Category Archives: media

Embarrassed? You should be!

Of course this is a Brexit post – how could it not be after the omnishambles of the past 2 years, culminating in a media frenzy about something we all knew was going to happen weeks before it finally DID happen!

Yeah right – you should be embarrassed, in fact we should ALL be embarrassed for allowing this f*kcfest to happen.

  • David Cameron – the weak one who started this off because he couldn’t hack it and couldn’t manage the right wing of his party.
    • It was supposed to be the springboard for a smooth and successful referendum campaign. In reality, David Cameron’s EU renegotiation was a great miscalculation that helped pave the way for voters to reject EU membership. Most significantly, the much-anticipated deal failed to sway members of his own Cabinet, while also highlighting the EU’s inflexibility on the free movement of people principle. Rather than create the momentum for a comfortable victory, the renegotiation storyline petered out as the official pro-EU campaign got stuck repeating messages about economic doom after Brexit.
    • And believe it or not Cameron still isn’t prepared to take his share of the blame!
  • The multitude of politicians who lied to the electorate about what they were supposed to be voting for, and then continued to do so during the 2 years they wasted not coming up with a solution – not to mention wasting a lot of money at the same time!
    • “Had we acted decisively on Day 1, we would have known where we stood and instead of frittering away the past 18 months negotiating with a hidebound hegemony we could have put all our energies into negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).”
    • “Brexit preparations have considerably increased the number of civil servants.  For Defra, Home Office and HMRC, Brexit will effectively reverse the reductions in the size of the civil service since 2010. In fact, half of the money spent on Brexit so far has gone on new staff.”
  • The media that allowed this to go on without challenging these shysters.
  • And anyone out there who voted for Brexit – basically we’re talking about the racists in the country – plain and simple – you’re racists!
    • People voted to leave EU because they feared immigration

Fundamentally this is why YOU need to be embarrassed – because you’re a racist (if you voted to leave)!

Oh, sorry – you don’t think you’re a racist?

Well have a read of this article from thecreative.cafe called 10 signs you’re a racist.  Well, how many of those apply to you?

Furthermore a survey for the Guardian, published in December 2018, including 1,000 people from minority ethnic backgrounds (out of a total of 3,000 people) found they were consistently more likely to have faced negative everyday experiences – all frequently associated with racism – than white people in a comparison poll. The survey asked people to consider their response to a series of scenarios:

  • Being overlooked in a job application process or for promotion at work in a manner that felt unfair
  • Being mistaken for a member of staff in a restaurant, shop or hotel etc
  • Being refused entrance or asked to leave a restaurant, bar or club for no good reason
  • Someone at work, university or school treating me differently because of my clothing, hairstyle or general appearance
  • A stranger being abusive or rude to me in public

In every instance BAME people were more likely to have suffered from these than white respondents.

Our organs of state are institutionally racist – hey, the claim that policing practice in the UK is institutionally racist was widely accepted after the Macpherson Report at the end of last century.  BTW, parliament has just launched an inquiry to see how things have changed in the past 20 years, yeah right, I think the current farrago (I said farrago not arsehole!) shows we don’t really need that new inquiry, we could answer the question now – not very much!

This whole Brexit shenanigans seems to be a fantastic missed opportunity and a damning indictment on our politicians and indeed, the British public.

There’s nothing wrong with renegotiating a trade deal, or a political alignment – things change, needs and wants change – but surely at the centre there needs to be some acceptance of mutual beneficiality, of trying to co-exist with our neighbours.  After all there are 7 billion people on this planet – we’re only 60 million of them – why do we consider that we’re right (all the damn time)?

We should all be embarrassed of where we currently are and we should try and do something about it!

You can support the “BOLLOCKS TO BREXIT ” campaign to stop the Brexit madness that has consumed the UK by:

I hate lawyers. Well some of them anyway and so should you.

Agreeing with Ian Hislop?  Blimey – I didn’t expect that would ever happen, I am getting old 😦

I should say that I don’t hate all lawyers but there are a few types of lawyer that, frankly, the world could do without.  The first group are those who decide that they need to go into politics – 15% of all MPs were either barristers or solicitors.  This lot just need to go away now! Between them they’re responsible for the current Brexit mess we find ourselves in – and plenty of other messes as well!

This group is particularly irritating because they think they’re doing good when actually they are screwing things up for everybody except their rich friends!  Hateful, lying, toadies – the lot of them!!

The second group are those ambulance chasing Injury 4 You type of low-life shysters.  There is one TV advert that features a woman in a shopping centre who manages to slip and injure herself at the top of an escalator.  Hmmm if I remember correctly her view is obscured by a host of shopping bags she’s carrying.  I mean c’mon, really?  Are you suggesting that it’s the shopping centre’s fault?  That really does take the biscuit!

