Saturday, 24 October 2009

Free Speech - Who are your neighbours?

In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British National Party seems to be a talking point of late, winning European election votes and being a hot topic in the news.

I suppose everyone's entitled to their own opinion in a country that promotes free speech (mostly), but their views are somewhat 'right wing', and a rather lot of people would argue racist.

I'm sure not all of the members are racist and have simply been duped by BNP propaganda, but the views of the party's leadership have been exposed as such, and some of the policies are... well, lets just say radical.

Now, whilst reading the blog Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry (in my opinion the best blog title ever!),  I noticed a post about the recently leaked BNP members list. This leak was a hot topic as the BNP claimed it would single it's members out as targets for hate crimes. Well I suppose if your party views are bigoted, that's what may happen.

I in no way condone any such attacks, and respect that different people can have different opinions in this country, as well as different people in this country can be of differing race and religion, because I'm a person who welcomes diversity. If you are a member of said political party, that's up to you and because of the country and society we live in, no one can stop you.

Anyway, I took a look at the leaked BNP members list and searched for the village I reside in and two members live on my street. One may actually live in the house that backs onto mine. *twitchy curtains*

Experimenting, I searched for the town I grew up in. Lots of hits. Another search for another town I also grew up in turned up the name of someone I used to know 20 odd years ago. Git! In fact he actually sent me a friends request on facebook the other day. Glad I ignored it.

Anyway, I'm not sure what my point is, but the list was an interesting thing to search over.

Edit: On closer inspection, there are even people on the list who will give you 'BNP home-schooling" *shiver*


The Random Within

Friday, 23 October 2009

Bad Film Prediction

All traces of the evil space virus have vanished, but I have to admit, my trip into town the other day didn't aid it's departure.

Anyway, I've been watching a lot of Comedy Central on TV to pass the time, and the fact that the prime time slots are sponsored by the film "The Men Who Stare At Goats", is rather forcefully shoved down you throat. The sponsorship consists of someone telling you of the fact with a random clip from the film.

Now, I may be going out on a limb here, but I'm going to predict that this film is going to be bad in that way that makes you want to rip your arm off just so you can throw something at the screen.

I've read the book and the clips seem to make up the sum of all that can be funny in the film, so I'm wondering what the other 90 minutes of screen time will consist of.

The problem is that I'm so convinced of this fact, that I'm going to have to go and see it to make sure, which I know is going to be painful.

I feel like I'm in a catch 22 situation (well, not quite but I'm sure you know what I'm getting at).

I shall report back soon either in pain from the experience, or eating humble pie.


The Random Within

Saturday, 17 October 2009

How Authentic?

10 or so years ago I noticed these authentic French/German travelling markets appearing every now and then, usually around Christmas.

They were nice and authentic, all sellers were from the named country and what was on sale was usually traditional and decorative, or good wholesome food from that country - yum!

More, and more of late these authentic foreign markets have been popping up everywhere, and not just around Christmas, and frankly, they are taking the piss calling themselves authentic.

The case in point is the "authentic traditional French market' that I stumbled across in town today. I went over and had a look. Now, I'm not French, so what do I really know about what is traditionally French, but I'm pretty sure that cheap plastic toys, second hand books (printed in English), paintings of the lake district, knitted hats, and knock off watches and jewellery etc.. do not fall into that category. Oh, and all the stalls seemed to be staffed by English people.

Anyway, after being more than a little disappointed by what made up that particular market, underneath several large French tricolours fluttering in the wind I spotted a food stall selling traditional French food, including massive pancakes! Well, it wasn't anywhere near lunchtime and I was still quite full from breakfast, but there's always room for pancakes!

So, spotting the opportunity to practice my French, I strode up to the counter:

"Une crêpe au citron et le sucre s'il vous plaît", I said with confidence.

A puzzled look was returned by the stocky man behind the counter, and I stood there looking a little embarrassed and thinking my French must need a great deal of practice.

