Friday, October 8, 2010

Bad buskers, super pigeons and a sex thesis...

Buskers. When they're good, they can add colour and energy to a tedious city day. But, sadly, not all buskers are quite so musically gifted, which has resulted in the council in Richmond, North Yorkshire to consider trying to implement a new by-law in order to prevent a group of particularly appalling buskers from continuing their trade...

Apparently, the unnamed group of buskers have played accordion in Richmond for the last two years and, while they may only know one song, they make up for this with their stamina as they are allegedly quite happy to play that one song (When the Saints Go Marching In) for more than ten hours at a time. Strangely enough, the local shopkeepers have become a little fed up of the rendition; local shopkeeper, Gary Evans, was quoted as saying "People come into the shop and say, ‘They only know one song and they can’t even play that properly’. Some days it drives you insane."

But, while the residents of Richmond are today feeling depressed, Darren Cubberly of Dudley, West Midlands is overjoyed at the fact that his racing pigeon - presumed lost, possibly dead - has turned up safe and well and on the other side of the world...

The pigeon, called Houdini (cue suitably awful newspaper headlines about 'great escapes' no doubt) was meant to be racing from the island of Guernsey to Dudley - a trip of about 224 miles (360km) five weeks ago but vanished without a trace. Darren was therefore overjoyed, and a little confused, when he received a call from one Gustavo Ortiz, more than 4,700 miles (7,000km) away in Panama City, who had found Houdini on his roof. Current theories are that Houdini hitched a lift on a ship across the Atlantic...

But, undoubtedly, the story that has set the internet aflame with interest is that of Karen Owen and her mock thesis - 'An Education Beyond the Classroom: Excelling in the Realm of Horizontal Academics'...

Karen decided that she should chronicle her sexual history at Duke University in the form of a 41 slide powerpoint presentation that she then sent to three close friends. In it, she detailed all 13 men (along with photographs) that she had slept with during her years at University and, rather helpfully, rated them in a variety of areas including:
  • Physical attractiveness
  • Size
  • Talent
  • Creativity
  • Aggressiveness
  • Entertainment
  • Athletic ability
The men on her list could also earn bonus points (apparently an Australian accent, for example, is worth bonus points).

Now, if that powerpoint file had just stayed with those three close friends then we wouldn't be talking about it today, would we? Well, one of the friends decided to forward it and...well...the rest is history. Don't these people understand that whole 'viral internet' thing???

Needless to say, the detailed sexual history of Karen Owen has now been forwarded all over the world and led to red faces for many of those who received a comprehensive assessment (in particularly the one that is allegedly meant to be getting married this weekend). However, if you feel compelled to read Ms. Owen's magnum opus in its entirety then you can find it (for now, at least) right here...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sex tapes, unsavoury views and a decision to make King Solomon proud...

For reasons known only to themselves, people in the Netherlands are showing not inconsiderable interest in the Kim Kardashian sex tape. Considering this tape came out in 2007, it would seem that their Google searching is a little out-of-date but, nonetheless, it has rocketed Ms. Kardashian into the top spot of rising celebrity searches in the past week...

And, while the Dutch were hoping to catch a glimpse of something not intended for public viewing, Google Street View was experiencing its own problems with content that shouldn't really see the light of day. You see, while the fanfare of the Antarctic Street View garnered plenty of positive publicity for the Big G, the launch of Street View in Brazil had one or two minor hiccups. For example, the fact that within a day of the service going live two corpses were discovered (one in Rio, one in Belo Horizonte) is likely to have proved a little embarrassing for Google...

Meanwhile, in India, all of the hype surrounded the court decision that would settle the Ayodhya dispute. This is a centuries-old debate between Muslims and Hindus over a patch of land (measuring about 1,080 square metres) that both sides feel is sacred and which has been battled over in the courts since 1949 (with eleven different judges presiding over it). Finally, this week, the High Court of Allahabad set forth a 8,500 page verdict which - in essence (and in a seemingly blatant rip off of King Solomon's landmark judicial ruling) - asks for everyone to just get along and share the land. Rather unsurprisingly, opinion among commentators seems to be split, with some seeing it as a landmark decision to ensure future peace and others seeing as a bit of a cop out that doesn't really solve anything. I guess only time will tell which it is...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Real names only please...

The internet is all aquiver with the news that Blizzard have made the decision that users of their Battle.net forums will have to start using their real names on the forum:

"The first and most significant change is that in the near future, anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID -- that is, their real-life first and last name"

But surely online pseudonyms and make-believe are an integral and accepted element of the internet (on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog...) - why would you want to change that Blizzard? Well, apparently:

"Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations, and connect the Blizzard community in ways they haven’t been connected before."

Oh, that's right - because people never argue with each other when they know each other's real names. Well, I hate to break it to Blizzard, but I don't see that 'removing the veil of anonymity' is going to make a huge difference to the quality of online dialogue - but it could make a huge difference as to how such dialogue can be escalated.

Have a fairly unique name? Well, you might just find that the person you vehemently disagreed with about the exact mechanics of the Zerg Rush is now banging on your front door hoping to continue the disagreement in real life. And they brought a shotgun to add merit to their perspective. Or maybe they didn't disagree - maybe they agreed very strongly with you - and now, they're in lurve with you - chalk up yourself one internet stalker. And that is just the tip of a particularly unpleasant iceberg...

There are so many drawbacks to this idea - and the community is so inflamed - that I will be surprised if Blizzard go through with this. And, if they do, don't be surprised if there are soon tumbleweeds blowing through large sections of the Battle.net forums.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Big Brother watches more...


The Times is today reporting that the Chinese government has installed a phenomenal sounding 40,000 CCTV cameras inside the Xinjiang region which saw rioting last year, with 8,400 of those earmarked for the city of Ürümqi, where the worst of the rioting occurred.

Apparently, they have installed cameras inside buses, schools, shopping centres and on the streets themselves - fitted inside 'riot proof' casings - as a means of avoiding a repeat of last year's violence.

The Times also mentions that the city of Beijing is also to be 'blanketed' with surveillance cameras so that "no place was left unwatched."

However, while all of this very much plays into the hands of those who would hold China up as a living embodiment of George Orwell''s seminal 1984, it fails to take into account that - when it comes to acting like Big Brother - the UK is still far and away in the lead...

You see, London apparently has over a 1,000,000 CCTV cameras scattered around it's 659 square miles. A million. That's over 1,500 every square mile. Allegedly, the average Londoneris filmed more than 300 times every single day...

