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Archive for July, 2013

Tory Campaign Dismissed as “Old Hat”

Artwork by @DonHackenbush. Sentiments by small minds.

BloodyRomans

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Encouraged, doubtless, by the popularity of the Guardian’s ‘Republican’ button, which removes all Royal Family coverage, The Times has added buttons to select Left and Right-leaning content on its site. Here you see the left-leaning content selected. An editorial spokesman admitted that the actual content needed a little work.

TimesFront

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Onameter

BREAKING: REDMOND AND CUPERTINO. Computer giants Microsoft (MSFT) and Apple (AAPL) joined forces today in an unprecedented simultaneous rollout of new operating system upgrades which, it is hoped, will deter men from using Internet-enabled computers to access images of child abuse.

The new Onameter™ software is a kernel level extension to the Windows™, OSX™ and iOS™ operating systems, using recent advances in gesture detection and the built in hardware of modern computer systems to register the so-called ‘signature’ signs of masturbation
and report the material being viewed at the time.

The Windows™ upgrade will be installed during Patch Tuesday™. Apple devices will be updated immediately.

Separate implementations

The rival companies stress that their implementations of the Onameter™ are not identical.

Each claims superior features which the other cannot provide.

Both companies stress that the feature cannot be turned off, and that they believe it will douse interest in online porn, images of child abuse and rape almost overnight.

Image, sound and motion based

In all cases the Onameter™ software works by combining signals from the laptop or mobile device’s built-in cameras and microphones to assess the likelihood that the person in front of the screen is masturbating.

Apple claims extra accuracy by combining signals from the accelerometers which are built into iPhones™, iPads™ and even some Macbook™ models.

“The accelerometer reduces the possibility of false positives creating by male users simply scratching their genitals”, explained an Apple™ executive.

Microsoft, meanwhile, claims superior results from their approach.

“We are using some really cool motion capture stuff that our guys invented for the Kinect™ and XBox™ “, enthused a representative. This allows us to register the very beginning of a wank, even before serious motion has occurred.

In either case, the operating system algorithms determine a “Masturbation Likelihood Assessment” (MLA) and send this with a screen shot and camera image to local law enforcers if a threshold value is crossed.

Both companies say the details of the algorithms and the threshold values are proprietary secrets, which each hopes will give them a competitive edge in this brand new field.

The threshold values can also be adjusted in collaboration with national police forces if there are too many false positives.

Apple promise an iPhone and iPad app for anxious wives and parents too, so that they can monitor lawful masturbatory activity by husbands and adolescent sons.

Caveats

Both companies say that all new and recent operating systems and platforms will be included in the mandatory upgrade.

However, Microsoft explain that for technical reasons it is not possible to retrospectively install the upgrade on Windows 95 and 98 computers.

“We know those guys are wankers anyway”, explained a spokesman, “so the software would be going off all the time and degrade system performance”.

Apple also stressed that the software was only so far able to detect episodic masturbators, for which there are clear physical signature markers. “We can’t yet detect figurative wankers, although female customers tell us they can usually spot those anyway.”

Welcomed

The roll out of the new features has been cautiously welcomed by the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, who said that attempts to disable the software would be made a criminal offence … except in Government, where separate rules apply to everything.

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Earth Crushed, No News On Kate

CrushedEarth

BREAKING, EXCLUSIVE: South Asia and Australasia.

Part of the Earth was hit by a passing asteroid, crushed, pulverised and flung into space earlier today, we can exclusively reveal.

The event was tracked and photographed in real time by NASA satellites, which had unfortunately failed to spot the collision until the last minute.

Annihilation

The affected region is believed to have been totally annihilated. Images from the International Space Station confirm that Australia and Indonesia have disappeared, along with a major portion of the South American continent.

News outlets, including the BBC and Channel 4 News have not featured the news in bulletins yet, however … considering the news to be of secondary importance to the whereabouts and condition of the Duchess of Cambridge and the eagerly awaited but overdue Royal Baby.

