Saturday, 31 October 2009

Stephen Fry ponders leaving Twitter

Just read this story on the Beeb website: Stephen Fry ponders leaving Twitter site 

Now at first glance, Fry's (now blocked) protagonist didn't appear to be being unduly aggressive or deliberately intimidating - although perhaps a little rude - in his "I admire and adore" Mr Fry, but that he found his tweets "a bit... boring... (sorry Stephen)" comment. 

The problem comes when you apply or direct what, to most of us, would ordinarily be a throwaway comment to someone with Fry's broadly publicised condition of Manic Depression (what in the US is called Bipolar Disorder). 

And as anyone who watched Fry's excellent and very frank two-part BBC programme on its effect on him and others will know, there's no use at all in thinking or requesting that Fry simply pull himself together, as might be the automatic response by some - it's not merely a case of  "Oh, is the poor luvvie in a strop? Wanting attention?" When the black dog of depression descends on its victims, no amount of 'trying to cheer them up' will work. Not that I'm a sufferer, thankfully, but I do know others who are, and it's an utter bitch to see people you love so circumscribed by an inability to 'snap out of it'.

As for Twitter, whilst I use it occasionally, I have seen some celebrities who simply camp on the damned thing and 'Tweet' just about every thought and momentary activity in their day - including their visiting the loo. 

The tragedy is, as Fry found out to his cost, that if you "put yourself out there" (to lapse into the naked parlance of Californian psychobabble for a second) there is a price to pay. I know through experience, through close friends who've 'made it', in 'the Biz', that you do, in our celeb-obsessed culture, give up the right to a certain amount of that which you once, as an unknown civvie, valued like a prized possession: the freedom of your former anonymity.


Is Net Neutrality a Communist Plot?

Thanks to Ian Burdon for throwing this one over the fence.


Do we truly cast-off childish habits?

Take dressing up in costumes...

It dawned on me, today, as I watched scores of children criss-crossing the neighbourhood, dressed in all manner of gaudily-got-up garb (the best still remain the ones which are homemade - the endeavours of their mums' slaving over a hot needle and thread for fifteen minutes shall always top the paid-for Spiderman cozzy, or that of some character from the Disney Corporation, both merely a cop-out to convenience and commercialism), that as we grow into adults, some choose to remain hiding their masks and trapped in those underdeveloped mindsets where absolutes are easy redoubts in which to take refuge.

Take the chap on the operating table here for instance...speaking of habits, there's one he probably didn't need, as it obviously attracted all the wrong kinds of attention.  But kids, eh, you can't tell them any thing nowadays. 

Click on the picture for a better view.


Friday, 30 October 2009

Venerable Lessons Learnt: #1

There are moments in my life where I just bleed altruism and beneficence: and today is one such day. Indeed, it is in that spirit that here I pass on some 'the world will benefit from my folly' type knowledge. Also, in the canon of appropriate footwear to be worn for the job at hand, this is a potential doozy and hopefully instructive to future generations.

I can now report that trying to mow the lawn, trim the hedges (whilst up a pair of ladders), and generally prune the garden (raking the leaves was a particular bitch!) in the above footwear is not to be recommended: strange as the compulsion to do so might seem. 


Because sprained ankles are only the entry-level abuse to your system if you do - that, and looking a consummate twat for a man of my age, haircut and singular catastrophe when seen in mid-air, falling, flailing, from a ladder, and doing what looked (to certain watching connoisseurs at least) like a double-Lutz-whilst-attempting-a-triple-Salchow-jump-rectification - all prior to landing in a crumpled and defeated mess on the grass. 

Yes, the neighbours may have stood there clapping and shouting "Author!" at such an audacious, radical and spirited combination of aerial gardening manoeuvres (perhaps they just weren't ready for my interpretation of the Bolshoi-school of falling and making a balls of it?), but it played havoc with my standing at the local police-vs-neighbours Rugby match. Try telling your opposing number prop forward in the scrum that you were only doing this for a bet - he simply won't believe you. And why should he?

Fear not, I shall endeavour to bring you these nuggets of what-not-to-do on a semi-regular basis. It is, however, your job to question the validity of my decisions to pass them on!

Hello and Welcome: talesNtypos, Gillian & Jimmy

Very good of you to hook-up. I'll hopefully have another three articles up today - all skits of various memorable nights in my life: a night out in Glasgow; God's Gamers; and Tricked & Mistreated (in honour of Halloween). I hope you like them.

Adila - love your description of yourself on your blog! Love the way you pace your work.

Gillian - I've been diving off the Kwa-Zulu Natal coast (Sodwana Bay, Protea Banks and Aliwal Shoal) and it rocks! I also loved our trips to Cape Town, Jo'burg and Durban (and all the game reserves we did in between - a unique and wonderful country!)

Jimmy - I have, although for difference reasons, two spiritual homes in the world: The Maldives... and Glasgow. One of the pieces I'll post later is in honour of that fact!

See you all shortly!




How Hallowe'en pumkins spend the rest of the year


Thursday, 29 October 2009

Putting the 'fun' back into fundamentalism

(clickee makee biggie)

"From my cold, dead hands..."


Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Jacko lags on dead celeb rich list

Elvis said to be "all shook up" at the news... 

Bubbles said to be going bananas...

Liberace said to be pink with rage...

Anna Nicole said to be considering breast augmentation to get over the shock...


James Brown gives you dancing lessons

How many people could pull this off and still look cool today?


Cinematic Irony

And in a moment of unparalleled cinematic irony, Tippi Hedren is killed by the doves of peace...


So who and what is a 'liberal' nowdays?

After listening to self-avowed conservative Americans ritually misuse the term 'Liberal', all the way through the US presidential primaries last year, and adapted myself to how they've now raised using it in the pejorative sense to something of an art form (albeit one usually wholly out of context), I became intrigued as to how a worthwhile contemporary UK definition of the term might be rendered, and whether it differed from the way it's used in the US - as it turns out, it does: quite markedly.

It's one of those terms which we think we could explain, in general terms - but actually nailing it? That takes thought and, importantly, context to achieve with any accuracy.

Luckily, in December 2008, at the same time as this quandary struck me, I just happened to be reading The Fallout: How a Guilty Liberal Lost His Innocence, by Guardian & Observer journalist, and author, Andrew Anthony, and from which I offer the tract below.

