Friday, 30 December 2011

"For Normal Hair"

My shampoo has "For normal hair" written on it. This would normally be acceptable, but it sort of implies that there is such a thing as abnormal hair. I can imagine the scene now: Man walks into a chemists and says "Hi, I need some shampoo." and the woman behind the till gives him some, he looks at the packaging and goes "...Oh, no, this is for normal hair. I should have said really. My hair naturally assumes the shape of legendary English opening batsmen. Under my hat today I have Geoffrey Boycott playing a forward defensive. Yesterday it was Trescothick executing a magnificent square cut.", and the woman says "I'll see if we've got anything for that" and comes out holding a shampoo bottle that says "For hair that is NOT normal". I have a lot of time to think about these things in the bath. We also have something called Radox "Shower Therapy". I daren't use it lest I end up weeping on the floor shouting "Yes Dr Radox, I see it now, all my problems stem from my unrequited love in Primary 5! I need to let it go and be all the person I can be!". That's probably not what it does, but when it has such an ambiguous name I can never quite be certain, and why take that risk?

Tuesday, 27 December 2011


Jedward; We all know who they are, the cheeky, happy-go-lucky human equivalent of the puppy that occasionally runs into trees, and then has the temerity to look both confused and baffled by what is, to its simple mind, the sudden appearance of a 40 foot wooden pole from seemingly thin air. They are also, according to wikipedia "Proud possessors of hair so utterly magnetising it has drawn all 20% of a personality that they were born with, and sucked it directly to its magic follicles". It's fair to say that Jedward's hair is the best thing about them, which is a shame, because if you are outshone by your hair, you probably aren't very interesting. They are some sequiny clothes with hair. The only thing I could accurately tell you about them as people is that they are Irish, and so pale that, naked, they are invisible to the human eye in the Antarctic.

But we must come to the crux of the matter. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say this: Jedward have literally ruined my life. You see, all my personal and professional accomplishments, admittedly scarce and minor, lie scattered by the wayside to their unending success. My achievements have been stripped of all meaning by the knowledge that, no matter how great I am in my chosen career, I will never be as well-known as Jedward, despite their bottomless well of talentlessness. To be outstripped by greats of our time, and cast aside as sand to the winds of eternity whilst they live on, rocks of brilliantness that generations from ours will look back on in awe and respect, that is a noble thing. But to imagine that in 100 years Jedward will be better remembered than Nobel prize-winners and other luminaries of our generation? Well, by contrast, what chance do I have against the might of their captivating hair?

So why bother even trying to eclipse these gigantic planets of meaningless celebrity? My every action now is a futile gesture against their unending success in the face of millions and millions and millions of obstacles that should be holding them back. In a century they will be remembered and I shall not; in a millennium, we will all be forgotten, consigned to the books of history. They will impact more lives more heavily than I could ever hope to do. I could spend my every waking moment pursuing an impact on society as strong as theirs is, and never come anywhere near it.

My experience tells me effort and talent bring success. Logic dictates that this should be so. Yet around Jedward, this worldview is a shattered illusion, a lie invented to explain reality in a way I can understand, and I have become painfully aware of this. My new outlook on life is that silly hair and ridiculous clothing brings unimaginable success. As such, I have bought hairgel and a sequin-covered floral nightgown. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Kim Jong-Very Ill.

Well, it's been a bad year for dictators all round. North Korea is no exception, and now Kim Jong-Il has died of natural causes. The world mourns one of the greatest men of our times. Certainly, the world of golf is poorer for not having his ability to get 38-under par (11 holes in one) in it, but that is just one of many talents that the people of North Korea can no longer rely on. A prolific writer, it was said in his autobiography that he had written no fewer than 1,500 books whilst at university, but having mastered the art of prose, he turned his attention to alternative entertainment forms. He went on to write 6 operas, and became obsessed by film (Perhaps obsessed isn't quite strong enough to do justice for his love of film. He liked films so much he kidnapped a South Korean actor/director couple and made them make films until they absconded 8 years later), and apparently produced a 100-part series on the history of North Korea. In later life, having conquered everything that stood before him as a personal challenge, he had waterslides installed in his house, such that he may enjoy the relaxation of retirement. He leaves behind a legacy of an impoverished nation, cruelly misled by wild propaganda (He has reportedly convinced the people of North Korea that he can control the weather with his mood) and 5 children, one of whom will be the next to lead North Korea through another glorious 17 years of unending success.

