Is it art, or is it soft porn?

There is, in today’s Daily Mail, a stunning nude photograph of the late Liz Taylor in her younger years.

I downloaded the photo, uploaded it to the Twitter partner yfrog and tweeted it with the words ‘Gorgeous photo of Liz Taylor in today’s Daily Fail, but is it art or is it soft porn?

As you can see, when you click on the yfrog link you get a message ‘This photo has been removed’.

But not by me – by yfrog.

I’ve checked yfrog’s website and it says they will remove pornographic images.

So there we have it; the question is answered.

Except, of course, yfrog is an American outfit and despite the US Constitution that guarantees things like a free press and free speech, Americans are notoriously puritanical when it comes to the human body.

Puritanical, it would appear, to the point of censoring; censoring me and The Daily Mail, a national British newspaper.


There’s a whole tin of worms.

Anyway, that pic of Liz Taylor?

Let’s see them censor this:

Liz Taylor, as photographed by Roddy McDowall

My question stands.

Art, or soft porn?

Not withstanding the somewhat prehistoric views of yfrog, obv.

You are what you write?

Over at The Magnificent Frog there’s a conversation going on about online presences, social media and the research that employers undertake.

There’s a software provider in Oxford who put all of their job applicants through Facebook, Twitter and Google checks, before they’ve even invited the candidates to interview.

I mention OPP because not only do they make no bones about their practice of researching potential staff, they also put a mark on the sheet of paper if someone has *no* online presence. OPP’s practice is far from exceptional

So here are the questions:

  • What if your Twitter and/or blog accounts were in your name (assuming they’re not)
  • And what if you had little or no security on your Facebook?
  • What do you think your next potential employer would make of you, from your online presence?

It’s a dangerous life; moving in transit

Sporting injuries. I’ve had a couple. During my first inter-school cricket match, I took a beamer to the face and had to retire from the wicket without offering a stroke. Many years later, whilst playing for a 2nd XI in the North Somerset League, I ripped a Quadricep during a gut-wrenching sprint to stop the ball from crossing the boundary. Because I couldn’t run fast until the wound healed, I was forced to spend the next seven matches fielding at Silly Point which is the most dangerous fielding position on the cricket pitch. Ironically, whilst fielding in that position I didn’t incur any injuries and somehow managed to take three wickets. I’ve only had one other sporting accident; when the horse I was riding struck a cross-country fence and I was catapulted out of the saddle, and the horse, for good measure, rolled on top of me and then, in his haste to get to his feet, shredded my leg with his steel-shod hooves. The injuries I got that day resulted in five operations and kept me on crutches for 8 months. But today, a new era in sports injuries has dawned. This evening Soph came home with a sporting injury.

the mother of all sporting injuries

To give you something to judge this horrendous injury against, here’s the other one.

A terrible injury, as you can see. And how did this dreadful wound occur, I hear you ask? She was playing… Rounders.

Recently I was in a Twitter conversation with Andy Johnson (@andyjohnsonuk) about British SciFi authors. Andy was raving about John Wyndham. I said I favoured Edmund Cooper (a much more prolific author, a more poetic writer and, in my view, a person in possession of a more challenging imagination). The trouble is, that started me remembering all of the Edmund Cooper works. And then, because my head works in this way, I drew up a mental list: The Top Five Edmund Cooper books. Number 1 was an easy choice. Transit (first published 1964). I’ve owned three copies of Transit. I lost one on a C-130 Hercules when we were deployed from Germany to Cyprus. I don’t know where I lost the second copy, but it was probably in Hong Kong or Singapore, or somewhere between the two. I know precisely where I parted company with copy number three. It was when I was moving from the company apartment in Manhattan to my first apartment which was on Madison Street, NYC. I lost a lot of stuff in that move, and learned a valuable lesson of having an itemised checklist! Anyway, a few nights ago I was so fired up by thoughts of Edmund Cooper that I went on Amazon and found a used copy of Transit for… wait for it, wait for it… £1. So I bought it. It arrived today. I’ve just opened the envelope and inside was…

transit, a scifi novel, by edmund cooper

As soon as it fell out of the padded envelope, Soph seized it. Because it *is* a book, after all. I looked at the front and said, ‘That’s the 1973 edition’. She flipped open the front cover, read the publication date and her mouth opened in amazement. Sometimes I know too much about things that I really shouldn’t.

Twitter Etiquette – my 2010 will be…

… slightly different…

I love Twitter.

No, really.

I am a massive fan of the microblogging service. I like the brevity of 140 characters. I like the fact that it works on my phone and I can use it anywhere.

But I have some issues, not so much with Twitter, but with the way (or ways) the service is being used by just a few folk.

*Issue #1*
I have noticed – and increasingly so – that there are some people who sometimes just ‘say’ things on Twitter, simply for the sake of ‘saying’ things. Like, for example, when they have run out of things of their own to say.