Well over 10,000 of these cameras are government funded and designated as 'crime fighting' CCTV units (costing over £200 million to install) and China should perhaps look to their performance when it comes to evaluating how useful a deterrent they've proved to crime. A report in 2009 showed that less than 3% of robbery arrests were due to CCTV evidence (8 out of 269), while a report in 2007 found little evidence to link numbers of cameras with successful 'clear-up' rates of crimes...

While the number of cameras in China makes headline news, the vast quantities lining the streets of the UK - achieving very little, costing a lot - are rarely noticed. It seems 1984 is more relevant today than ever.

"There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment."
-George Orwell, 1984

Man saved from Death Penalty by Warrior Gene


The case of Bradley Waldroup is currently raising a considerable degree of interest...

Waldroup was arrested in Tennessee in 2006 and charged with felony murder and attempted first-degree murder. The case - which was particularly bloody - saw Waldroup (who had been drinking heavily) kill his wife's friend and then attempt to murder his wife (who he was estranged from) in front of his four children. It seemed that the case was relatively open and shut - Waldroup admitted to the crimes and at his trial, said that he had 'just snapped'.

But, rather than be convicted of the charges (which would have carried the death penalty), Waldroup was instead convicted of voluntary manslaughter and attempted second-degree murder - the result spared him a place on Death Row and one of the contributing factors in the decision was his genetics...

You see, Bradley Waldroup apparently has a high risk version of the MOA-A gene - known popularly as the 'warrior gene' and forensic psychiatrist William Bernet successfully argued in court that the presence of this gene - combined with other factors such as his childhood - contributed to the incident. The jury was convinced - a decision which has left the prosecution team, and opposing science experts, in shock.

The decision seemingly opens the door to other defendants to try and use this defence - as Bernet says "A person doesn't choose to have this particular gene or this particular genetic makeup. So I think that should be taken into consideration when we're talking about criminal responsibility."

It would be appear to be a potentially slippery slope that seemingly abrogates people of their responsibilities based upon their genetics - scientists have often pondered a genetic link to kleptomania, it might not, therefore, be long before burglars and thieves are successfully able to argue that their genes are responsible for their crimes.

Based upon all this, I'm waiting for the moment that someone who has been found guilty of committing a serious crime decides to sue their own parents for negligent provision of genetic materials. Sounds utterly crazy? Well, a few years ago, so would the case of Bradley Waldroup...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

'Kin Useless


A few months ago, the Microsoft Kin was trending as it launched in a sea of publicity in which Microsoft's Robbie Bach declared "This is aimed at 15- to 30-year-olds who are social-networking enthusiasts" and that the Kin is "for people who live to be connected, share, express and relate to their friends and family."

Obviously, there weren't a whole lot of those people around as the Microsoft Kin is trending for an altogether different reason today - Microsoft have killed it, only 48 days after it was launched...

Analysts are using the word 'disaster' and 'failure' with alarming (for Microsoft) alacrity as cancelling a product which has taken two years to develop, and which utilised a large advertising budget, within such a short space of time is fairly unprecedented. Indeed, the 48 day lifespan of the Microsoft Kin is the shortest ever for a Microsoft product.

I'm sure Bill Gates is toasting executives over hot fires right now to find out exactly how Microsoft managed to miscalculate both audience and demand. Currently looking like a right 'Kin mess for Microsoft...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Anna Chapman hits the headlines...


Anna Chapman is the (we assume) pseudonym of one of the 10 alleged spies arrested by the FBI and, strangely enough, she's the only one of those spies who is trending individually on Google - I'm sure it's nothing to do with with the fact that the US tabloids are describing her as a 'flame-haired, 007-worthy beauty' with a 'Victoria's Secret body'.

From the evidence presented, it seems that this band of (relatively hapless) spies, did very little during their time in the US apart from spend money, make no headway on finding political contacts and exchange the type of greetings that I had assumed were just spy cliches...

For example, the FBI - acting as fake Russians - told her to give a fake passport to a contact (who she would recognise by the way they held their magazine), who would welcome her with the phrase "Excuse me, but haven't we met in California last summer?" To which Chapman was meant to respond, "No, I think it was the Hamptons."

There is also a story of one spy sitting next to an, alleged, Russian official on a park bench for an illicit meeting and swap of materials. Sitting on a park bench? It's not very inventive, is it?

In fact, if this spy ring is truly the work of the Russian government then I can only assume that this operation is a carefully plotted smokescreen to hide the real spy ring so it can go about its business with greater ease...

Zombiefit - Fitness to Survive the Apocalypse

Just how fit are you?

Fit enough to go for a quick jog around the park without collapsing in a wheezing heap? Perhaps fit enough to lift weights for an hour, a couple of times a week? Or maybe you're not fit at all, and your sole daily exercise involves a PC, a mouse and impressive index finger strength?

Well, ask yourself - if Zombie Apocalypse occurred today - would you be able to survive? With hordes of slobbering, slavering zombies lurching down every street, ready to sink their teeth into you with no hesitation, it would very much be a case of survival of the fittest...

Enter Zombiefit from St. Charles, Illinois, who seem to have taken their inspiration from a quote from Zombieland "First rule of Zombieland: Cardio" and built an entire exercise regime around it.

Zombiefit is all about getting functionally fit - there is, after all, no point being a bodybuilder with bulging biceps and a chiselled torso when you spend much of your day running away from flesh-hungry zombies. They describe the concept:

"The keys to surviving Z-day are simple: Be able to lift and throw heavy things, run fast and for long distances, and be able to navigate obstacles and urban environments in an efficient manner."

While I applaud the initiative of this fitness club I have a feeling that they are leading their members to feel dangerously overconfident on that fateful day when the dead rise and start munching their way through the general populace. After all, running will only get you so far - there comes a time when you are trapped in a corner and have to fight your way out. In such moments, all your fancy parkour moves aren't going to help you much...

It would seem the organisers have perhaps missed a trick by failing to give training for repetitive arm movements (i.e. swinging an axe at zombie heads, pumping a shotgun repeatedly), long distance throwing (i.e. molotov cocktail into a packed mass of zombies) - not to mention holding a heavy object for large lengths of time (i.e. a chainsaw). Adding in such elements would, I'm sure you'll agree, go some way to turning this course from a useful one into an essential one...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Weekly Round-Up

Taking a sweeping look at the trending topics of the last week, we can see Australia getting all hot under the collar at the antics of Alizee Sery, a French 'exotic dancer' who decided to carry out (and film) an 'impromptu' strip tease on top of Ayers Rock. Ayers Rock is known as Uluru to the Aborigines, who own it and consider it their most sacred site and they were (strangely enough) less than pleased at Ms. Sery's antics - describing it as the equivalent of 'defecating on the steps of the Vatican'. Alizee, however, was quick to defend her actions 'I am aware that Uluru is sacred in their culture. My project is a tribute to the greatness of the rock. What we need to remember is that traditionally, the Aboriginal people were living naked. So stripping down was a return to what it was like.'

