Category Archives: Gripes

#amazonfail

I was initially intending to blog about my birthday, which happened last week (I assume the cards are all still in the post), but thought I had to give my thoughts on this Amazon possibly/possibly-not censorship problem, which is being discussed at length on Twitter.

The main bulk of the argument seems to be that books about gays or lesbians, or written by gays or lesbians, are disappearing from the Amazon.com salesrank.
This means they’re very difficult (but not impossible) to find.
Certainly the average user would likely assume they no longer stocked the book, rather than wading through to find it.
It will undoubtedly harm book sales of authors.

I’m sure a lot of people will think “who cares?” (even if they choose not to voice those particular opinions.)
I mean I have no immediate plans to buy books by gays or lesbians. I’ve no immediate plans to buy any books at all, so why do I care?

I think what bothers me is that there is any form of censorship on there at all.

Amazon are currently claiming that there is some sort of “glitch” in the system, which is causing huge numbers of books by gay or lesbian authors, or about gay or lesbian characters, to be “accidentally” removed.
To be fair to Amazon, it could be the case. Although one author was told in February that his book was being removed due to “policy”, who is to say they haven’t changed policy again since this?
And there is bizarre happenings, such as paperback versions of books being removed, hardback books not (and vice versa).
Despite the ‘homophobic’ stick that people are beating Amazon with at the moment, it isn’t JUST gay/lesbian books – there are other books that are being removed, for being adult. Also, not ALL gay/lesbian books have disappeared.

Now, I don’t care about ‘categories’ of books being removed.
I care about ANY books being removed.
Think back pre-Amazon to an actual library. The first thing you would do with an English-German dictionary was look up the swear words.
Nudity was available in various forms, and there were various medical books if you really wanted the gory graphic details.
There’s very few good arguments to censor anything, unless it contains graphic sexual imagery and being sold to 8yr olds, or is illegal..etc, surely?
Gay/whatever – you can’t be removing books from the bestseller list because they contain adult themes, or some people don’t feel they’d enjoy reading them.

Fat %$&*! sings!

For a while now, I’ve been getting emails from a website called “The Fatman” or “The Fatman sings”.
They look quite professionally done, but they’re spam.
I don’t recall ever having signed up for them, Gmail blocks them as being spam, and the link to unsubscribe doesn’t really work.
Their emails actually say “please whitelist us”, presumably as a lot of places stop it as spam.

According to their privacy policy:

Does Fatman email me loads of adverts and junk mail?
No, but Fatman does send you some adverts because that’s how the Fatman pays for the website and it keeps the Fatman from starving and it means Fatman can get out there and get the gossip for you! So, please look at the ads because Fatman tries to accept good adverts and does his best only to send you one or two ads per week.

and also:

If you have any queries regarding privacy or if you would like to raise any issues regarding our privacy policy, please e-mail us at privacy@fatman sings.co.uk. Please allow up to 14 days for a response.

Now, while attempting to unsubscribe myself recently, and getting a failure message of some sort, I assumed it had failed yet again, and I’d just have to go and delete more from the spam folder of Gmail every now and then.

BUT, to my shock and surprise, I received this email, shortly after my attempt:

From: Amanda Malyan | Marketing Source
I am now out of the office until Tuesday, 14th April 2009. If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please email fin@marketingsource.co.uk or call the office on 0844 871 4750. This email is not being monitored in my absence.

Regards

Amanda Malyan
Head of Client Services

Marketing Source seems to be a company who stockpile email addresses and rent them on.
What a lovely idea.
At least I now have a contact, if I still continue to receive this junk. Someone I can moan to. It’ll make me feel better anyway.

Cats and a crazy fear of prison

Bloody cats.
I wonder if anyone else finds cats as annoying as I clearly do.

They’re completely two-faced for one. They rub themselves up against your trousers without permission, then try and scratch at you when you attempt to stroke them.

I can get around this by simply never visiting anyone who owns a cat.
Sadly though, they (the cats, now the owners) leave their house and shit in my garden.
We’ve put down spikes in the dirt so they have nowhere to comfortably squat, and chicken wire around the fences to stop them climbing through, and still they get in somewhere.

All that pales into insignificance though, compared to the piss-taking wanker that seemingly wandered into my house this morning.
No doors were open – it literally scaled a wall and climbed through a window.
My girlfriend shooed it out, but it did make me wonder. At what point can you legally kill a cat that wanders into your house? Can I claim self-defence?

I’ve found that when visiting anyone with a dog, they inevitably ask “oh – are you alright with dogs?”
Never do they ask “do you hate cats, by any chance?”
They’ll offer to shut the poor dog in the kitchen, but will they nail the catflap shut while I’m there? No.
As it goes, I’m fine with dogs. They’re mostly friendly, loyal, fun.
When’s the last time you saw a cat on a TV show because it had saved it’s owner from otherwise-certain death? It’s never happened!
Go on! Throw a stick for a cat! I bet you any money it won’t bring it back.
When’s the last time a cat swam a long distance through shark-infested waters, and survived on a near-deserted island?

Dogs = better than cats. It’s pretty clear.

Cats are not deemed in law to be owned by anyone, as they’re not trainable in the same way as dogs. Many cat-lovers have badges proclaiming they are a slave to “Fluffy”, but they’re actually deadly serious.
Also, if you run over a pet, different rules apply for dogs and cats. If it’s a dog, you must report your kill. If it’s a cat, you don’t have to, as they’re semi-wild animals.
Given they’re not in any sense endangered, I wonder if I can legally kill this cat if it wanders into my kitchen again.
It would seem not, as proven recently by lawyers.

If I knew who it belonged to, I’d seriously think about collecting it’s feces and putting it back in the owner’s garden.
Other possible options to rid myself of this cat, include sleeping tablets and traps, and are very long winded.

A Crazy Fear of Prison

A while ago, an acquaintance of mine (I won’t describe him as a friend), asked to borrow a bag from me.
He just wanted a normal holdall type bag to put some clothes and a laptop in, to visit a friend.
He specifically didn’t want a laptop-style bag, as he didn’t want to advertise his electronics to muggers.

He borrowed a bag, and several days later I got it back.
Rather than putting it away though, I’ve left it out for months, wondering what to do with it.
You see, the acquaintance has been known to smoke weed on a fairly regular basis, and I’ve no idea if he transported any within my bag.
I can’t see any, but I don’t own a sniffer dog to make doubly sure.
A normal sane person would have dismissed it. What if he did? What’s it really matter?

Sadly, the irrational side of me started thinking about the occasional people who get stopped going through customs with “2 grams of marijuana” in foreign countries, and end up in jail for years on end.
At some point I might have some money and take a holiday. You never know. It could happen.
It’s bad enough, when asked if I’ve left my bag “unattended at any time”, that I let someone borrow it for 3 days in 2008, but there’s the possibility of milligrams of marijuana residue now.

I don’t want to take the risk, so yesterday I emptied this bag, and hung it out on the washing line in the rain.
How long does it take to wash off marijuana? Anyone know?
I’ll give it a week.