I High-Fived a vicar Sunday, May 17 2015 


Highlight of the weekend – it’s not something you do very often.

I ran a quiz for the local church last night. Although the building is 13th century, very traditional Church Of England, the vicar is from Florida You have to feel sorry for him at things like this. He always gives his full support even though he is often lost and bewildered, and I have heard he has problems at these Anglo-centric quizzes. So I wrote a round specifically for him.  (I say specifically, the questions were general enough for people to know.)

Question 3
In January 1861, Florida declared its secession from the Union and became a founding member of the Confederate States. However, in what previous decade had it joined the United States? It wasn’t a founding member.

He had to think hard, but he got correct answer – I’ve never seen anyone so excited when quiz answers are given!  OBVIOUSLY I had to High-five him.

General Election 2015 – The worst possible result. Friday, May 8 2015 


The UK 2015 General Election has produced the worst possible result for anyone who isn’t Sir Bufton Tufton, MP for Much Frothing in the Marsh.

Don’t be poor.
Don’t be sick.
Don’t be vulnerable.

The Tories have a majority.  This will be taken as a sign they can do what they like, much like Thatcher at the peak of her powers in the ’80s or even Blair. There are no brakes.  The fact that a majority of people don’t want the NHS to be privatised, believe that the Big Businesses who call the shots to be reigned in and pay their tax, fora rebalancing of Britain towards fairness, won’t matter.

We can now expect ‘Cutting Red Tape’ (code for removing workers protections), ‘Freeing business’ (code for reducing regulation on the very companies that crashed the economy in 2008) and ‘Rewarding hard work’ (Tory code for tax cuts to the rich, with attacks on the bottom of society to pay for it). All with the Right Wing press cheering them on. (I’m going to miss the BBC when they gut it).

Don’t be poor.
Don’t be sick.
Don’t be vulnerable.

This is the Party who brought in a £1,200 fee for workers to go to employment tribunals.  That’s about 3 weeks of the AVERAGE take home wake, let alone what it is for those in the low paid jobs who are more likely to need protection.  Then they crowed how businesses had been helped by the fall in the number being sued.  That’s like closing Police Stations then saying how reported crime has gone down.

This is the party who are stopping green energy and subsidising fracking and oil.  We could make a push, we could have a vibrant tech sector selling renewables to the rest of the world. But no. Throw money at the Oilmen.  No matter what your thoughts on Global Warming, even if you put your head in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening, the idea of subsidising a hugely profitable yet polluting industry is madness.

Expect more money and public services thrown at ‘Service Industry’ giants, with a proven track record. Of screwing up. Who rake in huge profits while their employees qualify for Government Benefits.

And yet Cameron is facing his own nightmare. He already knows this, and so do all those around him.  They realised it even as they popped the corks in their constituencies last night.  The majority is wafer thin.  It is smaller than John Major’s in 92, and look at the trouble he had.  The loonies will crawl off the back benches.  They are no longer lobby fodder, they have power.  All the kind of people who thought about joining UKIP because no one at Tory HQ would listen to them.

Don’t be poor.
Don’t be sick.
Don’t be vulnerable.

Good luck, because we may all be on our own.

Google and Microsoft ARRRRRGGGHHHHH Sunday, Apr 26 2015 


I have Excel and Word 2013. MS think you want to save everything to OneDrive or your computer. Just OneDrive, nobody elses cloud drive, just theirs. It is inconceivable that you would have anything stored anywhere else.

On the Laptop this isn’t a problem, because Google Drive acts like another drive/folder. Fine, can just go to My Computer and save in that handy little subfolder which also happens to be a cloud drive. Google Drive easy to use on MS Windows.
Now I can open that file on my tablet using Excel for tablets (but see next para). BUT I can’t save it to Google Drive. Why? Because Google have hidden Google Drive, buried deep withing Chrome WHICH IS PUBLISHED BY GOOGLE. When you do find it, after a tortuous path, each document has its own folder, with a name like 2he7whdhw8d28hh2hhsnm – I kid you not. You can’t save to these so it appears in Google Drive.

Oh, the same with opening on a tablet- I can’t see Google Drive in Excel, but I can open by opening the Drive, and opening the file that way. But because I can’t save it is read only – so no editing on the go.

Of course Google can’t believe I’d want to receive emailed documents in anything other than the manure-like ‘Google Docs’.

“Its a Word Document. I have Word. Open it in Word”
“I can open it in Google Docs”
“I don’t WANT IT open in Google Docs – you won’t let me edit it.”
“Howabout we download it to Google Drive”
“Howabout you Bleeped texting open it in a programme of my choice”

Stormtrooper name generator Sunday, Apr 5 2015 


For all your Star Wars games

Copy and Paste the following into Excel

=MID(“QWERTYUIOPASDFGHJKLZXCVBNM”,RANDBETWEEN(1,26),1)&MID(“QWERTYUIOPASDFGHJKLZXCVBNM”,RANDBETWEEN(1,26),1)&RANDBETWEEN(100,999)

For greater realism change the font.

