Going for the Jocular

I Got Algorithm

OMG!!! I may be caught in a ‘filter-bubble’!

That’s the latest thing where the people watching you watching them can select the news stuff you get to see on the basis of what you recently looked at rather than showing you what is actually happening outside.

So, as a serious journalist and newswatcher, I just found myself staring at a page of BBC News that includes the shock-horror content that Funny Girl, Sue Perkins won’t be able to play host in the Great British Bake-Off tent tonight, owing to a bereavement. But don’t worry, ‘cos Sue’s still in the prerecorded section, and she’ll be back next week!

It’s obviously serious, but not too serious. This story is currently running at number two in the popular and widely trusted news site’s main news rankings. (I may be the only visitor to BBC News, as whatever story I’ve just been browsing on always seems to get bumped up the chart.)

There then followed an impassioned thread of Comments from apparently real people about whether or not someone should have been ejected from the tent after baking the ultimate-looking lemon drizzle cake. (Apparently, 10 million people watched the first episode.)

I have no interest whatever in baking shows, but trapped in this algorithm I fully expect to receive urgent news feeds about nothing else from now on.

Actually, it’s quite soothing.

Justin Bieber has apparently broken it off with someone. And then I learned that some highly illustrated US rapper called Chris Brown has been arrested for pointing a gun at a woman who was admiring his friend’s diamond necklace (male friend…), which also sounds pretty serious; especially as Brown loudly invokes Black Lives Matter, a cause devoted to exposing police brutality, whenever he is arrested for… er, brutality.

One in five parents are apparently regretting their choice of baby’s name, according to BBC News, while young girls on social media are increasingly unhappy about their looks, and many women are asking why their gym kit smells sweaty? (Because you’re sweating! Duh.) Clyde the Turtle has been stolen from his tank at the Blue Planet aquarium in Ellesmere Port – police are seeking a topless teenager who may have smuggled the cute reptile out under a sweater.

And here, look, the Guardian wants me to know that Selena Gomez (who she? Ed.) has had to take a career break because she’s having panic attacks (useful info, actually, as I need a break from shopping in Morrison’s for the same reason). Tweeter, phone-in host and cyclo-fascist, Jeremy Vine has posted a video of a black woman abusing him in the street for videoing her abusing him for… I don’t know, the crime is lost in history. And, like, now Justin Bieber is apparently ‘seeing’ someone else!

And following on from the Burkini debate French politicians are arguing about women’s breasts. France’s enduring female symbol, Marianne, is always depicted norks-out. You’d never see Britannia with her jugs on parade.

The big news story of the week for me was the video of Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ bassist, Flea, giving Koko the Gorilla a lesson in playing electric Fender bass. Koko treated the instrument with childlike curiosity, respect and tenderness; unlike Flea on stage, obviously. She also admired his body art, and the pair are now thoroughly bonded.

Of actual news, I can find almost none. Brexit? So yesterday. Refugees? So last year.

This nonsense idea from the marketing baboonery that whatever you did, saw or bought yesterday is what you’re just dying to do, see and buy again today is fixing the world in a kind of Groundhog scenario. For years after I bought my militaristic son the birthday book he wanted on sniper technique, Amazon continued to select for me a choice of reading I feared would shortly get me arrested.

The late, great Humphrey Lyttleton summed it up: you can’t eat in the same restaurant every night.

He was talking about adultery, of course.

Isn’t everyone?

 

Stranger in the Night

So, today already, I see with amaze that this, muh li’l bogl, has received TWENTY Views and it is still only half-past eleven in the morning; barely second-coffee.

What’s going on? Have we gone virile? Only time will tell.

Statistics are all very well, but they seldom reveal easy truths. Each of twenty very old Posts was hacked in the night, by just one – presumably the same – person. Presumably the same person who read 47 old Posts ten days ago – a one-day record. But who is not viewing any more exciting current issues of the BogPo, which otherwise attracts on average half a dozen desultory viewings a week (see Comment below for who I think is doing it!)

There is just one piece I Posted in 2012 that has attracted a thread several miles long. ‘Does No-one Now Remember Comex 2?’ recounts the fallibly remembered history of a disastrous student expedition to India in 1967; and tries to explore the Bergsonian nature of memory.

This piece seems to wake up every September, at about the time the horrid events took place; thus answering the question posed in the title.

More recent upPostings, however, have not proved of any interest; although many of them uncannily predate by at least three days, highly-paid correspondents’ reports and Comment is Free pieces on the Guardian website and expert utterances on Newsnight and headlines in the Daily Mail.

So you could be reading it here first, for free, and more amusingly; but you’re not, more’s the pity.

 

Seek and ye shall Find

It’s the Editor’s fault.

