PC Khan...

Now this is special. A senior police officer, by the name of Masood Khan, has been let off a wilful misconduct charge in court, brought against him for having sex while on duty.
Because he had his earpiece in the whole time. "On low volume". (LOVING the detail).

Brilliant. What was he going to do? Stop halfway through if a crime was committed? Can he hear suspect packages through his earpiece, then?

Admittedly, it was a bit excessive for him to have been brought to a Crown Court over the whole affair, but as a user of public transport, I've got to tell you that I don't feel particularly safe knowing that the man in charge of public safety (such as he is) was off in a Gatwick hotel room, rodgering some woman he met on the internet, when he was meant to be stopping people from trying to kill me.
(Oh, and as the beauty is in the detail, he met the lucky recipient of this twenty minutes of romance on a 'specialist' site for kinkies that are into uniforms. Naughty Plod.)

I'd say it's only fair that the police disciplinary board elect to give PC Earpiece more time - a LOT more time - to stick to what he enjoys best. At low volume.

'A senior police officer who admitted having sex with a stranger while on duty was cleared of any offence yesterday after the jury heard that he kept his radio earpiece switched on throughout. British Transport Police Inspector Masood Khan, 41, was charged with misconduct in a public office after a 20-minute tryst in a police office with a woman he had met on an Internet dating site.
The officer, who signed up for the website using the name Michael K Plod, told jurors: "It was an absolutely wrong thing to do, morally and professionally, and I shouldn't have done that."
But he claimed that he was always poised and ready to respond to an emergency because he had his earpiece in.
"If there was a call for me I would have answered it and dealt with it,' he said. It took the jury at Southwark Crown Court only ten minutes to clear him but Khan still faces a disciplinary hearing. The ultimate penalty is the sack.'

Fabulous Insult

In today's paper there's a story about a minority religious (i.e. non-Muslim) sect in northern Iraq who are being targeted and murdered by Al Qaeda. (I'd feel sorry for them, were it not for their oh-so-predictable prediliction for stoning women, but I digress).

Not the most likely source, you'd think, for a funny.

And yet.

It seems that this "misunderstood" group are derided by Muslim Iraqis as, "peacock-loving, lettuce-dodging devil worshippers".

And here, fabulously, is why:

'The Yazidis are mainly Kurds, spread out in villages across northern Iraq and around Lalish. The temple is leased out each year to a different family, who are entrusted to maintain the leafy courtyards and smoke- blackened halls in good order, while taking whatever surplus profits are made from the pilgrim trade.

The entrance to the sanctuary is adorned with a large black snake carved next to the stone portal, said to represent the serpent that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden.

On one of the walls of Lalish’s principal outside courtyard is a beautiful image of a peacock, representing the main angel created by God when he formed the world. One of the Peacock Angel’s names is Shaytan, the same as the word for Satan in the Koran, which has led to misunderstandings about the Yazidi being devil worshippers. He is, however, only considered as one of seven archangels created by God and revered by this obscure ethnic minority. The shrines and tombs of Yazidi leaders that dot the landscape of northern Iraq are often referred to by local Muslims as “Beit Shaytan”, of the House of Satan.

The taboo on lettuce is also obscured by secrecy and age, but is believed to have arisen because the name in the Yazidi dialect of Kurdish resembles the title given to the seven angels when they appear in human form, giving rise to an injunction that prevents worshippers from eating the body of those whom they revere.'

I prefer a shower

India's Yamuna river is not, apparently, a source of holy goodness that local Hindus think it is. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it's actually quite polluted. Just how polluted, however, does give pause for thought.

The Yamuna, in which thousands of people take ritualistic daily dips, according to The Times, "contains faecal waste 100,000 times the safe limit for bathing".


Born Free

Just been reading – as you do – a feature about ultrasound procedures on pregnant women. Now here’s a fairly disturbing thing: the amniocentesis, which is done to test for Downs Syndrome on unborn babies, appears to be causing a not insubstantial number of women to miscarry wanted foetuses:

‘In a paper published in Ultrasounds this week, retired Dr Hylton Meire not only argues there is no scientific evidence to prove the 20-week scan is worthwhile, he also casts doubt on the reliability of the principal method of testing for Down's Syndrome - the nuchal fold measurement.
These tests do not give a yes or no answer to whether a baby has Down's, but an indication of risk. Those deemed to have a higher possibility are offered an amniocentesis, where a needle is inserted into the womb to give a much more accurate analysis.
Every amniocentesis carries a small risk of miscarriage, so women who are not carrying a disabled foetus in the first place can end up losing a perfectly healthy baby.
Using various figures, Dr Meire, formerly of King's College Hospital, calculates that as many as 3,200 healthy babies are lost in this way each year.
For every 50 live births of children with Down's Syndrome prevented, he says 160 women miscarry non-affected babies.’

