Possibly I think about bad 80s pop too much

From a piece on feminist attitudes to pornography:

Also, we always tend to worry about blue-collar dudes knocking one off over Zoo in factory toilets. What about the way people like Sade might be taught in lecture theatres, for instance?

To my shame, my first thoughts on reading this paragraph were: 1) how the hell is 1980s soul singer Sade pornographic? 2) why the hell is 1980s soul singer Sade being taught in lecture theatres?

A recommendation to people writing about the notorious French pervert in future: say ‘de Sade’, or horrible Smooth Operator-ish connotations may arise in your readers minds. After all, would you call France’s leading fascist ‘Pen’, or the Netherlands’ maddest painter ‘Gogh’?

How journalism works (part n of n^x)

Do you remember the Terrible Story of Lawless British Youth from last year, of the Evil Callous Teens who squished bowling alley technician Ferdinand Dela Cruz to death by chucking a ball at the machine he was working on, triggering the mechanism?

Some months later following an inquest, it turns out that the poor bloke actually forgot to unplug the machine before climbing inside, and that the mechanism was triggered by his weight.

I say “following an inquest”; what really I mean is “following ten seconds’ thought, or one phone call if ten seconds’ thought is beyond you”. Having worked on projects in bowling alleys (it’s a glamorous life in retail and leisure consulting – oh yeah!), it’s obvious that the “kids lob ball at worker” story was rubbish.

For a start, there are moveable bars across the lane at all bowling alleys that sweep up balls, protect the machinery from errant balls – and protect workers from errant balls. If you ever see an out-of-commission bowling machine, it’ll have the bar across it.

Another point is that the machines at bowling alleys, as Mr Dela Cruz tragically found out, are weight-sensitive. And people weigh more than bowling balls. So unplugging them before any maintenance is carried out is pretty essential.

Finally, let’s assume it were possible to adjust some of the machinery while it was switched on without treading (or even risking treading on) the weight-sensitive parts. Considering the publicly accessible nature of bowling alleys, the risk of some accidental/illicit ball-throwing is so obvious that the procedure would be banned under health and safety rules anyway.

I know this – and so does anyone else with the slightest idea of the way bowling alleys work. Which means that the Sunday Mirror, the Manchester Evening News, the Evening Standard and Sky News all failed to phone anyone with the slightest idea of how bowling alleys worked before filing the story.

Good work, fine gentlemen of the press.

Me me meme

As part of a mildly annoying meme, Larry Teabag has asked me to list eight facts about myself:

1) I once failed to eat a kilo of corned beef for a bet, coming in with a time of 65 seconds;

2) I’m the sixth person in my immediate family to be called ‘John Oliver Band’, and the third surviving person. But I was first to the domain name and the gmail account (and hence also occasional letters from bemused Older Persons);

3) I’ve been interviewed by Radio 4 as an expert on Wimpy Bars and quoted in the Economist as an expert on Islamist cola;

4) The worst job I ever had was door-to-door salesman for a semi-fraudulent sticky paint company;

5) I accidentally ran into Richard E Grant when leaving a library, but was too surprised to come up with an amusing quote;

6) I’m the only person I know to have heckled a professional comedian by email (Richard Herring, since you ask);

7) I know three people who are listed on IMDB: Paul, who writes comedy; Kieron, who writes bad comedy; and Sophie, who played a dead body;

8) Just because I’m interested in transport policy, doesn’t make me a trainspotter (and I’ll beat you up with my thermos flask and throttle you with my anorak if you disagree).

Tagged: Matty Teabag, Dan, Matt T, Jamie, Harry H, Johnny B, Not Saussure (long may he return), Backword Dave, whoever else I’ve forgotten.

Speaking of Internet memes: best lolcat ever.