Monday, 28 May 2007

Book off and die!

In life there are lot’s of things to be angry about slavery, poverty, religious intolerance the list goes on , personally I channel my anger for these through, development charities, how I vote, writing to my MP or the papers and yes blogging. However there are small things in life that get us as angry for which there is no agency through which to vent our rage.
Even admitting to being angry by this minutia is shaming but here goes.

I loathe booking fees.
Here is a list (off the top of my head) of things a gallery, concert venue etc needs to pay for to run events: staff, heating, lighting, water, insurance, rent or similar, licences for performances, local and national taxes, security, repairs, publicity and on and on. Why then is buying and booking the ticket the only thing added on to the cost of entry. There’s no “surly gallery attendant charge”, or “can’t get a simple order right vague Goth bar staff tax” nor even “wears all black with complicated jewellery and has too many needless foreign trips and long lunches gallery curator” fee.

So why a booking charge? In the old days if you wanted to buy a concert ticket you could queue at the box office and pay your money for no extra fee. Or if you lived in sticks like me you could go to EGS records in town, and pay some cash. To aid our transport to the bright lights of Sheff or Leeds EGS also put on a coach for which they added a modest charge.

Compare this today, most concert venues don’t have box offices, even if they do they still levy a booking fee, so most times you have to buy over the web where for no reason you are stung for extra amount for your ticket. Sometimes this amounts to upwards of 20-30%. We recently bought Glastonbury tickets at around £150 now Mr Eavis with his strange beard includes the cost of his dodgy bogs, litter collection, generators for the stages, stewards etc in the ticket price but not the cost of booking it, even though you can only buy them over the web. He won’t for instance stop milking and pop inside his farm house for your tickets if you turn up to pay cash. Don’t get me wrong I’m happy to pay the whole cost of the show and a fare mark up for profit, but booking fees smack of profiteering. Now the usual excuse is that the Credit card companies charge the venue for using their system, but this is nonsense when you can only buy tickets over the web, again the electricity company charge for “juice” but there’s no sur-charge for utilities.

Another insidious thing, a favourite with cinemas is the booking fee per tickets scam which is their way of saying “yes you want to come see the latest block buster, we will not only have bad projection, deafening sound, over priced snacks but even before you get here. we are going to wee in your metaphorical popcorn by charging 20% extra to listen to a load of recorded messages. Oh and when you do turn up the ticket machine won’t work so you’ll have to queue up at ticket booth anyway and pay £1.50 more than those who turned up on spec.

Take the Hayward gallery (great exhibition see here for my review) but what’s with the booking nonsense. I tried to book on line but this didn’t work (I couldn’t remember my pass word) why can’t you buy stuff without logging in?

Now the online booking fee is £1.50 I think per ticket. So because of the password nonsense I have to book over the phone. It’s a premium number and I’m put on hold and have to listen to how great their online booking system is arrggh! Now when I get through apart from the women insisting on trying to post me the tickets (it was the day of the event) it goes fine apart from the £2.00 booking fee! So let’s get this right you charge me while I am on hold and then have the gall to charge me more just for ringing up.

Later at the gallery you still have to queue for ticket pick up (admittedly not as long as the on spec crowd) and then I had to wait 3-4 minutes while they printed mine out.

Let’s look at parallel problem: postage fees. Bearing in mind most tickets are online and so have to be posted why is postage extra when most tickets are bought within national boundaries. Also what post office do theses people use, even taking into account special delivery rates the cost of a ticket, an envelope and postage are usually 60% higher than if you or I queued up behind the smelly women who wants to register a car with no id, money, or intelligence. I know because I’m a pedant and I checked, I took the ticket and envelope into the PO asked about special delivery and the ticket that had cost me £4.60 extra should have cost around only £2.40.

So let’s review booking fees are a rip off, promoters should include the whole cost of the event in the price of the tickets, if they want to over charge could they have the good grace not to do so blatantly.
How can we fight this, short of not going out I don’t know may be you’ve some ideas? So where was I ,ah yes tipping…….

