14th February 2012
THE FASCINATION OF FACEBOOK
I have often wondered what is behind the popularity of Facebook. Among social networking sites, this is undoubtedly the most popular, with some 721 million active users worldwide (some 10% of the world population), and the number is growing, most particularly in the emerging markets. The average Facebook user has some 130 friends, this according to Facebook. Yet if you look at how many of these interact socially on a regular basis, whether they have 130 or 500 friends, the figure is very low indeed. I base this not just on those friends I have, but on other pages whose owners have made their information public. Check it out for yourselves.
So what is it that attracts people to it? It is a question that has fascinated me for some time, hence, in part, my use of the medium.
For the vast majority of people it is a fun pastime. They can chat to and keep in touch with their friends, and make new friends. It also enables one to find people one has not been in touch with for years. In that respect I believe it has a lot more to offer than Friends Reunited and similar sites. There are those who swear it is a useful marketing tool, although I don’t subscribe to that. A friend contacted me a year and more ago telling me just that, marketing yourself on Facebook is the way forward. The same man, who had some 5000 Facebook friends, contacted me a couple of weeks ago to tell me he was unsubscribing from Facebook. Marketing his product had not worked for him. In fact, quite a few people I know have left or are leaving Facebook, but of course their number is more than compensated for at present by those joining.
There are those for whom Facebook has become an unreal world, a virtual reality, a fantasy. I am amazed at how much time some people spend on it. Not only that, but they post intolerable links to other sites to make a point. I am saddened by the fact that few nowadays have views of their own they wish to express, relying on those of others. Given that the same people must spend aeons trawling the net to find these links, I am surprised they have time for anything else.
One can find all manner of people on Facebook. When it first started it was a young person’s application. Now I would suggest the older generation predominates. Businesses were not slow to react to what they perceived to be marketing opportunities, much to my annoyance, when unsolicited posts appear out of the blue. Then there are trolls of course, and one can spread mis- and dis-information readily. Of course, that works both ways. I have even come across a couple of people who don’t exist. They have built up their own personas for Facebook. I wonder why. There can be danger in this. The risk, if I may call it a risk, of being profiled is ever there; profiled by companies, organisations and individuals, both friendly and not so friendly. The biggest culprit here is of course Facebook itself, although I don’t hold it against them, because they need to make money, so advertising, targeted as it is, is the only solution. They cannot charge for the service, otherwise I have no doubt it will lose the vast majority of its users.
I am not sure what the future holds for Facebook, other than that what has reached the apex of its success has only one way to go – down. Perhaps another application will supplant it in due course.
I have started and will continue a cull of ‘friends’ with whom I have never had interaction.
IT HAPPENED IN BERLIN
This year’s jubilee of the Queen’s accession to the throne reminds me of an anecdote which I publish below. It is extracted from an autobiography I wrote some years ago, titled IT HAPPENED IN BERLIN, being of the six years or so I spent living and working in Berlin. It is in some respects an expose of the music scene in Germany at the time. Apart from the obligatory sex, drugs and Rock ‘n Roll, it gives an insight into corruption and mismanagement in the music industry, money laundering, spooks and their activities and much more.
My partner in a music publishing company at the time was a Bruce Hammond Erlham, formerly of Bruce and Bongo, a one hit wonder in Europe. Apart from losing me a significant amount of money, he had the habit of trying to think up scams to make money, rather than do what he was meant to, produce hit records. This particular disgusting scam was one that tipped the balance for me. It was something I did not want to be associated with, but by association wit him, would have been. A major German TV channel bought this cock and bull story and wanted to run with it. I had no option but to get in touch with the British embassy in Berlin to put a stop to this. I had contacts there. Their first question was whether there were any East Germans involved. The Stasi spectre had not yet disappeared from Berlin, this some years after the wall had come down. There was as it happens an East German involved; more of this in the book.
No doubt there will be some who will find it amusing – I don’t. I cite from the sales pitch. I took the precaution of downloading the contents of my partner’s PC at the time.
THE STORY OF ONE OF THE MOST UNUSUAL COLLECTIONS IN THE WORLD… BUT READ ON FOR YOURSELF.
Andreas went on a trip to the South West Coast. Apart from the usual travel paraphernalia, he took a few pieces of the Berlin Wall with him. He is a collector and, as he knew how sought after pieces of the Berlin Wall are, he took a few examples with him, in order possibly to swap these or give them away as presents.
One day he got into conversation with an ex Royal Marine and was offered a most unusual collection in exchange for his exhibits, plus a payment of DM6000. It was ‘The Shit of the Royal Family’.The ex Royal Marine told him that the collection stems from the time 1980-1986, when he was serving on the Royal Yacht Britannia. He was on board the vessel as a bodyguard and steward of the Royal family. All Royal Marines enjoyed this work, yet it proved to be boring from time to time. And so one develops a certain fantasy and begins to collect everything possible. Starting with nightshirts and ending up with the remnants of meals of the Royal Family and other prominent guests. These sought after trophies are then ‘cared for’ in the so-called Royal Marines mess, naturally to the exclusion of the Royal Family and members of the public. These messes are very private. Every Royal Marine knows about them and will smile if one mentions them. Furthermore, he explained how he collected excretia. Quite simply a hairnet was placed over the outflow of the toilets while the shop was in harbour. These specimens were then place in bottles and conserved. There are remnants preserved of all important visitors, amongst them King George V, several prime ministers, and of course the Royal Family.
