Monday, 27 December 2010

Dancing games

I remember the days when the "dance mats" for Sony PlayStation were immensely popular...  Anyone who was anyone owned one (I didn't) and schools and youth clubs would hold "dance mat competitions" for all the local kidz to compete it...  Personally, I never felt it counted as real dancing at all - I still maintain that using a PlayStation dance mat made you look like someone trying to play Hopscotch in a shower cubicle!

However, with the advent of "motion sensor based" gaming - firstly with the Nintendo Wii, and now, more recently, with Kinect for XBox - the idea of fusing video games and dancing is once again enjoying a certain amount of popularity...

These new games seem to provide more actual dancing than the old dance mats used to, and yet, I still struggle to see their worth...

Y'see, I thought that dancing was mainly a social activity...  (If we ignore, for a minute, professional dancers dancing in competitions, and so on...)  I don't really see much point in boogieing down to some Tina Turner when I'm on my own, standing in front of the television!  Yes, it's true that the current adverts on TV for these "dance game" products show the games being used socially, at house parties and so on, but always in a situation where one or two people are dancing, while the other party guests crowd 'round like spectators at an illegal cage fight somewhere in Thailand...  It just doesn't strike me as a particularly enjoyable party activity!

I think, at the end of the day, whether you do it alone, or with friends, you are still dancing around your own living room, staring at the TV screen - and, quite frankly, you probably look a bit of a plonker!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

#Snow in the UK!

Ohmigod it's SNOWING!!

Yeah, great...  I'm actually beginning to get quite annoyed by how pathetic we, in Great Britain, are, as a nation, at dealing with snow...

After all, it's not that unusual, is it?  We get some snow most years, during the winter - and yet, every year it's the same!  We panic, and we cancel things...  Any things!  We close schools, and we decide to stop going to the shops, and we start to dress in skins and communicate only in grunts and nods...

And, although I'm not all that old myself, I'm sure this is only a fairly recent thing...  I remember walking to school in the snow, and having snowball fights in the playground at lunchtime...  I actually used to take a sledge to school sometimes, when it snowed; our school field used to slope down to the river, and you could slide down it, and have races - it was great fun!

These days, though, you only have to shout the word "snow" loud enough, and your local school will close!  People will start panic-buying things like milk and carrots (which, apparently, are essential weapons against cold weather!) and fuel...

For some reason, the inclement weather is an excuse to drop everything, lose all common sense and run around like the proverbial decapitated poultry...  Quite frankly, I think it's pathetic!  In my opinion, life goes on - and if the weather's bad you should just stop being so feeble, cope with it, and just get on with things!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Ten reasons not to go to the cinema

I recently went to the cinema - for the first time in 2010...  I went to see the new Harry Potter film with my sister - but before we could watch it, we were forced to sit through a good couple of hours of trailers...

One of these trailers featured actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost trying to sell "the cinema experience" (rather a waste of time, I felt, since all of us there, watching the trailer, had already bought "the cinema experience") to convince people that they do need to watch films in the cinema, instead of just waiting for the DVD to come out and watching it at home...

Now, they are famous, successful, funny men; I am none of those things...  But still, I am going to try and argue the opposite - that going to the cinema really isn't worth it, and that waiting to buy the DVD to watch the film at home actually is the best choice...

I shall do this in the form of an unimaginatively numbered "one-to-ten" list, thus -

One: "cost"
A trip to the cinema these days really is histrionically expensive...  Not only do you have to get there (and however you do that, it'll cost money somehow - in petrol, parking, rail tickets, bus fare, taxis, horseshoes, rickshaws, or re-heeling your favourite brogues) but once you're there, you pay nearly £10 for an adult ticket (you can get in for less, but you won't be able to see the lower two-thirds of the screen) before realising you're really thirsty, and all you can do is spend £3 on a small bottle of water...

Two: "food"
Like a lot of people, I'm rather fond of a snack or three while watching television, and the same applies when watching a movie...  There is food available at the cinema - but, as one might expect, it is, of course, very expensive!  Not only is it very expensive, though - it is pretty horrible, too...  I've never enjoyed eating popcorn (it's like deep-fried fibreglass, dipped in tar) and neither do I care much for hotdogs made of plastic, or chips made of cardboard - and so, I have to sit watching the film, feeling hungry while everyone else around me munches this disgusting fodder irritatingly loudly, and wishing I could ring for a plate of bœuf bourguignon!

Three: "adverts"
As I mentioned in the unnecessarily long preamble to this post, there are a lot of adverts and trailers to sit through, before the movie...  Those of you who follow me on Twitter will already know that I despise television advertising - at the cinema, you have to sit through all the same crass, poorly-executed adverts you get on television, plus a bunch of trailers for films you'd never want to see, before you even get close to the film you've actually come to watch!

Four: "temperature"
The actual auditorium at the cinema is kept stifling hot at all times...  Every visit to the cinema, for me, ends the same way - emerging from the auditorium at the end of the film, gasping for air and blinking in the light, wishing the place provided swimming facilities and showers on-site...  I'm not sure who decided that the ideal environment to enjoy a film would be, essentially, a sauna fitted with tip-up seats - but I'm pretty sure it was the same man who gets all the profits from the cinema food stalls and vending machines, since, as far as I can see, the only reason for keeping the place so warm is to induce cinema-goers to spend all their money on the phenomenally overpriced drinks and ice-creams as they try to cool down!

Five: "lack of control"
At the cinema, you have no control over what's happening...  What I'm talking about here, really, is the ability to pause the film - at the cinema, you just can't, but, when watching a DVD, it's easy!  Let's say, half-way through the film, you need to get up to open a second bottle of Scotch, answer the telephone, give advice to the home secretary, or help yourself to a second serving of bœuf bourguignon - simple, just press "pause", do whatever you have to do, then come back to the television, and pick up where you left off...  In the cinema, of course, doing any of these things would cause you to miss one of the most important scenes in the film - the bit where the plucky, underdog hero discovers the villain's fatal weakness, for example...  (It's his emotions - I'll bet you anything you like!)

Six: "other people"
Other people annoy me in most situations, actually, so this is less of a flaw with the cinema, and more of a flaw in my character - but I think it's worth mentioning anyway...  I don't go to the cinema often - but, every time I do, someone sitting in the row in front of me decides that they have to go to the toilet part-way through the film...  For a good ninety seconds, my view of the screen is obscured by someone else's bobbing head as they shuffle past other cinema-goers from their seat, which is, predictably, right in the middle of the row...  (Why don't these weak-bladdered movie fans pick a seat near the aisle?!)  Then five minutes later, the whole charade is repeated, in reverse, while the hapless man tries to return to his seat, blissfully unaware of what the rest of us in the audience now know about the villain's fragile emotional state...  Watching the DVD at home, however, this is not an issue...  My lounge is not laid out in rows - it has a sofa, and a television - and I only have friends with strong bladders, capable of watching a film from start-to-finish, without needing a break to visit the bathroom...  If anyone I'm watching the film with does need to leave the room for any reason, before the film has finished, I can simply pause it for them, and wait for them to return, as I explained earlier...  (And I can nick their bœuf bourguignon while they're not looking!)