After a few seconds he said, "I don't understand, could you speak English", in a traditional Scottish accent!

Authentic, traditional French market? Connerie!


The Random Within

Thursday, 15 October 2009


Evil space virus attacking me.

Not well.

Normal service to be resumed soon (if I live).


The Random Within

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Halifax Bank Charges a Potential 3,650,000 % Overdraft Interest Fee

If you haven't already guessed, I live in the UK and I have a bank current account with the Halifax Bank.

I have a £2,500 overdraft that every now and then I'll dip; probably only a few pounds. Usually it's something like I didn't plan my finances correctly and my standing order into my savings account moved £10 more than I actually had. It's easier to leave the account overdrawn by a few pounds until pay day, rather than correct the balance. With the old charges, this probably cost me 2 pence so you can see that I wasn't that bothered.

Now to the point: I received a letter from The Halifax yesterday and was surprised to see that they were no longer going to give me interest on my balance (I didn't like that), and was shocked to see that they have changed their overdraft charges. If I go overdrawn outside of my limit I will be charged £5 per day, which is fine, BUT for every day that I use me agreed overdraft facility, I will be charged £1.

Now most people with a Halifax account probably won’t even read the letter (I nearly didn't), and a lot won’t see that as a problem, and nor do I really (I can afford it), but this is a rip off and it’s the principal of the thing. Think of it like this:

If my account goes overdrawn by 1 pence (£0.01), and I leave it like that all year, I will be charged £365. That’s 3,650,000%!!! Yes! Three million, six hundred and fifty thousand percent!

Now, I know if people go overdrawn it will probably be by more than 1 pence, but still, even if you keep your account £100 overdrawn, it is still 100%. That aside, for me this is potentially going to cost me more.

I know exactly what they’re doing; they’re trying to get everyone to upgrade to their pay for current account, but I’m not budging. Actually that’s not true. I have been waiting for an excuse to move banks as the online service provided by The Halifax is quite basic. I think this is the excuse I need.

Next week I shall move my account to another bank.

Now I suppose this is the point where you all tell me I have my maths wrong :)

The Random Within

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Tagged: A musical Exercise

I don't usually go in for these blog thinggies where you get 'tagged' to do a task, but this one sounded like a challenge.

By reading this you are also tagged, and you must answer all the questions below using song names from one artist/group. You are not allowed to use the artist/group I have chosen.

Post a blog link to your attempt in the comments section.

Pick your artist: Dire Straits

Are you a male or a female? Calling Elvis
Describe yourself: Solid Rock
How do you feel? So Far Away
Describe where you currently live: Telegraph Road
If you could go anywhere, where would you go? Tunnel of Love
Your favourite form of transportation? Single-Handed Sailor (boat?)
Your best friend is? Lady Writer
What's the weather like? It Never Rains
Favourite time of the day? My Parties
If your life was a TV show, what would it be called? Private Investigations
What is life to you? Once Upon A Time In The West
Your fear? Walk Of Life
What advice is the best advice you have to give? Love Over Gold
Thought for the day? The Man's Too Strong
How would you like to die? Twisting By The Pool
My soul's current condition? Fade To Black
My motto? Why Worry

Okay, there you go.

Now it's your turn.


The Ransom Within

PS I've found posting every day is hard work. I may switch to every other day if I find it tough to keep up this pace.

Monday, 12 October 2009

The Future: Twitter gets Government Bailout?

Everyone who spends more than a small amount of time on the Internet must have heard of Twitter.

Well it seems they are still searching for a business model, however it's value is said to be around $1 billion! How you can be worth that without a way of doing business or a sound plan as to how you are going to do business is beyond me. They must be using up money like it is going out of fashion.

Microsoft and Google may be coming twitter's rescue as they want to fold tweets into their web search results. Why on earth I would want to search over tweets about what people had for dinner, or where they simply say "goodnight" (aparantly one of the most tweeted words), is beyond me.