The BogPo doesn’t go in for Search Engine Optimization, that I am reliably informed is the translation of SEO. We are editorially opposed to the ‘keyword’ culture that subordinates content and meaning to a system of signs intended merely to bamboozle Google, which (like Gordon the Green Engine) is a very clever and wise engine.

Nor would we pay for ‘paperclip’ deals or provide extra Lynx to other people’s dreadful websites in order to gain the attention of their readers, who have their own loyalties I’m sure.

No, the BogPo is a chthonic organism that will one day blossom and, indeed, fruit.

Until then, I shall continue to do my best to hide in plain sight, as despite obviously being a billionaire entrepreneur I remain a notoriously shy individual who seeks no temporal recognition or thanks.

Herr Professor Doktor Ernst von-und-zu Bogl (By appointment), Senior Editor-at-large

Aboard the BHS Arcadia, Boglèry-sur-Mer, France-Sud (32⊂, sunny).

 

Red Nose Daze

Readers of this, muh bogl, may recall some years ago I commented satirically, and with tongue firmly in cheek, on a news story about a consultant from Texas (a ‘Texpert’?) who was over here, ‘training’ British policemen at great expense in how you can spot a paedophile by the clothes they wear.

I suggested the police could catch more paedophiles then, by planting suspicious cardigans on the racks in charity shops and following home the dirty old men who bought them.

Although it obviously is a serious subject, nonetheless the proposition seemed utterly absurd and (in my belief) were it not for the hysterical atmosphere that has been whipped up among credulous village baboons in the wake of the Savile affair, this self-promoting expert Texan bigot might have been denied a visa on grounds that we don’t let fantasists and conmen into the country, where wasting police time is an indictable offence.

Now, however, I’m not so sure.

Women residents of a warden-patrolled apartment complex in Greenville, North Carolina, have reported seeing groups of men dressed as clowns hanging around in nearby woods, ‘whispering and making strange noises’; while children have reported that ‘clowns’ were attempting to lure them into the undergrowth.

‎Evil clownOne resident told police she was walking to her home on 21 August in the early hours, when she saw a large clown with a “blinking nose” standing under a lamp post near a rubbish bin, local news channel WYFF4 has reported. She said the clown waved at her, but did not speak or come near her. – BBC News report, 30 August

Greenville police reported finding no evidence, but the warden has warned residents to be on the alert and to observe the 10 pm ‘curfew’ imposed on minors (only in America!).

‘Colurophobia’ is a semi-officially recognised condition affecting people who have a genuine terror of clowns. I have actually met someone who had a similar phobia about puppets; a friend who is a puppeteer says it’s not that uncommon. A lot of people just find clowns creepy and desperately unfunny.

As one of the latter, while not an out-and-out phobic I suspect I must have had a bad experience being taken to the circus as a very small child. I certainly remember my grandfather running a red light (nose?) and crashing the car en route.

Of course, people having private conversations with man-sized rabbits are not uncommon. Aliens from outer space, too, like to hang about in woodland, whispering and making strange noises. Nuns high on wheat ergot tend to see sexually aroused demons in the convent. Donald Trump hears Muslims and Mexicans plotting the downfall of the US together with senior Republicans in his sleep.

But I’ve never heard of an outbreak of suburban mass hysteria involving false sightings of large, taciturn, paedophilic clowns with blinking noses gesturing satirically at housewives from behind the garbage bins. That’s a new one.

And children never lie when they get caught breaking curfew.

Could it have anything to do with the widely reported pandemic of adulterated heroin abuse in America’s rust-belt communities, that is causing hundreds of tenement dwellers to OD every day?

We may never know.

However, it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that strange men going about dressed as clowns could be classed as a danger to children on the basis of their obviously sinister outfits, excessively silly make-up and furtive sylvan habits; circuses R-rated as a precaution.

Best be on the safe side when it comes to menswear.

Photo: Google images

 

Lifestyle

By Lifestyle correspondent, ©2016 Gwyneth_Platform, @whereits@

“…for men the wearing of brown shoes with a business suit is generally, though not always, considered unacceptable by and for British bankers within the investment banking division” – Social Mobility Commission report

Question: what do you mean, ‘though not always’? Blue suit, black shoes. Always.

Time the hobbledehoys at the Social Mobility Commission employed a proper style consultant. Preferably a real man, educated at Eton and Oxbridge.

I am putting the Editor forward, forsooth!!

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Thutsday Post: Ali, ‘War and No Peace’. Guaranteed EU-free content, optimistic SEO

Notice I wrote ‘Thutsday’? That’s because many of the keys on this, muh li’l silver Asus happity-lappity-toppity thing have completely worn out. Despite 40 years in the writing business, I never did learn to touch-type. I can’t bring myself to spend the money on a new one, or bear the thought of having to reload all that garbage: the programs, the passwords, my photos and music files – Office…

You’ll ust have to pur up with it.

