Archive for December, 2009

Heavy snowfall causes article to state obvious

December 18, 2009

Heavy snow across the country has brought chaos to the British media, leaving many journalists stranded for ideas and forcing others to reiterate exactly what everybody already knows.

The snow has come at a difficult time for news writers, who are currently struggling with the reiteration of stories surrounding the likelihood of a white Christmas, together with lazy speculation over festive drinking habits.

Jaded hack Peter Ian reveals more: “I’m not actually going to reveal anything enlightening with regard to my profession, so this quote may disappoint you a bit. What I’ll most likely end up doing is fleshing out a non-story with nothing of any value whatsoever. In fact the reader will wonder why they’re still following the text of this quote with their eyes and may be tempted to skip on to a more interesting part of the story. The problem is, there IS no interesting part to this story, but the reader won’t know that until they’ve read the whole thing, so they’ll slavishly follow the words right down to the bottom of the page – at which point they will know nothing they weren’t aware of already. If anything, they’ll know slightly less.

“Another way writers often beef up these pieces is to include a few accidents that have resulted from the adverse driving conditions up and down the country. We’ll throw in, for example, that part of the M40 in Buckinghamshire has had to be closed due to a jack-knifed lorry, or that cars have been abandoned in parts of Kent, and all the reader will think is ‘I’m glad that’s not me’ before forgetting every detail of what they’ve just read. At this juncture, a journalist often attempts to rescue the story with a celebrity quote – and luckily, in this story, Davina McCall happened to be among those stuck on the A21 for over 3 hours. Soundbytes from B-listers such as McCall provide essential filler, as well as being a useful way of making the story a more vivid experience for the reader.”

Among those stuck on the A21 was television presenter Davina McCall, who luckily wasn’t hurt. She later said: “We got wedged in a whole series of cars and it was pelting down with snow. I did call the police after a couple of hours and they came pretty quickly.”

The lack of a more robust quote from the Big Brother host caused slight panic towards the end of the article – however, this was soon averted by an extra piece of filler in the form of an obligatory warning issued by a local police officer looking to get their name in a news story. Chief Inspector Jon Dodman, of Essex Police, staggered no-one by rounding off the article using this soundbyte: “With further snow forecast over the next few days I would advise people to only make journeys if they are absolutely necessary.”

Cameron uses 1000th populist soundbyte

December 15, 2009

Tory leader David Cameron is set to enter the record books as he yesterday delivered his 1000th populist soundbyte, using a radio interview to compare politics to the TV entertainment show X-Factor.

Mr. Cameron, speaking on right-wing radio station talkSPORT , took the comparison further by suggesting that politicians could learn from the programme’s creator Simon Cowell, all the while heavily implying that he himself would suit the dynamic role of the show’s supremo.

The soundbyte comes as welcome news to representatives of the opposition leader, who expected Mr. Cameron’s 1000th populist quote to occur around April next year. A spokesman for the Conservative leader, Peter Ian, said yesterday: “We’ve all been impressed with how seamlessly he does it. There’s no-one around in politics who is more opportunist than Dave and he has managed to attach himself to nearly everything of any significance in popular culture over the last two years. There were a few hiccups along the way, admittedly – for instance, he didn’t even mention England’s Ashes winners last summer, which was a bit slack for him. Mind you, Parliament was in recess around that time, so you probably couldn’t blame him entirely for that one.

“The other thing is that he doesn’t just limit himself to today’s pop culture, as he recently demonstrated when pretending to like The Smiths. That band broke up 20 years ago, plus his party are entirely at odds with everything they stood for, but he made his alignment to them look so effortless that even I started to buy into it. I’m sure many voters had this vision of him as a disaffected and lonely student, living in squalor and dreaming of becoming famous. If only they knew how rich his family is and how easily he sailed through Oxford as a youngster. That and the fact that he was massively into The Housemartins and Level 42 at the time, but obviously they’re not cool like The Smiths were. You’ve got to take your top hat off to him, really.”

Last month’s war memorial photoshoot was perhaps Mr. Cameron’s most controversial popularity attempt so far, involving as it did dead soldiers. Mr. Ian explains more: “We were a bit cagey about doing that one, to be honest. In fact, the original plan was to take some pictures of Dave against a plain background looking solemn, then superimpose him on to the memorial so as to minimise any offence. But Dave insisted that he wanted to appear ‘real’, and that to do this he needed to pretend to care about the fallen soldiers ‘in person’, as it were. Fair play to him for doing that, as it took a lot of courage and bravery to pull off such a manoeuvre, and he carried it out with military precision taking no longer than 10 minutes for the entire shoot. In fact you could say he was the only one in that place who had been shot several times and survived to tell the tale.”

