December 30, 2005

Here's to us - 2006

Happy new year !!!!!!






December 21, 2005

Silent Blog, Holy Blog

Airservices Australia will be making sure that Santa has safe and efficient passage through Australian airspace this Christmas. You can keep track of Santa's progress at the special blog set up at Santa 05.

Merry Christmas to everyone, but most especially my little C, baby A, and big M; and to G and L, and baby M; and to G & A and their little C; and to F & J and their little ones L & P; and to R & the gels, and E, and to my K – with love, always.

Merry Christmas to everyone in the blogosphere, with special wishes (but no favorites!!) to Evil Pundit, Mr and Mrs Drunka, Nick & Nora, Jai, Nilk & Magilla, Accidental Taorist, ekw (if you happen to drop by), Jolanda & family, Cube, Zydeco Fish, Craig.S & his boyz; and not the least, James –somewhere freezing in China.

And not forgetting the magnificent and charming captain [pseudonym - psycdoc] (Bugger, I knew I'd forgotten someone.)


December 18, 2005

Still Silly

Succession planning

From “Ibex” (pseudonym of counter terrorist and insurgency specialist – I want a job title like his) writing in The Weekend Australian:

“Terrorists are showing the energy of desperation. Zarqawi sends out his closest lieutenants as suicide bombers – not much of a succession plan.”

I’ve worked in a few companies just like that.

Cleaning up hard drives

Not convinced that overwriting the files on your hard drive 164 times has quite done the trick of erasing your computing foot steps?

Try the method used by many military organizations, which have far more interesting top secret stuff to destroy than you, so they have far more convincing methods of destruction.

First, remove the iron-ore-covered discs from your hard drive assembly; second, grind the disks into powder; then mix the power with cement; then hand over your enhanced cement power to a local construction company to use in the foundations of new buildings.

Your used up magnetized iron ore is now safe and no-one will ever know your secrets.

Flush

Proportion of surveyed Americans who flush the toilet while sitting down on it – one in three.

Why?

Memories

In the interests of recording and preserving first hand accounts of historical events, anyone can now add stories of interest at memorywiki.org

Blogging the old fashioned way

The retired King of Cambodia has a very popular blog, upon which he personally adds posts, from time to time, such as this recent entry.

Death defying business ideas

From Alan Rutman, in Victoria, in a letter to the editor of The Age, bemoaning the well-known warped reporting priorities of the MSM, that is, their tendency to report trivia instead of matters of substance and significance. Mr Rutman concludes his letter with the dazzling money-spinning and news enhancing suggestion:

“I urge all journalists, editors, producers to spend some time reporting on events that may not sell newspapers.”

Yes, that should fix everything.

Happy Stuff

A new site for folks in search of the good news, of which the MSM ignore, unless they are in need of a “dead donkey” filler on a quiet news day - try the happy news site.

December 15, 2005

Silly Season

At this time of the year you can’t expect too much from people, and you can’t expect too much from your friendly local blogger either, so this is the best I can scrape together, with my dwindling reserves of energy and brain cells.

Celebrity Baby Names Explained - Finally

From Greg Gutfield, British editor of Maxim magazine:

“Stars are exactly like children, in that they play all day and never buy stuff like light bulbs. That makes them susceptible to destructive stuff like New Age religions and Michael More movies. It’s why stars give their kids such funny names. Those are exactly the names you’d give your kids, if you were, say, a kid! Naming a kid, to them, is like naming a turtle. A box turtle.”

And you always thought there was only one reason to buy your own groceries and to be sure of including light bulbs on the list.

Academics Contributing to World Knowledge

Glasgow University, in Scotland, must be extremely proud of at least two of their students.

Armed with a grant of a mere $326,000, to find out why people visit cafes, said students concluded – after spending, we presume, around $300 K of the grant allocation on visiting cafes to buy sandwiches, cold drinks, coffee, a bag of chips, read a free newspaper; with the remaining $26 K spent on a survey and data analysis – that people visit cafes “because they enjoy others’ company over a latte.”

One of the researchers, Eric Laurier, modestly conceded that “there’s nothing to make you say “gosh” in the study”.

Gosh, no Eric, there really isn’t.

Pissing It Up Against a Wall

We all know how business really operates, but now we can start making it official.

From the Global Language Monitor :

Some wags have suggested that “brainstorming” should be replaced with “thought shower” or "word shower”, so as not to offend those with brain disorders such as epilepsy.

If you’re still trying to remember the last time any friend with a brain disorder referred to their illness, or an episode, as “brainstorming”, then yeah, so am I. The only geniuses who have ever used the term “brainstorming” with total sincerity and conviction are “consultants” and “managers". Such people are very fond of another sophisticated activity too – “gap analysis” – now, if only they could identify the biggest gap of all, and then fall, silently, through it.

Just a Naughty Phase

From the same source, we have the number one politically correct idiocy for the year:

In an attempt to strip away all emotion by using what it considers a neutral description when talking about those who carried out the London train bombings, the BBC came up with “misguided criminals”, rather than the more dramatic, but nonetheless entirely accurate “terrorists”.

The BBC denied any such silliness, but the term was still sitting on their Internet coverage of the event, for the entire world to see.

Christmas Kisses

During a kiss we exchange as many as 278 bacteria colonies. Not sure if that’s 278 colonies a piece, or a total of 278, in equal, or perhaps unequal, portions.



December 13, 2005

Line in the Sand


We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity.


That’s why we now have riots in Cronulla, Sydney.


