Wednesday, 27 October 2010

What to think about...Fairtrade

Cadburys are lovely
 Welcome to another in my educational series of posts called "What to think about..." Their purpose is to summarise correct thinking and help steer you clear of mental pitfalls. They are presented in a bullet-pointed style, because management consultants tell us that no subject in the world is too complex to summarise in bullet points, and if you say something often enough it becomes true.

  • Fairtrade goods allow us to choose products that ensure the workers get a fairer price, and this is good, obviously - I mean, who could argue with that? A monster maybe.
  • People want to be good - they just need to be given a chance to consume in the right way
  • It's not charity, and it's not a cut-throat market attitude. It's a third way, and as reasonable people we all know that Third Ways are the answer
  • Even if we don't know a lot about the condition of the labourers we never meet, or the conditions of the immigrant labourers in the Tesco warehouse that weren't included on the label, at least Fairtrade is doing something 
  • A smiling face of a coffee picker on the side of your packet of coffee makes you feel slightly less complicit in the general reliance of your civilisation on poor labourers. They are smiling because you bought their coffee, and this makes you happy

And what not to think (unfortunate mental aberrations that may arise) :
  • If the goods are not signficantly more expensive than non-Fairtrade goods, the workers can't really be getting that much extra money - £2.25 a day instead of £2 is still dirt poor. And if the goods are significantly more expensive, they become a niche product for well-heeled people, because most people, by both necessity and training, do shop according to price. 
  • If ethics can be consumed then it is just another product, in which case I'm gonna get some from my local dealer every day and do it intravenously, cos I love that ethical rush

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Noel Edmunds to launch 'Instant Homes' scheme

Mental powers to house?
Noel Edmunds, more usually known for a string of inexplicable television programmes, is to spend the next stage of his career promoting a new way for young people, who will soon all be ineligible for council housing and also priced out of the housing market, to get their own homes.

"I call the new homes 'Instant Homes'," explains the celebrity presenter. "All it requires is will-power and positivity. What you do is, you shut your eyes and IMAGINE the house you want. You imagine just as hard as you can, you really focus on it, and before you know it, you're starting to feel warm and comfortable and you know where your fridge is. You bring your home into reality INSTANTLY with the power of your mind. That's it. Nothing more to it."

Many people have tried to solve the problems for young people caused by the housing bubble, in which property prices are held artificially high by a combination of property speculators, buy-to-let landlords and second homeowners. But never before has the mind of Noel Edmunds been turned on the issue and some see it as cause for renewed hope. The government has cautiously welcomed his intervention in a problem they have been unable to solve themselves. "But we are concerned that a sudden increase in the supply of housing could drive down prices," said a government insider. "Which would be great for young people, obviously, but terrible for people who already have houses. Well, not terrible, just inconvenient. But we don't want it to happen because it's the kind of thing that loses elections."

Edmunds has responded by saying that 'The government's obsession with money money money shows that they have lost sight of what is important in life'. Since returning from the grave Noel Edmunds has proclaimed his adherence to bafflingly implausible self-help philosophies and has promoted them via the medium of television. This time Noel Edmunds is to come directly to the homes of anyone who phones his 'I Want A House To Party In Too' hotline, to explain to them how they can get their own home that very day. The visits will then be filmed and broadcast as a documentary called 'Noel Edmunds saves the World'.

Some have pooh-poohed the whole idea of 'Instant Homes', saying they are unlikely to keep anyone warm for long, and that the government would be better off taking measures such as building more council housing, or taxing well-heeled amateur buy-to-letters out of the market, a move it was unwilling to take while Tony Blair, a well-heeled amateur buy-to-letter, was in power. Noel Edmunds has responded in turn by calling his critics 'Destructive purveyors of negative energy'. He said "While I provide homes for people, INSTANTLY, they just provide naysaying and 'economics'. I'm having none of it, and if you want to be able to have your own home this side of sixty, call my hotline NOW. Don't say nay, say yay!"

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Cabinet Ministers discover the others caught syphilis from Rupert Murdoch too

Plenty to go around
After months of everyone in the cabinet hiding their condition from one other, each convinced that they alone were struggling with a shameful secret, there was great relief in cabinet meeting today when it emerged that every one of them caught syphilis after nights of passion with Rupert Murdoch during the election campaign.

According to uncorroborated reports it was Ken Clarke, in a fit of bad temper brought on by an itch in the unmentionables and an adverse reaction to antibiotics, who finally burst out in the middle of a cabinet meeting, "God damn that diseased Aussie!"

One civil servant who witnessed the extraordinary scenes in the cabinet room said, "That was it. Once Ken half admitted to it, Theresa May – who I had noticed had been looking worried all morning – said 'You too?' and that just opened the floodgates. It turned out everyone in the room had it. William Hague started crying when he realised he wasn't the only one. With relief you understand."

