The last couple of years has seen the release of not one, but three science fiction movies starring Scarlett Johannson: Spike Jonze’s wonderful Her, Jonathon Glazer’s remarkable Under the Skin and more recently, Luc Besson’s Lucy. It’s hard not to speculate on why Ms Johannson was cast in these three films; in the first she plays a disembodied computer intelligence bent on achieving – and then escaping – humanness, in the second, an alien bent on absorbing (literally), and then attempting to embrace, humanness, and in Besson’s film, a human who through unfortunate circumstances has the transcendence of her humanness thrust upon her. I can only assume Ms Johansson’s resumé has a description in it that reads something like “Possesses an other-worldly beauty”, and that directors haven’t quite understood that to be a metaphor.

It is the last of those three efforts that we’re going to examine today on TCA, and you can probably tell by the lack of any superlative attached to the mention of Mr Besson’s film, above, that I’m having trouble finding nice things to say about Lucy. In fact, I was just going to add that this review will contain spoilers when I thought that there is nothing I could do in my wildest efforts to spoil this disaster of a movie any more than it thoroughly spoils itself.

Out of the starting gate, there’s a conceit that was hinted at in the trailers for the film and which I really despise: the ridiculous and completely debunked myth that humans only use 10% of their brains. What I hadn’t realised is that this dumb piece of claptrap is actually the focal plot device of the whole piece, and is relentlessly bashed across the heads of the audience from the first frame to the last. Whatever the case, I entered the story fully prepared to file it away as a deus ex machina of the tale, and accepting it under the Willing Suspension of Disbelief clause. In the end, I couldn’t do it due to the ‘bashing-across-the-head’ problem previously mentioned, but it turns out that it didn’t matter because it’s the least of the film’s stupidities.

The film starts interestingly – but even here my Spidey senses started tingling, I have to admit – with some fancy CGI cell division effects, culminating in a ‘dawn-of-time’ sequence featuring a small ape-like creature that anyone with any scientific literacy will instantly recognise as the progenitor of humans: Australopithecus afarensis, represented here, through inference, by an individual whom scientists have dubbed ‘Lucy’. Clever, huh? Well, yes, it certainly could have been.

Over a sequence of Australopithecus Lucy drinking from a stream, we hear Ms Johannson intoning the words:

“Life was given to us a billion years ago. What have we done with it?”

Remember that phrase because we’ll have cause to review it later.

Transition to modern day Taipei, where our modern day heroine Lucy (Johannson), is viciously tricked by her creep of a boyfriend into delivering a briefcase with some unknown contents to a certain ‘Mr Jang’. It turns out that Mr Jang has a super new designer drug (a sparkly iridescent crystalline blue substance known as CPH4, which looks a lot like bath salts ((CPH4 is twice referred to as a ‘powder’ throughout the movie, which it plainly isn’t. This might seem like a nitpick, but the film is full of these tiny little irritations and after a while they accumulate to have a massive eye-roll quotient))) which he plans to ship to various locations across the world ‘in the intestines’ of a bunch of unwilling mules (including, now, a completely freaked-out Lucy). ((Never mind that this makes no surgical sense whatsoever – if you’re going to open someone up to stick in a drug packet, you just wouldn’t put it inside their intestines.)) It’s a terrifying and disorienting launch into the story, and around here I thought momentarily that, despite my misgivings, I might actually enjoy this movie. The optimism didn’t last long – only to the next scene, as it happens.

Cut to: Morgan Freeman (who is the go-to ‘knowledgeable kindly scientist’ in the same way as Ms Johansson is the go-to trans-human), in the role of Professor Samuel Norman, a neuroscience expert. I use the word ‘expert’ sarcastically, as I doubt that there is a real neuroscientist alive that actually believes the 10% myth. But believe it he does, and he even expands on it using the tried-and-true pseudoscientific tactic of just making shit up. “Most species of animal,” he tells us (without so much as a hint of a wry wink), “use only 3 to 5% of their neural capacity.” I almost snorted my whisky down my shirt, but luckily managed to swallow it. Which is just as well, because after he continues on to wheel out the dumber-than-dumb ‘humans use up to 10%’ factoid, he adds: “But now let’s go on to a special case. The only living creature to use its brain better than us…”

You what? I’m totally on the edge of my seat around here because I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT HE’S GOING TO SAY NEXT!!!