Christmas news, now! Eastenders beat Coronation Street in the famous "Battle of the Soaps" for the hearts and minds of people who are too drunk to care what's on TV, and slightly hate adverts. Well done! Of course, the Battle of the Soaps is a long tradition, started when, in 1999, Ross Kemp smashed Ken Barlow over the head with a champagne bottle at the Baftas, leading to a ratings explosion as people were desperate to see what these shows were about. Barlow and Kemp came to a gentleman's agreement: Whichever soap got most viewers on Christmas Day god a mug engraved with "King of the Soaps" given to it by the other soap, containing the ashes of a pump handle at the Rover's Return, after an infamous poem in Hello! magazine, in which a reader mourned the death of Coronation Street, and said the Ashes would head to London. Since 2003, the real Ashes have been kept safely locked away in the BBC archives, but a replica is given to the winning soap each year.

Prince Philip has been ill, which has been bizarrely big news. The Sun went with "90 year old man in shock not-perfect condition horror!" while The Standard went with "Diana's Revenge: Philip in mortal threat after attack by Britain's best loved ghost!". Nobody seemed to consider an old man in not great condition a normal thing, somewhat irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, rather than a newsworthy headline story.

Since my last foray into writing about news, Hermain Cain has spectacularly imploded on the campaign trail for Republican nomination. Elections in America take about 30 years to complete (We're still not sure who won in 2000) so ignore the fact that a man can collapse in the election nearly a year before the vote, and focus on the brilliant things he has brought to us, including quoting the Pokemon song as something to inspire us, his flat-rate 9% tax on absolutely everything (Pointed out later to be pretty similar to SimCity) and, of course, the sex scandals. The man is single-handedly trying to capture every headline bulletin in the news at 10. He was the fore-runner before the trifling matter of him being almost catastrophically bad forced him to retire, leaving the way clear for Newt Gingrich, according to political pundits. Initially, what sort of name is "Newt"? Secondly, and perhaps more pressingly, the man is a known-philanderer and took a $1.6 million payment for doing nothing for a company (Smells a LITTLE like bribery). I shall repeat; He is the forerunner. His challengers have fallen by the wayside due to being crazy (Bachmann) then slightly less crazy, but quite stupid (Perry), being Herman Cain, with all the accompanying disasters (Cain) and worst of all "Being Mitt Romney" (Romney). Romney is realistically, the last hope of sanity in a Republican election that isn't so much littered with madness as a landfill of crazy. He is plagued by the issues of "Being a former Democrat", and "Being so wildly and unimaginably rich that all reasonable voters should find him utterly unelectable". But of course, these are republicans. There are two final candidates, the fringe Jon Huntsman, who has the worst thing possible: Good international experience due to being ambassador to China. And Ron Paul. Who is admirable in his consistency and desire to see through his libertarian ideals despite the fact states' rights went out the window as a concept sometime around 1865. He would gladly see Federal government vanish and states take precedence. His foreign policy is isolationist (Rather than invasionist). What's worst is not that his policies are dangerously bad, but rather more that they are so removed from the standard political process that people are deeply, DEEPLY disenfranchised (9% approval rating for Congress. Hitler probably ranked higher in 1940s West Europe than that) with that he may actually do quite well electorally.

That is your news. Fin.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Short Things That Are Difficult To Flesh Out

In the case of another cold winter, I have written to the BBC politely asking that News 24 and, indeed, the red button services, be dedicated to live footage and highlights of particularly slippy areas in built-up city centres. Not only is this more interesting than actual news, there could be a wonderful, post-Queen's Speech 2 hour special featuring the best falls from around the nation, for elderly relatives to fall asleep to on Christmas Day. I encourage you to do the same. Actually, scrap that idea: I've had a similar but better one: Winterwatch, like Springwatch, Bill Oddie and Kate Humble go round, set up some cameras in a town in Leicestershire or whatever, and then we get a daily round up of the best bits. I can imagine Bill going "This little old biddy is going to the shops for some cat food, we've tracked her with our cameras for several minutes now... and she's over! That was a good one! Look, she's lost her hat! Haha!" or "This young chap's nipped out for a pack of fags, but he's not properly prepared... Look out for that lamppost.".

