I’m feeling racially persecuted because of a condiment

You know how people say ‘cellar door‘ is the most beautiful phrase in the English language?

It’s not. It’s ‘I’m feeling racially persecuted because of a condiment.’

This glorious sentence was reported by the Edinburgh Evening News as being uttered by a Mr Tony Winters, who was incensed to discover that Edinburgh chip shops charge extra for tomato sauce. Apparently this is ‘racist’ against Glaswegians. There’s nothing about this story I don’t like. That one sentence is magnificent and perfect and I love it. It’s beautiful.

Of all the ways he could have phrased how he felt, he chose that one. He could have said ‘I felt as though I was being made fun of for being Glaswegian.’ That could well have been true – maybe the chip shop owner made fun of him. I don’t know, I wasn’t there. He didn’t simply say ‘I’m feeling racially persecuted because of this.’ Stripped of context, that sentence could be the apt commentary to millions of possible events. But he had to go and include the source (ho) of his anguish, conveniently encapsulated for our reading pleasure. It’s a delightful microcosm.

Say it. Take it in. It’s a flawless, brilliant sentence.

I’m feeling racially persecuted because of a condiment.

I want it written in the sky. I want it as the UK’s national motto (nobody cares about your droit), I want it on our passports, I want it in our anthem. Hell, I want it as our anthem.

Top 10 English phrases/sentences:

  1. I’m feeling racially persecuted because of a condiment.
  2. Cellar door
  3. Gushing bumpipe
  4. Grease my egghole with your seed.
  5. Colossal pillar of wasp eggs
  6. Onion ring pole
  7. Accidentally kicked a frog down a hill
  8. Budgies live above a Budgen’s
  9. Kinetic octopus drink
  10. Copped a dong in the gob

Fuck it

I’ve discovered an amazing blog called Lifehackable. (Not to be confused with Lifehacker, which is a fairly useful mostly-software blog.)

It’s amazing because the few somewhat useful tips are adrift in a sea of dross, which gives a fascinating insight into a world I find unrelatable: over-engineered solutions to things nobody thought was a problem, inconsiderate bastard advice from people who think that scoring a petty victory over the letter of the law is better than following the spirit, and other things of no use to man nor beast. Fuck it.

hot dog

[Image: some hot dogs cooking in the pot of a coffee maker. Text: World’s simplest hot dog cooker.]

How is this better than cooking hot dogs in a pan of water? Your coffee maker is going to smell of sausages now. Is this in an office kitchen, where there’s no hob? Then use the microwave instead of skanking up your colleagues’ coffee with pig brine.

stop

[Image: The backs of two Stop signs. One has a sticker on the back, the other does not. Image text: Check local stop signs for this. You are not legally obliged to stop at this sign (without sticker). You are legally obligated to stop at this sign (with sticker).]

What the arse? Who thinks like this? Fuck it, just run through stop signs and cause an accident and claim it’s fine because some underpaid road worker didn’t have time to affix a poxy sticker to the sign.

soda

[Image: a montage of drink vending machines. Image text: Squirting salt water in the coin slot of a soda machine is said to create an electrical current that will result in free soda dispensing.]

Fuck it, just squirt salt water into a big electric machine. There’s no way this can possibly go wrong. Petty theft and ruining things for others is great.

syrup

[Image: Sliced bread with peanut butter and maple syrup on it. Image text: If no jelly is available for a PB&J, use maple syrup instead. Just as delicious.]

Is this a frequent occurrence? Having maple syrup but no jam? Also, note how weak this advice is. If you’re out of a sweet sandwich spread, use a different sweet sandwich spread.

Also, that’s some minging-looking peanut butter. That is a cunt’s sandwich if ever I saw one.

banana

[Image: Someone rubbing a cut banana onto the silver side of a DVD. Image text: Use a banana to fix a DVD.]