Seven: "internet access"
This, again, may be more of a problem within myself, than with the cinema - but, as you probably know by now, I quite like the internet...  I like social networking online, and I like Tweeting things as they happen - in the cinema my fancy-schmancy 3G iPhone must be switched off, and kept in my pocket, and I am cut off for two hours or more...  No doubt those who follow me down the various different dark alleyways of the online world are glad of the brief respite from my ramblings, but I feel irritated and removed from my comfort-zone in this situation, and I don't like it...  Perhaps I should see a therapist?

Eight: "analysis and discussion"
Right at the beginning of this, I said that the last film I watched was the new Harry Potter, which I saw with my sister...  I often watch films with my sister - she is a big movie fan, and even has a membership card for some "movie lovers' mutual back-slapping club" at the Odeon cinema, which entitles her to free Pepsi Max every second Tuesday of the month, or something like that...  My point, though, is that she knows a lot more about film than I do, and while watching something with her, I often find it helpful to discuss the plot/script/costumes/makeup with her as we go along...  In the cinema, I can't do this, as I feel I'd be disturbing other people (yep, them again!) by talking during the film...  Conversely, however, I often have to sit through a film punctuated by the asinine remarks of those same other people, because they don't have the same respect or consideration for my enjoyment of the movie as I do for theirs...

Nine: "reusability"
I'm not sure that's even a word...  But what I mean, as I'm sure you know, is that once you've bought your tickets to see a film, you see it once, and then you leave the cinema and go home, and that's it...  If you want to see the film a second time, you have to go through the whole rigmarole over again!  But when you buy a DVD, if you like it, you can watch it as many times as you like, for no extra charge - or if you don't like it, you can sell it on eBay, or give it to a casual acquaintance or brother-in-law as a birthday present...

Ten: "extra stuff"
A DVD gives you extra features...  Sitting in the cinema gives you cramp, and a headache...  I know which I'd rather have!  (Actually, if I'm honest, I'm never that bothered by all that extra stuff on a DVD...  But I know that lots of people really enjoy seeing a film, and then getting to know it by watching all the other bits - the director's commentary, deleted scenes, cast interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, etc...)

So there you have it - ten reasons not to go to the cinema, but to stay at home instead and actually allow yourself to enjoy a film!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Films I haven't seen

You may remember my last post about cinema - or, you may not...  To be honest, I'm not sure I do...

Recently, however, it occurred to me how many films I have not seen, which people expect everyone to have seen...  Y'know, really well-known, famous movies - the kind that everyone has seen...  Except, err, I haven't!

So, I have made a list of so-called "must-see movies", which I haven't seen...  And here it is!

Titatnic  (I've seen bits of it, but I've never seen the whole film)
-  any of the Star Wars films (except The Phantom Menace - and I can't remember what happened in that anyway)
The Shawshank Redemption
The Godfather (nor any of its sequels)
-  Schindler's List
Silence Of The Lambs
Fight Club
Saving Private Ryan
-  any of the Terminator films
Reservoir Dogs
Taxi Driver
-  any of the Die Hard films
-  any of the Rocky films
Rambo (although, bizarrely, I have seen Rambo II)
Apocalypse Now
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Jurassic Park
Back To The Future
-  any of the Indianna Jones films
-  any Star Trek at all, ever
A Clockwork Orange
Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid
Breakfast At Tiffany's
The Wizard Of Oz
The Bridge On The River Kwai
Top Gun
-  most James Bond films (although I've seen bits of some, and I think all of one, but I don't remember which - there was a girl with half an ear in it, I think?!)
Blade Runner (I've seen parts of it - and I've analysed the soundtrack - but I've never seen the whole thing)
Citizen Kane
The Excorcist
A Hard Days Night
-  either of the King Kong films
Pulp Fiction
Groundhog Day
-  any of the Jaws films
When Harry Met Sally
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
The Shining
-  any of the Alien films (except the first half of Alien 3 - in fact, it may not even have been half)
The Sixth Sense
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
American Beauty
The Big Sleep

If you can think of any "must-see" films which I haven't mentioned, ask me in the comments if I've seen them - the answer's probably "no"!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Mobile phone improvements

Another "laughable" post (to put it bluntly!) so I'm sure you'll all be cracking up by the time you've read to the end...

Now, I'm not going to moan a lot about how terrible modern mobile phones are, and how rude everyone who dares actually to use one is...  Because that's simply not true - I actually rather like mobile phones, I think they're a good thing, I don't even mind people using them!  And I'm also most impressed with how they have been improving lately - the advancements in mobile phone technology over the past few years are actually quite remarkable...

However, there is one thing which has been a major problem with mobile phones, for as long as I can remember...  (And it's not the direct correlation between IQ level, and ringtone selection, which I still maintain exists!)

Despite the fact that I can now post to this Blog while I'm sitting in a layby on the A11 (aren't you glad?!) and update my Facebook status while I'm in a lift, I still have to suffer every audio device within three miles setting up a rumpus every time I use my phone!

Why is this?  Why hasn't this cacophonous irritation been removed from our lives yet?

I think that all mobile phone companies need to put on hold all their development of new products, and all their research into new ideas, until they have figured out how people can receive text messages without their radio-alarm-clocks going buh-ba-duh! buh-ba-duh! buh-ba-duh! buh-ba-duh! the whole time!

Don't you?

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Using more words doesn't always make you smart

Here's something I've been wanting to talk about for a while, now...

All too often, people seem to think that the more words they use, when they speak, the greater will be their perceived intellect...  Sadly, this is not always the case!

A common example of this is as follows...  Somebody sees, for instance, a film (let's say, "Shrek 7") and they don't like it...  "I was not impressed, in any way, shape or form," they say to me...

That expression - "in any way, shape or form" - is becoming increasingly common in everyday speech...  Presumably the person saying it (in this case, our disgruntled cinema-goer) thinks "look at me, showing off my fulsome vocabulary, and extraordinarily impressive and varied grasp of the English language - I'm so clever!"

However, listening to him, I merely think "well done, you have used three incredibly simple words, when one would have done the job just fine - you pillock!"

Clearly, I only think that...  I wouldn't say that to his face - that would just be rude!  (Instead, I would just let him find this Blog post, and discover that I have been talking about him behind his back with you lovely internet people, and we've all been having a good ol' laugh at his expense...  Much more sensitive and polite, don't you think?!)

Another example is seen a lot on television - particularly in interviews, factual programmes, and so on...  Politicians do it a lot, actually!  I am referring, of course, to the crass over-use of the word "absolutely", which lately, seems to have become a synonym for the word "yes"...

I'm not entirely sure when "absolutely" underwent this transformation, nor indeed what was involved, but now, when someone being interview on TV wishes to answer a question in the affirmative, they say "absolutely", instead of "yes"...

