Category Archives: politics

Scotland – beautiful yet bound to suffer from Brexit

When the clouds finally cleared, and the rain stopped falling horizontally Scotland shows you why so many love her.

Our recent trip around the country, from Glasgow to Dornoch, from there to the NW coast and back down to Auchiltibuie, then to Skye, then Pitlochry and our final stopover in Edinburgh, provided a mere glimpse of the abundant jewels that await.

The scenery is jaw-droppingly stunning (when you can see it! – see above..and below)

Castles in varying states of repair (this is Eilean Donan castle near the Kyle of Lochalsh), lochs of every size and shape (no we didn’t get a glimpse of Nessie) and every shade of ginger known to man (or woman) adorning the hillsides and trees.

I have to make special mention of the food. No deep fried pizzas anywhere. But beautiful, succulent seafood perfectly cooked and exquisitely presented. Lunch at Michael Smith’s, Michelin starred, Loch Bay restaurant in Stein, on Skye was a personal highlight – but then the Scotch Broth at the Green Welly Stop in Tyndrum was mighty fine too!

Ok this isn’t from the Loch Bay restaurant, c’mon, who photographs their food in Michelin starred establishments? You do? You’re weird!

Anyway its food that brings us to Brexit, well the hospitality industry to be specific…

At each of the locations we stayed the bulk of the team of people serving were not Scottish. A few were English but the vast majority were from Europe and predominantly eastern European at that. Even in Auchiltibuie at the Summer Islands Hotel the staff were a mixture of Spanish and eastern European. BTW do stay there. Accommodation was great, food fantastic, service impeccable and I reckon, in good weather, the views are to die for. And you might see this chap round the corner…

But my point is this.  Where are hotels and inns going to find the staff they need post-Brexit? Clearly the locals aren’t interested in working there…so who will be?

 

“Politicians need to take their foot off the accelerator in order to protect the planet.”

Oh really? That isn’t necessarily the case – see this scientific article!

I can vouch for the fact that if I’m travelling to work, sadly using the A34 in Oxfordshire then my mpg performance drops dramatically compared to a run where the car is able to run at a speed closer to the legal limit.  And surely improving mpg is one, I’ll admit only one, measure of helping to damage the planet less. We need to get to and from work and public transport has declined to a point that unless you live in London you’re basically ****ed!

My point being that if cars were able to travel at, or even closer to, their most optimum speed the amount of petrol/diesel consumed would drop significantly.  So, taking that point to it’s logical conclusion spending £42 billion on making cars work more efficiently by providing better roads would benefit far more people than building a railway that almost no one will benefit from – except of course the shareholders of those companies who win the contracts to build HS2.  Less fuel used, less time spent driving to and from work = more time for actual working or for the family – ok I know there’s the negative that HMRC gets less income form petrol duty!

So, instead of ruining many thousands of people’s journeys on a daily basis thanks to traffic issues which are going to cost us nigh on £62 billion by 2016… (and this is just the value that people would put on their time – not the actual cost of their “wasted” time nor the cost of the extra fuel that is being used!)

In the UK, INRIX Roadway Analytics identified and ranked 20,375 traffic hotspots in 21 cities. The ranking was determined by an ‘Impact Factor’, which multiplied the average duration of a traffic jam with its average length and the number of times it occurred in September 2016. The cost to drivers due to time wasted in traffic at these hotspots, calculated using the DfT’s ‘value of time’, amounts to £61.8 billion in the UK by 2025 if congestion levels are not reduced.

…why not focus on these – the top 10 ways that Global Citizen reckons are the way to reduce climate change…

  • Rooftop solar – Elon Musk is big into this
  • Silvopasture – apparently this is as simple as planting trees in pasture land and letting cattle roam there!
  • Solar farms – like your rooftops only on a massive scale.
  • Family planning – tricky given that a vast majority of the under-developed world is Catholic and China’s just upped the children per household to 2!!
  • Educating girls – we’re talking mainly (but not exclusively) in the under-developed world as educated girls/women have less kids – although educating stupid men not to treat women as an inferior species would be a good start!
  • Protecting or replanting tropical forests – clearly cutting down the Amazon is just bonkers.
  • Plant rich diets – this means shifting away from the western style processed food diet – clearly a good thing but pretty tricky to sell.
  • Reducing food waste – absolutely essential.  The amount of perfectly edible food that we throw away is just obscene.
  • Offshore wind turbines – surely there are enough places that we could site these – without destroying the beauty of them.
  • Refridgeration management – we’re talking air conditioning in homes and cars as well as well fridges!!  Apparently the eradication of Ozone crunching CFCs has led to a repairing of the hole but sadly the replacement HFCs which get released at end of the fridge’s life can heat the atmosphere 900 times more than CO2!