Mr. Cameron’s populist quote tally is expected to exceed 1,500 before the next general election, which is due to be called by June 2010 at the latest.

Middlesbrough footballers show steel … on their t-shirts

December 14, 2009

Middlesbrough FC’s millionaire football stars showed off their kind-hearted sides over the weekend by generously donning “Save Our Steel” t-shirts during their match preparations in support of workers at the local Corus factory.

The factory’s workers are facing a difficult Christmas this year due to plans announced recently to “mothball” part of the plant, resulting in the loss of up to 1700 jobs in the region. Many in the area feel that the government should intervene to stop the decline of the steel industry in the northeast by saving jobs as opposed to solely funding training.

Chairman of Middlesbrough FC Steve Gibson said yesterday: “We thought a lot about what sort of ‘gesture’ the club could make which would be appropriate in these circumstances and show the steelworkers we pretend to care. You know, how could we, as a football club which generates millions of pounds worth of revenue every season, go about alleviating the difficulties faced by these workers under threat of redundancy? After a few hours of talks we realised that the best way to help the situation would be by getting the squad to wear specially-made t-shirts before a match. We agreed that this would show a strong public support for these workers and display to everyone just how highly Middlesbrough Football Club values its fanbase.

“The other thing we’ve been doing recently to help the situation is allow a group of factory workers on to the pitch just before a game. This plays on the working class sensibilities of the crowd and the applause the workers receive during their parade may not save any jobs, but it can be extremely therapeutic nonetheless. I mean, what more could someone possibly wish for than to step out on to the hallowed turf of their beloved local football ground and soak up the cheers of thousands of supporters? It’s every youngsters dream. Plus it’s a fantastic means of raising awareness across the wider world. With any sort of cause, raising awareness is 90% of the battle – once that’s done, someone else can do the other 10% of actually solving the problem, leaving the person or organisation who brought attention to the original issue to claim the credit afterwards.”

Middlesbrough FC are currently discussing further plans to aid the stricken Corus workers over the next few weeks, including a half-time penalty shootout between factory staff for the prize of a £10 gift voucher to spend in the club shop, and the release of a giant balloon to mark every goal scored by the home team.

Afghan insurgents ‘Talibantastic’, says bishop

December 14, 2009

The new bishop of Britain’s armed forces has been singing the praises of the much-maligned Taliban this week by insisting that “you have to hand it to them” for their “courage” in the face of such fierce opposition.

The Church of England’s Right Reverend Stephen Venner wrote on the Daily Telegraph website yesterday: “You’ve got to take your hat off to these people at the end of the day. What they do must take a lot of courage, especially in the face of such ongoing hatred. I feel kind of sorry for them in a way, because they’re just doing their job and it must take a lot of guts to keep going in such an organised and determined fashion. I think our boys could learn a lot from the discipline shown by the Taliban – you never hear them complaining about anything, do you? Their stoicism is a lesson to us all.

“To blanket them all as evil and paint them as black is not helpful in a very complex situation. Besides, they’re not black, they’re brown. And a lot of them are pretty decent blokes to be honest with you. I’ve played cards with a few of them and I’ll tell you something, those lads can sure hold their drink. I struggled to keep up with them and I’m a bishop, for Christ’s sake.”

As well as being an admirer of the Taliban’s courage and stoicism, Reverend Venner also praised the group’s conviction to their faith and sense of loyalty to one another: “Sometimes, when my belief begins to waver and I find myself thinking ‘Is all this real? Does God truly exist?’, I only need to take one look at the Taliban and how committed they are to their faith (even though it’s wrong) and I get the hunger back again. What I also find inspiring about them is how much they look out for one another – apart from when one of them has to carry out a suicide attack, obviously. But other than that I can’t fault them – they’ve got this Three Musketeers solidarity which puts most other terrorist-leaning political organisations to shame.”

The bishop concluded his comments by insisting that it would be wrong to “demonise” Taliban insurgents, adding: “They’re not as bad as they’re made out in a lot of cases. Some of the good things they do are completely ignored by the western media, and I think they’re misunderstood by a lot of people. When you get to know many of them, they’re actually quite decent people – once you get over all the guns and explosives and stuff. My personal experience of them has actually been surprisingly good – in fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s been Talibantastic.”