In Brazil, attention is firmly focused on presenter Ana Maria Braga after a series of allegations that she had been having an affair with her dance instructor on the Brazilian version of Dancing With Stars. While such allegations seem to surface with some frequency around these type of shows, Ana Maria refused to ignore them and instead came out fighting - tearfully declaiming the accusations as lies on her live TV show in Brazil and swearing to take everyone involved to court...

As in Australia, India was all atwitter with regards to someone taking their clothes off. Sherlyn Chopra hit the headlines - both in India and abroad - for posting nude (or at least implied nude) images on her Twitter via Twitpic and asking for people's opinion on them. Subsequently, she removed the images but was (allegedly) banned from uploading images any further images to Twitpic (although this ban seems to have been lifted yesterday). Now, I am certain that the flood of search enquiries for Sherlyn this week have all been to do with a desire to read her quotes on the issue, and nothing to do with people trying to find the aforementioned images.

In Poland, Bruce Willis has been making headlines for his Sobieski Vodka adverts - in which he makes it clear that he's become a Partner in the company and that he knows nothing at all about vodka. Make up your own mind as to whether this is madness or genius...

The UK meanwhile, was mourning the death of cult legend Frank Sidebottom - well, not so much Frank Sidebottom as his creator and alter-ego Chris Sievey who unfortunately passed away on the 21st June. After enjoying considerable success in the 1980s and early 1990s, Frank made less appearances in the time following but will be deeply missed by a generation for his bizarre humour and cover versions...

Finally, in the US, Twitter is again helping to make headlines when actress Amanda Bynes used it to announce that she's retiring from acting at the grand old age of 24. It apparently came as something of a shock to her publicist, who knew nothing of her retirement but, despite a wave of disappointed tweets from her 350,000 twitter followers, Amanda is adamant that she's going to call it a day.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Should Politicians have to take IQ tests?

With George W. Bush no longer in political office, one would have hoped that we no longer need to suffer any more painfully ignorant statements from politicians. However, it would appear that nature does, indeed, abhor a vacuum and - with Mr. Bush gone - politicians such as County Supervisor Peggy West have rushed in to fill it...

With no small amount of debate going on in the US with regard to Arizona's soon-to-be implemented Immigration Law, the County of Milwaukee were discussing whether they - like other parts of the USA - should call for Milwaukee businesses to boycott Arizona businesses. Step forward Supervisor Peggy West - click here for a Youtube video of her testimony.

For those who missed it, Peggy West declared that:

"If this was Texas, which is a state that is directly on the border with Mexico, and they were calling for a measure like this saying that they had a major issue with undocumented people flooding their borders, I would have to look twice at this. But this is a state that is a ways removed from the border."

The only problem is, Arizona is directly on the border with Mexico...

Arizona Senator Jon Kyle swiftly followed this up by sending Ms. West a letter that confirmed this fact:

"You will be interested to learn that Arizona does indeed share a border with Mexico. I have enclosed a map for your convenience."

He helpfully enclosed the map seen at the top of this post. Peggy, perhaps slightly embarrassed at her geographical slip assured voters that:

"I did get a passing grade in Geography in high school and in college and I do obviously know that Arizona is on the border"

Peggy then went on to suggest that she had meant to say that Arizona had the second longest border. Which obviously makes a lot of sense taken in the context of what she said. Perhaps, instead of following in the footsteps of George W. Bush, Peggy should have taken a leaf out of the book of a rather more respected President, Abraham Lincoln:

"It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

Friday, June 25, 2010

iPhone 4 Reception Problems - Dismissed by Steve Jobs...

image, Reuters

The iPhone 4 arrived amidst a veritable marketing tsunami and, over the last couple of weeks, has dominated the trending technology topics across the world. But, today, the iPhone 4 is trending for an altogether different reason - an apparent design flaw that sees it lose reception when held in the left hand...

The rumours seemed to start on the MacWorld forums where a user posted an issue they had encountered where the reception of the phone drops to one bar, and sometimes even zero, when the iPhone 4 was held in their hand. They helpfully posted a video to show what they meant...

Gizmodo picked up on the story and, gradually, user stories (and videos) began to surface of more and more people experiencing exactly the same problem - the antenna band of the iPhone 4 coming into contact with the hand and reception plummeting faster than BP's share price...

So, obviously Apple are going to be scurrying around in a panic, right? Worried that they are going to need to recall the millions of iPhone 4s that have been shipped out this week, they are probably trying to find some way calm the fears of their customers, yes?

Well, no.

Steve Jobs, in typical brusque Jobsian fashion responded to a concerned consumer directly by email. When informed about the apparent reception problems of the iPhone 4 when held in the hand, he was particularly helpful.

"Just avoid holding it in that way."

What??? Steve Jobs is trying to tell us that it's not a problem with the phone but, instead, a problem with the way people hold phones. Clearly Steve (who likely has someone to hold his phone for him) doesn't have to worry about such trivialities when making a phone call...

However, over on the Apple Insider forums a user demonstrated that it's not just us little people who don't know how to hold a phone properly - he created a photo montage of Apple promotional materials in which people are also holding their phone in the wrong way....

Apple helpfully released an official statement in which they explained that "Gripping any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance" and that users should "avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band."

Apple also says that the problem doesn't occur when using one of the available iPhone 4 cases - so, basically, it would seem Apple have made a design error and expect the user (who has already paid a fair bit for his sparkly new iPhone 4) to pick up the bill and buy a case to prevent the problem occurring...

Steve Jobs seems to be depending a little bit too much on the goodwill of his customers these days and this issue - unlike the reception on an iPhone 4 when you hold it in your left hand - isn't likely to go away...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The most epic tennis match ever (Part 2)

Well, the World's Longest Ever Tennis Match recommenced at about 15.40 UK time at 59-59 and I'm blogging it as it happens...

Game 119
Started rather inauspiciously for John Isner as he opened with a double fault. But, gradually, he found the length of his serve and rattled down his 99th and 100th aces of the match to take it to 59-60.