Can you guess it, Cowpokes? Do you know which creature apparently uses a whopping 20% of its neural capacity??? Well, says Prof Norman, it’s dolphins. Yup, not only is this film propagating the idiotic 10% hogwash, it’s starting a whole franchise of its own baloney. I have no idea where this ridiculous notion even came from, as I’ve never heard it before, but accepting for a brief moment that there is any consistency at all to this movie’s internal world, all I can say to you is that the dolphins plainly weren’t in charge of the script.

Meanwhile, Lucy wakes up in a hotel room with a fresh wound across her abdomen, via which, she discovers, a kilo of the previously-mentioned CPH4 has been inserted into her gut, in preparation for her unwilling smuggling trip. Before anything further can happen, however, she is kicked in the stomach by one of her captors, the bag containing the drug ruptures, leaks into her bloodstream and somehow begins the process of overclocking her neural processing abilities.

But before we go on, let’s discuss CPH4.

This amazing substance, we are told, is manufactured by pregnant women in the sixth week of pregnancy. “It’s like an atomic bomb going off for the foetus, and gives it all the energy it needs to create every bone in its body”. ((This is total bollocks, needless to say, and doesn’t in any way suggest why it would have utility as a recreational drug. I don’t even understand why you would even write it like that. If you’re just inventing a substance, why not make it some kind of neuro-active agent that you could at least pass off as a new cool hallucinogen or something. This is just one of many witless gaffs made by the film.)) The stuff inside Lucy is a synthetic analog of the natural version and of which she has metabolised a full 500 grams before she gets a surgeon (at gunpoint) to remove the other half from her stomach. Since there are three other implanted mules, this informs us that there are only 3.5 kilos of the stuff in existence in the whole world, apparently. Remember this fact, because it will become germane.

A this point, Lucy’s brain has achieved, we are informed by one of the relentless and completely arbitrary title cards tasked with keeping us up to date on exactly how smart she is, 20% of its operational function. That’s dolphin level, pal. This allows her to suddenly be a martial arts expert, understand any language she likes, change her hair colour at will, control the minds of others and become an expert sharpshooter, all accomplishments for which dolphins have long been admired.

She now simultaneously sets about tracking down the remaining CPH4 (which has travelled to distant cities in the guts of the other mules) and getting in contact with Professor Norman in order to impart some kind of information to him (what it is, exactly, and to what end she wants to pass it on is never really made clear). Here, we’re at about the halfway point of the movie, and from here to the end the film is just a guffaw-laden hack-fest, with few redeeming features.

In one of many completely daft sequences, while she is travelling on a plane to meet Professor Norman, Lucy’s body begins to disintegrate, and she manages to stop it from doing so by scoffing down mouthfuls of the remaining CPH4 she has in her possession. I was completely at a loss to understand why this was happening. Maybe she shouldn’t have had that champagne that she ordered from the cabin attendant? ((And why the hell was she travelling Business Class? SURELY with her new mind control skills she could have nabbed herself a First Class cabin?))

As Lucy’s brain power accelerates upward of 50%, we learn that she now has control over radio frequencies and computers, over matter and even over gravity.

With all that under her belt, she undertakes a ruthless mission to retrieve the other 3 kilos of CPH4. This invokes the obligatory car chase, some more gunplay and a serving of fancy telekinesis. At one point, she quite theatrically sticks some thugs and their weapons to the roof of a corridor. Why she doesn’t simply render them all instantly unconscious as she did to a room full of cops a few scenes earlier is fairly hard to fathom. Whatever the case, the relentless pursuit of the CPH4 all seems so perplexing and unnecessary; if Lucy can control matter, how is it that she can’t just conjure up more of the drug at whim, or, even more conveniently, just re-configure her biology to suit? ((Follow me here: if pregnant women are able to manufacture CPH4, then, given her superhuman powers, surely it’s a doddle for her to rejig her own body to make gallons of the stuff? I really hate it when this kind of thing happens in a science fiction movie. An audience will accept all kind of bizarre wackiness in the name of speculation or fantasy, but Rule #1 in fantastic fiction writing is that YOU MUST BE TRUE TO YOUR OWN INTERNAL LOGIC. If you break this rule, the audience has nothing to hang on to, and will become adrift in the silliness you’re peddling.))