Cameron was said to have maintained a 'dignified silence' throughout the confessions, though he was seen surreptitiously making notes when Liam Fox spoke about his success treating symptoms using a medical kit he 'borrowed' from a soldier while visiting Afghanistan.

Syphilis is usually an easily treatable disease but the 'Murdoch strain', as doctors are already calling it, is showing resistance to everything that science has to offer. "It's the body's worst nightmare, and that includes Vince Cable's body," explained the doctor treating Vince Cable, who has allowed his doctor to waive confidentiality on the condition that his name be mentioned every other sentence. "It's horrible. Slowly but surely it takes over everything, even in someone as strong and virile as Vince Cable. In the end there will be nothing left but syphilis."

A spokesman for Rupert Murdoch said, "These baseless accusations are exactly the kind of thing we expect to hear from the bloated, overfunded BBC. Do they really have nothing better to do than investigate the sex lives of British politicians?" When it was pointed out that it was not the BBC making the accusations, and that it was more usually the Murdoch press investigating the sex lives of politicians, the spokesman said he would return with a better defence tomorrow. "Any journalist printing anything in the meantime," he said as he left the room, "Will have the entire armory of the Murdoch empire focused on destroying them. Or a night with Rupert. Whichever works out cheaper for him."

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Government prepares windowless soundproofed holding pen for ageing reality tv stars

In search of dignity

Secret government plans to build a vast camera-free soundproofed holding pen by 2030 for today's reality tv stars have today been leaked to the press amidst accusations that the project will 'strip reality tv stars of their dignity'. Proponents of the scheme say that reality tv stars need to be protected from their own 'unnatural urges' to expose themselves to the mockery of the nation.

The holding pen is to be built in the remote Welsh countryside. It will be ringed with barbed wire, windowless, and built of the best soundproofed materials available. A government spokesman responding to criticisms explained that, "The whole idea is in fact to protect their dignity. By 2030 the stars of today will all be losing their looks or will have lost them. Their 'bubbly', 'sparkly' and 'vivacious' personalities will have burned out into a kind of low-level whine of obstreperous bitterness, and we thought the kindest thing we could do for them all would be to shut them away without cameras or access to newspaper columnists, where their increasingly desperate clamouring for attention will harm neither themselves nor others."

Some human rights campaigners have drawn comparisons with ancient practices of leaving the weak in society outside in the cold to die, but the government has provided assurances that the holding pen will be well heated and the 'contestants' well fed. "Of course we can't answer for what they'll do to each other," one civil servant said with a resigned shrug. "The sheer concentration of crass manipulativeness in one place will be so great we'll probably have to create a new word for it. There'll likely be a few murders. But that's their affair. At least no one will be able to see or hear them pawing at each other in a desperate bid to appear in the papers, and no cameras will be on hand to provide any sort of encouragement of drama-queenery. It's the best we can do for them."

Many media commentators have welcomed the move. "We don't mind the stupid people when they're attractive," said one. "But once they're ugly I think it's best to hide them away somewhere. As for the question of dignity, it barely seems relevant. These are reality tv stars we're talking about, not real people."

Several reality tv stars were asked for their opinion on their future home. However, since it quickly became clear that they only answered in what they thought would be the most popular or attention-garnering way, and that none of them could actually comprehend a future without tv cameras, their comments have not been included here as an act of mercy.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Radio 4 dumping toxic smugness into nation’s rivers

Okay, some of you Radio 4 fans aren't going to like me for this, but I had this story on Newsbiscuit yesterday:
Radio 4 dumping toxic smugness into nation’s rivers

In my defence, I wrote the story as someone who listens to Radio 4, but lately due to the unfortunate necessity of car journeys I have been listening to it too much. And in high doses the smugness is fucking unbearable. The story was edited by newsbiscuit but thankfully they kept the last two lines - which is the part of the story I liked the most. I could write an entire essay on those two lines but it wouldn't be as funny so I don't.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Kurd-killing Saddam killed good Kurds, Kurd-killing Turks kill bad Kurds, explains US Army spokesman

Good kurds or bad kurds?
The US has today defended itself against accusations of hypocrisy for passing intelligence information to Turkey in order to help the Turkish army bomb Kurdish villages in Northern Iraq. President Bush had previously cited Saddam Hussein's murdering of Kurds as a prime motivation for invading the country.

A spokesman for the US Military explained the logic. "Saddam was a Kurd-killer, but he was a good Kurd-killer. The good Kurds didn't kill and so killing those Kurds was catastrophic. Turkey kills bad Kurds, and the bad Kurds kill, so Turkey killing Kurds is okay with us. The quality of Kurd-killing changes according to the quality of Kurds. Turkey killing Kurdish killers can't be critiqued."

