Drink

So now there are rumblings in England as there have been in Scotland to introduce minimum pricing on alcohol as the nanny state decides to tell adult citizens once more to behave as they wish. I really don’t see why the majority of adults should be penalised in this manner; yes regular over-drinking is a big problem in the UK, but let’s be bloody honest here, hiking the prices up will just penalise most citizens who enjoy a drink but don’t binge, don’t get into drunken, violent fights and end up in casualty at the weekend.

While over drinking can be a problem in all levels of society if we’re all really honest we know full and fine well the vast bulk of drink related problems, both health and crime related, are caused by scumbag neds (or chavs as they call them in England). So we should instead tailor any such legislation to penalise ned drinks – whopping tax on the odious Buckfast tonic wine (and perhaps firebomb the monastery that makes the bloody stuff), alcopops and Carlsberg super. While that wouldn’t completely wipe out alcohol abuse in the UK I suspect it would cut it down enormously. Or we could just cull neds. But since booze is already hugely taxed (and going up above inflation every year) why should I get screwed for the sake of these idiots?

Branded Woss

I’m not going to go into the Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross thing much – they acted like a pair of drunk teen tubes (made to look worse by the fact Andrew Sachs has acted like a gentleman); joking on the air is one thing, regardless of taste, but phoning up an old man and leaving lewd messages on his answering machine on air is pretty poor (and obscene phone calls are illegal as far as I know so they are lucky he never asked for charges to be pressed). I think they should be punished but with style – hold Brand down and tell him his rat’s nest hair is going to be forcibly combed. That will scare the hell out of him. And tell Woss he is welcome back on the air but must attend elocution lessons to lose the speech impediment and also learn enough manners to be passed off as a Duchess. Meantime here’s a great take on it from B3TA made by Beau Bo D’or which nicely catches the ridiculous tabloid frenzy that unscrupulous editors have been stoking (come on, there are far more important news stories going on, why is this taking so many columns and so much airspace?):

Very silly people

It seems to be the week for seeing very, very stupid people on the road. Van driver gets fed up with the road works holding everything up (Edinburgh is grinding to a halt with roadworks), pulls out and drives past 3 double decker buses on the wrong side of the road to reach the next turn, narrowly missing the oncoming traffic he couldn’t see before pulling out. Another van driver driving without actually using either of his hands as he needed both of them for the more important purpose of lighting his fag as he sailed through a junction (and since the an was a works van he shouldn’t be smoking in it anyway). But the winner of the stupidest person who was happy to endanger someone else goes to the young woman who cycled past me with a toddler, no more than 3 or 4 years old, perched precariously on the saddle of the bicycle. And no, I don’t mean on one of those little dinky kid seats some cyclists strap to the back of their bikes, this little toddler was left on an adult saddle holding on to the back of the woman as she stood on the pedals to cycle through busy rush hour traffic. One little bump and the kid is on the road and under the wheels of a bus before she would even notice. If a very stupid person wants to risk their own lives its one thing, but they don’t seem to care that they risk other folk’s safety.

Sat-nav research

A research team at the University of Woolamaloo lead by the Department of Neurological Jiggery-Pokery’s head Professor Baron Von Neuron has overturned recent research into sat-nav problems. Bon Neuron’s team conducted exhaustive tests on sat-nav systems and drivers; while other recent reports have claimed poor interfaces, incorrect mapping dat and lack of familiarity for navigational problems experienced by drivers which have lead to people obeying instructions to turn left where there is a brick wall, into fields, canals or railway lines. The Woolamaloo University team, after months of analysis concluded that while incorrect data in the mapping was a factor the major component of sat-nav accidents, the principle element was stupidity.

Von Neuron explained that new technology had allowed the stupidest members of society to create entirely new forms of entertaining accidents, but this wasn’t necessarily as bad a thing as it seems. In fact Von Neuron pointed out possible advantages to this real-world blindness on the part of insanely stupid drivers – some small tampering with sat-navs to lead them further astray into more accidents could help reduce the stupidity levels in the gene pool (disclaimer, Professor Baron Von Neuron’s research was part funded by the Darwin Awards).

How to protect America from dangerous British politicians

Boing Boing has a story which is hilariously funny (and a bit disturbing) on so many levels it ain’t true – British Member of Parliament and government minister Shahid Malik, a Muslim, has been stopped for a second time by airport security in the USA. Airport security and immigration have never had the best rep )and US immigration always had a lousy rep for being officious and unfriendly) and since 9-11 they’ve been even worse, with some obviously delighting in abusing the extra (usually downright stupid) rules and powers they can wield – complain and they can make it even worse. They’ve even stopped a UN diplomat travelling on a white passport (which should clear customs almost immeaditely as far as I am aware), now the same British minister twice, presumably because he is Muslim.