Priorities

A BBC news editor confirmed that the corporation were aware of the collision and claimed that an article had been published in the South Asian section of the BBC News web site.

“We haven’t had any hits from that region”, he explained, “so we were concluding that the story was not even of local importance compared with the global event that a new heir to the British throne represents.”

Channel Four confirmed much the same view.

“It’s the other side of the world. Australia for God’s sake. Who’s going to be interested in that?”

No news

There continues meanwhile to be no news on the expected arrival of the Royal Baby.

News teams continue to analyse the importance which the birth will have, especially when there is any information on what Kate plans to wear for the trip to the hospital and return home.

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New Equity Rules Restrict Auditions

Audition

BREAKING, LONDON: New rules which come into force today will limit the actors who can apply for roles in the theatre or on film and TV.

The new rules, by the actor’s union EQUITY, are being introduced as the result of pressure by minority groups, such as transsexuals.

In future transsexual parts can only be cast with real transsexual actors.

The move follows years of argument over whether cis-gendered actors (i.e. people who are not trans) should portray trans women or men in new productions.

Changing practices

Activists had cited historical precedent.

“Gone are the days when boys routinely played women’s roles”, explained Frank Furter of  the Trans Thespians Union.

“The policy excluded women from acting for decades”

“And it is considered bad taste these days for white men to black up on stage or screen”, he added.

Others argue that it is increasingly seen as inappropriate for able bodied actors to play disabled parts, especially as disabled actors don’t have the same flexibility to play non-disabled roles.

“If you’ve got a deformed spine then, chances are, you won’t even get auditioned for Richard III”, declaimed another actor.

Uniform policy

The new policy from EQUITY is seen as a fair way to address inequalities like these at a stroke, rather than on a case by case basis.

“If it is wrong for men or boys to play women, and for whites to play blacks then, yes, it’s unfair for cis-gender actors to play trans people”, said a spokeswoman.

“The same goes for other examples too”, she explained.

“The more we put these things rights, the more unfair the remaining anomalies become.”

“But it cuts both ways”, she added.

“No more gays playing straight parts.”

Redefining acting

The spokeswoman conceded, however, that the policy did also redefine acting.

“In the old days an actor was someone who dressed up and pretended to be someone they weren’t”

“Actors were judged on how well they pulled off the role … think Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep playing Queen Elizabeth or Margaret Thatcher”, she added.

All this will change now though.

“If the play is about a trans woman then only trans women can be considered for the part”, explained the spokeswoman.

“And if the script calls for a 48 year old lesbian with one leg then producers can only audition genuine lesbians of that age.”

“The actor needn’t have only one leg at the time of the audition”, she added helpfully.

“But the leg will need to be off before previews”.

Shortages

Critics argue that the policy will lead to shortages of suitable acting talent in some areas.

Others fear that scripts will be increasingly tailored to reflect the supply of actors.

And some say that science fiction, superhero and other fantasy genres will find it hard to audition.

“If you’re making a Superman movie then in future the part can only be played by an actor who really is faster than a speeding bullet”, a miserable Steven Spielberg told us by phone from Hollywood.

“If I was doing E.T. now then I’d have to audition real fucking aliens”, he added with evident bitterness.

Stephen Frears, Director of The Queen, also thinks that writers will shy away from producing scripts about living Royals or politicians, knowing how difficult it will be to bring them to the screen.

“From now on I’ll be shooting films in which Helen Mirren has to play herself”, he told us.

Knock on effects

The policy is also expected to have collateral effects for makeup, prosthetics and CGI specialists.

“If they are casting a real Klingon for a new Star Trek movie then they are not going to need us to put on those ridgy bits”, mourned a prosthetics specialist.

“And if we are bringing in real superheroes who can fly then green screen is dead”, added a CGI specialist.

Trans actors are meanwhile weighing up the implications for themselves too.