Andreas was so enthusiastic about this, that he exchanged his pieces of the Berlin Wall, together with the payment, for this unusual collection. He is possibly the only one in the world with this collection.
As I stated, a German TV Channel were prepared to pay a significant amount of money for this ridiculous story. I shall never forget bottles with ‘specimens’ pickled in Formaldehyde sitting on a shelf in my partner’s office. They were needless to say his own, his girlfriends and God knows whose stools.
4th February 2012
SIR FRED GOODWIN
Stripping Sir Fred Goodwin of his knighthood is quite ridiculous. It mades the headlines in most papers a few days ago, and everyone seems to agree with the action taken. I cannot agree. After all, he committed no crime. He was one of many who should be held responsible for the problems associated with the bad management of much of our financial sector leading up to the crash in 2008. Let us also not forget this happened under Labour’s watch. Should their members of the Lords be stripped of their titles? It is all too silly. Where will it end?
Will Sir Mark Allen’s knighthood be taken from him? Sir Mark Allen is a former head of MI5’s counter terrorist unit and is being sued by two Libyan rebels who state he was instrumental in handing them over to Colonel Gaddafi. Allen now works for BP. I somehow don’t see that happening.
No, the reason for this being done is quite simply David Cameron trying to court popularity, nothing more. Speaking of whom, the man tells world leaders to stop tinkering in the matter of the ongoing financial crisis. Who the hell is he to tell others to stop tinkering. He is the tinkerer-in-chief.
ANGELA MERKEL AND PRESIDENT SARKOZI
Angela Merkel is apparently prepared to assist President Sarkozi in canvassing during his re-election shortly. The woman must be out of her mind. If he fails to get re elected, as seems likely, then his successor, Francois Hollande, a committed socialist, will not be too happy about continuing the German/French relationship, at least, not along the very cordial lines it has been hitherto. Not only that, but her support for him will not meet with the approval of much of the French electorate and is an own goal as far as Sarkozi is concerned.
A damning report was leaked to the BBC about the true state of affairs in Afghanistan. I won’t go into all the details of it here, as the contents of the report are common knowledge, but will state that there is next to nothing contained in it that I did not write about in 2002 and subsequently. Why politicians and the military, both in the USA and here, had to be so dogmatic and naive in their approach to this matter is quite simply frightening. Why can they not learn from history. The same mistakes have been repeated, not just here, but in other spheres as well.
This is a new sub-page where I will enter details of rogues who in one way or the other have impacted upon me. There have been a few. Call them rogues, or in some cases veritable scheisters, I express my opinions here.
I’ll start with a certain Michael J Thurlby of Tallington, near Stamford, Lincolnshire. He is a businessman, landowner and property developer among other things. All I will say at this stage is that he agreed to buy some land I own, and this almost 7 months ago. It took him 7 months to decide he did not want to buy the land after all. Really? What a scheister.
More to follow on this as indeed on other rogues, businessmen, estate agents, and others.
23rd January 2012
Divina Comedia de Dante Alighieri
I rarely post links to music on these pages, but this is so beautiful, I feel I must share it:
Of recent we have had a great deal of positive spin towards Iran in our media, made to a large extent by Iranian émigrés. Perhaps this is in response to the negative spin about Iran put out by various politicians, not just here but elsewhere in Europe and of course the USA. I also wonder how much of this can be attributed to the Iranian government. Is there something these people know that we don’t? No, I don’t think so, there is more likely a fear they share that many here don’t recognize; we are too preoccupied with our own economic and other problems. One could argue that for some time now the path has been paved very quietly, very slowly but surely, for military action to be taken against Iran; this ostensibly for the reason that Iran will not play ball on the nuclear issue. I personally would not want to see Iran with nuclear weapons, if for no other reason than that I believe they will be used against Israel upon the slightest provocation. Retaliation by Israel is not a wholesome threat, as the land mass of the Arab world can absorb much more destruction than can the tiny state of Israel. The fact that the land mass will be polluted for years to come does seem to enter anyone’s mind. But I also believe it is to undermine Iran’s undisputed influence within the Shiite Muslim world, which has steadily grown over the past two decades. Iran has achieved this in part by supporting regimes and dissidents, many would argue terrorists, in many parts of the Middle East, both financially and with weapons, one look at Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan inter alia.