December 10, 2005

Cool

Ever wondered what it would be like to win a Nobel Prize?

According to one half of Australia’s latest Nobel Prize for Medicine winning duo, Barry Marshall, it’s great fun to join the illustrious gallery of laureates.

“You can’t imagine how terrific it is, you can dream about the Nobel prize all your life, but you can’t imagine how much fun it is to actually have it.”



Marshall won the prize, together with fellow Australian Robin Warren (both pictured), for pioneering research into stomach ulcers, proving they are caused by bacteria and therefore treatable with antibiotics. Of course, no-one believed them.

So now we know: being tenacious and clever can have a really, really, fun ending. That’s pretty cool.

December 8, 2005

Festive Season Conversation Assistance


The English language is renowned for - if nothing else - being a hussy when it comes to appropriating words from other languages.

In his new book, Adam Jacot de Boinod, raises the curtains to display the dazzling array of words that we should have stolen from other languages, but didn’t.

However, it’s not too late: a small platter of words from this most excellent book, The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World, to assist with your festive season social chatter. You’ll wonder how you ever managed without them.

Narachastra prayoga (Sanskrit) – men who worship their own sex organ

Koro (Japanese) – the hysterical belief that one’s penis is shrinking into one’s body

Zakilpistola (Basque) – a sufferer from premature ejaculation (literally, pistol prick)

Menggernumut (Indonesian) – to approach somebody quietly in the night for sex

Neko-necko (Indonesian) – one who has a creative idea that only makes things worse

Wamadat (Persian) – the intense head of a sultry night

Torschlusspanik (German) – the fear of diminishing opportunities as one gets older

Termangu-mangu (Indonesian) – sad and not sure what to do

Mukamuka (Japanese) – so angry one feels like throwing up

Sekaseka (Zambian) – to laugh without reason

Nedovtipa (Czech) – one who finds it difficult to take a hint

Aka’aka’a (Hawaiian) – skin peeling or falling off after either sunburn or heavy drinking

Chakwair (Zimbabwe) – walking through a muddy place making a squelching sound

Shwutair (Zimbabwe) – walking naked

Tabvuk (Zimbabwe) – walking with such thin thighs that you seem to be jumping like a grasshopper

Tingo (Pascuense) – to borrow things from a friend’s house, one by one, until there’s nothing left

Egkoniomai (Ancient Greek) – to sprinkle sand over oneself


I can't tell you how many times in my life that I needed "egkoniomai" in my vocabulary, or how often I wish I'd had "neko-necko" at the tip of my tongue, and with which to flatter any number of work associates.

But really, picking any favorites is too difficult.


December 4, 2005

Anyone's Blood?


I have never given blood. I have never received a blood transfusion or blood products. If I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to start donating my blood I would be banned from doing such for another six years, or thereabouts. Apparently – and I’ve never gone to the trouble of confirming this – anyone who has had a tattoo cannot donate blood for a period of seven years from receipt of the tattoo, at least here in Australia. If I get a new tattoo at some point, which I might, the seven year clock would start again.

It may come as an enormous surprise to some of you, but I don’t feel at all aggrieved about this pre-emptive rejection of my blood. I don't feel the need to stomp my feet to protest that my blood is just as damned fine as the next person’s; and I don’t feel the urge to write to my local member to demand that my blood be foisted on some unsuspecting emergency room patient; nor do I feel any desire, at all, to bleat or wail about the injustice of it all; or to demand that my right to give blood to all and sundry be recognized and actioned immediately!

The same, however, cannot be said of some of the gay folk in our community, who, for reasons I cannot even begin to fathom, feel discriminated against for being denied the earth-shattering, world-changing, wondrous and fulfilling opportunity to plonk down the odd pint of blood for someone else’s use when the urge to do so strikes them. Being denied the opportunity to share some of their bodily fluids is, they are claiming, DISCRIMINATION.

Yes, here down under, the Red Cross’s restrictions on gay blood donors are being challenged under the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The gay lobby has been angered by three leading AIDS groups who have come out in support of the Red Cross policy.

The Red Cross policy is that anyone who has had male-to-male sex in the last 12 months is turned away from donating blood.

Research in Britain shows that removing the “gay ban” would increase the risk of HIV entering the blood supply by 60%, but some twat in Tasmania is screaming “discrimination”. His argument is that gay men who practice safe sex should be allowed to donate blood. He wants donors to be “screened according to the safety of their sexual practices, not the gender of their sexual partner”.

Let’s see now: he wants us to believe that gay and bisexual men never forget and they never lie about sexual practices? By the same argument, I should be able to fill-in a donor form and declare that my tattoos were all carried out safely, and then give my blood. Likewise, an intravenous heroin user should be permitted to fill in the same form and declare that they only ever shoot up in a clean and safe manner, and then give their blood. Yeah, sure, I’ll gamble other people’s lives on all of these assertions – what the hell, live on the edge!

To be fair, it would be a monumental lie to suggest that heterosexuals do not engage in unsafe sexual or drug taking activities, but I would hazard a guess that everyone fills in an identical form, with identical questions, and on that basis, some heterosexuals would rule themselves out, with many more not presenting themselves to fill in the form in the first place. It’s called self-knowledge and self-screening; a bit like job applications: there’s a great deal of trust that people have enough neurons operating to opt in or out in an intelligent and appropriate manner.