Here’s the google ad for one of these leeches:

Injury Lawyers UK. Specialists | Check How Much You Can Claim‎

 Rating for russellworthsolicitors.co.uk: 4.8 – 159 reviews
Free Claim Assessment. Discover Your Rights Now. No Win No Fee. Call Us Today.
Check how much you can claim? Clearly there’s nothing like the Hippocratic Oath that lawyers have to observe. Weasels – the lot of them.  How their advertising meets the ASA standards – Legal, DECENT, Honest Truthful – I just don’t know.  There are loads of these kind, peddling their services to the weak and the vulnerable – those desperate for money.  They’re one of the reasons that your and my insurance premium has been rising over the past few years – their behaviour is encouraging spurious claims and that results in higher policy prices.
What they do for you?  What they do is for themselves – not for you.  They aren’t charities they’re out for a quick buck.  Avoid them like the plague….  They’re so heinous that the law had to be changed to stop them profiteering..
The Civil Liability Bill has officially received Royal Asset today (December 20) marking a reform of the way England and Wales addresses whiplash claims and the framework around which the personal injury discount rate is set. Its aim is to reduce the “excessive” compensation claims impacting the NHS.
See I told you!!!
And now the third and final group that need to be eliminated – PPI claim insurance companies.

‘VULTURES’ Ambulance-chasing’ PPI lawyers slammed by car finance expert for now hounding mis-sold PCP deals

Banks face ‘shockwaves’ with up to £18bn in PPI payouts</<blockquote>
PPI has ‘turned portions of UK into fraudsters‘ – bank chief

Possibly the worst of the 3. And they are allowed to bombard us with their advertising, pleading with us not to miss out on up to £7k.  They really shouldn’t allow it – but they do – on TV, on the radio…it’s everywhere.  Even though there are people out there who deserve the support of good lawyers to get their money back there are standards that should be applied and followed – by all parties!

Martin Lewis, founder of the Money Saving Expert website, said banks had lied to customers that certain types of insurance were compulsory, yet no banker had been prosecuted over the issue.  He tweeted: ‘Bank’s [SIC] PPI selling was a systemic, deliberate, scripted, protection racket to missell £30bn+ of insurance. ‘

Lots of “No win no fee” claims out there but buyer beware.  Stories of claims companies wanting 40% of the payout are not unusual!  Like I said earlier – they aren’t in to help you – just to help themselves, and the worst thing about this is that as soon as this peak is over, we pass the deadline for claims, they’ll be gone, moving onto something else, some other group of people who think that a quick buck is their right.
These kinds of lawyers are simply not fit to bear the name lawyer.  They’re con men, disgusting low life who should be shunned by society – they’ve reached the level of disdain that we used to reserve for estate agents!!

Charity begins in central government

One of the annoying things about daytime TV is the number of charity adverts.  You can’t go a single ad break without at least one!  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against charities, well scrub any that uses religion, but generally I think that being charitable is a wonderful thing.

But why is the focus for these charities to put the burden of supporting them onto the British public?  The answer is clear – it’s because the UK government has decided that they’d rather give large sums of money to their cronies in the private sector than provide a decent range of public services.

And frankly I think that is unacceptable.

It is, however, a complex issue

  • Since 2010 healthcare expenditures have declined, down to 7.1 percent GDP by 2020.
  • Nearly 12 million UK residents aged 65 years and over.
  • The government has increasingly pushed the burden on local authorities – here’s just one clause from the latest guidance they issued:

To ensure that the pressure on council tax is kept down, the net additional cost of all new burdens placed on local authorities (including parishes, police and fire and rescue authorities) by central Government must be assessed and fully and properly funded.

…and by properly funded they mean dumped onto you. Ensuring the pressure is kept down my arse.  The Conservatives are openly the party of “small government” – lower taxes – more money in your pocket!  Allegedly!!  However the statistics published each budget day seem to show that the people who end benefiting most from Tory policies are the better off…  Basically the people who least need to benefit!!

“The rich get richer and the poor get poorer” is an aphorism due to Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Just this morning (19/12/2018) it seems that the entire BBC Breakfast programme was based around the issue of Special Educational Needs – and that’s brilliant.  But the reason they’ve chosen to do that is because the investment in providing the service from central government simply isn’t good enough.  The current Tories in government would rather invest £1.5bn in ensuring that a bunch of rapid racists and bigots in Northern Ireland would support them so they could form the government than paying for 66,000 qualified registered nurses! And look where that got them – a total and utter waste of money.  Oh and guess what, the current shortfall in nurses means that the government has to pay another £1.5bn on temporary staff.

..and to compound matters the Brexit vote has also contributed to a growing recruitment crisis. Since the referendum there has been a 28% increase in the number of EU nurses leaving Britain, which could exacerbate the problem, said the report. Overseas applications for nursing roles has fallen by 87% in the past 12 months!  Didn’t I see something about the Chancellor allocating £4.2bn for EU exit preparations…yesI damn well did!

These examples are just symptomatic of a policy of reducing, or rather minimising central government expenditure.

Look, I know we have an ageing population and health and pensions are time-bombs waiting to happen but making the old, the infirm and those who were just born that way suffer is wrong – plain wrong.  Society has to do better and governments must take the lead.

