Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Virgin Mobile have balls, yo

Fantastic video, eh? Of course, their claim of 'a holiday for all of us' is a bit tardy, as for years now the human race has been aware of the Festivus for the rest of us!

Mark my words, anybody who plans on putting up with me for the foreseeable future - if you want me in your life, you'll have to make room for Festivus.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Journalist suffers PMS, writes stupid shit

On the front page of Digg just now there was a story called "Mother Told She Doesn't Have Real Job By Phone Company" - which seemed dumb enough to warrant a click.

The story tells the plight of a stay-at-home mother who tried to buy a Smart phone from Vodafone, only to be rejected on the grounds that she didn't have a "real" job. What's noteworthy about this story is that it was penned by a woman. Quite a stupid woman, I'd wager - one who can't be bothered to appear impartial.

Ewww - they should've sprung for a hand model

If you'd indulge me for a moment, I'm going to pick holes in this story for the purpose of asserting intellectual superiority over a paid-journalist, and balancing some transparently feminist-fuelled moral-outrage with some good old fashioned rationality.
Lyndal Fair, 36, a mother of three, said she was shocked and embarrassed when staff at a Vodafone store told her they didn't sell phones to full-time mums.
Didn't sell "phones" to full-time mums? Not quite. Didn't sell a particular phone to full-time Mums - the BlackBerry Storm - which is a business phone, and only available to customers on certain (business, possibly) plans.
Staff instead suggested she ask her husband to buy the phone for her under his own name
...[Because he has a sodding business!]
"I really felt like a second-class citizen for the first time since becoming a mum," Ms Fair said. "I couldn't believe it. It was like being back in the '50s.
Oh boy - they're playing that card. Never mind the fact that there weren't commercially-available mobile-telecommunications devices back in the 50s, let's just focus on the logical fallacy of framing an inconvenience (having to upgrade your plan) as proof that sexual discrimination hasn't changed in almost sixty years! But the outrage doesn't end there - let's drag in the reluctant husband who has to overcompensate for his lack of giving a shite with some overly-dramatic effusions:
"Being a mum is a full-time job and it's a very hard job - the hardest job you can have - because if you get it wrong, the ramifications for everyone are enormous," Ms Fair said.
'Ramifications for everyone'? Sweet Christ. It's all gone a bit The Day After Tomorrow, hasn't it?
"It's just terrible. You cop it as a mum if you work because you're not at home with your children, and if you do stay home you get hit with nonsense like this."
Poooooooooooooooor women. Will they ever escape this catch-22? Normally I'd muster up a bit of sympathy for such predicaments, but the following splutterance from the author of this piece demands that I ramp up the misogyny for a bit:
Vodafone spokesman Greg Spears yesterday confirmed the no-housewives rule and said getting a man to buy the phone instead was the quickest fix.

Ahem... Now that I’ve got that out of my system, might I propose what the author meant to say?
Vodafone spokesman Greg Spears yesterday confirmed that the handset is only available to customers on certain Vodafone plans and said that getting a family member who was currently employed and on one of these plans to buy the phone instead was the quickest way around it.
"No-housewives rule"? "A man"? The woman who wrote this needs to step away from the keyboard for a bit, lest they underscore any more innocuous tales with egregious shades of sexual-discrimination. To further drive home the utter disregard for any illusion of balanced reporting, the final word is given to “Eva Cox, of the Women's Electoral Lobby”.

What’s that? She wasn’t impressed? Big surprise. What else? Crikey:
She called on women to boycott Vodafone until it changed the policy.

Seriously now? I’m sure that I’ve established that women are not being ‘slighted’ here, stay-at-home-mothers are. Wouldn’t a much more effective tactic be to ask all stay-at-home-mothers-and-fathers to petition Vodafone to lower the lofty bar for entry to the exclusive club of BlackBerry Storm owners? Asking ‘all women’ is dumb – as it is based on the assumption that all women would be upset by an unemployed (albeit hardworking) woman being denied a phone, which I doubt many would be. (Manipulating the facts to create controversy where there is none might gain sympathy for the cause, however).

Okay, I haven’t been entirely fair here – I should let this bastion of moral guidance continue with what she was saying, please Ms Cox[hater], continue!
"They need to be careful that Vodafone don't get a black ban after this, or a pink ban, if you want to call it that," Ms Cox said.


