A minor wobble

I had a lecture this week about John Stuart Mill and free speech and stuff. If you want to hear some very free speech then put your email address in the box on the right.

Here is a sign in the main computer cluster on the Sussex campus, and I think you’ll agree it gives a whole new meaning to the term computer crash:

Surely the only professional IT department in the developed world to have invested in dozens of computers so pathetic that they fail even that crucial first hurdle of, er, being on a desk.

In between sourcing high-quality equipment and keeping the network running well, IT Services even found time to produce a YouTube video needlessly animating a map of campus to the rather jarring accompaniment of Celtic music. No doubt all this world-class video production explains how they only had £9.50 left in the budget to buy the new computers! And as if the greengrocers apostrophe on the sign wasn’t bad enough…

Frankly, I think it’s a tragic loss that there’s never been a sitcom set in the world of IT services.

Ohio’s one moment of fame

I still don’t get why it was necessary for David Dimbleby and friends to fly out to Washington, with a camera crew and technical staff and so-called experts, when all they were going to do was sit in a room [right], pretend they could see the White House out of the computer-generated window, and have a chat. We have rooms here in Britain as well. I’m in one at the moment in fact.

The BBC correspondents weren’t just sitting in rooms, however. Spread across the United States, or more precisely spread across the bars of the United States – “I’ve been here, in this bar in Virginia, for several hours,” boasted the BBC’s Jon Sopel, before falling over – they were providing viewers with their own unique version of wisdom. Though none of it quite as touching as that of this 4-year-old in Colorado.

Anyway, quite unusually for me, while watching the BBC coverage I decided to jot down some of the stupid things that people were saying; so, introducing a quadrennial new column…

Mitt Romney at midnight UK time: “I’ve just finished writing a victory speech […] but I’m sure it will change.” [Damn right…]

“Democrats 52%, Republicans 44%. Romney simply can’t win with that sort of inequity going on.” [Run that by me again?]

“And this is what it’s all about…” [shows picture of White House – no dumbing down at the Beeb]

“Obama’s supporters are turning out, which will be good for Obama.”

“In the end, it’s the voters voting that’s decisive.” [At least David Dimbleby grasps the concept of an election.]

“I only altered the two ballot papers!” [Excuse of the week from a polling station worker in Oregon. She was fired]

“”There is a strong correlation between gun ownership and Republicans.” [Surely not?]

On the campaign trail

Forget American politics, because we had the election debate of the century at the University last week! A grand total of 22 people turned up to a lecture theatre capable of seating 160, to hear from the local Police Commissioner candidates.

To put it simplistically, they were all a bit rubbish; the Labour guy came out best overall but even he dressed like Mr Peanut. The main mercy of the evening was that we were spared hearing from the UKIP candidate, who recently gave an interview and said (in these words): “If you’re black, you’re more likely to commit crime.” Thank goodness there are still some politicians with convictions, eh…

Tory Katy Bourne said that she’d spent the last two months travelling “all over Sussex” (which was made out to be the size of the Australian outback) asking people which police and crime issues they considered important. Apparently this process “helped her understand” that a lot of people are worried about “burglary.” Is there anything that woman doesn’t know?

Yes, there is. Apparently she doesn’t know that a self-respecting election candidate should never use the phrase, “…speaking as a woman…”

Ian Chisnall, independent and an evangelical Christian, apparently referred to voters at a previous hustings as “the congregation.” He also made the intriguing claim, “A lot of the things said and done on this campus are 10-15 years ahead of the British public.” Heaven help us…

And now, coming to a hustings near you:

When former Roedean girl Katie Bourne wakes up off the coast of Sussex with no memories of what her policing and crime policies are, she enters a fight to the death with four veteran criminal justice experts. She eventually has a flashback and discovers the truth: she never really knew what her policies meant anyway. But because she’s young and went to a good school and the audience like her, she takes loads of public money and recedes into the distance. Find out more in: The Katy Bourne Supremacy.

A snake-oil salesman

Following a freedom of information request to the Foreign Office, it turns out that despite a 10% budget cut, they happily managed to find enough money to spend £10,000 having a 20-foot anaconda called Albert restored.

Apparently a junior member of staff asked William Hague for permission to have restoration work carried out on the snake and somehow misunderstood his response of, “Get stuffed.” A spokesperson for the spineless creature said, “The Foreign Secretary has no comment to make at this stage.” (I thought you said you weren’t going to make obvious jokes? -Ed.)

Anyway, this was basically inevitable:

Sussexballs: £9000 per annum paid for contributions“Thank you very much, girls. Comrades. ‘Girls’ sounds a bit sexist so let’s just say comrades.”

“In last week’s fast feedback exercise, a lot of you wanted the lectures to be ‘more dynamic’, and I kind of know what you  mean.” [Wears loud shirt, starts clicking and bouncing.]

“A lot of you said the readings were ‘too academic’. I didn’t like that one. Academic writing is not designed to be interesting. Don’t expect it to grab you and interest you.” [What an advert for university education!]

“Let’s leave poor old Gadaffi alone…”

“Nick Griffin, whose picture is on the far left…”

[Electoral] roll the credits
In tonight’s episode, Sussex ITS fulfilled their mission statement “to provide high-quality computing services.” The Sussex PCC candidates were played by a lacklustre bunch of slackers. Matt Damon doesn’t necessarily endorse Katy Bourne’s candidacy, and almost certainly actually doesn’t endorse it. The pianist was played by Stephen Willis, and so was the piano. This was an Gabrielquotes production. (And yes dad, I do know about The IT Crowd really.) (And yes mum, the greengrocers apostrophe thing was deliberate.)


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