[Key points and a brief quote about the case are taken from a small piece that appeared in The Age, 20 November 2005, which I can’t link, as they seem to be archiving material into the “pay for it” box after only eight days. For the same reason, I can’t link to details of the following letter to the editor, which appeared in The Age on 27 November; they seem to archive, or remove, the letters in less than 8 days.]

In a letter to the editor, a member of the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group concludes (among other things):

“The Red Cross screening process is window dressing.

To the casual observer it makes the blood supply look safe, but it does not actually have that effect.

We hope AIDS councils will spot the con and join the push for improved blood screening.”

In other words, by some convoluted and ill-considered logic, our letter writer links the ‘furphy’ of safe blood supplies as, in some weird and wonderful manner, being the killer argument for allowing gay men to donate their blood: the blood supply is not safe anyway so let everyone give blood. Just before you screech, incredulously – WTF! – and in fairness to the writer, he seems to be trying to argue that because the blood supply is not safe, and because there are new “improved screening methods that are focused on safe sex”, such screening would, therefore, allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood, as well as making the blood supply, in total, safer than it is now. Well, something along those lines.

Okay, so we come back to trusting the assertions of individuals about their sexual practices, and while we’re at it, let’s create an underclass of “unsafe” gay and bisexual men, and a blood-giving upper-class of gay and bisexual men. That should go down well in the gay community.

I am still none the wiser on how the Red Cross could better screen donors for their safe sexual practices. How could any bureaucracy validate such a thing?

The gay rights group seems very concerned about the “shortage” of blood, that is, they harbor the belief that public is much in need of gay blood donors. Really? Contrary to the myth of gay men and women making up, on average, 10% of the population, the real figure is, apparently, 2-3%. When you take into account the number of gay men in that figure; then the number who can prove they practice safe sex 100% of the time; and then consider the number who fall into both sub-sets who also feel compelled to donate blood, well, you can see where I’m heading – that’s not a huge number of new blood donors is it; not enough to make an appreciable difference to safe supplies.

Besides if the gay rights group is genuinely concerned about the present safety of blood and blood products, and genuinely concerned about the shortage of blood, their money would be better spent on providing funding for more research on the best medical methods to reduce the unnecessary use of blood transfusions, rather than paying the legal costs for a fatuous discrimination case, being fought on illogical grounds – the case is vexatious, I believe.

An extraordinarily high number of blood transfusions are unnecessary. In addition, there are already many well established and much safer treatments to assist the body to increase it’s own blood cell production. The risks involved in blood use are not, as some may think, confined to a small worry over contracting hepatitis, or HIV, or ‘mad cows disease’. Blood transfusions can lead to all kinds of problems, including death, if a person has a negative reaction. If the gay rights group in Tasmania feels so strongly, and is so worried about the shortage of blood, they should be doing something far more constructive, with a far more significant outcome, than the line they are pursuing. If they win their discrimination case, the resulting few hundred pints of blood each year will achieve absolutely nothing, and it may still expose recipients to unnecessary health risks. Their legal challenge is selfish, irresponsible, and anti-community.

Blood screening is not and can never be perfect, so harm reduction by disallowing some individuals, and even entire groups of people, must be part of the screening regime. It may be a blunt, and necessary, instrument, but the damage or loss to the potential, but rejected, donor is utterly immaterial. There are a million ways to be altruistic; giving blood is not the pinnacle of community spirit and giving.

December 2, 2005

Gratuitous Cat Pictures

This is a cat ...



So is this ...




And this ...



And this.



Purrr, purrr, purrr, purrr.

-----------------------------

Update - Like me - err, no, well, I'll correct that; not like me at all, but seemingly having vaguely similar difficulties in coming to terms with this whole hideous "cat thing" - Drunka is struggling with the concept of cat blogs, even more so than I am. He's close, but no cigar. I do, however, admire his thinking and can see how he is subtly and slowly turning the blogosphere into a safe haven for doggies - and we'll all be better for it, amen.

November 29, 2005

Nothing to see here


It would seem that Debbie Rowe, she of the short-term-for-breeding-purposes-only wife of Michael Jackson fame, has revealed to Irish newspaper Sunday World the startling news that her children with Michael Jackson were the result of *gasp* *shock* sperm donor assistance – they are not Jackson’s biological children.

Yeah, der, honey.

Has there ever been anyone in the universe who actually believed, at any time, that the children were biologically related to Jackson?

From the teeny glimpses that we have almost had of the children in question, they bare no resemblance to Jackson, and are just about as pale as a ‘white’ person could be. Although an expert geneticist would no doubt be able to explain the statistical probability of this outcome having occurred with someone of Jackson’s natural darker hues as the biological father, the greater probability would have been on the side of any off-spring of his loins being a gorgeous mocha color.

Debbie, rather hilariously, feels the need to point out that: Michael knows the truth – that he is not the natural father…”

Thanks for the news flash Deb, but we already knew too.

November 26, 2005

The Inaugural “Total Fucking Prat of the Blogosphere” Award


Normally I would be loath to use up a post on criticizing a particular blogger or blog, after all, who am I to criticize?

This is not to suggest that I would deny the occasional broad critique, or random ranting commentary about the blogosphere, but it does seem a tad unseemly to single out a particular blogger for ridicule.

Besides there are a number of good blogs dedicated to the act of reviewing the more heinous blogs, and I leave such a task in their capable hands. [I would gladly link to one such blog, if not for the fact that I lost ALL of my bookmarks a few weeks back, and can’t remember anything about the title of the “review” blog that I would otherwise happily recommend to others.]

