giffgaff: we like spam, yes we do, giffgaff happy to use spam spam spam, spam giffgaff! but seriously: we giffgaff like spam very much spam giffgaff spam.

Posted on November 6th, 2013 by Scraps.
Categories: Badness, Elsewhere, Stuff, Untruths.

"Just to re-assure you, we hate spam too. This email was sent to you because you have given giffgaff permission to contact you via this address."


Okay, keep this short.* Of course I haven't given them permission. Usually, I sigh and click the tiny "unsubscribe" link. Usually, that's all that's needed. (Of course, I always click on the "spam" button, just in case.) But sometimes -- and this time -- when it says "unsubscribe", you click though to a page that you can't "unsubscribe" at all (and, funny, almost always they claim that you have given them permission. Like maybe I've forgotten).

With a grim smile, I type "we hate spam" and "giffgaff" into Google. One try (ten Google links) and I know: Giffgaff doesn't do a simple "unsubscribe". Maybe, maybe Giffgaff will "unsubscribe" if I join (with a password, etc). Actually, I'm not sure even that will "unsubscribe" me. Phil Bradley's weblog:

No, I have NOT given you permission to contact me via this address - you just decided to, and didn't give me an option to tell you not to. That's SPAM.

However, I decide to close the account, or at least, stop them sending me stuff. So I go to the website, where they want me to log in, with my user name and password. Y'know - the ones that I don't have *because I hadn't joined their service*. So not much I can do there. However, they have a help forum. So I go along to that; I knew what would happen, and it did. 'Before you can post, you have to join with your user name and password.'

So let's go along to their Facebook site. I complain. The next thing that I know is they have sent me a link to change my password. Now of course, this is where it gets interesting. They have now given me the opportunity to take over one of their members accounts. I haven't hacked it or anything... they have GIVEN me the means to do this. Now, I have no idea what's in that account, and I'm not going to find out. But I know the phone number, since they provided me with that in the initial email. I could do lots of interesting things in the account though, I am sure.

So - not only do Giffgaff NOT validate email accounts, they spam, they have no proper method of contacting them, and they're giving me permission to get into a members account. These people are an absolute shower - and if you have anything to do with them, I'd run away quickly.

Very nice! Oh, here's another little happy Giffgaff, well, thing, per Lewis Curdie:

[T]he worst offender in my opinion was “Cheeky SIM in the post”. I’ll let giffgaff explain: “As giffgaff is all about keeping costs down, we rely on our members recommending giffgaff to their friends and family – that way we don't have to 
spend lots of money getting new members on board through glossy advertising

“We were a little bit cheeky and popped an extra SIM in the post for you 
to pass on, just in case you had any friends or family who've just come off a
 mobile contract or paying too much on ‘Pay as you go'.

“Don't worry – this is just a one off, promise.”

Cheeky indeed.

I think they think that we'll admire them.

By the way: every time someone complains about this treatment, either in the community of Giffgaff or off, inevitably several people defend Giffgaff, and inevitably they're off the point** (i.e. "check your preferences", as though you are a member), and so far they haven't pointed complainers to a simple link, just gestured vaguely. If you're going to gesture vaguely, or post vague defense ("I like it their great!"), don't bother; it will be deleted.

*really, it was longer!
**that's assuming they are real, of course.


further lies about brad jones (old post #16, jan 98-jun 02)

Posted on February 19th, 2010 by Scraps.
Categories: Old Posts, Untruths, Words.

Brad Jones solved the Trees of Mystery.

You know that creepy feeling that someone's looking at you in the dark? Brad Jones.

Brad Jones is both singular and plural.

Brad Jones disdains the title "producer," preferring to be listed as "mystic wagga."

The Tufted Bean-Warblers have declined to offer arbitration to Brad Jones.

Brad Jones Swallows return to Pensacola every year around Christmas break to party and crap all over everything.

Give Brad Jones a fish and you've fed him for a day. Teach Brad Jones to fish and you're rid of him forever.

The correct plural of Brad Jone is actually Brad Jona.

Brad Jones keeps losing his lab assistants because he insists upon referring to them as "my amanuensis."