People set to enjoy Christmas, say experts

December 10, 2009

Millions of people across Britain are making preparations to enjoy the festive season, with many planning to exchange presents with loved ones, take time off work and spend quality time with their families.

Excitement is rife in workplaces throughout the country, as many will be holding staff parties which traditionally involve high volumes of alcohol intake together with general revelry, and provide a good opportunity for employees to let their hair down. Christmas party-goers are likely to guzzle several million units, with more than half expected to exceed the recommended daily alcohol intake, which is 4 units a day for men and 3 units for women.

Millions of families are expected to put up decorations throughout their homes in the next few days, with some even going as far as to decorate the outside their houses too. It is anticipated that a percentage of homeowners will become the envy of their neighbourhoods by spending a combined total of several million pounds on complex and extravagant light animations extending throughout their front gardens.

A proportion of people may even host parties – especially for New Year – although many are expected to celebrate at their local pubs or bars, with others planning a quieter night indoors watching television or playing games. Alcohol will inevitably play a major part in these celebrations, with an estimated several hundred million units being consumed over the Christmas to New Year period, according to experts. Research also suggests that several festive revellers will mix their drinks, with the majority expected to drink beer together with “shots” of a particular spirit, whilst others will mostly drink wine over the festive period. Some may even go as far as preparing “cocktails” involving several different alcoholic drinks, experts say.

Christmas is expected to begin on December 25th.

Branson shines his rocket

December 8, 2009

Entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson’s lifelong dream of offering commercial space travel to the rich and famous has taken one small step to becoming reality today, as he publicly unveiled his new Virgin Galactic shuttle.

The British billionaire was beaming from ear to ear as he proudly described how the so-called “SpaceShipTwo” – the product of his recent collaboration with renowned aviation designer Burt Rutan – will take passengers on a thrilling 3-hour journey almost into space, before returning back to the ground once more.

The exciting new venture is set to revolutionise commercial travel across the globe, but be warned – ticket prices start from an incredible £130,000, so you’ll need to be pretty wealthy if you wish to travel nearly as far as space in this lifetime!

SpaceShipTwo’s maiden voyage into the deep skies is expected to include Sir Richard and his family, along with super-rich stargazers such as environmental scientist James Lovelock, wheelchair physics wizard Stephen Hawking, quantum celebrity Uri Geller and Arab billionaire playboy Saleh Abdullah Kamel.

The vessel is almost twice the size of its predecessor and can comfortably accommodate up to six passengers on any one flight, and, with the addition of windows, promises to give fabulous panoramic views for those privileged (and wealthy) enough to fly on board. It is thought that the craft may one day fly as far as space itself, although for the moment it is planned to fly into the Earth’s outer atmosphere, which, according to the entrepreneur is “as good as” space.

Speaking from the Mojave Desert in California, wearing a specially-designed Virgin Galactic machine washable spacesuit, Sir Richard said: “I’ve been really eager to get this project off the ground, so to speak, for quite some time. In the end I decided I wasn’t going to wait until the technology was developed to get right into actual space itself, so we pressed ahead with this craft, which gets people in the same ballpark, if not actually there as such. I have been dreaming about it ever since the Moon landing – that one day I would get the chance to go fairly near space.

“NASA, I suppose, didn’t think that ordinary people like you or me would like to go into somewhere pretty much similar to space,” he added, “but if anyone had £130,000 to spare I’m pretty sure they’d rather invest in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend a couple of hours exploring the bit just before where space begins as opposed to paying off the mortgage or starting their own business.”

Public ‘not completely on board’ with climate change: poll

December 7, 2009

A recent ICM poll has shown that the public are not entirely on board with upcoming changes in the world’s climate.

The poll, carried out for The Sunday Telegraph, revealed that 56% of those quizzed “weren’t being funny or anything, but if temperatures are rising, how come we’re still getting such shitty, cold and wet weather all the time?”. A further 43% said “if the climate has changed, then I haven’t bloody noticed it,” with an overwhelming 96% of those going on to say “if anything, the weather’s got worse.”

Around half of the people surveyed believed there was no proof that global warming was caused by humans, saying that it was “most likely down to cars and factories and stuff like that,” with 17% insisting that if there was a problem, it “probably isn’t all that serious in my opinion.”

When quizzed on rising sea levels across the globe, a mammoth 62% of those surveyed said “of course they’re going to rise, what with all that bloody rain falling all the time,” with nearly 32% believing that “rises in temperature would make more of the water evaporate, so surely the sea levels would go down, not up.”. A further 36% were confused because “in the Ice Age they didn’t have cars, and yet all that still melted, so how do you explain that?”

