Posts Tagged ‘idiocy’

His and hers … cameras?

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

From Amazon.co.uk’s camera section:

His and Hers ... cameras

…yeah. “Gifts for Her, Gifts for Him”. It is apparently now a useful commercial approach to gender cameras. (Interestingly, this is the only part of the “Electronics” section which has his-and-hers gift recommendations – I wonder why…)

Note that one camera, the Olympus XZ-1, is even on both lists. For women, it comes in white at £289.99, and for men it comes in black at £311.08. I don’t even want to know the logic behind that one.

Shock news: government hires lawyers, honours contracts

Friday, November 19th, 2010

One of the more delightful moments, any time the government releases a new tranche of spending data, is watching people try to find nuggets of Terrifyingly Embarrassing Information in it. Normally, this is silly contracted “team-building exercises”, or purchases of potted plants, and so on, but this non-story is particularly creative:

The Cabinet Office has denied claims of conflict of interest after it emerged that the law firm where the deputy prime minster’s wife works has a long-standing contract with the government department.
(…)
The Cabinet Office insisted that Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, signs off the department’s contracts, not Clegg. Durántez is not believed to be involved in the compliance monitoring work that DLA Piper carries out for the department.

DLA Piper, in fact, are contracted by four government departments (mostly for more money than this), which is somewhat to be expected, given they are also one of the largest law firms in the country. Still, there are critics:

Tom Watson, a former Cabinet Office minister, criticised the deal. He told the Daily Mail: “Apart from the potential conflict of interest between the husband and wife here, I think the contract should be reviewed, not least because they have not been doing a very good job, with the vanity staff appointments over the last six weeks.”

Okay, I guess, if you look hard, there is a germ of a story there. I mean, you can sort of see there’s a possible COI given she’s a partner and thus stands to (indirectly) benefit, and they’ve been hiring people oddly recently, and so on. So what’s the details of the contract?

A [Cabinet Office] spokesman said: “The contract was subject to full competitive tendering. It started in April 2008 and runs for four years with two annual options to extend. The two payments relate to monitoring of compliance by government departments with civil service recruitment procedures.”

Oh. 2008. All things considered, in 2008, had you asked someone at the Cabinet Office if they were concerned about awarding a contract which might conceivably pose a conflict of interest it it later happened that the leader of the Lib Dems were to be involved… well, I suspect it’d not have been taken very seriously.

So, to recap: Tom Watson, former Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office, thinks the government should renegotiate a contract which was allocated by his department during his time in office, because – in an unexpected chain of events – someone in the receiving company is now related to someone in the government, though neither are actually responsible for approving or performing the contract.

All of which, it need not be said by this point, was tendered, selected, and contracted for legitimately, as arms-length from Durántez as can be imagined – unless we are going to argue that whilst in opposition, Clegg had somehow subverted a minister to rig a contract on behalf of his wife. And if we do, then we should focus on bigger problems, because the responsible minister in the Cabinet Office at the time, who this theory would have as his partner in conspiracy, was one Ed Miliband.

As an example of dubious business practices, I suspect this one falls down on almost every count imaginable. Perhaps I am naive, but looking at the papers this week, I thought we had bigger issues to focus on than this sort of spurious silliness. The Coalition is making no end of decisions people can actually challenge for real reasons – why waste time waving around something that is patently above-board when there’s so much else out there?

Diana Gabaldon on fanfiction

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

I think it’s immoral, I _know_ it’s illegal, and it makes me want to barf whenever I’ve inadvertently encountered some of it involving my characters.

It’s illegal, see. It’s illegal because of International Copyright Law. This has initial caps so those of us who aren’t lawyers may sit back and go “oooh! ahhh!”, except, not. I could go into the whole doctrine of fair use, of parody, and could discuss the simple fact that copyright law is certainly not international – it’s different by jurisdiction, but I’m sure you knew that and, let’s be honest, I could probably write my entire thesis on the subject of fanfiction and the law and oh, look, OTW already have.

But, I don’t know, it just seems to me that Gabaldon’s major gaffe here is very much commercial. As someone comments on fandom_wank, what’s she gonna do? Chase down every instance of fanfic on the internet and thus implicitly condone the ones she misses? And of course, telling her fans, who buy her books, the fact of the wee stories they wrote on the internet makes her want to throw up is very sound commercial sense, oh wait I might be lying there.

Then there’s this:

While not all fan-fic is pornographic by any means, enough of it _is_ that it constitutes an aesthetic argument against the whole notion.

As I say, I’ve unwillingly read a certain amount of fan-fic involving my characters, and about three-quarters of it is graphic, badly-written (of the “his searing touch blazed its way up the silken skin of her thigh to the secret depths of her ecstasy” type) masturbatory fantasy. I mean….ick.

She said that. I mean, seriously, seriously, she actually said that.

From Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, pg. 237 [British edition]:

Percy’s own cold hand slid down between them, grasped him. Cold as the touch was, it seemed to burn. He felt the seam of his breeches give as Percy shoved them roughly done and wondered dimly what he would tell Tom. Then Percy’s prick rubbed hard against his own, stiff, hot, and he stopped thinking.

From pg. 294:

“Did you ever wonder what it’s like?” [Percy] asked suddenly. “To be flogged?”

Grey felt a clenching in his stomach, but answered honestly. “Yes. Now and then.” Once, at least.

Percy had been kneading one of the red baize bags, like a cat sharpening its claws. Now he let it fall to the floor, and took up the cat o’nine tails itself, a short handle with a cluster of leather cords. “Do you want to find out?” he said, very softly.

“What?” An extraordinary feeling ran through Grey, half-fear, half-excitement.

“Take off your coat,” Percy said, still softly.

I don’t, alas, have my copies of the other books, or I could treat you all to more in the way of sexual fantasy. Believe me, there’s more.

Also? She writes books, right. Enormous doorstops of books about Love! And Time-Travel! And Men In Kilts Called Jamie Fraser!

Poor, dear, Jamie McCrimmon. S’all I’m sayin’.

Cookbook publishing, it’s very difficult

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Cookbook misprint costs Australian publishers dear.

So, a publisher in Australia managed to publish a cookbook with a recipe that called for “salt and freshly ground black people”.

Oops.

I’m sure I would have had much more sympathy for said publisher, though, had he not been quoted as saying, “[W]hy anyone would be offended, we don’t know”, and “proofreading a cook-book is an extremely difficult task”.

I don’t know, I might not buy books from a publisher that finds it very difficult not to accidentally advocate grinding up black people.

Fish, barrel, etc.

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

From the comments on a recent BBC news story:

Yet another useless and pointless anachronism in our tradition-obsessed country, like daylight saving, the House of Lords and the Monarchy.

Yes, that hideous medieval throwback, daylight savings time (1917). Other equally ancient practices we could abandon at the same time include, er, women’s suffrage (1918) and old age pensions (1909). Ah, the grand tradition of “if I don’t understand it, it must be ancient and meaningless”…