"So, Minister, is it true that you now plan to tax ferret ownership, for anyone earning above twelve thousand pounds a year?"
"And do you think this is a policy which your voters will like?"
"Are you, then, suggesting that the Ferret Tax will be beneficial to the majority of low-to-middle income families living in Britain today?"

You see how inane it is?

So, for goodness' sake, please stop it!

Please only say what you need, and no more, and no less, and nothing unnecessary, and certainly not any more than is required!

Monday, 6 September 2010

How to putt a parrot

Actually, I know very little about putting parrots, never having done it myself - I just thought it would be a nice way to follow on from the "how to cut a carrot" post...

So, yeah, there isn't much to say in this topic...  So, instead, I'll give you a poorly-Photoshopped picture of what I imagine putting a parrot might look like...

And so, that concludes this nonsense...

Sunday, 5 September 2010

How to cut a carrot

It always surprises me how many people get this wrong - surely it's just plain common sense?!

Of course, you want all your slices of carrot to be roughly even, so that they all take the same time to cook...  Everyone knows that larger slices will take longer to cook right the way through than smaller slices, so you have decide beforehand what size slices you want, and allow enough time for whatever size slices you've decided upon to cook properly...

However, there is a complication - and it's one which often gets overlooked...  Slicing a carrot regularly, right from one end to t'other, may seem like the ideal - but in real life, this is fraught with difficulties!  Because, you see, in the real world, very few carrots are of an even width, all the way along - they taper, dontcha know, they taper!

Observe these carrots -

(I must confess, I did not, actually, take this photograph of carrots myself - I stole it from the internet...)

But you can see, in the picture, how the carrots taper, can't you?  So, if your slices are the same thickness all the way down your carrot, each slice will actually be a different volume of carrot, due to the varying width...  And, when you take your carrots out of the pan to serve them, a few may be cooked nicely, but many will be overcooked and mushy, while many others will be still raw in the middle...  Disaster!

So, here's what you do...

You start at the wide end of the carrot, slicing very thin slices...  You then work your way down towards the thin end of the wedge carrot, gradually increasing the thickness of the slices you cut, to compensate for the ever-diminishing width of the carrot...  This means that, although the slices may look less even than you have previously been used to, you are actually creating a more regular volume of carrot in each slice than ever before, and now, when you serve up your portions of carrots, each slice will have been cooked to perfection - no more, and no less!

Now, isn't that nice?

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Bad television

I am going to expand on some ideas I had on my Twitter recently, about bad television...

It was as I sat, watching daytime TV, before going out to a gig, one day...  I saw trailers for programmes which seemed so bad, I couldn't believe anyone would really want to watch them!

But then I thought - with so many television channels, these days, surely almost all ideas for television series will, eventually, get commissioned...?  How bad would an idea for a new TV show have to be, for one of these "new channels" to turn it down?!

Is the modern plethora of TV channels spoiling the "art" of television?  Are the days of quality programming slipping away from us?  It certainly seems, more and more, that good television - informative and challenging documentaries, gripping dramas with well-written exciting plots and well-written scripts, high-quality sports coverage, and laugh-out-loud comedy shows - is being usurped by the televisual equivalent of the tabloid press, and those repuslive "real life!" magazines about children with two noses who get bullied at school...

So I started coming up with a few of my own ideas for bad television, which might well end up being shown in the middle of the day on some trashy TV channel called "Really" or "Watch" or "Dave" or "BBC3" or whatever...

So, what do you think...  Would you watch any of these?

- Celebrities Eating Rice
A brand new celebrity show!
Each week, three understandably minor celebrities see who can eat the most rice...  Their bowls are refilled each time they finish their rice, until they can eat no more!  The celebrity who has consumed the most bowls of rice is deemed the winner, and wins a meal for two in a Thai restaurant, and three month's free membership to Bannatyne's Health and Fitness Club...  (The programme makers guarantee that you will only have heard of one out of the three celebrities featured each week!)
Hosted by a terrifying genetic fusion of Graham Norton and Bruce Forsyth

- Feet, LIVE!
An observational scientific documentary - cameras installed at ground-level on Oxford Street in London show a live feed of the feet of passers-by...
Live commentary on the feet by Murray Walker

- Ross Kemp - in a Mini
Every week, Ross tries to see how many of a certain item he can fit into an old-school British Mini Cooper motor car...  Each programme starts with a camera close-up on Ross' face, and the phrase "hi, I'm Ross Kemp, and tonight, I'm going to see how many *things* I can fit into this Mini!"  The schedule for the "things" as a follows -
Week One - poppadums
Week Two - goose eggs
Week Three - second-edition copies of "Lady Chatterley's Lover", by D.H. Lawrence
Week Four - six-week-old Burmese kittens
Week Five - paper dinner plates
Week Six - Seiko radio/alarm clocks
Week Seven - Volvic natural mineral water (750ml bottles, with sports caps)
Week Eight - Liberal Democrat activists

- Survival
Twelve random members of the public are kept under constant surveillance, until one of them dies...  They could all be involved in freak accidents mere weeks after filming starts, meaning the programme will be over very quickly - then again, the series could last upwards of fifty years, if any of the "life-mates" live on until they die of natural causes...
Presented by Davina McCall, and whichever one of Ant and Dec can win a thumb war

- Yeastenders
Gritty, real-life drama about life in a busy London bakery...
Starring Natalie Cassidy, and that knob from "Skins" with the tattoos

So, what do you reckon?  Any of those good enough actually to be made into real television shows?

Ps -
If any television executives or channel bosses are reading this, you should know that I watch a lot of TV, and if I see any of these shows actually being broadcast, I will sue you!  However, if you wish to contact me about buying the rights to any of these ideas, I certainly shall be open to offers...!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

If you use Foursquare, people will nick your stuff, murder your family, and you will end up in an asylum

Yeah, right...

I use Foursquare...  If you do too, and want to add me, you can do so here - I honestly don't mind your knowing that I'm going to the pub, that I'm driving to work, that I'm on holiday in Swindon (the UK's number one tourist hotspot!) or whatever...

I have been told - I'm sure lots of people have - that by telling people when I'm out of the house, I increase my chances of being burgled...  I've seen absolutely no statistical evidence either way, on this topic - and, since I'm being paid precisely nothing for my time here, I can't be bothered to go and look for any...  Instead, I shall bore you with my own (extremely well-thought-out) theories on the matter...

Now, I'm well aware why people would think that Foursquare would make you a priority target for your friendly local house-breaker...  You are publicising to the world that you are not at home - that, if somebody tried to enter your property unlawfully, right now, you would not be there to stop them...

But there are several problems with that idea...

Firstly, whilst Foursquare might tell you that I'm not at home, it doesn't tell you that nobody else is...  I live with two other people (my dad and my sister) and a dog - my Foursquare checkins tell you nothing whatever of their whereabouts, so a burglar might see my checkin, realise that I'm not at home, turn up, thinking that coast in clear, only to find that everyone else is still in...

