Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Gordon Brown-Trousers Blames America

Well, hasn't it been an entertaining week or so on the economic front? Nail biting suspense over the on-again, off-again, maybe, maybe not $700bn bail-out failed to really grip my attention, for the very simple reason that I didn't think our American cousins would be so dumb - or so brave - as to bottle out at the last minute.

Clearly, Wall St was of the same view, expecting common sense (as defined by them, at any rate) to prevail over political showmanship, and history now shows that they were equally wrong. Banks wobbled, markets tumbled and politicians flapped impotently - gripping stuff, and some of the best TV drama (and comedy) I've seen in ages. President Bush's massive understatement, "We've got a big problem", soon followed by Paulson's press-conference impression of a panicking headless chicken was priceless.

None of that for the ever-dour Gordon Brown-Trousers, though, who knows how to grab a political opportunity in the midsts of chaos. Donning his serious face (as opposed to his more common "Oh shit, now I'm for it it" face) he first announced that he was "monitoring the situation closely" (no doubt waiting for someone to explain it to him) and then held possibly the most tedious press conference I've ever heard. I lost count of how many times he repeated the "do anything to maintain stability" line, but that was basically all he had to say, in as many different ways as he could dream up - which wasn't many.

Obviously, our tooth-sucking PM sees the potential to save his political skin in economic crisis, and he's playing the responsible leader / safe pair of hands card for all it's worth. Crazy Cameron seems to be doing much the same, claiming to put party differences aside during the crisis, and thereby striving to damage the PM's quest for crisis-solving glory. "Responsible opposition" my foot - he's just a bit more sophisticated than Brown-Trousers! They were both keen to say that the American disunity wouldn't be repeated here, the PM with a sucking sneer of "disappointment", Cameron rather more explicitly.

But today, according to the Sun, Gordon Brown-Trousers, the British Prime Minister (for now) went out of his way to blame America for the crisis, and demanded that they set about fixing it: "This problem started in America. They have got to sort it out. The Americans have a responsibility to the rest of the world."

Is he mad? Has he, once and for all, completely lost his ever-weakening grip? Firstly, the problem MAY have begun in the US, but he has been Chancellor of the Exchequer for nearly a decade. Is he really saying that, in all that time, he hasn't seen this problem coming and acted to safeguard British interests against it? If he hasn't, why hasn't he? If he has attempted to do so, what went wrong? Why have his other economic policies been such abject disasters?

Secondly, that's hardly the most diplomatic approach, is it? The US is supposed to be our ally and friend. Like all friends, they have some traits that annoy us a little, and I'm sure we drive them nuts in our own way too, but, when push comes to shove, our countries have always stood together and, I would hope, always will. Yet here is the mad man of Downing St pushing blame their way in order to cover up his own thoroughly inept time in office. What a wonderful man Gordon Brown-Trousers is.

Thirdly, as anyone who's been watching the international news for a week or so (and I assume that include the British Government) will have observed the barely controlled panic stateside. Their politicians are corked. They really, really don't know what to do next, what with economic catastrophe looming on one hand, and elections on the other, they're pulled in all directions and don't know what to do for the best.

Their constituents (most of whom probably aren't financiers) don't like the idea of bailing out Wall St, and I don't blame them. But, without a strong financial basis, the whole economy will quickly find itself in very, very deep shit, and THAT will impact upon everyone in the US and around the world. Their politicians know that, and they have a hard time knowing whether their duty lies to the folks who elected them, or the greater US and world-wide population.

Logical thought would soon resolve their philosophical difficulties, but that's not so easy to do when they're tired, hassled, confused and frightened. (Hint: the constituents who elected you are a subset of the greater US and planetary population, and by doing what is best for everyone, no matter how painful it may be, you are ultimately doing the best for your own constituents too. Of course, determining what IS for the best is the trick.)

Confused and frightened people get angry, and angry people make mistakes. How angry do you think they're going to be when they hear about the British Prime Minister, their alleged ally, trying to tell them what to do in a very undiplomatic way? How angry would we be if a US President told Parliament what it MUST do? How many fingers would be flipped towards Washington? And yet this, Mr Brown, who has conclusively demonstrated that he can't even govern a tiny island for a year without it becoming almost uninhabitable, has done to one of the proudest, most determinedly independent national governments on the planent. Oh, what a statesman he is.

