I’ve always had a problem with adverts.

In recent years, this has been compounded by the rise of targeted ads, whereby companies obtain your personal details – including your likes, dislikes and your preference of who to shag – and turn you into a demographic.  This allows them to advertise to what they believe you want, enabling them to streamline the process by which they can fleece you.

Personally, I’m sick of it and enjoy making life as difficult as possible for these cynical, cynical bastards.

Recently however, I’ve been deriving some amusement from these attempts to profile me as they become ever more bamboozling.

Tonight I was watching the video for Personal Jesus, which, to the best of my knowledge, is a song about prostitutes.

It’s a pretty old song and it’s a pretty good one, so I imagine a lot of people have heard it or are at least aware of it.

Not Google apparently.

I think the fact it’s specifically Christian dating is what makes this so funny, at least to me.

Any advertisers reading this, take note: As it happens, I am single and I am a Depeche Mode fan, but I’m not a Christian.  Perhaps you could try a bit harder in future. I won’t buy whatever shitty product you’re flogging, but at least I won’t mock your efforts on my website.

Having spent the last hour trying – and ultimately failing – to talk a simpleton out of a pyramid scheme/cult, I am now too charged to sleep.  So blogging seems like a sensible way to let off steam.

Tonight, I have learned a valuable lesson: When someone is embroiled in a pyramid scheme, by all means, do your best to give them good advice. Just don’t expect any results.

Take it from me, anyone daft enough to get sucked into an elaborate, if shoddy, scam is too daft for logic or reasons or facts.

So who’s causing all this trouble and why?

The suspect company (or front) is something called Talk Fusion and they specialise in something called ‘Network Marketing,’ whatever that is.  It appears to  involve recruiting other people to ‘buy into’ the product, but it’s hard to determine what the product specifically is.

They boast about being an expanding multi-million dollar company and make spurious claims such as “By 2013, it is estimated that over 60% of all online content will be video. Talk Fusion is perfectly positioned to capitalize on this trend.” How do they work this out?

Additionally, there are also claims that the company has both a workforce and customer base of 100,000. Suspiciously similar figures if you ask me. Don’t most companies like to have more customers than staff? It’s probably easier to make money that way.

As with any pyramid scheme, exists solely to dupe unwitting individuals into parting with their cash. Cash they make working for whoever. It’s one of the classic scams and it’s amazing that it still somehow works in this day and age.

Like all scams, the idea is simple. You get people to give you money in return for you convincing them they’ll make millions out of their initial investment.

Nigeria’s main export is this kind of scam and I say that with no facts whatsoever, but you can believe it if you want to believe it!

Quite clearly, this does not work and the only person who seeks to profit is the person at the top of the proverbial pyramid, in Talk Fusion’s case, this person is a hillbilly called Bob Reina, more on him later.

Talk Fusion’s style is to hold seminars which punters pay to attend on the basis that TF will make them rich. At these seminars, no doubt eerily similar to cult indoctrination ceremonies, people meet the supposedly rich and famous executives, who tell them how anything is possible as long as they have blind faith and of course pay them money for their ‘support.’

Now, the sort of people who fall for this kind of trick are unequivocally life’s losers. They have little going for them and lack the sense needed to figure out how the world works. This may seem extremely patronising, but it’s true. These people are vulnerable and they’re easy to exploit.

I’ve been following TF for some time now, ever since the nameless simpleton starting making vague references to attending seminars and showing signs of “blue sky thinking” on a popular social networking site.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been paying close attention to his updates and last week he began repeatedly posting long-winded messages about a conference in London for which he was offering tickets. Unsurprisingly, no-one replied.

Furthermore, the tickets had been purchased by the hapless simpleton’s hapless mate who, from what I can tell, is also a halfwitted mark.

So let me take you on a tour of the murky world of Talk Fusion.

Google Talk Fusion and before you’ve even finished typing, the autocomplete raises some alarm.

Get onto the actual TF website and you’ll be bombarded with brightly coloured bullshit and a collage of sports cars, cruise ships, smiling, good looking families and silhouetted men playing golf at dusk.

Click on “opportunity” (yes, opportunity, not opportunities, weird) and scroll down. Here you will find a phrase which welcomes you to “The WORLD’S FIRST INSTANT PAY Compensation Plan! Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds to me like a pyramid scheme. Admittedly, a convoluted and nebulous pyramid scheme, but a pyramid scheme all the same.

According to the simpleton, TF have a 1:1 ratio binary. If you can tell me what this means, then please do, because to me it sounds like garbled jargon.

Now let’s take a look at the progenitor of Talk Fusion, Bob Reina. His personal website shows a picture of a chubby, ex-Florida cop (I wonder why he left the force) who is a self proclaimed “animal lover,” draw your own conclusions on that.