Secondly, Foursquare tells you where I am - not where I'm not...  I don't list my home address anywhere on the website, so any burglars perusing the site would think something along the lines of "ah, Kit Marsden is not at home - I can go to his house and steal everything he owns!  Wait a minute...  Where is his house?  I know he's not at home, but I've no idea where he lives!"

Of course, a burglar could probably find out where I lived if, after seeing that I was not at home, he Googled me, and found out my home address that way...  But why would anyone go to these extraordinary lengths to burgle me anyway?  I'd have thought that anyone breaking into my house would be merely opportunistic - the kind of coolly premeditated robberies that take months of planning and require research and whole teams of people are usually reserved for far higher profile targets than I could be considered to be!

But, perhaps most importantly of all, being a Foursquare user has no effect on the fact that I always close all the windows before I go out, and make sure to lock the front door as I leave...  Of course, I'm aware that a determined man could break in despite such elementary precautions - but, that is true regardless of what websites I use, or what information I put online about myself!  My point, really, is that a burglar hoping to break into my house will encounter exactly the same obstacles whether he rocks up at my house by chance and decides to do a spot of stealing on the spur of the moment, and I just so happen to be out, or whether he has decided specifically to target my house because he knows for a fact, through the medium of Foursquare that I am at Birchanger Green Service Station on the M11...

Sunday, 25 July 2010

The limitations of using WiFi in a hotel

I'm at the Village Hotel in Elstree, London...  (Don't know where that is?  Well, y'do now!)

Anyway, I'm using the WiFi here to get on the internet...  It's provided free, so I guess I shouldn't really complain...  But I'm going to complain anyway!  And that complaint will take the form of a list...  (Several lists, in fact!)

Here is list of internet-based stuff I've so far been able to achieve, from my hotel room -
- Facebook (although pictures don't always load first time around)
- Dailybooth
- Blogger
- Google (although slow)
- 365 Project
- The BBC (standard site - I haven't tried to use iPlayer on this connection!)
- The Daily Telegraph

Here is a list of internet-based stuff I've so far not been able to achieve, from my hotel room -
- 1&1 internet
- Send or receive emails (I can access my emails through my iPhone, but not from my laptop!)
- Spotify

Here is a list of internet-based things which seem to work, and yet don't quite make it, and thus are extremely confusing -
- TwitPic (I can access the site, and view my pictures, but it won't let me log in!)
- Amazon (I can access the site, log in, browse, and add items to my shopping basket, but as soon as I try and "go to checkout", I can't!)

I am perplexed and frustrated, infuriated and puzzled...

Monday, 12 July 2010

In a pickle, with salami

So, salami is meat, which you buy, in a packet, and it's ready to eat...  Or is it?

I recently went through some tribulations with a packet of salami - I'll tell you about it...

When you buy a packet of salami, the slices of meat are arranged in an overlapping pattern...  That's fine - the problem is, that the piece at the top, is at the bottom...  D'you see?  No?  OK, here's a picture...

Do you see how the overlapping salami slices seem to be the wrong way around?  The one which is at the top of the pile, is at the bottom of the packet...

So, what's the problem?  Essentially, you have to open the packet fully, just to get at the first slice...  You can't just peel the top down a couple of inches, because you only fancy a couple of pieces of salami, and don't want to open the packaging all the way...


With the packet half-way open, you you can't get at the top slice of meat...  You have to take the bottom one, and try and slide it out from underneath all the others...

Of course, the packet of salami, half-open, ought to look like this...

Don't you see how much better that is...?

Yes, it is, isn't it?

So, I hope that all the people who sell salami in this convoluted way will read this, and do something about it!

Monday, 5 July 2010

The inevitable "I've got an iPhone and you're gonna hear about it!" post

So, last week, I got an iPhone...  Not a new 4G one - I'm not that awesome - but an old 3G version...

I like it...  I've only had it a week, but I'm already liking it a lot!

I'm not going to start reviewing the features, I'm not going to take a load of photos of it, and I'm certainly not going do any kind of tests on it...  After all, an iPhone 3G is fairly "old-hat" now - I'm sure everyone reading this knows what they look like, what the main features are, and that, should they wish, there are a billion comprehensive reviews, from all angles and perspectives, available on the internet already...

What I am going to do, is ask this question...  What is it that makes an iPhone better than, say a Blackberry, or an Android phone?

The answer?  Well, nothing, actually...  I know plenty of people who prefer those alternative Smartphones, and would much rather have one over an iPhone...  But equally, I know I'm not the only person who would choose the iPhone over those others...

Discussions on the internet always seem to get rather heated, on this topic...  Particularly, I've noticed, between the two rival "camps" of iPhone users, and Android users...  I'm never sure why they feel the need to get so intense about it - it's only a choice of phone, for goodness' sake!

Personally, I am a big fan of Apple products...  I'm typing this post on my MacBook Pro, I listen to music on my iPod Classic, and, now, I do all kinds of mobile telecommunicational activities on my iPhone 3G...  The reason is, that I find Apple products work, for me...  I'm quite ready to admit that they won't work for everyone - but, for me, they're great...

I think that's the whole crux of this ridiculous issue, actually...  The idea of personal preference plays an enormous part in the choosing of these gadgets, and it all comes down to what kind of person you are...

On some level, I suspect that the designers at Apple are actually very similar to me...  I think we must think the same, have the same ways of working, and so on...  Which, I think, is why the products they design make so much sense to me...  Apple's operating systems just "click" with my way of thinking, and always seem incredibly intuitive...  The devices always work in the way I expect them to - everything about them (well, almost - nobody's perfect!) is designed in a way which makes me think "yeah, that's how I would've had it done!"  And, as such, I feel very much at home using iPhones, iPods, Macs, and so on...  It's almost as if they were designed just for me...

Now, not everyone's like me...  I know many people who don't like the way Apple's products operate, and who find Windows, or Android, or the Blackberry operating system, much easier to work with...  Those systems seem to make more sense to them, and they work much better with them...

I'm not sure whether there are any correlations to be discovered here...  Is it true, for instance, that most "creative" types prefer working with Apple Macs, while businesses tend to lean towards PCs?  I've no idea...  And I can't be bothered to do enough research to find out...!

All I do know, is, that if somebody has a particular affinity for products which are designed in a certain way, and which work in a certain way, they're not "stupid" - they're not being "narrow-minded" or "a fanboy"...  They just have a different approach to using technology from you...  And, what's great, is that, in the modern technological market-place, there really is something for everyone...!

So, whether the iPhone's design really strikes a chord with you, or whether you find it clumsy, unintuitive, and you much prefer to use a Blackberry, that's fine!  Just remember that not everyone will have the experiences using those devices...

