Friday, December 14, 2007

Wet Ninja

I’m off to my homeland on Monday for a few days, and so I’ve been checking the news sites to see what kind of appalling mayhem the inbred halfwits of Northern Ireland have been dishing out to each other over the last week or so. Nothing much, but...

A team of fire-fighters was attacked by a moron who hadn’t stopped to wonder if a samurai sword was a match for a fully-functional fire hose. It wasn’t, of course, so they just sluiced him into submission. Strangely satisfying, that story.

More later…

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The McWord

In a bid to change the public perception of employment prospects with the company, McDonald’s has collected almost 105,000 signatures on a petition, which has now been submitted to the publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary.

The fast-food giant has long been unhappy with the negative implications of the OED’s definition of “McJob” – the dictionary calls it “an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector.”

In an attempt to combat this, and to raise the morale of the nation’s burger-flippers, the company enlisted the support of the broadcaster Sir David Frost, 35 MPs and former Confederation of British Industry chairman Sir Digby - now Lord - Jones, in trying to persuade the OED and other UK dictionary houses “to change the current definition of McJob to better reflect the reality of service sector jobs.”

The OED has yet to comment. At the launch of the petition a spokeswoman for the dictionary said “We monitor changes in the language and reflect these in our definitions according to the evidence we find.”

McDonald’s may have a point. Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine dubbed the Golden Arches “the best place to work in hospitality”, and on its website the company has
launched its own retaliatory “McProspects” campaign, with a list of benefits and the slogan “Not bad for a McJob”.

It could be argued that McDonald’s have only themselves to blame – the company first registered the term McJobs as a trademark in 1984 as the name and image for the training of handicapped people as restaurant employees. The trademark lapsed, but the word re-surfaced in The Washington Post in 1986 and entered common usage in the US following a mention as a description of a “low pay, low prestige, low benefit, no future” job in Donald Coupland’s 1991 novel Generation X.

McJob first appeared in the UK in the online version of the OED in 2001, but it was its appearance in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary – in 2003 – which seems to have first truly irked McDonalds.

The company considered legal action when the McWord first appeared in the US, but apparently was advised that it didn’t have a case. McDonald’s is notoriously lacking in a sense of humour and has an appetite for litigation when it comes to what it sees as slurs on its business.

Famously, in 1994, it sued two Greenpeace activists, who had distributed a pamphlet criticising the company, in what became the UK’s longest ever libel trial. The case was instantly and inevitably tagged “McLibel”, and went on for two and a half years, becoming the longest trial of any kind in British legal history.

Lasers In The Jungle Somewhere

From Flight magazine:

"Boeing moved closer earlier this month to realizing a seven-year goal to demonstrate a high-powered laser as a weapon aboard a Lockheed Martin C-130H.

“Next year, we will fire the laser at ground targets, demonstrating the military utility of this transformational directed energy weapon,” Scott Fancher, VP and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems, said in a statement."

So that’s just marvellous. As if the US can’t do enough damage with conventional ordnance, by the middle of next year we’ll all be in Bond-villain fantasy-land. Brown people the world over will live in constant terror of the next death-ray strike, while Dubyah slouches around inside his hollowed-out volcano with that dopey coked-up smirk plastered across his little monkey face.

I know that having your family barbecued by a laser isn’t really any worse than having a bunch of high-explosive come down your chimney, but somehow it feels worse. Until the advent of that ultra-low-frequency-sound weapon they’ve been talking about for the past fifty years – the one that makes you poo your pants and then shatters your pelvis, ribcage and skull (in that order, so you get to enjoy it) – then I reckon the super-laser’s about as bad as it gets.