Monday, 25 October 2010

Information Super-highwaymen

Guten tag, ladies und gentlemen. My name is Herman und I originate from that piece of Germany we used to be calling the GDR - that's the democratic republic, even though we didn't have the vote. But who needs it anyway?

Anyhow, I have come here today because I am talking to you about the wonderful successes of your information gathering systems you have built in the West. Now, I speak as a man who should know thing or two about information gatherings. You see, I used to be working for that much misunderstood organisation known as the Stasi. Boy in those days did we have our works cut out for us? We had to co-opt hunderts of thousands of helpful citizens in order to build our profiles of the enemies of the state. We were documenting the every movements, the loves, the passions, the predilections of these people. It was sehr pain-staking task und it took many, many man hours, I can be telling you.

But now you in the West have built something that is zoh infinitely better at information gatherings und retrievals. Das ist called "information superhighway" und everybody, yes, everybody love using it. On your social network site for examples, you are extremely delighted to reveal all of your innermost secrets. You are telling the whole worlds your names und addresses, where you are working, who you are in love with, where you like to go clubbings, where you will be going on holidays, what kind of food you eat, what kinds of peoples you meet, your political und religious affiliations, your fears, your hates, und, nowadays, even where you are in the world at any given time of the day or night.

Wow! This is simply wunderbar! You know, I am so envious, so, so envious. Ich could become positively addicted to so much informations. Never in our wildest dreams did we think zie ordinary citizens would volunteer this kind of details. If only we had your superhighways in our day, life at the Stasi would have been so much easier. We could have done the work of hunderts of thousands of men mit one mainframe computer. Ya! You can believe it. Ein single mainframe computer! What is even more spiffing, as you peoples like to say, is das information is not only available to the peoples in your countries but to peoples everywhere in the world. Ein computer official in Beijing can even access all your secrets. Now that really is information revolution. Ya?

Now of course I must be qualifying these enthusiasms of mine to some extents. Because of course, not all informations are available, the more is the pity! Das officialdom und many, many companies do not like to be posting all these kinds of sensitive informations for everyone und Uncle Tom Cobley to be seeing. Nein! It is simply not zee done thing when it is real, real sensitive stuffs that might be having some kind of monetary impacts or something like that for example. But then Rome was not built in ein day. Und, let's face it, even some of this important stuff can be accessed by cyber-hackers if es ist totalische necessary.

Anyway at least it seems that for the time beings the ordinary citizens do not have so many of these monetary concerns because they are regularly falling victims to the cyber-scams und the credit card frauds. And can you believe it, they are even telling the burglars on the social networking sites when they are going on holidays and vacating their homes und stuff. So, the future ist looking sehr good, sehr, sehr positive indeed. These super-highways are music to the ear of an old Stasi man like myself. As we once used to be saying back in those good old days: Your information ist our information, und our information ist our information!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Does Apple dream of electric sheep?

From the Supreme Leader of the Martian Confederation - 20 October 2020

"Greetings Earthlings. I hope you are well.

"I arrive with a positive message about your iGods, the sales of which have surpassed all expectations this year. Since you turned production of this wonderful item over to our capable hands, the number of units available on your planet has sky-rocketed. And thanks to our advanced manufacturing methods, each unit is now cheaper to produce than a loaf of Earthling bread - much tastier too! There is scarcely a man, woman or child on your planet now who is without the wonderful iGod. It has transformed your lives, has become so important that life without it would indeed be grim. For sure it is one of the great inventions of the modern age."

"Now you might have heard - from propagandist elements on Earth - that our production techniques have been compromised of late. You might also have heard that due to certain "design-flaws" your devices have been left vulnerable to cyber-attack, to interplanetary cyber-warfare. There are even some miscreants who suggest that we on Mars might have done this "accidentally-on-purpose" to make it easier to access your beloved iGods. They say that it might be convenient to leave your iGods vulnerable in the event of interplanetary war - because we could then gain easy access to your innermost secrets or disable your lifestyle "must-haves" when most you have need of them.