I must apologise to the American people for our Prime Minister's appaling behaviour. I can only say that I didn't vote for him - in fact, NOBODY had the chance to vote for him, he just usurped the rightfully elected PM's authority, then chickened out of an election - and will not be voting for him EVER. Neither will many other people, although the way he's stage managing the current financial crisis seems to be regaining him a little of his lost popularity with the terminally stupid. That won't last long, though, once they realise he's manipulating them.

Until then, there's very little we can do but grab smokes and a beer and the wife and settle down to watch the fireworks as the financial Apocalypse looms. Next up, more hype for the bail-out, take 2. Best telly I've seen for years!

Billy Seggars.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

A Picture Of Health

Cigarette packets have long carried health warnings along the lines of "SMOKING KILLS" and other such dire doom-sayings designed to make us kick the habit. I've always thought they were fairly pointless, in that most smokers know exactly what they're doing, and have no intention of stopping, thank you very much.

On the other hand, they're relatively unobtrusive and might be a handy hint for the terminally clueless, 90,000 of whom have apparently called the NHS Smoking Helpline as a result. Good for them! If that's what they want to do, I'm really happy for them, though I don't see why they should need a health warning on the damn packet to motivate them.

But, like all do-gooding dimwits, the Department of Health can't be happy with this "success". Oh no, they have to go further. And so, according to the Sun, cigarette packets will soon be adorned with charming pictures of dead people and rotting lungs and other, equally pleasant images.

If ordinary people chose to thrust pictures of blood-and-guts surgery, or the occupants of mortuary slabs or similarly gory imagery onto their neighbours, questions would be asked about their mental wellbeing. Relatively healthy, not to say attractive bodies are consigned to the top shelf and hidden under plain wrappings lest Joe and Josephine Public should be led astray by the sight of boobs and biceps. But it's OK for the Department of Health to show us all these horrible pictures "for our own good" to "educate" us into giving up something that smokers enjoy and VOLUNTARILY choose to do, in full knowledge of the risks.

This constant interference with freedom of choice is not acceptable. Under New Labour, standards of education have declined to the extent that many people now cannot read, and this may go some way towards explaining the need for these pictures, but government - and medical - intervention in every aspect of our daily lives cannot be allowed to continue. Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows what is, and is not good for them, what they should, and should not do. We are capable of making our own choices, and do not need the nanny state to impose its own choices upon us.

Sadly, even the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, is in on the act. He says, "I welcome the introduction of picture warnings on tobacco product packaging, which show smokers the grim reality of the effects smoking can have on their health. " Good GOD, we already KNOW you foolish little man!

Unfortunately, the CMO still seems to be under the mistaken belief that doctors must be taken seriously because they (think) they know what's good for the rest of us. And maybe (they're not smart enough to be more certain than "maybe") they do, on a technical level. But it is not their job to preach that knowledge to those who don't give a bugger. Their job - for which the taxpayer pays them rather more than they're worth - is simply to fix the resulting problems with speed and competence. Perhaps, if a few more of them got down off their soapboxes and back to work, they might be able to do that more effectively.

Billy Seggars.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Mending Ways

I'm a little surprised by this article in the Telegraph. Finding themselves short of cash as the credit crunch bites harder, people are - shock! horror! - repairing household items instead of replacing them. Judging by the tone of the article, the Telegraph's journalist, the spankingly named Harry Wallop, can hardly contain his amazement that people would bother to repair something as lowly as a toaster.

Why this should count as news, I have no idea. Doesn't everyone try to repair something, instead of replacing it, if at all possible? If not, why not? Isn't that the central point behind the environmentalist lobby's green - in every sense of the word - philosophy? And, much as it pains me to agree with the enviro-loonies, isn't it also behind the old saying, "waste not, want not"?

Perhaps the most obvious explanation is that people simply no longer have the skills, or the tools, to repair things themselves, and are forced to replace them instead. It may also be that the concept of a disposable society runs so deep that they just don't realise that repairs are possible. Damn great "DANGER, DO NOT OPEN, NO USER SERVICEABLE PARTS INSIDE" stickers on the back of many appliances probably aren't helping, either, and I have to wonder whether they are there for users' safety or simply to encourage more sales.

