Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Those awful advertising slogans - no. 14 - McDonald's

I've avoiding mentioning the burger'n'fries giant before in these hallowed columns because its slogan - I'm Lovin' It - was self-evidently ludicrous given that the "I" in the lyrics was clearly a reference to their Head of Marketing. Today I noticed a new strapline to an ad in my daily paper. The subject matter was the calorific content of a McDonald's meal (and oddly, if you go to their website and look at the FAQs on the subject you will be told to go and study the menus in one of their "restaurants").  The pithy reason I should chow down on a burger and zero calorie coke is, apparently:

Because There's Only One You

Naturally we begin our examination of this proposition by considering an alternative meaning. What if there were two of me? Would it be fine if one clone binged out on fast food whilst the other cooked sensible meals at home? By the same token, would society condemn if one clone smoked and drank itself to death watching its other self pounding round the gym circuits? I have absolutely no idea. Science Fiction writers have explored the concept of multiple selfs for many years and it is an ethical nightmare, especially if there is a legacy at stake and Grandma's will, written in simpler times, merely says that the antique silver goes to her beloved granddaughter Cynthia - when there are fourteen of them jostling to get into the solicitor's office.

Perhaps we can return to this fascinating theme on another day. I am still struggling to see how my oneness has anything at all to do with my choice of cuisine. If I am of a mind to eat out and it suits me to call in at McDonald's then I will do so. I don't stand there on the High Street and think "Well, if there were more of me we could all go down the Chinese and have the big corner table and order one of those banquets for twenty, but there's only lil' ol' me here so a Big Mac it is." And I am hesitant to assume that anyone else does.

What do I do with the information that I am a single integer with a value > 0 and < 2? This could apply to any commercial transaction, from buying a ride in Mr Musk's space rocket to a banana in Waitrose1 . Telling me something I know and have pretty well always known is identical to telling me nothing.

What then does the slogan mean? At face value, nothing at all. It could just as easily have been
  • Because there are seven days in a week
  • Because you're a long time dead
  • Because it's a long way from LA to Denver [According to a popular song, I believe: Ed]
  • Because the boss is always right
and, given sufficient time, incentive and a strong coffee, I could go on. Incidentally, if the aforeseaid HoM has got this far and you like any of these soundbites, let's do lunch, yah? Only not at your place, if you don't mind, there is only one of me and I'd like to preserve what I've got just a little longer.

1.  Thanks to Andy Webb for doing the research on the cheapest  single thing one can buy in a supermarket.

Monday, April 02, 2018

TripAdvisor - New Heights of Dumbness

I did not think I would need to return to this topic again. Surely (I thought), they will have taken note of my coruscating comments about their grasp of geography and my various travels and the despairing, almost bitter, remarks when they assumed that all of these trips were by air. But no. For this is what greeted me in my email inbox this morning.

This email was despatched late last night, on April 1st. So is it a rather strange attempt by this giant of the Internet to have a little jape at my expense? Perhaps. But surely a joke that only one person (i.e. me) will see, and to which the jokester [Person who creates a joke, right? Ed] will never see the reaction, is ineffectual and trivial? They must have more imagination than this down at TA Towers.

What on earth, you may be wondering, is Crymch? Reader, I looked it up. It is a small village in Pembrokeshire. It boasts no less than some 400 inhabitants. It is hard to think that many of these are contributors to TripAdvisor and this makes my lowly ranking - 16th, I ask you! - even harder to comprehend. If they had said that I was #1 in Crymch I would have swelled with pride. I would be even now sharpening my pencil, loosening my belt and checking my wallet before heading out to add yet another apposite, sharp, yet well-informed and unbelievably helpful review to my extensive portfolio. But to rest at a miserable 16th, only just ahead of my good (and undoubtedly local) friend daviddruid - this is humiliation heaped upon contempt.

There is a link on the picture above that says "Not your town - update it here". So I clicked on it and it took me to a generic page of profile settings and I could see nothing that indicated my town of origin. It seems I may be stuck with Crymch and I hope the good folk of this lovely part of Wales do not mind sharing their set of reviewers with an interloper. I have a ghastly feeling that, were I to visit the local pub, the lively conversation would fall silent, the piano player would stop playing and the barman would ease a little closer to the stout wooden club kept under the counter. A voice in the background would say "They come here, they take over our precious reviewing slots, there's none left for local folk, we can't afford to eat at the sort of fancy places they go to, they're driving all the young people away to where they can do a bit of decent reviewing and look you, once they go they stay and there's none left here but the old and the lame, the valleys are dying for want of young reviewers and it's all this bastard's fault". And I shall smile and edge to the door and race back to my car and drive east at top speed, never stopping until the waters of the Severn are behind me.

Sorry, Crymch, it's really nothing to do with me. My heart lies in beautiful Ruislip and whilst I am conscious of the honour done to me by becoming a sort of honorary Son of Owen Glendower, it's just a ghastly mistake. If I ever do get a chance of reviewing the Wenallt Tea Rooms (#2 out of 2 Cafes in Crymch) or indeed the highly esteemed Crymch Kebab House (#1 out of 2 restaurants in Crymch) then I'll do my best. For I would hate to miss the chance of moving up in the rankings -  daviddruid  there's no way you're going to overtake me, OK bach?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Would you like an insult with that, Msieur?

There are few things so likely to give us all a good laugh as legal proceedings in North America where it seems people will sue for the most trivial of reasons. My morning routine (waking blearily to BBC Radio 4 on the clock-radio) was enlivened today by this strange story - a waiter in Canada who was apparently fired for being too rude and who claimed, being French, it was in his culture to act this way. He has, of course, taken this as a breach of his Human Rights.