Lucy eventually arrives at Professor Norman’s laboratory and sets about turning herself into a computer. Or something. I’d completely lost interest at this stage, because the movie tipped into the kind of hippy-trippy vacuous science-fiction buffoonery that you usually find in the most B-grade of the genre. Various berserk things happen. This is what I remember:

•Lucy gets injected with the remaining 3 kilos of CPH4 and sets about vanishing all the walls of the building, whereupon everyone finds themselves in a White Void. I really HATE the White Void. The White Void seems to be director language for “we’ve gone off the edge of the known universe, so there’s nothing left to express it except acres of whiteness”. You will remember the White Void from many places, including Doctor Who, The Matrix and Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End. It’s a lazy, inelegant and unsatisfying trope, and anyone who uses it instantly loses a star from my rating.

•She flashes back through time to pre-history, enabling an absolutely gag-making moment between ‘God’ Lucy and Australopithecus Lucy. Think Michelangelo. Yes, it was that. ((Seriously, that’s the kind of thing that enters a scriptwriter’s brain for a split second before the Big Red Mind Pen strikes it out of existence for ever.))

•She exudes black crawly stuff that wrecks all the gear in the lab.

•Then, she disappears leaving only her little black dress and shoes. All I can think of at this point is that it’s a perfect allegory for the film disappearing up its own asshole.

Meanwhile, as all this is happening, Mr Jang (remember him from earlier?) is outside shooting up everyone in sight in an effort to get back his bags of CPH4. His sudden appearance in the destroyed lab was so incongruous and meaningless it actually made me laugh. It doesn’t freak him out even in the slightest that he’s blasted through a door with a rocket launcher to find himself in a white infinity of nothingness. If ever there was a pinnacle of cinema-character single-mindedness, this guy is IT. He just wants his drugs back.

Finally, in one of the silliest moments I think I’ve ever seen in a science fiction movie, Computerlucy (for she has apparently become some kind of omnipresent entity living inside the mobile phone network) exudes a crawly black tentacle and hands to Professor Norman her vast resource of newly gained insight.

On a sparkly USB drive. Stop laughing, I’m serious.

Over a craning aerial shot of the destroyed lab, the perplexed scientists holding the sparkly USB drive, and the bloody bullet-riddled corpse of the recently-deceased Mr Jang (yep, crime doesn’t pay), we once again hear that early disembodied voiceover from Ms Johannson, now laden with meaning and import:

“Life was given to us a billion years ago. But now you know what to do with it.”

The End.

NOOOO! NO! We DO NOT KNOW what to do with it! Give me a hint! Is it to put life on a USB drive? Is it to not pursue our drug habits? Is it to find a way to make White Voids? Blue crystals? Dolphin computers? THANKS TO THIS MOVIE, I HAVEN’T GOT THE FAINTEST IDEA WHAT I’M SUPPOSED TO BE DOING WITH MY LIFE. Which is no different to before I saw the movie, only now I think maybe I’m missing something.

Unless, of course, what she’s saying has a meta-meaning: “Why did you waste two hours watching this rubbish when you could have been – oh, I dunno – kicking rocks down on the railway crossing?” In which case I really did get that.

Like so many half-baked sci-fi efforts before it (such as The Black Hole; Sunshine; Sphere to stand just a few in the dunce corner), Lucy is crushed under the weight of its own pretensions. It attempts to be simultaneously an action thriller and a psycho-philosophical musing on human destiny, but achieves neither of those aims, first, because there just isn’t enough cool action and second because it has the philosophical insight of a high-school stoner. When I saw the trailer I was really hoping for something like La Femme Nikita meets Limitless, only better. Instead we got Streetfighter meets What the Bleep Do We Know?, only worse.