The book is hugely well-written and resonant, and I recommend it to everyone. It's also, for my money at least, the best contemporary definition of what in the West (with the exception of the US, where it still traded as a pointed insult) is termed a 'liberal'.

The beginning of Chapter 2 (page 20 & 21): 'Shame'

Like most people of a liberal sensibility I have been a long-time inhabitant of the state of conscientious denial. Though 9/11 forced me to confront my views, it would be wrong to say they had never previously caused me doubt. But rather than examine those doubts I chose to suppress them. Over the course of three decades I learned to evade, ignore, dismiss, excuse or explain away those aspects of reality that did not fit with how I believed, or wanted to believe, the world to be. As the world so seldom tallied with my prescribed version of events I was called upon to spend a lot of time pretending otherwise. This pretence took many forms - from wishful thinking to wilful refusal to think - but its most common manifestation was silence. Not the stealthy conspiratorial silence of the activist, but the passive silence of prevailing atti­tude, implicit, assumed, unsaid. For the establishment of an orthodoxy tacit acceptance serves almost as well as fervent agreement. And I found myself tacitly accepting a progressive orthodoxy that was increasingly set against progress.

I am a product of the liberal-left consensus that has dominated informed opinion in Britain since 1945. The term 'liberal-left' is of course imprecise and amorphous, one of those terms that can mean anything or nothing, depending on circumstance. But I use it here as a description of a way of understanding, a mentality, rather than an exact set of principles. For many of those who like to think of themselves as open-minded, a liberal-left outlook has become almost second nature.  More reflexive than reflective, it's an attitude that has successfully smothered debate among liberal-minded people. What's more, because this attitude is nebulous, because it's not tied to a major party or a particular doctrine, it remains resilient and adaptable. It's precisely because it has wriggle room over the specifics that the liberal-left mindset has survived the ravages of communism, the collapse of communism, and the triumph of market economics without having to do any serious mental revision.

In spite of all these provisos, I would describe my views even today as liberal-left, if we can take that hyphenate as a commitment to both liberty and equality. However, the liberal­-left in the West currently appears less interested in striving towards those dual Enlightenment ideals than in fostering the twin human emotions by which they are distorted: guilt and grievance. The left half of the equation draws on griev­ance while the liberal half is sustained by guilt, and as such they enjoy a symbiotic relationship: the more grievance the left can generate, the more guilt the liberal will feel, and the more guilt the liberal feels, the more grievance the left are able to generate. Those of a liberal-left outlook therefore risk being locked into an escalating emotional spiral that leads to some conspicuously irrational positions.

In my own case I can't really lay claim to the excuse of feeling guilty. I never sat around beating myself up over the uneven distribution of the planet's wealth and health - though I have met people who do and, it must be said, they're no fun at all. No, my guilt was far more notional and abstracted, a kind of adopted social obligation rather than a genuine personal emotion. The effect of this kind of guilt is not to purge the heart but to censor the mind. To register liberal guilt is also a sign of sophistication and sensitivity, a badge of civilised decency. Within the arts and social sciences, in particular, guilt remains the major currency of debate. So central is it to the Western liberal sensibility that a guiltless Western liberal is an oxymoron, like a penniless philanthropist or a chaste whore.

© Copyright 2007, Andrew Anthony, from 'The Fallout: how a guilty liberal lost his innocence',  Pub. Jonathan Cape, London.

Gordon Brown's Paedophile Fetish

Most UK readers will now be more than just a little au fait with Gordon Brown's apparent fetish - and that of his wretchedly Orwellian, one-trick-pony government - for getting every living species in the UK tested and scrutinised for any suggestion of paedophile proclivity, regardless of how tangential their contact with school children may be.

I think it's fair to say that most reasonable people understand that children are parents' most prized and precious possession, and have no problem at all with society needing to ensure their overall safety - and it's for this reason that the public broadly support some form of straightforward and standard background checks for adults whose day-to-day job entails them spending a large proportion of it acting in loco parentis when supervising young children in some way.

That much is reasonable, responsible and proportionate: what is none of these  things is what follows - as it now begins to transcend reasonable necessity and, like a grubby 'Mac-Man' hanging round a school gate at home time, begins to resemble an unsavoury desire on Brown's part which now risks becoming a general preoccupation.

Given the nature of the man, just as he cannot bear to stand idly by when he sees any open opportunity that me might pick the scab further, and as if prove were needed, he then goes and introduces this new demand: Paedophile checks even for those not working with children.

This then begs the question: at what point do we say "No! Enough is enough!" Where' precisely do we draw the line which ceases civil liberties being eroded more than they have been already under this preternatural shower of shambolic shysters?

The security of the nation's children is paramount, but this kind of government-sponsored paranoia cannot be healthy for children either; ingraining within them, as it does, at such an early age the instruction that every adult is to be, by default, viewed with suspicion; and the expectation set that adults cannot be trusted without having gone through the rigmarole of a series of tests set by some foetid mind in a government-ordained public servant's office. How can this be emblematic of a healthy society?

But, and just like the Tories before them in 1997, Labour have now outlived their current worth and been in power too long; they have got to the stage where they are flat out of fresh ideas and any political or policy inspiration (as if killing the UK economy and saddling the nation with a debt so large it will take a generation to pay off weren't enough); they've now begun to tinker with everything and change nothing - and when a government gets to the stage where it's beginning to reinterpret policies it introduced in the first place - and not for the better - it's time to go.

But just how far will this man's baleful ineptitude and abuse of our collective civil liberties go? Ignoring for the minute that we, the UK, are the most closely watched - via our nationwide network of nation CCTV cameras - nation on earth.

Not content with making suspects of us all, for things we haven't done, Brown's now gone one step further: not only will anyone whose life brings them within so much as a country mile of anyone under the age 16 need to be background-checked, but anyone seeking to pick up their neighbours' children from school will now face being subject to the same background checks - and potentially those friends wishing to babysit for their neighbour's kids too.

The man displays an epoch-redefining paranoia whilst trying to lend it an air of urgent respectability in claiming the excuse "it's for the kids' safety!" 

It's a discouraging irony, then, that Brown is often - although only half-jokingly - referred to as 'Stalin'': but the joke begins to wear thin when you consider that Stalin's henchman-in-chief, Lavrentiy Beria, mixed the equally loathsome penchants of being a pederast, a child rapist and killer and all-round deranged monster, with amassing a huge database (or simply 'files' as they were then called) on just about every target of Stalin's deranged and paranoid mind - and then some... indeed it ran into the millions. It makes for an uncomfortable parallel.