That’s pretty grim as medical findings go, particularly when you consider that the women being tested in this way are usually older, thanks to the higher risk of Downs in pregnancies past the age of 40. To lose a desired baby at the age of 45 must be quite a choker.

Moreover, I find it a bit strange that aborting Downs babies is something that is seen as acceptable as standard – I mean, I GET it, depressing though the logic is, but it’s very specific. I’m not a doctor so I wouldn’t know, but aren’t people with Downs capable of achieving a reasonable quality of life? I’m not saying it’s a bundle of laughs to parent a child with disabilities, and I would never judge anyone for taking the abortion option when offered, but shouldn’t a person due to be born with Downs have the option to at least give life a go, however inconvenient it might be for the parents?
If the medical establishment deems it perfectly acceptable to abort a late stage foetus if it has Downs Syndrome, does it condone it for other disabilities? If having a disability means your life is effectively not worth the living, doesn’t it then follow that a person who, say, loses the use of their legs at the age of 10 should kill themselves? Are other disabilities aborted as standard? Other perceived ‘defects’?
And if so, why is Carol Vorderman alive?
(That’s called lightening the mood)……

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Take my mother-in-law..."

So, Amy Winehouse is addicted to heroin. Can't say I'm surprised - her husband has the look of a smackhead about him, and she seems to be the type that soaks up her bloke's problems and personality defects like a giant human sponge, bless her.

But it's good to know that she's got the support,the comfort and above all, benefit of the DISCRETION of her mother in law, isn't it?

'Singer Amy Winehouse is reportedly addicted to heroin, according to her mother-in-law Georgette Civil.
Winehouse and husband Blake Fielder-Civil have checked into a rehab clinic in the U.S., according to newspaper reports, after the singer collapsed following three days of hard partying last week.
And now Fielder-Civil's mother tells the Daily Mirror newspaper, "You can't blame Amy, you can't blame Blake. They're just as bad as each other. It's the hardest thing in the world for me to say in public that my son and his wife have a drug problem...
"I know my son has had a drug problem ever since he was 20 and moved down to London. I needed to know about Amy's problems and we had a chat - just the two of us. She told me she was addicted to heroin and cocaine."'

"Just the two of us", Mrs ironically-named Civil? Surely that should read, "Just the two of us and several million Daily Mirror readers"?

PR Advice

Now. That woman Sienna Miller.


WHY is she in the papers?

I have never met anyone who has seen her films, and I have never met anyone that was interested in her. I know no woman who wants to look like her or dress like her, and I know no man that wants to bed her.

And yet, every day this week, I have endured pointless gossip stories about the woman and the 'conquests' she appears to change daily, like contact lenses.

Now, obviously, I realise that she's just one of those random blonde actress nobodies that the world of celebrity seems to inexplicably want to foist upon us -despite no discernible traces of talent or notability - but REALLY. Shagging Jude Law is all well and good, but it's hardly interesting on the 'doing a Britney' level, is it?

Note to Miller's PR: Enough already. Do you never SLEEP??? Put down the Red Bull, put DOWN the straw, and try leaving it at least a fortnight between each puff of 'dating co-star' guff, yes?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Gallic Wizardry

Apparently, the French kid who posted a full translation of the latest Harry Potter book online will not, despite being arrested for his efforts, actually be charged.

Quite right too. In an age where society (oh alright, the Daily Mail) is up in arms on a weekly basis about falling educational standards, yob rule, teenage pregnancy and gun crime and the general all-round chavvishness of young people, I think it's madness to have arrested a 16 year old capable of singlehandedly translating a 700 page novel from English into French in less than a week. We should have given the little chancer a bloody honourary degree.

'A French teenager who was arrested for publishing his own complete translation of the latest Harry Potter novel online will not be prosecuted.
The decision to not sue for damages was made in agreement with JK Rowling, said the book's French publisher, Gallimard.