Clearly governments have a big part to play in this, so to come back to the original headline of this post, governments need to take their collective feet off the motorist and plant them firmly on accelerators – those organisations that can stimulate innovation and future business, ‘coz that’s the only way we’re going to get things like these:

  1. home battery packs to store electricity generated from our roofs,
  2. wind turbines that can be fitted to homes and offices as well as out to sea,
  3. greater investment in planting more vegetation – everywhere,
  4. ways to convince people of certain religions that their dogmas aren’t right,
  5. getting “out of date” food to people and places that need it,
  6. packaging that can be recycled,
  7. home automation systems designed to minimise power usage
  8. I’m inclined to add in “drive less/drive smart” but only if there’s an equivalent improvement in public transportation
  9. tell Trump he’s an idiot and get the US to stay in the Paris agreement
  10. and finally tell planners to sort out the road network so we drivers CAN drive more efficiently!

 

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.

 

Cor, what a whopper!!

Can you spot the similarity between Apple the company and Donald Trump? Well this most recent post from Techcrunch suggests that they are both pretty good at telling porky-pies!!

I mean the Trumpster is ahead on the total number but that hasn’t deterred Tim Cook et al from playing catch-up!!

Trump is a phenomenon. An asshole too. I mean just read what the Washington Post has to say on the matter – scary or what?

But that aside as this post is about lying tech giants as opposed to assholes pretending to be statesmen let’s focus on Apple!

TechCrunch lists 7, yes 7, whoppers in Apple’s latest product launch. That’s going some.

Is that what it takes now to get punters to part with their hard earned cash? Lies? Wow, how the mighty gave fallen..yet at the same time how big have we mugs grown? £1,400 for a phone??? That’s what I’ve heard, are we mad?

Well not me personally, I’ll make sure I buy my non-Apple devices from some company in the far east that delivers the same product with a better spec for a significantly lower price!!

I know that marketing is about being economical with the truth but Apple’s having a laugh. Or are Fanboys that dumb? Possibly!

But either way people, and particularly that means you people in tech companies that pretend to be holier than thou..stop the bullshit, stop the lies and FFS stop ripping us consumers off!

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!

Oh c’mon Boris, p*** off!

According to the BBC – “Paris baulks at ‘horrible’ eco-friendly public urinals” and frankly Scarlet – I’m not surprised.  The city has always had a relaxed attitude to us chaps taking a leak – I remember the intrigue of entering the metal confines of the old circular “pissoirs”.   However, I thought with the advent of the advanced passenger toilets that Jean-Claud DeCaux delivered many years ago that progress had been made that enabled both chaps and chapesses to answer the call of nature, but obviously there’s a recidivist majority on the city council!

Apparently if these devices weren’t in place les gentilshommes would be pointing Percy at almost any thing they found on the streets – apparently lampposts are a particular favourite!  Sacre nom de Dieu!

Is this what the Common Market has become?  Have the pressures on the Economic Union meant that a combination of eco-madness and the desire to cut costs has really gone this far?  (I note that the end product of these “devices” is designed to aid fertilization of the city’s flower beds…!)

Personally I think Boris and Steve Bannon could be behind this.  It’s the sort of bonkers, barking-mad scheme that their deluded minds would dream up to make the British public believe that being part of Europe is wrong.

My response to that can be summed up by a conversation my partner and I had with a young lady in the queue for the Portaloos at last year’s Common People festival in the refined confines of Oxford during which she happily confided to us that she had had sex in a Portaloo – at a previous event I hasten to add!! So I’m calling them out on this one – it won’t work – we’re far more liberated than that (well some of us are anyway)!!

Furthermore I’d like to see Boris taking SteveO’s place in one of those memorable early Jackass stunts – c’mon Boris, are you man enough?

A witch hunt led by a major witch!

Is the EU actually as bad as Trump &amp; Boris?

