Thursday, January 24, 2008

Broadband Blogging Blues

Apologies - broadband's been out for two days now. Been going through the obligatory BT 'customer service' torture, where a charming girl in Calcutta, with perfect but alas heavily accented English ('Pardon ?' 'I'm sorry, could you say that again please ?') takes you through a long checklist of questions ('yes, the router is plugged in', 'no, it is not too hot') before taking you through an series of tasks ranging from the believeable ('find the reset button on the router') to the increasingly bizarre ('take the cable between the ADSL socket and the router, remove it and put it in the other way round').

All this of course is based on the assumption that

a) the customer is mentally defective
b) engineers - the real chaps in the vans - are expensive
c) Indian call centre grads are relatively cheap
d) the poor bloody customer's time is free

After an hour of this yesterday am I'd finally convinced them that there might actually be a problem, so at lunch I was rung by the 'line specialist' - who was I think in Bangalore. You might not be shocked to find that she asked the identical questions to the first line support girl. After another wearing thirty minutes or so she finally gave me to understand that an engineer might drop in over the next 48 hours.

We have a history of line problems, due to the 7 miles between us and the exchange, and the squirrels chewing the cables en route.

Blogging will be light due to the current 38K connection. Go and read Shuggy on education.

I'm beginning to wonder if this whole 'school-choice' thing might not be a bad idea. We could have a choice between schools - and institutions that have dropped even the pretence of being schools and have been rebranded as 'socialisation centres' instead. Then we could see who wins.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oh Dear

You know that this kind of thing must, must happen in the sort of school environment where being a 'boff' will get you beaten, terrorised, targeted - the sort of school that middle class Guardianista Sarah Donachy teaches at (check the comments thread - especially this one).

But when you read the story of Angel, it still breaks your heart.


I've noted before how the government have given up on morality, except in relation to racism and foxhunting, instead devoting themselves to abolishing the means by which wicked acts can be carried out.

Kids stabbing each other ? Metal detectors in schools.

Drunk kids beating people to death ? Raise the drinking age, raise alcohol prices. Call me naive, buit I thought it was the kicking to death but that was the problem.

Gun nut shoots kids ? Make gun ownership illegal.

But this is taking the idiocy into hyperspace.

A paedophile who took pictures of a boy being abused and distributed them round the world has been banned from owning anything capable of taking photographs.

And they say Americans don't do irony ...

"Laban Tall is a brilliant English blogger"

Well, one out of three ain't bad.

(actually I think Mr Burton has the root of the matter in him. The cultural collapse of the UK, from which all else stems, is the collapse of Christianity)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

“I can’t fight with hairdressers”

Our bus was locked into this intermittent procession directly to the rear of a large limousine of considerable quality. Its large back window sloped elegantly into a great curve of boot. Through the window we could see that the rear seat of this handsome vehicle was occupied by two young ladies, one being blonde and one brunette. They were both of such distracting elegance that a number of the Chaps (of whom I give you my word vicar I was not one) felt obliged to gather at the front end of the upper deck of the bus, whistling and catcalling to attract the ladies attention.

When this attempt at communication failed to elicit a response, it was decided to that a well-aimed stream of aerated water directed at the car from a fully charged soda-siphon might do better. The application of one siphon to the task led to the involvement of a second, and then a flour bomb (one of a number that appeared to have been brought along just in case a contingency arose calling for their use) was added to the equation. Thus do conflicts escalate.

When the traffic pulled up for its next breather, the right door of the limousine, the boot and rear window of which were by then coated with a thin and sloppy dough, was open precipitately and a certain individual who looked like a much larger, much younger, and more muscular version of Arthur Mullard crossed by Freddie Mills, stormed towards our bus with evidently hostile intent advancing. Ray Gibbons, the Chap who was unlucky enough to be first in the firing line on the back step of the bus, received the impact of this individual’s right fist full on his nose and promptly extended himself in the collected swill beneath the two beer barrels.

I'm always reading in the Guardian how youth crime is nothing new, and that we're all guilty of Moral Panic. How right they are. I'd forgotten that I'd ever used a fire-hose as an anti-personnel weapon.

The Chaps Club of the Royal School of Mines annual Derby Day outing for 1958 takes an eventful turn. Just one of a fine selection of centenary reminiscences by staff and students of Imperial College.


Came downstairs to find my eldest watching my bete noire (one of them, anyway - I've a whole menagerie of them) Gordon f****** Ramsay presenting something on Channel Four called Cookalong with special guest Chris Moyles (down the path, cage three on the right).

As I passed hastily through the room I thought his manic "well, that's done and now we have" style seemed familiar, and realised it's the persona of every Saturday morning kids TV presenter since Tiswas. I suppose this is what all the TV generations weaned on them ever since have grown to expect. Kids TV for adults.

You can see the same thing on BBC's Ski Sunday. It was always going to have to take in boarding as it became the snowsport of youth choice, but the revamp a few years back also chose to feature a fair chunk of apres-ski, totty-heavy party footage which has stayed ever since, at the expense of more snowsport coverage.

Was the thinking that the youth demographic wouldn't watch board action unless accompanied by lashings of hip background ? Or has the boarding coverage on satellite already set the standard which the Beeb are following ? I suspect the latter. If motor sports had started out on satellite I imagine the pit babes and parties would now be part of ITVs coverage.

(a confession - I bought a board last year and to my horror discovered that I'm overweight and unfit enough to have had to take the board off in order to stand up after falling over - something you do a lot when you're learning)

I think I've got it ...

Involuntary organ donation aka "presumed consent" - you're assumed to have agreed to your body parts being taken unless you've signed a document to the contrary.

Involuntary sexual intercourse aka "rape" - you're assumed NOT to have agreed to your body being taken unless both both "participants in sexual activity respect each others sexual autonomy and each is equally active in reaching agreement on their sexual relations".