The fact he is a member of America’s strongest ally’s government doesn’t seem to have entered into their minds and you have to assume if it is a second time then presumably their superiors don’t give a crap about insulting an allied government in this manner either, which makes you think what can any of us ordinary citizens expect when trying to enter America these days – not sure I’d care to travel there right now, to be honest. Ah, but it gets better – on both occasions the MP was in the US to take part in talks on how to co-operate more closely on fighting terrorism and tackling extremism! Talk about farcical… Don’t y’all feel safer with these fartknocker protecting borders?!?!? Strange we don’t often hear of US senators being harassed at UK immigration.

Simpsons

Since we were going to see the Simpsons movie on Saturday I thought I’d swing by and get the tickets in the afternoon in case it was busy later, although in the event the auditorium was half full. I think I got the ticket clerk who is either the stupidest or, being kind, perhaps just having one of those days. I tell her I want the 8.45 showing and she says, right, 4.15. No, 8.45, please. She looks a bit confused and then goes, oh, okay (not sure where she got 4.15 from at all, but hey); I tell her I need two tickets, putting one on my cinema pass card, paying for the other on my debit card, handing her both as I do. She takes them and looks at them like she has never seen a plastic card before (bear in mind this cinema has its own card which I use regularly).

I have to explain to her again that I want two tickets for that performance and am paying for one, the other is on my own pass, again waving the cards in front of her so it is pretty obvious visually if she can’t grasp spoken words. She takes them slowly, looks at them uncertainly then picks at her keyboard. So, that would be one ticket and one other ticket – so you really want two tickets? Er, yes, one and one would be two, which is what I’ve asked you for several times now… She did finally get there, although she forgot to ask me which seats we wanted. Jeez, we all have off days, but this girl was slower than a tortoise on Prozac.

And was it worth it after that? Well, no. My friend pointed out one of the biggest problems with the Simpsons movie is that it isn’t really a movie. As with the X-Files movie it is really just a longer than usual episode with a bigger budget, which doesn’t carry a movie. And as with the X-Files movie I have a general dislike of TV shows making a movie version while the series is still running. After the end of the run, as with Firefely or Star Trek, sure, but generally doing a movie when the show is still continuing seems to be to be just a flagrant cash cow. South Park is an exception here as it offered something unusual and different from the series as well as providing a story that worked as a movie. The Simpsons didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, parts of it are funny, there are some scenes that made me laugh, but it doesn’t hold together and overall seemed weak and somewhat futile.

Mind you, I’ve not thought much of the TV episodes either in recent years. I really loved the Simpsons for many years, but the last two or three seasons have been poor; as with the movie they have some scenes which are brilliant but I can’t recall an entire episode which worked for me in the last few seasons, only some scenes, but never an entire episode; magnify that problem by the length of the movie and you have a very poor offering which dilutes the genius of the earlier show. Heresy perhaps to suggest the Simps is past its sell-by date, but it hasn’t worked for me for a while now and the announcement that there would be several seasons more after the weak movie depresses me because it tarnishes the reputation it had during its high water mark. As with the X-Files, good shows need to know when and how to bow out, not just keep milking a tired series for money and so ruining the memories of the earlier, better years (of which there were many). Meantime they are talking about another X-Files movie…

Stylish

Kate Moss launches a range of clothes and label zombies queue up to buy them, regardless of the fact that she has bugger all to do with designing or creating them, her name is purely a badge to stick on the clothes to lure the gullible in. They all know this, but it’s Kate Moss, so they all rush out to buy them so they too can resemble an intolerably skinny crack whore – yeah, that’s a cool, individual look… Then Lily Allen launches a clothes range. Lily Allen?!?!? I like Lily’s music, but is has she been around long enough to be famous enough to be behind a fashion range?!?! And again, who gives a smeg about buying something just because some money grubbing celeb sold out for some extra moolah? The cult of celeb is eroding 21st century civilisation and seems to devour many people’s ability to function as individuals, turning them into mind-numbed sheep following directions.

Still, nothing new there, really – a glance at history shows many truly stupid people will follow any trend from the famous rather than make decisions themselves, even down to medical procedures (anesthetic wasn’t trusted until Queen Victoria used it, then suddenly it was okay; cremation was mistrusted by god-fearing Victorians until nobility had used it). Why do so many folks so blindly follow trends set by the famous? Copy David Beckham’s hair, wear clothes because some drug-fueled model sticks her name on them (shouldn’t Moss be selling hankerchiefs for wiping coke off noses???) and in the process look like a million other idiots while shoving more of your small monies into the groaningly huge bank accounts of celebs. I do despair of people sometimes.