Game 120
Mahut, in his first service game of the day (and 60th in total of the set) seemed to get into the swing of things a lot quicker and, with a good serve, managed to bring it level again with few difficulties, making the score 60-60.

Game 121
Isner, while not as explosive with his serve, was more commanding and, despite a few shots from Mahut that were inches from being winners, it was a fairly easy hold to Isner and the match moved to 60-61.

Game 122
Isner started by getting to the net and making it 0-15 but Mahut immediately replied with aces number 97, 98 and 99 to make it 40-15 and, despite a small rally on the final point, Mahut closes the game out to make it 61-61.

Game 123
Isner - as you might imagine - is looking more than a little weary. Doesn't stop him from slamming down ace number 103 and 104 to close the game out. 61-62.

Game 124
Mahut and Isner seem blissfully unaware that the aim of tennis is to determine a winner and a loser. Mahut looks much the sharper - for a player who played tennis for several hours yesterday he's looking remarkably chipper - while Isner (while not as zombie-like as last night) seems far more tired. Mahut hits his 100th and 101st aces of the match to make it 62-62.

Game 125
New balls give Isner the chance to rack up a few more aces and he takes the opportunity immediately by firing his 105th ace of the match to make it 15-0. A nice shot at the net makes it 30-0 but a shot into the net gives Mahut the sense that Isner is tiring. But, tiring or not, he can still serve, by God! Ace number 106 for 40-15. Mahut again gets an error from Isner's forehand to make it 40-30. But Isner's serve does the business, 62-63.

Game 126
Mahut just seems to be finding his service games a little easier than Isner and Isner is struggling to make any real inroads into Mahut's serve. A love service game for Mahut to make it 63-63.

Game 127
Isner again begins the game looking tired and Mahut immediately gets a point on his serve - but a big 138mph serve gives Mahut very little chance and makes it 15-15. But Isner has the energy to sprint into the net for a bit of serve-and-volley to make it 40-15 and then finishes the game off with his 107th ace of the match. We're at 63-64.

Game 128
The players have taken a short break - no sign of bananas for Isner just yet - and Mahut prepares to serve the eight millionth time. Well, ok, maybe a slight exaggeration. But only slight. Isner makes it 30-0 with his 102nd ace and then takes it to 40-0 with another good serve. A second serve is snapped up by Isner to make it 40-15 but ace number 103 makes 64-64.

Game 129
We've edged past the ten and a half hour point as we see the longest rally of the day on the first point - before Isner claims it and makes it 15-0. Mahut makes it 15-15 and looks to take advantage when Isner needs a second serve - but it's a good one and Isner makes it 30-15. Ace number 108 from Isner makes it 40-15 and another good serve closes the game out. 64-65.

Game 130
Isner starts the game by grabbing a point from Mahut's serve and - with the way this match has been so ridiculously close throughout - even getting a point feels as dramatic as match point in a normal game! Isner misses a chance to make it 0-30 and Mahut takes it to 30-15 with a good serve before acrobatically leaping to smash a shot to make it 40-15. Are these two even human? A delicate sliced shot wraps up the game for Mahut. 65-65.

Game 131
Isner opens strongly, immediately opening a 30-0 lead but Mahut pulls it back to 30-15 with a fabulous cross court shot that wouldn't have looked out of place on an Andre Agassi showreel. Isner, however, does his Goran Ivanisevic impression and hits ace 109 to make it 40-15. Then wraps up the game to make it 65-66.

Game 132
I have a terrible sense of deja vu as we begin game 132 - surely we've been in this position before? Mahut still serving strongly makes it 15-0, makes it 30-0 on a second serve, 40-0 with another strong serve before authoritatively shutting Isner out to make it 66-66. If 666 is the number of the Beast, 66-66 is surely even more potent?

Game 133
Mahut continues to be able to make more of the Isner serve than Isner makes of his, snatching a point at 15-15 but Isner makes it 30-15 and then powers a huge forehand down the line to make it 40-15. Ace number 110 makes it 66-67 and the umpire seems to almost sigh as he announces the score...

Game 134
The longest match in tennis history continues to roll on and Mahut seems as determined as Isner not to go down in history as the person who lost the longest tennis match in history. Isner seems reluctant to put too much energy into breaking Mahut and Mahut makes it 67-67 with some ease.

Game 135
Almost eleven hours and Isner seems to have saved energy for his own game; ace number 111makes it 30-0 and a brilliant cross court shot to the far corner makes it 40-0. Mahut can do little with the next serve and it's a reasonably quick game for Isner. 67-68.

Game 136
It is quite curious watching this - something that has never happened before and will (in all likelihood) never happen again. The trouble is, you can't really say 'where were you when the Isner-Mahut match was played?' because the answer might end up being 'For most of it I was in holiday for two weeks in Spain but I came back to watch the end...'. The fifth set is now over eight hours and Mahut makes it 68-68.

Game 137
Is the moment Isner wilts? Isner loses the first two points on his serve. We're at 0-30 and an electric buzz circulates the court. Ace number 112 from Isner makes it 15-30 to cheers from the crowd and another powerful serve evens it out at 30-30. Isner makes a good decision to leave a shot and makes it 40-30 and then makes it 68-69.

Game 138
The players come back from a break and the traditional patterns resumes with Mahut opening a 15-0 lead. But Isner gets a point to make it 15-15 and Mahut nets to make it 15-30 before Isner gets a break - and match - point at 30-40. Could it be about to end??? Yes it does!

John Isner wins the final set 70-68 - unbelievable! Hard to believe this match has actually finished - but both of these players are going down in history. Surely this is a once in a lifetime opportunity - maybe a once ever opportunity?

The final set was 491 minutes long. 491 minutes! The clock stopped on the match at 11 hours and 5 minutes...

Tim Henman and Ann Jones are on court, along with representatives of Wimbledon to present both players, and the umpire, with a memento of their achievement. Both players are exhausted. Mahut, obviously, disappointed.

Isner says he feels "A little bit tired." and that "it was an honour to share the court with Nicolas Mahut."

Mahut gets a standing ovation from the crowd and looks as if the emotion of the moment is about to overcome him. He says "at the moment it's really painful" but the "crowd were wonderful" and Isner is "a champion."

An amazing, unbelievable game.

Vuvuzela Youtube button...

As if the world hadn't heard enough of the dreaded vuvuzela, youtube has decided to get in on the act by adding a vuvuzela button to the base of all their videos.

This rather helpful addition allows you to experience a wide range of events, as if they were held in front of a partisan South African crowd.