I’m of complex politics – decidedly left wing – but I believe in a mixed economy. I don’t believe in privatising the NHS – healthcare should be free at the point of need, irrespective of how much money you have, but it could be run much leaner – less need for “management” and targets – more focus on doing stuff than measuring it or sitting in committees deciding on which policy to adopt – just keep people healthy!

I’m all in favour of nationalising the utility companies – I mean I’m sorry but HTF does Scottish Energy/Scottish Power survive – the worst customer service, the most unintelligent staff – and the railways and then doing some intelligent planning and putting some intelligent people in charge of running them and making sure that none of the contracts gets awarded to Tory cronies like Carillion.   (Apparently the government awards £200bn worth of public contracts to private companies EVERY year!)

Subsequently the government is to bring in tougher contract terms for outsourcers following Carillion’s collapse – or closing the stable door after the horse has bolted as we call that!

Frankly I think that charity should be nationalised and most definitely secularised. We have an overseas aid budget which is functionally designed, not to aid those in most need but, to smooth the path for the Tories rich friends to do deals with 3rd world countries so they can fill their pockets with even more money!

Since 1980 BBC Children in Need has raised over £1bn, Comic Relief has raised over £1bn.   The generosity of the British public is amazing, and legendary – but think what could be done with the £56bn that HS2 is currently forecast to cost – one estimate actually puts it nearer to £80bn.

Just think how many people we could help – here and abroad – if our government used our money better….

Seems I’m not the only person thinking aloing these lines…

Just done some sums. £4,200,000,000 would pay for 146,000 band 5 nurses for a year. Or, it would pay for 138,000 police officers for a year. Or we could have 146,000 newly qualified teachers. Oh, the things we could spend £4.2 billion on. Instead we’re spending it on brexit.

Today we are allocating £2 billion of funding to help departments prepare for #Brexit. The Treasury has provided more than £4.2 billion for Brexit preparations since 2016. gov.uk/government/new…

And more to the point I wouldn’t have to watch those bloody annoying ads for charities, here and abroad, scrabbling for money, money that that is being wasted by government who are simply abrogating the issue – forcing us to pick up the baton for solving problems that can only be solved through government intervention.

Matt Johnson of The The said it right back in his song The Heartland in 2006

This is the land, where nothing changes,
the land of red buses & blue blooded babies,
This is the place, where pensioners are raped,

& the hearts are being cut, from the welfare state,
Let the poor drink the milk, while the rich eat the honey,
Let the bums count their blessings, while they count the money

Read more: The The – Heartland Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Is GDPR turning us all into sheep?

I dunno bout you but I’m getting extremely p’d off by all the changes that GDPR has introduced to make our lives better.

The purpose of the GDPR is to provide a set of standardised data protection laws across all the member countries. This should make it easier for EU citizens to understand how their data is being used, and also raise any complaints, even if they are not in the country where its located.”

That’s what the Privacy Trust says. Well guys you have actually done the opposite.  It used to really easy to block cookies and stop people using your data – but now you get things like this appearing – and yes, this from the Privacy Trust’s own website!

We use cookies to see how many people use our site, and which parts are the most popular. Can we continue to use cookies? You can say NO and it won’t have a major impact on how you view our site.

More informationYes

Do you see that we aren’t being offered a yes/no option we’re actually being offered a say yes or we’ll make you spend more time than previously needed to block us?  Where’s the NO option?  Answer there isn’t one!

Clicking the More information link takes you here – https://www.privacytrust.com/about/privacy.html and I defy you to tell me where the NO option is.  I have contacted them and they say they’ll be back in touch within 3 days – I’ll update this post if/when they do 🙂

And of course if you decide you want to block their irritating cookies you’ll get the same damn irritating messages every time you try to view the content they’re pushing out –  believe me, I reckon a number of websites out there will be looking at dropping visitor figures and not thinking positive thoughts about the law makers!  I’ve already blocked plenty!

In addition to (if that wasn’t bad enough!) these extremely irritating cookie/data messages there’s the whole issue of GDPR causing the EU individual’s view of the world to become more insular.

Have you not noticed that a number of your favourites information sources are now displaying messages along these lines – this one’s from Lee Enterprises – they publish 46 daily newspapers across 21 US states:

“451: Unavailable for legal reasons

We recognise you are attempting to access this website from a country belonging to the European Economic Area (EEA) including the EU which enforces the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and therefore cannot grant you access at this time. For any issues, e-mail us at support@qctimes.com or call us at 563 383 2200”

I’ve lost count of the number of hyperlinks that appear in my daily Google alerts about subjects related to my day job that end up with something like that – or they just hang – a blank white screen like the LA Times …great – I’m lovin’ it – NOT!  So, how long is “temporarily unavailable”?  I think we should be told, lest we turn into an insular little country with a jaundiced view of the world – a sort of small USA!

And it’s the combination of the measures that GDPR has inflicted on us web browsers that fills me with dread.  From memory it was Oscar Wilde who famously stated that “The law is an ass!” Well clearly he wasn’t wrong.