Dear reader, please forgive this rather scattered entry, as every time I gather my thoughts, they force their way out in a rather undignified Tourettic flurry of capslock and swearing. I’m probably ripping on a publication that’s not exactly high-brow, but the waves of disgust I felt from seeing it second from the top on Digg has carried me thus far, so why turn back now?

Sexism isn’t cool. But claiming sexism when there is none is less cool, and really only serves the cause of the sexists. So you feminists need to shut the fuck up.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Heil Herr Finlay!

Here's a disturbing one for you, kids.

It seems that Fin, He of fin.ie fame, is using His totalitarian rule of Fin Blog to quash any dissenting views, brutally silencing any comments that aimed only to inform and educate, without a word of acknowledgement.

Dear readers, know that Finlay's seeming infallibility is merely the result of having the power to annul the words of dissenters from the very annals of history! Just last week, my illuminating remarks spent a period of three days in purgatory, before being cast to the deep dank dungeon of cyberspace, never to surface again.

I hope that Finlay will see the light, and instead of continuing to use subterfuge in fixing grammatical faux-pas and any commentary of their past existence, he embraces a more laissez-faire style of blog comment.

Dear reader, I am counting on you to show Finlay how much fun an unfettered comments section can be. That is why I sincerely ask that you take a moment to leave a comment, and say the most reprehensible thing about me (and my blog, if you can manage) that comes to mind.

I'm counting on you.

We're counting on you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hump-day Video-dump

Not sure if I ought to make a regular habit of dumping videos on here like this, so be sure to comment and let me know if this was worth your while in any way.

First on the list is a video from my friends' band that I've been intending on giving a shout out to in some form or another for some time now, so now that they've put together a music video from the footage they took of their recent LA tour, I figured I'd share! Please to enjoy:'Little Black Marble' by Fox Jaw Bounty Hunters. The split screen format means that you have a perfectly good reason for listening to the song four times in a row!

Next on the list, we have a video shamelessly nicked from that other blog that I'm writing for (even if I haven't had time to post anything remotely intelligent in about a month now). One of the authors went to the trouble of recording a version of the Monty Python's LumberJack song that somebody (a chap called FXE, seemingly) on an atheist forum went to the trouble of rewriting. This song is pretty clever, but it's especially noteworthy for me as it somehow came up on the radar of popular blogger PZ Myers, who I've made gushing reference to in the past, providing me with yet another opportunity to reflect on how freakin' awesome the internet is.

And finally, more as a bonus than anything else, I'm attaching another video from the multi-talented Mr Shane Serrano, (the geezer responsible for the first video posted above, as well as [crude] magazine, which I warbled about last week). When he was short on integrity-impaired students willing to sell their souls for a UL promotional video a summer or two ago, I decided to help him out by spouting confused mumblings from my fat head that he captured on tape to somehow convince people that UL is great - other than those eight seconds or so, it's pretty decent! As far as promo videos go, anyhow.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Pourin' out a li'l liquor...

You think blogging is easy? You think I should ask more of myself than five posts a month? You've probably not tried it for yourself - unless you're going to throw up absolutely every random thing you do over the course of a day, or you've found yourself a rich area to specialise in, it's difficult to find the time, or the right topic to post about (I try to keep this blog general for people who don't know me but enjoy random nonsense, only occasionally indulging overly-personal posts - let me know if I'm succeeding on that by the by).

If you don't believe me, let's take a look at the list of dead blogs started by those within my various spheres of influence. The common thread linking them all? They all came up with better titles than mine.

Born: 19th January 2008 Died: 25th April 2008 Posts: 20

A blog started by my older brother to serve the internet with download recommendations while also offering a platform for him to discuss his various programming endeavours in college. He probably got distracted by finishing up his final year projects. And organising his wedding. And having a wife and stuff.

Notable post: Probably his first, in which he proudly announced that he had officially become a 'blogster'. Bless his little heart, he tried.

