Posts Tagged Facebook

Sophistry Corner: Stupid Americans

Sophistry Corner: Stupid Americans

These people continue to make me chuckle. America, the land of the overly earnest, the painfully literal, and the mid-bendingly litigious. A country where a clown, a religious nut or the mentally incapacitated can run for President. A country where a twelve year old girl can get the armies of Civil Liberties ninnies into gear after being punished for posting uncomplimentary comments on Facebook. Read the rest of this entry »

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Excuses, excuses…

Excuses, excuses...

The Daily Mail is fast turning into my favourite online comedy resource. Forget all those bawdy joke sites and funny videos involving cats, if you want real genuine lowbrow entertainment, there’s no better place to go than the Daily Mail online – the masters of the slow news and non-news story. Read the rest of this entry »

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Many of us use social networking sites. Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Twitter. I personally use them to promote my websites, broadcast my latest take on a sports event or to showcase my array of culinary delights, but they can be used for doing anything from sharing holiday photos and playing badly-written quizzes through to playing silly games like Farmville. Like anything, it’s a service that can be misused by many, and flagrantly abused by some.

In recent weeks, Facebook has made its way into the headlines for the most unfortunate of reasons – a sad chain of events that was to lead to the tragic rape and murder of teenager Ashleigh Hall. Of course, the professional sledgehammer-wielding nutcrackers have waded into the act with talk of restrictions, panic buttons and all other sorts of interfering jiggery-pokery.  The sort of rhetorical bullshit parroted by some expert-about-everything-and-nothing like Carol Vorderman on some ITV primetime show or by some two-penny hack at the Daily Mail who probably has no idea what the difference is between Facebook and Faceoff.

I will be as straight as I can be here. Yes, this story is indeed a tragedy, but it is something that has less to do with Facebook or any other social networking site than the sheer idiocy displayed by the teenager in agreeing to meet up with a total stranger. Quite simply, it could have been avoided had she displayed a degree of caution and common sense. How many times have we advised kids not to go meeting up with strangers whom they might have met online? How many times have we advised them to go with a parent or perhaps a couple of friends so things could be checked out? Yeah, so you meet someone you fancy on the ‘net, and you don’t want to take Mum or Dad along to check them out – ‘cos it’s embarrassing, right? Bullshit. It’s a whole lot less embarrassing than ending up in a mortuary.

Looking at the photos of murderer Peter Chapman, I would have clocked him immediately from a mile away. He has that face that any adult would view as suspicious.

The dangers of this sort of things have continually been highlighted in the media, and poor Ashleigh Hall was not the first person to fall victim to a professional predator. Nor, unfortunately, will she be the last.

The government and their army of overpaid technological advisors (oh, woe!) have suggested that Facebook put some sort of “panic button” (again, woe!) on the site so that users can hit it whenever they suspect suspicious behaviour; I cannot see what good this will do save provide japesters with yet another way of pissing off their mates online. Oh, Pete’s a paedo. Kate likes putting small animals in the oven. Hahaha, lol. That sort of thing. Furthermore, it cannot see how the presence of a panic button would have helped Ashleigh Hall – she obviously couldn’t see anything untoward about the “teenage boy” she was going to meet.

Facebook is useful, as well as being a source of frivolous and at times utterly pointless fun. I can keep in touch with business colleagues, have managed to find long-lost school friends, and have used it to promote this blog. I have also used it to post commentary on the Winter Olympics (confusing some people with my complete and utter randomness, often in deutsch) and pass comment on the culinary fare being served up on Masterchef.

While I use it for these reasons and to keep in touch with people I actually know, others might use it to rack up “friends” as part of some silly competition with their peers. “I have a thousand friends on Facebook”. Yeah, well, whoopee-doo – you probably have no friends in real life, and are just the sort of person who might take things far too literally when some fat weirdo you don’t know from Adam advertises himself as some bronzed Adonis with lots of (online) girlfriends.

