Saturday, July 03, 2010

Restoring the Synapses to Their Natural State

Right now, I would have thought my email inbox would be overflowing with complaints that I have yet to post the next part of my draft novel. This could be a severe case of gremlins munching their way through BT servers, possibly that there is a shortage of dried frog pills to sustain my loyal readers, or maybe that some people have yet to discover Part One.
Rest assured, I will be treating the world to the next instalment soon. Unfortunately, today I am in the mood to indulge myself by posting a few synaptic rambles.
The problem is that I got myself stuck on my soapbox about my ideas for ethical business taxation which led me to the UK Government’s Freedom initiative and the associated website. The good news is that I posted my ideas as an entry on that site (See Note 1). The bad news is that it has sparked all kinds of random synaptic activity and visits to strange websites in dingy corners of the interweb.
While I work tirelessly on this service for the community, my son and daughter (See Note 2) both watch The Sooty Show.
Before the election campaign started, I posted a blog about the need for hope and confidence. It is probably an indication about my inability to detect much hope seeping into the British psyche, that when the YourFreedom site initiative came along, I rushed into it almost as fast as a peckish Tory Cabinet Minister to the Murano (See Note 3).
You might not realise it from reading my ramblings here, but I am basically an optimist. It is just that experience has taught me that a healthy helping of cynicism and a warped sense of humour is required to counterbalance this (See Note 4).
My early experience with the site was not a particularly happy one. It was slow, rather bug ridden and lacked most of the features that I would expect to make it ‘user friendly’ (See Note 5) and supportive of a consultation and debate. The developers (See Note 6) had obviously not bothered to cast a glance at the concepts behind a wiki when throwing together the design. Such was the disappointment; it caused me to go into a state of mourning. As with every major disaster or national sorrow, I was so devastated, I felt the need to develop a conspiracy theory.
Still, with the persistence of the lingering odour of a kipper stuck behind a kitchen cupboard, I persevered and presented my idea to the population of the UK.
I waited. For some reason, probably software faults on the site, the population were not experiencing cartoon lightbulbs appearing over their heads. My entry wasn’t making headlines in the national press. Sian Williams wasn’t emailing me about joining her on the breakfast TV sofa (See Note 7).
Soon it was obvious, I needed to kill some time. I realised that wheels of government turn slowly. That the phone call from a senior civil servant, inviting me to present the idea to the UK cabinet might be a way off. So I decided to read some of the other offerings and offer up my views and the benefit of my wisdom.
Oh God, I wish I hadn’t. I could have just amused myself with humerous videos. The offerings on the site caused me to weep and hyper-ventilate in turn. What really depressed my and had me searching for the nearest user for a lend of his syringe (See Note 5), were the offerings from numerous small business owners.
Politicians tell us that the future of the economy is in the hands of small businesses.  If that is the case, then we are in real trouble. Those on the site seemed to have a very strange idea as to what their responsibilities as business owners  and (assumed) members of the human race actually were. Most made the Daily Mail seem like the Socialist Worker.
Thankfully, I am over that now. My daughter took a break from watching vintage children’s TV and pointed me to this wonderful, acerbic, YourFreedumb  blog. Having read it, I feel a lot better. My sense of optimism remains a touch dented, but thankfully, my cynicism and sense of humour are replenished.
My only regret being that I didn’t think of it first. Still, no matter, tonight I am off to a talk by Terry Jones on Medieval Lives – that should get the old synapses back into order.

Note 1: For all of you who have yet to see my entry on the YourFreedom site, post a wonderfully supportive comment and give it a high mark, be warned. There will be a test on the subject later and failure to obtain a pass will result in you being given detention and being deprived of chocolate for a month.

Note 2: For those who did not know, both my children are in their 20s. It is highly unlikely that I will be called upon to provide parenting courses.

Note 3: Yes, that’s right, £60 for three courses and I bet they don’t serve a decent pint of mild or provide bottles of ketchup and brown sauce on the table. Although Gordon Effin Ramsey would like to treat me to the full works, I promise I’ll write him a spiffing review on this very blog.

Note 4: So far, this mixture of raw optimism and my natural, exuberant flair combined with cynicism and an ability to laugh at the ridiculous has kept me out of the reach of men with large butterfly nets and avoided residency in a rubber room. The dried frog pills help too.

Note 5: Yes, I know that I am on record as hating the term ‘user’ when applied to computers. The term still makes me wince and brings images of a man without hope thrusting a syringe in their arm in the mistaken belief that it will provide a chemical induced salvation.

Note 6: I hope that none of my Merkin readership are giggling at the back there? You really shouldn’t be sitting smugly with the idea that such poorly implemented e-government initiatives are unique to us Brits. The company behind this, Delib, are also working with the US administration on  ‘crowd sourcing’ apps for among others, the Department of Homeland Security – not feeling so secure now, eh?

Note 7: Although I know now this is due to those gremlins hidden in the BT servers feasting upon my emails.

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