Thursday, June 29, 2006

News for the Girls

Though I can honestly say, I don't buy women's magazines.(Honestly, Reveal magazine was an accident. I thought it was a retrospective on Teletext)I do enjoy having a quick glance at the headlines as I walk past them in a newsagent. "I slept with my daughter's boyfriend ","My husband found out the baby wasn't his when he came out Welsh' and 'My partner stole my ankles' all being typical headlines.

The "I slept with my daughter's boyfriend' is a very popular headline. Such a story appeared in a Sunday tabloid's magazine a couple of weeks ago. The article ended with the woman, who was telling her story in this article, saying that 'I deeply regret what I've done, and hope that one day my daughter will forgive me.' This wasn't an anonymous telling of the story. The woman telling the story, proudly displayed herself looking sorrowful; a quote from the story "Don't make the same mistake as me" rested beside her.

I do slightly worry about the level of moral strength of the people these magazines are targeted at, if their genuine piece of advice to its readers is don't sleep with your daughter's boyfriend. But I hope the message does get through to other people before it's too late, as this mother only seemed to realise after the event that it may have been an unwise activity to take part in. "My daughter's reaction was not good. She was very upset when she found out". Really? She didn't take you shagging the love-of-her-life with the good grace you expected? It must have been so hard for you when she kicked up a fuss.

As for her explaining that she deeply regretted what she had done and Hoped that her daughter would forgive her; I'm not sure telling the story of how she banged the brains out of her bloke, using phrases like, 'the sex was amazing', in a magazine read by millions of people is going to help the forgiveness process. The poor daughter, who, as well as being upset, may have been slightly embarrassed by the whole thing and decided not to tell friends and work-colleagues the exact details of what happened, may have veered even further away from giving the gift of forgiveness after finding that her mother had obviously supplied the magazine with pictures of both her, herself and her ex-boyfriend to go with the article. Further suspicions on exactly how sorry the mother is, may be aroused by the fact that whilst her picture was taken with her wearing attractive clothing And make-up in a nicely lit studio, her daughter's photo; which was presumably supplied by the mother from the family photo album, had her slightly overweight in baggy pink shorts and sunburn with a smile that displayed more teeth than a pissed-off shark.

And then there's the other girls' favourite, Heat magazine: It has a picture of Jane Goody in a car holding a mobile phone with the headline 'Jade Goody pictured texting, driving at 50mph'. Obviously the journalists at Heat magazine have seen Top Gear, and wanted to make their own Version of 'Star in a reasonably priced car.' And I'm all for harmless fun, but running a competition in which celebrities are invited to see how fast they can drive whilst operating their mobile phones does seem a tiny bit irresponsible. That said, I am looking forward to finding out the celebrity, make of car and model of phone of the eventual winner. Catherine Zeta-Jones in a Nissan Sunny with a Samsung E500, has got to be worth a bet.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Football Brain

"I think Sven is going to go 4-1-4-1", I mentioned to a work colleague of England's upcoming game against Ecuador. "He'll play Rooney up front and Hargreaves just behind the midfield."

He nodded his head solemnly."I think that's definitely what's going to happen" he replied, "What else can he do?"

Football gives you the opportunity to talk about something we know nothing about with a perceived legitmate confidence. There's no tone of irony in conversations in which bankers and bin-men discuss how a football manager with 30 years experience has no idea what he's doing, and here's how to make it all better. I, like I'm sure most others, am not actually even aware that I don't know what I'm talking about when I'm engaged in soccer chat.

The brain of the football-loving man has an extra section that modifies football related memories. It wont touch the normal brain functions such as that which deals with eating, drinking, shagging, working, complaining about Easter eggs being sold too early in supermarkets, dreaming, talking about feelings and of course punching walls. It will just mess about with the football stuff, which allows you to enter over-confidentially into soccer tactics discussions.

When Radio Five Live informed me England will probably be playing 4-1-4-1, with Rooney up front on his own and Hargreeves playing just behind the four-man midfield, my main brain would have processed this information normally. But a few seconds after, the Football Memory Modifier neural pathways would fire-up and do their work. This is how it would handle the knowledge I gleaned from the radio:

It would change my memory: "Radio 5 Live reckons Hargreaves will start. He'll play just behind the middle-four as the primary ball-winner." To "I, after analysing the position England have found themselves in, and based onall available facts, reckon that England need to play a ball-winner. Now I know Hargreaves has had more stick than No-More-Nails, but he would be perfect for this role, so that's what I have decided Sven should do. Me!"

And it would change my memory: "Radio 5 Live told me that England would probably play with the formation 4-1-4-1 against Ecuador; a formation which previously I had never heard of. I'm not even really sure what it means" to" I, after analysing the position England have found themselves in, and based on all available facts, have decided the old 4-1-4-1 formation (one which I have always advocated), is how Sven is going to get England to playing the next game. I have decided this on my own. Me! I know all about football yeah!"