Anyway, some kind soul has again written to me about SEO, urging me to put more Hs in my ping to ensure optimistic rankins. My son is coming to stay for a bit, I’ll ask him.

It could apparently enable me to persuade more of you to send me $2 every time you steal another one of my Posts to upgrade your ideas-bank, and I can buy new keys.

 

Muhammad Ali

So, farewell then, the Greatest. Another celebrity gone, age 74. A red-letter year, for sure.

Three-times WBC Heavyweight Champion of the World, garrulous self-promoter, principled draft-resister, tireless ambassador for sport despite developing Parkinson’s at an early age, possibly due to being hit about the head a lot, before you embraced Islam you were the boxer formerly known as Cassius Clay, who took on the world.

Your ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’ dancing style of fighting led to the famous ‘Rhumba in the Jungle’ (urg, sorry!), and made you a legend at a time when uglier heavyweights lumbered around the ring like raging bulls, bellowing in frustration as they failed to connect with you. On reading some statistics about you once, I was delighted to discover that, if I stretch out my arms like so, my own ‘reach’ is two inches greater than yours! The difference being, I suppose, that the only time I ever tried to hit someone, I missed and broke my hand on a wall. I was twelve years old.

Cassius. Not the sort of name that’s current among African-Americans these days. ‘Yon Cassius hath a lean and hungry look. Let me have men about me who are fat!’ cries Caesar in the Shakespeare play, shortly before Cassius puts him down for the count. You were a beautiful-looking man in your prime, so women told me. After you retired you did put on a bit of weight, as most supremely muscular athletes tend to do. More to the point, you had something to say – and by God you said it. Several people are describing you as the greatest human being who ever lived. It’s a stretch, but who am I to argue at a sad time like this? Someone has to be.

And Sir Peter Shaffer, 90.

Who, I hear you ask?

Listen, if I had written ‘Amadeus’, ‘Equus’ and ‘The Royal Hunt of the Sun’, three of the greatest plays of modern times, and still made it to 90, I’d die happy too.

 

Speaking out against racism

Speaking of greatness, if Change dot Org should start a petition today, it’s to overturn a shocking decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions. I imagine at least 300,000 people would put their names to it.

In his heyday, Paul Gascoigne was one of the most talented native footballers this country has ever produced. Sadly, his career on the slide, he retired early in 2004 owing to mental health problems, and has battled for years with alcoholism, on some occasions coming close to death.

His celebrity is on a par with that of George Best, who was by universal acclaim the greatest ever player in British footballing history, after Stanley Matthews,  and his Northern Irish compatriot, the brilliant snooker champion Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins, neither of whom was able to cope with pop-star levels of fame and subsequently drank themselves to death.

It has equally been exploited by unscrupulous promoters, frequently making the fragile Gascoigne a national figure of fun, scorn or pity, depending on your attitude.

Recently while appearing onstage in Wolverhampton in a live show called ‘An Evening With Gazza’, he made some stupid remark about not being able to see if a black security guard, who was standing in a darkened part of the theatre, was smiling or not. The remark was reported to the police, and the DPP decided, quite rightly, that it was such an innocuous and possibly even affectionate thing to say that it did not merit prosecution.

The complainant, whoever they were, being a person apparently with a skin as thin as Durex’s finest gossamer; or perhaps merely being someone who imagines that his supposed abuser remains a person of wealth and importance, and thus fair game, decided however to persist: and under the so-called ‘victims’ charter’, the DPP has been forced by law to have Gascoigne brought up on a charge of ‘aggravated racial behaviour’, of the same degree presumably that led to the lynching of African-Americans in Alabama in the 1930s and ’40s.

It could well kill him, and one wonders who may be the ‘victim’ in all of this.

Racialism is a discredited C19th pseudo-science, holding (on the basis of a profound misunderstanding, both of Mendelian genetics and the theory of evolution, if not merely on blind prejudice), that there exists within common Humankind, a hierarchy of ‘races’ of descending mental capacities; just as it was widely believed by credulous baboons, on the basis of some ancient nonsense in the Bible,  that there is a hierarchy of ‘species’ generally in the world, that places Mankind at the top.

Cases like this make me doubt that.

 

What are we like?

It’s been a week of news about kids. And I don’t mean Donald Trump.

Some popular schadenfreude, it’s true, has greeted the decision by the US Professional Golf Association to relocate this year’s world championships to his beloved Mexico as they have security worries about the Florida venue he owns. He’s not a happy Trumpy. Maybe he could charge fans for going through the wall?

I’m not referring, either, to Gorilla Boy. Nor do I mean the four-year-old who destroyed a dubious artwork it had taken the constructor three days to make out of Lego, for an exhibition in China. That showed critical judgement.

And we don’t want to talk about the Christian aid worker who sexually abused all those little kiddies in Malaysia. The thing about life in gaol for these people is they can smile inwardly. You can’t put shit back.