Without further ado, let me lead you to the blogger who deserves not only our censure and ridicule, but also a dictionary; some lessons in basic grammar; not to mention lessons in how to use the spacebar on his keyboard; and certainly assistance in finding a new source of (alleged) paid employment.

You see, this particular blogger is, supposedly, a professional blog reviewer, that is, this is something for which he claims to be PAID to do. Given that this is the case, and given that in the course of his "work" he leaves nasty, yet entirely illiterate, comments on other people’s blogs – instead of quietly surfing away if he doesn’t enjoy what he has seen or read – well, under these circumstances, I think you may agree that he deserves to be the winner of the inaugural “Total Fucking Prat of the Blogosphere” award.

The following verbatim quote is the comment that he left on Zydeco Fish, which is a pleasant and harmless blog from Canada (inception, July 2003) about everyday matters, and upon which I too added a comment about etiquette in supermarket queues. I repeat that this is his verbatim comment, with no interference from me:

“I don't know what is worse,the montane subject matter,or the fact that so many peole have no lifes that they actually stop and read this kind of worthless trival.
I review Blogs,that's what they pay me for anyhow,and I am always in search for some new talent.
I send my reviews to over 400 Yahoo and Google groups all over the world,thereby promoting myself by promoting them,so if you know where I can find a good blog that as an original theme backed by good writing with at least an attempt at originality(see past reviews for sample)let me know!Must dash,the search continues,there's nothing here so....

UPDATE – Over at Zydeco Fish, the blog on which the above comment was posted, the author of said comment is claiming FRAUD!

This Sam chap insists that someone else is using his name to leave imbecilic comments on blogs. He even goes so far as to say "who ever the coward is I hope we can track him." Yeah gads!

Of course, many people (not all, but a lot of us) have such distinctive writing styles that it’s almost like a finger print. A three second glance at Sam’s initial comment, his subsequent disclaimer comment, and his very own blogs, show a distinctive and identical use of language, grammar, and basic keyboarding skills. This is a no-brainer. His denial is a classic, and in and of itself warrants an additional ten year ban from the blogosphere, bringing his ban to a grand total of TWENTY years. What a silly, silly, little prat of a man.

Turns out that Nilk was right: I wasn’t nearly harsh enough – go figure!

November 22, 2005

Help with Difficult Christmas Preparations


In the frantic hurley burley of Xmas, the burden of preparing everything from scratch can be enough to drive the most dedicated bon vivant to a torrent of tears.


Finally
, the onerous problem of making fairy bread from scratch has been solved. In one of those – “do’h, why didn’t I think of that” – brain-expanding ideas, you can now buy a pre-prepared slurry of margarine and 100s and 1000s. Just think of the hours you’ll save with the ingenious and long overdue labor saving invention of "Fairy Dust".


Personally, I can’t wait until they bring out the squeeze bottle version. Now that I don’t have to waste time sprinkling, I want to cut down on the spreading. I know: how about frozen fairy bread, and all you have to do is take it out of the plastic and defrost on the bench? Yes, childhood won’t ever be the same again.

[Courtesy free plug - Celestial Fairy pic is by Jessica Galbreth; and isn't it a wonderful likeness of moi in fairy mode - uncanny!]

November 19, 2005

Stocking filler suggestions II


For the man with a really big tool shed, as in: “oh my gawd it’s humungous!” as well as for James, in the hope that this puts an end to his squirming, and that he regains his deep manly voice, consider this fun gift for Xmas!


To check out other seductive trencher poses and to verify the size - from all angles - more pics can be found at “World’s largest digging machine”.

November 17, 2005

Cocaine going to waste in Britain

Every week, week after week, “an estimated two kilogram’s of cocaine or 80,000 lines” of cocaine is being pissed away by the British. Disgraceful! Whatever happened to “waste not, want not”?

Last year they found traces of Prozac in the drinking water over there, and now cocaine, by the kilo, in the Thames. The British are stuffy? Nuh. The British, it would seem, are perpetually off their little faces.

November 14, 2005

Stocking Filler Suggestions


At this time of the year, I am obliged to offer my dear readers stocking filler suggestions for the up-coming festive season.


For the man in your life, who has everything, including an extremely small penis, consider a gift of condoms. Enrique Iglesias is preparing to step forward for this worthy cause: his thought seems to be that the less well endowed men in the world will be saved a myriad of embarassments if they can buy their tiny packets of condoms with Enrique’s name, and we presume, manly photograph, on the packet. Enrique has admitted that he too is unable to find condoms small enough, so this is clearly a humungous business opportunity for him. I don’t know if the product will be on the market in time, but with any luck, on Christmas day, your man will be able to step proudly forward with his tee-wee condoms. And won’t he just lurve such a personal and thoughtful gift? Someone’s Xmas’ will be coming all at once!

Alternatively, for the man who has everything, including premature ejaculation, I just heard an advertisement on the radio, which will help you out with that extra special stocking filler this Christmas.

“Do you suffer from premature ejaculation?” the voice-over asked. "Maybe it’s time to put something up your nose [yeah, come on, that’s just, soooo, soooo, obvious; do they think we’re stupid or something?] ... nasal delivery ... feel like one of the boys again ... ” Now this is the stocking filler guaranteed that no-one else in the family will have thought of! Go on, give you man a treat, so that, err, all of your Xmas’ don’t come at once!

November 12, 2005

Not all journalists are stupid


Just to prove that this blog is balanced, and in the interests of demonstrating that some journalists still manage to earn their keep by delivering solid, reasoned, investigative reporting, I encourage you to peruse “Why There’s No Escaping the Blog”, by David Kirkpatrick and Daniel Roth, published in Fortune magazine.