I’m of the view that all this nanny-state nonsense is reducing out ability to think for ourselves, and naturally that’s not a good thing in an era where we need all the thinking we can get to sort out the real problems facing our very existence e.g. the people making these laws as well as the Trumpster himself.

Or are you all just sheep?

 

 

 

 

Political correctness – sorry, but yes it has gone mad!

2016-02-01-1195outragePolitical correctness
noun
the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.

The definition from Dictionary.com and there’s one absolutely KEY word and that is “perceived” – perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult..etc etc.  Perceived by whom?

There are plenty of people out there who are prepared to “educate” us about how we should be using language e.g. Tess Thorson, Ph.D. Fellow at Aalborg University, based in New York, researching intersectional representations in film and media – I perceive her analysis of a Jonathan Pie video as both deep and deeply patronising at the same time – but I welcome the fact that she has the freedom to express it.

In the last few days we’ve seen stories in the news about students no longer clapping but using “Jazz Hands” instead to make events more accessible to those suffering anxiety.  And we can no longer show the Shetlands in a box on a map…although authorities can avoid complying with this if they provide “information” about their reasons!!

Now I’m not saying that there aren’t plenty of bits of language that we shouldn’t use – there are – although I perceive that there do seem to be more and more…and yet still more being added to the list – almost daily!

Take “black” and “white” for example – the meaning behind these two has changed dramatically in the past 30 years.  My first wife was black, no sorry that should be Afro-Caribbean – or should it be BAME?  Well when I was in Jamaica there was a clear divide amongst the locals which was dependent on their own perceptions of skin colour – black skin was perceived to have a higher status than brown skin – their perception not mine!  My nickname , as given by the smiling, cheeky, kids on the hillside outside of Mo’ Bay was “whiteman” – I certainly wasn’t insulted, I felt accepted!  Yet today “White” is an insult, a term laced with denegration and meant to demean.

We are constantly being told that we need to be more considerate, more inclusive, yet at the same time some people – comedians for example – are perceiving that they are far more constrained, that they now have less opportunity to poke fun at the things and people that damn well need to have fun poked at them!!  Here’s Frankie Boyle back in 2015.

I find it incredibly worrying that we no longer need to hear the actual content of the thing we’re told to be offended by. We hear of people being arrested for tweets without the tweet being reported; comics are blasted for routines that aren’t printed; newspapers hire lip-readers to find something to get offended by at the tennis and then print the resulting fuckfest as asterisks. And who decides whether we should be outraged at something we haven’t seen or heard? The press. Our seething collective Id. None of us would trust a journalist to hold our pint while we went to the bathroom, yet we allow them to be ethical arbiters for the entire culture.

..and it’s not just journalists, see the good Dr listed earlier plus this article by Julia Watson which won The Economist’s Open Future essay competition in the category of Open Society – there are plenty of people keen to reduce your and my ability to use langauage.

To me, a believer in a meritocracy, a lover of language, and a lover of good comedy we need the freedom to be perceived as being “politically incorrect”- even though comedy is inevitably at someone or something else’s expense.  It’s been at “my” expense, my late wife and I both howled at the numerous hard-core cancer gags that Frankie Boyle delivered at the New Theatre in Oxford back in 2012 (she died in 2013) – we didn’t perceive that he was being politically incorrect – just painfully funny.

And do you know what is the most worrying thing of all here?  It’s the fact that it’s some appalling behaviour by no less a character than (yes you’ve guessed it!) Donald Trump that has pointed out the issue really is about perception.

Kurdish journalist ‘proud’ to be called ‘Mr Kurd’ by Trump.

Rahim Rashidi told Middle East Eye in an email on Friday that he felt “proud” and “honoured” being addressed as “Mr Kurd”.

“For a long time, the Kurdish people have been denied their self-right to Kurdish ethnicity,” Rashidi explained.

“Kurds have experienced assimilation and genocide, simply for being Kurdish. To be addressed as ‘Mr.Kurd’ means a lot to me. To recognize my identity when it has always been denied is a great deal for me. Especially by the president.”

Wow!  I mean double-wow!  Good on you Mr Rashidi – I applaud you!

Of course there are boundaries that normal life applies to the use of language to “highlight” various groups in society – and these boundaries and the groups they “highlight” differ from culture to culture – but all cultures have limits on what is acceptable, what is politically correct and what you can get away with.  Embracing different groups and cultures is vitally important, we shouldn’t be seeking to exclude them BUT #FFS are you happy that:

  • In 2007, Santa Clauses in Sydney, Australia, were banned from saying ‘Ho Ho Ho’. Their employer, the recruitment firm Westaff (that supplies hundreds of Santas across Australia), allegedly told all trainees that ‘ho ho ho’ could frighten children, and be derogatory to women. Why ? Because ‘Ho Ho Ho’ is too close to the American (not Australian, mind you) slang for prostitute.
  • ‘Reliable’ and ‘hard-working’ – surely the two keystone employers look for in an employee? Well, maybe not: a Hertfordshire recruitment agency boss was once told she could not request those qualities – Jobcentre Plus in Thetford, Norfolk, told her such an advert could be “offensive” to unreliable people.
  • Undoubtedly the rudest-sounding dish in your recipe book, Spotted Dick is  pudding made with suet, raisins and currents. It dates back centuries – the earliest reference is 1849 – but that didn’t stop one overly concerned council from changing the name to Spotted Richard. Flintshire County Council was apparently sick of all the jokes, so changed the name – much to the chagrin of everyone else.
  • Oxford University’s Equality and Diversity Unit tried to accuse people who avoid eye contact with others of ‘racist micro-aggression’ — before it was pointed out that such advice might be seen as discriminatory against people with autism who may struggle to look others in the eye.
  • Suffolk County Council stopped using traditional signs warning drivers ‘Cat’s eyes removed’ after fears that real cats may have been killed to manufacture these reflective road safety measures. Ipswich resident Rebecca Brewer was reported as saying: ‘I have a five-year-old daughter who was very upset the first time she saw the sign — she really thought cruel people were torturing cats.’ Instead, signs across the county now state: ‘Caution, road studs removed.’
  • Use of this braided hairstyle by white people is said to represent cultural appropriation. When the designer Marc Jacobs was criticised for using a group of predominantly white models wearing dreadlocks in a show, he argued — not unreasonably — that this was similar to black women straightening their hair. This was met with further outrage from (mostly white) commentators who complained that hair-straightening had been ‘forced upon the black community due to beauty ideals based on white archetypes’.

Well let me tell you – I’m not happy about that list.  In fact the Daily Mail, that arbiter of good taste (NOT!) provides a complete A-Z guide for you to peruse and make your own minds up about – because it really is about you and how you perceive things.

perception

But really you just need to be nicer to people – on a one to one basis, face to face.  Be sensitive to other people’s situation but do not, never ever, stop highlighting what you perceive to be injustice, exclusion, racism, sexism or any other kind of ism and remember those words from your childhood…

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.

I urge you, if you still have the stomach for it to watch Jonathan Pie’s Hammersmith Apollo show – there is an entire section on political correctness and despite what some might say – it’s spot on the mark!   In fact let’s keep “political correctness” as a term specifically for politicians – those lying, mendacious, self-publicising egomaniacs who use and abuse language on a daily basis – causing offence to many, avoiding questions, taking our money and continually getting away with it – Trump, Johnson etc etc you know who you are.

 

Politicians – you’re an omnishambles

Given that their job is (supposed to be) deeply serious and significant why is it that so many seem to get caught in the most ludicrous situations?  Remember Neil Kinnock on the beach and latterly on his back in the water?  Remember Boris strung up (oh there’s a nice thought) on a zip wire?  Remember David Davis’ Thick of It moment? (yes who was he?)…  They just cannot help themselves – which on one hand provides hours of amusement for us but on the other hand must give their PR people instant grey hair!  I mean can you imagine Malcolm Tucker’s response to some of these?  It hardly enhances their public standing or innate authority to carry out the roles they’re in!

..and let’s not even mention the number of times the BBC has mispronounced Jeremy Hunt’s name (couldn’t happen to a nicer guy) – oops I just have 🙂

You would think that it’s a case of “You had just one job…” but clearly it isn’t!  They seem incapable of behaving in a normal manner and instead make themselves look like – well, complete imbeciles isn’t too harsh a description.  OK I know that some of them are complete imbeciles, Donald Trump has to be the #1 as his imbecility has gone beyond humour into hatred – just look at his behaviour when challenged to make a statement about the recently deceased Senator John McCain.


Now compare that with the statement from Barack Obama, Trumps’s immediate predecessor in the role, and a political opponent of McCain.

“John McCain and I were members of different generations, came from completely different backgrounds, and competed at the highest level of politics.  But we shared, for all of our differences a fidelity to something higher – the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched and sacrificed.  We saw our political battles, even, as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home, and to advance them around the world.  We saw this country as a place where anything is possible – and citizenship as our patriotic obligation to ensure it forever remains that way…”

Fine words indeed from a fine man – as opposed to silence from a scumbag!

But back to humour element, and for this we can thank our own PM Theresa May – and on this occasion she most certainly did!!  What was she thinking?  What were her people thinking?  I’d say a total lack of any risk assessment here…


I meant it’s not just bad, it’s hilariously, embarrassingly bad!  So bad in fact that Michael Jackson would not have used the word “bad” to describe it.  One glimpse and he’d be moon-walking off into the distance – pronto!!  However the thing here is that May has history, lots of it.  Laughing on the front bench in a manner that made her look like some weird form of alien, displaying a complete inability to eat food without looking like a demented OAP and well just look at some of these images – the final one is beyond description!


At this point I think I need to be physically ill!

There’s only one way out of this and that’s to watch the entire output of The Thick of It – life actually imitated art when Ed Miliband described a George Osborne budget as an “omnishambles” – listen to him if you really must.  It was a word coined on The Thick Of It by Malcolm Tucker – so why not!