Ireland's Eoghan
Born: 5th November 2007 Died: 8th December 2008 Posts: 16 (Might be a bit premature to declare this one deceased - he Lazarused on us before after 4 months of lying cold)

After taking umbrage to a remark I made on this blog in reference to some Gott-lieben graffiti, my recently-acquired friend from college took to the internet to grant his riposte a bit more gravitas. After getting that off his chest he set about chiding people who deposit bodily effluvia in his bed without his consent. It's possible that the sudden drying up of such incidents is what caused the fatal posting-drought. It's possible that this post will temporarily alleviate that, with a post entitled "News of my blog's death has been greatly exaggerated"

Notable post: Off the top of my head, the most enjoyable post to come to mind is his reaction to the Transformers film, featuring a try-not-to-spit on your monitor surprise ending (sorta).

Ocean of Noise
Born: 15th September 2008 Died: 15th September 2008 Posts: 1

A stillborn. After a triumphant 'hello world!', and the tease of "New Mixes coming", DJ Rob dropped off the radar.

Notable post: The comments for his first entry. After some slight goading for the radio silence by yours truly, Rob replied explaining that "the day I went to record the first mix the fucking power supply on my desktop blew up and I can't afford a new one at the moment :-(." At least there's hope for the future. Once Rob unbrokes himself, of course.

Gather Around Children... It's Storytime
Born: 7th September 2007 Died: 10th December 2007 Posts: 10

As part of a class requirement for a media module she was taking, my favourite Pittsburgh-resident with the initials CK posted ten entries up over the course of a semester. Despite my repeated urges to keep up the good blogging, she hit her minimum requirement and quit posting, teaching me that the promise of a link from my blog isn't as effective a motivational ploy as I believed it to be. The blog itself is a delight to read, as Cait has a way of packaging the banal in a riveting fashion.

Notable post: Christ. Where to begin? There's the time she accidentally tried to smuggle a rusty screwdriver onto a plane, as well as the entry in which she somehow makes an irrational panicking fit seem like the only logical course of action. With a gun to my head, I'll have to say my favourite was the time she embarrassed herself in front of a pro footballer in a spectacular fashion - even when rereading it just now I had a chuckle.

In case you didn't notice, I'm particularly disappointed about the demise of 'Gather Around Children... It's Story Time' - I tried to convince Cait to keep it going, but once the class ended, so did the willingness to blog. Rather than admit to myself that I'm utterly ineffectual, I've convinced myself that it was the url that killed the site. Think about it for a second - can you imagine trying to tell people the address for your blog? "It's doubleyou doubleyou doubleyou dot gather around children it's story time dot blogspot dot com." Or how about typing that addressbarfull every time you wanted to visit the site? It can't be done in one sitting - I've tried. One way or another, the unwiedily named blog is no more, and the blogosphere is poorer as a result.

But hang on a tick - Cait's just after getting back on the blogging horse! As if to commemorate the one year death anniversary of her first effort, Cait has ventured into this digital graveyard of blogging talent and planted a poorly-conceptualised-metaphor of a rose to keep us optimistic despite the bleakness of the present.

While I do indeed begrudge her foresight in coming up with a clever name (albeit one based borrowed from another author) and her disciplined prolific posting schedule, it is my pleasure to be able to recommend Cait's newest blogging endeavour, Thoughts are King, which will now be added to my meagre Links panel as the old ones are retired.

Just give me a while with the old ones, okay? It'll take a while to let them go...

Friday, December 05, 2008

Coming soon to a newsstand near you*

*=If you live in Limerick.

I really should have mentioned this a good bit earlier, so I'll cue the obligatory excuse about being busy to absolve my shoddy posting schedule as of late. Still with me? Great.

Two months ago I learned that a talented friend of mine was launching a Limerick-based magazine. Eager to feel as though I'm making some efforts towards fooling someone into letting me write in exchange for money, I offered him my services. Since my abilities to feign interest in what's going on in my locality have waned as of late, I ended up submitting a video-game review for an Xbox 360 game I was enjoying.

After warbling on for some 1,200 words (and not even finishing up), I realised that I had written something more suitable for a specialist magazine, so I quickly wrote up an 800 word piece (Next time I'll aim for 500).

Anyhow, now that I've laid a fine foundation for my excuse as to why my submission sucks ("I didn't know what audience I was writing for, and besides - I dashed it off in five minutes"), I'll give you some more information on what the hell I'm talking about:

Crude Magazine, Limerick's Alternative Culture and Lifestyle Magazine (but not necessarily that Alternative Lifestyle, BDSM-phobes!) hits shelves this weekend. I think. And it'll cost €5, I think €4. Okay - so I'm sketchy on the details, but for some reason I do know that copies will be available for €6 with a free gig at the launch party at Baker Place at 9pm on Saturday the 6th of December!