Industry experts have now started saying that Twitter is now too big to be left to fold if it can't come up with a business model, and would be worthy of a government rescue. It is claimed that many companies rely heavily on Twitter and the like to deliver customer service and to promote their product. Then there are all the entertainment outlets and celebrities that pump out tweets. It is even cited that Twitter was vital in organising the Iranian protesters after their disputed election.

As a result the government should cough up the cash if they can't make the business work.

I say "What business!?!?!"

Seriously, it isn't a business at all. If you want to give it a label, I would call it a rather large scale, expensive hobby that some web geek had. Harsh, but fair. There's nothing wrong with it, in fact I use it under another name, but a business? No.

And if a business relies on it for their means of customer service and product promotion... well I'm afraid their business model isn't much better than Twitter's.

I'll give the owners a bit of advice: Sell while people still think it's worth money!

Oooh, that turned into a bit of a rant didn't it.


The Random Within

Sunday, 11 October 2009

How Secure are You?

This is old news now as I wrote it a few days ago, but I wrote it so I'm posting it!

It has been in the news recently that 10,000 hotmail and 20,000 gMail, AOL and Yahoo mail account details have been stolen and the details published on the Internet.

Apart from the fact they were published, there isn’t really anything unusual in that as I’m sure it happens all the time, but what is interesting is the fact that someone has analysed the hotmail details and published the findings. 9,843 of the 10,000 passwords were found to be valid, and the most popular password was 12345.

No offence if that’s your password, but there seem to be quite a few forgetful people out there as surely it’s easier to remember a stronger password than that.  It turns out that the second most popular password was 123456789, and 111111, 12345678 and 1234567 also feature in the top ten.

Now I shouldn’t really poke fun as I’ve used the same password for years. I know I shouldn’t and it isn’t really that complex, but it makes it easier to access an account on a website that you haven’t been to for years, because the chances are it will be the same.

I know I’m not the only one, but now I’ve made that admission, I think I’ll go and vary my password on a few important sites, because I know a few people who may be able to work it out. I trust them…. I think….. maybe…… *paranoia sets in*


The Random Within

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Cynical Entertainment Round-up

Need to make money? Sell a sob story:

A few days ago it was 'leaked' that Robbie Williams was in a recording studio with the rest of Take That.

Then we get a big tabloid news story about how he can relate to Michael Jackson as he himself was seemingly an hour away from death through prescription drugs.

Then he does a master class on X Factor.

Then something in the news about wanting children.

He must have a new album coming out soon. I could google to find out but I can't be bothered.

Amy Winehouse:

Has set up her own record label to 'put her pals in the spotlight'.

Or could it be for herself as no other record label will touch her with a barge pole given her past form. Fisticuffs at Glastonbury was one of my favourites. 

Some things should be left as they were:

It seems the National Lampoons Vacation run of films is going to be 'rebooted'. Some things are from an era that should be left alone. Don't get me wrong; I remember the films and liked them. I can still picture the scene of the Griswalds sitting in the car with Clark loosing it saying something like "We're ten f&$king miles from the f&$king fun park", and laughing my ass off (rude words were amusing to me back then).

Anyway, it will pick up the family with a fully grown Rusty, who was sensible if I remember correctly, so I guess they'll have to mess with the character to bring in the National Lampoons slap stick.

What next? Police Academy Rebooted *shiver*

Simpsons 2:

For some reason Matt Groening had to announce he has no plans for a follow up Simpsons feature film.

All I can say is "phew!", but something tells me that if he had to announce it, it must be in the works and he wonders why nobody is discussing it. Drumming up his own PR if you ask me. 

And Finally:

Ozzy Osbourne wants Johnny Depp to play him in a movie about his life. Nothing cynical about that line really, it just made me smile. Feel free to add your own cynical slant. 


The Random Within

Friday, 9 October 2009

Where have all the good bloggers gone?

Before starting this blog, it had been somewhere between 18 months to 2 years since I actively read any sort of blog at all.