Like anything, social networking sites should be used responsibly, and – if making “friends” with complete strangers is your thing – with a degree of caution. There should be no need for any “panic button” – if you see something suspicious, you can simply tell a friend (a real-life friend, that is) or a parent. Better still you can email Facebook and tell them. These facilities exist: there’s no need to provide the likes of Stalin Johnson and his bunch of know-it-alls with yet another reason – sorry, excuse – to nanny us.

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The Forrest Gump of French Politics

The Forrest Gump of French Politics

Nicolas Sarkozy has this funny habit of making me laugh.

No, not because he is in every way a wannabe modern Napoleon Bonaparte. Not because, like Kim Jong-Il, he wears high-heeled shoes in order to look taller when standing behind a podium. Not because he flaunts his supermodel wife like a fashion accessory.

Sarkozy has it all – he is president of one of Europe’s largest democracies, is married to the not unattractive Carla Bruni and gets to live in the Élysée Palace. And yet he still feels the need to play the role of the man who somehow needs to have done everything and been everywhere, even when it makes him look like a blithering idiot. One can only wonder what might have happened had we managed to get Sarko, Gordon Brown and former US President George W. Bush into a room to have a game of pin the tail on the donkey: Dubya would have pinned the tail where the head would go and break into a gurning smile, McBroon would have missed the point of the exercise completely, while Sarko would have waited twenty years to tell us all that he had managed to ride away on what was not a donkey buy a thoroughbred cheval.

Sarko’s latest stunt – some would say scandal, though I think it is far too comedic for that – involves his alleged appearance in Berlin on November 9th 1989 which he has shared with the world on his Facebook profile page. Here we see the twenty-years-younger Sarko and a friend chipping merrily chipping away at the Berlin wall – playing his own little part in what was the beginning of Die Wende.

It now has emerged that Sarkozy, then mayor of the Paris district of Neuilly, was not in Berlin at all on November 9th but in Paris celebrating a Charles de Gaulle anniversary; his claim that he was there with former Prime Minister Alain Juppé has also been disputed by Juppé himself, who has said that the pair arrived in Berlin a week later on November 16th. That said, even if Sarko had managed to be in Berlin on November 9th while his double was in Paris he would never have been able to be seen chipping away at the wall that evening; there was little chance he would have made it in time – even if he had a direct line to Erich Mielke at Stasi HQ – and West Berliners only started hacking at the wall on the following day in any case.

Nicolas Sarkozy playing his own little role in history...

Nicolas Sarkozy playing his own little role in history... Allegedly.

Ah, but Sarko tells us that he had gone through Checkpoint Charlie and had started hacking at the wall from the Eastern side – so what does it matter that the citizens of West Berlin only got wind of things the following day? They were beaten to the punch, donchaknow. Le Supersarko got there first:

“Later, we went to Checkpoint Charlie to go through to the eastern side of the city and confront this wall, on which we were able to land a few blows with a pickax[e]”. (“In France, a Clash of Memories and Media”, New York Times)

Hmm. Despite Sarko’s invented memory suggesting that he and his pals were chipping away from the Eastern side, this is contradicted by the photograph itself which shows the section of wall covered in graffiti. And as anyone with even a passing knowledge of this period of history knows, the graffiti was on the Western side. Nobody – save those who ran the risk of being shot at by the trigger-happy Grepos – got even close enough to daub enough a spot of paint on the eastern side of the ridiculously-titled Antifaschistischer Schutzwall or “Anti-Fascist Protective Rampart”, which was as plain and grey as the day it was constructed in 1961.

So what is the point of this exercise? Not content to simply play his presidential role, Sarko has seen fit to buttress this with some cock-and-bull story that he somehow did more – and that he was right in the thick of the action. It leaves German Chancellor Angela Merkel trailing his wake: while Sarko the hero was supposedly rubbing shoulders with the newly-reunited citizens of East and West Berlin, Frau Merkel was heading off after work for her weekly session at the sauna. Which is, of course, far less exciting.

One has to wonder where Sarko will be seen next – rumour has it that he was also seen in Nazareth some two-thousand years ago. Or was it on the moon? Or at the elaborate coronation of Emperor Bokassa I?

I think it is time for some Sarkozy-related Photoshop phuckery-phoo, Forrest Gump stylee… Watch this space!

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