May I recommend:




Bring in the Vuvuzelas at 9 seconds to make the Panda jump....

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The most epic tennis match ever?

Before today, very few people outside of the tennis world had heard of John Isner (currently ranked number 19 in the world) and even fewer people had heard of Nicolas Mahut (ranked 148 in the world). However, both men have played themselves not only into the trending topics but also the history books today as they played out the longest tennis match in history...

When they started their second round match on Tuesday, there was little indication of the monumental contest that was set to follow - Isner took the opening set, Mahut took sets two and three, and Isner tied the score by taking the fourth set. At this point, bad light stopped play and so the fifth set was scheduled to be played today...

The match resumed today at 14.00 UK time and, as the afternoon wore on, it gradually became apparent that neither man appeared particularly inclined to either win or lose...

By 15.15 it was 11-11 in the fifth set and the match had gone on for a, fairly lengthy, four hours and eight minutes.

By 15.49 it was 16-16 and John Isner had just broken the Wimbledon record for the most aces in a match (with 40).

By 16.14 it was 22-22 and people were starting to peer into the record books to have a look at what was the longest ever fifth set at Wimbledon and, indeed, what was the longest ever match at Wimbledon.

By 16.45 the match had seen the most games in one set (48) at Wimbledon and was heading towards becoming the longest match in Wimbledon history.

By 17.48 the match had become the longest match in the history of tennis, but still neither man appeared willing to buckle.

By 17.55 the record for the most number of games in a Wimbledon match fell.

By 18.30 the record for the most aces in a tennis match had fallen as Irsen served his 79th of the match.

By 19.32 the match clocked up its 500th minute - with the fifth set taking five and a half hours so far...

At 19.55 one of the scoreboards - clearly unprepared for such ridiculous scoring - gave up and froze at 47-47 but the players continued onwards...

19.59 and the (working) scoreboard read 50-50. Isner looked like he'd be quite happy to decide the match by tossing a coin...

At 21.05, Isner had match point - but Mahut hit his 95th ace of the match to take it to 59-59.

At this point, play was stopped for the day with the match clock reading ten hours. Play will resume tomorrow when, hopefully, we'll have a winner at last...

But, surely the most epic tennis match in history - the longest match, the most games, the most aces, the longest fifth set. Of course, who ever does win the match is probably not going to be pleased to discover that their third round match is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

French Captain doesn't play...

In a follow-up to yesterday's story; the latest breaking news before the South Africa - France World Cup game today is that Patrice Evra, France's captain, has either refused to play in the match or has been dropped and is thus excluded from their line-up...

It is latest event in a series of self-created mishaps that have derailed France's World Cup campaign, caused French football fans to turn against their team and turned France into the laughing stock of world football...

In 1998, France won the World Cup and their players will forever be remembered by the French public; this year's crop of players are likely to be remembered just as long but for altogether different reasons!

Latest (Un)dead Celebrity - The Game

If you're struggling to remember who Jayceon Terrell Turner (aka The Game) is, then that's probably because, despite a stellar start to his rapping career with The Documentary, he's not recorded an album in the last two years.

However, he is going to be releasing a new album in August and I'm sure that has absolutely nothing to do with rumours that hit the internet yesterday that he had been shot dead on Sunday night in Los Angeles.

Cue media attention and extensive trending searching on 'the game dies in shooting'...

Of course, like so many of the other rumoured deaths that have been circulating the internet in recent weeks, this is also false. The Game is in fact alive and well and has been tweeting to that effect.

I am certain that no one connected, in any way, to The Game decided that a death hoax would be a great way to get him back into the eyes of the media. I am equally sure that it is purely a coincidence that this would happen in the lead up to a new album release after a couple of years away from the limelight...

Monday, June 21, 2010

France - Will they, won't they play South Africa?

image, Reuters

If you're an England football fan, utterly depressed by the insipid nature of the team's play, uninspired tactics and general woefulness, then pretty much the only thing still keeping you going each day is the way in which the French national football team is spectacularly imploding at this year's World Cup...

It all started on Thursday when, at half time in the France-Mexico game, Nicolas Anelka and national coach, Raymond Domenech, had a bit of a spat - which is to say, Anelka told Domenech to 'go fuck yourself' and was promptly substituted for the second half.

Now, in most teams, that would be that. Player gets angry, says something stupid. By the end of the match, angry player is less angry and sheepishly apologises to the manager; player then gets a slap on the wrist, some kind of fine, and everything is copacetic.

However, that's not quite how things went for the French team. In their case, angry player remains angry and refuses to apologise. Football Federation decide angry player is disruptive influence and kick angry player out of the squad. This makes for an angry squad. Angry squad refuses to train in protest. This makes for angry Football Federation team director. Angry team director quits. This makes for angry French nation who are not used to their football team humiliating them in quite this way...

And, with things looking like they couldn't get any worse, it today got worse when there was a clear hint from their manager that some of the team may go so far as to refuse to play against South Africa.

England fans can briefly revel in a bit of schadenfreude but will, more than likely, be looking at the England team that performed so appallingly against Algeria and wishing that a few of the England squad would decide to boycott the next game...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

More Google Trends spamming...

Well, it's by no means definite, but when the second and third top trending topics on Google Trends are "Oprah removes sixth toe" and "Megan Fox molests black baby" you have to figure that something is not quite right with the list of trending topics being displayed tonight...

This follows on from last week - and the 4chan spam attack that not only added an offensive term to the top of the trending topics but also filled the remaining 19 spots with topics such as 'pet shops' and 'gas stations'.

However, what is highly amusing to see is the flurry of automated blogs that are now firing into action; grasping hold of the Google Trends headlines and automatically generating nonsensical content that only serves to perpetuate the initial headline....

Image Search Weekly Round-up

I was more than a little curious to find out whether the types of image searches being conducted around the world were reflective of the big trending stories and, to an extent, it seems that's certainly the case...

In Australia, they're still getting all excited about the Perez Hilton/Miley Cyrus upskirt photo fiasco. Clearly, Down Under, it seems they've yet to catch the news that the whole thing was a fake...

Meanwhile, France (and a host of other countries) have been frantically googling for the, now infamous, vuvuzela - it would appear that, driven to distraction by the monotonous buzzing, people are trying to identify the cause of their misery (possibly so they can go and stamp on them in the street...).

India, however, are at least a week behind on the latest trends because they're still getting themselves worked up looking for photos of Debralee Lorenzana (the woman who was allegedly fired for being 'too sexy').