License to be petty

British Airways proved how mature they were by editing the latest James Bond movie Casino Royale for in-flight screening on their fleet. Why did they make some edits? Well, they edited a tiny blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from Richard Branson and also excised the tail fin of an aircraft with logo of Virgin Air glimpsed in the movie. I’m no fan of Branson (especially since his millionaire’s pissing contest with Murdoch means I don’t get to see certain programmes on cable anymore while he still demands the same amount of money from me for his company for a reduced service) but how damned petty is this? And just think, this is someone’s actual job. BA actually pays someone to make petty little cuts like this to in-flight movies. Perhaps if they left that to one side and employed more staff doing proper jobs they wouldn’t have the worst record in Europe for losing passenger’s baggage? Just a thought.

Make believers

I came across this article the other day because of its mention of Jedis – it proves to be the most hilariously stupid and self-contradicting piece I’ve read all week. Don Walton, an evangelical Christian minister attacking others for their ridiculous ‘made up’ beliefs:

“In this day of rampant relativism, when everyone is encouraged to make up their own truth and no one is permitted to criticize another’s concocted convictions, feelings have replaced facts as the foundation of faith. In other words, whatever you feel good about believing is “truth” enough, regardless of whether or not it flies in the face of facts and logic. Everyone is now free to make up their own beliefs, as well as their own “facts” in support of them. Consequently, today’s world is becoming increasingly populated by “make-believers”; that is, people who believe what they or others have made-up. On the other hand, real believers — people who believe in real things — are becoming increasingly scarce.”

What he was talking about was the SF fans in Britain who put ‘Jedi’ down on the last national census for the part asking about religious affiliation, as well as having a snigger at Tom Cruise and the Scientology malarkey thought up by a second rate SF writer. He totally misses the point that most fans in the UK put ‘Jedi’ on their census because it was a joke – it went round the web as a suggestion before the census and many fans put it on because if a certain amount of respondents had that the government statistics folks have to create an official category for it in the records (which doesn’t make it an officially recognised religion able to make charity status for tax relief etc, just makes it funny because the grey suits in the statistic departments of government have to add ‘Jedi’ in as a category in official figures). So he starts from a flawed basis and displays not only ignorance of what he is talking about but also a lack of understanding of the humour fans were showing by making this their answer on their census forms (yeah, Don, it was a joke – most Brit Star Wars fans aren’t seriously devoted to the Jedi belief system).

Now as for having a dig at the Scientologists, fair enough, they and their celebrity adherents do rather set themselves up as easy targets and it doesn’t help that L Ron Hubbard just made it all up a few decades ago (Larry Niven took the mickey out of this in Inferno, his take on Dante in which he has an SF author go to Hell after dying at a convention; he is sentenced to Hell for the blasphemy of making up his own religion. It’s a hilarious read). But whacky as Scientology seems to me I don’t see anything weirder in it than believing in Virgin births, resurrecting the dead, burning bushes, women being turned into pillars of salt, humans being made out of dust (or a rib for that matter).

And I love the way he talks about ‘real’ believers and ‘make believers’ and how the former have religion based on logic and facts! I mean come on, are you at all familiar with the concept of irony, Don? Your religious cult differs in no way from these others you are bashing – it recognises no logic and picks and chooses what ‘facts’ it will accept and which it will ignore, even in the face of overwhelming evidence (like, for example, the evolution subject, where many of your fellow believers choose which ‘facts’ make them feel good – so much for logic and truth) so for an evangelist to invoke ‘facts’ and ‘logic’ is laughable and exposes your system for the ridicule it richly deserves. But you did make me laugh with your ignorant and self-contradictory statements (bit like the Old and New Testaments now I come to think of it, never seem to be very compatible). Just a shame some weak-minded numpties unable to think for themselves will blindly believe you and go along with what you say. Oh and one more thing, but after seeing your picture on this article I can only add “should have gone to spec savers.”

Enquiry of the Month

Enquiry of the Month goes to the elderly man with the long, straggly beard. In a time of many a stupid question he takes the ship’s biscuit for asking me where in Edinburgh he could obtain an 18th century sextant. Bear in mind I work in a bookstore, not a store specialising in purveying the finest navigational instruments of previous historical eras. When I told him I had no idea and that if anyone did have an 18th century sextant for sale it would most likely be at Christie’s Auction Rooms he was not amused. Shaking his greasy grey hair and ratty beard he explained to me that he was, of course, looking for a shop which sold replica 18th century sextants. Ah, I thinks, why didn’t you say that the first time? Have you tried Ye Olde Sextant Simulacra Store on the Canongate? It’s run by the Sea Captain from the Simpsons when he’s not filming the series… I love working with the public… I did try to be helpful but had no idea of where to help and he seemed most annoyed that I couldn’t tell him where to obtain replicas of 200 year old navigational devices.