Alan Coren, thou should'st be living at this hour!

In your much-mourned absence, let us return to that courtroom we frequented once before when the weirdness of those across the water became manifest.

Clerk: You 'vill all rize for his honour Mr Justice D. Crockett!. Those who vill not rize will be treated as enemies of ze State. All Heil to the Judge!
Judge: Say there, Mr von Obergurgl, that's taking respect for the bench a little too far, ain't it?
Clerk: It is chust my Cherman culture and upbringing, Herr Judge. I am not to blame!
Judge: OK, feller, ease it off there. Now who's doing what in this here cotton-picking case?
Clerk: Zere is nein cotton in zis case. That is striktly verboten.
Judge: Yeah, yeah there any chance of a cawfee? I haven't had one for ten minutes.
Hamilton Burger: Your honour, I represent the plaintiff, Hiram B Monteczuma III and my colleague Mr Mason the defendant, the State of New York.
Judge: Proceed Mr Burger.
Burger: My client is a descendant of the Aztecs. He is proud of their great culture. He wishes to continue to practice human sacrifice. The police have warned him not to rip the hearts out of prisoners to hold up before the setting sun. He claims this is a gross breach of his Human Rights and wishes to sue for ten trillion dollars on the grounds that an entire people have been insulted.
Judge: Okey-dokey, feller. Mr Mason?
Mason: Your honour the defendant will plead that, while of course it utterly respects the rights of insane killers to practice their ancient religion, the use of unsterilised knives is not permitted, dragging bound captives up to the top of pyramids is a clear breach of health and safety and that as the Aztecs did not play baseball there is no reason to accord them equal treatment under the law.
Judge: Now you just hold on a gosh-darned moment there mister.
Mason: Your honour?
Judge: Nothing. It's just part of my culture to make this sort of stupid interjection from time to time.
Foreman of the Jury: This is the most stupid and pointless case I have ever seen. What the hell is going on in here?
Judge: What's your beef feller?
Foreman: I am French. It is my birthright to be rude. You 'ave a problem wizz zat? And don't get me started on the Mexicans who are on this jury, ze are all sitting slumped against the wall of the cantina wearing huge sombreros.
Judge: I ain't never seen a cantina wearing sombreros, son.

etc etc

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Link Me Out, If You'd Be So Kind

I joined LinkedIn a long time ago in the vague hope that it might in some way benefit my career. It didn't. I remain a member purely to see what may happen. I don't mind people who know me asking to join my "network" but I see no reason why total strangers should be given this privilege. Today this appeared in my email

I have never heard of Blumbo Smith. I have serious doubts that this is a real name. What must the other children in the nursery school have made of it? Blumbo the Jumbo perhaps, or Blumbo the Dumbo. Down in New Orleans it would be Blumbo the Gumbo. Seems really cruel to me. And the pathos of that "Smith" at the end. I mean - if you were going to call a child "Blumbo" then surely you would have a surname to match, such as Farquarharson-Colqhoun of that Ilk or Butterbread or Von Strassenbergergemeitlich, Jr.

Anyway, this person, be they male or female (or trans gender or transitioning or androgynous, God you've got to be so careful these days) is not numbered amongst my acquaintances nor have I ever done business with them. I think I would remember a Blumbo, somehow. So why does he/she/it wish to connect with me? I guess the answer lies in that job description - Telesales. Poor old Blumbo, desperately trying to get his 1 sales quota up before the month end and another missed bonus. Maybe there is a final warning hanging over his head?

Enough of Smith and his distinctive forename. What am I to do? My good friends at LinkedIn have thoughtfully allowed me to say yes to his ludicrous suggestion but not to say No.  There is no way I can send Smithy a little note pointing out that he's not getting his grubby telesales-grasping hands on my vast list of contacts and no way I can tell LinkedIn that it is stupid that I am unable so to do. So I shall do nothing. There, that was easy. The email is deleted. Bye-bye, Blumbo, raise a final glass to me from your little cubicle as I depart from your life and better luck with your next victim contact.

1. Male is henceforth taken as signifying all other genders.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Facing up to the Inevitable

Just fancy that. Facebook is under investigation for passing on the personal data of its users to a data analysis company, Cambridge Analytica, who may have used the results to assist in political campaigns, including that of D. Trump recently. This is the outfit [Facebook, not the data analysis people: Ed] who, if I recall rightly, used to claim that any photographs uploaded to their servers became their copyright. Users don't pay anything to store data or to exchange messages with friends on Facebook. These two facts alone ought to be sufficient to make it clear that it is very much caveat emptor when dealing with tech firms. Consider the Facebook terms and conditions. Have you ever read them? If you did and you disagreed with any, can you negotiate with the firm to have them changed? Obviously not.

The funny thing is that there is, inevitably a "backlash" on social media (which largely takes the form of people relaying messages with the same hashtag in). But they use other forms of social media to send these messages. If they cease using Facebook they will use something else which they don't pay for. Naturally the owners of these sites will seek to monetise the data that they are accumulating, no matter how many fine promises and mission statements they may publicise.

Moral: Don't put your personal data online. Or if you do, be aware of what it is and how it may used.

Oh, by the way, nothing in this piece should in any way be taken to suggest that Facebook might have done anything wrong. We totally deny that allegation absolutely. It must surely be the most amazing coincidence of all time that "forensic auditors" employed by Facebook were at work in the offices of Cambridge Analytica just when it would certainly have been convenient if the data that Facebook supplied could all be deleted before any Government investigators could get a look in.