Things that are fun: Trying to make a virtual pro in Fifa look like Nicholas Lyndhurst. I've also got a Gaddafi lookalike for "Dictators' Eleven", the safe hands of Mao in goals, Stalin organising the defensive line, Pol Pot bombing up and down the (very) left wing, Hitler out on the far right. Fidel "Goal Machine" Castro up front, sharing the line with "the Italian Steamtrain", Mussolini. General Franco at left back, with Idi Amin playing that crucial holding midfielder role. Bashar Al-Assad, creative with excuses for atrocities, creative with through balls. Attacking midfielder. Gaddafi at right back. Saddam Hussein playing centre back. Good side. Very much a side looking for world domination.

I went to McDonalds. Whilst there, the people behind me said "I'm going to drink my milkshake first." I thought "What a tedious anecdote.". It was difficult not to turn round and go "Christ, you should tell that story at parties" (I can be rather sarcastic if I'm in a bad mood). Of course, I then texted this whole terrifyingly dull anecdote to a friend. The irony was not lost on me. And now I'm telling all of you. The cycle of tediousness is complete.

Somehow, I have managed to procure a pair of socks that are uncomfortable. These feel like they've been designed for cloven-hooved mammals rather than a human. I don't know how it's possible to screw up socks, but the designers of these monstrosities have boldly succeeded in this ambition. Rubbish socks. Bah.

I've started hiccuping like my dad. It's a hiccup I've heard absolutely no-one else ever do. I'm pretty sure I've got some sort of genetic hiccup defect. It sounds like the noise I'd imagine a hippo to make when it comes up for air.

My mum has taken to playing her friends at scrabble online. Both of them will use Scrabble cheating software, to the point where it might as well be robot A v robot B. The fun bit is trying to justify the words. "Oh, glasnost? I was just thinking about the Soviet Republics under Gorbachev, and I glanced at my letters, and there it was: The period of maximum openness preceding the fall of communism. That's a bonus fifty for using all my letters", "Kakemono? It's a Japanese wall-hanging. Isn't that common knowledge?", "Ranarium? It's where I used to breed all my frogs as a kid." etc, etc.

I like it when emails say "Please find attached". It lends an element of desperation, as if the person sending the email is sitting going "Oh my god, oh my god, is it working? I really hope this works. This is a vital email. PLEASE attach!" at their screen. And yet, even now, I still do it, just on the off-chance that the recipient of my email finds it as inherently funny as I do.

I used to have a sweet holder with Hassan Nasrallah's face on it. I did always like my Pezbollah dispenser.

There you are. Those were things I liked initially, then quickly went off, until it got to the point that I couldn't be bothered fleshing them out properly to justify them as their own blog post so they are all lumped together. Think of this like the bits I cut out of regular blog postings. And a pun about a Lebanese political group. Everything you'd love to read, I'm sure. Enjoyed it? Great!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Lenin's Schooldays

Recently I have found myself pondering the bigger questions in life: "Which of my hands do I prefer?" (The left, I find the vein pattern more aesthetically pleasing), "Name all post-war prime ministers who have 4 syllable names?" (Answer: Clement Attlee, Winston Churchill and Harold Wilson (Will also accept Anthony Eden, provided you call him "Tony", similarly Tony Blair provided you call him "Anthony")) and, most importantly "What would Lenin's schooldays have been like?".

Initially, I imagine he'd have come into school full of hope and idealism. He would arrive, and find that the class began with 2 pupils owning 85% of the pencils, and the other 24 having make do with 6 pencils between them. Immediately struck by the unfairness of this system, he would organise the 24 pupils into a workers' collective, and overthrow the traditional hierarchy of the classroom, demanding pencils for all. He would then get the most violent children in the classroom and form them into a small group designed to suppress the students, and demand that the teacher become little more than a propaganda wing, spouting his rhetoric directly into the proletariat whilst pretending to be an unbiased figure of authority.

