A world full of knee jerks

I won’t be blowing you away with this observation, but the world has gone bonkers. Completely, utterly bonkers. Beyond political correctness, I think the world’s cojones have well and truly decided to retract all the way inside the body, and given up altogether.

What makes me say that? Three stories in the past week have shown me how remarkably PC-minded we can be.

First, this morning, YouTube announced on its blog that mature content and profanity will be more heavily moderated. In order words, a quick cuss word can cause your video to disappear into oblivion. Now, as Robert Llewellyn points out this morning in his Llewtube video, I’ll be happy to see less mature content crop up randomly when I’m looking for videos of kittens. But profanity? Who sets the blacklist of what swear words are inappropriate? If religious America gets its word in, we’ll have to say “Oh sh…ugar!” as we do in front of 3 year olds? To the best of my knowledge, 3 year olds shouldn’t be left to their own devices when navigating the web.

Second story. Last week, Channel 4 decided to take the entire 4mations site down, after it got cold feet following what’s now been dubbed as “Sachsgate” – otherwise known as Brand & Ross behaving like idiots on air. (For the non-UK folks, two radio hosts made a few immature and somewhat inappropriate “I screwed your granddaughter!” calls to a guest, Andrew Sachs. He’s best known for his role as Manuel in Fawlty Towers back in the 70’s. The story snowballed from two complaints when the show was aired to nearly half a million complaints in the week that followed.)

For a project that intended to push the boundaries of creativity, I’m amazed that a pixelated gimp mask and some cartoon boobies were grounds for taking the entire site down. Clearly, a moment of panic because of some slightly bizarre content. And you know what, that’s one of the great things about the weird and wonderful world of the Internet. There’s weird material being added all the time that forces us to re-evaluate where we stand.

Finally, in the real physical world, the Terrorism Act is becoming a real pain in the proverbial. A 15 year old schoolboy was arrested near Wimbledon for taking photos of the stadium on his mobile phone. He said he was working on his GCSE project, and shoo’ed away from the site. This kind of situation was repeated time and time again.

Before anyone jumps at my throat, I by no means condone humour in bad taste or lewd content on the web. But you wouldn’t chuck out an entire bushel of apples for a single bruised one, right? So why stop everyone else from having fun because of a few bad apples?

My issue here is with the knee-jerk reaction we seem to have towards everything these days. Rather than to get a screwdriver to fix the one slightly loose screw, we just get the sledgehammer out and annihilate the whole lot!

I’m not suggesting sticking your fingers in your ears going “La la la I can’t hear you!” when you face a problem, but the reaction should be proportional to the problem. So put the sledgehammer away, will you?

Hey Rory, need a hand with that milk bag?

Milk JugDoing my usual news browsing while having a morning coffee and trying to wake up, I came across a video of Rory Cellan Jones making a clown of himself doing something I’d expect a 5 year old to do with ease. He was evaluating the benefits of the “new idea” that is the milk bag, as an alternative to glass bottles and plastic pints which are the norm in the UK.

First off, Rory, I’m not sure what kind of bizarre contraption you bought but if you’d bought a straightforward milk bag jug, like the one on your right here, you would have been done in about 3 seconds flat.

Step 1: Put milk bag (which in my lifetime, I’ve rarely seen leaking) into the jug.
Step 2: Snip the corner of the bag by holding the very corner and using scissors or these tiny fridge-magnet bag clippers.
Step 3: Pour the milk into the glass.
Step 4: Drink milk.

It’s far from new, it’s been the most common way to buy milk in Canada for my entire 26 years of life. The milk comes in a bag of 3x 1.3 liters transparent bags, and the best part is that these milk bags make the sturdiest lunch snack bags ever afterwards and create a hell of a lot less waste than bottles or plastic containers.

Ofcom says yes on more TV ads

I’m disgusted to find out that Ofcom is about to allow more advertising on commercial television channels in the UK. Somehow, in response to people using more personal video recorders like Sky Plus, Ofcom’s been fooled in believing that the answer is to slap on some more ad minutes into every show.