In what is perhaps the most damning result from the survey, 82% of those questioned said that, overall, they felt “let down” by climate change, with nearly three-quarters of those placing the blame with the current government. This will come as something of a shock to the Prime Minister, who is due to attend a meeting next week along with other world leaders to secure a new deal designed to tackle rising global temperatures.

December 4, 2009

Maggie Averidge: acclaimed medium

Uses psychic energies which science simply cannot measure to answer any questions from the “other side” – as long as they’re not too difficult

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Dear Maggie,

I was wondering what your opinion was on the Ouija board, whether you yourself have ever used it and what experiences you or others close to you have had when using it.

Love and light,

Sandra, Worcs.

~ My advice to you Sandra, even though you haven’t explicitly asked for it, is DO NOT use it. DO NOT use the board. I cannot stress that enough, although it is merely just my personal opinion. DO NOT USE THE BOARD – you just don’t know what you’re letting in. You’re opening up a portal to ALL spirits, including the evil ones. Use Tarot cards instead, because although they are essentially similar in that they too are simply a piece of cardboard with a picture on it, the spirits somehow know the difference. Only the good spirits can come through with Tarot cards, whereas the evil ones definitely favour the Ouija boards – and that’s actually been proven scientifically (in that science has yet to DISPROVE it). The board is a doorway and you can’t control what comes in unless you have a qualified medium present who can administer the necessary protection.

I myself have experienced the evils of the Ouija. When I was a teenager, a group of us decided to try one out for a bit of fun and TO THIS DAY none of us have forgotten what happened during that evening. The glass moved entirely of its’ own accord, even though the 5 of us were placing a finger on top of it. Then we removed our fingers from it completely AND IT STOPPED – explain THAT! I tell you something, none of US could explain it either. The other thing we couldn’t explain was how when the glass moved, it was responding correctly to questions only WE knew the answers to – every time. It was obvious that the spirits were channelling our energies, using our eyes, thoughts and physical energy to communicate their message. It couldn’t have been anything else. There’s simply no other plausible explanation for it, in my opinion. We knew we had encountered an evil demon that evening, which had somehow got into our minds and played on our mutual fears, and we never dared use a Ouija board again afterwards.

So, Sandra, I would urge you NOT to use the Ouija Board. Although I haven’t given a balanced view on the matter, I would still insist you don’t use it, thus reinforcing the unfounded societal negativity surrounding the board. I’m certainly not trying to perpetuate the unhealthy view that you will ALMOST CERTAINLY come to harm should you use one, but I have stress that you ABSOLUTELY DON’T use it whatsoever. You shouldn’t take such a huge risk for the sake of talking to unproven and arguably non-existent entities. If you want to talk to loved ones who have passed, then that’s what God created mediums for. You must always use a reputable and expensive medium to ensure you receive the correct messages from the other side – peace be with you, my darling…

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Dear Maggie,

I was wondering, are you able to pick up vibrations from someone’s personal belongings? I have enclosed my late grandfather’s gold watch in case you do.

Blessed be,

Ruth, Llandudno.

~ Greetings, Ruth. ‘psychometry’ – or ‘token object reading’ as we are now supposed to refer to it – is something which only sham mediums, such as those who appear on television regularly, use as nothing more than a prop to make their cold readings appear more authentic. I’m not mentioning any names, but a well-known medium whose initials are D.A. (I think we all know who I’m referring to) often uses this to detract from the fact that he’s not a proper medium. Now I’m not conforming to the bitter mediumistic stereotype of slagging off television psychics out of jealousy, as I actually believe that television mediums are dangerous and that they devalue the work of many non-famous psychics. I certainly wouldn’t scoff at the mention of, say, Tony Stockwell, before employing exactly the same techniques as he uses, for example.

My point is that these so-called ‘famous’ mediums don’t practice psychometry in the correct way, like I do. I use a misinterpretation of quantum theory to pick up on the vibrational frequency of an inanimate object in order to be able to ‘tune in’ to that object’s history. That’s what I have done with your watch, Ruth. And immediately I was able to tell that it belonged to an older gentlemen, perhaps a grandfatherly figure, and that this person used it regularly, does that make sense? Would I be right in saying that he came to rely on it at times? He wore it on his … left wrist, am I right? If not, then he certainly wears it on his left arm IN SPIRIT. He was always saying something like “Where’s my damn watch?” or “Where did I put that blasted watch?”. If not, then he was definitely THINKING that at times, that’s for sure! In fact, right now he’s telling me “Look after that watch, make sure you look after it”. He’s saying “Keep it safe for me”, does that make sense? And of course I will, as is my promise to him. I will make sure your watch is kept completely safe, my dear. May love and light be with you, Ruth…

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Would YOU like to ask a question of Maggie? If so, you can now send requests telepathically, and Maggie will endeavour to make up an answer in time for her next column, which “may or may not happen” sometime soon.