As far as Lucy is concerned, on the Scale of Movie Intelligence, the needle is barely nudging 2%. If there is any kind of lesson to be learnt here at all, it is that we should probably be leaving the good science fiction movie-making to dolphins.

Also, this.

Well, Russell Brand is at it again. And sadly, I suspect that unless someone kicks him squarely in the bollocks, he’s likely to keep banging on eternally with his artless appeal to the disenchanted to take up their pitchforks and flaming torches and… I really don’t know what. Burn the castle down? Guillotine the aristocrats? Raid the palace wine cellar? Some disgruntled display of non-specific discontent, in any event.

Not only that, there have been suggestions of late that he also has designs on the mayorship of London. This could present something of a challenge for Brand, as he has opined on numerous occasions that people shouldn’t vote. Achieving office of mayor would thus provide him with an interesting technical obstacle.

Brand is out and about promoting his new book ‘Revolution’ and it strikes me that it’s an episode of high irony that this swaggering narcissistic auteur (his Wikipedia entry now lists him as an ‘activist’) who’s made his career as a comedian, desperately wants people to take him seriously.

I have talked about him previously on the Cow, as you undoubtedly remember, and as I said then, it’s not his belief that things are broken with which I take exception. Things definitely are broken, but Brand’s simplistic call-to-arms – aligning his attitudes as he does with the Occupy movement – offers no enlightenment on the complexity of the problems, and no way forward. All Brand really has to offer, once you pare away his angry posturing and hyperbole, is a swag bag of platitudes and naive idealism.

Brand’s book has so far garnered a stack of unflattering reviews. Mark Steel at the Independent attempts a show of support of Brand with a diatribe of condescending snark that seems to suggest that the negative reaction is due to some kind of confabulated de rigueur disdain for the would-be revolutionary. He finishes off (virtually repeating the Brand mantra word for word, as if he’s come up with a new piece of insight on the whole thing):

“..in a world in which it’s accepted by all major parties that banks and giant corporations and vast inequality are inevitable and can’t be curtailed, the most radical act can be to ask why.”

Seriously? It strikes me that, as radical acts go, ‘asking why’ is a bleedingly obvious question that takes no great acumen whatsoever. If that’s the very best defence he can put up for Brand (and the article offers no evidence of anything else), then he’s working with very slim pickings. Steel might like to consider that the reason that reviewers have so comprehensively trashed Brand’s book is not because they’ve all come to some complicit agreement that he’s a fashionable whipping boy, but because his ideas are, actually, lame.

Steel quite rightly (if rather obtusely) points out that Brand’s bombast will appeal to young people. Of course it will – young people always respond well to simplistic rhetoric that offers to stick it to the Man – but this is hardly an endorsement of some revelatory new political strategy. It’s simply a recycling of the same aspirational flower-waving that we all subscribed to in the ’60s. And here we are again, because, hey – that went so well.

Why do I care so much about this? Why do I bother to spend words on this arm-waving would-be Zapata? Simply because it’s all such a misdirection of energy. An intelligent person like Brand could conceivably do a lot of good by attracting a young audience and constructively channeling their discontent. Unfortunately it’s just not good enough to be opinionated, brash and outspoken, no matter how passionate you are, nor how ‘right’. Constructive politics is not an explosive and radical landscape. It’s a difficult and complex process that requires thoughtful, dedicated and often slow application of strong and considered concepts. Most importantly, I think, it asks for a few things that Russell Brand is fairly short on: patience, insight and humility.

That example par excellence of stellar journalistic accomplishment The Melbourne Age, tells us this morning that iPods and iPads are nothing less than the Typhoid Mary of the looming global apocalyptic pandemic. Well, they stop just short of putting it exactly like that, but it is hard to understand why they’re running an article headlined ‘Apple Store Teeming With Germs’, if not to warn good citizens about the looming plague.