OK?  Good!  :)

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

When I am the Minister for Transport (part two)

As a musician, I do seem to do quite a lot of travelling - most of it by road…  (I drove over eight hundred miles in one weekend, last week…)  And one of the things which annoys me most about travelling in the car, is roadworks…

Now, roadworks are annoying - we all know that!  And, sometimes, we have to accept that they're also necessary…  But, I am not convinced that roadworks in such high quantities are really essential!

Yeah, sure, if the road's actually falling apart - if somebody's actually died because of the state of the road - by all means, then, do something about it!  But so many of the roadworks one meets, as one travels around the country, seem so trivial…

Or, indeed, inexplicable!  If you're travelling North, the chances are you'll happen upon the M1, at some point in your journey…  The last time I was driving North on the M1, great swathes of it were covered in roadworks, marked down to 50mph, and lines of frustrated, slow moving traffic are regulated by the modern equivalent of Cromwell's Puritan Commissioners - the Average Speed Check Cameras of Evil!

"M1 Improvements" boasts the sign…  Now, I don't know about you, but I was never under the impression that the M1 needed "improving"…  It always seemed fine as it was!

And, whatever these improvements are, which the powers-that-be seem to feel really need implementing, are they worth all the hassle?  Because, while the work is actually being done, far from being "improved", the M1 is actually a whole lot worse!

To give you an idea of the irony of some of these situations, I was just entering another roadworks zone, around Junction 16 of the M25, when I saw a sign saying this -

"M25 Carriageway Widening - caution, narrow lanes"

So, how's that widening working out for you, eh?  Made a good start?

Again, I realise that, in some cases, work simply has to be done, and drivers must just live with the disruption, until it's all over…  It just seems that some works will never end, and when they eventually do, some other road is being worked on…  When will the roads finally be finished?  Never!

I don't actually have a proper proposal about this…  If I were made Minister for Transport tomorrow (and there's a strong chance that will happen) I wouldn't have my policy on roadworks all set-out and ready to be implemented…

But what I do know is that I'd definitely try and cut down on the amount of roadworks, and the sheer size and scale of the projects, as much as possible…  Only when absolutely, really necessary, and there's no other alternative, would I allow works to begin…  Otherwise - forget it!  They're just too much of a nuisance - and, more often than not, more trouble than they're worth…

Monday, 14 June 2010

When is it not the time to go on a diet?

So, it's the middle of June, and the smell-o-vision is full of adverts encouraging people (more commonly women) to get slim "for summer"...  The insinuation being that summer is the time when it really matters that you have a slim, svelte figure...  (To look good in a bathing suit, I presume?)

OK, fair enough...  So, now's the time to go on a diet, if you're going to?  Well, yes, but, so's any other time - if you believe the adverts!

I remember, only a few months back, when people were being encouraged to get slim for Christmas...  Or, "the party season" as advertising agencies seem to prefer to call it...  I s'pose the jocular, merry connotations of such a phrase help shift more worthless "tat" than a more down-to-earth moniker like "season of depression and divorce" would...!

So, when's the best time to be on a diet?  Summer, or Christmas?  Or maybe spring?  Or late autumn?  Well, with Bonfire Night at the beginning of November, you're most likely to be seen in silhouette with all those lights going off - and, in such a situation, you can't rely on having a pretty face, so you'll need to be thin!  (To be honest, I'm surprised I haven't actually seen an advert that takes that line yet...  Maybe this November, somebody will finally capitalise on this hitherto unsullied opportunity?)

I think the answer is that companies who sell products which help you to lose weight want you to believe that every season is the best time to diet...  The best (or worst?) example of this would, I believe, be Kellogg's...  A company with an hilariously wide range of products designed to aid weight loss!  How many different types of "Special K" bars, cereals, snacks, etc, are available to buy, these days?  Lots!

And, of course, there are year-round adverts for "Special K" - always goading the viewer into trying a "two week challenge" or a "thousand steps challenge" or something equally galling...

So, why would you need to keep on doing "the challenge"?  Why the need to get slim for summer, for winter, for your birthday, for washing the car, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer?  Because the product doesn't work, I guess...

I could go on ranting for a long, long time about the apparent need constantly to be dieting...  But I shan't!  I shall just continue to hope that somebody, somewhere, has the sense to produce an advert saying "you don't need to get slim for summer - aren't you already slim from spring?!"

Friday, 4 June 2010

Facebook group hilarity

I know I'm posting rather a lot today, but I couldn't let this latest observation go by without mentioning it somewhere...

I have just laughed out loud (yeah, an actual, genuine, real live "lol") at the name of a Facebook group...  And the best bit was, it wasn't even one of this "funny" groups - y'know, the ones which invariably aren't funny...

The group name was clearly meant to say - I hate it when you're super excited for something and everything goes wrong - a reasonably mundane, but not inherently amusing, group...

But, thanks to multiple spelling errors, what I actually read, was this - I hate it when your supper exited for something and everything goes wrong - "yes," I thought to myself, "I actually do hate it when my evening meal walks out, because it's found some other, more attractive, way to spend the time, triggering a chain of unfortunate happenings!"

OK, perhaps not so funny when it's explained in that way - but, I guarantee, hilarious, if you happen to be glancing down your News Feed, and spot that name...  Honestly!!

365 Project rejects - 4th June 2010

These are photos which I like, but which I didn't pick to be today's picture showcased in my 365 Project...

I'll start, actually, with the one I did choose for the project...

Looking upstream at Breydon Bridge -

But there were also these others, which, sadly, didn't quite make it...

A closer shot of the bridge, which I also really like -

Looking downstream, instead, towards Yarmouth town -

A stump of wood, protruding from the mudflats -

And, the view underneath Breydon Bridge, peering through those enormous concrete girders -

Hope you liked those...  If not - no worries!  :)

Rationalising the iPad

So, Apple's famous tablet computer, the iPad, is now available here in sunny Blighty, and the adverts are already all over our televisual devices...  It's not a medicinal gadget, to be taken twice daily with meals (oh c'mon, did you really think I'd be able to resist the obvious pun?!) it's essentially an enormous iPhone...  No, better, an enormous iPod Touch - since the iPad doesn't seem to have any telecommunicative functions...

I'm not going to review the iPad...  Partly because I've never actually seen one in real life, let alone used one, but also partly because other people have already done it, far better than I could ever hope to...

What I am going to do, is try and decide whether I actually want one or not, right here, live on air...  Well, live on this Blog...  How exciting?  No, not really, I know - but don't grumble!  You suggest a better topic!

OK - here we go!  So, why would I want, or not want, an iPad?  I'm going to start with the "cons" - reasons not to get an iPad...  I shall express this, in the form of a diagram, thus -

As you can see, I'm not really sure what the need for iPad is...  It seems to overlap parts of what you can do with a laptop, and parts of what you can do with a mobile phone...  What I'm wondering is - is there anything an iPad does, which can't be done with either a computer or a smartphone?  (I don't actually know the answer to that, and I can't be bothered to do my research, so I shall simply presume that there isn't...)

