Usually by now I’m totally done with it, had enough, and generally pretty fucked off with the entire thing.
This year, though, I’m just ambivalent about it. And I don’t actually know why.
We’re still being faced with the same inanity and vapid bullshit on TV adverts and the like. We’ve had Christmas Shit™ (cards, confectionary, blah blah) in the shops since September. Now we’re in December they’re playing sodding christmas carols and tunes in the shops and on the radio, and various fuckwits are already blithering about “It’s christmas”. (No it’s fucking not, it’s just December)
And on the face of that paragraph, you’d think I am hating it. But I’m not. I still feel the same, that it is all crap and bollocks, but it’s not enraging me this year the same way it has in the past.
It annoys me that I don’t know why it’s not annoying me as much as usual. But I’m also not going to complain – in some ways it’s quite nice to be a wee bit more tolerant of the whole farce than usual.
I don’t like (let alone love) the season and what it does to people – and I honestly doubt I ever will. But at least this year I also don’t hate it the same way I usually do.
At the moment, there are a couple of interesting (and fairly well-crafted) scams going around. I’ve seen/received all of these in the last week or so.
It says something along the lines of “I know what you’ve been up to – when you were on that porn site (it’s noticeably non-specific on details) I loaded a screen-grabber to your machine, so we could record your ‘activities’“. Some of them also have something like “We know your password for the site was [whatever]” – the password is usually an old one that they’ve taken from a record including your email address, and gambles on people using the same password across multiple sites. (In fairness, most people do exactly this) And then it asks for a ransom “or your shame will be available for all to see” It’s pretty basic, but is apparently enough to scare a certain sub-set of people (AKA gullible idiots) who so far have forked out around $250,000 to the scammers.
Second – and there are two types of this currently bonging around – are the HMRC scams.
These basically draw on the whole paranoia about HMRC losing payments, or trying to take the business owner to court.
I’ve had umpteen emails about “Your payment hasn’t gone through” along with attached links or forms to fill in – always a pretty damn good clue that it’s a scam. And again, they’re all ridiculously non-specific, don’t mention a company name/details, or what the payment is supposedly for – another warning sign
The second type, which is a bit nastier, is the phone message – I’ve had a couple now, with a message saying “We’re issuing a warrant in order to discuss this matter with you“, and sounding a lot more official. Still no details though, or anything about what they’re wanting to discuss. (I know, in theory GDPR would also stop them from discussing, but that’s a side point for now) However, they show the phone number – in my experience, calls from HMRC and the like come through a switchboard, and usually show as “Unknown Number” – and a quick search on that number provides more than enough evidence that it’s a scam.
Of course, there are plenty of other scam emails out there – it’s just that these are the ones I’ve noticed specifically this week, and particularly after having received a couple of the “HMRC” calls yesterday and today, so I thought I’d write a bit about them.
Every so often, I decide to play the role of “responsible human being”. Today, it turned out, was one of those days.
When I got in to work, I could see that three cars in the vicinity had been broken into (or at least had their windows smashed) so opted to do the ‘responsible human’ thing, and called 101 – the UK Police’s non-emergency number. No point in doing an emergency 999, as no-one else was visible, and the damages could’ve happened any time overnight.
So 101 it was. And while I get that it’s for non-urgent stuff and so on, but man alive, what an absolute faff.
The call goes through, and starts off with “Which police force do you require?”. (Probably because I called on my mobile – calling from a landline would’ve localised things. I assume) That’s fine, if you know who you need to speak to. But if I hadn’t known that Milton Keynes is covered by Thames Valley Police, I’d have been knackered from stage one.
Then we go on to a recorded message from the chief of Thames Valley. Why? No idea. I assume it’s part of the script of 101 – I’ve heard similar on other calls to different forces – but it seems (to me) to be utterly pointless.
And then we get the voice-response asking what you want to do. If you know the name/number you want to speak to, type it now, or press [whatever] to report a crime.
And then we get some piece of crap recorded message about victim support.
And finally, finally, when all that’s done, I finally spoke to someone – who was helpful, and made sense. But what a horrific fucking faff in order to do something I didn’t even need to.
All told, it certainly makes it easy to see why people prefer to call 999, even for non-emergency stuff. At least the response to it is quicker, and gets rid of all that recorded bullshit.
I’ve written before about my tendency to be horrifically early for things – I like having time to spare, and I’m happy with being where I’m supposed to be, with a book, phone etc., and can happily while away the time.
It also, on occasion, gives me time to sort things out when I’ve sodded them up – which was the case on Sunday.
The car’s air-conditioning has been noticeably weaker this summer, so I’d decided to have it re-gassed, and see if that made a difference. I booked an appointment with Kwik-Fit to get it done on Sunday morning, and turned up (early) to where I thought I had it booked in.
Only… it wasn’t booked in there. Knackers. I couldn’t find the confirmation email (still no idea what happened to that) so ended up having to call their main customer centre to try and find out. Turned out – either through my own stupidity, or some kind of system glitch – that it was actually booked on the other side of town from where I was. Knackers again.
But because I’d been horrendously early, it meant I still had the time to get across to the correct place in time for my appointment – and even had time to spare!
It all worked out fine in the end – but if I’d been punctual for the first one, I’d have been utterly kippered for getting to the proper place on time!
Out of interest, how the hell do the BBC get to promote a show as “Brand New!” when it’s been exhumed from the 80s and 90s (and potentially the 2000s, too)
Yes, I’m referring to the “Brand New… Generation Game“.
What. The. Absolute. Fuck?
I can’t deny, there’s a certain part of me that is quite happy with Darwinism, and the way idiots seem to find new and exciting ways to take themselves out of the genepool. (And before anyone asks, I’ve been reading the Darwin Awards for years!)
Today’s news carried the story of an American couple where one was killed “as a YouTube prank” because he believed that a thick book would stop a bullet. So he put said book over his chest, and got his partner to shoot him. Yep, you read that right. (It’s also worth noting that the book was only 1.5 inches thick. So, not very.)
Bear in mind, when people are testing firearms, one medium that’s used to fire into is a block of telephone directories. (You can see an example here on YouTube, and there are many others) So a book that’s less than two inches thick? Yeah, no chance.
As it turns out – unsurprisingly – the guy died. His girlfriend – the one he persuaded to make the shot – has now been jailed for six months, although as the story says, the sentence is actually pretty lenient, as it’s obvious that the entire plan was made by the now-deceased, and his partner was just an idiot who believed he knew what he was talking about.
Yes, it’s a sad story, but at the same time it’s also a story of pretty epic stupidity…
Following on from Valentine’s Day, Channel 4 has a documentary series going about people who have allowed themselves to be paired up by scientists and specialists, signing up to meet on their wedding day. (It turns out that this is actually the third series of it in the UK – and the results on the previous two series haven’t been all that promising!)
They’ve done it with some run-up in order to do all the stuff like declarations of intent to marry, telling family and friends, and make all the preparations. So they get told that they’ve been paired up (and are now ‘engaged’) and then six weeks later they’ll meet for the first time and get married.
Thursday’s episode was the first one, and basically all the set-up and preparations. From there I assume it’ll be about the aftermath, and how they work out once the wedding is done.
Marriage is something that, to be honest, leaves me cold – it really hasn’t ever appealed to me at all, and it’s never been on the list of Things To Do. And so far, there’s never been anyone I’ve been with who’s changed that opinion, or made me think differently about it at all.
But I do still find it an interesting concept, and the whole arranged-marriage type thing, of seeing how people handle that and so on. Whether I continue watching the programme or not is a different matter, but for now it’s at least vaguely interesting. We’ll see.