The first thing you’ll notice about this excellent piece is that is was published in January of this year, and for those of you with fewer than the normally allocated number of digits, that's a full 10 months prior to the rather stupid cover story by Lyons, published in Forbes magazine this month(see previous post). Apart from anything else, this tells us that Lyons either did not research other published articles, or if he did, he managed to learn nothing from his betters.

Using a very wide range of examples, Kirkpatrick & Roth illuminate the trials and tribulations and the, err, *cough*, just plain embarrassing forays by the corporate business world into the land of the blogosphere. The key premise of their article is that blogs are, essentially, a new medium (well, they say “media”, but I think blogs are more singular than plural, at this point), and business needs to harness and engage with the producers and consumers of blogs; a somewhat more challenging proposition than the ease with which they engage with the MSM. In contrast to the Forbes article, Kirkpatrick & Roth present something of a “how to” and “how not to” guide, with considerable depth to it, and they present both amusing and serious examples amidst their smorgasbord of material.

There are only a couple of twee moments, for example:

“Of course, it's difficult to take the phenomenon seriously when most blogs involve kids talking about their dates, people posting pictures of their cats, or lefties raging about the right (and vice versa).”

It’s an asinine statement, and an especially careless throw-away line, when their own commentary demonstrates the serious clout wielded by some political blogs, and just how swiftly blogs can inflict mortal injury, not with scurrilous opinion and lies, but by the use of facts that spread like ebola, at least in America.

Actually it’s quite a clunker of a line, when their entire article takes blogs very seriously indeed, and their material cites blog content relating to business and politics – not an ugly cat or pimply teenager blog in sight.

As for teenagers talking about their "dates"? I don’t know that I’ve even seen any such blogs, and while I don’t doubt for a nanosecond there are millions of them, I think you’d have to be looking for that particular segment to know it exists.

Most of the “dating” blogs are clearly published by 30-something-year-old women, who, for some reason, think that their blog is the next “Sex in the City”. Perhaps they’re right; perhaps their day will come, but from what I’ve seen, it won’t be in this millennium. One exception is a 30-something divorcee in New York, who writes tortuous prose about things like her "tangled hair, after sex" and insists on mulling over every vapid and juvinille emotion and the-minute-by-minute relationship worries that pass through her brain; and spills her inglorious guts about every teeny detail about every man she encounters. (And yes, she DOES regularly wonder if a new man will stay around for more than a shortish while. Gosh, now let me think about that….very, very, very, slooooowwwwly, and I’ll get back to you.) Her own excrementally gushing is greeted by equally vomitous and sentimental drivel from her legions of fans, most of whom seem to want to be able to “write like she can”, as this would clearly be the height of their life’s achievement. Well, this particular lady does have her book deal. Can’t take this “seriously” guys? Serious bucks in that nifty, if misguided, book deal.

People posting cat pictures? Oh, yes, oh yes!!! This should be a crime of some sort, and anyone doing such should be banished from the blogosphere for a period of time, depending on the extent and gravity of the crime. I hasten to add that I believe the same principle should be applied to anyone – but it’s always women – displaying photos of their damned cats on their desk, or pinned up on the partitions around their desk at work. At a minimum they, and their cat photographs, should be escorted from the building by security, and they should be required to take unpaid leave, until such time that they understand WHY there is something gravely wrong and hideously offensive about decorating one’s workspace with their “adorable” CATS. They’re CATS for gawd sake!!! I don't CARE if you don't have a boyfriend; haven't had sex in the last 12 years; don't have children or friends; and I don't CARE if even the guy at the petrol station with one glass eye wouldn't look at you once- you absolutely DO NOT have permission to EVER display CAT photographs in public places and try to pass this off as being your LIFE, your FAMILY, your JOY, the source of your FULFILLMENT, your REASON for existence. NO-ONE BELIEVES YOU.

The worst case of cat-blogging I have seen was a woman recording her dieting efforts. There was a lovely photo of her & her husband, from when she was slimmer, and a link to “more photos”, which I naturally clicked, in order to view the new larger version of her good-self, and the progressive shots as she made strides with her diet - at least that's what I was expecting. Hundreds of photographs, hundreds and hundreds of them; page after page after page of HER CAT, the tedium broken only by a rare photo of a person. Her cat on the couch; her cat on the floor; her cat in the sun; her cat in the shade; her cat sleeping (well, that was MOST of them); her cat in summer; her cat in winter; her cat curled up; her cat sprawled out. Her fucking cat was the most boring ordinary cat in the world and I only needed ONE photograph to work that out. And quite frankly, I don’t care if she remains a porker for the rest of her life; never returning to her lovely svelte self, it’s probably a punishment dished out by the goddesses for wasting her life taking photos of a cat, especially when she had a perfectly nice looking husband to play with.

As I said, it was a stupid throw-away line by the journalists, and entirely inaccurate. What about the religious blogs? They are proliferating rapidly, albeit, many combine their religious fervor with a political agenda. Religion is growing in the blogosphere with nearly the same speed as the sex blog. Hobby and recipe blogs are all over the place; as are blogs about niche enjoyments such as heavy metal music; lots of techo blogs; an increasing number of “consumer” blogs, with people trying to cash-in by doing nothing but product reviews; mental illness is huge; and, of course, there are an embarrassing smattering of bloggers who really, transparently, and desperately, want to be in the MSM, and who seem to genuinely believe that their entirely untrained writing talents, and their ignorant and distorted opinion will one day be picked-up and syndicated by newspapers across the land, inclusive of their indifferent wit, and as-enticing-as-a-limp-lettuce contrived persona. The latter, very small group, is more difficult to take seriously than all of the cat blogs combined.