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Oh No Bono Hymn not very good

Anglicans finally wring last ounce of poetry and beauty out of art:

Spreading from Ireland church services are using the songs of U2 as the basis of communion celebrations. Not content with polluting the air with dire christian rock, the happy clappys want to appropriate good tunes and mangle them too.
Sure religion has produced great art Bach, Tallis, van der weden, and much great architecture. But rarely does it sit well with rock and pop, because Coldplay aside they are generally not earnest, joyless and worthy forms (unlike young Christians).

Most Christian rock seems to be couched in bland evangelical language, it's all "fill me with your light" or "he is with us, let us praise him". Hardly "I was born in a crossfire hurricane" or " I met him on Monday and my heart stood still". What these arm waving literalist don't understand is that songs like" I still haven't found what I'm looking for"work on several levels and don't need some leaden foot bunch of junior accountants and Sunday school teachers to kick it to death just to win over some deluded alpha course members.

One of the joys of great religious art is the mix of the sublime and the profane, It's the hard iron nail in the all too human wrist mixed with the beauty of the human eye. It's the purity of a choristers top note coming from the body of a farting and xbox obsessed 12 year old.It's not about pub rock lumpenly played on tinny synths and fretless basses. Good religious art has a beauty and majesty that can lift even the heart of the unbeliever. It's not there to fill churches as the "U2charist" smacks of.

There was a piece in the paper about liberal types like me being racist about who is and isn't allowed to be a Christian in music. For example it's alright for black singers to sing about god because they are simple children, where as white people are meant to be rationalist and move on from these primitive beliefs. That's not may case at all, I'm happy for people to sing about their beliefs , but they should be any good at it. Bad art is bad art, singing about god doesn't redeem it. The only fear I have about so called "born again" Christian types is their obsession with proselyting, they are not content to live a life of Christian virtue and let that be an example to the others, no they have to with oleaginous piety tell people about it. Am I being unfair well half way through writing this piece a Jehovah's Witness rang my bell to "tell me about a passage they wanted to share with me" (if I was being coarse this could be quiet an offer!)
So you can sing about whatever you like just do it with some passion , joy, humour, style, wit and most of all talent. That way you won't offend man's ears and you may just win of God too.

ps. the acoustics in most Anglican Churches make rock bands sound rotten.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Cheats prosper

I know, I know it's sour grapes but has italian footbal proved conclusively that it's free from systemic corruption?

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Nessles big bunch of scum part 3

Found this Indian Milk powder ad proving Nessles do target the vulnerable , a westernised mother rewards her toddler with a powered milk drink. It's from an Indian ad agency site I think.

Nessles big bunch of scum

I've subtitled Nessles reply to the guardians article showing they are still promoting milk poweder over breast milk. my bits are in yellow.

We're not trying to undermine the baby-milk code
(Just disregard it and do what we like)
Nestlé is committed to the health of mothers and infants in the developing world, says Hilary Parsons
(Nessles wants to make money in as many markets as possible selling expensive milk to poor people regardless of its health benefits is just one of them)
Hilary Parsons
(Corporate zombie who seemingly can sleep at night despite spouting errant nonsense all day)Tuesday May 22, 2007

