Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The Great Selfie Mystery

OK - here's the thing - what is the purpose of selfies?

I really cannot understand why anyone would want endless pictures of themselves, with or without acquaintances, pulling silly faces. Everywhere and anywhere it seems it is necessary to take a selfie - WHY?

A friend posted a selfie on Facebook that showed herself with a number of other people all pulling silly faces. Someone else commented underneath "You all look like you're having such a great time!" How on earth could anyone draw that conclusion from a snapshot of one sixtieth of a second of a bunch of people making silly faces into a smartphone?

On Facebook I was a so-called 'friend' of a good friend's daughter. One day I thought, out of curiosity, I'd see how she was getting-on at university and came across her photos. There were more than 500 selfies and so I asked this same question under a general post on Facebook. Curiously no-one gave me an answer, but I noticed after a day or so that I was no longer a 'friend' to this person!!

Another person I know regularly posts selfies of herself on Facebook and she is always making exactly the same silly face. What is the point of it? Not only 'what is the purpose of a selfie' but why is it necessary to pull silly faces?

This seems to be just another example of the smartphone making complete idiots out of perfectly normal, otherwise sensible, people. And if I lose more Facebook friends as a consequence of this blog, then they really are not friends anyway!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Texting - and driving

When text messages first started they were completely free and consequently a quick and cheap way to pass a message to someone at a time when call charges were obscene. Now they are often included as part of a package and, to all intents and purposes, free again. But at the same time, calls have come right down in price so they are very accessible.

So why do people still insist on texting when an actual conversation is very much more interactive, informative, friendly, civilised and human?

Texting has become one of modern day's great curses. People walking down the street do it and look like complete zombies. People sit down in a restaurant with another human being and have their mobiles next to them on the table - just in case they get a text or something similar. Conversations are abruptly curtailed because one of the participants has received a text message. You see people - more often than not young women (but not exclusively I hasten to add) - concentrating on texting whilst they're driving a car.

What is this idiotic obsession with texting?

I spent four and a half hours one evening sorting-out a friend's computer as a favour - for free. When I came to leave just before midnight - and I still had to drive home and get up early for work next day - my ex-friend started texting. I pointed-out that I had to leave and she rudely snapped at me - "Can't you see I'm texting!"

I had to issue a smart phone to a work colleague - a nice woman in her late twenties. We were chatting whilst the device was going through its start-up procedure when she received a text message on her personal phone. Instantly I no longer existed and all her attention went to finding her phone in her voluminous bag in a kind of mild panic. When she had finished jiggering about and returned to the world of human beings I said "I hope you don't do that while you're driving!" To which she replied "Well, I know I shouldn't, but I just can't help myself. I just have to look at it!" And there am I just about to issue her with a company device which could only make matters worse.

For some reason texting turns perfectly normal, sensible human beings into complete idiots. What makes any sensible person think that texting while you're driving is even remotely acceptable? A one year ban from driving and a £1,000 fine should be the minimum if anyone is proved to have done it. There was talk of banning even hands-free use of mobiles by drivers in cars: how can they even consider that when they cannot stop f*cking idiots texting whilst they're driving?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Benefit Fraud - the great scam by politicians

Recently I saw a programme on television about benefit fraud. None of the people highlighted as being fraudsters had been prosecuted at the time of going on air. It was plainly evident that they were all long term fraudsters and the 'authorities' had been collecting evidence for some time.

Even though the frauds were painfully obvious, the authorities still felt unable to take the cases to court through lack of evidence. The overwhelming conclusions of the programme were: a) a fraudster was extremely unlikely to be caught/prosecuted; b) there are nowhere near enough investigators; c) benefit fraud is very difficult to prove; d) denial and lying are the best ways to ensure the fraudster will get away with it.

