This has been buzzing around in my head for a few days now, since I read something about it… somewhere. Knowing what my daily reading is like, thanks to Google Reader, it was most likely Wired News. But there it is.

For some companies I, like most people I suppose, considered myself a customer even if the transaction was of zero value. Let’s pick out free newspapers and commercial radio stations here. I don’t pay for them, but I considered myself a customer and they subsidise the free distribution to me, the customer, by regretably taking in advertising. But that’s not the way it works at all. I am demographically analysed within an inch of my life, together with cross-sections of polls, letters-to-the-editor, call-ins etc etc. And all this information is packaged up and sold to the advertising companies. ‘You want access to these juicy morsels? To these eyes, ears and, sometimes, brains? That’ll cost you.’ And the wider the distribution, the greater the number of eyes and ears, the greater value the product has.

This became an issue some time ago when the console game Kane & Lynch was being promoted. Gamespot, a game review website had accepted a huge wad of cash and effectively revamped their site, splashing Kane & Lynch logos, sounds, images and labels everywhere. And then the reviewer assigned to the game completely annihilated it. And then got fired two days afterwards for a completely unrelated, yet undisclosed, reason. The outcry was huge. After all, surely the site owed it’s integrity to it’s customers? Yes. Yes, it did indeed. It’s just that we ain’t them.

Smokers make up 26% of the general population, but 70% of mental health inpatients are smokers, according to Mental Health Today.
40% of mental health service users smoke
70% of mental health inpatients smoke
50% of those using inpatient units classed as heavy smokers
Between 70% and 74% of people with schizophrenia smoke
56% of people with depression smoke

From :

October 03, 2007

Latest Terrorist False Alarm: Chili Peppers

In London:

Three streets were closed and people evacuated from the area as the search was carried out. After locating the source at about 7pm, emergency crews smashed their way into the Thai Cottage restaurant in D’Arblay Street only to emerge with a 9lb pot of smouldering dried chillies.Baffled chef Chalemchai Tangjariyapoon, who had been cooking a spicy dip, was amazed to find himself at the centre of the terror scare.

“We only cook it once a year — it’s a spicy dip with extra hot chillies that are deliberately burned,” he said.

“To us it smells like burned chilli and it is slightly unusual. I can understand why people who weren’t Thai would not know what it was but it doesn’t smell like chemicals. I’m a bit confused.”

Another story.

Were this the U.S., that restaurant would be charged with terrorism, or creating a fake bomb, or anything to make the authorities feel better. On the other hand, at least the cook wasn’t shot.

EDITED TO ADD (10/4): Common sense:

The police spokesman said no arrests were made in the case.”As far as I’m aware it’s not a criminal offense to cook very strong chili,” he said.

EDITED TO ADD (10/11): The BBC has a recipe, in case you need to create your own chemical weapon scare.

I want to be in the remaining 4%…

Sent to you by SanDeBerg via Google Reader:

Two per cent of people consider themselves upper class, according to a survey by the Guardian newspaper. Of 1,011 adults question in the phone poll, 53% said they were working class and 41% middle class.

Things you can do from here:

One of my pet hates (other than pet hates) is whenever some commentary in the “news” refers to something or other “gone mad!”. It’s become such a stock phrase that’s wheeled out far too easily and really winds me up. It’s like stock phrases gone mad!

So when Channel 4 announced their this year, I knew it was only a matter of time before the phrase got wheeled out again.

A brief search of BBC News articles of the last year delivers the following cases of something or other “gone mad!”

I daren’t search the archives of the Daily Mail, I’m sure there would far too many references to list! – Bureaucracy

– Bureaucracy again

– Railway naming

– World

– Political correctness

– Political correctness again

– PC yet again!

– Nanny state

No trace so far of anything going mad in relation to the initial story yet, though I feel quite unclean after reading through some of our tabloids’ comments boards.

BBC NEWS England London Whale rescuers’ £300 parking bill: “‘It upsets me a bit that we are facing over £300 worth of bills,’ said Mr Knight, who was in charge of the rescue operation.

‘I guess they have got a job to do. However, all of our cars have ‘marine ambulance’ on the side or ‘marine medics’… and I would have hoped they would have given us the benefit of the doubt.’

He added that as a small charity with limited funds, it already faces a steep rescue bill of £5,000.
‘We are hoping the public will show some of the enthusiasm they showed for the rescue by donating to us,’ he added. “

The link is above for those that wish to do so!