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I’m Back!

Posted by | Posted in Monday Mornings, Society | Posted on 15-12-2008

But only for three days! After having a four-day weekend last weekend, I’m back at work, and ready to go! And by ‘go’ I mean ‘go home again’. I thought I might have found the time to post on the blog during the last four days or so, but I’ve found that unless I’m at work (and hence, have nothing to do) I don’t tend to post very often.

I’ve upgraded to WordPress 2.7 today, using the ever-awesome Automatic Upgrade plugin for WordPress. The interface is certainly different, that’s for sure. I’m not sure how much faster it is though. Still, I’ll be using it from now on so I’ll see how it goes.

I have a lot of pet peeves. Well, more ‘hates’ than ‘pet peeves’ to be honest. And high up on that list is Simon Cowell. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a massive fan of the pop industry at the best of times, and so I loathe Cowell with every fibre of my being. Some might say I’m just jealous of his millions, or success (if that’s the right word) or some other such attribute. But not at all. I’ve never liked the show he puts on for the cameras (I’m referring to both The X-Factor in general, and his attitudes) generally because he’s taking advantage of the hopes and dreams of the general public in order to make a few million. Of course, he’ll say that he’s doing it out of the kindness of his heart, because he “loves to make  people successful”, or some other bollocks.

But then The Mirror newspaper broke this “story”. Not that anyone with half a brain would have thought the contestants won £1million anyway, but it just goes to show how badly people are being taken for a ride. Firstly, the winners actually get £150,000 prize money (as long as they produce one album at least). That’s not to be sniffed at, of course, but imagine how much more than that Cowell will be making from them. Then, some (well, most, actually) of the “£1million recording contract” money goes towards recording fees, video production, and the like. Except I’m guessing it’s Simon Cowell who owns the recording studios. In fact, it’s his company that actually produces The X-Factor show itself. So who exactly is he paying these astronomical fees to? Himself? Probably.

All in all, it just goes to reinforce my hate of the pop world. People seem to think that Cowell is the be-all and end-all of the pop industry, but while he’s certainly a major player, he isn’t the only player. And any one of the last 5 or so finalists on The X-Factor could easily make another record label a lot of money.

“Then why dont they sign up to another label?”, I hear you ask. Well, they don’t sign up with anyone else because they’re contractually obliged not to. As soon as they are accepted into the final 12, they must sign an agreement that states they are owned by Cowell. The contract itself is too long and ridiculous to get into here (including some outlandish comments about artists not being able to perform anywhere in the solar system(!) without Cowell getting some kind of commision) but sufficed to say, Cowell owns their soul.

It’s all very well thought out in business terms, but I feel sorry for the poor suckers who think that they’re entire livelyhood (and singing career) depends on the one man. That’s what I like about the sort of music I listen to – anyone can make it, and if you’re good enough, someone will sign your records. And not only that, but the labels themselves are often started and run by the DJs, who are easily contactable and always willing to check out new talent. It gives everyone a chance, nomatter where they’re from, or how long ago their nan died (or whatever sob story the contestants of The X-Factor have to concoct).

The sooner The X-Factor is off the air, the sooner it can stop ruining people’s dreams. I cant imagine that the winners actually experience everything they’d hoped for, but as someone said to me yesterday, I suppose something is better than nothing.

Good news for those of you in the same position as me when it comes to living accomodation – house prices are set to fall by another 15% or so over the next year. That’s not good news for anyone who wants to sell their house, of course, but great news for anyone who hasn’t got a house, but wants one. Repossessions are on the increase still, which means that here are bargains to be had.

I’m loving the whole situation for a couple of reasons. Firstly, though, I’d like to say that I do feel bad for anyone who’s lost their house, or anyone who’s going through a tough time at the moment. With redundancies set to increase for a while, people may find themselves unable to pay the mortgage through no fault of their own, and I can totally sympathize with those people. I’m not slating them in the least. But when I say I’m loving the situation in general, it’s because I love the fact that the banks are suffering because of their own greed.

As the article I linked to a few weeks ago pointed out, the banks got too big for their boots and lent more money to borrowers than they could afford to lose, and now they’re paying the price. The jist of it is, the banks have lent out so much money that, even if they repossessed every house from their borrowers and sold them off to repay the money they’re owed, they’d still be in debt. The housing market being what it is has meant that the price of houses no longer covers the amount of money that is owed, and so even if all the houses were sold off, the banks wouldn’t make their money back.

That’ll learn ’em.

Obviously, I like the fact that house prices are coming down because it means I’m more likely to be able to afford one. But what it also means is that the banks are less likely to lend money, for fear of not being able to recoup it if I didn’t keep up repayments.

But enough of all that, and on to some lighter news. If you’re a fan of Star Wars, and haven’t got sick of ITV1 showing all six films on a Sunday afternoon, one after the other, then you might be please to hear that a musical stage version is being shown. It’s got a rewritten musical score, but rather than having live actors on stage, it has a cut-down version of the films all rolled into one two-hour session, with live narrators voicing their whatsits over the top. Sounds strange and quite fun at the same time, but if Natalie Portman isn’t in it, I’m not (as) interested.

It seems that more and more ISPs are taking a stand when it comes to internet filtering. That’s good to hear. I’m tempted to say that they’re doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, because it’s likely they’re just trying to win over customers by trying to look like they care about what users can or cant acess, and by trying to show the public that they’ll fight for your right to access everything you want to. I hope that’s true, but even if it isn’t, it’s still good news. ISPs are basically the only line of defence between the government and the people, with regards to internet access. If the ISPs are on our side (for whatever reason) then that’s great.

Another story containing win and fail at the same time, is this. Apparently, some Russian genius has copyrighted the standard emoticon for a wink. Quite how that’s possible, considering it’s been used for donkeys years, is beyond me. Still, if it is possible to legally copyright, props to the guy for trademarking something so blindingly obvious that nobody else thought of it. I imagine everyone else will be jumping on the bandwagon now.

In a more obvious story, the US has decided to crack down on people selling scareware. Scareware is basically a piece of software that runs on your computer, and is programmed to tell you (via annoying popups usually) that you’re infected with a virus, and that you need to pay to download a certain anti-virus program to remove it. The irony there being that the only virus-like software you’re likely to have is the scareware itself.

For those who don’t live in a cave and can experience faster than 2Mb broadband speeds, you might be interested to know that Virgin Media is unveiling 50Mb intarweb lines today. Although, as the last couple of paragraphs mention, upload speeds will still be pretty slow in comparison. I don’t suppose that will affect many users particularly, but it might do if you’re a web designer, or you use the internet for file-sharing and business collaboration.

Well, that’s quite an update for today. I’m exhausted. I would go and get some caffine, but apparently that’s bad for you, so for the sake of my new health obsession, I’m going to skip it, and have a bottle of water and a Nuitri-Grain bar.

UPDATE: Oh, how could I forget this little marvel. I have to say, he did quite well to avoid those shoes. It’s almost as if he’s had some practice at dodging flying pieces of footware…

I think we should all give him some more practice. (Courtesy of hurricane)

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