Monday, November 26, 2007

Library book crisis deepens

The crisis in the American subprime library book lending market has begun to have an impact in Europe. The lending market here has tightened up after falling returns in the US led to global stock shortfalls.

"This is generally high-risk subprime material," said a source in Finglas Library. "These are libraries that are doing high-volume lending of Dan Brown or Jeffrey Archer's back catalogue, that sort of thing. Those people take them and then what brain they had melts and they forget where the library is and just don't ever return the books."

The subprime market in the US tightened considerably recently, with a lot of copies of Angels and Demons being written off by local and state libraries. There were even reports of a shortage of Ken Follett. "We've never been without several Ken Folletts on the shelves," said one librarian from New Jersey.

Blanchardstown Library was reported to have drawn down lending from the European Central Library to allow it to continue trading. It is believed that it has been propped up with a loan of several billion copies of Brown's The Da Vinci Code and Archer's Kane and Abel. It is expected to take a significant delivery of celebrity autobiographies in the next few days.

One analyst said of the Blanchardstown situation, "If they get a working mass of ghostwritten novels by Jordan, some cookery books by that mental one off of the X-Factor, and can achieve liquidity with their put-through of Gordon Ramsay expletives and little-England prejudices from Jeremy Clarkson then they might just see the other side of Christmas. If not, well, the whole market might collapse and then we'll have to take Richard and Judy out and perform a human sacrifice to appease the wordgods."

Alastair Darling said he didn't use libraries himself, but he could sympathize with people because he had ordered a book from Amazon that never arrived: "It must have got lost in the post," said the Chancellor. Bertie Ahern had also ordered a book from Amazon, and it was definitely the one and not the .com, although he'd sent Celia to order it for him from a cyber-café on O'Connell Street so he couldn't actually be sure.

Digital hubris

The OECD did a survey (you can get the Excel file here) of the average broadband speeds offered to consumers in a range of countries. Guess where Ireland came: that's right, down near the Commodore 64 end of the scale.

Your email will arrive within three working days

That's us over third from the right: hey, at least we beat Turkey and Mexico. Yay. we managed an average of 3.011 Mbps, against an OECD average of 13.707 Mbps. The Japanese manage 93.693 Mbps, but then they're not a knowledge-based economy like what we are, a digital hub for Europe and stuff.

Remember Bertie's championing of Media Lab Europe? He announced it seven years ago, saying, "plans are underway to develop a digital hub as part of our strategy for this country to be a leader in the new Internet-enabled economy. At the heart of this district will be Media-lab Europe, a unique partnership between my government and the world-famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology."

Stirs the heart, doesn't it? The government knows the value of e-commerce, which is why they slapped a tax on every credit or debit card in the country. Ch-ching.

Of course, unlike Japan (where they probably use their fancy broadband for reading Manga and ordering pre-worn knickers), we're a knowledge economy now - that's why, according to the National Adult Literacy Agency, the International Adult Literacy Survey places about 500,000 Irish adults in the lowest literacy category.

Here's what we reckon: the government isn't being useless (as if...) when it comes to getting us decent broadband at decent prices. NO - this is part of a cunning plan to get us all reading books, which is what you have to do while you wait for the next YouTube video to download over a broadband connection built using string and tin cans and capable of speeds marginally slower the traffic on the M50 (which is slow, but not because of the toll booths - you know, that bit where you have to stop...).

Friday, November 16, 2007

You f*ck off. No, you f*ck off

The Grauniad is giving coverage to the fact that 0.00690625% of the average 9,600,000 viewers of EastEnders felt prompted to complain about its use of violence in a recent episode.

Yeah, 663 complaints from people who couldn't find the remote control or figure out how to use it. (I hope they get just three more complaints.) It's almost 0.007%, which obviously necessitates appropriate consideration (as in, "I consider this statistically irrelevant").

Interestingly, a moving force behind the complaints is rent-a-comment god-botherer "John Beyer, the director of pressure group Mediawatch UK". We here in Skangerland are more fans of Mediawatchwatch.

Mediawatch UK sounds all very funky and a bit "who watches the watchmen". In fact, it's a 2001 rebranding of Mary Whitehouse's National Viewers' and Listeners' Association. The NVLA was founded in 1965 and has endeavoured to protect us all from the moral ravages of Doctor Who, Tom & Jerry, and Howard Brenton's play The Romans in Britain. Against Michael Bogdanov, the director of Brenton's play in its 1982 production at the National Theatre in London, she took an unsuccessful private prosecution for the offence of "procuring an act of gross indecency". The play includes a scene of simulated anal rape, but Whitehouse's star witness couldn't tell the difference between a penis and a thumb, so her QC withdrew and the case subsequently collapsed.

And they're still at it...

According to the Mediawatch UK site, the 0.0069% amounts to "a barrage of complaints". More worryingly, this pitifully small number of whingers has managed to get an outcome. According to Mediawatch, "The corporation [i.e., the BBC] announced last night that the most violent scenes would be edited out of the Sunday omnibus edition".

If that's true it's pathetic.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Surely not...

And why is this being published under the heading "News"? Is it because the Irish-ish Indo doesn't have a "Bleedin' Obvious" section?


This sort of nonsense has to stop. Supposedly it's to encourage literacy, but it's clearly advocating littering through some sort of cultural chain letter. (I say "cultural" but then it is written by someone off of Fair City...)

So all those copies of Metro and Herald AM that people leave lying around, I suppose that's part of a literacy campaign as well, is it?

And if leaving copies of The Da Vinci Code lying around isn't littering then I don't know what is: you might as well take a dump in a playground and call it potty training. "Grateful readers" - me arse.