“The policy has led to Granada killing off Hayley Cropper as she’s played by a cis-gender actress”, explained a trans actress who had been inspired to enter the profession by seeing Julie Hesmondhalgh play the part.

“But Julie’s departure isn’t going to make any new work for me”, she added.

“Work’s going to be tough now unless people suddenly start writing stories about trans people”.

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Conservatives Deny Lobby Pressure

Woodbines

By staff reporter

CONSERVATIVE party spokesmen have continued to deny they have succumbed to pressure from the tobacco and alcohol industries this week.

They denied also that their new election strategist, Lynton Crosby (whose PR clients include tobacco companies), had been influencing the Prime Minister over recent policy decisions.

“The whole idea’s utter piffle”, spluttered Sir Toby Jugg, a friend of the Prime Minister, pouring me a single malt whisky and flicking his gold cigarette case open with practiced ease.

“Utter piffle”, he repeated, for further emphasis.

“And I can’t repeat that often enough”, he added, to ensure I had got the point.

“What you press chappies need to concentrate on is our new programme”, he added with a manly cough, pushing a sheaf of press releases my way.

“Look, our guys have even written it all out so you chaps can just copy and paste.”

And, after testing the malt and having my glass refilled, I have to say the policies are radical.

Free school cigarettes

In a plan that recalls the days when school children were given free milk every day, education secretary Michael Gove plans to distribute free cigarettes.

“Every child will get a Woodbine every morning”, explains the release,

“… Craven A’s for those staying on in the sixth form”.

The official release states that “the health benefits of cigarettes have been wildly underestimated in recent years”, dismissing medical evidence of lung diseases as “scare stories leading to red tape”.

Hospital bars

And the Health Act is to be amended so as to require all newly commissioned hospitals to include a mini bar next to each bed.

“Hospitals have used alcohol for years anyway”, offered Sir Toby.

“Everyone knows alcohol kills germs”.

“And we want to make sure there are no more cases of patients getting dehydrated.”

“Don’t drink the water the flowers came in … have a Chablis.”

Neighbourhood policing

Police officers are also being trained to offer advice and samples of leading cigarette brands to people caught carrying personal supplies of drugs.

“We know these drugs aren’t good for people, and worse still they’re not tax earning”.

“Instead of giving out cautions, which involve lots of paperwork, we’ll be giving out cigarettes and booze so people can become dependent in a fiscally approved fashion.”

Nanny state

“We expect the opposition to put up a fuss”, said Sir Toby, taking a long drag on his King Size.

“But we are determined to end all this ‘Nanny State’ rubbish”.

“And let’s hear an end to all this speculation that we’ve been lobbied.”

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Olympic Returns Paltry According To NHS Sources

Nhs

Sources close to the Health Secretary have scoffed today at the news that the London 2012 Olympics ‘had boosted the UK economy by £9.9 Billion‘ … a sum remarkably close to the estimated hosting costs of £8.9 Billion.

“Small fry”, grunted the official, who would not be named.

“You just wait till we do the returns on the NHS Reorganisation”.

Reorganise to Capitalise

The NHS in England was radically reorganised earlier this year, following the passage of the Health Act 2012.

Estimates for the cost of closing ten Strategic Health Authorities and 151 Primary Care Trusts; setting up 212 Clinical Commissioning Groups, NHS England, Public Health England, Health Education England; and making several thousand staff redundant; are put at around £3 Billion.

“In a year we’ll have made that back, and more”, argued our source.

“We’ve begun well and the law obliges CCGs to do the work for us … they’ve now got to put every service they recommission out to competitive tender”.

“Community services have already been snapped up by entrepreneurs”, he added.

“And we’ve just flogged off our supplier of the nation’s blood plasma products to a US private equity firm for 200 million folding ones”.

“You’ve no idea how much it’s all worth … all those taxes over the last 65 years have bought a lot of buildings and kit”.

“So spending £3 Billion to free it all up is a drop in the ocean really. We’ll get a hundred times that on the open market. You mark my words”

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