The only other excruciatingly twee moment comes care of an ad agency – so none of us should be in the least surprised:

"If you fudge or lie on a blog, you are biting the karmic weenie," says Steve Hayden, vice chairman of advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather, which creates blogs for clients."

It’s safe for us to conclude, without any futher evidence being presented to the court, that the vice chairman of Ogilvy & Mather is a weenie. But, he’s right about one thing:

"The negative reaction will be so great that, whatever your intention was, it will be overwhelmed and crushed like a bug.”
Sounds suspiciously like a man who knows exactly how it feels like to be crushed by the blogosphere. He goes on to say:

“You're fighting with very powerful forces because it's real people's opinions."
Yes Steve, real people; real people who have real opinions. Not pretend people like in the make believe advertising world. Funny 'bout that. Welcome to the real world Steve.


November 9, 2005

Bloggers are Evil

Blogs are an evil blood sport and bloggers are a bunch of sickos.

Forbes magazine journalist Daniel Lyons, goes straight for the jugular, with a dozen scythes waving, in his cover story “Attack of the Blogs” (14 November 05, edition), in which he writes:

“Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective. Their potent allies in this pursuit include Google and Yahoo.”
If you do a Google, you’ll find that the blogosphere has already been flooded with commentary in reaction to the Forbes article – 185,000 search results, last time I checked.

The charges leveled against companies such as Google and Yahoo are on the basis, essentially, of being enablers, compounded by their refusal to provide identities when demanded by companies of whom bloggers are speaking ill. To label Google and Yahoo “allies” is a curious thing, and not mere allies, but potent allies. Would Forbes be equally accusative about gun companies being allies in murder; or McDonalds being an ally in making people fat; or charging Microsoft with being an allies in the demise of spelling and correct grammar the world over? I’m guessing not. Allies are something much more than a mere enablers. Come up with your own, similar, ally accusations, and you’ll quickly realise how ludicrous and flimsy is the analysis contained in this piece.

It’ a bit like saying “do mobile phones result in people having mobile phone bills?” Der. Yeah. Ah, right then, the mobile phone companies are allies in emptying people’s wallets and must be stopped. Well, give it your best shot sunny-boy.

Lyons gives an almost cute, but erroneous, rendering of a potted history of blogging:

“Blogs started a few years ago as a simple way for people to keep online diaries. Suddenly they are the ultimate vehicle for brand-bashing, personal attacks, political extremism and smear campaigns.”
Like none of that EVER happened before “blogs”, in particular, or before the Internet, more generally. Funnily enough, I’ve never heard of any of the corporate stories cited in the Forbes article, but we’ve all heard or read about, in the MSM headlines, people doing really dumb and scandalous things with their email. The damage caused by good old-fashioned email seems to have by-passed Lyonsastute radar.

The lethal potential of the blogosphere is yet to be fully unleashed on humanity; or so we are hyperventilatingly informed:

"Bloggers are more of a threat than people realize, and they are only going to get more toxic. This is the new reality," says Peter Blackshaw, chief marketing officer at Intelliseek, a Cincinnati firm that sifts through millions of blogs to provide watch-your-back service to 75 clients….”
Yeah, yeah, we're beginning to get the point - before blogs, no-one ever bad-mouthed a company or smeared anyone’s reputation.

While these comments are already mildly interesting, even if they apply to only a tiny percentage of the 20 million blogs out there, it gets far more interesting, and much more to the point, when we find that much of the “evil” blogging is perpetrated by companies, not by your garden variety blogger.

Some companies now use blogs as a weapon, unleashing swarms of critics on their rivals. "I'd say 50% to 60% of attacks are sponsored by competitors," says Bruce Fischman, a lawyer in Miami for targets of online abuse. He says he represents a high-tech firm thrashed by blogs that were secretly funded by a rival; the parties are in talks to settle out of court.”
So blogs and bloggers are off the hook then, at least to a large degree? Not so.

Despite the statements of experts, and despite the fact that the entire article is about the smearing of companies, or commercial, that is, profit-making bodies, or whatever you want to call them, Lyons continues to write his entire piece “as if” the blog concept and Mr & Mrs Joe-& Joe-ette Blogs blogger are malevolent forces, with nothing more interesting to do than sit in their pajamas and morph into hardcore spooky anonymous operatives trying to destroy multi-million / billion dollar companies.

At no point does Lyons acknowledge that all of his evidence points fairly and squarely to corporatist’s doing what they have always done – try to break each other, by whatever dirty means they can – with the single difference being that they have appropriated a tool and a medium that happens to be available to the person in the street.

In the past, companies had to rely on slyly framed advertising, or their sales force, or word of mouth spread like manure around “the industry”, to plant the seeds for the ruin of their competitors, or merely the ruin of a much hated colleague. Now they can do bigger, faster, and better, with blogs.

You’ll notice how, despite the corporate guilt in instigating these things, Lyons insists on emotively calling bloggers “online haters”. Wouldn’t “cyber corporate death crusaders” or “dummy bloggers butchering each other in business” be more accurate? As always, these are commercial decisions, and have nothing to do with “hate” and very little to do with the average blogger – it’s business, big business, and the big boys are using the little persons tool. Yet, Lyons wants to bash the little person – an abrogation of logic and an abrogation of the bleedin’ obvious.