And yet, things were not always this way. I well remember both my father and my grandfather repairing things like kettles and toasters, and also confidently tackling other household repairs. They may not have been master plumbers, but changing a washer or replacing ball cocks was just a routine chore for them, as was servicing their own cars. Nor were these skills limited to them - the majority of their friends and family were similarly capable of handling such domestic repairs as usually arose, and there was a constant exchange of tools and advise between them.

That doesn't seem to happen amongst today's home-owners to anything like the same degree. Thinking about it, there is a distinct relationship between the age of the home-owners I know and their willingness and ability to carry out such minor repairs - the younger they are, the less likely they are to grab a screwdriver and try to fix things themselves.

Perhaps the credit crunch will have some unexpected benefits if it teaches these people the benefit of thrift. By repairing rather than replacing, they are (I suppose) helping the environment, saving money, learning a skill and, when the job is done, they will experience a sense of achievement that you just don't get by running out and buying a new toaster.

Go on, have a go. If it's buggered already, you can't make it any worse, can you? But PLEASE, when you try to fix something electrical, REMEMBER to unplug the power first - it might look harmless now, but if your repairs are successful, it might start working again unexpectedly!

Billy Seggars.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Of Fox And Fish And Gordon Brown-Trousers

An odd day on the news front today. According to the Independent, an online survey of grassroots Labour supporters shows that 54% of those who responded want Gordon Brown-Trousers to quit ASAP. I'm sure they do, but, in the wake of yesterday's polls showing 52% of voters currently favour Crazy Cameron's gang, it's hardly earth shattering news.

Then there's the Telegraph, reporting that "Dementia Sufferers May Have 'Duty To Die'". At least, that's what the headline says, but anyone taking the trouble to read the article will see that Baroness Warnock's comment are just a teeny bit misrepresented. What she actually said was "...if somebody absolutely, desperately wants to die because they're a burden to their family, or the state, then I think they too should be allowed to die."

She added, "Actually I've just written an article called 'A Duty to Die?' for a Norwegian periodical. I wrote it really suggesting that there's nothing wrong with feeling you ought to do so for the sake of others as well as yourself." Despite her comments being severely criticised by various MPs, charities, campaigners and other assorted lowlife dimwits, I don't see what's so wrong with that.

I certainly wouldn't want to continue in a lifestyle that was an intolerable burden on Mrs S, yet that is the future that many of us will face. It is not callous or barbaric to consider the available options, and the good of all concerned - as long as it IS the good of all concerned, of course, and by mutual consent. It goes without saying that anything other would be entirely unacceptable.

It's ironic that this story should be featured on the same day that the Sun reports on a "New law to ban suicide sites". Apparently, do-gooding ministers, aided and abetted by so-called "parenting guru" Tanya Byron, are planning to amend the Suicide Act, 1961, to make it illegal to produce websites on the subject of suicide and, most importantly, how best to go about it.

Yet more small-minded intervention into our fundamental freedoms, I see, although I can't imagine many people actually needing to look up instructions on the internet before topping themselves - if they're that dumb, surely we should do the rest of the world a favour and let them get on with it! And on the subject of the rest of the world, there's no mention of how the ever IT-literate Ms Byron and her government buddies think they're going to enforce their law on websites hosted overseas. Yet more hype without substance from NuLab, I feel.

Of course, nobody is going to question them on this, because, again according to the Sun, one child in seven still can't even write its name after spending one year in primary school. Probably not, but I bet they've learned a lot about human rights, diversity, equality and claiming benefits. Still, not to worry. NuLab wants all brats to stay in some kind of education until they're 18, so they'll have plenty of time to learn how to write their names - although, having seen what they're actually teaching kids in schools these days, I suspect it won't be long enough for some!

On the plus side, we can take some comfort in the idea that stupidity isn't ONLY a British disease, as demonstrated by the case of a lad in India who got in a bit of a fix with a fish. Having been cleaning out the aquarium at his home, this young man, who's name and age are omitted from the Sun's article, had hold of a fish when the need to answer nature's call overcame him.

Pottering off to the potty, fish still in hand (like you do), he was understandably somewhat alarmed when the damn thing leapt from his grip and managed to swim into his penis. Yes, that's right. INTO his PENIS. After complaining of pain, dribbling urine and acute urinary retention, the lad was taken to hospital, where the fish was found in his bladder. The fish, which was presumably pissed off, was about 2cm long and about 1.5 cm wide, and is believed to have been a member of the Betta genus. The boy was offered counselling, though nobody seems to care about the fish. If it was a genuine mistake - and I can't help wondering how many people take a fish along for a wee with them - it will probably put the guy off fish for life!