Ultimately several of the other students would try to have Lenin wedgied, but those who opposed him would face a fierce and unknowable group that would silently stalk them and ultimately, wedgie them in retaliation. These would be some of the darkest days for freedom in Lenin's classroom until classmate Stalin took over, when they would seem like positively ebullient days of happiness and joy by contrast.

He would collapse the workers' essay-producing capabilities by paying them a pittance for their harvest of essays (which would obviously force them to give less to the collective and sell their essays on the black market in order to make ends meet), leading to a communal essay-famine that would leave people having to drop out of the class for not getting enough essays. This would be whilst he was fighting an interclass war with 2C, trying to get them to adopt his policy on pencil-sharing despite their own ambitions for the spread of pencils throughout their class, but this was ultimately part of his ideal; to have the whole school share pencils evenly. He would rebuild essay-writing capabilities with the New Essay Policy (NEP), but little Joseph would scuttle that when he came to power.

Ultimately, he would find it hard to deal with the political and economic realities of communal pencil ownership (and, indeed, the bureaucratic overhead demanded to ensure that pencils were truly shared amongst the students) and, compared to the old system, his idealistic yet almost hopelessly naive system would seem both cumbersome and complex. He would eventually leave the school, passing the baton of a system that could have worked to Stalin in 3P, but Stalin would ultimately damage this pencil-sharing collective irreparably, leading to it falling apart under Mikhail Gorbachev, the last student to lead the collective, and the only leader not in school when the collective was first formed, who would then smash the system, and allow the school to use whatever pencil-dispensation method it wanted. (There you are: Fun fact about communism in Russia, it really was a single-generational thing. Gorbachev was the only leader who was born into Communism, all the others were born pre-1917).

Ultimately this is analogy that breaks down in multiple areas, such as portraying assassination attempts through the medium of wedgies, portraying a devastating famine as some sort of dearth of essays, and is let down my general lack of knowledge about the communist era in Russia. However, like many of the world's best politicians, I do not let trifling facts stifle what I find a fundamentally agreeable idea, and so I present this to you. If you wish, you may put it on the BBC as "Little Lenin", and try to use it to teach kids 20th century history (Arguably, you should get an ACTUAL historian in to fact-check, rather than rely on quickly read Wikipedia articles and my loose understanding of Animal Farm). At worst, it is equal with Byker Grove, and significantly more enriching. Consider it!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Accidental Racism

I was doing what I always do while walking along the street, that is, obviously, rate my top 5 Popes (JP2, St Peter, St Leo, Pope-ELECT Stephen (The pope that never was) and Gregory the XII (For resigning), since you're wondering. I would include Boniface, but that's less of a name, more of a Scottish compliment). Anyways, I was so distracted, I accidentally bumped into someone while walking home. It would have been fine if I'd just done my usual thing of mumbling "Sorry", but I said loudly and confidently "I didn't see you in the dark!". This would also have been fine, but for the fact he was black. I was accidentally racist. I couldn't face saying another word in case I inadvertently lynched him, so I just left in awkward silence while he presumably thought "What the hell just happened?!". I am terrifyingly awkward at times.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Predictive Text

I have predictive text turned on on my phone. Not for any reasons of usability or speed, but in equal measure: Because I'm already used to it, and secondly, because it means I occasionally get that joyous thrill of having to insert a word the phone doesn't know. It's the biggest confidence boost you're likely to unexpectedly receive in your day to day life. "Oh, hallo!" you think (That makes it seem a little camper than it is) "The phone doesn't know this word. Logically, the fact that I have to put it in means I am using a rare word, and rarity inherently implies coolness when it comes to words.". I'm sat there typing in "satiate" thinking I'm the cleverest man ever to hold a Nokia 6303. The downside to this is once you've added a word, it stays added. This means you have to think up more and more obscure ways to describe things just to get that rush of adding a word. "How far away are you?" "About 200 cubits", for example, or desperately shoehorning the word "Gregarious" into conversation. Describing something as egregious just to type it into the phone. It's a slippery slope.