Atheist Morality Monday, Feb 9 2015 


I am moral because I choose to be. I choose to treat others well, and I try to. Not because I am scared, but because I believe it is the right thing to do. When I am not moral, I choose not to harm other because in the heat of the moment I lose my reason, but fear lawful retribution. When I am calmer I realise my thoughts were wrong, and consider ways to keep emotional control. I am moral so as not to hurt others.

When they are moral it is because they are scared of retribution. There does not have to be a reason to be moral, apart from they are following rules. Not because they believe those rules are in themselves moral, but because they have been told these are the rules they must follow. They do not question those rules, because to do so would deny that their god is greater. To question this would be against those rules – the moral do not question god, the immoral are punished. Thus they are moral so they do not get hurt.

Who is the more moral? He who acts not to hurt others, or he who acts to avoid being hurt?

Devrions-nous être Charlie? Tuesday, Jan 20 2015 


George Galloway has described Charlie Hebdo as “a racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag.  Typical of Gorgeous George he ignores everything that he can’t get angry about, that doesn’t prove or argue with what he believes.  He ignores the magazine’s continued and long standing criticism of the Catholic Church, for instance.  Like the Pope he blames the victim.

To stand with Charlie Hebdo isn’t flowers on a celebrity’s grave, an act of condolence of a stranger.  It is to make a stand against those who say “You may not say anything about my religion, because I will be offended.”  That attitude would be unacceptable with any other notion: caricatures of politicians aren’t stopped because those who believe in their policies profoundly are upset.    Criticising someone’s home town may be downright rude, but isn’t something that can never be said.  Yet religeon demands this pass – despite not only the followers of Abraham splinting into three sects that not only disagree vehemently with each other, they can’t even agree among themselves what they believe, yet attack anyone who questions their world view as intolerant.  Einstein may not have liked Niels Bohr’s sub-atomic theories, but he did admit their correctness when proof was shown.  He didn’t feel the need to set off a bomb.

This is the response I put on HuffPo UK

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Why count in decimal? Sunday, Oct 26 2014 


I’ve long wondered why we don’t count in base 11 or base 6. People will say ‘We have 10 fingers’, but that is rather my point: You don’t need a “10s” column until you reach ”11”. Imagine an early farmer counting sheep- he gets to 10, then on 11 puts a stone in the ‘hands full’ pile.

Likewise, you can count to 5 on your one hand, then use the other to record 6.”1,2,3,4,5, Onehand, Onehand-1, onehandy-2 etc” This would allow you to count to 35 on just 10 fingers (Fivehand-five), then ‘Stone’ (say) for Sixhand.

Of course over time these would be slurred and contracted (like four-ten is 40): twoston threehandy four is nine-tens four.

Feel free to steal this for alien cultures in your RPGs!

Top Gear sorry for Waterloo station Saturday, Oct 11 2014 


The BBC have today apologised for a scene where Jeremy Clarkson is seen driving past Waterloo Station. The French Embassy lambasted Top Gear for insensitively reminding everyone that it took a British General to stop a crazed meglomaniac from taking over Europe.

BBC spokeswoman, Ebola McBlamehound, said “It is obviously unfeeling for the BBC not to do everything in its power to change the name of the Station.

Ebola and context Saturday, Oct 11 2014 


As of October, there have been approximately 4,000 worldwide Ebola deaths. Im not saying we should ignore this, but…

In the UK alone flu kills 2,500 people per year. Road accidents 2013 killed 1700.

A third of British adults are obese, and as far back as 2001, a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) ‘Tackling obesity in Britain’ estimated that approximately 6% of all deaths in England in 1998 were caused by obesity – a total of 30,000 excess deaths in that year, but when the Government looks at ways to help people reduce calorie intake there are screams of “Nanny State”, even though modern food processing, if left unregulated, makes it difficult to control your diet.

 

Just a thought.

Oh Captain, My Captain. Wednesday, Aug 13 2014 


I have  a low tolerance for “celebrity” news. I found the outpouring of grief about Princess Diana just a bit nauseating, the mass flower layings at the homes of the famous annoys me.  I was sad when Rik Mayall died, but it wasn’t a matter of grief, just sadness at the early death of another human, one whose work I enjoyed.

So why am I affected so much by Robin Williams?

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“Do not forget one line of this, not one day.” Friday, Jun 27 2014 


My son finished college today, and hopefully will be off to University in September.