So, what reasons are there for wanting an iPad?  I clearly don't *need* one - but, every time I see the rational, logical, clear-thinking arguments of the diagram, a little voice in my head wheedles "yeah, but - it's shiny!  It's cool!  It's made by Apple!"

And that's the thing - on a purely emotional level, the iPad really appeals!  So, it's head vs. heart - iPad vs. no iPad...  And, although I claim to be a "rational and intellectual individual" (I love words that end in "al") I know, deep down, that the base desire to have the latest in status-symbol-based gadgetry, to own it, to caress it, to been seen owning and caressing it by others, will win me over every time...

All of which is merely academic - I couldn't possible afford one anyway...!

Monday, 31 May 2010

A seasonal observation

As the weather gets warmer, and the days get longer, something I have noticed is that, while walking around, driving to work, shopping, eating out, generally going about your daily business as normal, you see more pretty girls in the summer...

Why is this?  Well, I have two possible theories...

Firstly - pretty girls are migratory...  They spend all winter in sunnier climes, in the southern hemisphere, like many of the birds native to Britain...  Then, as spring inches forward, they make the long and arduous journey home to the UK, again, across miles and miles of angry seas and strange continents, to arrive back here in time for summer, to continue their lives...  Before journeying south once more, just a few months later, as autumn draws to a close...  One day, Sir David Attenborough will present a series of documentaries covering this very subject...

The other possibility, of course, is that they are the same girls as you see in the winter, but they appear more attractive, thanks to better lighting in the warmer, sunnier months of the year...  (The "heat haze" which is so common on a warm summer's day may also help to hide any imperfections - particularly if viewed from a distance!)  That a person, when viewed under the soft, flattering, natural light of summer will seem more attractive than the same person lit by the harsh, artificial lighting favoured during the dark winter months, seems, to me, not entirely improbable...

I have not yet made up my mind which of these theories is the most likely...  Which do you think it is?

Thursday, 27 May 2010

An open letter to the makers of all American TV shows

Dear Makers of All American TV Shows,

The traditional word for a group of episodes of the same programme is "series".

"Seasons" are what happen to the weather.

Kit Marsden (some bloke)

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Electioneering (part two)

Right...  The election is over - has been for a while, now, in fact...  I'm fully recovered from my thirty-six hour stint of continuous wakefulness, David Dimbleby has been allowed to rest, and Jeremy Paxman has been powered down, and put back on charge...

So, why another election blog?  Well, partly because I couldn't possibly justify calling my previous election blog "part one", without following it up with at least one more part...  But mainly because, frightening though the thought may be, I do actually have more to say on the matter...  So, here goes!

I would like all the crotchety, embittered left-wing activists, neo-activists and crypto-activists who inhabit social media websites like Twitter, and what seems to be known as "the Blogosphere", to shut up, stop whining, and go back to work...  Yeah, sure they're entitled to write whatever they like - but dear God, they're annoying!

One of the main things which I find so irritating about these people, is the refusal to accept that they lost...  The internet has been awash with comments like "David Cameron is not MY Prime Minister!"  Well, I'm sorry, but actually, he is!  You may not like it, but it is the truth...

I have to admit to having been less than enamoured with the Labour Administration of the past thirteen years - but I didn't actually deny that they were in Government, that Tony Blair (and, later, Gordon Brown) was the Prime Minister...  You have every right to be disgruntled - but denying simple, self-evident truths is surely one of the least effective, worst, and most irritating ways to deal with your disgruntlement!

The simple fact is - Labour lost the election!  I'm well aware, as is everyone else, that nobody won - but Labour certainly lost!  Part of living in a democracy is accepting that your party won't always win, so to all the bitter Labour supporting who are still moaning about the outcome of the election, I would like to say this - "you lost, deal with it!"

The second thing I should like to talk about is the whole Liberal Democrat business...  What I shall call The Curious Incident Of The Clegg In The Night-Time...  Why?  I'm not sure, to be honest...

But let's look at this Curious Incident, shall we?  In my opinion, surely this has to be one of the greatest opportunities for Liberal Democrat for nearly a Century...  When was the last time there were Liberals in the Cabinet?  1922?  Wow!

So, why the anger?  Why are some Liberal Democrat supporters accusing their party leader, Nick Clegg, of being "a sell out"...?  Surely, if even one Liberal Democrat policy actually gets implemented, as a result of the new Liberal/Conservative coalition, it has been worth it?  One Lib Dem policy is better than none, isn't it?  Apparently not, in the eyes of some activists - and when I say "activists", I mean "narrow-minded, stubborn, fools"...!

Comments like "people voted Lib Dem to keep the Tories out!" have really annoyed me...  People didn't vote Lib Dem to keep the Tories out, they voted Lib Dem to get the Lib Dems in...  And, remarkably, that's what they got!  Against all odds, and despite winning fewer seats than they did in 2005, there are now Liberal Democrats ministers in the Cabinet...  Isn't that exactly what people were hoping for, when they marked a cross in that box next to the Liberal Democrat Candidate, on the 6th of May?

So there y'go...  My message today, is, things really aren't that bad...  Stop being such over-dramatic, whiny lefties, and start getting used to life in opposition...  All political parties spend some time in office, and the rest of the time in opposition - Labour are no different...  If you're a Labour supporter - you had thirteen years of your lot in power...  Now, the public decided to give that power to somebody else...  Want to complain?  Well, I'm sorry - that's democracy for you!

* big grin *

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Electioneering (part one)

OK, I'm gonna go ahead and open with a disclaimer, here...

I'm sure that many people are already blogging away on the topic of the General Election - and most of them will be more intelligent, more informed, and more eloquent than I...  (Maybe some of them have even beaten me to the Radiohead joke!)  These are not meant to be heavyweight political blogs - of course, I have serious points to make, and I have real opinions to put forward - but please try not to get all hot under the collar if I say something you disagree with...  Proportional Representation is silly...  Why?  I don't have to give a reason - I'm a blogger, not a politician!

So, my first thoughts on this 2010 Election Campaign are as follows...

Oh my God, people!  Stop it with the Clegg already!!

Nick Clegg is a nice guy...  I know - I've met him...  He's also a good public speaker, and, to the best of my knowledge, an honest politician, doing what he believes is right...  This sudden Lib Dem fever, on the other hand, is totally mad...

I should say, that I'm not at all taking a pop at actual Liberal Democrat activists...  I know people who've been Lib Dem supporters for years - good for them!  (They're nuts, of course - but good for them!)

What I'm talking about, is this...  Observe the following Facebook group -

We got Rage Against the Machine to #1, we can get the Lib Dems into office!

Fairly popular, isn't it?  Over 130,000 members, right?  But it's ridiculous...

Firstly, who is this "we"?  I certainly didn't get Rage Against the Machine to #1 - and I shan't be getting the Lib Dems into office...  Stop trying include me in your crazy populist movements!

But a far more important issue is the way this seems to put the General Election on a level with the Christmas Number One...