Whenever Brad Jones sees Counting Crows on tv his eyes get big and he yells "It's Doctor Jones! Doctor Jones!" until someone changes the channel and he subsides, muttering.

Brad Jones pronounces "infrared" to rhyme with "dared”, to the confusion of his students, readers, subscribers, followers, sidekicks, lackeys, and heirs and assigns.

Teaching Brad Jones is now optional in Kansas. Scientists worry that this will result in Brad Jones growing up pig-ignorant.

You know that really annoying conductor on the 1 train with the same "clever" patter every day? Brad Jones.

63% of Americans can't distinguish between Brad Jones and New Lemon Pledge.

Can you imagine Thursday nights on NBC without Brad Jones? You can't.

Brad Jones has had to be legally enjoined from walking up to small children and informing them grimly that there is no itsy-bitsy spider.

Brad Jones could have had a decent career in competitive jacks had he been able to say "sixies" without loss of muscular coordination.

Brad Jones is a card-carrying card-carrier.

Brad Jones didn't mean to rain on your parade. He can't help it; he's a low-pressure air mass sweeping down from Canada.

Brad Jones's given name is not Bradley; it is just Brad. However, his surname is actually Jonesley.

Have you heard Brad Jones sing the high notes in "Witchy Woman"? Not unless you're a dog.

Brad Jones isn't talking. He is, however, emitting a seemingly organized series of squawks and beeps that experts are attempting to crack.

"Adapt and improve," says Brad Jones, with clenched teeth and jaws.

Sometimes Brad Jones stops dead in the middle of the street and cries out "Christ! what an imagination I've got!"


more lies about brad jones (old post #15, jun-jul 97)

Posted on February 17th, 2010 by Scraps.
Categories: Old Posts, Stuff, Untruths, Words.

Brad Jones rips the veil from the nun inside you.

Brad Jones offers a free lunch to all Libertarians.

Brad Jones could feed a family of five for weeks if they'd goddam sit still.

Brad Jones feels chummy today. Look out here he comes!

Brad Jones is demeaning to grubby inconsequential people who smell bad.

Brad Jones conquered half of Europe, but gave it back when a sad little girl cried for Andorra.

There is no "Brad Jones" in "teamwork."

Brad Jones had his Hidden Daffies surgically removed by Dr. Zizmor's Laser of Love.

Round up Brad Jones.

Brad Jones continued his diligent work on the four color mop problem.

Brad Jones has had it with everyone trying to keep up with him.

"Brad" is short for "Hmmmmmmm-brad."

You know how sometimes this topic shows you nothing new for a whole day through several passes, then suddenly it has a dozen messages going back several hours? Brad Jones.

Brad Jones sits in front of a set tuned to SCANALYZER orbiting on triptine and saying over and over "Christ what an imagination I've got!"

Play it, Sam. Play "Brad Jones."


lies about brad jones (old post #14, jan-jun 97)

Posted on February 15th, 2010 by Scraps.
Categories: Comedy, Old Posts, Untruths, Words.

Brad Jones was actually born Brad Bowie, but changed his name to avoid confusion with Brad Buoy, the inventor of the liferaft.

Brad Jones is feared in seven languages.

Brad Jones is responsible for all ska band names. He is still looking for bands willing to shoulder the names "Ska of the Antarctic," "The Skashank Redemption," and "F. Ska Fitzgerald."

A careless whisper of "Brad Jones" in the wrong alley could lead to the death of innocents.

Brad Jones will be down from 5 to 6AM for routine maintenance, following which it will no longer be permissible to disturb his routine.

If Brad Jones had been born a girl, his parents were going to name him Cleopatra.

Brad Jones plays without a cup. His opponents think it just makes him scarier.

If Brad Jones were granted three wishes, he'd wish for three more, but only three, because hey, be reasonable.

Remember that to Brad Jones and his people, a smile is an expression of hostility. If you wish to express your affection for Brad Jones, rub the top of his head.

If Brad Jones could only tell stories, the stories he could tell.

Brad Jones shot the sixth, seventh, and eighth Beatles.

Brad Jones is my brother, yet he's heavy.