When pressed on the issue of innocent civilian deaths, the spokesman went on to say, "Collateral Turkish Kurd-killing compromises killing quality but Kurdish killers must be killed by Turkish killers or bad Kurds will kill Turks. Everything clear?"

The spokesman was relieved of duties and taken to a lunatic asylum shortly afterwards

Monday, 11 October 2010

Man gives up fear of terrorism in disgust after failing to be targeted by al-Qaeda

Once again I've got a story on Newsbiscuit. I won the highly coveted (by about twenty people) Newsbiscuit Writer of the Month Award last month. I think I get a mug.
Man gives up fear of terrorism in disgust after failing to be targeted by al-Qaeda

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Oxford and Cambridge to reintroduce personal butlers for all students

In anticipation of the lifting of tuition fee limits following a recommendation to the government by Lord Browne, Oxford and Cambridge are already setting in motion plans to provide butlers to all students as standard. Many are welcoming the return to the good old days, though some have asked where sufficient butlers can be found in these diminished post-Jeeves times.

Lord Browne, a recently knighted 'people's peer', was chosen to conduct an independent review in university funding for the government. As former Chief Executive of BP he understands the problems of students from poor families, having sometimes employed them to clean the toilets in BP headquarters.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Disillusioned 'Harry Potter Generation' leaving school without wizarding skills

Life didn't turn out like this and it sucks

As the generation who began reading the Harry Potter books as children approach school leaving age many have begun to feel a deep disillusionment with life. While it is normal for teenagers to feel discontented with what life has to offer, this is a disillusionment that separates them from all generations that have gone before. Whilst in their minds they knew the Harry Potter books were fiction, in their hearts many of the 'Harry Potter Generation' as they are known, believed that they too would one day be wrenched from their normal humdrum lives and flown to a wizarding school on a giant's motorbike.

Lucy Weil of Huddersfield is one such girl. "I've just finished sixth form, and I'm off to University and it's all meant to be exciting and everything, and I'm sure I'll love being away from home for the first time, but the fact is, I never expected to finish school like this. I was pretty sure I would at some point be selected as someone with special powers who would be worthy of a wizarding education. It's pretty disappointing."

Thomas Nunton, an eighteen-year-old from Ashford agrees. "As someone brought up in Ashford you always assume you're destined for something better," he said. "And yeah, I can move to London and become free labour for a record company or something, but it's not wizarding school is it? And it's too late for that now. So, you know, that casts a bit of a shadow over the rest of your life, you know?"

Pyschologists say it is common for children to confuse stories and real life. However the extent to which children secretly believed themselves to be Harry Potter has taken them by surprise. "We think it's a symptom of other things," said Sarah Malling, from the University of London's Psychology Department. "Chiefly that most children find normal education to be unspeakably tedious and - quite rightly - don't think much of their prospects in the current economic climate."

But most teenagers we spoke to disagreed with this hard-headed analysis of Potter Mania. "Bullshit," said Jon Nevis, 17, from Cardiff. "I just wanted to be able to blow the shit out of stuff with a wand by now. And instantaneously transport myself into my girlfriend's bedroom every night. Is that too much to ask of life?"

JK Rowling has responded to stories of the disillusionment of the Harry Potter Generation with a statement saying, "My publishing company will continue producing tangentially related books for those who don't want to let Harry Potter go for as long as it makes me pots of money. The franchise lives on and so can your dreams."

But her most ardent fans, now old enough to vote, may not be satisfied with books any longer and revolution is in the air. They want their wizarding skills and nothing else will do. Some say that disillusioned would-be wizards may even turn against the woman who raised their expectations and so cruelly led them on. "I'm not saying she's Voldemort or anything," says Thomas Nunton. "But I've begun to think she may be a Death Eater and you know what I'd do to Death Eaters." Then he sighed. "Or would do if I could do magic."

Thursday, 7 October 2010

What to think about...Ed Miliband

Very closeted indeed
This is my highly educational series of posts called "What to think about..." They are presented in a bullet-pointed style, because management consultants tell us that no subject in the world is too complex to summarise in bullet points, even the ones that are.