His biography begins with an unattributed quote: “Do not wait for your ship to come in – swim out to it.” Sounds like Mikey Mouse bullshit to me, the kind of insufferable guff spouted by people who love slogans.

Apparently, Bobby R started TF when, in 2004, his Internet Service Provider (AOL) told him it wasn’t possible to send video email. God knows, why but it’s what the website says.

Anyway, aside from the fact we live in a world that already has Skype – which TF uses for so-called ‘webinars’ – the concept of video email is both odd and practically redundant. What’s stopping someone uploading a video to of any number of websites and embedding it in an email? Absolutely nothing.

At the bottom of Bobby’s bio, you will find another quote, this time attributed to Winston Churchill.

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”  Giving to get? PYRAMID SCHEME!

You might’ve noticed by now that I haven’t really said what Talk Fusion actually do. It’s not through lack of trying, I assure you.  Nowhere on their corporate website does it actually explain what they do. There are reams of obsequious horse shit, none of which cites any external references, but no evidence of what they do and how they do it.

I had been wondering, if TF had hundreds of thousands of employees and customers and operated in 85 countries around the world, why had I never heard of them.  Perhaps I just hadn’t been looking in the right places.

The simpleton told me about something called Alexa Rankings, which supposedly rates Talk Fusion very highly. I’m unsure of the criteria, but Alexa Rankings can’t possibly wrong, or even a fix, could it?

Well…

A damning indictment indeed.

So what can this possibly mean? Well I would say that Alexa is just another front that’s connected to Talk Fusion. Scammers of this nature are a bit like serial sex offenders, they always want more. However, if Alexa isn’t directly connected, it still isn’t held in very high esteem, so it’s rankings are virtually useless anyway.

So that’s it then. Two hours of my life devoted to pyramid schemes, half of which was spent explaining the obvious for no particular gain.

But I’m determined to make this count for something, so if you also know a sucker who’s fallen for this sting, then share your stories.  We can have a good old laugh and despair at the state of the world we live in.

There I was, transferring several hours worth of filming to my laptop, pleased with my efforts. How did I celebrate? Obviously, I pressed delete too soon before the files had all been copied. So, back to square one for me.

Still, at least I still have the clips of the iguana.

Anyway, the question is, what do you do when you accidentally delete half your uni work?

Quite a puzzler you might think, but the answer is simple. You laugh. Go on, laugh. Go on then, what are you waiting for? Start laughing.

Laugh! Laugh at the funny little man!

Yes, laughter is of course the best medicine for none medical complaints and what better way to be amused on a Sunday night than by a visit to the BBC News website.

As I scanned the front page, something near the bottom – the Wales section – caught my eye.

“Two injured after bus hits shop,” it screamed.  Just what I like to see.

The headline of the story proper, reads: “Two passengers hurt as bus hits shop in Swansea street,” which adds detail, but doesn’t explain how or why – actually, the article doesn’t exactly give you that either.

Now, the story isn’t particularly funny in itself, but what makes me laugh is the shop element.

“Two people have been injured after a collision near Swansea city centre involving two cars, a skip lorry and a bus, which hit a shop.”

It’s that last bit, gets me every time.  Read it again, see if you can’t find the funny side.

It transforms the story from being about a fairly dull bus crash – yes, really – to one of sheer comic perfection. A rare feat indeed.

The skip lorry is also a nice touch as it adds that typical authentic British anti-glamour that I love so much.

Maybe it’s a condition of watching so much The Day Today, I dunno, but I recognise comedy when I see it.  As a man who once managed the perfectly legitimate headline: “Stolen hawk found stuffed in tiny crisp box,” I know how to derive some humour out of the news.

And that, my friends, is how you successfully ignore the needless loss of your work. Sort of.

Democrazy

1 comment

Fucking hell! What is with these people?

Hot on the heels of Facebook’s “like” button, our nearly elected ad hoc Government have launched ePetitions on Direct.gov.uk.

The idea behind it seems to be giving a voice to people who have loud, often backward and ill-informed opinions.

I believe there is a time and place for that sort of thing, like left-wing blogs or Essex pubs.  There really is no need for the Government to stir this nest of angry pigs.

While there may be nothing wrong with suggesting ideas for improving the country, the fatal flaw of the ePetitions minisite is that it will only attract a certain sort of person.

Judging by the bulk of responses so far, British people have an obsession with getting even on criminals, even in cases of extreme irony.

Of the mad ideas being suggested by these Daily Mail sorts, many seem to involve killing people.

These include (verbatim):

“Hanging”

“bring back hanging”

“the restoration of hanging”

“debate the restoration of hanging”

“capital punishment”

“Referendum Needed On The Return of Capital Punishment”

“RETURN CAPITAL PUNISHMENT” (Caps not mine)

“Restoration Of Capital Punishment For Serial Killers”

and “Campaign for real sentencing” – No prizes for guessing what that means.

