Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Eurovision faux-pas

In the wake of Ireland selecting Dustin the Turkey to represent them in this year's Eurovision Song Contest, several other countries are rumoured to be considering jumping on the bandwagon.

The UK are said to be looking to Gordon the Gopher

Norway are apparently relying on Noggin the Nog

Sources in Brussels, however, claim that there is no truth to the rumour that, due to a terrible misunderstanding, Belgium are planning on Choking the Chicken.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

Discarded Identity Management Strategy

OK, I'm going to do it twice in one night, and for a man of my age I hope you appreciate that I'm putting myself out for you.

Still, I've had a bit of a rest so I should be all charged up for a bit more social intercourse[1] again now; and after all, I was only Bashing the Bishop earlier so that doesn't really count. Posting - I'm talking about posting here, I know how my reader's mind works (and yes, Rod, I deliberately put the apostrophe before the "s").

At lunchtime the lads and I had a parley which came close to the good old days of the curry-conversation - which was a regular occurrence during which a bunch of fellows would sit round a table and talk bollocks for an hour. Of course, it could only be close, because that tradition was mortally wounded when Podcaster joined the dark side of the business park.

Unfortunately, the inspiration for those rambling chats was directly proportional to the quality of food served up in the staff restaurant. When the comestibles started to taste like the afforementioned bollocks, the wit and wisdom just died a death. Today, we had a good meal.

Sparked by recent cases of identity theft, hospital baby swap horror stories and password management we discussed ways and means of people proving their bona fides - which might look like Polari, but is actually Latin for 'not bent'.

So, what you want is a simple, clean way for a person to prove who they are - so that we could do away with passports, passwords, credit cards and all manner of other inconvenient things which the thoroughly cosmopolitan dude needs to cart about with them these days - but it still needs to be "on one's person".

Ever been through US immigration? well, for a while you've had to give two fingerprints when entering the country, and just recently it's progressed on to having all eight fingers and two thumbs printed. Presumably this is to prevent any members of the Yakuza getting in - many of them dont have eight fingers - see Yubitsume. Anyway, it's tiresome, because the machines are a bit finniky - a faster and more reliable method is required.

Well, there's the Gattaca approach - great film, great idea, but a touch invasive at times and easily circumnavigated (provided you arent too fastidious) by simply carrying around a small sample of somone else's piddle -though it does rely on having a bloke at home who's prepared to hide in the microwave if the rozzers turn up.

What's the solution? Well, obviously it's tattoing a unique number in the form of a barcode onto the arse of every newborn. With the simple expedient of installing a laser scanner in every airport, supermarket checkout, PC keyboard etc it will be a simple case of dropping the strides (or lifting the skirt - another plus point for thongs there, easy identification) for a quick moon, and Bob's your uncle! How foolproof is that? Lets face it, there are precedents for using the backside as an ID card in the animal world too, have you ever seen a pair of dogs introduce themselves?

Trouble is, it didnt really take that long to shoot the idea down. There were two main complaints:

1) Babies are not born obese. However, in the UK and US these days, scientists have determined that by the year 2010, fourteen out of ten thirteen year olds will weigh more than a twelve month old elephant. Apart from the fact that the inherent 'barge-arse' effect on fatties would cause the lines on the barcode to get further apart, there's te danger that one of these hefty folk might sit on the scanner and squash it, and also a chance that stretch marks might actually corrupt the digital signature. Thus, by waving his 'arris' at a convenient scanner, Harry Poter's corpulent cousin Dudley could empty the bank account of a poor innocent spinster in Cheam. Less than ideal.

2) This is the clincher really. There's a movie - cant remember which one (audience participation required here - please comment if you know the answer) in which someone escapes from a prison by gouging out the governor's eye and using it to fool a retina scanner on an automatic gate. This raised the horrific possibility of a mugger slicing off a victim's bum-cheek in order to get a free week's shopping at Tesco's.

You have to appreciate, really, that we *like* sitting around and talking bollocks. That's just not going to be at all comfortable with only half an arse. So, a great idea, but unfortunately a non-starter at the end of the day.

[1] Perhaps it would be more fun if that did mean having sex with more than one person at a time.

Episode V - the arsebishop strikes back

Garfield, the beleagured Archbishop of Canterbury has 'come out fighting' to defend himself against the recent storm of upset and disapproval.

Many religions have developed forms of 'marshal arts' as a defence when their practicioners are under attack. For example, the Jedi (a stunningly popular religion in the UK, according to the last census) have lightsabres, mind control and the Force. Similarly, when faced with violence, the Shaolin monks will terrify their adversaries by smashing concrete blocks with their bare hands or even attempt to become invisible by sticking ping-pong balls in their eye-sockets and walking across ricepaper without leaving sweaty footprints (note, its been some time since I watched 'Kung-Fu' on the TV, I might be slightly confused here...).

The hierarchy of the Anglican church have clearly evolved a terrifying method of defence based around whingeing that they have been misunderstood.
Over and above that, the unfortunate fellow with the mitre is quoted in the BBC today as saying "I believe quite strongly that it is not inappropriate for a pastor of the Church of England to address issues about the perceived concerns of other religious communities, and to try and bring them into better public focus."