Unlucky and unlikely wildlife is also the subject of the this article about a black fox, spotted in a churchyard up north in Chorley, Lancashire. The Sun and other newspapers carry pics of the previously unknown beast, looking both cute and devilish, and point out that, according to old wives' tales, such things bring bad luck. Certainly, having its mug all over the Sun will be bad luck for the rarity in question - you can bet the churchyard will be stiff with people eager to get a look at the poor bugger, and, as a result, it will be dead by the end of the week.

Isn't life wonderful?

Billy Seggars

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Deeply Brown

I wonder how long it will be before Gordon Brown-Trousers is the only person left in the British government? Today, the Telegraph reports that minister David Cairns has resigned in protest at way things are going in the Labour government.

Last weekend, various allegedly-senior Labour bods, none of whom I'd ever heard of, were fired for having the temerity to suggest that the Prime Minister should submit to a leadership challenge. And you can bet they're just the tip of the iceberg, the white head at the forefront of a festering boil of resentment that runs all the way down to the very bottom of grass roots Labour support.

How do we know this? Simple - Gordon Brown-Trousers and his supporters are telling us that they're just a few marginal malcontents who are way out of line with mainstream opinion within the party. They're saying this loudly and very, very often, so it can't be true, or even close to true. Besides, look at the opinion polls. Labour, largely as a result of Gordon Brown-Trousers' utter failure as a Prime Minister, are 20 points behind the Tories where, just one year ago, the situation was almost totally reversed.

Despite suspicions to the contrary, I suppose we must accept that politicians are people too, and their views won't be too different from those held by the population at large. After all, their views were once sufficiently aligned as to give Tony Blair a massive majority. The majority of the electorate has already decided that it doesn't like the way things are going, and it's entirely reasonable to assume that an equivalent proportion of unexpectedly-human politicians feel pretty much the same.

To deny the situation is pointless - nobody believes the denials, and it just makes Gordon Brown-Trousers look even more brown of trouser then he does already. But what can he do? If he agrees with his critics, he will be seen as even more of a wimp than he already is. If he submits to a challenge he will lose, and we all know how badly, and for how long, he schemed to become PM. Being ousted after just a few moths would be totally unacceptable to him.

As unlikely as it sounds, I agree with Gordon Brown-Trousers' statement, in his letter accepting the traitorous Cairns' resignation, that now is not the time to be focused on internal party matters. It really, really isn't. That sends quite the wrong message to the public - namely, that all Labour politicians are interested in is looking good and winning votes.

I'm sure that's true, but it's no way to run a country. Besides, a recent poll showed that, although most people don't like or trust the PM, they aren't all that keen on replacing him with another Labour bod either. That's probably because they've cottoned on to the self-preservation aspect of Labour politics, and will be glad to get rid of the whole lot of them at the earliest available opportunity.

The only possible hope for Gordon Brown-Trousers and the entire Labour party is to buckle down to the job in hand, and start fixing the mess they've got us into. With unusual insight, I think Brown-Trousers understands that, and is trying to at least look as if he's working on it. But his every effort is sabotaged by his own party. No matter what he tries, yet another disaster breaks out and focuses attention back on the ineptitude of his Government, and, therefore, of the Prime Minister.

The cycle repeats, causing more of his people to want rid of him and taking more effort to control, which, in turn, takes more eyes off the running-the-country ball, leading to yet more cockups. The fact that all the Labour Piranhas currently circling the embattled Prime Minister can't see that it's their own feet they're about to bite off just goes to show how unfit for government Labour is - and always has been.

I might almost feel sorry for Gordon Brown-Trousers, who is looking increasingly tired and ill in media photographs, but I don't. His own pride, arrogance and incompetence have brought him to his current, impossible position. He wanted the job so badly that he spent years scheming to get Blair out of the way - maybe Blair was unexpectedly smart enough to realise that Brown just wasn't up to it?