The scheme to get "Killing In The Name" to the Number One spot in time for Christmas was essentially so that we, the great, record-buying public, could thumb our collective noses at Simon Cowell, and all that he stands for in the pop music world...  And that's all very well, if that how people want to spend their time and money...

But, by all means, screw with the music charts if you like - nothing really terrible will happen...  But doing the same with a General Election, where the future of our country is at stake, is madness!

Please - consider the policies of the party you plan to vote for...

The Lib Dems say they plan to raise the Personal Tax Allowance...  Like that idea?  Perhaps you should vote for them!  Don't like that idea?  Don't vote for them!

Is it really worth burdening the nation with a party you may not actually like, for the sake of a gesture?

Monday, 5 April 2010

Tellyrant the Third

Am I getting older and grumpier?  Or are adverts on TV getting rubbisher and rubbisher?

To be honest, I suspect a healthy dollop of both...  So I'm going to talk about a something which has been particularly proficient in the caprine attainment area recently...

Babies...  Is there anything creepier?  OK, babies, at any times, are slightly unsettling - but in some adverts, it's grudgingly acceptable to use babies...  Adverts for nappies, particularly, have a certain claim to legitimate use of babies...  But the Pizza Hut advert where the baby comes downstairs on its own and shouts at its parents?  Yes, that is the stuff nightmares are made of...!

It's the same story with that Evian Mineral Water advert, with the babies who are on roller-skates, or skateboards, or something...  Generally, it's babies acting like adults - or at least older kids...  And that's supposed to make me buy bottled water??  How?!

Please, all companies - whatever you make, whatever you sell - take note...  Talking babies do not a good advert make!!

Some adverts use older children - it's not so scary when they talk, of course, because most children can actually talk, in real life...  But why do they always pick children with the most irritating voices?  I remember being a reasonably articulate child - and I remember hanging out with other reasonably articulate children...  So how come these companies, and advertising agencies, pick the kids with the most child-like, "I only learnt to talk half an hour ago" voices?  It's actually quite painful to watch, and, indeed, to hear...

On a more positive note, there is one advert I've seen a few times recently which I think is fantastic...  (Obviously, I rarely, if ever, think an advert is any good at all, so this is quite exciting!)  It is the latest offering from opticians Specsavers - the one which cleverly makes you think it's going to be advert for Lynx deodorant sprays, right up until the last scene...  Here it is -

Sunday, 28 March 2010


Tonight, or so I'm told, the clocks "go forward"...  We enter that magical land of "Daylight Saving Time" (y'know it used to be called "British Summer Time" - but that's not European enough) and somehow, that's good...  Let's all do the Daylight Saving Dance and be happy!

Unfortunately, there's one drawback to the whole scheme...  It's this business of "losing an hour" - by putting the clocks forward by an hour, we skip out a whole hour from the day...  A twenty-three hour day - imagine that!

But already people are complaining about "losing an hour of sleep"...  It's understandable, really, isn't it?

So, here is what I propose...

Yeah, we have to lose the hour from the day, but do we have to lose it from our sleep time?  Why not take the hour out of working hours, and have the same amount of time in bed?

The day of the change, all businesses should open one hour later than they usually do, but close at the same time...

So, the clocks go forward...  Normally, you have to be at work for 9am - today, you have to be at work for 10am...  But you still leave your job at 5pm...  The system still works - we just have one fewer hour of working, rather than one fewer hour in bed...!  How good is that?!

Of course most of you will have noticed that this year, the clocks are going forward on a Sunday...  Some people work on Sundays, don't they?  So my idea can still benefit them...  But for anyone who has weekends off, who works part-time, who is a student, still at school, unemployed, self-employed, retired, or still in the womb - just get up an hour later, and stop moaning about it!

Friday, 26 March 2010

Chips, Fries, and God-in-Potato-Form

As somebody who eats a lot, it is my belief that there are three varieties of chips…  I write, now, about the difference between each kind, and my opinions of each…

Let me first of all say that this has nothing whatever to do with crisps - the thinly sliced, flavoured potato snack, usually sold in bags, that Americans would call "chips" - as they are a different animal entirely…  No, here we deal only with fried oblongs of potato, served hot - what Americans call "fries", and what normal people call "chips"…

My theory, therefore, goes as follows…

There are three types of chips - category one, category two, and category three…  (Imaginative names, eh?  Maybe, some day, I'll come with some better names for the categories…  I know - how about  a star-rating system?  Like Michelin stars for restaurants?  Yes, that'll work…!)

I believe the three categories can be defined in terms of a condiment - for example, ketchup - and its relationship to the chips…

So, One Star Chips, then…  These are chips which are almost unenjoyable without some kind of dressing…  A good example of One Star Chips would be any "French Fries" served at fast food outlets, kebab shops, burger stalls, greasy-spoons, truck-stop cafes, etc - typically thin, soggy, flavourless and uninspiring…  I find that it is actually quite difficult to eat chips from a kebab shop without some sort of sauce or dressing - tomato ketchup,  barbeque sauce, or even the ubiquitous "burger sauce" - to add interest to dish…  These, then, are One Star Chips…

Two Star Chips, though, are pretty "take it or leave it" when it comes to the ketchup…  These chips are the "average" chips of the snack world - not that there's anything wrong with that…  (They are infinitely nicer to eat than One Star Chips!)  Examples would be chips from a traditional British fish'n'chip shop, or the type served in pubs as a snack…  They're usually chunky, filling, and full of potatoness, and the fact that they are equally enjoyable with, or without, a sauce is what characterises them as Two Star Chips…

And now, we come to the aristocracy of the world of potato-based foods…  Three Star Chips - the greatest chips available to buy on this Earth!  Three Star Chips are, essentially, a gourmet version of Two Star Chips - they're typically available in a good restaurant, or particularly high-quality pub, and it's clear that these chips definitely have a master chef's touch...  But the thing that sets Three Star Chips apart is that they are so awesome, to add a sauce or, indeed, any condiments at all besides very light seasoning with high-quality sea-salt (particularly something as common, or vulgar as ketchup, or "burger sauce") would actually be to spoil the chips...  That's right, they are that good!  From my experience, the Lord Poulett Arms in Hinton-St-George, Somerset, serve excellent Three Star Chips - highly recommended!

So, there you have it...  Three categories of chips - defined by the relationship of the chips to popular condiments...  Brilliant, isn't it?

Saturday, 27 February 2010

When I am the Minister for Transport (part one)

Many town or city centres, these days, are open only to buses, and bicycles...  Now, as everyone knows, buses and bicycles are the two most irritating vehicles on the roads in this country...

So, when I am Minister for Transport, buses and bicycles will be banned from built-up areas - for the sanity of all...

"Park & Ride" schemes will be turned upside-down - a bus will take you from your house, to a carpark on the outskirts of the city, and then you will get into a car, and drive into the city centre to do your shopping, or go to the bank, or whatever...

Brilliant, eh?