In time, everything will be true of Brad Jones.


statistics (old post #13, 15 feb 00)

Posted on February 14th, 2010 by Scraps.
Categories: Comedy, Old Posts, Untruths, Words.

There are more Brazilians in Brussells than there are in Sao Paulo.

There are forty-seven words for "Abba" in Swedish.

Shouting "Bronco Nagurski!" while leaping from the shower to bed in a single bound is responsible for 90% of accidents in the home.

Left-handed people are disproportionately represented in Benetton ads.


old post #12, 17 apr 96

Posted on February 14th, 2010 by Scraps.
Categories: Comedy, Lists, Old Posts, Untruths, Words.

I taught Madonna to eat, sleep, drink, breathe, ride trains, open envelopes, file taxes late without penalty, drop heavy objects from tall buildings, execute perfect triple axels, throw darts accurately with either hand, compensate for the distorting effects of rear-view mirrors, cheat, fly (with or without wings), sprint backwards, extract revenge with no chance of prosecution but with full knowledge of the victim, open child-proof packages effortlessly, play accordion while retaining her friends, tighten belts, loosen sockets, chew gum in a beguiling working-class manner, groan convincingly, belch like a lady, construct origami pets of every genus, pop corn in her mouth, lead oppressed south americans to freedom, defend a field hockey goal mouth, swim, dropkick, shimmy in a corset, tap the zeitgeist in her dreams, and die in her sleep.

In return, she taught me to relax. Ahhhhhhhh.


perhaps a bit too close to home

Posted on February 25th, 2008 by Scraps.
Categories: Cartoons, Music, Untruths.

Sent to me by Velma:

What she chooses to live with.


library amusement

Posted on October 10th, 2007 by Scraps.
Categories: Music, Musicians, Untruths.

The New York Public Library has put a big "YA" sticker on Jens Lekman's album When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog.

By the way, I suppose it has been much mentioned how much he sometimes sounds like Stephin Merritt? e.g., on "Julie".


lost clue

Posted on June 13th, 2007 by Scraps.
Categories: Music, Songs, Untruths.

I'm not familiar with the whole list of Paul Is Dead clues, so I may well be repeating an old one that I've never heard:

Was "Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes" ever cited as a Paul Is Dead clue?


"complete", a continuing annoyance

Posted on April 1st, 2007 by Scraps.
Categories: Untruths, Words.

We recently got a DVD player that can play discs from any region. The main immediate reason I wanted one was to get the Complete Secret Policemen's Ball box. So I looked at a couple customer reviews. You guessed it: not complete.

In particular, it is missing the single piece I wanted most: Lenny Henry's monologue as Trevor Nettleford involving cat flaps, babies, and James Bond.

Looking a bit further, I find that the "complete" Mr. Bean is also shorn of a couple crucial sketches.

I don't understand why they are allowed to get away with saying "complete". It's one thing to be misleading, but there is no wiggle room with the word "complete". It is an absolute. How can it be legal to market these products this way?



digital thimblerigging

Posted on December 29th, 2006 by Scraps.
Categories: Stuff, Untruths.

Today at my temporary reception gig, we received a junk fax that's apparently very common. It has no headers -- a federal violation in addition to the federal ban against unsolicited advertising faxes -- and pretends to be a memo from Human Resources, notifying employees of a "company vacation package". It's a scam, of course. What astonishes me is that anyone, anyone at all, falls for the transparent bogosity of the pitch. Who calls these alleged people and gives them a credit card number without, well, at least checking with Human Resources?

I amused myself for a little while tracking down information about these crooks, and discovered an excellent resource for dealing with junk faxing scum, where you can either learn how to spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to get these bastards to stop, or spend a little bit of time giving information to this guy who is apparently obsessed with stopping them (and thank god obsessives like him exist).

One of the more discouraging developments of the information age has been discovering just how many con-man wannabes there are out there. It used to be you needed at least a bit of charisma and a good line of patter. Now all you need is a computer.

1 comment.

another way of avoiding writing about peter cook

Posted on December 15th, 2006 by Scraps.
Categories: Stuff, Untruths.

