Sick And Tired Of It All (Mini-Blogging)

So, lots of things have been bugging me of late, but instead of writing full-blown blog entries for each one, I’ve decided to emulate Oh! My Goddess and create Mini-Blogs (like Mini Goddesses – sorry non-anime fans, but it makes sense to anime freaks!).  Short, sharp, sweet comments on those things that have irked me.  You may agree or disagree, comment or ignore some, all or none of them…but here they come:

PETROL PRICES

So, we are now at £1.16.9p per litre for unleaded petrol.  WHAT THE F**K IS GOING ON?!?!  Much like the energy companies who hike gas & electricity prices but rarely cut them back again, the petrol companies claim that the prices go up because of fluctuations in oil prices.  These prices are from approx. 6 months ago.  But hang on…oil prices have been consistently dropping for over 6 months now.  Put that to them and they claim it is the tax increases, the VAT, the fuel surcharge, etc…  Yeah, fine, I get that because bankers screwed up, and we all went on a massive spending spree for a decade, that we now need more tax to pay off the debts…BUT…the baseline cost for oil has DECREASED, so the per litre cost SHOULD ALSO DECREASE.  But does it?  NO!  I am resigned to spending £50 at Sainsbury just to get their poxy 5p per litre off voucher!  Listen up petrol firms….STOP PROFITEERING YOU AMORAL THIEVING SCUM!  We are almost at £1.20 per litre…a revolution will soon follow and personally, alongside MPs, BBC management and chuggers, I think the petrol bosses will be first against the wall!

BBC CUTS THE FRIDAY PLAY ON R4

So…after many years of budget cut after budget cut after spending freeze after cost squeeze after budget cut, Radio 4 now announce that they are ‘decommissioning’ the Friday Play slot.  WHAT THE F**K IS GOING ON?!?!  I realise people love to attack the BBC as being over-large, lacking in quality and spending too much on fripperies…but please, the FRIDAY PLAY?  This is a bastion of hard-edged, socially and culturally important drama.  These plays fit no-where else on the BBC radio networks.  To cut the entire slot because yet again the network is being told to cut budgets?  I am sorry but I pay my licence fee for the BBC to MAKE PROGRAMMES AND BROADCAST THEM!  The massive cost of the rebuilding of BBC Broadcasting House in London (£1.56bn!) has proven that the BBC has no idea what its purpose is.  It is NOT there to invest in buildings and rebuildings and rerebuildings…damn it, BBC BH had only just been rebuilt before they ripped it down and started again!  And it is running way over time and over budget, meaning yet more is being spent on rent at Bush House and other locations for those departments that were supposed to move in to the new BH!!  And then they waste another £5m or so commissioning artwork for the new space when they could have BORROWED art from other public institutions and become a gallery space.  That £5m could have paid for many many radio dramas and features.  The cancellation of the Friday play is CULTURAL VANDALISM by people who should be protecting the BBC’s role of INVESTING IN UK PRODUCERS, WRITERS and ACTORS.  I am sickened and disgusted by this move, and the constant budget cutting from programme making.  BBC News could easily save millions by streamlining its outside broadcasting and reporting processes.  BBC TV could save millions by holding a moratorium on dramas/series based on cops/doctors/murders for one month.  Millions more could be saved by cutting back on the spend on flashy but pointless opening credit sequences (e.g. the F1 opening – 30-60secs of meaningless faff…we know we are watching F1, and there is no competition for coverage so why the OTT animated flashy opening?!), etc…  Maybe it is time for some resignations at the BBC…possibly at Radio 4, but certainly at upper management level.  They are failing in their core purpose!