Nobody really knows anything about football.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Importance of Cutting Out

I’ve always hated using scissors. I’ve also always liked using the excuse that I’m left-handed; although not in an American ‘I’m a persecuted member of society’ kind of way. Just that, whilst I don’t think it’s ruined my life, having to use right-handed scissors always gave me some kind of excuse at school for my badly cut out paper-cat-shapes.

To this day I think there was an over-concentration on cutting-out at my primary school and of course neat hand-writing. The children that could write neatly and then accurately cut out farm animals and stick them around their writing always got the A++s (Yes there were ++’s --’s and all sorts.) My highest mark was a story about a man called Jack who went to Mars in a spaceship and died because he didn’t pack enough lunch. This captivating tale earned me a B--, which in a funny kind of way looked more depressing than my usual C++. A happy ’C’ must be better than a depressed ’B’. I would of got a straight B if I hadn’t cut off Jack’s head before sticking him to the side of my story. But when I look back now, I think I was making a point about Man’s inability to accept their heads.

I often wonder how cutting-out skills have shaped the paths of various people in this country( This is a lie, I mean, who would really wonder this unless they were in jail or watching Ukraine V Switzerland, but how else would you introduce a paragraph, which, and here‘s a preview, is largely, if not complete nonsense.) Would Tony Blair have made it to Prime-Minister if he hadn’t made such a cracking job of cutting out a tank to stick on his ’When I grow up I’m going to war with Iraq’ essay? On the other hand, Jade Goody would probably just be some forgotten brain surgeon, if she hadn’t, as a seven year old, made such a hash with her scissors, of extracting a picture of Starlin to stick on her ’Is Starlin’s legacy relevant to the on-going struggle for equality for females in the work place?’ essay. Because of this bad moment of cutting-out Jade gave up on education and thus makes lots of money from thinking East Anglia is a foreign country. (Which apparently it isn’t. Sounds like it should be to me. Then again, I’m shit at cutting out.)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Computers of the Future VS Shane Ritchie

The best thing about pubs is the licence to engage in conversations that may seem a little out of place in the office, at a football match or in Devon. One such conversation a couple of nights ago brought up the concept of computer Artificial Intelligence.

Because of computer power doubling every two-years, it was speculated that in ten years they would be able to think like human-beings, even maybe surpass them.

I can’t buy this. I mean what makes us human? What makes us more than just micro-chips, RAM, and running around killing monsters with a laser cannon in a badly lit cave complex? For example, could a computer ten years in the future be better than Shane Ritchie?

I’m the first to admit that a PC of 2016 would be able to forge out a career as a light-entertainer, presenting shows similar to ‘Run the Risk’ and ‘The Shane Ritchie Experience’. It may need to be fitted with a dedicated ‘Cheeky Chappy’ processor card to handle the intense unrelenting glint in the eye, but with this admittedly expensive additional hardware, I am confident an effective Shane Ritchie like personality could be modelled. What I am less confident about is what it would do if its career took a sudden and shocking nose-dive.

Shane Ritchie took time off, relaxed, ate some fruit and decided to act in the hit BBC 1 soap-opera Eastenders. This was a good decision for Ritchie, who is now firmly one of the 10,000 most popular celebrities in the United Kingdom. His character Alfie Moon was taken into the hearts of many a horny-housewife and his romance with the character Kat Slater was personally the most convincing thing I have ever seen.

But I cannot conceive the processing power necessary for a Cheeky, fun, bouncy, slightly overweight, reasonably amusing PC to work out that appearing in a soap, where suicide is used to lighten the mood, could possibly be a good idea. Even if all the computers in the world in 2016 were networked together into a super computer named something like IAN, it would still probably decide that appearing in Pantomimes in Weymouth was the only way forward. So Shane Ritchie wins, there’s no doubt in my mind.

As for Elton John: I don’t think a computer in even 10,000 years time would have anywhere near the raw power needed to be able to change the words to ’Candle in the Wind’ to pay tribute to a dead Queen of Hearts. “Goodbye England’s rose.” are not the words of bits and bytes, but of pure and beautiful; unsynthesisable human over-sentimentality.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Do you want England to win Scotland?

“So will you be supporting England during the world cup?” asks yet another reporter to another uninterested Scottish person as if the answer would yield some great politically vital question.

“No” comes the answer. Occasionally, some Welsh or Scottish person might answer, “Yes I hope they do well.”, especially if they don’t like football and are a celebrity promoting an album or a film.

I presume all these reporters and interviewers are asking Scots and Welsh whether they will be supporting England in the World Cup for some reason, but I am at a complete loss to know what it is. Maybe I’m the only English person that doesn’t care what Charlotte Church thinks about England’s chances against Sweden. Maybe I’m the only one who doesn’t care what Rod Stewart thinks about Wayne’s Rooney stupid broken foot..

I love living in Bristol, but being a Saints fan I really don’t care if Bristol City or Bristol Rovers win or lose. So please various media people, stop asking uninterested people uninteresting questions. England doesn’t care whether the Scots or Welsh want England to win; just as Scotland wouldn’t care what England thought if Scotland were in the World Cup and England weren’t.

Which will never happen……….hopefully.