This is indeed excellent news and to be roundly applauded. I look forward to the good fellow:
  • Attending rallies defending the rights of Pagans to dance naked round bonfires and indiscriminenetly fornicate with each other in joyous celebration of the earth mother.
  • Contributing to learned journals on the justifiable aspects of entirely hypothetical Neo-Mayans hurling children into bonfires from the tops of bloody great pyramids
  • And most importantly , defending the rights of the modern atheist who, while accepting that other persons' views are important and just as valid as their own lack of beleifs, would like the law of this supposedly secular democracy to be kept entirely free of constraints, rewards or punishments based on any religion whatsoever.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Silly Cant* - erbury

Oh dear. Dr Rowan Williams, a man who enjoys considerable influence as the Archbishop of Canterbury, is currently in hot water over statements he has made suggesting that it is inevitable that Britain will have to adopt some aspects of Islamic Sharia law (See BBC article).

The unfortunate, but rather easily predicted, effect of his pronouncement has been a rash of statements along the lines of "people who come to Britain should abide by British laws". Whatever his intention in saying his peice, it doesnt seem likely to do much for the level of "tolerance" that the average citizen is likely to display - especially since Sharia Law is frequently described in the popular press as 'ultra conservative" and occasionally as involving "barbaric practices".

Perhaps, then, the best thing to do is to bear in mind the striking similarity between the good Dr and Garfield the cat. This will assist folk to afford the Archbishop a suitable level of credibility.

Of course, Britain is a country that is proud of its tradition of free speech - except of course in areas which might incite religious hatred, which are specifically outlawed these days (the Archbishops comments might seem dangerously close to that in effect, if not intention). Whether or not the grumbler agrees with the sentiments is irrelevant, he will still fight (well, grumble actually) in defence of Dr Williams right to say them. It just feels like it would have been more approprate had he done so while wearing a plastic bowler hat, comedy red-nose, stripey suit, and a pair of shoes fifteen sizes too big. Maybe a squirty-flower too, just for emphasis.

* Cant: Variously (but not exclusively) defined as

  • the private language of the underworld
  • phraseology peculiar to a religious class or sect
  • the insincere use of pious words
In this case, though, you might be forgiven for assuming I made an 'accidental' typographical error.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Pain and Podcasting

Last week, while on a business trip to San Fransisco, I managed to somewhat painfully injure my knee. Its the sort of injury I should expect when, at my advanced age, attempting to perform stunts on a snowboard and so I shouldn't complain. Well, if I'd been on a snowboard, I wouldn't complain, but I seem to have done this during the comparitively simple and well practiced manouver of getting out of bed, so I do feel a bit put out. I suppose it does go to prove my suspicion that many a bad day could be avoided by, quite simply, refusing to get up in the first place. I must try that out one day...

A concerned friend spotted me hobbling around the office and offered me some pain killers. Under normal circumstances I'd have had some anyway but, when I was packing my bag for the trip I realised that I had accumulated a vast quantity of pills, creams and ointments over my travelling career - enough that I could have treated any number of ailments from head to toe. So, fearful of being labled a hypochondriac, I elected to leave them at home. There's another reason of course, some of them were so old that the labels had worn off which would only invite trouble. I suspect that attempting to clean teeth with athlete's foot cream is disgusting, and I dont have the kind of unusual sensual proclivities for which a hint of minty-freshness between the toes would be a prerequisite, for either party.

As usual, my warped sense of humour almost managed to get me into trouble... The kind fellow handed me a couple of pills - small, vaguely diamond shaped, blue pills. Being a cheapskate, I tend to buy generic painkillers in the UK and so I'm accustomed to pills being of the rather boring, small, round, white variety. Colours and shapes - they're what you get from the Doctor for special occasions. I've only ever heard of one pill that matches the earlier description, so I peered suspiciously at him and said "I already have a dodgy knee - I dont need anything else stiffening up, thank you...".

If you're reading, Lew, I honestly didnt mean to imply you've been, you know, "disappointing miss Daisy" or "less-than-magic Johnson"...

So, back in Blighty and one 'minor injuries clinic' visit later, I am in posession of a pair or crutches, a stern caution from a nurse to keep my leg 'elevated' and an alternative use for a bag of frozen peas. It seems likely that I have "housemaid's knee", a diagnosis which caused a rather unattractive snort of derision from the good Mrs Grumbler, who indicated that the infrequency of my active engagement in domestic cleaning activites must surely rule this out. Perhaps Patellar Bursitis sounds more manly, or even immediately life-threatening.

Thinking about it, Patellar Bursitis sounds more like a distant star, around which some strange kind of alien life might have evolved "the Telepathic Eagle-Wolves of Patellar Bursitis". Or maybe a good name for an awful band. Which brings me on to my first attempt at podcasting which is called 'Music and Mumblings' - you can find it here. The bands are actually rather good. Have a listen - if I have to suffer, I dont see why you shoudnt too...