No, it’s the story of the boy missing now for a week* in a mountain forest on Japan’s Hokkaido island after his parents pretended to abandon him for a few minutes to ‘teach him a lesson’ not to throw stones at people, that has resonance.

Wouahouaha…. eerie flashback music….

Many, many years ago, 62 to be exact, while on holiday in the uninhabited wild west of Ireland, I threw a hysterical fit, crying and shouting and stamping my little feet, after my father stopped the car in the middle of Connemara and announced a proposal to give my mother an impromptu first-ever driving lesson.

I genuinely feared we were all going to die.

As a consequence of refusing to calm down, I was put out of the car by the roadside and watched incredulously as my life-support system dwindled into the distance, until complete and shocking silence descended; only the wind and the mountains.

I’m not sure I’ve recovered yet.

But you know how unworthy thoughts crowd in… wandering alone in the forest, the boy could have been killed by bears, or kidnapped by Ainu aboriginals. All I could think was, why did no-one tell him the war was over?

What are we like?

*Latest is, he’s been found alive – in a deserted Army jungle warfare training camp. Does my brain really do this stuff?

 

A Book at Bad Time

Some Posts ago, I remarked that we might be expected to pay rather a lot for the Chilcot Report on the 1993 invasion of Iraq when it finally comes out in July. On top, that is, of the £10 million the seven-year inquiry has actually cost (by no means a record. The Bloody Sunday inquiry into the shooting of 13 people on a march in Derry in 1972 took 12 years and cost at least £42 million).

I suggested, somewhat dishonourably, that you’d be getting a lot of blacked-out redacted bits of Chilcot for your money, given that he sent it across to MI6 to give it the once-over, but apparently they’ve cut those bits out. (That’s a bit of satire; actually, Chilcot swears there weren’t any.)

Now we know.

You can read it for free on-line. The printer hasn’t been invented yet, that won’t need its expensive ink cartridges changing at least seventeen times to churn out all the pages: no-one is able to tell me how many there are. If you’re closely related to somebody killed in Iraq, you can buy the Executive Summary for only £30; and if you attend the formal reading you can inspect a copy for nothing.

A hard copy will otherwise set you back £767.

That’s actually not so bad for a limited edition, compared with some specialist academic publications, a subscription to all 42 Sky porn channels, or a complete DVD box-set of guitar virtuoso John McLaughlin’s appearances at the Montreux Jazz Festival (£917!). Nevertheless the ‘families’ are up in arms.

Comparisons with ‘War and Peace’ suggest that Tolstoy was a mere bantamweight compared with Sir John, managing only 560,000 words as against 2.6 million. The difference lies in how you define the work being measured: Tolstoy crammed it all into one doorstep volume, whereas Chilcot’s rival ‘War and No Peace’ is published in twelve bite-sized chunks (contains no Russians). He probably also had help writing it.

There seems to be a remarkable amount of disagreement as to what are the longest works of fiction ever written. A website called Mental Floss declares the winner of the longest book to be one Nigel Tomm, post-punk pop artist and author of ‘4 Fashion Doll Gangbangers Decided: Books or Bags?’, whose 2008  ‘The Blah Story’ (never ‘eard of it. Ed.) runs to over 7,300 pages and 3.38 million carefully chosen words. ‘Marienbad my Love’ by Mark Leach matches Chilcot at 2.5 million, ‘supposedly the longest published novel in English.’*

Wikipedia has a completely different list, topped by French writer Jules Romains, whose 1932-46 novel sequence ‘Men of Goodwill’ runs to 27 volumes and just over two million words. You can buy it in paperback for under twenty quid. Proust’s monumental ‘Remembrance of Times Past’ manages only 1,267,069. (I’ve looked all this stuff up so you don’t have to.) With commendably patriotic attention to the cornerstones of English literature, the Daily Mail commented that Chilcot is ‘longer than the King James Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare combined’.

Then, neither King James nor Shakespeare had the benefit of a digital quill.

We wonder if Prime Minister Cameron will stick to his earlier criticism of the inquiry as ‘an Establishment stitch-up’? If the poor man could only afford £1,500 to buy his wife a secondhand Nissan Micra (what’s wrong with British cars, eh? Bah! I’m sure it’s really for the nanny), maybe he’ll have to wait for the Readers Digest condensed version to come out before giving his considered verdict.
*Recognising the references in the title, I might remark that I have on my shelf DVD copies, both of ‘Last Year at Marienbad’ AND ‘Hiroshima My Love’; films by Alain Resnais. I’m wondering idly in passing, how many equally sentient words might be contained in all 519 of these, muh li’l Posts, that no-one is reading, and how many other fascinating facts you might glean, if you were paying attenion in class?