Which, frankly, is stupid.

Let me paint a picture with a hypothetical question.

Would you stay subscribed to a person’s blog feed if a significant percentage of their output comprised randomly uncompiled links from some (pretty rubbish) sources, out-and-out marketing hooks and thinly disguised adverts for various hardline commercial concerns?

Would you?

No, of course you wouldn’t. I wouldn’t either.

And that’s why I am here now, making a firm statement that from this point onwards I have no intention of following a Twitter feed if it is composed of a similar calibre of utter piffle.

Harsh? Yeah, maybe, but look.

I know that every year a few bloggers give up blogging for no reason other than they’ve they run out of things to say.

But if a Twitter user has run out of things to say (and seriously, it’s only 140 characters – and, you know, there’s no *compulsion* to use it every hour of the waking day) what’s wrong with just taking a deep breath, kicking back and… saying nothing, for a while?

I mean, why do people retweet marketing shit from some global, commercial beauty products conglomerate?


And while I’m on that particular strand of thought, why would *anyone* retweet pure *marketing* information from some beauty products company who, by their very own admission, actively supports and funds an organisation whose members have repeatedly been convicted of violence?

Yes, I’m talking about you, Lush, you hate-crime funding bastards.

So tell me, why would someone do that?

And why would anyone retweet grammatically incorrect, factually dubious, puerile nonsense from some American ‘life coach’ (whatever the fuck one of those is)?

I mean, if you’ve got nothing of any value to say and you just want to push buttons to validate yourself and get your Twitter ID out there in front of people because you’re feeling so insecure you might fall off the face of this planet in a minute (deep breath), why don’t you find something *useful* from someone else’s words?

Or something appropriate or relevant?

‘Wear sunscreen’ by Baz Luhrmann, how about those words? Those two words contain some of the most helpful, and one of the weightiest pieces of advice ever given to any member of our species.

Wear sunscreen.

And how about ‘Don’t shop at Lush because they give a shitload of money to people who terrorise innocent, law-abiding folk’?

In fact ‘Boycott Lush for life’ would be words of almost equal value as ‘Wear sunscreen’.

*Issue #2:*
Here’s another Twitter nonsense that is, frankly, beyond all sensible, reasonable logic:

Follow Friday.

What the hell?

Look, here’s my piece of thinking on this Follow Friday Phenomenon, condensed down to three simple sentences.




If I want to know who you follow I will look up your Twitter profile and… look up who you follow. I may even read their backdated tweets.

It’s easy, isn’t it?

And it cuts both ways.

If you want to know who I follow on Twitter (and that’s a pretty big ‘if’ for a start, because why would you?), why don’t you go to my Twitter profile and just… see who I follow?

Honestly, the notion that I can single out a handful of the worthies who I follow on Twitter for praise, from the hundred or so people I do follow is, frankly, ludicrous.

By the same string of logic I don’t understand how anyone can single out a handful of who they follow, in order to highlight them to a wider audience, without tacitly devaluing everyone else they follow.

Unless, of course, people are highlighting *everyone* they follow by rotating them on a regular basis to ensure everyone gets equal coverage.

In which case, WTF is that all about?

Does anyone else understand just how much this kind of situation demeans the whole tool?

Or the service?

Meanwhile I’m supposed to sit here and have Friday’s incoming Twitter streams clogged up by some people I follow, each promoting a dozen or so *other* people who I could look up?

If I could be arsed?

Am I really supposed to put up with that?

Here’s a hypothesis for you.

How about this: I follow people who I want to. But if they start acting bizarrely (see any of the above) I’ll unfollow them.


*Issue #3*
Here’s another pile of Twitter wrongness.

People constantly retweeting random people.

Look mate, you follow them if you want, but your default position should be that every one of your followers *does not* want you to recycle someone else’s tweets.

And here’s a scenario for any serial retweeters out there: 35 retweets and reposted links in less than an hour? Do you think that’s good? I’ve got news for you, it’s very bad.

Look, if people do that, then under my 2010 Twitter Etiquette, I will unfollow you.

If people are looking to reduce the number of people who follow them, they should just carry on with the multiple fucking retweets and reposted links and see what happens.

In my eyes anyone who produces multiple retweets is doing something that is on a par with producing spam. Think I’m alone in this view? Ask around.

In fact, does anyone think my logic is left-field on any of these things?

Think again.

It’s a little like blogging; if someone constantly behaved as badly on a blog, their blog would haemorrhage readers – and everyone know it!

The same applies to Twitter.


So this is my Twitter Charter for 2010.

I shall live by these rules.

I’ll close with one simple statement:

Twitter users should follow the (heavily paraphrased) words of Bambi’s mother: If you can’t think of anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.

It’s the quality that makes the tool good, *not* the quantity.