Sounds like Mr Cul-de-Sac gone mad and so too have the British public.

Food for thought: America has more serial killers than anywhere else and also uses the death penalty.

Conversely, if not perversely, the list of ‘rejected’ ideas heavily focuses on trying to destroy the BBC.

In fact, the vast majority of the suggestions have distinctly Tory overtones and concern typical Conservative gripes.

One of the stranger suggestions is “Change to the way blood and organ donations work”.  This would surely require expensive and time consuming medical research, well beyond the remit of Parliament.  Having said that, if there was a way of transplanting organs by osmosis, I’d sign the ePetition that makes it so.

Perhaps one of the weirdest of all is “Treason”.  I’m not sure whether it’s for or against or if it relates to anything else, but I believe this is the work of someone not quite right.

But the question this all boils down to is: Is this democracy? Really? Allowing any old idiot hell bent on revenge to put forward their ideas.  Yes, it’s fair to let everyone have their say, but who is it meant to benefit?

These ideas are nothing new and no doubt people have been asking local MPs about this sort of thing for years. Up until now however, it’s always been largely ignored, save for Richard Littlejohn’s column.

If this ePetitions thing does have legs though, expect to see “Burn the paedophiles” and “Dig up Myra Hindley” sometime soon.

Fortunately, the number of signatures for each suggestion is currently low. However, it’s still early days and it may only be a matter of time until we see “IF I GET 1,000,000 SIGNATURES MY MUM SAID WE CAN LYNCH A PAEDOPHILE LOL!” debated in the House of Commons.  I dread that day.

“We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here and we want them now!”

Today we learned that a councillor from Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire is hoping to outlaw smoking in public.

The story can be found: here

The councillor in question, one Mr Paul Bartlett appears to have a problem with people enjoying themselves.  (He also looks exactly as I thought he would, but that’s by the by).

Cllr Bartlett asked: “Why should people be able to smoke in my face and spoil the environment?” The answer of course being: Well, because they’re free to do so.  Smokers have already been pushed outside and, in some cases, vilified, isn’t that enough?

Among the quotes given to various news outlets, Cllr Bartlett also manages to crowbar in my favourite theme: ‘Somebody think of the children!’  ”‘When you walk through the high street in any town smoke is in your face and harming you and any children there.” “It costs millions to clear street rubbish, and goodness knows what a child could pick up from them.”

What kind of a person relates things to children for no reason? I dunno, but anyway, this hysterical rhetoric is ridiculous. Smoking isn’t a great habit, but people know that. It’s unnecessary to try and force people into stopping, especially if you don’t provide a better option. Banning already restricted personal freedoms isn’t a great option.

The shrieking tone of his comments is highly propagandist, take this for example: “Smokers then get their butt, which is full of saliva, and chuck it on the floor.” Seems a bit over the top to me.

He doesn’t seem to consider that people should be allowed to relax however they like, especially when there a raving lunatics, hell bent on restricting personal freedoms, going around screaming at them to stop.

Beyond that, I get the feeling there are personal and/or motives behind this. “If I make the environment cleaner and save on council tax, sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns.” Sounds like he’s trying the change the world, one small, lifeless provincial market town at a time.  Not sure I care for his stance on bull fighting either…

Now all that’s been said, it probably makes sense for me explain the Withnail and I quote.

The town of Stony Stratford, aside from being a Buckinghamshire equivalent of Saffron Walden et al., was the location for the ‘Penrith’ scenes in Withnail and I.  The tearoom scene in particular, was filmed in the town and seems to be an entirely accurate representation of the town.

Much like the fusty old codgers of the Penrith tearooms are disgusted by Withnail and Marwood having fun, so Cllr Paul Bartlett is disgusted by people freely doing something he is free to not do.

There’s only one thing to say to someone like that: Balls.

“Prince Philip, he’s a card”.  So said Eddie Izzard of the Duke of Edinburgh.  The Prince, 90-years-old and looking like a Quentin Blake illustration, is well known for saying inappropriate things and shows no signs of letting up.

Case in point:  His BBC One interview with Fiona Bruce.

Unsurprisingly, the Duke made several iffy comments during the interview, what is surprising (or not, depending on your point of view) is how they seemed to slip by under the radar.

On a day when the Coalition government came under heavy fire from the Archbishop of Canterbury, it is perhaps forgiveable.  However, the interview was broadcast last night, so I’m disappointed that more of a fuss hasn’t been made about the D of E’s comments, mainly, his suggestion that people should undergo what “might be described as voluntary family limitation”.