 

Minimum Wage

Unlike our irrelevant and stupid referendum, Swiss voters are going to the polls this weekend to vote on a brilliant idea first trailed almost 500 years ago in Sir Thomas More’s 15-something philosophical tract, ‘Utopia’, just to pay everyone in the country a basic living wage of £1,700 a month, whether they’ve got a job or not.

The impetus comes from a thought I myself have Posted a few times, that (despite what Conservative politicians would like you to think) automation is making work increasingly unnecessary. Huge numbers of middle-income earners are having their salaries driven down by technological and geo-economics trends over which they have no control. If you’re prepared to shovel shit in a call-centre for £7.20 an hour, you’ve got a job. Or you can persuade the Board to vote you a £6 million salary and a three-times-salary bonus package for increasing shareholder dividends by sacking more middle-income workers.

There’s not a lot inbetween.

As Senior Copywriter in an advertising agency, my lifetime’s earnings peaked in 1989/90 at £36,000. After I was made redundant, along with the entire senior management tier, despite starting my own business and having other executive roles it was all downhill. I still get regular daily job alerts, from which I see that the salaries offered to Copywriters with four years’ experience in medium-sized agencies range between £25,000 and £35,000; 26 years on. I gather my experience is not atypical: US middle-incomes have remained virtually static in real terms since the 1990s.

It seems however that conservative Swiss politicians are against the idea. They think it will discourage people from seeking work and make the Swiss fat and lazy. They fear it might encourage immigrants. Apart from making me want to punch smug Swiss politicians in the face, this is surely missing the point: the jobs most people aspire to are rapidly disappearing, either outsourced or automated.

Others question how a country can afford to pay everyone a living wage? My solution is simple. Companies should pay an automation dividend. For every job they shed as a result of automation – including robots, smart systems and AI – they should pay additional Corporation Tax to the government, which redistributes the money in the National Basic Wage.

Of course, the company would not have the cost of paying the Basic Wage to its employees: they would pay only an incremental net wage, so the wages bill will be lower and they can employ more people!

Governments should like this, it is something like Ian Duncan Smith’s Universal Benefit that he has been struggling to implement in the UK, designed to unify all the current out-of-work and disability benefits, saving money on admin (only without the element of sadistic punishment that, as an average Tory cunt, he has to build-in). The difference being, you wouldn’t have to be unemployed to benefit: there would be no benefits. Work would be voluntary, a means of topping-up your National Basic Wage. That would be an incentive to work, which keeping people in enforced poverty clearly isn’t.

The profits generated by automated systems would be ‘unitised’, and the units they ‘earn’ for their companies monetised through the tax system, so that a unit of automation in effect pays all or part of the salary of a human who might otherwise be doing the same job.

A kind of ‘adopt a human’ scheme for robots.

Simples.

(You could pay the entire adult population of the UK £30,000 a year each, if GNP was equally divided between us and not wasted on hospitals and the rich!)

 

Postscriptum

The stuffy Swiss nincompoops have voted against, by a huge majority. It was one of the best ideas going and they’ve blown it.

 

This Colourful World of Spam: A regular new feature, inspired by Donald Trump:

‘Mesh’ at xataclysm.newsx Comments on ‘How to Live in a Stately Home’ (1,000 words, 2012):

I do agree with all the ideas you’ve presented in your post. They’re really convincing and will certainly work. Still, the posts are very short for beginners. Could you please extend them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

Well, thanks for the Spam, Mesh. This one’s probably going to be longer, we’ll see.

 

Postscriptum

Researchers at Sussex University have discovered that it takes snails only two connections between brain cells (neurons) to determine whether or not they are eating lettuce.

Now you know how I do it.

 

 

 

 

Tearing down the walls

top 8 lessons about loans with bad credit to learn before You hit 30
astraforum.fr/testfofo//index.php?action=profile;…x
marciaphilipp@aol.com
23.232.130.74

I’ve just Deleted another 136 spam emails off my Yahoo! Account in-file thing.

I generally hit the little dustbin icon once the number goes over 25. You know my fascination with propitious numbers.

Twenty-five is just about the largest number of Spam emails whose headings I can scan visually to see if any of them are either genuine or interestingly relevant, before totally losing interest.

A hundred and thirty-six Spam emails is really way beyond my sphere of curiosity, and inevitably results in me deleting them in bulk, unscanned.

What I am curious about, however, is why I have recently started getting so many?

A hundred and thirty-six was the overnight total, received in just 12 hours. On Monday morning, after only 24 hours of not attending to the housework, I had to dump 216. At this rate, around 1,500 Spammers a week (of course many are duplicated) are sending me urgent messages about payday loans, herbal supplements, Russian women, IRS forgiveness programs, incontinence pads and reverse mortgage options, roughly one every four minutes, and I am not giving two shits for any of them, bruvv.