But these unexpected confidence boosts come at a price. My phone automatically places "Riot" before "Pint". I'm secretly convinced this is the reason for the London riots. Someone with a Nokia texted a friend saying "Fancy coming out for a riot? Bring along your mates." and it all got out of hand. I hope Nokia is happy with this system.

My phone will occasionally trick me, by looking like it's typing one word, then at the last letter, freaking out and switching to a totally different word. "A" "An" "Bon" "Boop" "Compr" "Conspi" "Conspir". When I type the last letter, I assume it'll go from "Conspir" to "Conspire". But it doesn't. It goes to "Comprise". Which leads to sentences in my texts like "I'll somehow comprise to die of exposure in a crowded town centre" (Jokes about me dying of exposure; just imagine the lucky people who actually who receive these texts, it's a rollercoaster of joy with me), which clearly makes no sense, and renders a somewhat amusing sentiment meaningless.

I also typed "Birmingham" (For reasons best left unknown: Perhaps I was amusing some other lucky friend of mine with a fact about canals) and accidentally typed and an extra "O" on the end. This gives you the new word "Birminghano", which I'm pretty certain is a spice deliberately made to taste like despair. I like that it clearly has a system for trying to logically guess the word though. But when I put "ed" after "Compris" you get "comprised". However, it'll allow you to keep doing this for 12 "ed"s and an e, before it goes "I don't recognise that word". Oh, you recognise comprisedededededededededededede, but comprisededededededededededededed would just be CHAOS? In the interest of science/boredom (The building block of all human advancement is boredom) I pressed a single button (Yes, my phone isn't touchscreen. I like the tactile sensation of a button, and I don't need my phone to get my emails) until it stopped giving me a suggestion just to see how long the word I could get was. Answer? "Tuvuttutuvutuvutuvutuvutuvutuvut". Rolls off the tongue.

That is my opinion on my phone's predictive text. I like it.

A Syriad of Human Rights Abuses / It's Assad State of Affairs in Syria

Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad (I've said it before and I'll say it again, he's a poor man's Basil Fawlty, especially given that he runs Syria in roughly the same manner as I would imagine Basil would) has been on the news lately to dispel the rumours that 4000 Syrians had died. He said "No government in the world kill its people unless it's lead by a crazy person", which, on the face of it, is little more than a curious admission of insanity. This would explain his next statement of "Who said the UN is a credible institution?". It's almost like he's pre-emptively preparing his "Insanity" plea for the Hague. "Yeah, well, I AM crazy. Only a crazy person would go on TV and say that someone in his position must be crazy". Apparently the 4000 dead people are all just unlucky victims of rogue officers (That's his defence) who are over-zealous. One dead person, I could understand. Hell, even a dozen could be reasonably ascribed to bad luck. But 4000 seems a stretch too far for that logic, reasonably.

In other Dictator-that-won't-admit-it news, Vladimir Putin has been under scrutiny after protests against the ever-so-slightly rigged elections. He's blasted his critics with a 4 and a half hour question and answer session. According to his spokesperson, Putin might "reinvent himself and show the world Putin mark 2". This does not surprise me, as he is actually a robot built by the Kremlin. He will, actually, literally reinvent himself and build Putin Mark 2. Election officials at the Kremlin are probably shouting "Gentlemen! We can rebuild him! We have the technology! We have the capability to build the world's first bionic politician! Better than he was before!". Vladimir Putin is the 6 billion ruble man. This four and half hour question session was his longest ever. As if you need any more evidence that he's an improved robot.

Apparently, Japan has utilised some of the funds allocated to recovery after the tsunami to whaling. I suppose it makes sense. Where did the tsunami come from? The sea. Where do whales live? The sea. It's all adding up here against the whales. I'm personally inclined to call this rather more of a police investigation than a hunting trip. There's no accusations yet, but if those whales have nothing to hide, then they have nothing to fear. Except being harpooned, dragged onto land, and cut into bits, then sold to the public, all in the name of scientific research ("Which sauce goes best with whale flesh: A study" is due out any time now). I guess that is a legitimate whale-concern.