What does this have to do with politicians you ask? Both Labour and Conservative/Lib. Dem. politicians have said they would make it a priority to reduce benefit fraud. Well they are being very economic with the truth. Virtually nothing is being done to reduce benefit fraud because it is too expensive and time-consuming to be viable. But it does sound good if you state categorically that you will be doing something about it even though it's not true. It is what the great British public want to hear and it attracts votes, and for some bizarre reason we believe them!

There is of course another issue that doesn't help: incompetent management within Local Government. Most so-called managers would not last five minutes in private industry; they can't manage their way out of a paper-bag. Most are not interested in dealing with difficult issues that require management decisions and staff motivation - actually, most wouldn't even know what either of those involve!

So what is really being done about benefit fraud? As far as I can see, very little and with the current level of political clap-trap and management dis-interest very little is going to be done. So the naive majority of us will continue to pay our taxes largely because we are scared of the consequences of being caught doing something illegal. So really we have only ourselves to blame for all the money which goes to these nauseating parasites, particularly when we could all be doing it with an ever decreasing chance of being caught!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

That awe-inspiring and romantic night sky

Having developed a bit of an interest in astronomy, I have learned a few things you may find a little mind boggling.

When you go to the Mediterranean and look up at the crystal clear night sky and marvel at the size of the universe, you may be interested to know that every single last one of those lovely little twinkly stars is in fact only in our galaxy, The Milky Way. The Andromeda Galaxy is visible but only as a very feint smudge and in overall size is many times larger than the Moon.

The Milky Way galaxy is some 100,000 light years across. That means it takes light, @ 186,000 miles per second or approximately 6 million million miles per year, 100,000 years just to cross our galaxy. The Milky Way contains between 200 and 400 thousand million stars. Our Sun is a star and it is thought to be approximately 33,000 light years from the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy. Recent analysis suggests there may be approximately 200 thousand million galaxies in the Universe.

The Andromeda Galaxy is our nearest neighbour and even that is two and a half million light years away. The nearest star to our solar system is Proxima Centauri, and traveling at the speed of light it would take us 4.2 years to reach it. By comparison it takes the light from our sun just 8 minutes to reach us. We are thinking that Mars may be accessible to us in the next two hundred years. The absolute closest Mars gets to the Earth is 35 million miles. I guess we are a long way from visiting another solar system.

So next time you watch Star Trek it is worth wondering where exactly it is all taking place. As for UFO's - hmmmm. You have to beg the question, if they really came from outer space (wherever that might be) how did they ever find us? We have more chance of finding a colony of microscopic super-beings on the back of one particular flea in a herd of wild camels.

Monday, 11 July 2011

CLODs - Centre Lane Only Drivers

OK, here's the thing - Please can someone explain to me WHY so many drivers on UK motorways insist on sitting in the middle lane?

Often the inside lane can be quite empty for considerable distances and these people are doodling along at about 65mph - WHY? WHY NOT MOVE OVER instead of being a mobile chicane?

On the M25 it is even worse, they sit in the third lane - WHY? What is wrong with lanes one and two which are often clear of vehicles?

On the M27 the overhead signs frequently say "Do not hog the middle lane", but for some reason it has no effect - WHY? Please can someone enlighten me?

Saturday, 25 June 2011

The Dear Old English Language

Had you noticed how much corruption is occurring in the English language? 'Your' instead of 'you're' and 'off of' instead of . . . heaven alone knows what - just to demonstrate a couple.

My guess is that over the years radio and television have enabled everyone to hear a wide application of the use and context of language. In contemporary times there is little doubt that texting has proliferated the use of many rather pitiful short forms. But sadly, I feel that poor education has encouraged little in the way of the teaching of reasonable grammar or spelling. Language always has to evolve, but the current trend towards the adoption of lazy or misused words and expressions seems particularly unfortunate.

So I thought I should list just a few of my absolute pet hates and give some kind of comment/example/alternative:

'Your' is used to denote ownership - 'This is your toy'. 'You're' tells of an event or existence and is short for 'You are' - 'You're going to ruin your language, so you're an idiot!'. Whereas 'Your supposed to hand in your work to show your learning something' has no actual meaning at all.