And where and whom is to be the next 'target' to come under Brown's myopic glare?

For instance, will your IP address be logged if a friend on Facebook posts an altogether innocent picture of their child in Halloween garb, and then asks you what you what you think of it, and you then hit the 'Like' tab - ordinarily understood to be a sign of approving encouragement to said parent? More importantly, who's the arbiter who says where that line is to be drawn?

In truth, I doubt even Brown has thought about the list of possibilities his paranoid policies-made-on-the-hoof might take under their objectionable ordinance. And that being the case, we can only be happy that he has only until May 2010 - at the latest - to do his worst (if that's in any way possible, given what we've already suffered at the man's incompetent hands), until he and his sorry cabal of sixth-form-minded ideologues are booted soundly from office and into, it is to be hoped, a generation in Opposition.


Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Harry Frankfurt's 'On Bullshit'

My sincere appreciation to Jack of Kent, who in turn acknowledges Simon Perry for this abridged appraisal by Princeton University philosopher, Harry Frankfurt, on the nature of bullshit - and those who bullshit:
"It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose."

Harry's full article 'On Bullshit' can be read at the link.

Nine Lives Used

Monday, 14th September 2001

It's Monday, and I've suspected the events of this afternoon were coming ever since a rather upsetting chat with my wife on Saturday afternoon, 12th Sept.

Whilst she was at work [she's a theatre nurse], Saturday morning just gone (approx 09.45 hrs), whilst I was still in bed, the phone rang.

Usually, during the day, we ignore the house phone when it rings, on the basis that it's probably some noddy tele-sales irritant trying to flog us something we don't need - added to which, if it's someone with anything important to  impart, then they'll be bound to leave a message – and anyone who really wants us that badly will have our mobile numbers.

Phone rang the first time, I ignored it and went back to sleep; phone rang again, immediately, for a second time, and I'm thinking that these tele-sales wallahs are persistent to phone straight away, after not getting any response at their first attempt - but ditto, I ignore it and roll over again; phone rang immediately for a third time - so I thought, OK, this must be Fiona, my wife, and she must need something to go for three attempts on the bounce.

I answer the phone and sure enough it's a female voice, though not Fiona's, asking me do I have a cat? I'm about to read her the Riot Act (“just what the bloody hell are you doing phoning at such an ungodly-early-hour on a Saturday!!!” type fulmination) for trying to - I assume - flog me some cat-related product or service, when something imperceptible in her voice, a polite tremor almost, makes me change my mind and answer her simply, "yes, why, is there a problem?"

She informs me that she has got my number from the name-tag on the collar around one of our cat's necks (we have two), and that it is currently lying, motionless, on the grass verge about 200 yards from our house - 'mewing but motionless'. She assumes it's been hit by a car. She'd been out walking her dog and come cross the poor wee tyke.

I thank her sincerely for her time, trouble and kindness in letting us know, and make to get out of bed, tossing back the duvet in a rush and race to get some kit on.

First-things-first - how am I going to carry or move this badly injured cat without causing her more pain?

Cat-carrying box - like the one you use to take cats to the vet – we’ve got two in the garage. OK! Good to go!

Jog down the road and come across cat lying on her left side, motionless.

She sees me, as I approach, and half-rallies, but just briefly, as she recognises me and gives me a kind of "well this is a fine to do, have you seen the mess I've gone and got myself into?" mew. I stroke her head and lift her as gently as I'm able to into the cat box (with one or two attendant, though unavoidable, mews of pain). There's no blood or missing limbs, and no horridly contorted shape to her, so I assume the damage to her is crush damage and is internal.

I get her home in about a minute and call Fiona at work. Tell her I'm going to take her straight to the vet and will keep her abreast as and when I know anything new. I phone the vet to warn them of an urgent case in-coming and they say fine, and just to tell the reception when I arrive and the vet will see me immediately.

True to their word, the nurse takes the cat-box from me the moment I get there and takes it into an anteroom for an initial inspection, telling me as she goes that the vet will be along shortly. All this whilst I stare politely at all the other people in the waiting room, with their motley collection of guinea pigs, rabbits, and dogs – the latter apparently having no concept of why they’re there, or where they are, and just want to play. To a man and woman, they all give me that knowing "good luck mate" look, like they know what's happened, in that circumstantial mental transference which is designed to all but offer the cat a last cigarette.

Again, true to their word, I'm called through to find the vet and veterinary nurse continuing with their inspection.

Considering the nature of her injuries, the cat's rather calm and collected - until the vet tries to examine her hindquarters - basically everything from the midriff backwards and including the tail. He, the vet, feels the bones in her back legs, which illicit an almost whining cry of a mew, and he nods as his fingers feel a series of injuries with which they must by now be more than familiar.

He then turns to me and tells me that, from his initial examination, he can feel that both her femurs are snapped and spiral (compound) fractured; her pelvis is crushed at both sides and possible snapped also, her tail appears to be detached from the spine completely, she cannot move or articulate her hindquarters independently at all; and there's a strong possibility of nerve damage across the entire area, but this can only be determined with further examination and X-rays; if this does prove to be the case, then there is a strong possibility that she will be disabled and/or paralysed in a number of ways - including not being able to walk or perform normal bodily and toilet functions herself.

Frankly, and unsurprisingly, given the litany of abuse her body's received, the prognosis is not good.

I know the poor wee moggy was probably still in shock from whatever vehicle hit her, and I've seen badly, and even terminally badly, injured cats before - but it never ceases to amaze me the amount of sheer physical damage they can suffer and still stay silent. She just stared at me whilst the vet gave me the laundry list of likely damage to her.

The vet tells me that there are, even with this carnage, options.

He explains that there is an operation which would at least rebuild the damage, involving plates, screws, hinges and all manner of associated devices one normally associates with the building trade.

But he's then very honest with me and says that even with all that, there's no guarantee that she's not paralysed from the damage and trauma already inflicted - the tail would have to come off for a start, and, in all likelihood, at least one of her legs. So leaving an incontinent, paralysed, three-legged cat with no tail. What kind of life is that? I know cats are infinitely adaptable, but there are limits, even for them.

