rant

Set thine house in order

Facebook is a very unique environment. Not only can you scrutinise the minutiae of other people’s lives, but you can watch them installing viruses on their computers in real time. Fascinating.

Now, among my friends, I am “that guy”, the dude you ask when the compootar does that thing again. It gets tiring (and more than a little frustrating) repeating the same stuff over and over again, particularly since it mostly gets ignored the next time some jackass on Facebook purports to show you Who’s Viewing Your Profile, the Shocking Thing Someone Said, or OMG You Have To See This, all of which somehow involve clicking through to an external site.

Since I cannot – and, arguably, should not – prevent people from making mistakes they refuse to learn from, I’ve condensed my standard  recovery advice into a short article on how to take care of the problem of unwanted virus and malware infections.

Read it here.

9,000 bellends! Oprah FTW!

The likeness is uncannyYou would think that the American people, having tasted the Patriot Act, would have tired of being stripped of their civil rights. You would be wrong.

Seeing as no one is terribly concerned about terrorists anymore, the US Govenment is falling back on the tried and trusted horror of paedophilia to force through legislative changes that would allow them to violate the privacy of their citizens even further.

And now they have Oprah aboard, punting their agenda for them. You see, Oprah speaks to middleclass suburban moms. Her audience is larger than that, of course, but that’s her base. It’s a huge crowd, they all have kids, and they’re concerned about this Internet thingy that their kids are spending so much time on. Who better to rally them round?

Now quickly view this video before the inevitable DMCA takedown removes it from YouTube. In case it’s gone, I will quote it for you.

“Let me read you something that was posted on our message board by someone who claims to be a member of a known paedophile network. It said this. He does not forgive, he does not forget, his group has over nine thousand penises, and they are all raping children.”

The truly hilarious part of her mind-numbingly dumb quote is, it’s a 4chan meme. Some internet troll went and posted an outrageous message on Oprah’s forum that included the classic meme (which, to be fair, her fact checkers really should have caught), and she’s gone and quoted it verbatim.

So Oprah clearly has some egg on her face here. In her frenzy to drum up support for a legislative strapon the US government can use to cornhole anyone they don’t like for any reason, she fed a giant troll. Around the world, regulars of /b/ are now chortling with glee and high-fiving each other at the outstanding resurrection of a meme almost as virulent as All Your Base. This is so much better than any RickRolling.

So in honour of the occasion, and because I cannot resist joining the celebration, I have created a small ditty featuring both her quote and the source. Enjoy.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

What I don’t get is, do Americans genuinely believe that these evil new laws will actually be used to hunt paedophiles? Oprah clearly does, but how can she be so naive? She’s usually pretty well informed.

Update 1 : A number of things have occurred to me since I initially posted this.

The legislation that Oprah’s having everyone write their Senators about isn’t about pedophiles. The Bill in question (1738) is in fact an omnibus of 30+ other issues that various senators are trying to get passed but can’t, plus one small child protection issue – which is in fact about reducing civil rights further. The Americans must love that Patriot Act.

So, let’s be clear, Bill 1738 isn’t really a bill at all, it’s a way to get some random (and quite scary) stuff passed that wouldn’t get passed on its own. But Oprah’s selling it really, really hard, using the fear of every terrible predator she can muster, including some trolls who happened by her site.

The computer admins at Oprah dot com clearly realised they were under attack by the crew from 4chan, and in fact all of the 4chan vandalism has been removed from the Oprah forums. Given that the post that Oprah quoted was removed along with all the other 4chan bombs, she had to know it was a troll.

Which means it is now my opinion that it was no accident she read it out. It was precisely the kind of FUD she was looking for, and she was counting on the idea that the bulk of her target audience wouldn’t recognise the meme reference.

But it is now delightfully backfiring. And I am pleased, in my small way, to be a part of that.

Update 2: The tune is now on YouTube and seems to be spreading. The Anonymous lads of /b/ have already ripped the Oprah 9000 song and are propagating it way farther and further than I would ever have imagined – in fact their posts are generating far more hits than my own. It appears to have grown its own legs.

The No 1 Ladies Epic Fail

Noooo stoppit get off screenSo, through the magic of the Intarwebs, I’ve had the opportunity to watch the pilot for the new BBC/HBO screen adaptation of Alexander McCall Smith’s The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, which, I shudder to tell you, is a 13 part series.

It’s difficult to know where it starts going wrong, because I think the problem begins with the books themselves. I’ve read all of them, and enjoyed them – I particularly loved the first three.

But as the series went on, it became long on quaint, folksy charm and short on plot – in fact, the most recent (I want to say final but I know it won’t be) novel in the series doesn’t bother with a plot at all.

And here’s the rub – by this stage McCall Smith has worked out that you’re coming back not for the detective stories, but for his deeply condescending and completely spurious vision of an Africa that does not exist. McCall Smith has done for Botswana what Borat did for Kazakstan – not as successfully, but based in as much fact.