Because they surely wouldn’t be doing it just to bash Apple…

The story, if you haven’t guessed, is that demonstration models of the abovementioned devices on display in Apple stores, can transfer germs from one prospective customer to another – a concept that seems to send the journalist responsible for this rubbish (one Asher Moses) ((Well, I guess he’s not entirely responsible. Like pretty much all modern journalism it’s just a story recycled from somewhere else – in this case, The New York Daily News.)) into virtual paroxysms of hand-wringing. The article give us all kinds of ominous facts and figures, with commentary by various and sundry ‘experts’, about how iGadgets in Apple stores (mentioned solely and specifically) are contaminated with various kinds of icky bacteria. It’s all so very ewwwwww. ((It’s hardly surprising that the bacteria mentioned are in evidence – they are among the most common on the planet.))

In a further attempt to give the story credence, Mr Moses happily goes on to conflate a completely separate dataset with his speculation. He breathlessly inform us that Britain’s Which? magazine, in consultation with a ‘hygiene’ expert, examined a sample of 30 (unnamed brand) mobile phones and found that:

…the average handset carries 18 times more potentially harmful germs than a flush handle in a men’s toilet.


Aside from the fact that a study like that (even if it is executed properly) is completely irrelevant to this story, ((Consider this – the flush handle in a men’s toilet is probably cleaned at least once a day, if not more frequently. It is NOT a good benchmark against which to measure anything except other things that get cleaned as frequently. It’s irrelevant in respect to phones (inasmuch as you could choose ANYTHING which doesn’t get cleaned much with which to compare it – tv remotes, say, or car keys) and it’s certainly meaningless in terms of iPads in Apples stores unless you have some kind of tangible link. This is a journalist using data recklessly and indiscriminately to attempt to add weight to an article that is lighter than The Zero.)) please to note the journalistic weasel word ‘potentially’ in that quote. Let me give you a Tetherd Cow Ahead rephrasing of that:

•Experts find that stairs are potentially life threatening!

•Experts find that water is potentially lethal!

•Experts find that newspapers are potentially dangerous to your mental health! (Oh wait. That’s true no matter how you look at it).

This stupid piece of scare-mongering fluff is a shining example of why I will be happy to see newspapers go the way of the town crier, and hopefully, their owners and editors hauled off by tumbrel. Honestly – what is the point of such a story?

Let me ask you, Mr Moses, why isn’t this piece about the thousands of other things that are touched by human hands in the course of a normal day? Like escalator handrails? Or lift buttons? Or money? Or salt shakers in McDonalds? Or ATMs? Or public phones? Or demonstration products belonging to other electronics goods retailers????

Could it be, perhaps, that the mileage you would get out of that might not be so… convenient… to your purpose of trashing a successful company that makes products that promise to be the biggest threat to your livelihood since the advent of television?

This is a Canon iP4600. To some, it might look like a printer but it is in fact a demon sent to Earth by Satan. Its very purpose on this mortal plane is to torment the souls of its victims until they lose all sanity and can be thus claimed by the Evil One as his own.

I have come to this conclusion because whenever I try to actually use the iP4600 for the purpose for which it is supposedly ‘designed’, ie, ‘printing’, it attempts to do anything but. It behaves wilfully – malignantly, even – and finds all kinds of ways to inflict misery upon me. It even communicates with me via strange taunting messages.

I attempt to print a photo and it replies:

Which it does. And then stops. And then does it again. Then, grudgingly it spits out a mangled copy of my picture:

Sometimes I set it running and go off to make a cup of tea, thinking that when I get back in ten minutes it will have finished. Instead:

This morning it decided, for no apparent reason, to glob ink all over some CD artwork.

And it is entirely futile to try and just ‘print off a quick document’…

It will behave for an entire day, and then, just as I’m trying to finish up and go off to dinner…

Pray for me, Acowlytes. I feel my soul slipping into its icy mechanical maw.

How Many Pilgrims

About a quarter of Australia’s population is self-declared as Christian Catholic.* Over the last few decades, the younger part of the population has been demonstrating a slow inclination to drift away from the conventional Christian Church (and indeed, organized religion altogether) but in about 20 days time in Sydney, the Catholic Church will attempt to reddress that trend by exerting its influence over the waning faith of the young people of Australia and holding an event that they are calling (some might say duplicitously) World ‘Youth’ Day.