Cook offhandedly refers to Hitler's short stature in one of his loony pieces. Hitler being short is a widely accepted piece of casual knowledge that one sees references to from time to time. But it isn't so. Hitler is usually listed as 5'8", and people who knew him well estimated him from 5'7" to 5'9". He was certainly taller than Mussolini and Franco, for example. He was normal height, in other words; if anything a bit tall for the time.

So how did the idea that he was short get into circulation? Is it because of cartoons? Because it makes a better story? Because Napoleon was short? Us short folks got enough trouble without getting saddled with Hitler, damn it.


doesn't mean what you think it means

Posted on December 12th, 2006 by Scraps.
Categories: Books, Untruths, Words.

We picked up Tragically I Was an Only Twin: The Complete Peter Cook from the library, a marvelous collection that deserves a better post than it's going to get right now. Right now I'm just going to complain about the subtitle. "Complete" is an unambiguous word. "Collected" often gets used with deliberate ambiguity by the publishing industry -- to my mind "Collected" ought to be a definitive edition, either complete or as close to complete as the author wanted it to be, and anything less ought to be called "Selected" -- but at least when a far-from-definitive collection is called "Collected", the publisher can say that there's no lie in the word. Not so with "Complete". To begin with, this collection doesn't include Bedazzled. Okay, a whole movie script would perhaps make the book unwieldy. It must at least be a complete collection of his shorter pieces, right?

No, not close. The introductions make it clear that this is a selection: "It's a collection of Cook's finest writing . . . Of course* it's not a compendium of everything he did . . . Cook produced far more comedy than you could fit into one book. But it is a pretty comprehensive summary..." That's fine, except for the word "Complete" on the cover and spine. I don't think a blatant lie should be excused with a shrug just because it's marketing and we all know what marketing's like.

* Feh.


what century is the post office living in?

Posted on May 29th, 2006 by Scraps.
Categories: Cartoons, Stuff, Untruths.

We received junk mail from the Post Office yesterday, a post card encouragement to use their "premium forwarding service" on those occasions when we're out of town.

There is a dumb Cathy Guisewite comic strip on one side, and on the other a single panel that might be Guisewite as well; it's "drawn" in her "style".  The single panel is titled "Vacation Mail", and shows two in-boxes, labeled "Hers" and "His".  "Hers" is stuffed full of items, mostly catalogs and magazines; they are labeled with words like "Sale", "Gossip", and "Shop".  "His" is a few neat letter-sized envelopes, labeled "Bills".


hey, europeans: you can love rocknroll, but you can't make it

Posted on May 20th, 2006 by Scraps.
Categories: Music, Music Criticism, Untruths.

At the same EMP conference where Stephin Merritt got pilloried for liking "Zip-e-dee-doo-dah," David Thomas presented his latest expansion upon his theories of the incontrovertible Americanness of rocknroll and the falseness of anything claiming to be rock that is not American, and excited no controversy whatever. Thomas has been beating this cultural purity theory of rock for years, and appears to get a free pass because, well, Thomas is a lunatic anyway, right?

The Existence Machine has a fine and thoughtful roundup of Thomas's statements on these matters over the years. Some Thomas quotes:

Rock is electrified folk music. It is not catholic but parochial, not a wide tent but a narrow road. It is in the blood. [...] The answer to 'Can foreigners play rock music?' is no. No. Not under any circumstances. But sometimes they can sure sound good if they don't try.

[. . .]

Rock music is the native music at the heart of American culture. Artemy Troitsky said to me, "The most ordinary rock band playing in a garage in Nebraska has an authenticity and urgency that cannot be found in even the best bands from England because they are playing their own music." Rock music is in my blood. It's not in yours. You presume too much to think it is. I do not claim Tolstoy. You cannot claim Elvis. Your question also presumes that culture is something that can be frozen in time. It presumes that rock music was never anything other than a youth phenomenon designed to sell clothes and provide tight-jeaned boys to chicken-hawkers. It assumes that what is popularly believed must define the reality of any situation. The Beatles will be a footnote in 50 years and forgotten totally in 100. Don Van Vliet, Sky Saxon and Brian Wilson will still be honored.

[. . .]