Back then there was an abundance of quality blogs that gave humorous commentary on current events and random observations in general. Good stuff worth reading.

Now I'm back in the blog-o-sphere (does anyone even call it that any more?), I've struggled to find anything of note. I've found old blogs where the author signs off for the last time and wanders in to the sunset, and blogs that just seem to suddenly stop in their prime as if the author just died right there at their keyboard (not to mention all the standard 'this page does not exist' messages when looking for blogs I used to read).

What seems to have replaced them are big corporate style blogs from news networks and sports channels,  entertainment show and celebrity blogs where we all must flock because we want to feel like X's closest friend. Even political parties are in on it. Then there's a million and one technical blogs telling you how to send an email and open a browser - duh! if they're reading your blog I'm guessing your reader will know how to do that (blitheringidiotwhohasmoretimethansense says what).

I don't want all that polished, shiny corporate crap that cost $1 million and 20 talented web designers to create. If I want any of the information those blogs offer, I'll just go to the appropriate web site where they have it all anyway. Why have both a standard web site and a blog that publishes the same crap? All I want is some standard blog by a guy/girl who has something funny to say about whatever they observed in their normal, average, everyday life.

Maybe the good bloggers are still out there, but they're being drowned out by all the polished white noise. Someone call International Rescue! We need to save them before they give up.

Or maybe blogging has become so passée. Now we have sit-on-my-facebook and twitter. Why should we write paragraphs of text when the technology interwebnet Gods state we must communicate in 140 characters and no more?

Am I actually part of a dying art (all of a sudden I feel old)?

Anyway, I shall continue with this blog and force it up to the surface and hold the heads of the ESPN, Paris Hilton, NBA, Conservative Party, Labour Party, Democrat, Republican, Premier League, IT Pro under water and laugh as they come up gasping for air.

Rant over!


The Random Within

Survival of the Fittest

What ever happened to survival of the fittest?

Once upon a time, if you weren’t one of the fittest (and I’m really talking about brains and common sense here), you would generally end up doing something stupid enough to end your life. Not any more it seems.

I blame medical advances as one of the biggest factors in removing this important gene pool filter. These people who in the past had a good chance of death before weakening the human gene pool, now get patched up and sent on their way to spread their seed.

I know, I know, I may be being a little harsh, but today’s case in point is the spotty faced youth who, whilst I was on the way to work this morning, decided it was a perfectly sensible thing to drive around a blind bend on the wrong side of the road as I was coming the other way!


Now thank God, Allah, Stephen Hawking, Buddha and The Dude (plus any other deity you can think of), I hadn’t quite reached the corner at that point, but let’s just say that I’m glad that my and his breaks worked, as we both had to come to a stop to avoid an accident. If I’d have been any closer to the corner, there would have been a very big head on impact.

That was enough to make me angry, but the thing that really made my blood boil was the fact that he screamed something at me and made hand gestures as if it were my fault!


I’m sure it won’t be long until he has a bad accident (hopefully without involving anyone else), but he will be taken to the nearest emergency room in his near death state, and his life will be saved. He will then go on to procreate, and the human race will become that tiny bit weaker.

Am I being harsh? Possibly.
Am I being fair in my comments? Absolutely!

I’m reminded if something I once heard someone say:

“Some people are only alive because it’s illegal to kill them.”

Anyway, please, if you know a person like the spotty faced youth above, buy them some common sense this Christmas.


The Random Within

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Who is my God?

Slightly related to my last post, and it’s one I should get out of the way early.

I worship the spell checker. It is my God.

I failed English at school and can’t spell to save my life, and grammar; well, you’ll soon see I have no idea about that.

Just look at that last sentence above. I was thinking do I use commas, or do I use semi-colons? So I ended up using both and now it looks crap. And in that last question should I have written commas or commas’? ARRGGHH! *confused*

Anyway, I don’t really want corrections in the comments section, as that would make a pretty boring blog, but go easy on me and see my bad spelling an grammar as something to keep you entertained.