In the Netherlands, image searches were dominated by people looking for the Bavaria beer babes who made headlines when they were arrested for wearing orange dresses at the World Cup.

Finally, in Lithuania, tastes appear to be far simpler and less in touch with the trending topics that have engulfed the rest of the world. The biggest trending image search in Lithuania? Girls...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mexican reporters kidnapped on trip to promote tourism...

The Mexican government is a little concerned by all the drug related violence that has been sweeping the country of late; not only because of the 23,000 people that have been killed since President Calderon initiated a crackdown on the drug cartels, but also because it has the potential to seriously damage income from tourism, which is one of the most important industries in the country...

Therefore, in order to reassure both those at home and abroad, the government organised, and sponsored, a media tour of the Michoacan region of Mexico for a group of fifteen Mexican journalists, in order to show them just how wonderful and safe the region is.

This was a fantastic idea up until the point that said journalists were kidnapped by a group of machete wielding Nahua Indians, who had mistaken them for a group of filmmakers from Grupo Modelo (makers of Corona beer), who were due to shoot a commercial in the area (something the Nahua Indians were apparently less than pleased with, due to the fact they'd not been asked about it).

After some discussion, and the gradual realisation that the group was nothing to do with Grupo Modelo, the journalists were released after several hours (although their equipment was retained) and the Nahua Indians then headed off to, successfully, kidnap the real Grupo Modelo filmmakers who arrived in the area a littler later than expected.

I'm sure they can find a way to spin this and accentuate the positive. Mexico: Safe for tourists (apart from the kidnapping).

OKCupid separates the 'Hot' from the 'Not'

Currently trending high is OKCupid (the self-proclaimed 'best dating site on Earth') which has, apparently, recently altered the way the site works to ensure that beautiful people do not have to bothered by the less attractive members of the species - dividing the site in half between the attractive and the not-so-attractive and ensuring attractive people get to see attractive people in their searches and the less attractive...well, they have to make do with what's left...

The site has been sending out the following email (as published on The Consumerist) to the 'hot' section of their site:

"We are very pleased to report that you are in the top half of OkCupid's most attractive users. The scales recently tipped in your favor, and we thought you'd like to know...

Your new elite status comes with one important privilege:

You will now see more attractive people in your match results.

This new status won't affect your actual match percentages, which are still based purely on your answers and desired match's answers. But the people we recommend will be more attractive. Also! You'll be shown to more attractive people in their match results."

So, is eugenics alive and well on OKCupid or is this just a shamefaced attempt to get publicity for the dating site? Well, users on the site who received the email have reported no apparent changes in the sort of people they are being served up in their searches and it would appear to me that this might be a good example of the Forer Effect - where people are prepared to recognise themselves in descriptions that are, supposedly, tailored to them. Or, to quote Phoebe from Friends "people will believe anything you tell them, as long as it's a compliment."

Has OKCupid opened up a deep divide between the Hot and the Not? Or have they just sent emails out to everyone to make them feel more attractive, spur them into checking out the site and - most importantly - get themselves a large serving of that all important media attention? We may never know for sure!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pet Dog Inherits $11 million estate...

Currently trending high is the story of the recently deceased Miami heiress, Gail Posner who has apparently left a considerable bulk of her fortune to her pet chihuahua, Conchita.

While she was alive, it is fair to say that Gail Posner did slightly spoil her pet pooch - it had weekly luxury spa appointments, wore a $15,000 Cartier necklace and was driven around in it's own gold Cadillac Escalade - but, upon her death, she took the spoiling to hitherto unheard of levels when she bequeathed Conchita a $3 million trust fund and her $8.3 million, 7 bedroom, Miami mansion.

Ms. Posner's son, Bret Carr, is (strangely enough) less than impressed that his mother left her dog assets worth over $11 million while he received $1 million and has gone to court to get the will revoked. He argues that her aides manipulated her into altering her will before she died - while I imagine said aides would argue it is purely a coincidence that they were left $26 million and the right to live in the mansion along with Conchita.

Only time will tell if the will is overturned - in the meantime, Conchita is still enjoying her reign as World's Most Spoiled Dog...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

4chan Spam Attacks Google Trends (again)

4chan users have demonstrated, yet again, their ability to spam attack Google Trends and get terms to the very top of the trend list (at least temporarily, until Google manually deletes them...).

In 2008, 4chan users managed to get both the swastika to the top of the trends and, shortly afterwards, were able to get the reverse text “ǝlƃooƃ noʎ ʞɔnɟ” to appear (albeit briefly) at the top of Google Trends..

Today, the phrase (which I've taken the decision to censor due to its offensive nature) "☻ lol ☻ n*****s ☻" appeared at the very top of Google Trends. I don't anticipate it will stay there long...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bavaria Beer Babes Busted!

A group of 36 female Netherlands supporters, all identically clad in orange dresses, were removed from the Netherlands-Denmark match by stewards and were then quizzed for three hours by South African police - with FIFA subsequently claiming that their appearance in the stadium represented 'ambush marketing'.

Ambush marketing sounds like it might involve violence - perhaps turning a corner and having an advertising billboard dropped on your head - but, apparently, it's when a company who aren't the sponsor of an event stage something to get attention for their brand...

You see, the dresses they were wearing were the very same dresses that were given away in a promotion by Bavaria beer in the Netherlands. They're plain orange dresses - no branding, no Bavaria logo - but, since FIFA have an official beer sponsor in the shape of Budweiser, they are fanatical about protecting their sponsorship income.

South African authorities are being a tad vague about the reasons the women were removed from the ground (since, last time I checked, wearing orange and making a lot of noise fails to differentiate you from pretty much any other Dutch football supporter) but FIFA are rather vehement about their decision saying the women were "used by a large Dutch brewery as an instrument for an ambush marketing campaign."

I would also think that the 36 women in question might have grounds for some kind of legal action as - being held and quizzed by police for wearing an orange dress seems slightly over-the-top. What next? A night in the cells for being seen drinking Pepsi rather than the official Coca-Cola? A week doing hard labour for chowing down on a Big King rather than a Big Mac?

Two things sprung to mind when I read this story:

1) Bavaria - if they are indeed behind this - must be cackling to themselves over their breakfast this morning. For the insignificant price of 36 tickets and some cheap orange dresses they staged a stunt that - due to FIFA's heavy handed tactics - has made front page news around the world. Had FIFA done nothing, most people probably wouldn't even have noticed...

2) The Dutch supporters should probably appreciate the humour of this and turn up en masse in orange dresses for the Netherlands-Japan game. I would love to see how FIFA deals with several thousand mini-dressed Dutch supporters with tickets turning up at the stadium! Perhaps someone should start a campaign?