"But nothing could be further from the truth. Why oh why oh why should we detract from your enjoyment of this remarkable gadget? It has been a sure fire winner for our factories as much as it has been for your planet. Our iGod factories currently employ one eighth of the Martian workforce and we would do nothing to endanger this. We, the Martians, want you the Earthlings to continue worshipping the iGod, for it has brought us prosperity too.

"Now that being said, Earthlings, there are clearly good reasons for us to enhance the iGod experience. Let me give you an analogy: In the middle ages your great churches were disposed towards enhancing the "God" experience. Of course the churches did this the better to embrace such an experience. And just as your priests perpetuated devotion through bells and whistles and icons, and just as your priests guided you on how to think and how to pray and how to live your lives and embrace your Lord, so we on Mars feel that the entire iGod experience must be enhanced through the presence of natty apps and cookies, through monitoring devices and "stabilisation and control systems" that allow us to guide (at any given time) your enjoyment of this life-enhancing gadget.

"You see, if we did not guide, direct and manage your use of the iGod, you would soon lose your devotion to it. You would simply view it as something that makes life easier - when in fact it's an opportunity to give control and direction to life, to give it meaning. It would be such a shame if we missed that opportunity, that opportunity to make life on Earth better. In fact it would be a tragedy. And let me tell you - we on Mars have the technical know-how to make it better.

"So rest at ease Earthlings. There is unlikely to be cyber-war. But if there is, we will ensure the "bells and whistles" on these fabulous iGods enhance your "cyber war experience". And this will be thanks to the appropriate and most meaningful technical guidance of our engineers here on Mars. So please, please, please leave yourselves (and your marvellous iGods) in our capable hands. For we, not you, know what we are doing... It is we who have the technology.

"Yes, we who have the technology."

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

100 most influential women

Any survey that places Victoria Beckham (No.2) above the monarch (No.3) and the director of the human rights group Liberty (No.4) is clearly not worth the paper it's printed on. Then again it could be evidence of how low standards have slipped in recent years. Perhaps influence is nowadays about how much jewellery you own, how many bottles of perfume your face can sell, or how many gormless kids download your latest trashy album from the internet. One thing's for sure, Ms. Pankhurst must be turning in her grave. Let's take a look at some of these names:-

J K Rowling - The writer who made countless kids think boarding school is "magic".

Victoria Beckham - The woman who made moronic vulgarity a lifestyle choice.

Kate Moss - The gal who made millions of teenagers want to be thin and shove white powder up their noses.

Alexa Chung - TV presenter with an influential face - it appears everywhere you look these days.

Cheryl Cole - Once married to an "influential" footballer, sings formulaic jingles dressed in erotic clothing. Put malaria back on the map.

Davina McCall - Famous for presenting a vacuous reality TV show where contestants have sex with one another

Elizabeth Hurley - Wearer of an influential dress

Fearne Cotton - The face of the dismal, trivial television channels BBC3 and ITV2

Jilly Cooper - Brought the lives of bonking country folk to the masses.

Stella McCartney - Daughter of a famous pop star, designer of influential clothes.

Tracey Emin - Made semen-stained beds hip and cool

Tessa Jowell - Husband "rubbed shoulders" with a famous and influential Italian Prime Minister (mentioning no names).

Kirstie Allsopp - Made DIY fashionable.

Leona Lewis - Made Simon Cowell rich

The list goes on and is a grim indictment of our "tempora et mores". Most notable, Germaine Greer doesn't appear. At the time the survey was carried out she was too busy chaining herself back to the railings whilst simultaneously trying to burn her bra(s)... no mean feat.