Monday, 8 February 2010

The long-overdue Facebook rant

Facebook - it's fun, it's cool, everyone has it, you keep in touch, you communicate, you share photos, videos, thoughts, comments, experiences...  Only one problem - it's RUBBISH!!

The rubbish-ness of Facebook is manifold...  I like to think of it as a shrivelled hand, where each bent, bony finger represents a reason why Facebook is rubbish...

The thumb, underneath which we all squirm in discomfort, is the broken codes of Facebook's interface...  Photos refusing to load, a "live feed" which still shows posts from last weekend, comments which say they can't be posted, but actually get posted twice, or three times, while you struggle to know what's going on...  It is a bug-ridden mire, a swamp of incompetence, pervaded by that pestilential "oops, something went wrong!" error box...  They have tried to be too clever by half, and they have fallen short...

Half the time, my home-page looks like this:

The index finger, pointing right at you, with mock-sincerity, is the layout of Facebook's interface...  If the code behind Facebook is bad, the way it is laid out on the screen is diabolically poor!  Even when my "feed" is working, I see is a string of people joining useless groups, or "becoming a fan" of everything in sight...  Am I interested?  Nope!  As an effective socially networking tool, Facebook is in danger of dieing completely - groups, fan pages, and applications have their eczema-inflamed fingers around Facebook's flabby throat, slowly choking the life out of any sane person's interest in the website...

And that leads me on to the middle finger, a rude and defiant gesture - a poisoner which Facebook itself invited to tea...  Applications!  Fishville, Farmville, Farm Town, Send a Smile, What Kind of a Friend are You?, How Old a Soul are You?, Fan Check, Who Were You in a Past Life?, My Top Followers - you know the ones...  How annoying...  Clogging up the "News Feed" like brambles over-running a once-nice suburban garden, people discovering their Top Ten Valentine's Day Crushes, at the click of a button...  Do I care?  Still no!

The fourth finger, weak and impotent, mostly irrelevant, is the Facebook Chat application...  I have used it once - it was an experience akin to bathing in cold, three-day-old herbal tea on the roof of The Treasury, while, oblivious to your presence, Alistair Darling and George Osborne wrestle fiercely, each clad only in a mankini...

And now, the fifth and final finger, of Facebook's dysfunctional hand...  The users themselves...  "Gosh, how could you say such a thing?!  If anyone's a victim in this whole charade, it's Facebook's users!"  Well yes - but some seem intent on make cyber-rods for their own ebacks...  I referred earlier to the pointlessness of a "News Feed" choked up with posts about irrelevant, un-funny, nonsensical groups and fan pages...  Who creates these?  Who joins the groups?  Who "becomes a fan" with alarming yet inescapable monotony?  The users, of course...!

I have done some research, to show just how ridiculous the whole group/page situation has become...  I, personally, am getting fed up with many of the old, hackneyed "jokes" which float around Facebooks fan pages...  For example, the whole "can *mundane object* get more fans than *unpopular celebrity* ?" thing is getting a little worn-out now...  In total, there are "about four thousand, two hundred" of these pages - some of the most popular include -

Can this Onion Ring get more fans than Justin Bieber?
can this sausage roll get more fans than cheryl cole?
Can this purple monster i made on paint get more fans than the president?
Can this Sexy Potato get more fans than Miley Cyrus?
Can this Banana Get more fans Than Miley Cyrus
Can this Hedgehog get more fans than JLS?
Can this egg get more fans than Katie Price?

These are all real examples, all of which have over fifty thousand fans on their pages...  And there are at least another four thousand, one hundred of them too!  You see my point?

Another quick search shows the following shocking figures..

There are 406 fan pages, and 231 groups, whose names begin with "Hi, I'm a boy" - and there are 575 fan pages and 350 groups whose names begin "Hi, I'm a girl"...  The "Hi, I'm a boy" groups are typically made by girls, and they try to make out how awful boys are - similarly, the "Hi, I'm a girl" groups are made by boys trying to get back at girls who've made "Hi, I'm a boy" groups...  Unless they're from the small backlash of groups about boys made by boys - or groups about girls made by girls - which try to make out that each gender is not as bad as the other seems to think...  It's essentially a sexism war, on Facebook - and it's all rather silly...  Here are some examples -

Hi, I'm a boy and I ignore decent girls and choose sluts instead.
"Hi, I'm a boy, I lie about my feelings all the time and ruin your life :)"
Hi I'm a Boy, Your Not The Only Girl In My Life, I Have Ten :) ♥
Hi! I'm a boy - I'm a prick.
Hi, I'm a boy, and actually, I'm a decent bloke.

hi i'm a girl, I argue, moan, think im always right & never shut up
Hi, I'm a girl, I sterotype all men because I cant get into a relationship.
hi, i'm a girl, i unfairly generalise the opposite sex
Hiya, I'm a girl, and when I say I like you, I actually mean it.

As you can see, if you've clicked on any of those links, these groups are just full of petty arguments, tired sexist retorts and piss-poor spelling...

Also on the topic of a badly-punctuated "battle of the sexes" revolving around Facebook Groups (well, kind-of) there are 546 fan pages about having period pains...  I may be straying into dangerous territory myself here, but hey, I know it can be painful, but is it 546-pages-painful?!

Then, there are all the "I hate it when"s - around forty-six thousand of them!  These can be split into two categories...

Number one - Real I Hate It Whens...  For exampl -
i hate it when i forget something i really wanted to say
I Hate It When I Can't Fall Asleep Because I'm Thinking
I hate it when people unexpectedly go offline...

And number two - Stupid I Hate It Whens - which are supposed to be "funny" but really, really aren't, and are terribly over-done...  For example -

I hate it when you walk outside and someone randomly throws a fridge at you
I hate it when you open your trunk & a naked asian beats you with a crowbar
I Hate It When You Walk Outside, Realise Your A Fish, And Die.
Dont you just hate it when a walrus attacks your nan.
Dont u hate it when your with Jason Derulo & he keeps asking what you said?

There are 231 pages, and 67 groups, devoted to people who laughed when they saw a certain image - usually something to do with popular culture...  Here are some more cringe-worthy examples -

I LOL'D when i saw this picture of Robert Pattinson
I lold when i saw this pic of justin bieber !
I lol'd so much when i saw what simon cowel would look like bald. :')
I lol'd when I saw your new girlfriend because you said she was hot.

Pathetic, eh?

And finally, there are a disturbing 1800 pages, and a whopping 6200 groups, claiming to give your Facebook account a "Dislike Button" if you join, and invite all your friends...  Of course, none of them work - it is obvious, by now, to anyone with half a brain, that despite the initial clamouring, Facebook has no plans to instigate a "Dislike Button"...

In my opinion, the concept of Facebook still holds true, but it is as a good soul trapped inside a rotten and disfigured body...  It is like a fat man with a heart of gold...  It needs to go on a detox, and get back into shape...

[all figures correct at time of publishing]