And finally, as I wrote this, I began to wonder - how did FIFA actually manage to spot this group within a crowd of thousands wearing orange? It had to be some kind of tip off. And, based upon how this all turned out, I'm guessing that call came from someone not a million miles away from Bavaria...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jesus is on fire...an Act of God?

Trending rather well today is the story of the demise of the King of Kings sculpture near Monroe in Ohio, United States...

The sculpture - which stands (or rather stood) 62 feet (19m) tall and is better known as the Big Butter Jesus or Touchdown Jesus was struck by lightning in an apparent Act of God. One can only assume that God was Odin...

And, since the sculpture was made out of styrofoam and fibreglass - it went up like, well like a big burning Jesus statue to be honest. So, if a big butter burning Jesus is just your thing, you'll really want to click here to see it for yourself...

Holy Ninja Hunting Osama Bin Laden

Gary Brooks Faulkner, a 52 years old Californian construction worker, was arrested yesterday in the Chitral region of Pakistan wearing night-vision goggles and armed with a knife, a pistol, a 40 inch sword and a collection of Christian booklets. His mission? To hunt down and kill Osama Bin Laden...

I mean, seriously - you couldn't make this up could you?

Apparently, Gary - who is trending massively right now - decided that he would personally atone for the US's failure to capture or kill Mr Bin Laden by heading out into the wilds of Pakistan and hunting down Osama all by himself. So, slipping away from his security detail on Sunday night, Gary Brooks Faulkner headed off into the wilderness on his assassination mission.

Quite why he chose this particular part of Pakistan only Gary knows but he seems to have given only minimal thought to just how he would go about accomplishing his task since:

a) The Chitrel region is about 5,800 square miles. To put that in perspective, it's bigger than the US state of Connecticut or, to put it another way, about half the size of Belgium.

b) Gary Brooks Faulkner, as a late-middle aged American, would blend in with the natives about as well as an elephant in a bowl of oranges.

c) Osama Bin Laden (if he is still alive) has - I'm guessing - one or two people around him to keep him safe - even from Holy Ninja Warriors.

They say there is a fine line between bravery and stupidity but, however fine it is, Gary Brooks Faulkner has dashed past it without even a backward glance. But for his arrest, I think we could have had ourselves a contender for this year's Darwin Awards...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Vuvuzelas, Bad Perez Hilton and Aggressive Politicians...

Vuvuzelas. A week ago, very few people outside of South Africa had even heard of a vuvuzela; now, it seems you can't go anywhere without hearing one.

The vuvuzela, for those who've been living in the wilderness (and thus haven't been bothered by its monotonous droning), is a 3 foot (1 metre) long horn blown in football stadiums with some fervour. The demonic buzzing sound they make has largely obliterated the sound of fans cheering and singing and has evoked complaints from TV companies (who claim the vuvuzela causes all kinds of trouble for their audio), from spectators (who complain of deafness) and even from players (who apparently can't hear their team mates shouting to them).

And, while arguments rage back and forth as to whether they should be banned in stadiums, they are trending highly today - mainly, it would seem, because people are buying them to ensure that the ungodly hum can be exported from the stadiums of South Africa to the urban landscape of the UK. Sainsburys apparently sold 22.000 of them in 12 hours before the England game. So, even if FIFA does decide to call time on the din inside the stadiums, don't expect you've heard the last of vuvuzelas for some time yet!

Moving on from things that exist mainly to annoy people, we next look at politicians. Oh wait, we didn't move far, did we?

Congressman Bob Etheridge did his best to ensure that politician's reputations remain firmly in the gutter by going psycho on two students hoping to interview him on the street. However, one person likely unimpressed by 'Mad Bob' is John Prescott who demonstrated a far more robust approach in 2001 when a protester hit him on the head with an egg. Based upon this, Bob clearly needs to up his game...

And finally, it would be impossible to discuss the trends of the day without a mention for Perez Hilton and his twitter post that may yet well get him into a lot of trouble. Perez Hilton - an American blogger renowned for his coverage, and criticism of all manner of celebrities - got hold of a nude upskirt photo of Miley Cyrus and posted it on his twitter account. Miley Cyrus who is 17. Which is of course skirting (oh, see what I did there!) with child pornography. Viewers of said photo claim it looks to be faked but, whether this will be enough for Mr. Hilton to escape the attention of the law, we'll just have to wait and see...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Weekly Round Up - Sex Tapes, Suicide Attempts and Yawning...

Celebrities. Like them or loath them, it's almost impossible to get away from them on the internet. So, in order to further perpetuate that, today's Pulse of the Net takes an insightful peek into the world's celebrity trends...

Australia is not the only country to be obsessed with Cut Tari this week, but it comes first alphabetically so I figured I'd name (and shame?) them. Now, if you (like me) are scratching your head slightly at the mention of Cut Tari then I have to tell you that her weekly popularity, like so many celebrities before her, has soared due to the existence (or, possibly non-existence) of a sex video featuring her and Indonesian pop star Ariel (of the band Peterpan). With the posting of said steamy video online, her international recognition has soared in this past week...

Meanwhile, across the Pacific in the USA, another sex tape scandal has seen Americans frantically typing in the name of Danielle Staub, star of the reality-TV show Real Housewives of New Jersey as she has been caught - for the second time - on camera. However, speculation is rife that Ms. Staub engineered the sex tape scandal in order to raise both publicity and funds. Surely the first celebrity ever to do such a thing, I'm sure...

In Brazil, however, a very different scandal has been shocking the nation - the astonishingly bad form of Zeca Camargo as he yawned live on national TV. Despite apologies, and the obvious fanfare surrounding Brazil's World Cup campaign, Camargo's yawn has attracted more than a million views on a myriad of Youtube postings.

Finally, in Sweden (for reasons likely known only to themselves) the biggest celebrity buzz was all about Tila Tequila. This is quite impressive considering that Ms. Tequila's star is very much in the descendency ever since being dropped by MTV from their Shot At Love show - however, it is most likely due to the recent - and bizarre - attempt made by Tila Tequila to squeeze her way back into the spotlight by faking a suicide attempt. Based upon the lack of interest showed anywhere else in the world she should, perhaps, consider a move to Stockholm...

UFC 115, (un) Dead Celebrities and Stonehenge Apocalypse

After a brief burst of interest in the England vs. USA match (which ended 1-1) and a flurry of searches on 'Robert Green mistake' (which we really won't talk about!), the trends settled down into more traditional patterns...