'Its' is also to do with ownership - 'Stroke its tummy'. Whereas 'it's' is short for 'it is' - 'It's just not fair' or 'If it's not careful it will break its finger'. This is where 'it's' is known as an exception to a grammatical rule - please keep reading!

'Comprise' has almost exactly the same interpretation as 'consists of' - so 'comprises of' actually translates to 'consists of of' which has no practical meaning at all. Comprise has no OF after it! I don't (short for 'I do not') understand why people use 'big' words they don't fully understand, when simple words would work just as well (actually better because they don't reveal the user's poor grip of English). Note: In the case of 'user's' this is short for 'of the user' which would be put after the noun instead of before the noun. If it were to refer to many users it would be 'users' '. 'Its', above, is an exception!

'Off of' is an expression I do not really understand as I have never had any occasion when I have been at such a loss for words that I should have needed to use that particular combination. All I can imagine is that it means 'from' or simply 'off'. As a combination of two words I cannot see that it has any actual meaning at all. In colloquial speech perhaps it's OK; in writing it is quite extraordinarily dreadful.

'It cost me forty pound.' 'Forty pound' is what exactly? I think that was meant to be - 'it cost me forty pounds'. 'Can I lend fifty quid please?' - I don't know, can you? 'Can I borrow fifty quid please?' is probably what is intended!

There are many more examples, but I'm sure you get the general drift so I'll leave it at that for now. There is of course the danger that I shall also commit some grammatical/spelling crime (if I've not already done so) which will be picked-up by some eagle-eyed reader - so I'd best quit whilst I'm ahead.

It is in business letters where this bad language is at its most unfortunate. When you receive a letter from a reputable company and there are three or four grammatical/spelling faux-pas, it is the perception of the company that suffers. In my opinion this is rightly so as it indicates a deterioration in recruitment standards or monitoring which is indicative of the current state of the company.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

The great Woman vs Man driver debate.

This commentary starts with two conditions which must be taken along with the comments. 1) This is absolutely NOT intended to be sexist or showing a preference for either sex. There is just no point in that kind of discussion - that's for numpties. 2) It is based on massive generalisations - along with so many discussions on all kinds of subjects. If it does not apply to you, that's quite OK and perfectly within the bounds of probability.

Men and women are different (though there are those who seem unwilling to acknowledge that except when it suits them)! They perform different functions within the whole social and procreative cycle of the continuance of mankind. It therefore stands to reason that there are some quite profound differences in the way they perceive our 'environment'. Spacial awareness being one area where there frequently appears to be a variance of perception.

Men are generally considered to be more analytical and women often more intuitive. Go to Ikea for a wardrobe and the man will probably focus on the practicalities and the woman on the aesthetics. It is my contention that the man will look at the spacial aspects of the object and the woman the physicality, the presence of the object.

If we now go to driving - which is where I was going in the first place - I should like to suggest that men see the space in the road environment and women see the physicality of it. Men will analyse the dynamic space around road objects whereas women will focus on the physical presence of road objects.

This could go some way towards explaining the contentious difference between the approach to driving between men and women. Men analyse the space available around objects and make a decision based on that assessment. Women see the objects themselves and their potential to impact on them and therefore make their decisions based on that set of criteria.

If you think about it, this might explain why men take more risks; have more accidents; drive faster. And women are more cautious; drive more defensively; have fewer accidents. Men become impatient when women take a long time moving-out at a junction for example, and according to a recent survey women are less stressed in traffic jams. Is this because the objects are moving more slowly and are therefore more predictable creating a less threatening environment? Whereas men would find it frustrating because it is restrictive - there is no space to get on with it.

Tiff Needell - formerly a racing driver, now a car show presenter - suggested on air that the reason men become stressed in traffic jams and women very much less so, is because women are less concerned about being late. What do you think?
There was an error in this gadget