And now that he's got it, he doesn't know how to do it. He's bottled out of a general election that would have given him his own mandate to govern, sidestepped an internal leadership election, denied the British public a referendum on the EU Treaty, presided over the collapse of our economy, introduced or rubber stamped yet more legislation that turns the UK (what's left of it) into a surveillance state and watched as one department of his government after another has been engulfed in scandal.

It's undeniably true that Gordon Brown-Trousers is not fit to be Prime Minister. But he didn't create all of these disasters single-handedly. He needed help - lots and lots of help - from the rest of his government to so thoroughly screw things up. Instead of trying to pin it all on him, those same government bods should be trying to put things back together.

But they're not, and they won't, leaving Gordon Brown-Trousers no choice, if he retains any last vestige of sanity, but to sack the malcontents one by one as they break cover and before they have chance to resign. That way, at least, he manages to look like he's in charge, even though it won't be long before there's nobody but yes men left for him to be in charge of.

Still, not long to 2010 and a whole new governing party, eh?

Billy Seggars.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Thick And Thin

Here's some good news for those of us with a slightly larger than average waistline. Apparently, according to the Sun, thinking makes you fat.

More accurately, it's been found that students who are taken to a buffet after a serious mental workout consume far more calories than those who've spent the same time bumming around. Fascinating, though I'm a little surprised that the researches managed to find some students who were both able and willing to exercise their brains.

Still, taken to its logical conclusion, these findings seem to confirm the popular view that skinny, clothes horse type models and wannabes are, in fact, unlikely to have done any significant thinking recently. Equally, the more portly members of society should now gain richly deserved recognition as both physical and intellectual giants.

There are flaws in the theory, of course, but I like the correlation between increasing obesity in brats and ever-improving exam performance - even the most rabidly politically correct government minister probably wouldn't have dared to dream that one up! Now, if only they could explain why, over 50 years ago, sprogs sat - and passed - much harder exams than those with which we fail to exercise our childrens' brains today, and they still weren't fat.

Bit of a poser, that. Bit of a bloody mind bender. The obvious conclusion - that today's brats are lazy, gluttonous and stupid - simply won't do. It's one of those things that just about everybody knows without having to do expensive research, and is therefore inadmissible on the basis that it would put jobbing thinkers out of work. Or so they claim, while stuffing yet another doughnut into their face.

Billy Seggars.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Big Bang

Well, I've had a quick look out of the window, and I'm happy to report that the world's still there - madder than ever, but there nevertheless. It seems that today's on-switching of the Large Hadron Collider totally failed to bring about the end of the world.

That's probably good news, but did anyone really think the outcome would be any different? Tales of nuclear explosions and insatiable black holes springing into existence to consume the Earth - and mankind - were always going to be just that - tales! Scaring ourselves witless is one of humanity's most enduring traits, as the eternal popularity of ghost stories shows.

Once stories were of lost lands, mysterious continents where monsters roamed the Earth and the streets were paved with gold. But, in the 21st Century, very little of the Earth's surface remains unexplored and the chances of finding anything more monstrous than Gordon Brown-Trousers are slim. So we create new frontiers, new places for the unknown to terrify us, and, thanks to the education system, science is one of the biggest, scariest unknowns of all for many people.

It's easy to imagine a bunch of crazy boffins digging out a tunnel 17 miles long just so they can lose the whole planet into a black hole, and the total lack of understanding present in the majority of people means that they never get past the imagination stage. In the real world - which, admittedly, isn't inhabited by as many people as one might like - even the craziest boffin doesn't spend millions on making a black hole machine that's going to suck him in too.

But the number of people searching the web for things like "the world's gone end" is a pretty clear indication of how the public thinks - if it can be called thinking! Whether they would be more or less likely to find some useful information if they learned to spell is open to debate, of course, but when you consider that various loonies have been making death threats against the LHC scientists in a bid to "save" the world, it seems unlikely.

I slept soundly through the LHC activation, in the perfect certainty - bred of understanding - that I would not be hurtling over any black hole's event horizon today. Not so Rob Shaw and Laura Morris, who, according to the Sun, staged their own Big Bang to coincide with the big moment. There's nothing wrong with Bangs, and the Bigger the Better, to my mind. But I'm a little suspicious of Science student Rob's explanation:"We heard rumours the machine could wipe out the planet. So we thought we’d make the most of our last moments."