'The aim was never financial, it only aimed to protect authors' rights," said a spokeswoman for the company.
The official French language version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is scheduled for release on 26 October.
The 16-year-old, from the southern city of Aix-en-Provence was arrested last week.
He told police that he had not sought to make money from his unauthorised translation, which appeared within a few days of the book's release on 21 July.

Gallimard said France's anti-piracy squad had spotted the student's unauthorised Potter as part of a probe into organised networks that post pirated book translations online.
Investigators were reportedly struck by the "near-professional" quality of the boy's work.'

Ha Ha, Cowell, Ha Ha

Hmmm. I wonder what the backers (if there are any) for your hate-inducing reality-telly-inspired-movie will be making of this, Simon Cowell?

If there really was a God (unfortunately in this case, there isn't) you'd be back making Zig and Zag novelty tunes by this time next year, you hateful little toad.

'A Broadway show which was based on the hit reality TV programme American Idol has closed after its first official night on stage in New York.
Idol: The Musical, which was dubbed a "satirical musical comedy", was originally previewed in July.
By the end of the month the entire cast had been replaced without explanation and fresh previews began on 1 August.
Producer Todd Ellis said he had scrapped the show "due to a lack of advance ticket sales".
He added that a "lack of positive feedback from audience members and critics and a lack of sustainable financial resources" had also fuelled his decision to close the show.

Earlier this month, American Idol judge Simon Cowell announced he was going to make a movie set behind the scenes of a TV talent show.
The film, currently titled Star Struck, will tell the fictional story of 10 contestants in a singing competition.
Cowell will help pick the lead characters from open auditions like those used on American Idol.'

Monday, August 13, 2007

I don’t feel like chicken tonight

Today we learn that retailer Philip Green pays some of his Asian workers less than £4 a day to make manky cheap clothes with Kate ‘crackwhore’ Moss’s name scrawled across the label. This is a priviledge for them, apparently, as these workers are asked to pay local agents £725 in order to get the job in the first place.
Quite why anyone would expect a better ethical position from a man who refuses to pay fair taxes in the country that provides him his billions, just as those us who fuel his wealth by buying his sweatshop tat are obliged to do, is a mystery to me. This is a man who, upon turning 50, donned a toga at his own £1m party. Yummy. A man whose wife recently bought him a solid gold Monopoly board as a gift. Does that spell ‘caring and sharing’ to you, people?
Handily for those who have undergone trauma to the frontal lobe in recent years, The Times newspaper explains that this kind of thing is rather common and MIGHT JUST be the result of globalisation. (This, a full seven years after ‘No Logo’ hit the bestsellers list). As The Times shockingly reveals, the retail world’s terrifying obsession with offering absurdly low pricing to its consumers in Preston and Port Talbot means that the real cost is felt by others at different points along the supply chain, say, in The Phillippines and Pyong Yang.
At the same time, rumours are abound in the press that a mangy and anaemic-looking chicken, now being sold at Asda stores with a ridiculous £2 price-tag for an entire bird, might not actually be the true ‘bargain’ – or, in Asda’s own words, “iconic” - product it claims to be. (Antibiotic overdosing, broiler shed overcrowding, pork-protein injecting, loss-leader selling, supplier blackmailing, all the usual stuff).
Well bugger me backwards, REALLY???
Frankly, if you find yourself surprised by these pieces of information, you need, in my opinion, a damn good slapping. To be so ignorant of how the world works, to walk around with your eyes SO firmly closed that you hadn’t even bothered to think about what the true cost of your ugly Primark shift dress or your poultry-heavy diet might be, both to other people and to your own society, is actually offensive, in my view. Buy shit designer knock offs, by all means. Eat, as the EU says we do, the weight of a 7 year old boy in rank chicken every year. Tell yourself that the words ‘ethical’ and ‘consumer’ don’t belong in the same sentence. Go ahead. But don’t come over all mock-outraged when it’s pointed out to you what your consumerist greed really means and how we actually got here.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Look on the bright side - if we manage to actually kill of all beasties and birdies, we can make our own. Out of plastic. Like Florantijn Hofman.

Bye Bye Baiji

Everyone loves a dolphin.

But damn, if we started regulating Chinese economic activity, think where it would lead! First it'd be the fishermen, then it'd be the factories. Before you know it, kids from here to Arkansas would have to start paying a fair price for their trainers!

Ah well. So at least there's still the common goldfish. They're cute, right?