Lyons also goes to great length to ram home the guilt of blogger allies:

The online haters have formidable allies amplifying their tirades to a potential worldwide audience of 900 million: Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, plus a raft of other blog hosts. Google is the largest player; its Blogger.com site attracts 15 million visitors a month….An upstart, Six Apart in SanFrancisco, owns three blogging services--TypePad, LiveJournal and Movable Type--that together run a strong second to Google.

This almost smacks of online envy, rather than anything inappropriate, illegal or evil being perpetrated by the companies that Lyons insists are the allies and cheer squads for nasty stuff on the Internet.

Blogs and bloggers, are, according to Lyons the creators of an entirely new phenomena – gossip, nasty stories, reputations ruined, gratuitous abuse, vitriolic outbursts. Apparently this sort of thing wasn’t possible and just didn’t happen prior to the advent of the blog.

Lyons wants Google and such to play adjudicator of blog content, and wants these companies to bare responsibility for ensuing “fair and accurate” content. What the fuck?

If they are genuinely concerned about these matters, maybe Lyons and Forbes magazine could tackle the rather larger problems being born and perpetrated in the MSM – which is still the primary source from which the overwhelming majority of people get their news and gossip and biased reporting and daily dose of vitriol. Either that or they could have started off by gunning for the telco companies, for the millions of unsavory, scurrilous, bitchy phone conversations carried over their copper wires and their wireless technologies every day of the week. I'd like to see them give it a shot, really, I would.

“Attack blogs are but a sliver of the rapidly expanding blogosphere”, Lyons admits.
From that sliver Lyons takes two, three, maybe four “case studies” of profit making companies being attacked, and one minor and unremarkable political example. All of them, it would seem, perpetrated by competitors, or vested interests, if you like, rather than individual bloggers. That’s it, that’s all he came up with from 20 million blogs, for his front page story.

“Companies now live in fear of lynch-mob bloggers. "A blogger can go out and make any statement about anybody, and you can't control it.”
The same can be said of MSM content.

"It's not like journalism, where your reputation is ruined if you get something wrong. In the blogosphere people just move on. It's scurrilous," Grantham says.

Gosh, sounds like blog content can sometimes be just as scurrilous as MSM content. As for the reputation’s of journalists – only a handful of fraudsters have ever been “ruined” – and they almost inevitably get to write a book about it; so much for “ruin”. Journalists don’t even bother to admit or retract their more scurrilous content, which is read by hundreds of thousands of people. Most blogs are read by a handful of people, at best. The most popular blogs are viewed by a tiny percentage of readers compared with a daily newspaper, or the television news, with viewers in the millions.

Lyons rounds out his piece by insisting that:

“…the blog mob isn't democratic at all. They are inclined to crush dissent with the "delete" key. When consultant Nick Wreden criticized credit card banking giant MBNA on his blog, a reader responded in support of MBNA. Wreden zapped the comment.”

Again, and at the risk of being tedious and predictable, how is this any different to the MSM when they pick and choose which letters to publish; or when they pick and choose which stories to cover; and make decisions on the angle they will take - and let’s not kid ourselves (unlike Forbes mag, which is kidding both itself and its readers) there is no longer such a thing as “objective reporting” in the MSM – they all have an angle; a barrow to push; a soap box to mount; a public to sway and influence; a political and social agenda to set. This is their bread and butter – massive censorship and bias.

Some blog-owner hitting the delete key on a comment because they don’t want it sitting on their site - unethical? Not at all – that’s no different to towing away a car that someone rudely left in your drive way: it’s your driveway, you can do whatever you want with property left there. It’s your blog: it’s entirely your prerogative what you do with it, what content you allow, and how you manage your site, and you don't have to post warnings or apologies.

The exception is when someone is dumb enough to declare themselves the Diety of Ethics; or claims a superior libertarian or democratic foundation than the rest of the universe; or who has a long and tedious set of written guidelines. When that same person then flouts all ethics, all notions of libertarianism and free speech, and then twists and turns every one of their own guidelines on a daily basis, but demands that commenters abide by the “rules,” well, let’s just say that hypocrisy is an ugly business, even on blog. The legitimacy and credibility of blogs is challenged by this latter group, not by the bloggers who get pissed-off with someone for being a jerk and deletes their dick-brained comment.

The breathless and sloppy bias in the Forbes article also makes a prior assumption that anyone acquiring information via reading blogs is dumb and incapable of making a judgment about content. It’s easy to understand this assumption, since this is precisely the foundation upon which MSM keeps their business in huge profits: by assuming that consumers are idiots. But, journalists continue to cling to their belief that they are objective and that they are offering factual, unbiased information.

Still, I’m curious: with the small amount of evidence collected, Lyons chose to write about the world of blogging, instead of writing about corporate greed and their propagation of lies, misinformation, and vindictiveness, and the lengths to which they will go, and the risks they are prepared to take, to vilify and ruin their competitors, and the extent to which they lie to consumers; it’s just that they have a new tool with which to do it. That’s what the story was really about, yet Lyons managed to turn it into a piece about big business being under attack by evil lynch-mob bloggers. So much for objectivity and ethics in journalism.

November 5, 2005

Personal Amusements and Productivity – Come on - Pull the Other One

This is a little awkward; well, a lot awkward really, since I can’t find the source article, and I managed to lose the blog upon which I came across this snippet, before getting either the link or the name of the blog. So, to whoever he is (and I think it was a he), if you read this, please let me know where you are and I will gladly link to the post on your site.