The geekier masses have migrated towards online sources for entertainment, and I’ve got a feeling that if UK television is heading the same way as American shows, crammed with obnoxious and imposing ads, more Brits will start relying on Joost, Bittorrent, iTunes podcasts and other services.

The advertising industry is so sick, all the way to the core, I don’t think it’ll ever recover. If you agree that this new suggested ruling, allowing more ad breaks, should be stopped, please let your comments be heard by Ofcom, do it now, and pass it on to others around you!

Cambridge copper thieves

“Thousands of homes face losing phone lines after cable thieves struck. Police were alerted today at 9.30am to the theft of high-value cables near Cambourne. […] A mobile police station has been sent to the area and high-profile police patrols have been mounted in a bid to reassure residents.

BT engineers are working on restoring the lines but it is not known how long this will take. DS Chris Balmer said: “We do not yet know the exact number of homes which have been left without phone lines however we believe it could be a few thousand.

“BT are working as quickly as possible to restore the phone lines. If you area aware of any elderly or vulnerable residents please check on their welfare. If anyone saw any suspicious activity around manhole covers please contact me. Scrap metal thieves who rip up telephone cables were warned by police they are putting lives at risk”, reported in the Cambridge News.”

Seriously, what’s that all about? No phones? No internet?

However, to lighten the tone, I thought I’d accompany the news with some interesting archeological findings, also reported recently.

“After digging to a depth of 100 meters last year, Russian scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 1000 years, and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network one thousand years ago.

Not to be outdone, in the weeks that followed, American scientists dug 200 meters and headlines in the US papers read: “US scientists have found traces of 2000 year old optical fibers, and have concluded that their ancestors already had advanced high-tech digital telephone 1000 years earlier than the Russians.”

One week later, the Kenyan newspapers proudly reported the following: “After digging as deep as 500 meters, Kenyan scientists have found absolutely nothing. They have concluded that 5000 years ago, their ancestors were already using wireless technology.”

What pisses me off most about the British man who "went missing" for 5 years…

Mr & Mrs Darwin in Panama…isn’t that he’s lieing, cheating and being a downright fraud to avoid paying back his debts, which apparently amount to tens of thousands. It’s that police search & rescue and detective resources, which are already scarce, were wasted on a man who consciously went into hiding.

These are resources that should have been spent on fighting crime, supporting communities and working on other unsolved cases which deserve the attention.

Mr and Mrs Darwin, you are greedy, selfish people and I feel sorry for anyone who failed to receive due care from the police and local authorities because of your shortsighted behaviour. Did you really think you’d live on forever without being caught? Idiots.

Cambridge Congestion Charge: Your chance to speak!

Below, I’ve copied an email I received from the administrator of the Cambridge Congestion Charge forum. I haven’t had the time to edit it or summarise it for my readers, but if you live in or work in Cambridge, please read this, go fill in the survey and let your councilors know that before they smack us with a charge, they’ll need to come up with some solutions.

In my eyes, the first changes they should make are:
1. Encourage carpooling by improving routes reserved to buses and cars with two or more people in it;
2. Improve bus service so that it doesn’t take 3 times longer to get from A to B on the bus than in your own car (see Ottawa’s OC Transpo bus service for an example of a well thought-out plan);
3. Do not include Science Parks in the areas covered, because that’s just money grabbing rather than problem-solving and makes the city look like a bunch of greedy idiots.

Without further ado, here’s the email… Share this information far and wide!

————————-

Hello,

Firstly may I thank you for registering on the Cambridge Congestion Charge website. Secondly may I take this immediate opportunity to say that this will not be sending out regular emails to you.

The Cambridge City Council has launched its public consultation. This basically seems to consist of an online web questionaire and a series of public roadshows around the Cambridgeshire region. I would urge you to take the online questionaire if you haven’t already done so, and visit one of the roadshows as well as contact your local Councillor (easy to use contact details are at the bottom of this email). In the run up to Christmas and New year this important issue may slip your mind and then it may be too late for you to get your point of view across.