PARENTS DRIVING KIDS TO/FROM SCHOOL

Ok…just what is it about parents and their kids in cars going to and from school?!  I am not a parent, but even if I were, I WOULD NOT drive them to and from school.  A caveat – this is about people living in towns/villages/cities – I understand countryside life can require different means due to the lack of public transport or distances involved. I just had to break my rule of not being on the road at 3pm as I had to do some business across town.  Driving back through the 3pm school-run (3pm!  When did schools close so damn early?) I almost had 5 crashes because of moronic parents collecting their dear little tykes.  2 near-misses were outside a school where the idiotic parents couldn’t park or pull out properly, or using indicators, or being patient!  The other 3 were in traffic, at roundabouts and at a junction…all three involved parents not paying attention to the road, looking everywhere but where they are driving, and generally adopting the attitude that they are their darling mini-me’s were the most important and valuable people on the road.  Well…SOD YOU ALL!!  I am sick of it.  The roads are so much nicer at half-term and holidays…why…BECAUSE YOU C***S AREN’T ON THE ROAD!  If I were in charge for a day I would make it ILLEGAL for parents to drive kids to/from school within towns.  Let them walk, ride a bike or take the bus.  In return I would invest in decent school bus services and street patrols.  Enough is enough…your kids need the exercise, it is good for them to mix and mingle while walking or taking the bus, they learn good life skills, you get another hour a day away from them to be doing something more useful to society such as working or inventing or writing or, well, anything but adding yet more pollution and congestion to the world.

SINGLE LIFE

OK, so I am no longer single, but I was for more than 7 years, and as we head in to yet another farce of an election, WHY ARE SINGLE PEOPLE NOT BEING TARGETED?! According to the ONS there is approx 7 million single people (12% of the population!) but in every political speech, paper, debate and news item all we hear about are HARD WORKING FAMILIES, blah blah blah.  Child tax credits, marriage tax allowance, this tax break, that tax break…we want YOU to be married!  The world MUST BE MADE BETTER for married people and those with children!  Well…I agree, I think the world should be made better for everyone who puts in a day’s work and pays their way.  BUT why does no-one think about single people?  They have ONE INCOME, and yet are taxed more than any other group!  The ONLY tax break for singletons is the Council Tax Single Person Allowance…this gives you a 25% discount on your CTax.  Sounds good, eh?  But think about it…if you are in a couple, with two incomes, sharing all your costs, then each person is only paying 50% of the CTax.  Therefore, a single person is paying 75% where one half of a couple is paying just 50%…the singleton pays 50% more than one half of a couple!!!  And single working people use less local and national social resources, yet pay the same in tax.  No party or politician stands up during the recession and says WE MUST LOOK AFTER THE HARD WORKING SINGLE PERSON.  Why the f**k not?!  Single people pay more for holidays, more for travel and more for general services as they cannot apply for any of the FAMILY DISCOUNTS!  Well, I am sick and tired of it…come on you 7 million singletons, make your voices heard!  Either that or 3.5 million move in with the other 3.5 million and claim a few benefits!

ZYNGA

Oh Zynga, I love your games on Facebook, and I for one know that I don’t have to click on the adverts that fund the games…therefore I have no problem about your business model.  I thank you for the fun.  I disagree totally with the accusations that you produce parasitic-gaming, because I am intelligent enough NOT TO CLICK ON THE F*****G ADVERTS!  Jeez..all these morons harping on about Zynga and their ‘evil’ intentions, their ‘snooping’ practices, the ‘intrusive’ advertising which leads you astray…JUST DON’T CLICK ON THE DAMN ADVERTS YOU OUTRAGEOUSLY STUPID BASTARDS!  The games are free to use so Zynga has to make money from elsewhere…like facebook, they take the chance to target you via advertising…but they AREN’T FORCING YOU TO BUY ANYTHING.  If you click on an advert then it is your responsibility not Zynga’s. Please please please stop bitching about this…either play the games or don’t play the games…it is your choice! HOWEVER, I will take Zynga to task over one thing…why don’t you reply to the perfectly reasonable error complaints of you many millions of users?  We love Farmville and Cafeworld, but there are flaws and bugs, and we take the time to report them to you, and discuss them on the Zynga forums…BUT YOU NEVER REPLY!  This is dragging your name through the mud and is doing you no favours.  please just pay someone to be the official voice of your organisation on the boards.

SPECIAL DELIVERY

So…the website for the UK post office says its Special Delivery service stops at 5pm each evening…but the branches say it is 4pm, or 4.30pm or 5.30pm.  WHAT TIME IS IT?!?!  I rely on SD to get my audiobook masters to the BBC, but I can never tell what time the cutoff for pickup is!  So for safety I stick with 4pm, but it really can’t be that hard can it?  And if a branch has to have a time different to the website advertised time, PLEASE PUT UP A F*****G SIGN!