Just take my damn money…please!

Look I’m all in favour of Tim Berners-Lee’s idea that the World wide Web should be free for everybody but sadly there are too many people out there today who insist on screwing it up by riddling the useful content with shite, highly intrusive, extremely irrelevant and hugely irritating advertising!  It’s got so bad that I’m coming round to the idea that for some things I’d actually be prepared to pay a monthly fee to make these damn pieces of time-wasting crap disappear!

..and don’t think I’m not talking about you Spotify – you’ve got the nerve to take my money and then send me crap about new releases by those artists who are able to pay you enough to invade my privacy on their behalf!

There are a number of aspects to this…

  1. what am I prepared to pay for
  2. how much will I be prepared to pay
  3. why online advertising is so shite, highly intrusive, extremely irrelevant and hugely irritating.

Let’s start with the “What”:

The birthplace of the web was CERN – Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist at CERN, invented the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989. The web was originally conceived and developed to meet the demand for automatic information-sharing between scientists in universities and institutes around the world.  See that…the sharing of information.  And the definition of sharing is?

To allow someone to use or enjoy something that one possesses. 

No mention of charging for it anywhere is there?  That came a lot later when less pure minds that Sir Tim’s decided that all these people provided an opportunity to make money – and lots of it, shed-loads of it in fact – big huge aircraft-hanger sized shed-loads of wonga!  And like me, Sir Tim’s not a happy man, although his beef is probably purer than mine which is just about advertising.  He’s more concerned with the rollback of net neutrality protections, the proliferation of fake news, propaganda and the web’s increasing polarisation!

“Gas is a utility, so is clean water, and connectivity should be too,” said Berners-Lee. “It’s part of life and shouldn’t have an attitude about what you use it for – just like water.”

So what am I prepared to pay for?

Stuff that I want to consume – stuff that entertains me like music, (that’s why I pay Spotify each month for a service I can’t stream to my hi-fi because the quality is designed for mobile phones and my GigaClear 50MB broadband is so flaky – and the router is a piece of poo! – that streaming hi-res is a non-starter!) and I’ll happily pay Amazon for the ability to read a book while I’m on holiday (Agios Stefanos NW Corfu since you’re asking!) or maybe to stream a movie as part of my Prime subscription – that’s cool, I’m happy to do that.

I’ll even pay for knowledge or software that helps me to consume and to create – such as specific training or apps from Adobe or even bloody Microsoft’s Office 365!

But I won’t pay for news!

That should be part of Sir Tim’s original idea about sharing information.  The WWW is meant to be a tool to enable us ALL to understand what’s going on in the world, to bring us closer together (yeah well done Boris you twat!) and generally make the world a better place.   However I WILL accept a limited amount of advertising to get this as I realise that information providers (except the BBC and I already pay my licence fee £150+) aren’t charities – they need to make money to pay their staff!  But I won’t pay them a subscription as it’s not worth it – not to me anyway!

And how much will I pay?

Well, this is more of a case of how much am I already paying!!  If you total up your household outgoings on things like your TV licence, SKY, broadband, mobile phone data, Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime etc etc you’ll be amazed by the figure you get to.  I reckon I’m spending over £1,000 per year!  And I’ve cut back!  It’s easy to spend more than £1,500, maybe even £2k!!  OK, don’t be pedantic, I know that SKY tends to be delivered over satellite – it’s the overall cost of accessing content that’s important here!

As these things are pretty much standard across UK households today, and with the average take home pay of <£21k per annum, you’re likely to be spending over 7% of your annual income on this stuff – maybe as much as 10%.  Now 7% may not sound a lot but imagine if your salary was cut by 7% – how much harder would that make life?? Exactly!

The huge expansion of the digital world has made it particularly hard for some companies, notably newspapers, and apart from the rag that is the Daily Mail they aren’t really succeeding (The Mail was always full of small ads anyway so it was a natural development for them, and their readership).   And I’m not going to help them by paying to get past their firewalls while the likes of Twitter are around – it’s quicker, more opinions so you can read both sides of an argument and of course it’s free – except for the sneaky ads!!

In fact it’s Twitter, or rather another player in the arena of social media that provided the straw that has broken the camel’s back –  so to speak.

So I’m now at the stage where I would be happy to pay for access to certain social media applications (it begins with a “F”) in order to avoid bloody advertising – if nothing else I’m sure the saving in blood pressure medicine would offset it!! (Relax that’s just an analogy I’m not on beta-blockers or anything similar)

So, why is online advertising so shite, highly intrusive, extremely irrelevant and hugely irritating?

….to the extent that now I’ll even pay to avoid it!

Well let’s go back to a bit of online business 101.