This is deliciously vague. It doesn’t tell you anything about rubbing direction (an important consideration when cleaning optical discs) or what to clean it off with afterwards. Note the ‘fix’. Not ‘clean a dirty DVD’, ‘fix a DVD’. DVD broken in half? Fuck it. Banana.

butts

[Image: A mobile phone propped up by the posterior half of a bisected toy Stegosaurus. Image text: Dino butts can help your phone stand up.]

Who has just one half of a broken toy and doesn’t throw it away? Note the implication that it has to be a ‘dino butt’. No other toy animal half will do. When do you use this? If you’re at home, you can find a dozen other things that will work just as well. If you’re out and about, are you really going to carry a plastic stegosaurus bum in your handbag?

A lot of good lifehacks come from the realisation that tools are aggregates of properties rather than being locked in to only one task. This ‘hack’ technically follows this pattern but in a way that spectacularly misses the point of everything.

sender

[Image: A ‘return to sender’ postmark. Image text: You can send letters for free by putting the recipient’s address in the return address.]

Fuck it, nick a public service and drive prices up for everybody else. Or not, as the lack of existing postmark means this won’t even work, you fool.

loo

[Image: a women’s loo sign. Image text: When your GF tells you she needs to use the restroom, it means she has been waiting to an hour to tell you. Find one immediately.]

…What? Is this an American thing?

yacht

[Image: Deck of a yacht with a home cinema system. Image text: Movie theatre yacht.]

Life hack: Be an obscenely rich bastard.

tree

[Image: a length of tree trunk with holes bored in it for tea lights.]

Fuck it. Drill holes in an old tree and put candles in it.

spray

[Image: Someone’s hand on fire. Image text: You can spray bug spray on your hand and light it on fire without actually burning your hand.]

Fuck it. Set your fucking hand on fire.

dandelion

[Image: a burning dandelion clock. Image text: If you light a dead dandelion on fire, it turns into a colourful fireball.]

Fuck it. Set everything on fire.

ice cream

[Image: a cardboard ice cream pot that has been sawn in half vertically. Image text: Personal ice cream bowl.]

Or you could just take the fucking lid off, you imbecile.

phone book

[Image: An open phonebook. Image text: Making a sandwich and don’t feel like using a plate? Use a phonebook. Spill mayo on it? Tear the page off. Hundreds of paper plates for free.]

Fuck it. Just eat off a fucking phonebook, you greb. A wad of non-absorbent paper with lead-based ink and crumb-catching binding is so much better than a paper towel. Stop it. The Young Ones weren’t supposed to be role models.

milk

[Image: Someone pouring milk into cereal by pouring the cereal onto the back of an upturned spoon. Image text: How to make sure milk doesn’t everywhere [sic].]

I hate it when milk everywheres.

bear

[Image: A brown bear. Image text: If a brown bear attacks you, play dead. If a black bear attacks, punching it in the nose will make it flee. Noise also scares bears away.]

Fuck it. Just punch a fucking bear.

twaddle

[Image: Close crop of two people conversing. Image text: You’re friendzoned because women construe your excessive emotionality as feminine and needy. Women want you to feel secure in your masculinity.]

This is an impenetrable sphere of wrong.

The friendzone doesn’t even exist, bellwhiffer. It’s what used to be called ‘unrequited love’. It’s a dicksprout term that shifts responsibility to the person being desired, rather than the one desiring. The rest of the ‘hack’ is just ghastly pop psychology. ‘Excessive emotionality’? What a horrible way to regard being human.

coke

[Image: A bottle of Coke erupting mightily. Image text: Prank your friends by freezing Mentos in ice cubes and making time bomb soda.]

Fuck it. Be a guffbeak to your friends.

How is this supposed to work? Won’t your friends notice that their ice cubes have got foreign objects in them? Also, is the picture meant to demonstrate this process (if so, who puts ice cubes in a bottle?) or is it just a stock ‘this is what Coke and Mentos looks like’?

disabled

[Image: A disabled car parking space. Image text: A handicapped parking spot needs a sign to be valid. If it just has a wheelchair painted on the ground, you can legally park there.]

