Good eating, Mr President

It’s that time of year again…

…the official pre-Thanksgiving presidential Turkey pardon.  A bird named Courage is headed not for the dinner table but for  retirement in California after the President saved it from a death sentence.

“There are certain days that remind me why I ran for this office,” Obama said.  Was this one of them?

He joins a long line of benevolent presidential bird savers.  See how the tradition has gone. . .

from life. . .

to art. . .

to somewhere in-between!


Google OK with keeping monkey Michelle online

If you Googled Michelle Obama recently you might have been surprised by the results.

Of the 7,900,000 options brought up by a Google Image search for her, the top result at the moment is a doctored photo of the First Lady with monkey features.

According to The Guardian the image on a Google-owned Blogger site has been taken off the ‘Hot Girls’ blog, but the distorted shot still appears on Google searches. The internet search engine has issued a statement explaining that while they do not endorse the offensive image being up there, they will not remove it.

Above the image Google has put a banner with the title ‘Offensive Search Results’, inviting users to find out about their policy. The statement said: “sometimes Google search results from the Internet can include disturbing content, even from innocuous queries.”
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The tragic end of reindeer mail

This may just be the saddest story I’ve read all year.

Writes James Bone in The Times:

“Children who write letters to Father Christmas this year will no longer receive an answer from the North Pole — in case the jolly old man turns out to be a paedophile.”

Apparently there was a scare at the North Pole last year, when a sex-offender somehow wangled his way into the US Postal Service’s Santa Claus letter reply writing operation.

So now, although the perve didn’t actually do any damage (he was stopped before he got round to writing back and offering any personal visits!), kids won’t get their ‘Dear Father Christmas ‘ letters answered. Lots of anger about this – you can join the ‘Keep Santa Letters’ Facebook group here.
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Gossip Girl: The Last Days of Disco Stick

The author James Frey was apparently the inspiration for this week’s offering, as the lives of all our Gossip Girls and Guys came shattering down into a million little pieces. 

 That was not before a guest-appearance from NYU alum Ga Ga.  As in Lady, in case Blair was wondering, not the first lady of Iran.  (Though wouldn’t that brighten up Middle Eastern politics…)!

 To sum up: following on from last week’s, ahem, shenanigans between Dan, Olivia and Vanessa, life in the NYU dorms was getting awkward.  Nate, in his new role as everyone’s favourite teenage therapist, promptly put pay to Dan’s illusion that a threesome with his current celebrity flame and his infatuated life BFF was a GOOD IDEA.

 For reasons frankly too convoluted and yawn-worthy to explain, the threesome (and Blair) ended up working on a theatre production together.  After a day of bickering, things came to a head when Olivia outed Vanessa’s romantic feelings towards Dan, as discerned by her during the aforementioned shenanigans.

 In fact, she had it wrong.  Vanessa was, typically, far more interested in a pretentious drama student (and I’d argue only has eyes for Rufus H anyway).  But as it turned out, Dan was now seeing Vanessa in a new, romantic light.  And so the Dan-Olivia romance came smashing to the floor, with her off to concentrate on shooting the appalling sounding ‘Bitches of Eastwick’ far, far away from the GG shores. 

 While this was going down, Jenny was out playing tour guide to a sultry Belgian boy (school Jenny? No?).  Yet as is so often the case with the sexy European characters dreamed up by American writers who don’t own passports, all was not what it seemed.  Mr Belgium was busy exploiting diplomatic channels for a lucrative drug dealing business, which both scared and thrilled little J no end. 

 Chuck, however, was having none of it and came to take Jenny out of harms way.  Isn’t it amusing how he has morphed from her almost date-rapist, to her sort-of-brother, to her white knight, in three short series? 

Character continuity is evidently not a focus in the GG writers room. 

 As for Serena van-der Lewinsky.  Where to start?  Well she tried her damned hardest to stop Tripping over (get it) but blondie has never been very good at not doing stupid things.  By episodes end Tripp had found out the shattering truth that his wife was behind the election-day set up, and was seeking (and finding) solace in Serena’s arms.

 Not before Nate had declared his unrequited love for Serena.  Now that his role in Tripp’s campaign for Congress was finished, and because he apparently doesn’t actually spend ANY time at Colombia, Mr Archibald has had time to think about his life.

 But, possibly because he isn’t yet able to think for more than five-minute periods, Nate’s decided he’s lonely.  He wants a girlfriend.  Any girlfriend.  He wants Serena, but it seems mainly because she’s the only girl he has seen all day. 