'A freshwater dolphin found only in China is now "likely to be extinct", a team of scientists has concluded.
The researchers failed to spot any Yangtze river dolphins, also known as baijis, during an extensive six-week survey of the mammals' habitat.

The team, writing in Biology Letters journal, blamed unregulated fishing as the main reason behind their demise.

The World Conservation Union's Red List of Threaten Species currently classifies the creature as "critically endangered".
Sam Turvey of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), one of the paper's co-authors, described the findings as a "shocking tragedy".
"The Yangtze river dolphin was a remarkable mammal that separated from all other species over 20 million years ago," Dr Turvey explained.
"This extinction represents the disappearance of a complete branch of the evolutionary tree of life and emphasises that we have yet to take full responsibility in our role as guardians of the planet."
If confirmed, it would be the first extinction of a large vertebrate for over 50 years.
The scientists added that there were a number of human activities that caused baiji numbers to decline, including construction of dams and boat collisions.
"However, the primary factor was probably unsustainable by-catch in local fisheries, which used rolling hooks, nets and electrofishing," they suggested.
"Unlike most historical-era extinctions of large bodied animals, the baiji was the victim not of active persecution but incidental mortality resulting from massive-scale human environmental impacts - primarily uncontrolled and unselective fishing," the researchers concluded.'

Monday, August 06, 2007

Should've kept a checklist

This is really quite spectacular: the US government has admitted that it has "lost track of" (i.e. lost) nearly 200,000 guns that it has given to the Iraqi security forces.

Apparently weapons distribution within Iraq had been "haphazard and rushed", but happily, they're now reviewing their weapons distribution process in the country.

That will come, I'm sure, as an enormous relief to the US soldiers currently serving in the war zone, who, the same report also suggests, are enjoying the not-terribly-pleasingly-ironic experience of having Iraqi 'dissidents' take pot-shots at them with their own country's guns.

'The US military cannot account for 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols given to the Iraqi security forces, an official US report says.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says the Pentagon cannot track about 30% of the weapons distributed in Iraq over the past three years.
The Pentagon did not dispute the figures, but said it was reviewing arms deliveries procedures.

About $19.2bn has been spent by the US since 2003 on Iraqi security forces.
GAO, the investigative arm of the US Congress, said at least $2.8bn of this money was used to buy and deliver weapons and other equipment.
Correspondents say it is now feared many of the weapons are being used against US forces on the ground in Iraq.
The GAO said weapons distribution was haphazard and rushed and failed to follow established procedures, particularly from 2004 to 2005.

AK-47 rifles: 110,000
Pistols: 80,000
Body armour pieces: 135,000
Helmets: 115,000

During this period, security training was led by Gen David Petraeus, who now commands all US forces in Iraq.
The GAO reached the estimate - 111,000 missing AK-47s and 80,000 missing pistols - by comparing the property records of the Multi-National Security Transition Command for Iraq against records maintained by Gen Petraeus of the arms and equipment he ordered.'

Truly Desperate Dan

This is so, so sad.

The Dandy is no more.

It would be bad enough if they were just ditching it. But no.

They're relaunching it as a fortnightly publication called (truly) Dandy Xtreme, which will contain a pull out section snappily entitled Dandy 'Comix'.
Because, as every brainless marketing wanker the world over kleerly no's, young people aren't interested in anything spelt correctly or that makes sense in any way.

This decision was apparently made because, and I kid you not, children are no longer able to fit comic-reading into "their hectic lives". Either the good folk at DC Thomson have a finely-honed (if embittered) sense of humour about such things, or the world really is going to utter shit.

'The world's longest running comic, The Dandy, has ceased to exist in its traditional format.
The weekly title has been changed to a fortnightly magazine called Dandy Xtreme.

Dundee-based publisher DC Thomson confirmed the comic had been given a major facelift in its 70th anniversary year.

It said favourite characters such as Desperate Dan would still feature in the central pull-out, Dandy Comix.
DC Thomson said the format of the publication had been updated because of feedback from readers.

'Too busy'

Dandy editor Craig Graham said: "Following extensive research, we discovered The Dandy readers were struggling to schedule a weekly comic into their hectic lives. They just didn't have enough time.

"They're too busy gaming, surfing the net or watching TV, movies and DVDs."

