Archives for posts with tag: Humour

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1. Politicians stockpile nuclear weapons… monkeys don’t.

2. Monkeys masturbate in public… and will unashamedly shag anything that moves – with monkeys, what you see is what you get. Politicians on the other hand spend half of their lives indulging the lecherous and debauched fantasies their new found power gives them access to… and the other half trying to convince the voting public that they’re paragons of clean living “traditional family values”.

3. Monkeys live a sustainable lifestyle in rainforests and jungles, completely in harmony with their natural environment. Politicians tend to live in mansions… and happily allow rainforests and jungles to be ripped from the face of the earth whilst they dedicate their entire political energy into staying in power for a second term.

4. Politicians take bribes, and do favours for their multi-millionaire friends, and use off-shore tax havens – monkeys on the other hand never even bothered to learn the concept of money (it seemed rather dull and boring… and they were too busy eating bananas and shagging in the tree tops).

5. Monkeys are cute, and lithe, and agile, and graceful. Politicians are paunchy and bloated and generally resemble closet alcoholics with a weakness for KFC.

6. Politicians spend most of their time making shady backroom deals with dodgy corporations and psychotic dictators. Monkey’s don’t give a fuck about dodgy corporations and psychotic dictators (because they’re too busy eating bananas and shagging in the treetops).

7. Monkeys are illiterate and have low IQs, and don’t care who knows it – politicians spend their entire overly privileged childhoods surrounded by private tutors and enrolled at uber-expensive educational establishments to cover up this very same fact.

8. Human beings have the terrifying DNA capacity to create genetic abominations like Michael Gove – monkeys don’t.

9. Politicians write painfully self gratifying memoirs in multi-million pound book deals as part of their retirement plans. Monkey’s don’t care about retirement plans or lying about stuff to be remembered better (because they’re too busy eating bananas and shagging in the treetops).

10. Monkeys have retained the “Common touch” and will happily pass the time of day with any other member of their community. Politicians stay at the world’s most exclusive hotels, eat in the world’s finest restaurants and get chauffeured around the world’s capital cities in Limousines and Rolls Royce’s… they too claim to have the common touch – and pay public relations gurus vast sums of money to prove it.

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So it’s the morning after a quiet night in with The Big Lebowski, and I’m firing up the laptop to hunt down a Creedence playlist on youtube when my stupid touchpad sticks and I find myself staring at Google’s hilariously earnest “mission statement!” Before I give you the quotes in question, just remember that to enjoy the full effect it’s important that you remove any trace of irony from your reading voice and serve up the lines like they belong to one of those 2am infomercials for vegetable dicers – a sort of manic self-confidence tempered with the zealous dogmatism of a cult leader:

Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Google’s Mission? Why are they even on a mission in the first place? It makes them sound like they’re about to head off into the wilderness with a suitcase full of bibles… and forgive my ignorance but I always labored under the false assumption that companies existed to make profits for the shareholders. Still, it’s nice to know that at least one of the world’s transnational’s is a non-profit organization working selflessly for the betterment of mankind. Oh, hang on a minute…

#1: Focus on the user and all else will follow.

“If you book them, they will come…” and I love the fact that we’re all known as “users” like some sort of squalid Junkies shooting up Google in a basement somewhere! And what the b’jesus do they mean by “all else” exactly? Could they possibly be referring to profits, growth and market domination perhaps? What happened to all that grandiose philanthropy they opened up with?!


Since the beginning, we’ve focused on providing the best user experience possible. Whether we’re designing a new Internet browser or a new tweak to the look of the homepage, we take great care to ensure that they will ultimately serve you, rather than our own internal goal or bottom line.

“Since THE BEGINNING!!!” What’s with this whole pseudo biblical thing, man? The beginning of what exactly? Time? Space? Creation? Still, at least they admit that they do in fact have an “internal goal…” and a “bottom line”… if only we had some idea what that “Internal goal” might actually be? And who exactly is this “you” that Google so adamantly claim to be serving? In my head, the “you” in question is someone young and pretty and dim and white and affluent… call me cynical but it really doesn’t feel as though they’re talking to a Somalian kid at an internet café in Darfur or an Afghan housewife… funny that.

