@MinOvTroof twitfeed

TheMin: Changed my plans for this week to attend more XFactor negotiations.

@RoZEE, Nothing is more important for our children than bigging up the XFactor winner– I will fight hour by hour for it

TheMin: am officially an x factor convert.big up joe, big up simon, big up boyley…

@supremes: u are my fave US group. Could teach our brit judges a thing or 2 about fronting me bessie m8

TheMin: Just back from helping me bessie m8 Milly wiv his court case. Judges are dissing him but he’s staying strong. Big shout out to Milly.

TheMin: All the goss

……

Ironic News International

Rupert Murdoch and his son & heir and employees are getting a bit stressed about the world-wide-web as a threat to their unfeasibly large income stream. For instance, in today’s Guardian,

Rupert Murdoch: ‘There’s no such thing as a free news story’
News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch tells US regulators that users will pay for news – and aggregation is theft

He is terrified that the net is killing his print titles – like the British newspaper, the Sun (:-) What a loss to the written word that would be, not) by offering free news. He is so convinced that people will happily pay for trash content that he’s been busy trying to get every one who will listen – including a federal trade commission – to support this idea. Which rather seems to contradict the whole concept of people’s willingness to pay. If that were true, wouldn’t people just happily pay. Surely, he’s not demanding preferential treatment? Isn’t the untrammelled market the perfect mechanism any more? Gosh, you shock and stun me, Mr Murdoch.

I think the “News International threatened by technological change” think qualifies as being “hoist by his own petard” (whatever a petard is.)

For those of you with an interest in ancient history, Murdoch was at the centre of a bitter labour dispute in the 1980s, based on his determination to break the print unions through the use of new computer technology.

Whosoever diggeth a pit, etc….

Trojan Horse

This was too funny to pass up:

Trojan Horse

Trojan Horse

This had me laughing for quite a while.

Xtreme bingo

Get your playing card for the great new game of “Domestic Extremist Bingo” from the Guardian Online.

Not sure how to claim your prize, sorry, but there seems to be a £9 million jackpot up for grabs.

So get marking those cards.

No prizes for spotting comedian Mark Thomas in there, either. But you can have him as your starter, so you don’t have to actually see him at a protest to cross him off your scorecard.

Breaking news:
Sorry kids, it looks as if the Information Commissioner has finally tried to spoil your fun. By actually spotting the outrageous nature of the information in this Guardian story .

Byronic flights of fancy

Wow, “danger”, “perils” to children, “help – before it’s too late”. What a scary Times headline! I am already shaking with fear before I’ve read it. Won’t anyone think of the children, and so on?

What is this scary thing? Of course, it’s the internet.

Mind the gap: The perils of failing to keep pace with your child online
A dangerous gap has emerged between web-savvy kids and parents. Professor Tanya Byron has launched a new campaign to help — before it’s too late

Hmm. This is to mark the launch of a campaign, a “grassroots campaign” no less. (There’s a beautiful phrase in US politics for a campaign that pretends to be a genuine upsurge of democratic will but actually, well, isn’t. Oh yes, the word is “Astroturf”)

The campaign seems to involve asking kids if they can use any tech and getting very afraid when they say yes..

The campaign’s catalyst is Byron, known for her television programmes The House of Tiny Tearaways and Am I Normal?, as well as the author of the government-backed 2008 Byron Review Safer Children in a Digital World, which resulted in the creation of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety.

So, a tv child psychologist heads it. Hmm, why am I less than convinced by this whole thing? A tv child psychologist who also writes for the Times. And gets written about in the Times. Because, she’s also in the news today. (In the Times):

Ministers need to act swiftly on child safety, warns adviser

It’s Tanya, now known as “Gordon Brown’s adviser.”

Well who else could the government call on? Obviously, no amount of experience or qualifications or all-round peer-reviewed respect gained by any other child psychologist, or by any person who actually knows anything about the internet, could stand up against the fact that she’s got tv programmes.

(If you ever doubted that senior politicians are in thrall to the cult of celebrity at least as much as the people who read Heat (etc) magazines, Tanya is the living proof of your naivete.)

The busy Tanya is panicking about the UK not implementing some European directive on games classification. Or all of her recommendations, really. So she’s going from school to school asking questions, to support the idea that kids may know things about using the internet that their parents don’t. And that this is somehow inherently terrifying….

The games classification thing is typical of the kneejerk reactions of this “grassroots” campaign. For a start, it’s inherently counter-productive, in terms of their supposed goals. Would anything make a game more attractive to an early teenager than an 18 certificate?

Is there any evidence that playing pc or console games that are “too old for them” harms kids? Any evidence at all?

Is there any evidence whatsoever that parents are all in a strange population subgroup that failed to notice anything that happened over the last twenty years? Like the arrival of the Internet. How many adults do you know who don’t use computers or the net?

There’s a more internet and computer nonsense on the BBC today.

Tech addiction ‘harms learning’
Technology addiction among young people is having a disruptive effect on their learning, researchers have warned.