I could have made the decision there and then to have her put down - but knew that Fiona would want to have the overriding say on whatever was to happen next.  I knew which way this flag was now flying, but the final say was hers, and I'd accept (agree with it or not) whatever she wanted to do. So I phoned her at work again and gave her the update.

She said that she wanted to see the cat at least, before any decision was made.

So, the vet gave the cat the appropriate levels of painkillers and placed her in a cage for further examination, observation and X-ray once I'd left.

Fiona and I discussed it, calmly, that night at home. We even countenanced the silly expense (neither of the cats in insured) it would have cost to have her 'rebuilt'; but the one thing which made up our mind was the fact that the cat would be paralysed and couldn't physically go to the toilet herself any more.

Even though the vet was open the next day, Sunday, he said there was nothing practical to be done, other than observation, and to see [once her shock of the trauma had subsided completely] if she regained any movement at all in her hindquarters. He would call us and update us at the close of the day to update us with any news - regardless of what that was.

There was no change in her condition.

So Monday came, and we got to the vet's just prior to the requested time of 13.50 hrs.

He took us into the anteroom and explained that, along with there being no visible or meaningful change to her condition or prognosis, he was also at the limit of what he could achieve with painkillers, and that they were no longer having much effect. If we hadn't made up our minds prior to this, this informed us that there was only one humane thing to do. He asked the nurse to bring the cat through from the observation area, and thus convinced, we informed the vet of our wishes as to how to proceed.

We saw the cat in her basket - she recognised us immediately, and gave a mew of recognition. The vet prepared the lethal dose.

We kissed the cat and wished it well.

There are very few things in life which upset me - but seeing Fiona upset is one of them, in fact, it's the one which upsets me the most. So seeing her crying and utterly distraught got to me. In nearly thirteen years of being together, and ten of those years being married, I've only ever once seen her as upset as this. It is not an experience I want to revisit.

The vet found the vein he'd been using to deliver painkillers and injected a dose designed to A) stop her heart and B) be a muscle relaxant. It took effect in less than 10 seconds. The cat's eyes were open and its pupils completely dilated, as if she was finally, having got to see us one last time, letting out all the light she'd brought into our lives. Her heart stopped. She was gone.

At least she's in no more pain.


365 books read and reviewed in 365 days!

Now I like to read, but this lady is purely inspirational!

Nina Sankovitch this week completed her marathon run of reading and then reviewing 365 books in 365 days. And that wee lot was polished off whilst catering for a husband and five children.

You can read about her feat at her blog site:


Monday, 26 October 2009

Shaking it for the Sheiks?

An advert for, the elite dating site for beautiful people only, which launches in the Middle East today - where, incidentally, if you even considered dressing or disporting yourself in the above way, you'd be flogged and jailed, where, frankly, being "BeautifulPeople" and 'perty' is a distinct disadvantage.

Picture: REUTERS


Sunday, 25 October 2009

Jon Anderson: The Lost Interviews - Part One: The Introduction

Background and Introduction: 

Dear Reader,

What follows is an unashamedly probing and fictitious series of interviews conducted in his suite, at the rather luxurious Claridge's Hotel in London, the week beginning Monday, 05th October, 2009, between your intrepid rock reporter, Sam Nitrox, and Accrington's second most famous export, Jon Anderson, late of the band 'Yes': to some, one of the gods of so-called 'Progressive Rock'.

In my negotiations to agree the format and content of this series of interviews, which were to be to be spread out over three days, I made it clear that, for them to have any impact or credibility with what remains of the fan-base of his former band, Anderson would have to submit to some pretty direct, rangy and revealing questions as, frankly, the now parlous state of Yes has managed to disillusion and disaffect even some of its once most ardent fans to the point of apathy,  cynicism and disinterest - I can report that he agreed to such a line of questioning, and promised to be as candid as might be required in the circumstances.

Given the roller-coaster-ride to which he and the rest of the revolving-door membership of Yes have been subject over the last 40+ years the band (in all its forms) has been around, I wanted to get down to the real nitty-gritty of where Anderson saw himself in all these comings and goings; his and the band's creative process; and how he now feels about the direction, format and constituent membership of the vehicle he once called musical 'home' for most of his professional life; and whether, as a result of no longer being it's lead singer, he now felt like a Prog Orphan, or a liberated phoenix?

I also wanted, finally, to address some of the band's formerly taboo subjects: the 'YesWest' vs 'Classical' and 'Onion' line-ups - and whether he preferred the Prog or the Pop version of the band? What exactly is a 'Siberian Khatru'? Yes lyrics - do they actually mean anything, or are they, as most suspect, merely all just gibberish with some nice tunes attached to them? With whom, i.e. which line-up, did he prefer playing? Precisely how badly does Steve Howe look like he needs to eat a proper meat-based meal, or is Biafran-Zombie a good look for him? And what's his all-time record for his most irritating habit of making unprompted announcements of "Love is everything!" in a single day? 

And finally, I know I'm not the only one who'd like to know who's really to blame for the current - Andersonless - version of Yes; but does he see it as a case of mea cupla, or simply, Je Ne Regrette Rien - or, would he seriously have us believe that the care less train has now left the station where he and Yes are concerned?

I aimed, using a mixture of honesty and guile, to get the bottom all this, and more, during the course of my interviews with him...

*  *  *  *  *

We meet, late morning, in his suite. On arriving at his door, I knock, and there is a slight delay in him answering; accompanied by what, for all the world, sounds like a luxuriant 12 second, four-tone fart, which both raised the eyebrows of a passing room-service waiter and - as best I could hear through the door - apparently sent Anderson's dog scurrying for cover. But who had been the perpetrator: the dog, or the man himself? Either way, at least my first meeting with Anderson promised to be a fragrant affair, if nothing else.

The door opened and he ushered me in with a "Hi, please come in!" - all trace of his once broad Lancashire accent all but gone - although, perhaps understandably, no mention was made of the pungently pulsating aroma now permeating the place. I could have sworn I caught a snatched look of embarrassment on his face, but decided that discretion was the better part of valour and that we should crack-on with the interview. He made me a coffee and he took a mineral water for himself before we made our way through and settled into the sumptuous surroundings of the suite's lounge - he on the couch and me in an armchair.

Tape recorder on, pen poised, we began...