Joanna Moorhead's report on infant-formula marketing in Bangladesh failed to highlight a
(Nessles is very good at hiding its dodgy schemes and is very litigious.)
single violation by Nestlé of the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes
(Obviously they could be nice and not push the code to its limit, they could choose to be moral and not need a code)
(Milking it, G2, May 15). Indeed, she herself doesn't believe that we are in breach. Instead, by
(Nessels doesn’t like free speech because they like to lie and don’t like getting found out.)
Presenting contacts with health professionals - permitted under the code - as "aggressive" marketing, the article claimed that Nestlé is exploiting grey areas.
For example, Save the Children alleges that Nestlé gives health professionals pictures of
(Save the Children say Nessles gives out leaflets to doctors but I’ll use allege because it sounds dodgy, oh and doesn’t Lactogen sound posh like a medicine, when it’s just powdered milk).
Lactogen to pass on to mothers in order to get around the code's prohibition of direct contacts between mothers and companies. The article describes these leaflets as "to all intents and purposes flyers for the product concerned". But giving information to health workers is permitted by the code.
(Again Nessles could act morally and not push their products, which if they were any good wouldn’t need to be marketed in dodgy ways)
Had the article illustrated a copy of one of our so-called flyers, readers may have been more sceptical of the assertion of exploitation.
Nestlé sells three types of Lactogen in Bangladesh. The products have different formulations and feeding frequency. Should an infant consume the wrong product, this would have an adverse effect on the child's health. The leaflets are essentially a safety measure to ensure that the right product is bought for a child of the corresponding age and that the mother understands how frequently she should feed the child.
Featured prominently on the front of the leaflets is the statement: "Nothing is a substitute for or equivalent or superior to breast milk." Though the author states that she saw no evidence of Nestlé-sponsored pro-breastfeeding literature, on the back is important advice for mothers including information on breastfeeding, a warning that partial bottle-feeding can have a negative effect on breastfeeding, and advice that the costs of infant formula should be borne in mind before deciding to use it. This does not sound much like a flyer!

(I can’t go on anymore female adult literacy in Bangladesh is around 30% with much lower figures for poorer women. The idea that they could read even basic labels is risible and they take home the clear message of what’s best for their child by the big picture on the front of a tin of Lactogen. A twelve year old with one lesson in media studies could decipher the message being given out here. Now’s not the time to discuss the uneven hierarchical power balance inherent in the medical profession but suffice to say that the message that women with sick children get is that powered milk is best because the high priest/doctor says so. Hillary next time your in Selfridges spending you ill gotten gains, you might ponder why the Clinique assistants are wearing white coats )

The article also highlights the fact that a cake and a plastic pen were given to health professionals - as if such items would persuade the paediatricians of Bangladesh to endanger babies' lives by recommending infant formula over breastfeeding. Incidentally, the pen illustrated alongside the article does not promote an infant formula but mentions NIDO, a milk powder for general family use.

(Try this next time you spend lots of money on advertising at work, when your boss asks “why did we spend 10 grand on cheap pens” just say “ well sir they are just cheap pens they don’t influence the consumer, they don’t help build our brand, so I don’t really know why I did it do I get a raise?”)

Far from trying to get around the code, in developing countries, Nestlé voluntarily applies the entire WHO code - whether the government does or not. In fact, Nestlé is the only major infant-food company in developing countries which: does not give free supplies of infant formula to hospitals; refrains from marketing cereals and baby foods for infants younger than six months; and does not advertise follow-on formula (for infants more than six months of age).
(We’d like a big badge for acting morally (RE: not advertising :that’s if they do, if free pens aren’t advertising large road side hoarding or radio jingles may not be too)
This is the action of a company committed to improving the health and nutrition of mothers and infants, rather than one trying to exploit grey areas of the code.
(Nessles wants to make money in as many markets as possible selling expensive milk to poor people regardless of its health benefits is just one of them)

· Hilary Parsons is Nestlé's head of corporate social responsibility
(Hilary thinks she’s a nice person but has a worry in the back of her mind that with every word she utters she’s moving further away from a normal decent human being and becoming a hollow amoral beast)
Unicef site if you missed the link earlier for stats on how goddamn poor the place is.

an internal Nessles document showing how much they spend on everything including advertising (which Hillary seems to think doesn't work, see also the cheap mugs they buy from china)

Saturday, 19 May 2007

The stupidest person in Britain

Call off the search we've found them the most stupid vacuous person in Britain.
Natalie Hanman a guardian journalist who has written this post modern nonsense "she doesn't find the Simpsons funny". She's one of those people who "don't get comedy" and therefore are morally suspect. This joyless bunch seem to think that serious people can't have a sense of humour. The opposite is true in fact, good comedy has deeper underlying truths than any amount of po -faced hand wringing, which is what she seems to promotes. Usually people who "don't get comedy" are shallow and vacuous and take themselves far too seriously and don't fill their time not laughing (as is the case here) with anything profound, moving or insightful.
ps. This is further proof that the Guardian is dumbing down and becoming more trite and media based.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

The Milk of Human Kindness?