The study – Techno Addicts: Young Person Addiction to Technology – was carried out by researchers at Cranfield School of Management, Northampton Business School and academic consultancy AJM Associates.

(The AJM website mission statement says:
“Providing outstanding returns for investors along with excellent leadership in managing real estate projects is the AJM Associates mission.” I, for one, admire the conduct of educational research by profit-oriented real-estate companies and management schools….In your face, stuffy old educational academics. )

You can buy the study from Siigel Press for about $25. It’s on their “Bestseller” list. (Hardly surprising that it’s a best-seller. It got a free plug on the BBC, ffs)

The blurb talks up the shock value of this “bestseller”.

Technology addiction amongst young people, particularly in terms of facilitating social networking, is having a disruptive effect on positive attitudes towards learning. Read the results of this collaborative study spearheaded by Cranfield School of Management, Northampton Business School and AJM Associates. While students expressed little concern of addiction, technology obsession is hindering spelling skills, encouraging plagiarism and disrupting classroom learning. Download this report to learn the full details and the disturbing impact technology is having on today’s youth.

Call me a pedant – despite my possible incipient adult-onset internet addiction – but “While students expressed little concern of addiction,” doesn’t seem like correct grammar to me.
And surely they don’t really mean to claim that technology addiction is “facilitating social networking”?

If it was only possible to channel the energy that goes into manufacturing internet scares and turn it to a useful purpose, we could all be driving round in hot-air powered vehicles and could stop worrying about global warming,

Otherwise, I think that – if you really want to protect your kids online – you actually talk to them.

Fibre optic cable to god

I hope the god-of-abraham has a decent internet connection. He seems to have dropped “omnipresence” from his skillset and to have been reduced to logging on to catch up with his latest comments, like us mere mortals.

A good post on the Times religion blog reported on the growth of online prayer sites. Like beliefnet.

I was already baffled enough by prayer. The internet version is incomprehensible to another order of magnitude.

There are lots of tragic situations listed, with set prayers to go with them. (I don’t know if the participants are allowed to put them in their own words or to precis them in a hurry.)

Do these get delivered straight to the-god-of-abraham? Or are people supposed to repeat them aloud or read them silently, or what? (I have a sneaking suspicion that I may have inadvertently “prayed” by reading them online).

Apparently, the site has seen a huge surge in online prayer requests since the economy tanked. Is the divine omniscience failing again? Surely the-god-of-abraham already knows about the economy?

If he was going to spare his devotees from getting poorer, surely he’d have already sorted them. Or, at least, raptured them or something. Don’t tell me he’s doing that bastardy thing again of just helping them out if they really crawl first and tell him how much they love him.

The answer is so obvious. He’s got fibre-optic cable and now he spends all day surfing the net rather than listening to individuals’ hearts. If it’s not on a blog – or at least on twitter – he hasn’t heard it.

The Times post quoted Richard Sloan:

“The prayers on these sites are all prayers for petition, as opposed to prayers of praise, or prayers of wonder…”

In other words they are all celestial begging letters.

Beliefnet reckons Jesus or god or both (I’m mildly confused by which one this is) promised to answer these prayers:

Jesus lays down amazing promises about the power of asking things from God. He promises to answer. You can check out Thursday’s post if you’d like to see a few of those commitments. Bottom line: God puts himself on the line to deliver what we pray for!

God “puts himself on the line”!!! By Ogum! God may even step up to the plate to deliver on these prayers. Count me in, there’s loads of things I’d like to ask for.

No wait, there is small print. “conditions.”

One of which is, bizarrely, that “Jesus makes prayer a corporate matter.”

I am in awe at this 21st century god. He doesn’t just have a net connection. He is also a CEO.

Ah, it seems to mean he answers prayers by volume.

Effective requests come to God as petitions with more than one signature attached.

Look, he’s a busy guy, right? He can’t be expected to pay attention to the fall of a single sparrow or anything, in a world with 6 billion human beings. He needs lots of voices clamouring for him to do something before he’ll bother to put himself on the line. (That’s why your single prayer for the regrowth of your amputated limb failed, fool.)

There were previous conditions: “asking” (Well duh, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Surely you didn’t think your god was omniscient enough to know that you wouldn’t welcome that bankruptcy?) and “faith.”

Which has a strangely instrumentalist meaning:

Faith as the Bible defines it is an action based on a conviction that something promised with be delivered, even before any evidence appears that it will be so.

Is this a new consumerist adaptation of Christianity? Guaranteed delivery, even if you don’t actually get the thing you ordered.

The god-of-abraham as a giant e-commerce application?

According to the Times,

Worries about the ethics of these sites are further fuelled by the existence of some which charge for intecessionary prayer, offering a ‘call-centre’ style service.

Bang up to the minute, again, god-of-abraham.

What’s the betting that he’s outsourced the whole god business to some Indian call-centre? There must be enough gods in the Hindu pantheon to service the current global demand for divine intervention.

And the god-of-abraham is sunning himself on the beach at some Red Sea resort with a fast internet connection.