You’d think they’d have got the message by now. But deleting them only causes them to breed more. And, as I have bogld before, there does seem to be a disturbing pattern, a coincidence of themes appearing to be linked to stuff I have randomly Posted on this site a few hours earlier.

Take, for instance, the Spam email heading posted at the start of this extended rave. It appeared within an hour of my writing the words contained in the paragraph before the one before this, referring to ‘mortgage options’ – not a phrase I use very often, as I have none. It goes on to drivel randomly about mortgages. It is so obviously a Spam message (I am long past 30) that I am bewildered as to how it snuck like an illegal migrant onto the well-fenced desk of the Boglington Post?

Hmmn. I shall come back to it later…

At the same time, there lurks in the subterranean Spam section of my other, more presentable, Gmail account, only the one message. I have left it there for several days all by itself as a marker-stone, a tribute to the remarkable efficacy of Google’s filtration system; also because I’m feeling guilty that it’s not entirely Spam….

I hereby confess, being a single man, to having registered months ago as a non-paid-up member of a local dating site. I planned shortly thereafter to cancel my registration, on account of the unprepossessing images of everyone else on it; the 100 per cent shortage in Boglington of available, attractive women under 55 with university degrees, independent incomes and a desire for adventure without children, the insistence that I part with a large sum of money merely to be allowed to email anyone remotely fitting the description; but I can’t figure out how to escape.

Simply asking to be released didn’t seem to do it for the owners, they kept on telling me I had important messages, so I naughtily told Google they were sending me Spam.

The point being, that whether I am drowned in the stuff or starved of it, I do at least have the freedom to decide for myself whether to bin it, or to stupidly send off my bank details.

Here at BogPo, things start to get murkier.

According to Arkroyal, the WordPress Spammeister, I have been protected from the horrifying contents of over four and a half thousand Spam Comments since I commenced bogling you on 27 February, 2012. (Could he not just delete them, rather than cluttering up every server in Arizona with spurious vitriol?)

I have no way of knowing if many genuine Readers’ Letters have got caught up in the same gungy lump of smelly crud that has built up around the Spam filter at Word Central. I have not been allowed to choose for myself whether to accept or reject those messages. I have not seen them.

And yet, and yet… Of the perhaps two or three Comments I am allowed to see during the course of a week, 98 per cent are so obviously Spam messages that you do wonder what criteria he is using to decide whether to let them through or block them?

There is a certain style of writing these Spam comments that is redolent of computerised garbage, like a very poor Google translation into English from some obscure Ugro-Finnish dialect spoken only by retired herdsmen in Lappland.

I have sometimes out of desperation based these, my Post themes on the more outstanding examples of Spamulous gibberish I am invited to Approve; as with the textual contents of the message whose header begins this diatribe, with which I shall not trouble you further: it is the Bogler’s Burden, not yours, to bear.

One obvious clue is surely the length and complexity of the email address attributed to the sender, running sometimes to six lines and including some subroutines that could indeed be genuine addresses of people and companies unaware that their accounts are being plagiarised for the purpose.

Another clue is that they are always Commenting on the same, highly obscure Page; an article grimping and miring* about University entrance requirements that I uploaded as an archival item to the BogPo site nearly four years ago, and which has deservedly never once appeared in the Stats of most-read, or indeed read-at-all, items of the week.

A third clue is that they never refer directly to the content of the Page, other than effusing that I should write more of the same (sometimes with maximised h-tags, whatever they are).

I surmise therefore that there is some subterranean mechanical goings-on going-on here, in which no human agency is involved: machine-reading, machine-writing, machine-Spamming in the spidery dark undergrowth of the web, possibly for obscure purposes. Why would anyone commission this stuff, which never receives a reply? Is all as it seems?

One such message managed to get past Arkwright yesterday. It ran to over a thousand words in English, yet ultimately non-linguistic, nonsense. As I gazed at it blankly, I noticed that a black box bearing some alternative text was flashing behind it every few seconds, at subliminal speed. I immediately killed it. Has the damage been done? Am I going to develop a subconscious craving for ice-cream?

I have no idea what that was about, or why. All I know is that, from time to time, a rare Spam Comment slips between the cracks and ends up on my desk in the offices of the Boglington Post, where it shouldn’t.

In the meantime, how much meaningful communication is being lost, caught in the filter?

I recently corresponded briefly with the lovely ‘Ella’, for instance, who wrote in to commiserate and to offer some well-meaning advice in connection with a lengthy enquiry I had made into why no-one considers me employable anymore.

She attempted to reassure me that the BogPo is indeed read and admired widely in the community. Yet I have almost no evidence that it is: other than anything your Uncle Bogler has Posted on the unrelated themes of a) stately homes and how to live in one, and b) the ill-fated Comex expedition of 1967, both of which attract droves.