Corporate Pr who’s words turn to bitter ashes in their mouth and who’s teeth will fall out because they told one lie too many. of the week
Robin Tickle.

Q: Should we still boycott Nestle et al ?
A: yes!

Piece in G2 today which careful lays out how large food manufactures are systematically bypassing legislation to prevent them promoting formula baby milk over breast feeding.

The article is balanced and seemingly well researched with interviews with mothers of sick children, doctors at clinics and government officials in Bangladesh who’s job it is to try stop these companies breaking or dodging laws.
One of the most annoying bits of the whole thing is when the press officer for Nestle “Robin Tickle denies that tear-off pads equate to promoting Lactogen. In fact, he says, the device is "essentially a safety measure. The pads are distributed as information to healthcare workers which ... is allowed under the code. Individual sheets of these are then indeed handed over to mothers, but only after the infant formula has been prescribed by a doctor."

You can see him in is ill fitting suit, smarmy hair cut, reeking of fag smoke sat at his semi-plush desk in sunny Croydon, a house full of Ikea furniture in New Addington, grim honeymoon picture from Mauritius on his desk, a bag of oversized head golf clubs in the boot of his bottom of the range Audi. Speaking this tripe and still believing he’s a good guy, “at least I don’t sell cluster bombs” I bet he thinks, with his long list of excuses to trot out at neighbour’s barbecues, when they rib him about “junk food”, as they all chew on their farmer’s market organic sage and apricot bangers, necking Tesco warm chardonnay. How can they live?

So what can we do?

Well don’t buy Nestlé stuff (a mea culpa for my promotion on my other page it was a moment of weakness) this page will give you the details.
Any spammers could send their junk to address bellow.
You could write to Nestles at their cheery stalag in Croydon and ask them how they sleep at night.

Nestlé UK Press Office, St George's,House, Park Lane,Croydon, CR9 1NR

I also think on a cultural level we should go back to calling Nestlé “Nestles” (rhymes with trestles).

This is a good idea for two reasons
1. Its faintly childish (they do make sweets after all).

2. And also it will reduce their caché, at the moment they sound a bit posh like Condé Nash or Givergncy, Nestles sounds like a grotty night club or cheap and cheerful greasy spoon and it will wind the bu##ers up more than not buying Branston pickle and Caramac.

One last corporate Irony Nestles logo is picture of a mother bird feeding her young.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Blair Blaairr Bleurghh!

What’s the point of all these “Blair years“ supplements and extended news programmes.
Do the media think we’ve forgotten what’s been going on?

I think it’s all needless and just exercise in them using their picture and clip libraries.
But as we know that will never happen, he will bugger off and get millions for his boring diaries, which nobody outside the media will read.

I am most annoyed with his “I did what I thought was best” defence, which is the sort of nonsense no parent or teacher would stand for. “Tony, why did you spill paint all over the shed floor?”“Well, I thought it was the best thing for the shed, the garden and most of all the good people of this family”.

I’m also sick of this idea that New Labour failed because we expected too much. Not that they didn’t deliver on their promises but that somehow us the voters wanting clean hospitals, 3rd world debt relief, safe transport, well educated children etc put a burden on the government that was excessive. They squandered two terms of massive majorities with prevarication and a lack of conviction.Meanwhile, people will still die in Iraq, the world’s poor will still get ripped off, our taxes will get miss spent and lying and spin will become the norm.

One thing which has always soured Blair’s time in charge is the presences of Alistair Campbell on our screens. Has there ever been a more hateful none elected figure? On Channel 4 last night he was his usual repellent self, he had the brass neck to suggest that the media and voters are responsible for his spin. Receiving a moral lecture from him (as at the time of 45 minute dossier) drove me to turn over.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Small electric cars are killing the planet slight return!

and killing people too it would seem... I'm not one for bashing "green" products but a useless electric car which isn't safe isn't much good to anyone. Their owners should get on a bus, you've never seen anything dangerous happen to a bendy bus have you.....