UFC 115 (Ultimate Fighting Championship for the uninitiated) dominated the headlines due to the fight between Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin (billed as a meeting between 'two legends). Certainly, it was a fight that fired the imagination of UFC fans, meaning that UFC 115, held in Vancouver, was much anticipated. The result, for those interested, saw Rich Franklin brutally KO Chuck Liddell in the very first round. Which doesn't sound like terribly good value for money to me, but then I'm not a UFC fan so, perhaps, not a good judge.

A mention has to go to the - just peaking - trend that is suggesting that Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart are dead. Now, at this point in time - since it's a brand new rumour - it is impossible to official confirm or deny it but, based upon the evidence of the last week, I'm going to stick my neck out (not particularly far, it must be said) and say that this is yet another celebrity death hoax.

If so, it's merely the latest in a LONG line of celebrity death hoaxes this week (that I feel may well deserve a regular (Un)dead Celebrities spot on the Pulse). After all, yesterday news broke that Justin Bieber had died and this followed up a week in which Russell Crowe, The Undertaker and Uncle Phil all were rumoured to have met their maker. Just to reassure you; no celebrities have been harmed in writing this paragraph...

And, finally, mention must go to Stonehenge Apocalypse which is not, as it might sound, the new album from Spinal Tap but - instead - a low budget, made-for-TV film starring Misha Collins (of Supernatural fame). Apparently, Stonehenge is part of an ancient alien mechanism to terraform the world and, when it is accidentally activated, it begins a chain of events that will end life as we know it. I won't spoil the plot by giving too much away but, to be honest, I'm not sure there is a whole lot of plot to be spoiled. But, as bad as it may be, it still surely pales into insignificance in comparison to the gloriously bad Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus...

Friday, June 11, 2010

The World Cup dominates...

Image, Reuters
Unless you have been hiding underneath a rock, you can't have failed to notice that the World Cup is now officially upon us...

South Africa opened the tournament with an enthusiastic, but slightly naive, display of football against Mexico. For much of the first half, their defence seemed quite content to give the Mexican attackers as much space as they wanted and it was, therefore, a little surprising to all concerned that, despite some good chances and a goal ruled out for offside (which may explain the flurry of google searches on 'football offside rule'), Mexico and South Africa went in level at half-time. It was even more surprising when, ten minutes into the second half, Siphiwe Tshabalala rifled a stunning left foot shot into the net to give South Africa the lead. For a while it seemed that South Africa were going to get their fairytale beginning but, in the 79th minute, Mexico's Marquez levelled the score and it ended 1-1.

In comparison, the second match of the day - between Uruguay and France - was the sort of game that people who don't like football use as an example of why they don't like football. And they have a point. Uruguay were game but lacked the necessary class, while many of France's players looked like they'd clearly rather be somewhere other than the pitch. A drab and largely dull game, it could perhaps be prescribed to insomniacs for its soporific qualities. It ended nil-nil, which, quite frankly, flattered all involved...

But, while most of the world was getting overexcited at the prospect of the World Cup, a large number of people in the US were far more interested in January Jones - who was involved in a car crash and then fled the scene, blaming paparazzi (note to self: try this next time something like this happens) - and John Goodman who appears to have lost about 30% of his body weight.

Tomorrow, it will be interesting to see if the US joins the rest of the world in going utterly World Cup crazy as Team USA gear up for their big battle with England. Although, I wouldn't like to bet serious money on it, to be honest...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Google Backgrounds, Swapped Husbands and Russell Crowe...

Image, Reuters

Google appeared right at the top of its own trends for much of today after its decision to radically alter its home page. If you have happened to visit Google today then you will likely not have failed to notice that, where there used to be a plain white background, there now sits a picture of a field, or a porcelain pig, or Lindsay Lohan on stilts (ok, I might have made the last one up), etc.

Now me, personally, I don't care. Picture, no picture - I'm there for that search bar at the top so it doesn't make a whole lot of difference to me. But, it would seem I am very much in the minority as no sooner had the change hit, then the internet was awash with a wave of 'remove Google background' searches; in fact, enough of them for it make headline news.

And, with such a monumental internet upheaval going on, it would be very easy for many of today's trending topics to get lost in the rush. But, fear not, that's why I'm here!

Marie Anne Thiebaud hit the trends earlier, much as she had done last year when it was announced that Shania Twain and her husband, Mutt Lange, were splitting up due to the fact he was having an affair with her friend and secretary, Marie Anne Thiebaud. However, Marie was hitting the headlines today because Shania walked out with her new beau, Frederic Thiebaud.

'That's a curious coincidence', you are probably saying to yourself at this moment. Swiftly followed up by 'I would never have thought Thiebaud was such a common name'.

To which I say - 'no, it's not' and 'NO, it's NOT!'

Yes, that's right - Shania Twain is now dating the ex-husband of the ex-friend/secretary who is currently dating Shania Twain's ex-husband. Surely it's not just me who finds that a little on the bizarre side?

Oh, and Russell Crowe is not dead.

I wanted to tell you because, sitting at the very top of the trends this evening is the currently circulating rumour that Russell Crowe is dead. According to various internet sources, Russell Crowe died from a fall while filming in Austria. However, it's just not true.

Russell Crowe is the latest celebrity to fall foul of the hugely quick, often largely mindless, viral capabilities of the internet. Last week it was James Avery (aka Uncle Phil from Fresh Prince of Bel Air) and Mark Calaway (aka The Undertaker), this week it's Russell Crowe. None of them are dead. Yet.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Apparently, I'm an internet millionaire...

Cubestat is a site that is intended to calculate the number of visitors, the amount of advertising revenue and the overall value of a website.

If you use it to check out one of the most popular blogs in the world - Huffington Post (which is ranked as the Number 1 blog on Technorati) - then you will find that it gets over 6 million page visits, generates almost $19,000 in daily advertising revenue and is worth almost $14 million.

However, somehow, this blog that you are currently reading - which was created six days ago - is outstripping that by far. In fact, according to Cubestat, I'm getting 125 million visitors a day, earning $375,000 in daily advertising revenue and have a site worth $273 million. Not bad going for a blog that's less than a week old, eh?

And it's not just Cubestat who are slightly overestimating Pulse of the Net - Alexa, who rank web statistics are of the impression that this blog is linked to by over 430,000 sites...

I intend not to complain about these slight discrepancies with reality and am now considering putting Pulse of the Net on the market for a one-time-special, bargain basement price of $100 million. Any takers?