It’s pretty rich coming from a member of a family who exclusively sponge off the state.  His remarks conjure images of Communist China’s One Child Policy – not exactly a high water mark of human rights – and gives me the impression that PP probably sees the dubious benefits of eugenics.

Wait, calm down, I’m not being a left-wing reactionary here, this isn’t the Guardian.  Prince Philip didn’t actually say he was in favour of eugenics, but hear me out.  When asked what he felt were the biggest challenges to conservation, he replied, with no hesitation; “the growing human population”.  He was then asked what should be done about it, to which he asked: “Can’t you guess?”

Bruce did also suggest greater availability of contraception, but this was not addressed in the broadcast.

If he was truly concerned with overpopulation, he could use his influence to encourage better living standards for people around the world.  Any fool who studied GCSE Geography knows that overpopulation mostly comes as a result of poverty and people needing all the help they can get to survive.  ”Voluntary family limitation” sounds pretty dystopian to me and betrays Prince Philip’s complete lack of connection to the world.  However, if he was to volunteer his family first, well, maybe he could change my mind, who knows?

I’m not entirely sure how much influence Mountbatten has these days, so I’m not too worried about his comments being taken seriously.  What does bother me (and should bother you too if you’re reading this) is that Prince Philip is able to get away with saying these ridiculous things, especially when Dr Rowan Williams causes controversy for saying the same thing as everybody else.

Perhaps it’s just me.  Perhaps I’m the only one who cares about what Phil the Greek says and everyone else already ignores him.  Perhaps he’s best treated as the redundant old throw-back that he’s always been and then put in a corner somewhere.  Perhaps…

Is it just me, or has the Metro revealed the other footballers involved in this super injunction business?

Today’s front page has no story, just a picture of Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and (yes, it’s official now) Ryan Giggs with their kids.  The caption is headed “The kids are alright”, as if to say “well, their offspring seem unaffected by their extra-marital doings”.

I mean, yeah, fair enough, this is the Manchester Metro, but even so, nobody in Manchester gives a shit if some footballers brought their kids onto the pitch during a game, yet it’s on the front page.

My eyebrow had already been raised by this incongruous photo ‘story’, but seeing as Newsnight just pointed out something similar from (I think) the Daily Mail a few days ago – having a story about Ryan Gigg’s private life under one about Fred Goodwin’s injunction – I began to feel a bit less crazy.

I’ll let you make your own mind up, I just think it’s a bit suspicious, especially seeing as it’s on the front page.

At least the kids are alright

If I’m right (which I’m probably not) then this is the first story that the Metro have ever broken. There’s a first time for everything!

The Queen has arrived in Ireland and – shockingly – been greeted by the Irish president, Mary McAleese.

I know, I was as surprised as you.

Things aren’t looking good for the Lib Dems.  First there were riots in that London, then they took a drubbing in the local elections, now Chris Huhne is staring down the business end of a petty crime from 8 years ago. Whatever next for the UKs least favourite underdogs?

I don’t know and I’m not sure how much I care, but I do see that they’ve slumped back into their natural place in the UK’s political hierarchy – right at the bottom, unable to even fuck-up properly.  Aside from the odd Charles Kennedy or Mark Oaten, the Lib Dems (as a party, not as cardboard cut-outs in Westminster) don’t seem to know how to stir up a good controversy.  They’re now back to the old days, where speeding in 2003 or being a closet homosexual appears to count as outrageous.

And that is why the Lib Dems are doomed to stay out of power, they just don’t have a dangerous side.  Chris Huhne’s no Stephen Milligan and getting his ex wife to say she was speeding isn’t especially controversial.  There’s talk of him usurping/succeeding Nick Clegg as party leader, but I’m not convinced that’s good for the Lib Dems.  Seeing as Clegg is the best known/successful Lib Dem since David Lloyd George and has been linked to fair bit of trouble over the past year, I’d say he’s the best chance they’ve got getting anywhere.  Bit sad really.

If Mr Huhne does indeed hope to challenge the assistant Prime Minister he might want to raise his profile a tad. I suggest he has a night in with Max Moseley and Charles Kennedy at David Laws’ flat.  I guarantee that once the initial media scrum is over, he can return to the party and a hero’s welcome.  His approval rating would surely increase faster than you could behead a pensioner and the Lib Dems might be able to claw back a few councils here and there.

That said though, it doesn’t really matter anyway, the Liberals are a spent force for now and it’ll be a long time before anyone will care about what they’re doing.

Just a short one today.

I’m sure every other news website/blog is going to be full o’ stuff about Osama Bin Laden, so I’d like to dedicate this post to asking a question that’s been bugging me.

Why the fuck was former MP for Chester and minor TV personality, Gyles Brandreth watching the Bin Laden raid with the US top brass?

Don’t believe me?

Giles? What're you doing there?

This is just like the time I blew Gaddafi’s secret identity wide open.