Education hasn’t been easy for him. When he was 7 he was diagnosed with a lazy eye. It wasn’t found early enough (the only day he had off school sick when he was 5 was the day they did the eye tests). It was thought that this was what was holding his reading back.

Then we found he had dyslexia – quite severe as far as I can tell. We fought the council for funding for help for him at school. We also paid for a lesson with a specialist teacher once a week. After a while she suggested we get him tested for Aspergers. That was another fight to get the education department to recognise the diagnosis (because the support costs money). This is a proper diagnosis, done by professionals, not ‘I’ve done a checklist from the internet’.

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Another Poem for my Wife Tuesday, Mar 11 2014 


It was suggested to me recently I haven’t written a poem in a while. I took the hint. Not sure it’s what she expected, though.

Everywhere on Earth
There are things that come in twos
Coz no one likes the rhythm
Without listening to the blues.

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How to undermine a successful Ad campaign Sunday, Jan 19 2014 


Many years ago Marmite broke all the rules of advertising.

They suggested that some people don’t like their product.

The world of advertising were incredulous (except, I assume, the agency that came up with this idea).  They thought the company was mad.

“Are you mad?” they said (see, told you). “You can’t suggest someone doesn’t like your product, you’ll put people off.”

However their PR men had spotted something.  Marmite – you either love it or you hate it, and this went on to form the basis of one of the most successful campaigns in British TV history.

Now obviously Marmite is the Devil’s smegma.  However my brother (aged 41 and 6 months) becomes inappropriately excited by Twiglets (which I maintain are real twigs, covered in tarmac, though the packet assures us they are Marmite covered breadsticks)- to wit, upon  finding we had had them for the Christmas Evening buffet had him running round like a 5 year old at a party.

My Dad’s response?

“I’m not really that keen on Marmite.”

NOT THAT KEEN.  NO ONE IS NEUTRAL ABOUT MARMITE. You can’t be ‘not that keen’.

Millions of pounds worth of advertising undermined in one sentence.

Chinese to fake ‘Fake Moon landing’ Sunday, Jan 19 2014 


Chinese space officials today admitted that they are sending real astronauts to the moon, as it is easier than faking a moon-landing convincingly.

“Modelling the low gravity on a sound stage is a huge problem,” one unnamed official admitted.  “We tried CGI, but the cost of the render-time was more than actually sending a ship there.”

Instead the actual landing will be preceded by 2 other spaceships, one carrying the 20 man production crew, and another containing a specially made Ikea flat pack sound stage – known as “fakr”- with all the pieces needed, including polystyrene ‘moon-rocks’.

NASA official Buzz Trellis said “We wish we’d done this.  No-one believes real footage- fake is always more convincing.”

A Complaint Letter to Haribo Tuesday, Nov 12 2013 


Sent by me today.

Dear Sir/Madam

It’s been quite stressful at work recently, so I and the two ladies I share an office with all chipped in last week for some comfort food, and Wendy and I took ourselves to the local store to stock up.

Among the items, Wendy selected a Haribo Mega-mix bag (yeah we’re a bunch of 40-somethings eating kids’ treat bags. Like I say, stressed). I must admit I had some reservations, as I am not a lover of the Gold-bear. However I realise that your jellies are formulated for a younger palate, not a middle aged man, and it was a ‘Mega-mix’ bag. As such the pack also tantalised with the promise of ‘Tang-fastics’, and I do like a sharp/sour sweet. We also bought chocolate chip cookies and bags of scampi fries and bacon fries. As you can see we were not planning to run our afternoon snacks past a doctor for their approval, but were intending to cheer our minds and taste buds (if not our arteries).

Upon opening the bag I sorted through for something I would like, and retrieved a packet of Tang-fastic. I say ‘a packet’; it would be more accurate to say ‘THE packet’. Yes, much to my disappointment, there was only one pack of this fizzy delight. And not just my disappointment, for it turned out Robbo also fancied a pack, and I had snagged the only one. I have thus upset my colleague, and she’s Australian, so not someone I wish to anger.

There were a few packets of what my colleague Wendy assures me are called ‘Star-mix’, but not many. Indeed, an unofficial audit between us (the bin has been emptied, so we can’t count the packs) suggests that of the 25 packs, at least 18 were Gold-bears. 72% (plus) of this gummy ursine seems rather excessive in something that represents itself as a ‘mega-mix’.

We therefore wish to register our disappointment, our distress even, at this oversight by your packing machine. I was so upset I had to have another packet of Bacon Fries.

Yours Faithfully
Ian, Wendy and Emma (aka Robbo)
Team 2
PS Robbo wishes to make it clear she is not yet a 40-something.

PPS Wendy says age is immaterial, as your slogan is “Kids and adults love it so, the happy world of Haribo.” We would add, “unless you like Tang-fastic or Star-mix, when you are in for a disappointment.”

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