  • Ed Miliband is a closet raving leftist who got the support of the unions
  • Because he owes his victory to the unions, he must distance himself from the unions so as to show that he owes them nothing
  • The best way for him to do this would be to make sure that none of his policies are leftist - this worked well for Gordon Brown when he was briefly suspected of having socialist sympathies 
  • Ed Miliband controversially thinks the Iraq War was wrong - even though he never said so while it was going on and has actively opposed all attempts to investigate it properly
  • Just because he lives in a £1.6million house he got through some very businesslike financial dealings and is married to a lawyer who works for E.ON, the energy corporation fond of coal, nuclear power and massive lobbying of government, doesn't mean he isn't a raging commie
And what not to think (defiling thoughts that ill-befit your dignity):
  • It's pretty interesting to watch the media propaganda machine crank itself up at the mere whiff of leftism in British politics, though presumably part of the reason is that they have to carry on pretending the politicans are different from each other
  • The whiff of leftism is pretty much all that's left, and that makes Ed Miliband the final weak fart blowing in your face from a distant socialist past

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Government plans to outsource Afghan War falter for lack of 'serious' bidders

Government plans to privatise the War in Afghanistan have got off to an inauspicious start, suffering from a lack of bidders the government regards as 'serious'. Only two bids have so far been submitted, one from the English Defence League, who the government characterised as 'Lacking both the manpower and the strategic planning capability.'

"Sure, we've had interest from some of the big corporations," said a government insider. "Halliburton were sniffing around for a bit, as you'd expect - I think they're drawn to the smell of blood. Serco looked into it too. Do you know what Serco does except sponge off fat government contracts? Me neither."

But the big corporations all withdrew their bids after discovering that the contract would be paid on results and that there was only one measurable output: Victory. "It was the black and white nature of it we couldn't make sense of," said a Halliburton source. "We could have dealt with being paid on a sliding scale according to degrees of victory - so you'd still be paid for a certain value of victory, like in the Iraq War - but in this case the 'output achieved' column just had two options: yes/no. We ran a mile."

The only other bid was from the Basingstoke Women's Institute. "We think they mistook it for knitting contract," said a civil servant. But the head of the Basingstoke WI, run to ground by journalists watering the geraniums in her back garden, said that the bid was not a mistake. "We decided that we couldn't fuck it up any more than the government, so why not? Yes, we swear now as well as strip for calendars - welcome to the 21st Century fuckwads. Now give us the war and we'll sort it out for you."

Governments sources admit that if the Basingstoke WI bid was serious they were likely to get 'preferred bidder' status. "I'd back them against the EDL any day of the week," said one civil servant. "Question is, should we back them against the Taliban? God knows we've tried everything else."

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Scouts, Guides, Cubs, Brownies finally rise up to save Empire

One of many scouting rallies taking back the streets from yobs and wastrels
In fulfilment of the hopes and dreams of their founder, Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, the Scouts, Guides and their affiliated groups have this week finally risen to the challenges of the era and taken on their rightful roles as saviours of the British Empire.

Baden-Powell's youth paramilitary organisations have until recently been known more for their skills at lighting fires, camping and smoking behind Akela's back than for an aggressive stance towards lesser peoples, but Baden-Powell, whose aim was to train the young to lead the Empire to ever greater heights, would surely be proud of them if he could see them now.

Scouts and Guides entered parliament a few days ago and threw out the 'lily-livered' Tory-Liberal coalition. They have since installed an aristocratic/scouting/military junta led by the Duke of Edinburgh. "I'm thrilled we can finally have a go at those savages," said the Duke as he prepared to lead his youthful new troops in a victory lap of central London. "They've had it coming for a while I can tell you. Better late than never, what?"

A spokesboy for the Scouts confirmed that "The time for political correctness is over. The time to thrash the brown-skinned johnnies until they beg for mercy is here." He then raised the Union Jack, saluted the flag and forced the assembled journalists to pledge allegiance to the Queen. The Queen has expressed 'delight' at the surprise turn of events, and looks forward to taking on the title of 'Empress' more usually associated with her ancestor Victoria. She is also said to be privately convinced that war abroad will do more to benefit the flagging British economy than any number of public sector cutbacks.

The army, all of whose senior commanders have now been replaced by competent Scout Sixers, is already preparing to re-enter many of the African colonies. Plans are also afoot to take back India, the jewel in the imperial crown, but such a labour-intensive undertaking takes preparation, says Girl Guide, Teresa Thompson. "We plan an aggressive recruitment drive, mostly on council estates. We'll whip the hoodies and chavs into shape and make them a prime colonial expeditionary force in no time using Baden-Powell's time-honoured principles as laid out in Scouting For Boys: clean living, knot-tying, tracking wild animals and curtailing your masturbatory activities. Really, he wrote about the evils of masturbation in Scouting For Boys. Little-known fact."

When asked how they intended to deal with the war in Afghanistan a spokesman for the new Scouting Junta said, "We'll get the blinking blazes out of there I should say, and pretty damn sharpish. Haven't you lot read any colonial history? If not, we'll be introducing a new 'History of the Empire' badge next week. It will be compulsory - this is an Empire, not a democracy. Now, when did you last polish your shoes, and where the hell is your woggle?"