UPDATE – Oh, and Special Delivery is meant to GUARANTEE delivery next day…so why has my delivery that went out yesterday NOT arrived today?  Oh…I have to call you and ask?  Oh, it was delayed in transit and will be dleivered tomorrow? Oh, the business is shut tomorrow so it will be Monday? Oh, so you can’t call me and tell me these things and leave it for me to be told by the recipient that it hasn’t arrived? Oh, so the service you provide has failed EPICALLY and yet now my client won’t receive the parcel in time for their deadline?  Hmmmm…thanks a f*****g lot…FAIL!

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A Phone For All Ages

So I read in today’s papers that there is a new mobile phone being released, designed for 4 year olds, called the Firefly.  A nice pink colour, with 5 simple buttons.  Not much different from some of the ‘idiot-phones’ available already for those whose minds can’t comprehend anything beyond calling and basic texting.  This doesn’t bother me.

What does bother me is the way all of the articles (possibly written by the same freelance reporter?) have described the phone as being ‘targetted’ or ‘aimed’ at 4 year olds.  The same articles also ask the oh-so-clever question “Does a 4 year old need a mobile phone?”.  And some even invoke the old trope “Children need to be children” (which in Simpsons-speak would translate as “Won’t somebody think of the children!”)

Let’s get this straight…the mobile phone is not targetted or aimed at 4 years olds, it is DESIGNED for 4 year olds.  There is no point in targetting a product at 4 year olds, THEY HAVE NO MONEY! Also, and this is a rather major also, 4 year olds CANNOT SIGN AIRTIME AGREEMENTS! You have to be over 18 to sign an agreement and have a bank account and credit rating.  Not many 4 year olds have this.

This phone is targetted at one group only…idiotic, gullible, moronic, selfish, lazy parents who will buy and use anything to avoid doing the job of a parent.  I have to ask…just WHERE do they think their 4 year old will be that they need to call them on a mobile to have a chat?  Why is the 4 year old not with the parent? And what sort of chat will they be having anyway?

Now, some unctuous parent will no doubt say “But Neil, we send our dearest little <insert name here> to playschool every day for xxx hours.  What if he/she/it needs to reach us in an emergency?”  Erm…won’t the playschool be doing that? And should, for whatever reason, the apocalypse occur at the playschool and your precious little mite is the only one left staggering forth from the burning building a la Die Hard, will they have the cognitive ability to [a] have their new pink playmobile phone with them, [b] know that now would be the time to call Mummy or Daddy for a chat, and [c] not be a gibbering wreck in the rubble crying their eyes out waiting for an adult to come rescue them?

I have no problem with the phone, or the phone’s manufacturers, they are merely responding to a growing trend for children to be ‘mobiled-up’!  There is some spurious factoid doing the rounds about how 6 year olds are staying up late at night having text-sessions – just what are they texting, it fascinates me…and if your little one HAS to have a mobile, just lock the damn thing so it can only call 999, Mum and Dad!

I have a problem with the parents who buy the damn things…parents have been inculcating their kids with nonsense since year dot (just consider religion!)  It would be nice to see a story in a year or two saying that the phone failed because parents simply wouldn’t buy it, but sadly anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of walking through Clapham, or Barnes, or Sloane Square, or a hundred other similar locales, will know that there is already a demographic of annoying parents just salivating at the thought of little Sebastian or Candice owning the latest mobile tech before any other child in the school district!  In the words of Dan Ashcroft, “The idiots are winning!”

What has really got my goat about this story is the terrible reporting of it.  Come on written press, dig a little deeper, write a little more carefully and stop with the headline grabbing misdirection.  Try a little journalism, and practice what you preach.  You’d be all over the BBC if they ran such an ill-conceived story! Consider more than the ‘Are mobiles safe’ old rope, and look deeper at why society deems mobiles for kids acceptable and required.  Is this yet more jumping at non-existent paedophile shadows? Has mobile telephony evolved into more than a tool for communication and become something much more sociologically fascinating? You could even ask why is the phone pink?  Why not yellow, or blue, or a variety of colours?  Good Dawkins, there is so much more to this story!

But I guess, like TV news coverage, the written press is less about investigative journalism than it is about sensationalism and repetition.  How sad.

Now, I wonder if Apple will release an iPhone 3GS Junior version…hmmm?

A plea – are you a parent of a toddler?  Please don’t buy your kid a phone.  Wait until they are at least 10 years old.  Buy them lots of Lego, or take them out at weekends, or teach them a musical instrument.  It is activity and fun children crave, NOT digital communications with text capabilities, 3G and WiFi and integrated bluetooth stereo connectivity!

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