Semantic nit-picking aside though, there really is something fishy about all of this corporate PR flim flam. The idea that Google are seriously interested in spreading Information in a universally accessible and useful format seriously starts to creak the second you type your very first letter into the Google search bar and check out the autocomplete predictions it throws up.

Here in the UK, if you type in the letter “a” for example, Google’s only suggestions are “Amazon, Argos, Asda and Autotrader”. Four gigantic multi million pound companies! No mention whatsoever of “Africa” or “Asia” or “Apples” or “Anteaters”. A nice smooth ride for anybody wanting to part with a few of their hard earned pennies of course… but doesn’t it feel more like some sort of product placement racket than a genuine attempt to serve the world its collective stockpile of knowledge and wisdom? If Google are serious about wanting to organise the world’s information, then the autocomplete function offers us a disturbing window into the corporation’s views of what we do and don’t need to know about.

At first I thought maybe I was doing Google a disservice – it’s all just algorithms right? Perhaps the people of Britain really are more interested in cars than in continents… but would the failing chain of camera shops “Jessops” really get more hits than “Jesus”? And is it really possible that “American Express” and “American Apparel” (two more corporate giants) get autosuggested before America itself? I begin to wonder if Google use shorter spikes in phrase popularity to generate their suggestions and (repressing a shiver) start to type out the letters for “Kate Middleton” – whose current pregnancy seems to have left a depressingly large slice of the nation drooling in bovine excitement – but the first “K” I come across is “KFC”! As the hunt for an unpolluted and meaningful autosuggest list continues I feel myself getting increasingly frustrated. It’s as though I’ve just opened up the world’s biggest encyclopaedia only to discover that it’s filled with nothing but adverts for hairdryers and slimming pills.

Perplexed, I dig around for a while and find myself reading an article aptly entitled “How Google Instant’s Autocomplete Suggestions work”. The following quote in particular catches my attention:

How are the suggestions shown ranked? Are the more popular searches listed above others? No.

Popularity is a factor, but some less popular searches might be shown above more popular ones, if Google deems them more relevant, the company says.

So there we are then! Problem solved. It really is just a question of what Google does and doesn’t deem relevant! As a cold sweat brakes out on my brow, I quickly head back to Google’s homepage to find out whether or not information on marginal little issues like “poverty” might be deemed in anyway “useful” to the world’s online population… only to find myself staring at “adverts” for “paypal” and fucking “poundland!” If you take the time to try it out for yourself, you’ll find that this catalogue of horrors and atrocities to the organisation of the world’s information goes on pretty much indefinitely. In Google’s fucked up consumer culture view of the world, “Famine” is less relevant than “Facebook”, “Family Guy” or “First Choice Holidays” (perhaps they’d argue that there are over a billion active facebook accounts and only a billion hungry people in the world?), “Genocide” is less relevant than Asda’s supermarket clothing line “George”, and “domestic violence” is something you might want to worry about after you’ve bought yourself a pizza from “Domino’s” or browsed the “Debenhams” website for a new blender or a fucking lampshade.

And if you were hoping that Google might use their monumental sway to quietly guide people towards good causes like Oxfam – rather than away from them, into the grey wilderness of mindless over consumption, you’d be disappointed to discover that the suggestions for “o” neglect to include a charity that helps 15 million of the world’s most criminally impoverished human beings a year… in favour of the cinema chain “Odeon” and the telecommunication giants “O2” and “Orange”. For an organisation that claims its informal corporate motto to read “don’t be evil”, I can’t help thinking that Google have got a hell of a lot of work to do. As things stand at present, the phrase “callously indifferent” seems more appropriate… and no amount of corporate responsibility posturing or pseudo-minimalist web design can hide the fact that if they really did give a shit about the stuff that matters, Google’s “universally accessible” and “useful” catalogue of the world’s information would be organised in a damned sight more compassionate and socially conscientious manner than it is right now.