Friday, 8 October 2010

The last bastion of restrictive practices

No, not ITV - that was twenty years ago. We're talking about the BBC and its near domination of news and current affairs. Question is, has the Beeb taken on the role of "official opposition" of late? And if so, can it still be viewed as impartial? A little tyke called Justin Webb, he of the Today programme, takes no prisoners when it comes to interviewing cabinet ministers. But when he's handling a subject dear to his heart - like ADHD or investment banking - he sucks up to the charlatans he ought to be taking to task.

But are standards slipping further than we think? Last week saw the nadir of current affairs interviewing, when first Jeremy "tough on politicians" Paxman conducted a sycophantic interview with Russell Brand... Later on, Andrew "jug ears" Marr used his Sunday morning slot to discuss "Strictly Come Dancing" with Bruce "Brucie" Forsyth. How much lower can the BBC stoop?

Here we reload the Paxman / Brand interview conducted last Friday - simply to give you all a taste of things to come:-

Paxman:  Can I say what an admirer of yours I am, great one?

Brand:  Course, Jezza. And I'm an admirer of yours, even though I don't who the fuck you are.

Paxman:  Very drole, oh saintly one. I wish I had your wit.

Brand:  Course you does, Jezza. Don't every geyser? But I bet you wish even more you 'ad my appeal what I has with women. Is I right or is I right?

Paxman:  It is true, master. Though may I suggest I'm not so disadvantaged in terms of said appeal?

Brand:  What? You saying you has as big a todger as like what I 'as, Jezza?

Paxman:  Well, one wouldn't wish to boast. But there are certain ladies who are not unimpressed with the size of my John Thomas. Although, I would not be so bold as to compare myself to you, naturally.

Brand:  Yeah, that's right, Jezza. Never a truer word was spoken.

Paxman:  But it's not just fornication I'm thinking of. I do wish I could be as popular as you, great one.

Brand:  Don't every bloke?

Paxman:  Indeed.

Brand:  Maybe you need to do something about your style, Jezz, my man. You know like invest in some new clothing and 'ave your hair like how I has it, or speak different or something.

Paxman:  Do you think that'd work?

Brand:  Course Jezz. You'd have all the women and everyone like all over you. You could razzle like Russell.

Paxman:  Or even rustle like Russell?

Brand:  Don't know about that Jezz. I'm no rustler, I'll 'ave you know. By the way, you ain't talking about rustling, like sheep rustling, is ya?

Paxman:  No, forgive me, great one. I didn't mean it like that.

Brand:  Nah, I 'ope not. Cos I gave up doing sheep way back. And I'll sue anyone what suggests otherwise.

Paxman:  Okay let's put that one to bed.

Brand:  That ain't true, Jezz. I never put one to bed neither.

Paxman:  No, I meant, let's put that issue to bed.

Brand:  Tissues in bed, Jezza? I'm not no wanker, I'll 'ave you know.

Paxman:  God forbid, oh great one. Nothing could be further from my mind.

Brand:  Blimey, you don't half like talking about sex a lot, don't ya Jezz?

Paxman:  Well who would not when in such esteemed company?

Brand:  Yeah, ya not wrong there mate. By the way, is you angling for me to introduce you to some of my lady friends, Jezz?

Paxman:  Oh, er, well... Would you? Could you?

Brand:  I get it. That's what all this sick-a-fancy is all about, ain't it? You want an intra-duction to one of my lady friends?

Paxman:  Well, if it's not asking too much.

Brand:  You be nice to me like what you is now, being all sick-a-fantic like and I sorts ya sex life out. Is that it?

Paxman:  Sort of.

Brand:  You scratch my back, and I scratch yours?

Paxman:  Not sure I'd go that far.

Brand:  Ok, Jezz. Don't worry. I'll see what I can do for ya.

Paxman:  Oh, thank you thank you, Mr Brand, oh saintly one, thank you so much.

Brand:  Don't mention it.

Paxman:  And of course... thank you for your time on this programme, Russell, Mr. Brand, sir. We are indeed blessed to have you here. Newsnight will never look the same again.