It now occurs to me that it is possible there is a huge chorus of readers out there, silently mouthing their praises, encouragement, delight, scorn, defiance, withering criticism and strident legalistic demands for retraction, that I am simply not hearing through the thickly padded walls of the asylum. You must think us awfully rude not replying.

Tear down these walls, Mr WordPress.

Let us breathe the air of well-optimised freedom!

 

*Hundreds of you have asked me politely what the phrase ‘grimping and miring’ means? It is my own invention!

Allow me to explain.

Today’s word is: Onomatopoeia, which as you know means a word that sounds like what it means (unlike ‘Onomatopoeia’…). Fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will recall that The Hound of the Baskervilles haunts a particularly bleak and boggy part of the Dartmoor National Park in Devon. Known as ‘The Great Grimpen Mire’, it sounds just like the kind of dispiriting place you’d moan about a lot, if you were stuck there for any length of time.

Like the Labour Party’s Smith Square headquarters, possibly.

Job done.

Postscriptum

Another obviously Spamulous email is presented to me for Approval this morning, falling between the cracks at Word Central, suggesting I include more h-tags in my Posts in order to better my Googly rankings.  Mind your own business, is what I say. Crapulous baboon.

Accosting a bored teenager, I have now bothered to learn that an h-tag is the # symbol that you use to attract attention to whatever tiresome little comment it is that you have made on the Twitter channel, prattling in 140 characters or less about some pointless and probably misunderstood thing somebody almost famous has said, which you have taken completely out of context. (I agree, 140 characters doesn’t allow for a lot of context.)

Be it known to these persons present, I have no truck with Twitter, Bookface or any other ‘social media’ requiring the use of tags.  I plead whichever Amendment it is that says I don’t have to incriminate myself. I don’t like them, they are of monumental disinterest and I won’t have one in the house.

So there.

 

Dr Who? Oh, sorry – wrong number!

A propos the possible problems of mistaken identity, referred to in an earlier Post…

I mentioned in passing that when I Googled myself once, I discovered I was a black Baptist minister in Georgia, USA, desperately hoping on his website to overturn a criminal conviction for playing not-nice with the little choirboys and girls.

In reality I am an underemployed white atheist with no convictions whatsoever, living in Wales. My fellow choir members are all well over 50 and, like me, have given up sex as an embarrassing, messy and pointless activity. Although we do sing Georgian three-part harmony – the other Georgia, that is. The one on the Black Sea. So there’s a connection. Sort-of.)

The minister and I share very similar names. Not the same name, but close enough to come top in the Google ranking.

Now, I don’t suppose a prospective employer is seriously going to confuse me with my near-namesake in America. But I noticed soon after mentioning it on my bogl, that I had begun to receive at least six communications a day in my e-mail Spam filter, from dating sites in the USA, specialising in matching-up black singles: one of whom I am quite obviously not. (Nor do I live in the USA.)

How does that happen, then?

Also, the number of marketing messages I get, inviting me to take out a Payday loan, seems to fluctuate quite accurately according to the state of my current account imbalance. Decidedly fishy? Or is it just the time of the month? Do you get more offers, the nearer they assume your payday must be? Only, I don’t have a payday. I’m unemployed. So no cigar, Mr Loan-shark.

Do you maybe notice these connections more when they relate to something that has immediate relevance to you, however tenuous? Or is my bogl leaking into the flogosphere*?

I think we should be told.

*Flogosphere (n): the increasing volume of internet traffic devoted to selling you totally misdirected goods and services**.

**For instance, my son once demanded that I order for him online, as a Christmas present, a deeply self-incriminating training manual for snipers (he is obsessed with military things). For months after, Amazing.uk imagined I was some kind of Special Forces operative, and tried to sell me all kinds of instructional literature for more efficient killing…

Postscriptum

Hey, my first “two Likes” Post! Progress.

Search people, get out of my head

Do you get a shuddery feeling when you find some creepy wannabe internet giant has smuggled a program onto your computer overnight, without you knowing?

In my in-box this morning was another online petition to sign, protesting child slavery – this time in Uzbeckistan, where the government has apparently been drafting thousands of children out of school and into the fields to pick cotton in order to meet a major contract with a western scumbag corporation called Target, and some have died in industrial accidents.

While I was reading about it, a sidebar appeared, offering me a list of ‘Related searches’. At the top of the list was a link to ‘8-year-olds’.

I shut it down instantly and sent a cross email to the people at Walk Free, pointing out the possibly illegal and insalubrious nature of their links. It was only when I opened a new browser window to access this, my bogl, and another ‘Related searches’ sidebar popped up, offering me links to web sites interested in railway undertakings, the subject of a previous Post, that I realised this was some other program altogether.

Clicking on a small button in the corner took me to a harmless-looking site called LinkSwift, some such, where, after various procedural complications, I have apparently been able to permanently uninstall the program – a state in which I sincerely hope it will remain.