A literary gag

I had gone to pick up my niece from her university, and we were waking across the campus back to the car park when we came upon half a dozen theoretical linguists committing unprovoked physical assault on a defenseless prescriptivist. My niece was shocked.

She said: "Aren't you going to help?"

I said, "No; six should be enough."


Saturday, 24 October 2009

The Power of Sulk


Bizarrely, in the space of only two months, in wholly unconnected events, I've had two close mates enter a sulking contest with me.

You know the sort of thing: the old "Herrumph!" of indignation, followed by, "I've nothing more to say on the matter! Sod-off and never darken my door again" type flounce - before entering into the protracted playground zero-sum game of seeing who'll be the first to 'crack' by either 'caving in' and making an approach at rapprochement; or actually doing the adult thing and just admitting that life is far too short and that only kids enter sulks; and that, as adults, we need to get our collective shit together and get back on an even keel. Although, like most men, I'm guessing it demands a maturity we sometimes lack!

The irony is that both these flounces happened over something as mundane and trivial as a disagreement in an exchange on the Internet. Lord knows Thatcher and Heath spent nigh-on 35 years at mutual daggers-drawn over something as meagre as the soul and direction of the Conservative Party; so you'd expect my two falls-out to be over something so massive that they warranted UN mediation and attendant peace-keepers.

Oh that that were the case.

Out of these two, one, a Brit, I have known since 1987, was an usher at my wedding and whom I  took diving to the Red Sea on his first diving trip. I know his family and we spend weekends at each other's houses. He has no brothers, and I guess he sees me as that brother he never had. Actually that perhaps tells me something about the depth of his feeling in this matter.

The other, a Yank, I've never met in person, but 'known' vicariously only latterly in the past 2 years or so, but with whom I struck an immediate chord on a number of levels - usually with me it's an acerbic wit and a sense of humour which initially attracts me to a person - then I let the rest of their character traits fall-in behind that. I find that most things can be either forgiven or accommodated as long the person has the ability to laugh their their own, and my, mistakes.

Well, at least one thing's certain: there'll be no resolution to these tiffs with no one making the effort to reach out and make the first stab at resolving the current impasse.

I'll let you know how I get on...


Friday, 23 October 2009

Top Twitter Gags

Leno: NYTimes laying off 100 newsroom employees. Publisher sez theyll be hired back if this Internet thing turns out to be a fad
Leno: More abt that Tex woman who lived 7 days w/her dead boyfriend. She finally suspected something when his grip loosened on the TV remote
David Schneider: Just met 1st girl I ever snogged. I remember I'd been practising so long on my hand it felt wrong not tasting a thumb
Leno: Pentagon generals worry the White House is spreading itself too thin, fighting 2 wars at once----Afghanistan and Fox News


Internet rules and laws: the top 10, from Godwin to Poe

The internet has matured into a world of its own, and like the real world, it obeys certain immutable laws. Here are 10 of the most important.

By Tom Chivers
Published: 7:30AM BST 23 Oct 2009


Godwin's Law in action Photo: AP - SHEPARD FAIREY

Any internet user will know that the web, like the outside world (or “meatspace”), follows certain rules.

We take a look at 10, with the most well-known and widely used towards the top and some of the lesser lights lower down. If you know any more, let us know below.

Equally, of course, if you have formulated one yourself, do likewise – but you might want to include your real name, not just a web pseudonym. Otherwise it will be known forever as Gherkin555’s Law, or whatever, and you will miss your shot at posterity.

We should state that we are not endorsing these laws or the views they imply, merely reporting them. 

1. Godwin’s Law
The most famous of all the internet laws, formed by Mike Godwin in 1990. As originally stated, it said: "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." It has now been expanded to include all web discussions.

It is closely related to the logical fallacy “reductio ad Hitlerum”, which says “Hitler (or the Nazis) liked X, so X is bad”, frequently used to denigrate vegetarians and atheists.

Common Godwin's Law appearances include describing women's rights campaigners as “feminazis”, comparing the former US President George W Bush to Hitler, or saying Barack Obama's proposed healthcare reforms are the new Holocaust.

In its broader sense it can be used to describe any situation where a poster loses all sense of proportion, for example describing New Labour as “Zanu-Labour” after Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwean political party Zanu-PF.

As well as the descriptive form, it can be used prescriptively: so if any poster does mention the Nazis in a discussion thread, Godwin’s Law can be invoked, they instantly lose the argument and the thread can be ended.

If this is done deliberately to end the argument, however, it does not apply. This codicil is known as “Quirk’s Exception”. 

2. Poe’s Law
Not to be confused with the law of poetry enshrined by Edgar Allen Poe, the internet Poe’s Law states: “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humour, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won't mistake for the real thing.”

It was originally formulated by Nathan Poe in 2005 during a debate on about evolution, and referred to creationism rather than all fundamentalism, but has since been expanded.

Poe’s Law also has an inverse meaning, stating that non-fundamentalists will often mistake sincere expressions of fundamentalist beliefs for parody.

Examples abound – one particularly difficult-to-judge site claims that “Heliocentrism [the belief that the Earth orbits the Sun, rather than the other way around] is an Atheist Doctrine”.

One that must, surely, be a parody is (WARNING: link contains adult material), a site that offers Christians advice on the rights and wrongs of such activities as threesomes and pubic shaving, among much more.

However, it is hard to be entirely certain, given the existence of (WARNING: link contains adult material), an apparently entirely serious site.

Here is an example of a parody site that embodies both Godwin's and Poe's Laws.

3. Rule 34

States: “If it exists, there is porn of it.” See also Rule 35: “If no such porn exists, it will be made.” Generally held to refer to fictional characters and cartoons, although some formulations insist there are "no exceptions" even for abstract ideas like non-Euclidean geometry, or puzzlement.

For obvious reasons it is not appropriate for lengthy discussion in a family newspaper, but the recent appearance of Marge Simpson on the cover of Playboy, pictured above, was a (very mild) example of the law in action, and going mainstream.

The spread of fanfic, slash fiction and hentai around the internet, as well as the rise of furries, are making this law more and more accurate every day.

The other 33 rules change frequently, except one and two, which are “Do not talk about /b/” and “Do NOT talk about /b/”, respectively, referring to a message board on the website. 

4. Skitt’s Law
Expressed as "any post correcting an error in another post will contain at least one error itself" or "the likelihood of an error in a post is directly proportional to the embarrassment it will cause the poster."