I am no great fan of the state of Israel, its creation was in my opinion a mistake, and yet one that was impossible to resist, as history demonstrates. And so we must accept the status quo. Not only must we accept it, we should accept it. Jews have suffered far too much over the centuries, let alone in the last. And yet Israel has to be persuaded to relinquish the occupied territories. The likelihood of peace being made without that is extremely low – not impossible, but low. There is only one power that can possibly bring this about – the USA of course. They have been woefully inadequate in this respect, due largely to the Jewish lobby. The USA have in my opinion been responsible for many bad judgements in matters of their own foreign policy, let them for God’s sake try and not make another mistake in this matter. I am not, as many here appear to be, an enemy of the USA. Far from it, the country has given the world much over the years, but its weakness has been in foreign policy. It has lost its way over recent decades, as many in America itself will admit. We need a strong USA, but not at any cost.
So where does that leave one? Iran must compromise or I fear the consequences will indeed be dire. Israel must compromise, but that has for long not been the case. Both countries are led by uncompromising people, so, perhaps the future does not auger very well. Yet there is always hope.
I first used the net in 1994, going on it myself in 1995. It was innocent in those days, but liberating, and of course very slow. There were relatively few URLs around of course. And as for emails, at first I had but two people to whom I could send them, faxes still ruled the day.
It did not take long for crime to identify this as an ideal medium to use. Whether one likes it or not, piracy and illegal downloads are but one small aspect of this and should, in my opinion, be stopped. I have no problem with the proposed US legislation, a few big fish have already been arrested. Some say that using the internet is the ultimate form of freedom… well, I have long said that myself. However, there have, as in all human behaviour in a civilised society, to be boundaries and limits. It is difficult to stop misuse of the net, but that is no reason why an attempt to do so should not be made.
As for the hysteria in respect of Wikipedia, I find it quite absurd. For some it is the font of all knowledge, but that is quite simply not so. I was an early contributor to Wikipedia, but after a contretemps with some of the geeks who managed it then, decided not to contribute further. It was dreadful in most respects but, it has to be said, has improved greatly over the years. Yet its purported strength, ie that anyone can make a contribution, is its very weakness. A good encyclopaedia need firm editorial control, otherwise it lapses into anarchy. Over the past 2 – 3 years much has been done to remedy this – but not enough. I use it cautiously, always checking the sources first. There are I am sure some very excellent articles, but there are still too many that contain misinformation, if not downright disinformation.
I am particularly bemused by biographies, especially of those people whom I know well. In fact, in almost all instances I no longer recognize them, the truth about them having been conveniently airbrushed out of their lives.
WHERE HAVE ALL TOMATOES GONE?
I used to love eating tomatoes, long before their health credentials were being publicised. I just cannot find them nowadays. All I am offered is potentially contaminated water contained in a pulpous (sic) red vegetable mass, devoid of any taste whatsoever. Whether produced in Spain, Italy or Holland, they are not what I grew up with. All supermarkets and most market stalls sell the same garbage and unfortunately the younger generation has become accustomed to them. They have no idea what they should taste like. The same can be said of much produce. I think of butter. Who has ever eaten real butter straight from the butter churn? Having said that, I have unpleasant memories of turning a butter churn at a farm where we briefly lived, although the pleasure of eating the finished product was immeasurable. Oh well……
BRANSON IN FAVOUR OF LEGALIZING DRUGS
I read that Richard Branson is in favour of legalising the use of hitherto banned illegal substances. I assume he has an ulterior motive. Are we to see the Virgin brand used for them? I mean, you get a Virgin mortgage from a Virgin bank and presumably you need a Virgin joint so that you are suitably stoned before signing the contract. Where will this all end? Will MacDonalds jump on the band wagon. It will give a whole new dimension to their menu in future which will include a big Skunk and Coke.
It shows how unobservant I can be, I was bemoaning the fact that the Google cash function had been disontinued. Lo and behold, it is still there. Good.
I am thoroughly enjoying the TV program “Great British Train Journeys”, hosted by Michael Portillo. Using a late Victorian Bradshaw’s guide, he went on the Great Western Railway down to Wales and has just continued his journey from there. How nice to have such a pleasant program on television, away from all the reality dross and mindless cookery programs.
DICKINSON’S REAL DEAL
From a pleasant program to a tacky one. I occasionally watch this program and always wonder why people enter the competition they set each time. I mean, it is hardly a competition, choosing one of three alternatives for a question that is completely inane. I cannot imagine many people not getting the answer right. But it is of course a form of gambling, nothing more, nothing less.
The punter pays £1.10 or £1 or thereabouts for entering, that is if one uses text or phone. Consequently the price money, which is usually about the £4000 mark, is raised by competitors and the show no doubt makes a healthy profit. You are told that if you go online to enter it is free of charge. Well, I tried that, but could not submit an entry. I could not see how this could be done. It is obviously made difficult for one to do so, after all, better to have a paying entrant. That I find quite disgusting.
So now we have it. Tesco’s performance has slipped greatly and £5 billion has been wiped from their share value. Well, you heard about problems looming here first some months ago. I also suggested that Sir Terry Leahy got out in time, knowing that Tesco’s performance would slip; the man is no fool and that’s for sure.