I’ll lay my cards on the table right away here – I voted to remain, I’d like to see a new referendum because the lying cheating ba****ds in Vote Leave cheated us out of our democratic rights, Trump is an apology for a human being – and Boris is a self centred piece of s**t – but clearly the EU or at least Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager can be put up beside them as a grade “A” witch!

OK so now you know my position on things I can get into the meat of this particular windmill I’m tilting at!

Please will bureaucrats in Brussels (and elsewhere) stop treating us like little children and accept that we do actually have free will and are not all total f***wits who can’t be allowed to think for ourselves!

I’ve just read on the BBC news website that the EU could be about to charge Google up to 10% of its turnover because it’s become too successful in the search market.  Apparently because Android (Google’s OS), and Chrome (their web browser) are so closely integrated that with their dominance of the EU handset market it’s unfair on the likes of Microsoft, Apple and others – well tough titties – that’s what competition is all about.

The decision is in €4.3bn – WTF? I certainly hope they do challenge it law – this is totally and absolutely ludicrous.  Maybe Google should counter-sue for defamation of character.  I’m looking forward to Trump’s view on this one!!

The commission made three specific allegations of anti-competitive behaviour, saying Google was:

  • requiring Android handset and tablet manufacturers to set its search engine as the default and pre-install the Chrome browser before allowing them to offer access to its Play app store
  • preventing manufacturers from selling mobile devices powered by rival operating systems based on Android’s open source code
  • giving device manufacturers and mobile networks financial incentives to provide its own search service as the sole pre-installed option

FFS – look if you (Ms Commissioner) want you can be just like all the other Apple fanboys you see hanging out trying to look cool (and failing desperately) in Apple stores across the land – you’re OS will be iOS, your browser will be Safari, and you will only be able to do minimal things to personalise your device, most of which will cost you money – you can however choose your search partner although last year Apple took the decision to replace Bing as their default search provider with….Google.

Or you (Ms Commissioner) could follow the Microsoft route – who have already been fined for their dependence on using IE as the default browser (I’m now getting irritated by the almost constant messages about how fast Edge, their new browser, is when compared to Chrome) but would you really want to use Bing as your preferred search engine?  Have you seen all the garbage advertising that you get bombarded with?  No thank you.

I choose, note that – “I choose” – to use Android/Chrome/Google. I can personalise my device way more than with other competing OS’s, I get fast high quality search results – or if I want I change the browser and the search provider on my Android device – simply, quickly and easily – and FREE!

So perhaps Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager – who was so embarrassed about the upcoming fine she was not prepared to announce it before Trump’s visit would reel her neck in – no wonder she looks so sheepish:

“The Android ruling was originally expected earlier this month, but Reuters reported that it had been postponed to avoid a clash with President Trump’s visit to Europe.”

Competition is about being better, faster, cheaper – or some combination of those three – if your company can’t compete because it’s none of those don’t go running to the bureaucrats because they’re not on your side – I mean let’s take a look at the Commissioner herself – where does she stand?…

According to her Wikipedia page…

Between 2011 and 2014, Vestager led Denmark’s campaign against Basel III liquidity rules, arguing in favor of allowing banks to use 75 percent more in covered bonds to fill liquidity buffers than allowed under Basel III rules; at the time Denmark’s $550 billion mortgage-backed covered bond market, part of the country’s two-century-old mortgage system, was the world’s largest per capita.

..and this…

In January 2015, Vestager ordered Cyprus Airways to pay back over 65 million euros in illegal state aid received in 2012 and 2013 as part of a restructuring package; as a consequence, Cyprus suspended operations at its flag carrier resulting in 550 job losses and reduced competition.

Yeah right – power to the people and all that – NOT!

Listen Commissioner, we are not mindless morons (no, not even the Fanboys), we are free to make our own choices and with 2 major operating systems (OK Sailfish you just aren’t popular enough to be considered – sorry), multiple search engine options including DuckDuckGo and countless different browsers in the mobile world we do have choice.  Even if Android phones do come preloaded with Chrome and default to Google as the search provider – so what?  We can change that – if we want to!

So bugger off and focus on sorting important stuff out like global warming, reducing the number of pigs with their snouts in the Brussels trough (I’m thinking of you here Farage!) and generally making life better for us – not limiting our freedoms.

…and I’d still vote to stay if given the chance again – but certainly not for here – this is a witch hunt led by a major witch!