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The Book of the Year 2018: Your Definitive Guide to the World’s Weirdest News – Reviewed

The Book of the Year 2018: Your Definitive Guide to the World’s Weirdest NewsThe Book of the Year 2018: Your Definitive Guide to the World’s Weirdest News by No Such Thing As A Fish
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I actually got this book for free after attending a live podcast recording. After last year’s book I didn’t have much appetite to buy a similar book again. If like me, you keep abreast of the news then much of the stories in this book, will be revision. Though very occasionally, there is a gem of a story that is unknown to you and is genuinely hilarious. One fact that stands out is: “Scientists invented a contact lens that lets you shoot lasers from your eyes”. It was entertaining enough to stave off boredom. Like I said last time, the audiobook is probably a lot more entertaining.

This time, I skipped the “For x, see y” sections entirely because it very rarely had any jokes in it previously. There was one factual inaccuracy, in that they say cannabis is a viable cure for glaucoma. No physician in the world would prescribe smoking weed as a glaucoma treatment. I think I saw some statistics about this once, that said several tonnes of weed would have to be smoked for any tangible effect. There was a nice section on mocking Trump, as in yesteryear.

Again they do not cite sources for their content and it may be difficult to fact check the assertions or simply read about a topic further.

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Dave Gorman vs. the Rest of the World – Reviewed

Dave Gorman vs. the Rest of the World: Whatever the Game — Dave Takes on All Comers!Dave Gorman vs. the Rest of the World: Whatever the Game — Dave Takes on All Comers! by Dave Gorman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is as much about travel around Britain as it is about challenging people to games. As such, it is full of bits of entertaining trivia, e.g. Westward Ho! is the only place in Britain to have an exclamation mark in its official name. Learning the backstory of the town Lewes was nice, which sounds picturesque, perhaps best known for its outlandish effigies on bonfire night. He also deftly drops his cycling feat, of a prior cycling tour of Britain. It is an interesting experiment, announce on the internet that you’d like to play some games, what could go wrong?

Bits that really made me laugh out loud were, when he was playing poker and was called a cunt for winning a round adeptly. He descried the play in two forms, one technical and the other simple. At the end, he put himself being called a cunt in layman’s terms. There was an incident in Sheffield, where a man in his fifties indecently exposed himself at the train station to him. My home town also gets a name check and it’s intriguing to know what outsiders think of it. He is also bothered by a bunch of chavlets and alas hilariously succumbs to a trap laid by them.

It has also given me a long list of games I want to try myself, like Khet, Agricola and Cribbage being the main ones, (though Bluke, Smite, Kubb and Toad in the Hole sound interesting too).

I am somewhat skirting around the issue of the dramatic climax in the final chapters, which certainly put a new light on the whole book. If you don’t want that ruined, probably best not to read on. Inevitably, one of the people he meets up with is an absolute nutcase religious fanatic with an axe to grind. Naturally, he thinks the best way to convert Gorman is through the medium of a poorly designed board game and punching his opponent in the face. This was a rather shocking turn of events and I’m really surprised he didn’t report him to the police for assault. The warning signs were there in his demeanour and behaviour, though you can’t blame Gorman for not being able to avoid the situation entirely. To his credit, he goes on to meet people after the event, rightly concluding that they’re not all crazy like Steve.

Oi twat wiv a bag!

you cunt | lizzie called me a cunt

Oh well – maybe the [creationist] game isn’t very intelligently designed

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Trump blames numerous sexual assaults on ‘sexy women’

WASHINGTON – Donald Trump shocked the world and drew ire today at a bizarre press conference, where he blamed ‘sexy women’ for sexual assaults. Championing the #HimToo movement, the president said sexy women were a ‘huge problem’ in today’s society. Reminiscent of the infamous Access Hollywood tape, Trump said when he sees sexy women he can’t control himself and does what comes naturally to him.

The president said he and others like him, were the ‘real victims’ in this and have been vilified unfairly in the media. “Our treatment has been very unfair. It’s been bad. If you go around town in a miniskirt, you have to expect a little attention. It’s their fault for dressing sexily”. Women’s rights activists shot back, that the clothes you wear doesn’t give you a free pass to assault women. Challenged by a journalist, whether his impulse control was less of that than of a lowly animal, Trump spat back angrily that he “had a very good brain”. He proceeded to challenge her to an IQ test.

Mr Trump finished the conference by saying, he was really looking forward to his next date with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and hoped he would pick “a real nice place for them to have dinner”. Trump was widely mocked on social media, for the Freudian slip, referring to his next meeting with the dictator as a date. A deluge of homoerotic memes circulated on Twitter. The president later clarified in a tweet, that he misspoke and it was not a date and he’s definitely not gay. He expanded by saying Jong-Un is not his type. A Whitehouse lawyer later said in a statement that, “What Donald Trump says does not represent the views of the president.” He declined to comment further.