Oh, get fucked sideways. Fuck it. Steal a fucking car parking space from someone who actually fucking needs it, you massive helmet.

If you steal a disabled space and you haven’t literally got someone in your car with a severed artery or an emerging baby, you are a twathammer supreme. But, y’know, fuck it. Make someone with pins in their spine walk a few hundred metres because you can’t be arsed. You may be technically above the law but you won’t be technically above people keying your car and smearing dogshit under the door handles. Fall face-first into a water buffalo’s fanny, you shit-eared fuckbox. I hate you.

card

[Image: A greeting card with a red rose. Image text: When buying a romantic card, select two. Then write the inscription from Card A into Card B and pretend you can write sweet things.]

Fuck it. Build a relationship based on petty lies.

This is why you got friendzoned, you useless buttery fart.

biscuit

[Image: Someone using a fork to dip an Oreo biscuit in a glass of milk. Image text: Dunk Oreos with a fork so your hands don’t get messy.]

Why would your fingers get messy? Are you some sort of biscuit idiot?

pizza

[Image: Some people eating pizza out of boxes, with the boxes arranged with the lid acting as a bib. Image text: The pizza bib.]

Or you could just not eat like a fucking greb.

nosebag

[Image: Someone wearing a hoody backwards, with the pulled-down hood full of popcorn. Image text: Easiest snack pouch ever.]

You’ve run out of clean plates and have resorted to eating off the phone book. Now you’re out of bowls too. Better stop putting off the washing up. Nah, fuck it. Just do something only slightly more dignified than wearing a nosebag.

I hate you all.

Highlights of Nine Worlds

I got to go to Nine Worlds on the Friday and Sunday (I’d only bought a Friday ticket because I’m dole, but my mum took pity on me and bought me a second ticket), and I had a brilliant time. I wish I’d brought my camera – I decided not to because I’ve never been to a proper big con before (I’m not sure if BoA/Rezzed count) and wasn’t sure what to expect, so I travelled light and brought no preconceptions.

I wanted to attend, partly because it was a pissing massive confluence of my interests, and because it felt like a safe space right from the get-go. Nine Worlds is two fingers to those who say ‘con culture’s just like that‘ in response to stories of harassment (sexual and otherwise) at conventions. 9W’s based on a ‘no knobbers’ policy. It worked very well, without a dicksprout trilby* in sight.

I loved how normal it felt that the space had so many non gender-conforming people, and how it showed how arbitrary the differences are. You could be talking to a beardy bloke in a dress/skirt (a normal skirt, not a ‘it’s a utili-kilt, actually‘), or a person with a neutrois name, voice and appearance, and there would be no knobbers pointing. There aren’t many places you can do that outside, say, Camden town, which is full of meandering bellwhiffers taking up pavement space and people trying to sell you cheap weed that’s probably broccoli.

The scope of the con was amazing. Even though in itself it’s a relatively small con (around 1,300 attendees), there was such a spread of things to do and see. My 9W was largely mathematical and scientific with a dash of Game of Thrones, but someone else’s 9W could have been about Harry Potter, knitting and vampires, or creative writing, Doctor Who and Ponies. This was also the first UK geek & nerd con with a dedicated LGBTQ+ track.

I got to meet and re-meet some cool Twitter people, including @lingmops (we had supper in a pub and talked about Pacific Rim), and @agtheo (who jogged my memory of who he was by reminding me that we are currently fighting in the Moon League of Fallen London).

I attended several talks/activities, but not nearly as many as I’d have liked. In one time slot there were five concurrent talks that I wanted to see. I’ve written a little about the ones I saw, but haven’t bothered with the ones I mostly missed.