OMG!! 1!!1!!! Facebook ‘helps 2 improve writin’

December 3, 2009

Research has suggested that social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo could help to improve young people’s writing skills.

The survey, which was carried out by some people with beards, found that more than half of young people with a blog or a social networking page claimed to be good at writing. This strong positive link between social networking and good grammar will come as welcome news to the creators of sites such as Facebook and Bebo, which have recently come under fire for causing cancer.

Peter Ian, a spokesman for sites such as Facebook and Bebo, said of the research: “I think the results speak for themselves, to be honest. But, for those people who aren’t as good at misinterpreting vague and inconclusive research, the gist of it is that sites such as Facebook and Bebo are actually good for children and can help their writing and grammar by quite a percent. Although the original survey only found that some children who use social networking sites such as Facebook or Bebo ‘enjoyed writing more’ and had ‘greater confidence’, we can fill in the gaps a bit and assume that because they like it, they will almost certainly become better at it. Well, at least you’d think so, anyway.

“Some of the young people surveyed said they would probably do a bit more writing at some point, if they felt like it. To me, that represents a massive positive for sites such as Facebook and Bebo, as it proves beyond doubt that they are actually helpful in improving young people’s writing skills. In fact, you could even speculate that this improvement could be in some way responsible for the rises in GCSE performance across the board. It wouldn’t be out of the question, anyway, seeing as 5% of each exam paper is marked on spelling, punctuation and grammar.”

The results also give a strong indication that, due to the negligible carcinogenic levels found in the act of writing, sites such as Facebook and Bebo now no longer cause cancer. Tony Mick, a Facebook user, said of the interpretation of the results: “OMG!!!111 PMSL!!! I dnt belev it!!!!!11!! Thought I wuz a goner for a sec!!!! LMFAO!!!”. Timothy ‘Timmz’ Peters, another Facebook user, added that he “liked” this, whilst another user proved beyond doubt the power of the written word by writing “word…”

Jobcentre unveils new supercomputer

December 2, 2009

The government is today set to unveil a new supercomputer, which is expected to make “shopping” for employment much easier for the country’s 3 million jobseekers.

The computer – which has been developed over several years – is designed to open up greater employment possibilities to jobseekers by including a more powerful search facility which ignores more user criteria than ever before.

Developer Peter Ian reveals more: “We decided to modify the search engine to give a more broadly-interpreted output, as this automatically covers any ‘gaps’ in information entered by the user. Our research found that the primary reason people are out of work is not because of a lack of jobs, but because most jobseekers – or ‘customers’ as we now call them – aren’t being given a full 100% ‘service’. Omitting jobs from the search listings is unfair to the customer, as they should be entitled to know about ALL types of job in EVERY part of the country.

“Customers should have the right to work for commission only, and to travel as far as Liverpool or Edinburgh, even if they live in Bristol. Overall, we are hopeful that our new search facility will ignore at least 90% of the information entered by any user, which in theory should open up 90% more opportunity for them, and go some way towards reducing the current high level of unemployment.”

Another thing the makers of the machine will address is the issue of the “unresponsive” touch screen interface, which has left a high number of jobseekers unable to choose the correct job, and in some cases forced the user down a completely different career path to their choosing. The knock-on effects of this can be devastating, with many disillusioned customers stuck in jobs they despise as a result.

“I think most customers will be pleased to hear we are scrapping the frustrating touch screen system,” adds Peter Ian, “and are replacing it with a more simplistic and hard-wearing user interface able to cope with the day-to-day rigors of constant aggressive use. We decided in the end to mount a ‘roller-ball’ on the front of the machine together with a button. These controls will enable the user to guide a small onscreen cursor, which moves very gradually as they roll the ball in a particular direction. Once the cursor eventually reaches the desired option, they simply click the button to select it. We hope that this will prove more user-friendly and, together with the enhanced search facility, make seeking employment a more enjoyable and rewarding experience for the consumer.”