I Can’t Believe You Just Said That: The Truth About Why People Are So Rude – Reviewed

I Can’t Believe You Just Said That: The Truth About Why People Are So RudeI Can’t Believe You Just Said That: The Truth About Why People Are So Rude by Danny Wallace
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The best toilet book I’ve ever read™. I thought I might enjoy this book less, because I’d heard it plugged by Wallace on a few podcasts but it was still really good. At times his joke writing isn’t funny and will just make you groan but other times it’s more on point. The hook is the ‘Hotdog Incident’, which was very entertaining to read about and is a subtext to the whole book, it is referred back to every chapter. The book is essentially one man’s odyssey to uncover what went wrong that day and why. I am quite curious to find his infamous Tripadvisor™ review of the hotdog place but I assume it has likely been deleted.

My favorite chapters are the one where he confronts a man, who flamed him over twitter, in real life (he has been subsequently banned) pure poetic justice. The section on ASBOs (includes the tale of Stephen Gough— a man who just wanted to walk around naked), it confirms that ASBOs just don’t work, what a waste of time, money and resources. He also mentions earlier that broken windows theory is false. The tale of Antonas Mockus also inspired me to watch a documentary about him.

Each chapter sets out a theory on the hotdog incident speaking to an expert in the field and outlining research. Often, it will end with a relevant anecdote. The book is well referenced but I was unable to find this purported game that would make people less rude, developed by Israeli researcher Amir Erez.

The 2018 version bears a different title, “F*** you very much’, I guess he wanted something snappier. I think I was the first person to check this out from the library, which was a bonus.

The book would be remiss if Wallace didn’t revisit the hotdog parlour and it doesn’t disappoint. Though the encounter is somewhat anticlimactic, given the tone of the rest of the book I feel it is apt. His spirited eloquent defence of political correctness, definition of banter and rebuke of those who hide behind the veil of honesty, to be rude with impunity were all excellent.

Quotes

The national tragedy that is the acceptance of ‘banter’ as a form of witless rude communication between ape-men.

When the rude writer Giles Coren was challenged on a piece he wrote labelling the outpouring of Grief over David Bowie’s death insane, some people asked him why he felt the need to always be condemnatory. […] he replied ‘well, you don’t have to write 1200 words about something in the news every week. Not condemning things is a luxury I don’t have.’ Once commentators sought to provoke thought.; now they’re forced to troll for reactions.

By cracking down on low-level ‘rude’ behaviour, authorities created huge friction between the police and public. Particularly because a lot of the people seemingly targeted by them were in poorer areas populated largely by ethnic minorities. (On broken windows theory)

Even the Kremlin itself in 2015, gave Stop a Douchebag 8 million roubles, which they mainly spent on stickers. The world is coming to something when even Vladimir Putin is sick of rudeness.

A little rule about Presidents 101. Never draw a red line. It’s like with a toddler. “If you throw that spoon again, you’re not having dinner!” You now give the toddler the power to test you. So the kid throws the spoon. Now what? Now your wife is mad at you because the toddler is screaming, the spoon’s on the floor and the toddler isn’t going to bed if you don’t feed her…’ (How pertinent for Theresa May)

Political correctness has really only ever been a system developed to protect those in a vulnerable position by discouraging those in the majority from needlessly, rudely offending them. Disabled people. Black people. Muslim people. Political correctness in its simplest form just means choosing your words more carefully, but so frothy-mouthed is the horde they can’t see the logic for the bile. ‘These bloody do-gooders!’ they spit. You’ll notice that political correctness is a phrase that often goes hand-in-hand with ‘do-gooders’. People hate do-gooders, doing good. Well, what’s your alternative, mate? Do-badders? Do-nothings?

The get-out clause is admittedly genius: whether famous or at school, rude people have found a way to say whatever they like, so long as they claim it as honesty.
You can’t argue with ‘honesty’.
But it’s not honest. Sandra is not a bitch. You’re saying Sandra is a bitch.
With the ‘honesty’ clause, we have tricked ourselves into thinking that we somehow have to take other people’s opinions as fact. But it gets worse. Because we then have to applaud that person for having the guts to call it how it is.
You and I both know, that’s not calling it how it is.
You’re not Only Being Honest – you’re stating an opinion and shutting down the conversation. It shows a lack of confidence in your own argument. You don’t want to discuss it any further, you just want that cathartic release and to reach for the high ground. You have nothing more to say. You’re not Telling It How It Is – you’re being a dick and asking people to praise you for it.
(I’m sorry. I’m only being honest.)