It is an online version of the proofreading truism Muphry’s Law, also known as Hartman's Law of Prescriptivist Retaliation: "any article or statement about correct grammar, punctuation, or spelling is bound to contain at least one eror".

Language Log quotes the following example, from Paul Ordoveza’s How Now, Brownpau? blog: 
"For too long, we linguistic pedants have cringed, watching this phrase used, misused, and abused, again, and again, and again. 'This begs the question...' [we hear], and we must brace ourselves as the ignoramii of modern society literally ask a question after the phrase."

While Mr Ordoveza’s point is entirely valid (“begging the question” is a logical fallacy, meaning to "beggar the question", or assume your conclusion in your premise – not to raise the question), the plural of ignoramus is ignoramuses.

It was apparently first stated by G Bryan Lord, referring to a user named Skitt, on Usenet in 1998.

5. Scopie’s Law
States: “In any discussion involving science or medicine, citing as a credible source loses the argument immediately, and gets you laughed out of the room.” First formulated by Rich Scopie on the forum.

This law makes little sense without a background knowledge of, a conspiracy theory site which includes such items as the complete text of the anti-Semitic hoax Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as well as claims that Aids is caused by vaccination programmes, and that Auschwitz never happened.

It has been expanded by posters on to include any use of Answers in Genesis in an argument about creationism and evolution. 

6. Danth’s Law (also known as Parker’s Law)
States: “If you have to insist that you've won an internet argument, you've probably lost badly.” Named after a user on the role-playing gamers’ forum

Danth’s Law was most famously declared in “The Lenski Affair”, between microbiologist Richard Lenski and the editor of, Andrew Schlafly, who cast doubt upon Prof Lenski’s elegant experimental demonstration of evolution.

After what is widely held to be one of the greatest and most comprehensive put-downs in scientific argument from Prof Lenski, Mr Schlafly declared himself the winner. 

7. Pommer’s Law
Proposed by Rob Pommer on in 2007, this states: “A person's mind can be changed by reading information on the internet. The nature of this change will be from having no opinion to having a wrong opinion.” 

8. DeMyer's Laws
Named for Ken DeMyer, a moderator on There are four: the Zeroth, First, Second and Third Laws.

The Second Law states: “Anyone who posts an argument on the internet which is largely quotations can be very safely ignored, and is deemed to have lost the argument before it has begun.”

The Zeroth, First and Third Laws cannot be very generally applied and will be glossed over here. 

9. Cohen’s Law
Proposed by Brian Cohen in 2007, states that: “Whoever resorts to the argument that ‘whoever resorts to the argument that... …has automatically lost the debate’ has automatically lost the debate.”

Has also been stated in the much longer version, "Whoever resorts to the argument that 'whoever resorts to the argument that... 'whoever resorts to the argument that... 'whoever resorts to the argument that... 'whoever resorts to the argument that ... 'whoever resorts to the argument that... ...has automatically lost the debate' ...has automatically lost the debate' ...has automatically lost the debate' ...has automatically lost the debate' ...has automatically lost the debate' has automatically lost the debate." 

10. The Law of Exclamation
First recorded in an article by Lori Robertson at in 2008, this states: "The more exclamation points used in an email (or other posting), the more likely it is a complete lie. This is also true for excessive capital letters."

It is reminiscent of the claim in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels that the more exclamation marks someone uses in writing, the more likely they are to be mentally unbalanced.

According to Pratchett, five exclamation marks is an indicator of "someone who wears their underwear on the outside".


Thursday, 22 October 2009

The lengths to which some people will go...

... just to get into ZZ Top!

Which leads on to my next question: when are ZZ Top going to be caught and appear at The International Criminal Court in The Hague for their crimes against the people??!


The DC Tea Party - and how H.L. Mencken observed Democracy

"[D]emocracy gives [the beatification of mediocrity] a certain appearance of objective and demonstrable truth. The mob man, functioning as citizen, gets a feeling that he is really important to the world - that he is genuinely running things. Out of his maudlin herding after rogues and mountebanks there comes to him a sense of vast and mysterious power—which is what makes archbishops, police sergeants, the grand goblins of the Ku Klux and other such magnificoes happy. And out of it there comes, too, a conviction that he is somehow wise, that his views are taken seriously by his betters - which is what makes United States Senators, fortune tellers and Young Intellectuals happy. Finally, there comes out of it a glowing consciousness of a high duty triumphantly done which is what makes hangmen and husbands happy."

H. L. Mencken - American Essayist, Author, Satirist.

1880 –1956



leona helmsley totally looks like cesar romero joker
see more Celeb Look-A-Likes

cowardly lion totally looks like robert plant
see more Celeb Look-A-Likes

cher totally looks like gene simmons
see more Celeb Look-A-Likes

Motivational Posters


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

New Words & Coined Phrases - both original and borrowed

What follows is a sampling of the, usually irreverent,  inventive contractions, portmanteau words and other terms either pilfered wholesale, or more usually invented by some of the bright young things on my Eunoia Website.  Enjoy! 

decepticaemia - (n) the condition of voluntarily submitting to, and choosing to believe in, that which you know to be object bullshit; but you prefer it to reason or reality as it suits your prejudice. The Fox News Borg (FNB) are particularly prone to adopt this condition. 

déjà view (da-zhä vyü)  - (n)  [prevalent in the US]  a phenomenon which occurs after one watches a television show for the first time, then doesn't watch it again for a while. When they again watch the show at some later date, the TV station just happens to be re-airing the one episode they had already seen. 

flen  - (n)  the inexplicably black viscous substance that forms around the top of ketchup bottles due to people who are too klutzy and kak-handed to pour the ketchup correctly. 

proctoverbosity  - (n) Talking out of one's arse. Abbreviated to p.v. to mean bullshit.e.g. "Professor Hawking's lecture on super-string theory was complete p.v." - PhD dissertation, J. Stewart (1998), Bodleian Library. 

reintarnation - (n) coming back to life as a hillbilly.

arachnidiot  - (ar ak ni' di ot) - (n) A person, who, having wandered into an "invisible" spider web, begins gyrating and flailing about wildly. 

foreploy - (n) Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid. 

prozlytute - (praas/li/tyoot(n) One who preaches morals, whilst on their back. 

interregnum - noun (pl. interregnums or interregna) a period when normal government is suspended, especially between successive reigns or regimes.