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I know I run the risk of sounding like a blithering paranoiac on a steady diet of dodgy mushroom omelettes but ever since I first moved into this house six years ago, I’ve been utterly convinced that the place emanates some seriously bad vibrations. Up until yesterday, it really wouldn’t have surprised me to have discovered that we lived on the exact same spot where the locals used to hold witch burning parties in the early 1700s, or that the foundations of the place were laid over a Roman fortress decimated by smallpox. Now however, after finally dipping my fingers into the fascinating world of feng shui, I can confirm (though not with any great relish) that all of our property woes are the direct result of a near apocalyptic series of feng shui disasters. Seriously, this place could have been set up as an experiment in how to ruin your own life through the attraction of negative energy… and if we were ever to invite around a feng shui consultant to help us re-arrange the coffee tables, I doubt they’d even make it through the front door before they collapsed in a writhing, screaming heap and started frothing at the mouth.

Ten seconds into my online research and I start coming across lines like “Do you live in a cul-de-sac?” (Yes actually I do…) and “Is your backyard sloped?” (Yes actually it is…), and then other, altogether less encouraging lines like “these houses will have challenging Feng Shui that needs to be taken care of.” And it’s so painfully obvious that the word “challenging” is just a polite way of saying “seriously and irredeemably fucked” that I have to curb the compulsion to bundle my family into the car and check indefinitely into the nearest Travelodge. In contexts like this, “Challenging” is a serious word indeed, it hints at dark and disturbing truths that are too hideous to be faced in their naked form. “Challenging” is the word that teachers use in the school reports of their most criminally deranged pupils: “Johnny’s recent experiments with a chainsaw in the playground raised some challenging behavioural concerns”… or politicians trot out whenever they get busted: “a Government spokesperson conceded earlier today that the photos of the prime minister dressed as Mussolini whilst snorting cocaine off the naked breasts of a Thai prostitute have created a challenging PR situation.” Let’s face it, “challenging” is bad… and nobody in their right mind would want to get home from a tiring day at work to be “challenged” by the very existence of their property on the spot where it currently resides. There really is no escaping the fact that what we’re dealing with here is a remarkably concrete problem. A cul-de-sac is a cul-de-sac… a hill is a hill… and no amount of online feng shui hints or tips are ever going to amount to anything more than a second rate palliative care programme unless I call in the bulldozers and destroy the entire street, or convince the council to shift a few hundred thousand tonnes of top soil.

And if it’s depressing to fall at the first hurdle, imagine how it feels to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and then slap the tarmac at the second hurdle as well. It seems that a good feng shui house requires “a smooth, strong and clear energy flow to its front door”. A nice, simple, gently curved pathway is the thing you’re after – something that imparts an air of cheerfulness and calm, maybe a couple of moderately proportioned bushes and a water feature to finish things off. “Big trees, old pots and recycling bins” blocking the way to the front door are (not unreasonably) frowned upon, whilst weeds, dead flowers and any other inauspicious signs of decay should be promptly removed from the scene. Needless to say, the path to my own front door deviates catastrophically from this feng shui blue-print. Picture instead a hideous procession of vomit yellow slabs (with some sort of fungal infection) lurching aggressively away from the front of the house like a drunk being ejected from a nightclub. Then picture this path taking a completely insane right angle about a third of the way down a decidedly patchy lawn before stumbling to the left for a few feet and then abruptly terminating at a narrow driveway of black tarmac. Throw in a few dandelions prising their way through the cracks in the slabs and finish off with a pair of ornamental cement tortoises – one of whom was sadly decapitated by the lawn-mower a few years back – and you get a good sense of the place.