First off, if you’ve got that great idea, you want everyone to know about it and the web is really helpful here, as it allows you to reach a lot of people.  Let’s say these people like your great idea and flock to it – hey presto you have what is called in the trade “an audience” or lots of “eyeballs”.  So whereas people used to have to stick posters up in the street, things developed as people could get newspapers to print stories about their great ideas which other people then thought, hey if they like that maybe they’ll like mine to so I’ll make sure information about my great idea is in there too.  Next came TV which offered an even bigger channel to the audience and even more people started to “advertise” their great ideas, although now there so many great ideas – they weren’t all great!

With the growth of the web a number of great ideas got really, really, popular – like billions of people popular!  And the people who owned these great ideas thought to themselves…hmm I can make money out of this – it’s called “monetization” by the way!  So they started to allow advertising on their great ideas.

Look at possibly the best great idea ever – Google!  Originally just lists of stuff that matched your search term. Then 3 “sponsored” results appeared at the top of the page.  Today?  Maybe on the first page you’ll be lucky enough to find 3 “natural results” amongst the 20+ “sponsored” ones – that’s what Google calls advertising btw!  And Google make a massively, gigantic shed-load of money from it – as do some other great ideas.

What they also do is get make of these ads pop up on other websites you might visit – and have you noticed the order in which websites load?  The site’s branding is followed by all the adverts and only then does the content you actually wanted in the first place appear – naughty, naughty!  In other words it’s highly intrusive and hugely irritating!

But what about extreme irrelevance?  Surely, you shout, they’ve got algorithms that make sure that the advertising you see is relevant to you!  It’s true that if you search for something via Google or Bing (does anybody actually use Bing? And what a stupid name!) you’ll be bombarded with ads for whatever that was for ages – EVEN AFTER YOU’VE BOUGHT IT!  How relevant is that?  And let’s not even go into the activities of travel sites that rack up the prices if you leave and then come back!!

OK time to get to the absolute nub of this rant!  Facebook, yes Marky boy this one’s on you, recently decided to make life difficult for their profile users.

“As of August 1, Facebook no longer allows third-party platforms to post to personal Facebook profiles. As a result, Hootsuite no longer supports scheduling and posting to personal Facebook profiles.”

They wanted to stop us using the likes of Hootsuite, WordPress et al to automate/schedule our posting to our personal profiles.  They still allow scheduling to “pages” just not “profiles”.  So what do I do?  I choose to create a page from my profile, and to be fair it didn’t take too long to achieve that but once I’d “published” it, the troubles started.

Clearly Facebook believes that if you’ve got a page you’ve got money to spend, so they put an “advert” on your news feed (which only you can see) prompting you to spend money promoting your page.  Now that’s fair enough, their business model is about making money so I let the first one go..and the second, and the third.

But when I realised that they were bloating my news feed with multiple – and here I mean it might be one of their ads every 3 real posts – adverts, on and on and on.  Different creative suggestions but loads and loads and loads.

Now in amongst the reams of “help” they allegedly provide there is absolutely NOTHING about how to stop this.  Basically I don’t think you can and frankly I’m, not prepared to hang around to see if they eventually give up, so I’m deleting my page – screw ’em!

I’m going to publish my content elsewhere, I’m going to prompt readers of my social media diatribes to read the content on other platforms and even though they won’t give a damn – I’ll feel a lot better – and that’s the important thing here 🙂

What would really help me, and I’m sure millions of other people, is if some philanthropist kinda person decided it would be really cool to provide an open source advertising free or a subscription based social media channel.  I’m pretty sure that it would have a rapid uptake.  If Camelot allows me to win the Euromillions lottery this Friday I promise I’ll have one built and if Sir Tim permits I’ll call it TimsWeb, or Tim’s Place or Worldies or something similar!

 

 

The “A” to “B” of advertising standards

So, it seems that the UK Government has got it in for Amazon, and despite me thinking that Bezos is not a very nice man, and that his company’s customer service can be really poor at times, I don’t think this attack is fair.

It seems that one of their adverts has been banned for being misleading.  Now I find it interesting that they can take action against one of the world’s largest companies yet they seem unable to apply the same logic, values and even advertising laws to the Brexit debate.

I’m referring to those adverts, speeches the bus even which all displayed the line about giving the £350m we paid the EU to the NHS.

I find it especially interesting as we all now that that claim was a lie!  So, not even misleading, but a downright lie!

Do you remember it now?

Well apparently the UK advertising regulator (ASA) has said that it received 280 complaints, mostly from Amazon Prime customers who reported not receiving their packages within a day.  The basic premise of the Prime delivery service is that you WILL get your package within a day – and from personal experience – it works!  However these 280 good fellows weren’t satisfied so they complained and, well looky here, the ASA agreed!

From memory trading standards and advertising laws do allow for a degree of flexibility, you don’t have to deliver what you promise EVERY TIME, just most of the time – missing a few is fine.  It seems that Amazon does pretty well, in 2017, Amazon shipped over 5 billion items worldwide through Prime – almost one for every person alive!  So you’re roughly talking about 280 complaints based on 50+ million deliveries in the UK.

If that was my business I’d be deliriously happy – if I was a lawyer I’d consider that claiming a one day service was ok with that data – proving it beyond any reasonable doubt.  But not the ASA.