Economy news (The whole catastrophic meltdown thing has rather dragged on), and the IMF has decided to wade in and spread a bit of Christmas cheer! Hooray! What sort of good news do they have for us? Oh. The economic outlook is "Gloomy". Brilliant. Well, thanks for that. Apparently George Osborne has been VERY good this year, and he's sent a letter to Santa asking him if he could have a stronger economy for Christmas this year. Press reports describe him as "Hopeful but not expectant" and he also stressed just how good he was, saying "I haven't taken any cocaine with any hookers this year, unlike 1993" and giving an enthusiastic double thumbs-up. We should be out of the woods by New Years, I expect.

Weather news! Apparently, we should be prepared for snow! In winter of all times! How absurd. I was expecting 23 degree heat and glorious sunshine. Thank god the forecasters warned me, I'll have to cancel the golf game I'd scheduled for December 21st. Seriously. It's winter. It's not a cataclysmic, world-ending snow. It's as devilishly high as 4 inches in some places, apparently. Will the nation cope with this positive ice age? It's hard to tell at this early stage.

Made Up News makes a welcome return (He says, optimistically), with the news this week that David Cameron and fellow Cabinet minister George Osborne are to release a rap CD about the economy. Cameron, or as he wishes to be known now, Davey C, said to the press "One really mustn't come across as a fuddy-duddy to the electorate", before Georgie O leapt in with "Yes, and it's about the economy, so it's an educational tool more than anything". One track, "Mao Money, Mao Problems" focuses on the growing Chinese market, their strict control over their currency's value, and the effect this has had on worldwide markets. Backed by "M.C. NC" Nick Clegg, the trio hope to be more successful than Parliament's previous efforts into rap (in which Tony Blair, Tony Benn, and Tony Baldry formed "Tony! Tony! Tony!", with 1996's must-have album "Members of the House of Music"), and are aiming for chart success with "Country-House Grammar". The first single "Boom Boom Pow", a look at the driving forces of a strong military in supporting a good economy, is out on December 19th and is hoping for the Christmas number one spot.

This policy is similar to Thatcher's desire to be seen as "in touch", in which she, Geoffrey Howe, John Major and Nigel Lawson released a 3 hour prog-rock concept double-album called "Troubles" about Northern Ireland. The album was released under the band name "Iron Lady", and was followed up by the 1982 foreign policy concept "Argy Bargy", and their third and final album 1989's "Minor Miner Kerfuffle", a 75 minute single-track tape. The group split up when Nigel Lawson left to form Leftfield in 1990, with whom he still tours to this day.

And Finally (This is a new section that's not about the news, and is instead, just about my life): I heard "Friday" by Rebecca Black on Radio 4. Everything I thought I knew about the world, a relatively minor amount, has been disregarded in light of this evidence. The previously unthinkable is now, by contrast, eminently thinkable. If this can happen, what next? Monkeys learn to talk, the sun darkens and endless night falls across an uncaring Earth, the Conservatives win a majority in Scotland? I JUST DON'T KNOW ANYMORE.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

No Need to Go Russian Into Anything...

Russian election news tops the headlines today! According to some of the press, the Russian political system might be a teensy-weensy, itsy-bitsy, infinitesimally small bit corrupt. Hardly worth worrying about really. Chechnya, ruled by what some pesky fools would call a "Warlord", who promised 100% of his people would vote for Putin, had a 99.5% turnout, of which, generously, 99.48% of the vote was to Putin. It's quite one thing for a despotic maniac to promise 100% of his citizens will vote for someone, it's quite another to very nearly pull that figure off. Some tedious allegations of electoral fraud came up. Russian TV indicated turnouts of 146% in some places, but in Russia, like Zimbabwe, dead people retain the right to vote, so we can't really find it too surprising that turnout was so high. Also some ballot boxes arrived ready filled, but the deliverers probably just saw some youths and wanted to save them the inconvenience of actually going to the polling station, so let them vote there. Also, apparently some pens used invisible ink, probably just a practical joke by notorious japester Vlad "The Lad" Putin. Also, one person filmed an election officer filling in votes at his desk, but I'm pretty certain his opinion counts the same as about a thousand of the proles. Also, apparently some voters were bussed to several polling stations to vote repeatedly. But these are just a couple of minor indiscretions that every election has. To claim that there is systemic abuse just because of repeated and widespread examples of it is just foolish.