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Is Jeremy Corbyn a warlock?

Rumours are rife in Westminster today, after an explosive interview was published in several newspapers accusing Jeremy Corbyn of conducting in the dark arts. The source, known only as “George O” (not his real name), reasoned that Corbyn being a warlock was the logical conclusion after considering the observed evidence.

“It’s simple deduction. How can a bearded old man, have such a meteoric rise in poularity, with the youth? It just doesn’t make any sesne, it’s not like he’s Santa Clause.” George continued to say, that the Labour leader must be casting spells to wield his influence. “You’ve got to ask questions, this guy has appeared out of nowhere resembling Gandalf, and getting others to do his bidding. He’s got huge charisma.” George attributes Corbyn’s sorcery to knowledge gleaned from ancient times when he was a teenager.

He also points out that Mr Corbyn is inserting subliminal messages at getherings, giving Glastonbury as a prime example. “The chanting is almost pious. He gets them whipped up into a frenzy and then puts them into a hypnotic trance, here is where he gives them instructions. It shouldn’t be allowed.” This last allegation has prompted for some Conservative backbenchers, to call on the government to enact legislation countering such strategies.

Asked how an active parliamentarian such as Mr. Corbyn, could find the time to orchastrate wizardry on this scale, George responded by saying the “shadowy” sect known as momentum must be helping out. “Look, I’m not stupid. I know he’s got minions to do his dirty work, when he’s keeping up appearances at PMQs.”

A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn declined to comment.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover – Reviewed

Lady Chatterley's LoverLady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A good start, a little dreary in the middle but a very strong finish. What I expected was a raunchy rompfest from start to finish, as I opened the book initially with trepidation, not because I’m some sort of pervert (this is an exercise left to the reader) but because of the hand clasped over the pudendum, on this edition’s front cover. I was somewhat surprised to find, that this risqué caricature wasn’t entirely accurate. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t somewhat graphic sex depictions or rather blue language but it wasn’t to the extent or in the manner I was expecting. Think Mellors ejaculating and feeling Connie up, the author makes excellent use of euphemism. Lawrence writes expertly towing the line between sensuality and obscenity. Though, for the time you can see why it was banned in Britain.

Impressively, the characters have quite contemporary ideas about society which were very forward thinking for the time and have become normalised in today’s age, to a certain extent. Such as, attitudes to sex and society. I did find the gamekeeper hard to understand and his broad Derbyshire dialect was quite annoying for that reason, though it was quite droll in someplaces. Personally, the setting does have a connexion [sic] to me and it was quite interesting for that reason. Lawrence does serve up a double bluff in that, Lady Chatterley has two lovers, just as you think she’ll be forever carrying on with Michaelis. The parts where Mellors and Connie are together were especially enjoyable to read. The widespread use of French was annoying, as these words were not in my dictionary, like with Moab is my Washpot.

“Tha’s got the nicest arse of anybody. It’s the nicest, nicest woman’s arse as is!

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2018 in Films – Part 2

Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail – Quite average. Overall better than The Life of Brian. It’s nice to know where all the memes comedic references come from. 7/10

Craigslist Joe – Heart-warming account of a guy tries to survive for a month using only Craigslist. Surprisingly lacking sexual favours. 8/10

Siacrio 2 – Didn’t know what to expect. Supposedly the first one is better. I thought the storyline of the US directly messing with a Latin American country is quite plausible. 7.5/10

The Yes Men – These guys have got huge cajones. Very funny, and there is a message behind the madness/satire. The giant inflatable penis-mounted screen was hilarious. 9.5/10

The Death of Stalin – Lots of hype, quite brutal which made it hard to watch at times. Iannucci took quite a lot of liberties with the truth in this one. 8/10

Jerry Springer the Opera – Not a film but I’m not about to do a whole separate post about it. Act 1 – incredible. Acts 2 and 3 were quite mediocre and dragged on. If the entire show was just an extension of Act 1 i.e. a parody of the types of people who go on Jerry Springer, then I would have been more than happy. I can see why the authors went down the roads of acts 2 and 3, to lampoon The Bible, although admirable I wish they hadn’t. 7/10

An Inconvenient Truth – Gore spells out the evidence very clearly without condescension or need for prior knowledge. If only Gore had won in 2000, maybe the outlook for climate change would be different and more optimistic now…. 9/10