Interestingly the most complained about ad last year was a KFC one – 755 said it was disrespectful to chickens and distressing for vegetarians.  Thankfully the ASA thought this lot were barking mad and let it go.

They felt the same way about 8 of the top 10 most complained about ads actually – the other 2 were withdrawn so never investigated…so lesbian kissing, gay men kissing, a woman in a wheelchair eating maltesers and having a spasm were fine (and I’m totally in agreement with that!) but only, apparently, achieving a 99.999% delivery on your promise just isn’t good enough!!

BUT!!!

..downright lies ARE ok!  The UK Statistics Authority no longer says that the £350m claim is potentially misleading, but misleading plain and simple – Nigel Farage has admitted that it was a “mistake” to promise that £350million a week would be spent on the NHS if the UK backed a Brexit vote, and Treasury figures clearly show Britain’s EU budget rebate was £4.9bn. Deduct that from £17.8bn and you get £12.9bn – or £248m a week. This is the sum now recognised by the independent fact-checking organisation Full Facts!

So nobody took any action.  The misleading claim was allowed to continue to be broadcast within any retraction demanded, no penalties applied and Boris and his chums simply allowed to ride roughshod over the general public.

I mean c’mon – what’s the bloody ASA for if it isn’t for this?  Would you rather have 280 unhappy people or would you rather **** the country for decades to come?

Don’t answer that because we already know that Jacob Rees-Mogg has shifted his companies finances away from the UK – and guess where – yup, the bloody EU!

Indoor voice please or just pay me £50

Why is it that when you’ve paid £60 £70 £80 or even more to go and see an open air concert that you seen to be surrounded by assholes who just seem to want to have very loud conversations about stuff that’s got absolutely nothing to do with the concert.

Yesterday we were at British Summer Time and it seemed no matter where we stood the loudmouths were there, right next to us!!

Listening to Eric Clapton, playing an acoustic number, and behind me I heard this woman say “ah this is my favourite” and then she went on to chat about I don’t know what it was it was but it was irrelevant, nothing to do with the music!!

So why do people do this?

Do they just not speak to people in their normal daily life, so when they go to big open-air gigs they have to shout at each other to hear themselves over the music, despite standing right next to each other!!

I’d like to take them back to Barney the giant purple dinosaur from whichever television children’s television programme it was – maybe some of these people need to use their indoor voices outdoors!

I do have a plan though….

I’m going to hire Hyde Park, put in place all the necessary infrastructure – security, food, drinks, toilets, a big PA but I’m not going to book any acts, no way José!! I’ll arrange to play my Spotify library, or some other licensed music playlist, over the PA so there’s plenty of music going on for people to talk other…and then I’m going to charge people a flat £50 to get in.

Kerching… 🙂

NSU, a barium enema and the trumpster

I just found this on the Northern Exposure wiki – hey we’re talking top TV from the turn of the century – you really need to check it out…..

“Joel Fleischman is a nebbishy Jewish doctor from New York City, and a fresh faced medical school graduate. He’s also about to begin the four year service contract he promised to the state of Alaska, who financed his education. But he just happened to forget reading some of the stipulations in his contract, that has assigned him to the small post of Cicely, Alaska. A town of 215 people that welcomes it’s newest resident with open arms. As he contends with the daily lives and rituals of these all too normal and trusting folk, Joel just might realize that Cicely’s quieter ways are probably more civilized than the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Made up of Cicely’s various residents, patients and friends of Fleischman include wealthy former astronaut Maurice Minnifield; feisty pilot Maggie O’Connell; mayor and saloon owner Holling Vincoeur; his sweet, naive waitress girlfriend Shelly Tambo (who’s old enough to be his daughter); intellectual ex-con and disc jockey Chris Stevens; Joel’s far wiser and very quiet receptionist Marilyn Whirlwind; kindly store owner Ruth-Anne Miller, and avid film buff Ed Chigliak.”

It’s a snippet of a conversation between Joel the NY doc dumped into Cicely Alaska and Chris Stevens the local philiosopher, Harley Davidson rider and radio DJ.

Joel: Nonspecific urethritis. Ya hear what I’m sayin’? Ya hear what I’m talkin’ about? It’s not catchy, but you ought to keep the falcon under wraps for a awhile. Otherwise, we’re gonna have to clip his wings. Ya hear what I’m sayin’, Valentino.
Chris: Yeah, I hear ya. (car horn honks)
Joel: Hey! Hey! I’m crossin’ here! I’m crossin’ here! You don’t talk to a learned physician that way! Same to you, pal! Can’t wait to get that jerk in the examining room. I got a barium enema with his name on it. Yeah, let me take you to Donald Trump. He’s a friend of mine.
Chris: You know Donald Trump?
Joel: Oh, yeah. I started him out in the business, actually.
Chris: Whoo, boy!

I just love the juxtaposition of nonspecific urethritis, a barium enema and the Trumpster!

Now wouldn’t that be fun?  Perhaps someone could arrange that for the 13th?