 — ORIGIN Latin, from inter- ‘between’ + regnum ‘reign’.

interrectum - noun, the sensation the benighted US electorate perceive of "being done without Lube", after 8 years of George W Bush

  — ORIGIN Latin, from inter- ‘between’ + rectum intestinum ‘straight intestine’ (or 'arse cheeks', in the vernacular) 

malenutrition - (n) The temporarily wretched condition into which men allow themselves to sink, through sheer laziness, when they  omit to feed themselves whilst watching their favourite sports in TV -  e.g. during a football match for a Formula-1 race; usually resolved by pleas to the man's respective partner to "please go and make me a sarni love! I'm dying here!


I wish I'd said that

An American friend, Chris, posted the following devastatingly well observed quip on my website yesterday:

A 3-year-old boy examined his testicles while taking a bath.
"Mum", he asked, "Are these my brains?"  

"Not yet", she replied.

This then prompted an Australian friend, Lou, to post in response: "I wish I'd posted that!"

Which in turn reminded me of that great Python sketch involving Wilde, Whistler & Shaw:


Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Can Fox News really be considered a 'News' entity?

Bizarre that this topic should arise today in the news, as we were discussing this very thing on my website, over a week ago, when an Australian friend, Roger, made the following comment:

"[Can Fox News really be considered a 'News' entity?] ... from what I've heard and read (having never actually seen the station on TV), it's a PR company for the Neo-Cons."

Which is pretty much the way I feel about Faux News, also. So, as Loyd Grossman might say - let's look at the clues...

As a 'news' entity, it's certainly a Murdoch-owned opinionated vassal; catering largely for what I refer to as 'The No Passport Fox News Christians': the kind of analysis-starved mindset which eagerly accepts voodoo claims and deliberate dissembling, such as "Obama death panels", in the US Healthcare Reform debate, and "Obama's a Muslim and has no US birth certificate". And this is the same audience who, as default, use the term 'liberal' in the pejorative sense.

It also makes much of the "we can say what we want, regardless of how petulant, puerile or pernicious it might be, and it's protected by the Constitution" mentality, so redolent in the US (in other words, the liberty to be both stupid and offensive, whilst trying to paint your actions as some  duty, or noble and cherished rite of passage - it's not called 'Faux' News for nothing!).

Fox would have you believe that it does indeed offer 'news & analysis' - which is an utter and deliberate misnomer; and one to which it obstinately and repeatedly clings in the belief that mere opinionated rants are in some way synonymous with, or a worthy substitute for, proper and impartial analysis.

In short, all Fox does is cater for its 'target market' (the eponymous 'No Passport Fox News Christians') and sees no reason to trouble itself with what (outside the US) is the dictionary definition of 'news' - that means it's just an opinion: and an avowedly, no pretence, right-wing one at that. This is why it is not considered 'news' anywhere else outside its Limbaugh-loving target market.

And what marks it out as a transparent shill for the US Right is its chosen format and approach; as this is one, in Europe at least, which we associate with, and attribute to, the tabloids and habitués of rags like The National Enquirer - hence the reason why most Europeans treat it with a mixture of concomitant contempt and parody.


Groucho - setting the high-bar




Taliban: 'Cut us a deal and we'll ditch al-Qaeda'

After reading this article, Taliban: 'Cut us a deal and we'll ditch al-Qaeda', I began to wonder whether this might have something to do with some new, as yet unannounced US thinking regarding an exit-strategy from Afghanistan. And then I thought, hang on a minute! There are wider implications to pulling out of Afghanistan, not least the lack of any meaningful achievement - and they don't need me to tell them that it can't be done any time soon - and certainly not in the same slapdash manner as it was invaded initially.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, what with the war now entering its ninth year, what we now see is a "should I stay or should I go now?" situation: alas this is one of the dangers of blindly rushing to war, only one month after 9/11, without considering any meaningful or realistically achievable goals, or exist strategies, or in fact even the circumstances under which you may exit: all of which Bush jnr. is guilty and which, like so much of the man's spastic activity whilst in office, Obama now has the baleful duty and inherited responsibility of clearing up.

Goethe said: "Distrust those in whom the desire to punish is strong..."

It is, then, inescapable, that there was, certainly on the part of the Bush administration, an all encompassing desire in the US simply for revenge on the perpetrators of 9/11, with precious little, if any, thought going into anything  like either a measured or appropriate response to the attack. And so, like an inebriate hell-bent on finding a fight, Bush duly obliged.

So what to do now? Where are we at in terms of results? The US has still not caught or killed OBL, or Mullah Omar (al-Q's spiritual leader), nor any of the top ten lieutenants of that organisation. Even the US must be asking itself if this has been time and money well spent? Although certainly Bush never seemed to worry as he drove up military budgets and spending - placing an intolerably massive debt burden on each US tax payer in the process.

Even if the US does decide to cut its loses and a deal with Terry Taliban, all it will be doing is getting them off NATO's back [but only in the Afghan theatre], and back onto the backs of the Afghan people; OBL and the al-Q boys will just up-sticks and move further into their sanctuary of the largely ungoverned Waziristan border region, and their stated main prize - Pakistan. It will drop Afghanistan like an uncalled raffle ticket.

So exiting is one thing: but paying to exist (over and above the NATO lives already expended there) is another thing completely; as it sends a whole host of mixed, and damaging, messages.

The Taliban will see any payment deal as clear vindication that their 'Jihad' had worked and that waging it was right ("it must have been, otherwise why would the infidel pay us to leave them alone before running home with their tails between their legs...?")

And, once NATO has gone, at least in its combat role, it will then leave the Taliban to dispense their own brand of Stone Age nihilism upon a people who (like most Moslems) are a fatalistic bunch ('Inshallah') and who, no matter what the strictures placed upon them, or the extremes the Taliban go to as their overlords, will simply grit their teeth and bear it.

Why? Because at least the Taliban in Afghanistan are largely Afghan, and not foreigners - and that's important, as Afghans have never taken kindly to foreign invaders, regardless of the flag under which they've entered the country (The British Empire, The USSR, NATO...)