Just what do these people – no, I’ll call them idiots, because that’s what they are – hope to achieve, commandeering my communications technology – incidentally overriding my pop-up blocker – to helpfully prompt me with probable links to child pornography websites and havens for demented railway enthusiasts?

What goes through their tiny, excitable American beanbag brains when they dream this stuff up?

If I want information, I can ask for it myself, thanks. If I want ideas for stuff to buy, cash to borrow, who to vote for, where to go, I can think of my own – I am not some anencephalic bag of weeping jelly, I’ve got a degree.

Fuck you, LinkShit – and fuck the whole sick way the web is going, trying to take over our thoughts, as well as our bank balances.

Charity begins with a single step

Usually I don’t read post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to take a look at and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, quite great article.

A fine endorsement there from ‘Updated’, who gives his/her address only as zeobon.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/chihayafuru-2-epi… xMcbrydeDiltz063@123mail.net124.13.69. (edited version). Thank you too, quite great Spammer, wherever you are! (I have traced this quite great address to an earthlike planet somewhere in the Horsehead Nebula…)

You know, fellow Spammers, complexity is all very well, but my own email address is simply @yahoo.com. I think that shows I’m a pretty straightforward kind of guy (and it saves so much writing-down time at social events). It’s been commented on recently that I have very few possessions: a small house (for sale), three or four guitars (for sale), a wooden bed, another wooden bed, a coffee table on which I am writing this, a pair of Eames chairs, a rug (handwoven in India, 100% acrylic) and a dribbly garden water-feature with LED lights (all for sale).

On the downside, I’m keeping the TV, it’s not plugged-in to an aerial but it’s useful as a big computer screen now my short-range vision has gotten so bad I have to carry a flashlight to read the product labels in Morrisons. I’ll be burning the boxes full of unopened bank letters and old CVs, I keep them only in case I am raided by the authorities or there’s a prospect of a job and so far, touch wood, I haven’t been and there isn’t. And, of course, Hunzi – although he’s more a close personal friend than a possession.

So I don’t feel that the Mahatma, Mohindas P. Gandhi would be looking down on me with too much disapproval, even though I may be English, white, posh-voiced and public-school/neocolonialist. I hope he would recognise a kindred spirit: material possessions are a terrible drag on spiritual progress. Some of his are up for auction this week, I read. A simple shawl, made from plain wool he spun himself (my ex-wife once made a pair of socks from our Angora goats and gave them to our wealthy neighbour as a Christmas present. We were that poor); and a pair of disintegrating leather flip-flop sandals, both expected to make over £10k.

So, I took my shoes along to the recycling bank last week and gave them away free. Bearing a US trademark heavily promoted to stand for pioneering American ruggedness, eternal vigilance, freedom, democracy, capitalism and the healthy outdoor life, for the last two years the damn Commie soles had been infiltrating rainwater by capillary action up off the street and into my sodden socks. It rains a lot here in coastal west Wales. Hopefully they will go to some poor person in a country where it never rains at all, India maybe, and provide years of useful service. Size 11 (46), black.

But, who knows, if enough people down the years discover and get to ‘like’ these simple, unpretentious blog posts, guaranteed free of SEO, and I acquire enough followers, like Gandhi, persuaded by my political philosophy of non-violence tempered with cowardly verbal abuse, one day long after I have been murdered by the neighbours they’ll fetch £10k too.

What goes around comes around, but charity surely begins with a single step.

Who is Silvia, what is she? (A love spam)

‘Silvia Winfield’ at gmx.com thoughtfully spams in the dying moments of 2012 to alert me to some ‘overlapping issues’ regarding the appearance of this, my bogl. Browsing admiringly through my Posts while at the Opera, presumably in the crush-bar during the lengthy scene changes, she says, everything looks hunky-dory. However, when viewed at home in Internet Explorer, it does not seem to fit.

Well, Silvia, I think you already know what the answer is. Compatibility is not my strong suit, I leave that sort of thing to the kind people at WordPress, whose program this is. But I have rung round this morning, and no-one I have ever known has used Explorer much after the age of 13. So I think you are flirting with me, naughty lady.

I agree, it can be hard Parmesan listening to Verdi, whose bicentenary year this is. The unification of Italy is no longer much of a talking-point. But if you’re up for a date with an elderly gent with a posh British accent, driving a bright red Alfa Romeo, and you’d like to know more about the Papal States, we can discuss it over dinner; after the Opera, if you prefer. Or during. There are no overlapping issues on my part, Silvia, I’m divorced, in full working order, and have the framed certificates to prove it.

Now, I’m going to write a poem about how sad I am to be alive. I composed it while out walking little Hunzi this morning, through the sparkling puddles in the unaccustomed sunshine.

Catch you later!