See you there?

Update 07/12/08: Found out the actual price of the magazine and fixed it above.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A sceptic's atonement

A label I have no objections to being slapped with is that of 'sceptic'. To be sceptical of outlandish claims is a trait that no person could ever be ashamed of, and more sceptics are needed in society to act as firewalls for bad information. The following story is about my spectacular failure to provide this service.

Last month sometime, after a trip to the cinema, I was in the car with Mega. We were having another one of those incredible exchanges of intellect, speaking on a level few people can manage:

Mega, how come Vin Diesel hasn't been in any films lately?

It's cos he's gay.

Really? I never heard that.

Oh yeah - big scandal. All over the papers.

Wow. I completely missed that. Is it true?

Yup - the newspapers were going to break the story, so he beat them to it and came out of the closet.

Makes sense, I suppose. Amazed I never heard of it.
A few days later, I'm at my father's house. XXX is on the TV, its cacophony of screaming and explosions providing my father with the kind of ambience he needs to enjoy his Sunday paper.
Watching XXX eh?
He doesn't look up from his paper as he mutters his response.
To jump-start the conversation I throw out an interesting nugget of information:
Y'know one of the stuntmen died during the making of this film?
The paper drops below his eye line. He peers at his grotesquely over sized TV unblinkingly as the protagonist rides a scrambler around the most explosive compound ever captured on film, performing any number of daring manoeuvres that could conceivably end a man's life.
Of course - they never said which scene it was that killed him.
My words break the spell and he glances at me.
That's amazing all the same. I can see how somebody'd get hurt. Where'd you hear that?

I watched the director's commentary on DVD a few years back.
He nods silently. Then turns back to his paper. The conversation is drying up, so I scan for any more interesting tidbits relating to the film. After mulling it over for a half-second, I decide to proceed:
Here's something else you don't know. Y'know Vin Diesel?

Yer man there with the baldy head, yeah?


What about him?

Y'know how he hasn't been in any films lately?

I hadn't noticed, but why hasn't he been in any films?

Because he's a homosexual.
Silence. My father looks at me in disbelief. It could have something to do with my odd word-choice. I blurt out what little details I have:
He was outed as being gay a few years ago and hasn't been able to get work since - noone takes him seriously anymore.
Vin Diesel drives his bike through a group of AK-47 toting henchmen who fall like a set of skittles, spraying bullets as they do.
Y'mean he's a queer?
A helicopter rolls into the shot. I'm already shaking my head at my father, regretting my decision to set him off.
I can see why nobody would take him seriously, so.
Vin Diesel looks around the compound, looking for an escape route as the helicopter's minigun whirrs up.
The guy who has been driving around breaking necks is actually a hairdresser?
Vin Diesel charges forward on his bike, hitting a conveniently placed ramp that launches him onto a slanted corrugated rooftop that he uses to jump onto the next, the action tracked by chronic-Parkinson's-afflicted cameramen.

My father was beginning to splutter through his self-congratulatory chuckles
You mean to tell me that this super-duper-secret-agent would be an airhostess if he wasn't killing for a living?
A series of great big bassy booms accompany the barn's explosion, as a mess of debris and glowing orange flames thunder towards our hero, eventually engulfing him. A split second later, he triumphantly emerges from the blaze, seemingly unperturbed by the amount of death he had to defy at once. And yet:
I don't know if I'll ever be able to look at him the same again. I wish you hadn't told me that!
I knew that my father's exaggerated display of homophobia was just him joking around, but his closing remarks made me lament the fact that I had passed on information I didn't verify for myself.

The following morning I decided to use the Internet to verify Vin Diesel's sexuality:

'Vin Diesel Slams Gay Rumours'. 19 keystrokes was all it took to rubbish Mega's story of a decloseted action star, yet by the time I looked it up, the damage had been done.

Next time I met with my father, I came clean and admitted that I had passed on bad info. He looked at me funny. Seems he "didn't give a flying fuck anyhow". My sleeping pattern returned to normal.

That's the thing about being a sceptic: there's always a logical explanation - it might just be a bit of research away. The question still stood though. Why hadn't I seen much of Vin Diesel in a whiel? Was his credibility hurt in some way? Didn't take long to figure this one out.