Probably if Blair, Vanessa or Jenny, hell even Dorota, had come to see him he’d be lusting after them instead.

 In the GG ranks, this was mid-level.  Too many plot strands that came out of nowhere (hello, as if Blair would ever be desperate enough to hang out with drama geeks – hasn’t she seen how uncool they always are in cringy American sitcoms?).

 Still some nice moments.  Jenny would read NYLON magazine (uber trendy NYC teen girl rag) and Dan would so do a celebratory, I’m so cool, street jig in memory of last nights steamy goings on.  Though for a far superior morning after dance, check out Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Bollywood style number in the fabulous 500 Days of Summer.

 And some corkers of lines, not least when Dan pays homage to his awesome mathamtical skills.  “Two girls. Four boobs. One Dan Humphrey,” he gloated. 

 A* for effort, Gossip Girl.

Rogue (book) trading

Whoever said that all publicity is good publicity must have had an in with Sarah Palin.

The sideshow that is the former-Alaska Governor and McCain running-mate’s life is going to make for riveting reading.  At least, thats what the publishers of ‘Going Rogue: an American Life’ must be banking on.

HarperCollins have ordered a whopping great 100,000 more copies of her autobiography.  It’s also made the top spot on US  Amazon’s best-seller list.

A prophesy on the outcome of the 2012 presidential election, or just an indication that audiences continue to be fascinated with the one-time Beauty Queen from Wasilla?

I’d hazard – and hope – that it is the latter.  One thing is for sure, I know which book is next on my must-read list.


Doubly damned if you didn’t but now you did

Damned if you, damned if you don’t and doubly damned if you didn’t but now you did.

 No, not a new tongue twister. 

Just my response to the inevitable media sniggering that has accompanied the news that, owing to extreme public outrage, Brown et al probably won’t be scrapping childcare vouchers any more.  U-Turn, the Sunday Times cried at me across the breakfast table.   Others sneered about a government ‘climb down’

But what exactly is so wrong with the government changing their mind after 81,000 people signed their names to a petition on the subject? 

Surely that is what democracy is all about – leaders listening to our opinions and reacting to them? 

Why else would you set up a petition, except to encourage change.  No one lobbies politicians just to make a point; you place pressure in order to get a result. 

Ideally they might get it right first time, but i’d still rather a government who were responsive to popular sentiment.  Of course they are doing it because they have calculated the ‘mum and dad vote’ is rather crucial to prevent a Conservative landslide come May, but so what!

Isn’t it better for them to ‘climb down’ on an issue they have apparently got it wrong with, than remain stubborn and defiant just to prevent accusations of flip-flopping. 

Just imagine how different world history could have been, if only leaders were a little more willing to contradict themselves. 

All write, enough already

So, the backlash has begun.

After he made the cardinal sin of a spelling mistake in a letter – because no one else has EVER done that before – of condolence to a mother whose son was killed in Afghanistan, it turns out the British public thinks we should be laying off Gordon Brown.

Writing in The Times, Melanie Reid argued that nobody deserves the vitriol being directed to him The Mirror has struck out at David Cameron for making political gain out of the matter, while the Twittersphere is submerged in ‘sympthy for the blind man’ messages.

There are valid points on both sides; surely Downing Street has someone with a keener eye than Brown to check his outgoing mail. And was it really necessary to record what should have remained a private conversation between the PM and Jacqui James Jones Janes? As for The Sun? Well, it has even emerged today that the paper doesn’t always practice what they preach.

So, after three days of wrangling, apologies and remorse, how about we let Gordon Brown gets back to the big picture? Apart from anything else, if we want to reduce the number of mothers in Jacqui Janes’ position, we need to allow the government to, well, govern.

It’s the same story with the drugs advisory council furore. Nutt’s comments caused a fuss, and quite clearly sent Alan Johnson a message as well as reviving the very important debate on drug legalization or decriminalization. But then yesterday, three more advisors made very public resignations.

I don’t doubt they have a point. But proper policy change doesn’t come from publicity stunts.

When the government is forced to spend their time dealing with these scandals – from biscuit preferences to allegations about eyesight – it takes time away from dealing with the real issues.

Pressure is important. Holding the government to account is fundamental for a thriving civil society.

But this is a democracy, not a free for all. If you have to shout about it, go to speakers corner.

Take your complaints through the proper channels, not to the tabloids.