Brand:  Say that again. Anyway, Jezz, you're most welcome. You can have me on this show any time.

Paxman:  Thank you.

Brand:  (Quietly) What a dick.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Inner Space?

(Victoria Beckham and Katie Price - aka Jordan - discuss the loss of child benefit for high earners)

Becks:  I tell you. It's disgusting it is, Jordan, Babes. That Ozzy Osborne's goin' to get rid of child benefit for us hard working Mums.

Jordan:  Don't you mean, George Osborne, Babes? Ozzy don't owe you any child benefit, does he?

Becks:  Dunno. Only met Ozzy a couple of times. Don't think he owes me any benefit. But I wouldn't know, would I?

Jordan:  I hope he don't, Babes. You know what the News of the World would say, dontcha? You know, if Ozzy owed you any benefits?

Becks:  Yeah, but I'm bein' serious Babes. Me and Dave's down to our last twenty million. And it's important I get that money cos it's a universal benefit.

Jordan:  What's that then?

Becks:  What's what?

Jordan:  What you just said... Was you trying to be posh just then and speak French? You said "universal benefit". That's French innit?

Becks:  Don't know, Babes. French for what?

Jordan:  Dunno. Probably French for universal benefit, whatever that is.

Becks:  Yeah, suppose it probably is... But anyway. My point is, it's wrong..

Jordan:  What is?

Becks:  Getting rid of universal benefits. I'm a member of the universe. Just as you is.

Jordan:  Yeah, that's a thought innit? We're both members of the universe. Never thought of it like that.

Becks:  Yeah, like, that's what I mean, don't I Babes? It's disgusting. We're all members of the universe and so we all deserve universal benefits... even if we are more successful than other members of the universe.

Jordan:  Yeah, that's right. We might be better than everybody else, but we still deserve to be treated as members of the universe just like everyone else is.

Becks:  You's so right, Babes. We deserve what everyone else gets even though we's better than what they are.

Jordan:  Can I just ask you one question?

Becks:  Yeah? What's that?

Jordan:  What's child benefit?

Becks:  Child benefit? Don't ask me, Babes. I only heard about it today. But what I do know is, it's wrong to cut it for people like us.

Jordan:  Oh, yeah. I'm completely with you there, Babes. I don't what it is either. But it's completely wrong to cut it for people like us.

Becks:  Well said, Babes.

Jordan:  Thanks, Babes. Shall we get another bottle of Chardonnay?

Friday, 1 October 2010

AD in High Definition

Do you ever wonder about the causes of boredom? Is there a name for the fidgety feeling you get while sitting through Wagner's Ring Cycle? Does the medical profession have a term for the restlessness that means you just can't sit still. The answer is a resounding yes. It's called Attention Deficit in High Definition - or ADHD for short. In an exciting breakthrough, scientists have declared that boredom is in fact a hereditary condition and what's more, it can be treated with drugs.

Whether you're a young adult or just a big kid you now have an excuse for pissing about when really you should be getting on with the task in hand. No longer will you have to say, "I can't do my homework because it's boring, Mummy", or "I don't want to repaint the living room because it's tiresome, darling". You simply claim to be suffering from Attention Deficit in High Definition. And you know what? Your nearest and dearest will rally round and ask you if you'd like some nice drugs.

We wondered what other sparkling titles scientists could cook up to describe ordinary, everyday emotions, sentiments and feelings. Here's a list:-

- SSHD - Sadness Syndrome (in High Definition)

- SSHD - Shyness Syndrome (in High Definition)

- AMHD - Anger Manifestation (in High Definition)

- DSHD - Desperate for a Shag (in High Definition)

- POHD - Pissed Off (in High Definition)

Let's hope one day the above emotions and feelings can be treated with over the counter drugs. It would certainly herald a bright new future, a brave new world. And what's more, it would be one way of dealing with Shareholder Unrest at Declining Pharma Stocks (SUDPSHD).