Tourism New South Wales’s ‘Sydney’ page breathlessly gushes:

New South Wales looks forward to welcoming young people for World Youth Day 2008, the biggest event to be held in Australia, ever.

Poster and radio advertising around Sydney is urging people who are ‘not involved’ with World Youth Day to take a holiday or stay off the roads. The NSW Government is spending a small fortune on the event and the Catholic Church, notably the oleaginous and unpalatable Cardinal George Pell, is of course smirking all over the media.

I’m not entirely sure why, but if it is true that this is ‘the biggest event to be held in Australia, ever’† this makes me incredibly depressed. I intended to make this post a kind of jocular look at a silly phenomenon, in keeping with The Pope’s Cologne and Mother Teresa’s Breath Mist, but you know, I just don’t find it funny that at the beginning of the 21st Century, a two-thousand year old superstitious belief system has enough currency (metaphorically, practically and politically) to bring an entire modern city to a standstill. It’s particularly disheartening that this exercise is nominally aimed at young people – it’s hard not to be cynical about such things.

I often hear the argument, when it comes to religion, that it does no harm, and people should be able to make up their own minds about what they believe. While I disagree strongly that religion does no harm, I certainly approve of the concept that a person should be able to make up their own mind about it – with the caveat that they should also be given the tools to make their decision an informed one. This particularly applies to the young.

The Catholic Church has never been particularly squeamish about converting non-believers so I don’t expect that an event masquerading as Australia’s Biggest Sleepover is going to even register a blip on their moral radar, but in my opinion this is a sneaky, disingenuous ruse to attempt to lever more religious thought into a country that has been until recently making a slow but encouraging trek toward secularism (inherited religions notwithstanding).

I put this thought to you Cardinal Pell and Pope Benedict: if you’re really confident that God will come through with the goods, and you are morally committed to the betterment of young people as you claim, concentrate your efforts on giving them a proper education and the ability to make up their minds based on what we know to be true instead of attempting to indoctrinate them with intangible, absurd mythology while they are still impressionable. Give them the data and the brain tools and let them decide, when they come of age, whether or not to believe in a two-millennium-old fairy tale.

Surely, if you are right, and God really does exist, then you have nothing at all to be afraid of.


*Statistics from the 2006 Australian census.

†I guess it depends on your definitions of ‘biggest’, ‘event’ and ‘ever’…


I was loitering over at Radioactive Jam yesterday, where the Jamster was musing about an epiphenomenon of texting (namely ‘twittering’) and where he posed the following question:

What about you, my feiends? Do you use your phone for text messaging? If so how often, and how many people do you communicate with using text?

Well, for me, that question was like waving a red flag at a bull. Or, to be specific, since we evidently have so many pedants in our midst, like waving a Pantone 032 HC woven textile heraldic banner at a toro lidiado.

Because I absolutely detest texting. To me it seems like a useless 21st Century gimmick that will surely, and quite properly, go the way of CB Radio craze of the mid 1970s*. My reasons are many, and only one of them is because I’m a grumpy old geezer. Here are some others:

1: On a normal keyboard (that is, one designed for human fingers) I’m a pretty fast typist and it drives me absolutely BANANAS to try and tap out messages on those stupid little phone keypads. Especially when it is almost always faster and easier to dial the number and actually talk† to the recipient.

2: Predictive texting doesn’t help matters any. How many times have I sent a message to Violet Towne that says ‘DON’T WAIT FOR OF. I’LL BE GOOD LATE.’ or something equally as baffling. Additionally, the software for predictive texting (on my phone, at least) is written by an insane person. Let me give you an example: recently I was keying in a word, let’s say it was ‘hamster’ (because I can’t remember what it actually was – suffice to say it was a word in fairly common usage as opposed to, oh, quincunx, or something). Anyway I get as far as H-A-M-S… and the phone makes its irritating little ‘ping’ noise and says WORD NOT IN DICTIONARY. OK, so its dictionary doesn’t know hamster or hamstrung, even. Understandable, I suppose, if somewhat moronic. But then one day I find I’ve inadvertently keyed E-X-P-O-N-E-G-F-D-E-R and it’s still letting me merrily type away, with no advisory ‘ping’, as if somewhere, somehow, if I keep on adding on enough letters exponegfder… is suddenly going to turn into a word it retains in its feeble little nano-brain. What the fucking hell is that all about? It’s the kind of thing that can only happen because a mad person is at the controls.‡