A Million Years in a Day: A Curious History of Daily Life – Reviewed

A Million Years in a Day: A Curious History of Daily LifeA Million Years in a Day: A Curious History of Daily Life by Greg Jenner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Horrible Histories for adults. If you’re not familiar with that show, it’s a cartoon making history fun. The concept of the book is clever, it lays out the chronological history of everyday tasks that you’d do in a typical day. The book is a goldmine for facts. Some of the more notable ones include: Henry VIII employed someone to inhale his “majestic” farts, the French referred to their toilets as “The English place” (the chapter on the call of nature was especially good), in the Ming dynasty Pekingese puppies were breastfed by human wet nurses, the wearing of stripes was historically frowned upon due to biblical reasons and that’s why prisoners wore stripy clothes. The philosopher Philoxenos induced nerve damage in his fingers so that he could get first dibs on food, prepared excruciatingly hot at the expense of his guests. Sadly the later chapters were less packed of such entertaining facts and were rather dull. A lot of the historical titbits I’d heard already, from QI and some from the podcast (though I think Greg Jenner was a guest on an episode), so some of the material feels like a rehash.

What detracts from this work is that, Jenner likes to cram in pop culture references every couple of pages, that don’t fit. Think weird contemporary references or similes that he thinks will jazz up the history (reminds me of the way J K Rowling writes). The fact is, the text is entertaining enough already without needing to be tarted up. He also comes across as someone who thinks he’s a lot funnier than he actually is. In a book of historical truth, there are inaccuracies. He mentions the syphon valve, which prevents bad smells such as that from methane, “oozing back up from the bog pan”. Of course methane is odourless and doesn’t give shit its stink. He talks about how 19th century Britain outcompeted the Indian textile market by importing American cotton. This isn’t the whole story. The British deindustrialized India, forcing it to produce raw materials only for export to Britain, so they didn’t have much of a textile industry left to compete with. This does make me wonder what other inaccuracies are there in this book. Overall though, I do imagine most of it is correct. He boasts, that the book has been fact checked by his twitter followers, presumably harnessing the wisdom of crowds…

In a blow to racists, the book reveals that the proto Indians or Harappans invented the flush toilet and the modern meme regarding outdoor defecation is without merit and due to widespread poverty.

I take after my father, I smell of armpits – Louis XIII

Q: What’s the cleanest leaf in the forest?
A: Holly, because no one dares wipe his arse on it! – Medieval Joke

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Bacterial Misunderstanding

If you pay attention to the news, you will often hear pseudo-scientific misleading statements like:

“There’s more bacteria on your smartphone than on your toilet seat!”

replace smartphone with keyboard, mouse &c. Oh really? If toilet seats are so clean lets see you eat your dinner off of them then (Clearly, no sane person would do this for a number of reasons. I’d wager people would in fact eat off their smartphones instead. Why? There’s probably a psychological component to it). You know what’s got more bacteria in it than a smartphone? You. 10% of your body weight is made up of bacteria, bacterial cells out number human cells. Does this mean we’re all about to drop dead at any given moment? Evidently not, well not because of the everyday bacteria present in our bodies anyway.

The number of bacteria is not important, it’s the type. The pathogens that hang around the bog seats are a lot more dangerous than the ones on our smartphones and other household objects. That’s why you use bleach on the toilets and maybe a wet wipe for your phones. There’s good bacteria and bad bacteria.

Stupid phrases

Boots on the ground – When I hear this hackneyed tripe, I imagine a poor man’s Don Draper musing potential slogans:

“Most conflicts can be solved with our new product – Boots on the Ground. Now available in size 12.”

Presumably enemy soldiers are in awe of a bunch footwear parachuted from above, and lay down their arms surrendering. Why use this phrase? Taken literally as I’ve lampooned above, it makes no sense. Of course, they mean ground troops or infantrymen. Why invent this mouthful pleonasm, when the former will do? Be more pithy next time.

Bums on seats
– Similar to it’s cousin above, this neologism similarly grinds my gears. “Our revenue will go up with more bums on seats.” Says a charlatan train company operator who is lining their pockets with tax payer funded subsidies. More redundancy in wording here. Do people who invariably stand on the train due to lack of seating get to travel for free? No, the season ticket costs over the odds for the privilege to stand. Do disembodied arses generate profit? No. Say passengers, customers or people you morons.

Woke – Yes I know what ‘woke’ means, this proves my street smarts, would that it were. This slang seems to be everywhere and it regrettably seems to have crossed the Atlantic too. If you’re unfamiliar, it means someone is up to date on social and political issues. Do you know what I call being ‘woke’? Awake Not being a fucking idiot. I’ve been following politics for more than 15 years. I imagine that people who use this word may have lost attention so I’ll put it into a form they’ll understand:

You think being woke is your ally? You merely adopted being woke after Brexit and Trump. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see fake news until I was already a cynic, by then it was nothing to me but gibberish written by Russian bots!

PS blame Stephen Fry for the sesquipedalian long words.