[M]usic should be regional, it should speak directly of a specific place on the planet, of a specific geography, of a specific time, otherwise music is a function of merchandise and market. If it is not related to a specific geographical location, if it doesn't speak of a small community of people, then it isn't music. I have a real simple way of looking at things, so most of the stuff you hear on the radio by definition isn't music. I've got no problems, it's everybody else who has to deal with labels and confusion. I suggest to everybody that they adopt my model of thinking. It's easier this way.

1 comment.

stop beating my wife

Posted on February 4th, 2006 by Scraps.
Categories: Sports, Stuff, Untruths.

My hometown team is in the Super Bowl, for the first time in their thirty years of existence. I am reasonably excited about this, and may post about it.

But. Please, please do not send me that nonsense about Super Bowl Sunday being the number one wife-beating day of the year. It's not true, and someone sends it to me every damned year.

I think the urban myths that bug me the most are the ones that people want to be true. These are necessarily made up by someone mendacious, but the credulous lazy believers are at least as responsible for the spread of these lies. The worst ones recently have been the series of racist emails that have circulated in the wake of Katrina (you can find several of them here), each of which was of course started deliberately by some overtly racist scumbag, but were passed along, I would guess, mostly by people who would deny being racists but nonetheless found the lies easy to believe (probably because the stories generally match up well with the socially conservative political and cultural propaganda that's been spread by the right-wing media machine over the last couple decades -- propaganda that always avoids overt racism while playing shamelessly upon covert racism -- and because of the ease with which people can be made to believe that people worse off than them are basically responsible for it, even when they are victims of a natural disaster*).

That wasn't a tangent I was expecting to go off on. Welcome to my ADD rant generator.

* And, of course, victims of a corrupt, incompetent, indifferent, cynical, racist federal government and presidential administration.


if he'd believed in an afterlife, he'd be spinning

Posted on January 9th, 2006 by Scraps.
Categories: Science Fiction, Untruths, Words.

I just discovered that Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary -- the publishing industry standard -- misspells Isaac Asimov as "Issac".

I am not kidding.


they didn't say that

Posted on August 7th, 2005 by Scraps.
Categories: Quotes, Untruths, Words.

I'm fascinated by misattributions, and I think I'd like to make a web page of them. There are a few particular names for whom quotes are always suspect, because clever lines will be attributed to them regardless of evidence: check twice before believing a given line was uttered by Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, or Dorothy Parker.

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Commonly attributed to Voltaire. But there's no evidence of the quote before the twentieth century; you can check Bartlett's 9th and 10th editions (from 1901 and 1919) online, for example, and not find the quote -- though of course there's plenty of Voltaire, including a quote ("God is always on the side of the big battalions") that is from a letter than Norbert Guterman said contained the "defend to the death" quote; Richard Shenkman says the quote is nowhere in the letter (and I don't read French).

It's a fact that Voltaire was never quoted on the "defend to the death" quote, at any rate, until years after it had been said by Beatrice Hall (under the pseudonym S.G. Tallentyre) in 1907. She did say that it was something Voltaire might have said; ever since then it's been credited to Voltaire.

Gregory Feeley adds:

I too collect misattributions. There are as many interesting-but-little-known ones as there are interesting-and-well-known ones, such as those discussed here. Briefly, two:

"Madame Bovary, c'est moi." Universally treated as a genuine Flaubert quote, it first appeared in a 1907 treatise written by someone who had never known Flaubert. He gave no citation, and the quote runs counter to everything Flaubert ever said, in letter or conversation, regarding his fictional character.

"Close your eyes and think of England." I noticed many years ago that no reference work of familiar quotations includes this, and that while the line is very widely quoted as something said by Victorian mothers to their soon-to-be-married daughters, I never saw it in any Victorian work. It sounded, in fact, less an authentic Victorian remark than a smug twentieth-century characterization of Victorianism (we still like to imagine that Victorian women had a horror of sexuality, even married, which is quite untrue.)

Eventually I came across what is probably its first appearance: an Edwardian (or slightly later) diary, written by a woman who was speaking about her own experience, and rather archly. It was never said by mothers to their daughters.


  • Our place in history is as clock watchers, old timers, window shoppers.
    - Billy Bragg