You know, the more I think about the layout of that path the more it pisses me off. What kind of a fuckwit building company would force a family to skulk sideways into their own house like they were about to undertake a kidnapping? And I mean seriously, how could a home ever appear warm or inviting when you have to tip-toe down the side of your car and then navigate a series of jarring, unnatural right angles before you even get your God damn keys out? Feng shui… environmental psychology… the physics of light and space… geometrical relationships… common sense… call it what you like, it’s abundantly clear that our builders decided to turn a blind eye to any of these principles… and as a result of which we got well and truly shafted to save the price of a couple of dozen paving slabs. And would it really have cost our builders that much money to put a bit of weed repellent sheeting down? I could easily go off on one about all of this shit but this post is supposed to be about feng shui rather than unscrupulous building developers so I’ll save my wrath for the great day… and besides, the Tao Te Ching (which I always try to consult in times of high dudgeon) clearly states that there is no “greater misfortune than having an enemy.” Wise words indeed… and a difficult point to ignore – I suppose I could ruin the rest of my life tirelessly fighting for the “cause of the curved path” and the building giants would still throw about right angles like fucking hand grenades. Far better to remember yet another line from the Tao Te Ching, “stop thinking and end your problems”. Maybe we should just go off and live in a tent somewhere? A round tent. Like a Mongolian Yurt.

Anyway; once you’ve navigated the negative energy of the topography and the garden path, the next feng shui disaster waiting to throw a spanner into your psyche is the front door itself, which screeches like a stuck pig whenever it’s opened or closed… not to mention the fact that it’s impossible to swing the front door back even a full 90 degrees because of our tunnel-like hallway (for obvious reasons any entrance way worth its salt should be broad and inviting). Oh and then there’s the question of the bathroom located directly above it – which, also for obvious reasons, is a massive feng shui no no. I actually went so far as to check the position of the toilet bowl itself, and now realise that I have the great masochistic pleasure of metaphorically shitting directly over the entrance to my own little fiefdom every single morning! Allow me to quote just one more illustrative example from my friends at fengshui.about.com

What is the first thing you see as your enter your house? Where do you feel the energy (your attention) goes right away? Does it go straight to a bathroom that is close to the front door, or is it pushed right back by a mirror facing the front door? Do you have a staircase facing the front door? Maybe your front door is aligned to the back door, so that most of the good energy that enters the house easily escapes?

No prizes for guessing who has a back door directly lined up with his front door… a “french” backdoor no less, with nice big sheets of seven foot glass to bounce out any wayward positive energy that may have accidently made its way across the threshold. Also no prizes for guessing who has a stairway in his hall… and a downstairs toilet as the very first thing you pass as you walk into the property. I could go on for another ten pages about giant mirrors opposite beds, and hexagonal dining tables throwing off energy streams like killer fucking lazer beams, and sofa’s tucked behind doors, and colour schemes that would kill plant life on contact… but I think the point has been made.

You know, as naive as it sounds, until I read up on all this feng shui stuff I’d never really processed any of these issues. My dissatisfaction with the house was vague and free-floating – the endless tug of a thousand negative spatial arrangements just beneath the water margin of my own consciousness, bubbling away, day in, day out, like a toxic cauldron. Of course, now that I’ve seen the feng shui light as it were, everything about this weird house and it’s flat malevolent vibe is starting to make sense – and maybe as seemingly little a thing as the position of your toilet bowl and the angle of your garden path really does make a difference… it’s that whole death by a thousand pin pricks idea. And hey, why would I ever be arrogant enough to doubt the idea that a bunch of ancient Chinese sages who spent their entire lives living close to nature and contemplating this stuff would have less of an understanding of it than I do myself?

If like me, you’ve ever looked into getting a couple of red eyed tree frogs, you’ll no doubt have read the endless online articles about the need to replicate their natural environment… and that it really isn’t good enough to simply provide them with the necessary heat, light and food for their survival. Being tree frogs they need greenery and foliage and high places… and if you fail to provide as much for their “tree frog-ness” as their biological requirements, you’ll have a couple of very unhappy tree frogs indeed. Maybe they’ll be so pissed off that they’ll go on hunger strike and die. It might sound strange but in many ways I think this is where feng shui can play a part in our lives today. It’s a body of knowledge that is older than this strange world of glass and brick boxes we seem to have built around ourselves… and it’s sensitive enough to the psychology of human needs and environmental requirements to ground us back in nature… where, like all animals, we rightfully belong. Feng shui seems to understand a human’s “human-ness” in the same way that the owner of red eyed tree frogs needs to understand those tree frogs fundamental “frog-ness”. Something your average property developer wouldn’t give a fuck about.

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