As you may know one of the main driving points behind introducing a congestion charge in Cambridge is the investment of a substantial amount of central government money into Cambridge’s transport infrastructure. This money has been offered in return for introducing a congestion charge.

The full proposal document which will form the basis of the City councils bid to get the central government money has been written and is available for download from http://www.cambridgecongestioncharge.co.uk/cambridgecongestioncharge/cambridgecongestioncharge.pdf (copy and paste this link if you need to). The document gives insight into the extensive planning that the council has already made and pinpoints the locations of cameras that would catch motorists that don’t pay, along with plans for mobile vans operating at random locations. I strongly urge you to read this document as either way it will change your way of life in the near future. It is quite long and you have to read it closely to establish exactly what they want to do (such as make Huntingdon Road a one way street for cars going out of the city) but it really is worth it. If you don’t find out about it now and make your views known you may regret it in just a couple of years time.

It also seems that normal “Joe Public” will have to pay a charge of £5 per day at current pricing which doesn’t take into account inflationary increases.

Some useful links and information for you:

City Council Proposal Download
City Council Online Survey (watch out for closed and / or misleading questions & note that this is very difficult to find on the City Council website)

City Council Road Show Locations (watch out for odd opening times)

  • The small hall, Guildhall, Cambridge – December 11 – 3-9pm
  • The recreation ground, Histon and Impington – December 12 – 3-9pm
  • The dining hall, Chatteris Community College – January 10 – 4-9pm
  • King Edward VII Memorial Hall, High Street, Newmarket – January 21 – 3-9pm
  • Sawston Village College, Sawston – January 23 – 3-9pm
  • Commemoration Hall, Huntingdon – January 24 – 3-9pm
  • The Grafton centre, Cambridge – January 26 – 9am-5pm
  • The Grafton centre, Cambridge – January 27 – 11am-4pm
  • Trumpington park and ride, Cambridge – January 30 – 6.30-8.30am and 5-8pm
  • Madingley Road park and ride, Cambridge – January 31 – 6.30-8.30am and 5-8pm
  • The Maltings, Ship Lane, Ely – February 5 – 3-9pm
  • Haverhill Arts Centre, Haverhill – February 6 – 3-9pm
  • The Free Church, Market Hill, St Ives – February 13 – 4-9pm

Link to Contact details for all Cambridge City Councillors including email addresses, postal address and phone numbers: http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/ccm/navigation/about-the-council/councillors/

Please remember to make your view known, especially directly to the council, and please feel free to come back to the cambridgecongestioncharge.co.uk website and continue contributing.

If I can be of any assistance to you regarding this matter or using the website please do not hesitate to ask.

Best Wishes,

Cambridge Congestion Charge Website Administrator
http://www.cambridgecongestioncharge.co.uk

Political correctness gone absolutely bloody bonkers!

So Christmas the holiday season is coming, and as if we needed any more political correctness madness going on, Santas have been warned not to use their age-old “ho ho ho” laugh to greet children as it may be degrading to women.

Santas in Australia’s largest city have been told not to use Father Christmas’s traditional “ho ho ho” greeting because it may be offensive to women, it was reported Thursday.

Sydney’s Santa Clauses have instead been instructed to say “ha ha ha” instead, the Daily Telegraph reported.

One disgruntled Santa told the newspaper a recruitment firm warned him not to use “ho ho ho” because it could frighten children and was too close to “ho”, a US slang term for prostitute.

“Gimme a break,” said Julie Gale, who runs the campaign against sexualising children called Kids Free 2B Kids.

“We are talking about little kids who do not understand that “ho, ho, ho” has any other connotation and nor should they,” she told the Telegraph.

“Leave Santa alone.”

A local spokesman for the US-based Westaff recruitment firm said it was “misleading” to say the company had banned Santa’s traditional greeting and it was being left up to the discretion of the individual Santa himself.

To echo Julie’s thoughts, gimme a fucking break! I thought the Aussies were chilled, don’t-worry-be-happy people? Are they becoming brainwashed by our Western world political correctness insanity? It’s mindblowingly ridiculous that someone even SUGGESTED that!

Thanks to Celia for finding this article from Sydney APF