Mr Graham added: "They still enjoyed The Dandy, but if they were going to buy it themselves they expected more than just 'a comic my dad used to read'.
"They required a guide, packed with the stuff kids need to know to stay in the loop - a lifestyle magazine attuned to their hectic lives, featuring all the latest trends, must-haves, must-sees and must-dos.
"They made us promise to retain comics, but suggested we make our characters cheekier, edgier, and more extreme."
He added that the Dandy Xtreme would still qualify as the world's longest running comic because the publication had been updated, and not replaced.'

Living in Wonderland

"We have a need for love and we have a need for sharing song and happiness and really enjoying this that we do have, and that is life"

Now, I love you dearly, Stevie Wonder, but this doesn't really answer the question, "Why are you touring again after ten years off?", does it?

Stick to the singing, methinks.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Going Down

"I have been found guilty on charges I have made admission to from the moment of my first arrest"

Chris Langham

This really is the most fabulous 'not-quite-getting-it' statement I've ever heard. The man genuinely appears to believe that if you hold your hands up to a crime, you are somehow 'innocent' of it.

"Well, yes, officer, clearly I was stealing that car, cos what you saw me do it innit, but I've admitted it. Can I go home now?"

Clearly, Mr Langham has not seen Dave Caruso at work on CSI Miami. The legend that is Caruso gets a full confession from his "perps" at the end of every episode. EVERY EPISODE! But, as Langham ought to have taken note, he nonetheless always announces, with a final flourish, "you're going down for a very long time".

Should've watched a bit more Channel Five, rather than child pornography, that's what he should have done.

The whole way through this sordid trial, the chap seems to have had a frighteningly rudimentary grasp of how the law works with regard to paedophiliac behaviour. A couple of weeks back he was recorded as saying, in court, "I was very arrogant to think that the law did not apply to me".

Arrogant, sir? ARROGANT? What a strange term to use under these circumstances. You've really got to be quite divorced from reality to consider the collection of images of children being sexually abused as "arrogant", as opposed to "sick, nasty and illegal".

The law does apply to you, Mr Langham. Dave could've told you that.

Pop has eaten itself

'Music mogul Simon Cowell has signed up to make a movie which will be set behind the scenes of a TV singing contest, according to industry reports.
The film, currently titled Star Struck, will follow 10 contestants trying to make it big in the music business.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Cowell said: "We want it to be the musical version of Rocky - an underdog story, a feel-good film."
Cowell hopes the movie will be ready for release by next summer.
The lead characters will be cast from open auditions similar to those used on talent shows The X Factor and Pop Idol.
Cowell, who will sit on the judging panel as he does in the TV programmes, insisted that he wants complete unknowns to star in the film.
"To enjoy the film, you've got to watch the actors and believe that they are contestants on a reality show," he said.
The film's writer is Jonathan Harvey who has spent the last two years following the music mogul around.'

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Daddy Dearest

I don't know why an ex-Spice Girl's love life should be of any interest to me, but I couldn't help noticing this:

'Spice Girl Melanie Brown has filed court papers in the US in a bid to confirm that actor Eddie Murphy is legally the father of her daughter.
Mr Murphy, 46, has maintained he is not the father of Angel Iris Murphy Brown, who was born in April.
The singer's solicitor, Gloria Allred, said a DNA test carried out in June had "established paternity, but paternity has not been legally acknowledged."
Ms Brown said Angel needs to know she was "planned and wanted by both of us".'

First of all, how is it possible that a DNA test has confirmed paternity, and yet Eddie "chivalry" Murphy can still get away with not making it legal?

And secondly, a word of advice, Melanie love: this man disowned your child before she was even born, and called you a liar and a cheat while he was about it. On television. Frankly, I would be less worried about your kid feeling 'loved' by her dad as it grows up, and more concerned with keeping her as far away from the man as is humanly possible...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Dead Biased

From attacking the BBC to defending it in a matter of hours - who said I was fickle?

I'd just like to point out that, in the grand scheme of harmful broadcasting, faking someone's death on telly is probably SLIGHTLY more offensive than making the bloody Queen look a bit tetchy.

Wonder whether this story - like the Queen's tantrum episode - will make the lead item on the ITV news this evening?

'ITV has admitted that an Alzheimer's patient who "passes away" in the final scene of a documentary actually died three days later.
Publicity for the programme, to be screened next month, claimed it showed the final moments of Malcolm Pointon, a composer from Cambridgeshire.
ITV now says the footage was of Mr Pointon slipping into unconsciousness days earlier.
Film maker Paul Watson blamed the mistake on ITV publicity material.'