Once I realised this, it ceased to gall me that Jill Scott, an American singer/actress is cast as Mma Ramotswe. If she is to represent a land that is not Africa, how appropriate that she is a black woman who is not African?

She’s not the only American on the cast; Mma Makutsi is played by Anika Noni Rose. Both women are far, far too young for the roles they’re playing, and far too glamorous. Both brutally murder the local accents, and both focus so entirely on this brutality that they fail to offer much in the way of acting. Scott’s Mma Ramotswe is bouncy, cute and soft. Rose’s Mma Makutsi is an annoying motor-mouthed bitch.

The result is almost unwatchable. The principal cast is redeemed only by the presence of Lucian Msamati, who turns in a decent performance as Mr JLB Matekoni. Hes comes off smarter and more intense than in the books, but I find myself unable to blame Msamati for this – he’s a shining light in an ocean of suckage. The contradictions between his performance and the books are clearly laid at the feet of whichever committee of butchers wrote the script.

To me, McCall Smith’s writing has always been highly entertaining yet notoriously bad. He refuses to be edited. As a result, his books contain experiments in grammar that border on the scientific, and characters that change name mid-sentence. It is therefore something of an achievement that the writing team on this project actually made it worse.

The dialogue is now largely Anglicised. Characters speak of “opening up” and “sensitivity to needs”. Mma Ramotswe and Mr JLB Matekoni flirt openly. Mma Makutsi moans about not having a computer, but given her constantly restyled hair, makeup and jewellery, I’m surprised she doesn’t have a MacBook in her handbag along with her Visa card.

So what are we left with here? It’s difficult to be upset with this crappy adaptation because honestly, most of the things I like about the original books are apocryphal anyway. McCall Smith paints a fictional Botswana populated with cute, non-threatening black people who are full of amusing and palatable wisdom-nuggets. It reads well despite linguistic travesty, but it is a vision of how a certain type of white person wishes black people were. It just isn’t true.

Given that, it’s hardly surprising that this show sucks as much as it does. It remains to be seen whether European and American audiences will even notice, however.

Yeah boyeeeeeeeee

wassup?I have this to say to da cap-and-bling-wearing yoofs of my hometown:

Wise up. The people you idolise are not like you at all.

You are genuinely living on the edge, but your heroes only pretend. They have never suffered a day in their lives, they have no idea of what it means to be hungry, and while they rap about their nines and how they cap motherfuckers, the closest most of them have ever been to a firearm is when they play Halo 3 on the XBOX they bought with your money.

They have no right to promote and glamorise gangsterism because they have never experienced it. It is big business to them that you continue to believe the lie that they are “hardcore”.

You are aspiring to be something that does not exist. It is only unhappy circumstance that creates a parallel between the reality of your lives and the fiction they sell.

These people are on a different continent, part of a country that bombs other countries for oil. Within that heirarchy, they are a minority. Stop pretending to be a minority, you are not.

Bring me some lyrics in your own South African voice about stuff you know about. Rap to me about how it’s hard to put food on the table, or how the new SA has panned out for you, or the challenges of doing the right thing when your peergroup is hellbent on self destruction.

Then we can talk about “keeping it real”.

Epic Failure

NickedLet me preface this by saying that the events of the last few days in the UK horrifies me. I happened to be working in England the last time someone successfully detonated a bomb in London, and it wasn’t particularly amusing. In fact, I find myself rather relieved that I am viewing this sequence of events from the other hemisphere of the planet.

A few years ago, I was a member of a now defunct mailing list called Survivor Wit. It was for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and its purpose was to take the piss out of the experience as a combined coping strategy and method of healing.

I mention this so that you take the following idea from whence it comes.

Does it strike anyone else but me that the terrorists in the UK are a bit rubbish? Okay, July the 7th was horrible beyond imagining, but could also be chalked up to beginners luck. Since then, every single attempt has resulted in epic failure, and only once through direct police intervention (the airplane/liquid thing). Two weeks after July 7, a bunch of chaps spectacularly failed to blow themselves up.

Now you’ve got giant carbombs that fail to detonate, and to cap it all, two blokes drive a flaming Cherokee of Death into an airport unassociated with anything, completely fail to explode and instead receive a thorough booting from a gang of justifiably pissed off Glaswegian cabbies.

You’ve got to laugh. They’re crap.

So, my idea is this. How about a series – webcomic / audiosode / fanfilm – about a bunch of British terrorists trying to blow stuff up. Their motivation is entirely more mundane than the government thinks it is, and changes from week to week, always ending in abject failure, with the survivors reconvening to plan the next attack. Sort of like a militant Pinky and the Brain, but with beards. Anyone want to produce this? Feel free to nick the idea.