Awww, cute, what a way to go etc etc. But wait. Rob's a SCIENCE student. The Sun doesn't say what SCIENCE he's a student of, and it may well be that the British education system has sunk to levels where even SCIENCE students really don't know the difference between fact and fiction. But I'm still suspicious. Could it be that this wily boffin-to-be saw the opportunity for a little extra time with the lovely Laura, on the basis that the world was going to end? Does it really matter? Probably not, and, in any event, they seem to have enjoyed themselves - good on 'em, say I!

Billy Seggars.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Cant spel wont spel

According to the Telegraph, John Wells, Emeritus Professor of Phonetics at University College London, thinks irregular English spellings should be abandoned because they "hold back schoolchildren".

Awww, the poor little darlings! If the dumb little bastards - and, increasingly, their teachers - can't get to grips with the basics of the language, we should dump them instead. But it doesn't stop there! In perhaps the finest ever argument against phonetic spelling, Prof Wells thinks it would be really, really cool to drop the apostrophe altogether and replace it with a space.

WHY? If, as he suggests, this is to make life easier for the brainless morons who don't know where to put it, won't that just leave them equally puzzled as to where they should insert the corresponding space? I'd have thought so, but then I'm not a Professor of Phonetics.

Come to that, what, exactly, IS a Professor of Phonetics, and why do we need one? His UCL home page is here, but it doesn't tell you very much. His personal biography page is slightly more interesting, but, although it's big on promoting what he does, and what he thinks he's achieved, it doesn't tell us why, or what use it is in the real world.

Which, I suspect, says all that needs to be said on the subject. The purpose of language is communication, yet natural languages, as used by real people, are inherently ambiguous. In the written word, punctuation and spelling moderate ambiguity to derive definite meaning from uncertainty. With definite meaning comes ease of unambiguous expression, allowing the accurate transmission of ideas from one person to another, and so the purpose of communication is fulfilled. Far from being an encumbrance to this process, correct grammar, spelling and punctuation are fundamental to its operation.

It is this essential tool that the learned Professor wants to sweep away, in favour of making life easier for the dimwits who don't know where to put an apostrophe, and who probably don't have anything of any significance to say anyway. And they say standards in education aren't declining!

Billy Seggars.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Watching You, Watching It

Anyone bored enough to read these musing with any degree of regularity will have realised that I'm no great fan of technology. Yes, it has its uses, and without it many of society's truly monumental cockups just wouldn't be possible. But there are limits, uses to which technology, no matter how ingenious, should not be put.

This article in the Sun features a perfect example - a clever new TV from Toshiba that responds to hand signals instead of a traditional remote. Now, I am not unacquainted with the difficulties presented by a missing TV remote - raging disputes over who had the damn thing last are an almost daily occurrence in the House of Seggars - but grandiose gesticulation is not the answer.

This new-fangled telly sports a small camera fixed atop the bezel, through which it watches you, watching it. When you make a hand gesture that corresponds to something it thinks it recognises, the clever little sod carries out the appropriate action. For instance, a held up palm might instruct it to pause while waving up and down might change channel or adjust the volume.

Although Toshiba claims that the technology is being tweaked to stop it accidentally responding to sneezes or stretching, I don't believe a word of it. If this dreadful idea ever makes it out of the lab, the end result will be ranks of people sat, rigid, before their TVs, terrified to move lest the all-seeing TV tyrant changes channel at the crucial moment. Armchair footy fans, long accustomed to parking their buttocks less than 6 inches away from their TV screens and cheering their lads along with the help of beer, bobby hat and rattle, will be silenced for good.

One careless whoop of joy, or head-in-hands cry of despair could see them missing the
whole of extra time as they frantically wave their arms up and down, trying to get back to Match of the Day. And what about Play Your Cards Right? Brucie fans, eager to reinforce their cries of "higher, HIGHER" with a wave of the arm could be in real trouble.

And then there's the philosophical problem. TVs are there for watching - having them watch you right back is creepy. How long before they start taking an interest in what they see - purely for our own good, of course? Presumably, it would be easy enough to monitor how often the viewer moves, and warn them that they might be nodding off. Useful in a working environment, perhaps, or maybe for the sick who might need medical attention if they don't move for a while. In fact, I can think of a few hospitals where such a TV would routinely pay more attention to the patients than the nursing staff does.