The Random Within

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Tesco doesn't do Midi-chlorians

I read in the news that the creator of the "International Church of Jediism" was kicked out of a Tesco store in the UK, for wearing the hood up on his cloak type garment.

Morda Hehol (aka Daniel Jones) claimed that the rules of his religion state "Jedis must wear a hood up in any public place of a large audience." He wrote that rule of course, so I think he is a little self centred. I wonder if there is another rule stating that all followers must send him money. Anyway, I liked his parting comment:

"I'll advise worshippers to boycott Tesco if it happens again. They will feel the Force."

They will feel the force? Hmmm. For the head of the Jedi church, the force doesn't seem to be very strong with him, or he would have simply used the Jedi mind trick. It would go something like this (for some reason BA is playing the security guard):

- Jedi walks into Tesco -
Security Guard (SG): Hey Fool! You ain't wearing no hood in this store!
Jedi Master (JM): Excuse me?
SG: I said you can't wear your hood up. I pity the fool who wears a hood in a public place.
- Jedi waves his hand in the air -
JM: Actually, I may be mistaken.
SG: Actually, I may be mistaken.
JM: Wear your hood and go in peace.
SG: Wear your hood and go in peace.
- Jedi walks away -
- Security guard looks confused -
SG: Crazy Jedi fool.

Anyway, it seems he tried to claim religious discrimination, but was essentially laughed at. I guess I shouldn't be too critical, but to base a religion on science fiction seems a bit strange.

If you must adopt a religion based on a film; I recommend 'The Church of the Latter Day Dude!' A much more sound philosophy in my humble opinion.

Where do my religious ties actually reside. Well I'm tempted to get ordained as a Dudeist Priest, but perhaps I'm agnostic. Whatever your belief is, all I would say don't have religion; religion is the cause of a lot of problems. If you must have something; simply have faith. There is a big difference between religion and faith, and in my opinion, having faith causes fewer problems than having religion.

Well, before I get too serious I'll leave you with a quote from the Dude "Just take it easy, man."


The Random Within


I am now guilty of adding to the self-perpetuating machine that is the blog-o-sphere.

A night of insomnia that no amount of pillow fluffing and counting sheep could cure, drifted into the white noise of the pointless randomness that sometimes occupies my mind. Out of that randomness came the idea of this blog.

I'm not sure why I'm doing this, or if I even have a lot to say, but it's here now and I can't take it back (well I can, but it sounds much more purposeful like that).

Will anyone read this?

Or will I post randomness for six months, each post chipping away at my self esteem as I wonder why I bother when nobody reads it, then to suddenly have the world in focus as I receive my first comment, only to find it's my mother asking why I have time to blog, but not to call her?

I even went down the route of shameless self promotion to a select group of people - sorry about that, and if you're reading 1) thanks for having a look, and 2) remember the one rule.

Whatever my reason for doing this, I find venting about love, loss, happiness, sadness, or even why the new improved microwave meal I bought neither looks like it did on the box, nor tastes as good as the picture suggested it would, somewhat.......... therapeutic.

Perhaps life is just one big microwave lasagne: You sit in anticipation of the mouthwatering layers of pasta, succulent beef and sauce, topped with golden cheese, saying "eat me!', only for you to rip open the clear plastic cover (that never comes off in one piece by the way) and be presented with a steaming pile of rubbery slop, sloshing around in a bendy plastic tray that is burning the crap out of your fingers in that way only something from a microwave can.

The Internet is a forum where all people have a voice and can say what they want and get it all out there (in anonymity if they wish), without having to pay $/£150 per hour to sit on a psychiatrists chez-lounge and be told to love yourself more.

Anyway, the blog is here and I'm laying on my big virtual leather sofa, in the big plush virtual office of my virtual psychiatrist, prepared to tell all.

I guess we could ask the question; are we now our own therapists?

Charge yourself 150 per hour and rake in a fortune.


The Random Within