3: I have a rare genetic disease¤ that means I am unable to write sentences without using punctuation or correct spelling. This slows texting down by nearly one million percent, because people who write the software for mobile phones are illiterate and don’t care about such things. So if you want to put an apostrophe or semi-colon in your text, you have to first have a Degree in Illogical Thinking to figure out how to do it, and second, spend an extra two minutes actually doing it.

4: Texting is the method nonpareil for avoiding taking responsibility for bad behaviour. Let me draw you a picture (and tell me this has never happened to you): you’ve just spent 30 minutes standing in the rain, chilled to the bone by a raging blizzard, fighting off drunken louts who seem to think they have more right to the taxi that you flagged down than you do, arrived at the cinema for a film that you really don’t care too much to see but which you’re prepared to endure because, well, you’re a good friend and you do that kind of thing, only to have your message alarm make its chirpy little beepity-beep-ta-ping!: ‘SORRY CANT MAKE IT 2NITE CATCH U L8R!!!’†† When you try to call back, the phone goes straight to message bank. C’mon, hands up, who can relate to that? Even more pertinently, hands up who’s guilty of sending that message! Yes, just as I suspected.

Of course, in Ye Olde Days, being stood up in some similar fashion might have easily happened too, but back then we had GUILT™. In this new Age of Instant Communication, the text message somehow allows a weird kind of magical dispensation whereby the fink that ditched you can now be tucked up all warm and comfy on the couch at home with a tub of Cherry Garcia and the DVD Box Set of the Remastered Outer Limits Collector’s Edition and able to enjoy the rest of their evening somehow completely absolved of any remorse!

Because they texted you that they couldn’t make it.**

5: You don’t need even the smallest degree of commonsense to be allowed to use your phone to text. Last week I was traveling back along the airport freeway in the rain when a car just in front of me in the right-hand lane swerved so close that I was forced to slam on the brake to avoid a collision. As I slowed down, thanking the Spaghetti Monster that I was still in one piece, the culprit went weaving back into his own lane, oblivious to what had happened. Yes, you can guess what was going on. Whilst travelling at 100 kilometers an hour on a multi-lane freeway full of cars on a wet night, this idiot was texting someone. Not only that, I bet my entire Spam Fortune (which is quite considerable now – about 120 billion dollars at last count) that his message was something like ‘SORRY CANT MAKE IT 2NITE CATCH U L8R!!!’. This guy was equipped with a car, a phone and the English language, any one of which would been an obvious challenge for him to deal with on an individual basis let alone all at the same time.

Oh, there are many more reasons I could go on with but I’ll give it a rest now. Anyway, I can see you all twitching your fingers there below the table, undoubtedly Twittering something along the lines of ‘REVEREND A WAFFLING ON AGAIN PLUS CA CHANGE PLUS CEST LA MEME CHOSE’

(Does ANYONE see how pathetic and sad that phrase looks without the proper punctuation? Anyone? Sigh. I thought not).


*Most of you won’t have a clue what I’m talking about unless you’re around my age. And there’s a very good reason for that.

†Yes, yes, I know that talking business is SO Last Century.

‡I’ve spoken previously about other aberrant behaviour in the predictive texting of my phone that gives weight to this theory.

¤Its technical name is ‘Education’.

††The multiple exclamation marks are mandatory in cases like this. They do not represent ‘punctuation’ as such, but instead are meant to evoke a sentiment something akin to ‘Oh I’m just SUCH a kooky crazy wacky kinda person and, gosh, life is just so topsy turvy, and like ANYTHING can happen really. Wow! How can you possibly hate me?’

**Seriously, if you ever bother to take the matter up with the fink the next day, the response is invariably one of indignation on their part: ‘What’s your problem – I texted you to let you know!’


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