Similarly, I can see that the system might be handy, if you'll pardon the pun, for those whose mobility is impaired in some way. But for general use, the whole idea seems like massive overkill to me. The whole lost TV remote problem could be easily avoided by doing away with remotes altogether, and building a fully functional front panel into the TV - imagine how many calories you'd burn by leaping up from your seat to change channel!

Or, if we really must have remote controls, why not build in a simple pager, as are found in some models of cordless telephones (which I also despise)? A simple button on the front of the TV, probably labelled something like "find the damn remote" would send out a signal, and in response the remote would start beeping. How hard would this be to implement? Not hard at all, and, in any event, a whole lot easier than trying to teach TVs the basics of role reversal.

Yes, I understand that Toshiba's new toy can be taught to respond to things other than hand gestures, and that even the hand gestures will be customisable. But that won't do. Any user over the age of 13 is going to be utterly befuddled by the process, no matter how simple they make it, and will leave it set to default. Users under the age of 13 will figure it out and change the gestures to things only they understand, effectively hijacking the TV.

Clever though it undoubtedly is, this strikes me as a solution looking for a problem. It's technology for technology's sake, proof that people are still reading Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy (go on, find the reference if you can) and, overall, a very bad idea. Needless to say, the House of Seggars will not be playing host to one of these contraptions until they are unavoidable, at which point the gestures will probably consist largely of variations on the one and two finger themes.

Billy Seggars.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Chrome Plated

Technology is a wonderful thing, in moderation, but I do sometimes wonder whether its impact upon daily life may not be a little overrated.

Take Google Chrome, for example. For those who've missed they hype, it's a new, reasonably cool, web browser made by, erm, Google. Certainly, for those involved in associated fields, a Google web browser is a significant development. But, when all's said and done, it's just a piece of software. Does it really warrant a feature in most of the daily papers, not to mention countless blog posts, forum discussions etc?

I wouldn't have thought so, but then I am notoriously disinterested in these things. I have no doubt that, at some point down the line, it will present me with some difficulty or other that will result in much irritation before it is resolved, but until then I can't work up much enthusiasm about the product.

For a quick roundup of the bigger technology blogs, and what their pundits think of this early release beta version of Chrome, check out this article in the Telegraph. Clearly most of them worked up quite a bit of enthusiasm, leading me to wonder briefly whether this latest round in the ongoing Google / Microsoft scrap really is big news and I'm just missing the point.

But I don't think I am - I can see the ramifications, I understand the strategic importance of a fast browser optimised for web applications, I know what that could do to Microsoft (and what Google hope it could do, in the long term) and I don't really care. Even if those clever bods at Google have calculated correctly, it will take months or years before a mainstream version of Chrome makes Google Apps and their newfangled AppEngine viable threats to M$.

In the meantime, I have far more pressing things to worry about than a new web browser, even one with the Google logo on it - believe it or not, the internet is only a very small part of life, and I can go for days or weeks at a time without even thinking about it. Honest!

Billy Seggars.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

High Heels Race

In July, I mentioned the Russian high heeled racing babes that were the Sun's major high point in a very dull time for the news.

Now it looks like the Aussies have followed suit - and maybe even gone one better. According to this article, also from the Sun (nice to know they're so consistent!) 265 stiletto-shod birds stampeded their way around an 80 meter race course at Sydney Harbour. The event beats the previous record of 150 stiletto racers, held in Holland.

First across the line was 18-year-old Aussie blonde beauty Brittney McGlone, a professional hurdler according to the Telegraph, who trousered the £2,350 first prize and a pair of Terry Biviano stilettos. Good on you, Brittney!

But strewth, mate, I reckon journos from the Sun missed something when they said the race was run by 265 WOMEN. Take a look at the slide show accompanying the article. Specifically, have a butchers' at picture 9, contestant 433, second from the left. That is surely a bloke, clattering along in high heels amongst with the women. Isn't it?

Not that I have any problems with men in high heels, any more than I have a problem with men in tights - and I know from my logs that many readers positively adore males in pantyhose, judging by the number of folks who have been googling for men in tights in public.

And for that kind of money, I don't blame them - show me the best part of £2.5k and I'll happily gallop around in high heels. And tights, too, if required - Seggars B is not proud, though Mrs S might have something to say about it, if she finds out.

Billy Seggars.