Sigil designing workshop:

I actually misunderstood the premise of this one, as I hadn’t clocked that the rooms were themed by track, and didn’t realise it was a Game of Thrones-themed workshop to design a badge in the style of the great houses. I thought it would be about the folklore of summoning sigils or something. It still turned out to be fun, drawing dinosaurs and sitting in a room with nerds talking about Game of Thrones, cats and nail varnish. I ended up drawing a Triceratops after deciding my stylised theropods looked too much like dragons.

Writing Alien Perspectives (Chris Farnell):

A good guide to what not to do, including the done-to-death ‘proud warrior race’ trope (the sole career available for at least the men is warrior, they use swords or something despite having invented space travel, and have a society based on a code of honour but it’s impossible to find out what is meant by honour because they use the word ‘honour’ the same way Smurfs use the word ‘smurf’).

It is Rocket Science (Helen Keen):

Helen Keen manages to make the space race funny, and does it with the aid of Powerpoint and audience participation, which works so well you wonder why more comedians don’t use an accompanying slideshow. It was almost a comedy lecture rather than a traditional standup piece. Included some dreadful puns. Keen made a volunteer wear a worm hat and told her she now represented the ‘Space-time continuworm‘.

Can’t Take the Sky From Me (Adam Christopher, Jaine Fenn, Stephanie Saulter, Gavin Smith, Charles Stross, Ian Whates):

This was a panel on the advantages and disadvantages of such things as sticking to only what we definitely know to be plausible. In it we learned (I can’t remember which speaker brought it up) that Venus is a viable option for space colonisation: the surface is a sulphuric hellhole but the stratosphere is a comfortable 20 degrees and has the same pressure as Earth’s atmosphere at sea level. Furthermore, a mixture of gases equivalent to Earth’s atmosphere would be more buoyant in the upper Venusian atmosphere than in ours, meaning a floating Venusian city with breathable air might actually be a possibility one day.

I got to meet Ian Whates later and buy a signed copy of one of his books. Unfortunately he’d sold out of part 1 of the City of Hundred Rows, so he let me have part 2 at a reduced price and he signed it for me.

Ian Stewart: The Deterministic Monkey Theorem or Chaos in L-Space:

I loved this. I haven’t actually read any of the Science of Discworld books, which is odd as I do like the novels. I know Ian Stewart as the author of Nature’s Numbers and The Magical Maze, two excellent popular science books about mathematics, the latter of which I really need to buy another copy of because I lent it to a teacher once and never got it back.

Stewart makes mathematics very accessible, and even when it’s beyond me I still think ‘I don’t quite understand this but I love hearing it anyway’. This talk was mostly about extremely large numbers and how they work, with the backdrop of the famous thought experiment of infinite monkeys typing Shakespeare.

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets (Simon Singh):

This was fascinating. Many of the Simpsons and Futurama writers hold maths degrees, and it shows in their work for those who know where to look. In one of the earliest Simpsons episodes, Bart the Genius, Bart is sent to a school for gifted pupils after cheating in a test. In the playground are some girls chanting a skipping rhyme with the digits of pi. Except they aren’t – the digits are wrong. It’s because they’re reciting pi in base 8. (Think about why that would be.)

Science Fact or Science Fiction? (Brendan Owens):

I’d evidently decided this would be a SPACE-themed con for me. In this talk, Owens (of the Royal Greenwich Observatory) compared silver screen depictions of space sciences to their real world counterparts, as well as talking us through space-exploration technology in general. I’ve yet to get tired of watching Curiosity landing footage.

By the Fireside with Cara and Rhianna:

A nice way to round off the con: two bibeo gaem people talking about bibeo gaem. And soup.

Other highlights:

  • Normal hotel guests looking completely bemused.
  • The big south Asian wedding taking place at the Radisson, whose wedding photos are going to have Loki horns poking up in the background.
  • Having a go on the Oculus Rift rollercoaster demo.

*This is a fedora. It’s a cool hat worn by Sarah Berndardt and Indiana Jones. This is a trilby. It’s an unimpressive hat worn by dicksprouts who think it’s a fedora.