And, whereas the US (via the CIA) funded the former Afghan Northern Alliance resistance, first to the Soviets, and then the Taliban (lead in both cases by its then leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud, who, significantly, was assassinated just two days before 9/11, by al-Qaeda assassins posing as Saudi journalists), Afghanistan no longer has an effective or organised resistance movement to the Taliban - and certainly not one with a Charlie Wilson's War, money-&-weapons CIA sugar-daddy.

If ever there was a textbook illustration of "act in haste: repent at leisure", then Bush's sojourn into Afghanistan is it. Hundreds of NATO troops have now been killed there, as have a larger number of Afghanis - and for what? If no military objectives were ever agreed, or articulated prior to invading Afghanistan, then you can't really expect commanders on the ground to make them up as they go, which is now where we're at. 'Surges' and Mission Creep are great debating points, but they are no substitute for original, solid, pre-invasion military strategy when thinking of sending men into harm's way to do a politician's bidding - and the names on the list of Bush cabinet members who failed in this respect are legion.

NATO will leave Afghanistan at some stage, it has to (and the Taliban know this, and yet they have the luxury of time of their hands to let it happen), and just as nature reclaims an untended garden, so the Taliban will reclaim Afghanistan. And where it can't control, it will cut deals with whichever despotic warlords are in regional power (e.g. General Dostum and his successors).

Unchecked by NATO, the poppy crop yield will increase - and its sale will then fund weapons and other nasty Taliban habits - meanwhile, the knock-on-effect is that heroin will become more readily available on the streets of the West (with the attendant coterie of vice and misery which comes with it - people trafficking, forced prostitution, child labour, Mafia activity etc.) - and that's before Afghanistan (no longer policed by NATO) becomes an open training camp for any two-bit Islamic extremist group wishing to extend their 'Global Jihad'. This in turn leaves open the possibility of more terrorist attacks à la Madrid, London, & New York.

So whilst hindsight's a wonderful thing, unfortunately for the wider world, this is what you get when a US president who is so cataclysmically stupid that even his shadow demanded a divorce is voted into power; not helped by his complete lack of any decent or sage counsel after 9/11 happened; certainly in terms of the US making a mete response to the attack; and a situation which has now left us with two messes with which to deal - Iraq & Afghanistan.

So the US will send the 45,000 extra troops asked for by General McCrystal; but then again, when have you ever known a general who said they couldn't win a war without more troops? That's the kind of sameness we can all understand and get behind, right?

The main problem here is that there is no clear reason - other than US revenge for 9/11 - for NATO to be in Afghanistan; we've entered a whole new world of 'Mission Creep', and we're trying to develop strategy on-the-hoof - an approach which has never won a war (cf. Viet Nam). In invading Afghanistan,  a country in which no invading nation has ever won a sustained campaign, all we've done is stirreed-up a hornets' nest and given its people a reason to unite against a common foe: NATO and The West.

And we will leave, and the Taliban will stay - only this time, we won't be there to offer any alternatives or balance to the extremists punting their distorted  version Islam. Nor will we be able to prevent any training camps which will in all probability flourish in our absence.

Where both he and the patient needed precision, Bush tried to operate on the cancer with all the accuracy of a blind man with a blunderbuss: and the rest of us will, sadly, reap the results of that particular failed experiment for some time to come.


Monday, 19 October 2009

shitmydadsays on Twitter

For those of you who've not yet experienced this Twitterer, 'shitmydadsays' you have to get a bag of it, as it's hilarious.

Twitter - A Beginner's Guide

Whenever I approach some new Web-based gizmo, gadget or toy, I don't just jump straight in and press the 'Go' button: I generally like to have a mooch around, see how the thing works, and then ease myself in gently - that way at least I don't end up looking a prize twat when I make some honking schoolboy error, at which others are then free to have fun at my expense - and being the Web, invariably, any mistakes you might make are then there forever; immortalised for generations to snigger at.

That said, the attention-span of a lot of Twitter users is only 140 characters, so I guess I should really stop worryi...

One of the first things I did notice about Twitter, and one backed-up by an article on the BBC website, is that at least 50% (and I can say that's a conservative estimate!) of what you can read on it is utter "babble" (at least that's the BBC's polite description - although mine also begins with a 'B'); just another outlet for the celebrity-obsessed and 'da yoot an ting' to wax poetic about the raft of inanities and trivia with which they underpin their lives. Oh, and if I read the word "awesome!" again, used entirely glibly, out of context and in relation to anything from a list of the most underwhelming and inconsequential Z-list US soap actors, then you may just find me sitting atop a clock tower with a scoped rifle in an effort to redress the balance. ;)

The other thing I noticed was the sheer speed at which the porn industry has managed to latch on to the obvious shop-front which Twitter presents; the porn industry and the Web having been long-time bedfellows, and ones which have found increasingly inventive ways in their efforts to spread its love around, so to speak.

So, no sooner had I 'Tweeted', than I had 12 new 'followers' - none of whom I knew and all directing me to "look at my profile!"; all of which turned out to be some form of porn, adult dating or 'naughty' flirting site. And as with virtually all spam, they get paid just by dent of you hitting their URL link and viewing their site.

Needless to say, I felt obliged to respond with something in-line with the format which Twitter imposes on all its users, and so posted:

"Twitter: the Web's latest amateur porn outlet - where a vocabulary of only 140 characters is considered verbose!"

Now I can't for a second claim that this next move came as a result of my Tweet, but only a few days later, one of Twitter's 'trending topics' was the news that it has introduced a 'Report Spam' function for just this sort irritation.

What I can say I learnt is that if you try and impose any form of sense or ability to keep up with Twitter, dont': you'll go crazy - it's just not designed for that. And do not randomly try and see what's going on, either - you'll end up all over the map with your head spinning.

The approach I'd recommend for newbies to get you underway is that you choose just a small number of people you either know, or whose stuff you know you're going to want to follow (10 will keep you more than adequately occupied for an introductory period whilst you find your feet); mine are all comedians and journalists I read regular, so it's quite manageable.

Like all these things, it's not going to be for everyone: it tends to be favoured by those who can afford to camp on it all day (so it's big with 'slebs' and journos); you just have to be realistic and ask yourself what you want from it.

The only thing which surprises me, what with Twitter being so new and popular, is that Gordon Brown hasn't yet announced a 'Twitter Czar' to keep us safe from it - either that, or announced that he's going to introduce background checks on us all to ensure we're not all closet paedophiles...

Mind you, the day aint over yet...
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