Next up, Khmer Rouge go to trial! Not Pol Pot (Figurehead of the group) given that he is dead (A difficulty for any modern day trial), but fortunately, his sidekicks are all there! Today, one said that they "were not bad people". Now, if you ever find yourself in a scenario where you say that, it does undermine your case, and maybe I'm just being picky here, it's probably just me over-analysing, but it does weaken your position of not being bad people, if you are saying that whilst on trial for genocide. I generally like to think of myself as "Not a bad person", and yet, somehow, I don't have two million dead Cambodians to explain from two years of appalling leadership. The figures just don't quite add up. I can count on 0 hands the number of times I've been on trial for genocide.

Chaos reigned in Britain for a day. It was so mad, I went to the library to hand back some books, and when I got there, it was CLOSED. Anarchy in the UK, The Sex Pistols have never sounded so right. This was a momentous turnout of a third of public sector workers on strike over pensions, which was hugely eclipsed by the biggest news story of the day: Professionally offensive man Jeremy Clarkson said something offensive. I think they were going to lead with "Footballer plays football" before this other story fell into their laps, and they couldn't turn it down. The media exploded over this, despite the fact that it was an ill-judged (and bad) joke. Curiously, though, for one of the first times ever, they managed not to be the biggest over-reactors in this scenario, with Unison angrily comparing him to Gaddafi (Pro-tip: Your argument loses validity when you compare people involved to dead dictators. Just a memo for next time) and demanding he be reported to the police (For a bad joke. What were they going to do, take away his license to lampoon?). Extraordinary.

Finally, onto a mildly silly story now. This story isn't in itself amusing, but if you look closely at the copy of FHM India's cover, you'll note that, apparently what sells lad's mags in India like hot potatoes is "7 TIPS TO ACE SNOOKER". Part of me secretly wishes British magazines had more snooker tips as cover stories. The other part of me is amused at how antiquated the concept seems. It's like a 19th century lad's mag in the UK. I wouldn't be surprised if you open it up, and there's tips on how to maintain your beard, naughty pictures of a lady's exposed ankles, and "Stories from the Frontline: My Crimean Experience" by Lord Cardigan*, with some poetry by Tennyson (He seems like a maverick poet. I bet he'd be up for it). I actually want this to exist now. It could have a section on John Wisden, "Bowler of the Century?", for his performance in the season as leading wicket-taker with 106 wickets. Perhaps a segment about the "New-fangled football: Will it catch on?". It'd be lovely. If I was born 160 years earlier, and rich, this would have happened.

*You don't need me to tell you that Cardigan was the leader of the Charge of the Light Brigade, so his experience would largely be "Got my men massacred", but to be honest, I imagine that'd be the case for most British army officers throughout the 19th century, so he's as good as any. Tennyson also wrote "Charge of the Light Brigade", the poem about the tragedy. This was a deliberate inclusion by me, but I'm putting these two facts down here so as to ensure that you can see they interweave nicely, and thus assume this is a real, December 1854 edition of whatever this magazine may be called. Perhaps "Victorian Gentleman". I've not really thought this through totally.

Anyways, that last bit clearly isn't news. But it's news-inspired. Good enough for me. That's enough. We're done here.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Social Butterfly

The expression "Social Butterfly" is one of those rare things: A metaphor in which the true meaning is obfuscated by its use. At first glance you'd think "Well, someone who is a social smoker is someone who only smokes around other smokers, so a social butterfly must be a person who briefly turns into a butterfly when around others who have undergone a similar transmogrification", and I applaud you for your ruthless application of logic, but since this is a metaphor, we can throw that out of the window.

No, "Social Butterfly" is an analogy for someone who is gregarious, and socially-adept. And as we all know, no creature better personifies the affable nature of these people than the notoriously chatty butterfly, so it really is an ideal fit for this role. Can you imagine how silly you'd sound if you described someone as, say, an "Amiable Giraffe" (The giraffe, of course, being well-regarded of his stand-offish nature and well-guarded private life)? Such nonsense could surely not be tolerated in the English language.

I, for one, am not a social butterfly. I am, at best, an awkward moth. I am trying to popularise that as the opposite of a social butterfly.