This is the verbatim blog heading and entry, from the mystery blogger (yeah, I know; should have got the link before the text, but I didn’t think it was that interesting until after I had read it properly…do’h).

Blogs. Destroying the economy or improving productivity?

A report last week by Advertising Age Editor at Large Bradley Johnson noted that about 35 million workers -- or one in four people in the U.S. labor force -- spend an average of 3.5 hours, or 9%, of each work day reading blogs.

This blogification of workplace time is no minor concern -- the total losses across the national work force are estimated to be the equivalent of 551,000 years of paid time that is being spent on blogs via the employer's own computer systems.

Another important point was that the time spent reading blogs on the job was in addition to the time already spent surfing the Web in personal pursuits. The debate appears to be one of reasonable limits.

At what point, or at what length of time, does the use of company assets for personal activities become unreasonable? And is the problem likely to become an even greater one as more and more TV content goes online, becoming easily accessible from one's office computer? Do employers need to find new ways to police their computer systems? Or does Blogging and personal surfing actually improve moral and make people more productive in the long run? Your thoughts?”

I didn’t get to the comments, if any, as I had lost the blog by then.

In addition to blogging and surfing the web for personal use, he left off the work time devoted to personal emails. Given that business emails use up hours of time each day, for most people, when you throw in blogs, personal surfing, perhaps a bit of instant messaging, and personal emails, perhaps 15 minutes playing an online game, well, the erosion of time devoted to actually performing work is, to my mind, dramatic. Add in meetings, necessary routine administrative tasks, walking to and from printers and photocopiers, listening to voicemail messages, leaving voicemail messages, and having real telephone calls (personal and business), playing with Blackberrys and other personal devices, scheduling future meetings, prioritizing work to be done in the future, and you start to see that an enormous number of average office workers, including managers, are most likely performing very little work.

By “work” I mean the actual construction or production or provision of a real or tangible contribution to achieving some goal or output or outcome that contributes in a measurable, whether quantitative or qualitative, manner to the maintenance or increase of business profits or margins, or to the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization. Because THAT’S what people are paid to do – to work; to make a contribution. And they’re paid to do it TODAY.

I was, as you would gather, especially intrigued by the question posed by our “mystery blogger” at the end of his post. Do all of these personal activities, performed on company equipment, on the company network, on company time, improve morale? Does this make people more productive “in the long run”?

Given that the “long run”, in economic terms is generally about five years, but sometimes as little as three years, a large number of workers won’t remain in a company long enough for the company to benefit from this hypothetical “long run” dazzling increase in productivity – and it would need to be dazzling, with bells on. Their productivity, by my rough mental calculation would need to increase by, on average, 60% purely to make up for the time they did not spend doing the work they are paid to do in the first place. In order to be more productive, they would have to increase their productivity by more than 60%, because that’s merely a break-even number, the point at which they have worked the hours they were being paid to perform at a pretty average level of productivity.

Improve morale? That tends to occur with flexible hours and arrangements, that is, when people know they can go to the bank when a bank is open; when they can come in late and work late, because that suits their family obligations, or their gym schedule; or when they know they can pop down to the shops to get some Christmas shopping done at a time when the hoards have yet to descend; or to take days off, without penalty, when their children or their Mum is sick. In other words, moral and productivity are improved when people know with a certainty that their private lives will not be overly compromised or destroyed by their work obligations – it takes a weight off their mind, which means, or should mean, that when they are at work they are focused on work. Morale and productivity are also improved by people having control over how they perform their work and how they manage their work. Let’s just make that point a bit clearer – control over their WORK, as opposed to “control” over their incidental leisure activities, such as blogging or surfing the web.

Improving morale and productivity has nothing to do with people devoting hours of their working day to the pursuit of personal hobbies, interests or amusements.

This is not some grey line, this is clear cut: flexibility and trust boost morale and significantly improves productivity, but using your 8 hour working day distracted by the Internet is not an accommodation of personal or family needs, and adds nothing to morale or productivity – that’s just slack-arses totally abusing work resources and taking their pay under false pretenses.

Add it up – all of the non-work, non-productive, and personal activities now being performed in offices across the globe, during so-called working hours – and the cost to business must run to many tens of billions of dollars every single year.

The more technology changes to provide new beaut business tools - which all too often adds to busy-ness, rather than enabling an increase in effectiveness or productivity - the more we have technology that also nicely accommodates a myriad of personal distractions - during working time. Indeed, most especially during working hours, because that's often where the best technology is located, and often the only access that some people have; perhaps too, it's when people, perversly, make time for their personal interests, because they know they won't have time when they get home to their families, or when the clock chimes for their social life to kick-in, or their part-time study, or whatever.

It takes most people at least five minutes to focus back onto a task once they have been distracted (that's a fact), by things such as a call, an email, a quick look at a blog, checking an item on eBay, a chat with a colleague passing in the corridor. Add in all of the “refocus on the job at hand time” down-time in the average working day and you’ve already lost at least one hour of work time, if not more, for each person simply trying to remember what they were doing before they were interrupted or distracted – increasingly by personal pursuits and amusements on their workplace technology tools.

Yes, this is a DIRECT COST to business and to organisations, which means a direct cost, and a direct loss, to both employers and employees - billions of dollars in productivity forgone; billions of dollars in profits forgone; billions wiped off the GDP of developed countries.