Tuesday, 29 July 2014

If Gaza Were Ireland

English: A republican wall mural in coalisland...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As the world stands idly by and Ban Ki Moon waffles incomprehensibly about peace, it struck me what would have happened if Britain had behaved in Northern Ireland as Israel has in Gaza and the West Bank.

It's the same sort of gig, after all. The occupation of a territory and all that. Religious divisions and an artificial border. 'Freedom fighters' bringing their violent protests over that border into the heart of the occupying power.

Except the IRA was actually quite good at it, where Hamas is rubbish. The IRA killed hundreds of British citizens and soldiers, in fact murdered thousands in their campaign for Irish freedom. Hamas' rocket attacks have yet to hit a significant target or result in any major loss of life - claims for fatalities from rocket attacks so far total two Israelis and a Asian worker. Even the recent celebrated kidnapping and killing of three Israeli youths turned out to have no connection to Hamas. And the provocation dealt out in Gaza to cause these attacks is all too little discussed. Those rockets didn't come from nowhere - they were Benjy's reward for his vicious little campaign against the coming together of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

The whole - bloody - conflict in the North since the start of 'the troubles' (whether you date them back to 1916, 1922 or 1969) has taken a smaller toll of human life than the Israeli-sponsored massacres in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps alone. The Israelis are already well over a third of their way to beating the total all-time Irish Troubles Death Record after a couple of weeks' conflict in Gaza. That's some going.

Imagine the global reaction if the UK had sent in helicopter gunships to blow apart Irish Republican houses in Nationalist areas of Belfast. If our response to bombings such as Canary Wharf were to send in ground troops and tanks to lay waste swathes of houses around the Falls Road and reduce whole districts of Tyrone and Armagh to rubble? If our troops poured shells into schools and our politicians glibly trotted out platitudes about them being used as human shields for bomb-making factories? There was a huge political and civil rights fallout from the few - highly targeted - extra-judicial killings that UK forces carried out - but these (and no, I am by no means justifying them) actions were pinpoint intelligence-led operations, not high explosive bludgeoning of tenements, terraces, schools and hospitals packed with innocent civilians.

What values, then, prevented our Western style democracy from acting in the way that Israel has acted towards the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza? How is it that the British - for all their pursuit of influence and power in Ireland over the centuries - found a fundamentally more decent way to manage conflict with rebellion against our occupation - against paramilitaries - than tearing their adversary's children to pieces?

Would the British people have been supportive of our government's bloody treatment of a people under our occupation if we had been blowing up their houses, degrading their basic infrastructure and killing innocents? Or would we have concluded that our government was monstrous and refused to let our whole society be led into unforgivable monstrosity in the name of a 'war against terror'?

Imagine if we'd killed a thousand Irish people in a week-long 'ground war' against the IRA in Belfast.

Do you think the world would have stood idly by as Ban Ki Moon waffled incomprehensibly about peace then?

Monday, 21 July 2014

Of Gaza And Telegenically Dead Palestinians

Gaza-boys-fenced-in
(Photo credit: AlphaBetaUnlimited)
I have long been struck by how little people back home knew - or cared - about the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Advancing that understanding was a big part of my intent in writing Olives - A Violent Romance, which has a go at perhaps deepening a reader's understanding that the situation behind those nice, easy to understand CNN or Fox bumper sticker headlines is perhaps all a little more nuanced than 'Palestinians are all terrorists and the good guys are trying their best to sort out a nasty and difficult situation that's not of their making'.

I got an email yesterday from an American reader who said she was thinking about what was going on in Gaza right now all the more deeply because she'd read Olives. It was sort of nice to get and I know there are many others out there who feel the same way, so that all sort of makes the book worth the effort (without the millions, fame, fortune and all the rest it's clearly brought me).

And yet I still feel utterly impotent when confronted with the realities on the ground. I sat looking at Twitter last night trying to contain the surge of anger, trying to retain some sense of objectivity and not just fall off the deep end. I follow a lot of 'activists' and others involved in Palestine on Twitter and so my feed is rarely free of a clamorous little group whose intentions are of the finest, but whose constant barrage of one-sided opinion can be counter-productive. It gets wearing - you just don't want to hear it any more.

Watching the demolition of Gaza's infrastructure, the sight of F16s, precision guided artillery, helicopter gunships and now tanks, warthogs and troops battering one of the world's most densely populated - poorest and most desperate - cities was awful. It's beyond cynical - Benjamin Netanyahu's exploitation of Hamas' pathetic rocket attacks would only be possible in a country that has been consistently radicalised by the constant propaganda pushed by a polity with a wholly evangelical Zionist agenda.

Could you even contemplate a Western politician responding to international outrage at the unacceptable civilian cost of his government's military might being hurled at a defenceless city with the charge that the other side was 'piling up telegenically dead Palestinians'? They're pulling lifeless, dusty little bodies out of the rubble every minute - over 300 innocents are dead already in this latest incursion. And Israel's leader demonstrates his regret by accusing the children his military have murdered of being telegenic? God help us all.

Those impressive sounding Hamas rocket attacks have not killed a single Israeli. There are no Israeli children being pulled out of the rubble. In return for which Israel is pounding densely packed population centres with all the might of a modern military machine, blasting away at the rats slithering around in the dustbin of Gaza. They've got nowhere to go: north, east, west, south. They're all 'legitimate targets' as the Israelis mendaciously blether about ceasefires and continue to send high explosives, flechettes and fragmentation warheads into homes, hospitals and schools.

And so sitting in my comfy chair in Sharjah, I watch it and the only thing I can do is get the hell off Twitter before I lose it completely and become yet another skewed, furious voice railing against the monstrous unfairness of what they're doing, the awful media reporting (TWO ISRAELI DEAD screamed one bold type headline, only underneath did we see that some three hundred Palestinians had chosen to run into explosives) and my own complete impotence.

I didn't even want to write this, just let my book stand as my effort and comfort myself that if only a few people are watching all this and thinking about it more because of what I've done, then that's a good thing. But, of course, I'm kidding myself. A stupid book won't change one iota of what's happening. Nothing I could possibly do will.

So I went upstairs and watched it all on Sky. At least then I was just shouting at a television and not constantly restraining myself from flinging abuse at people tweeting recipes for butterfly cakes just because I care about this and they've chosen to prioritise how much butter makes the sponge as light as an angel's kiss.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

We Are Amused

English: The Tenth Dalai Lama, Tsultrim Gyatso
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The strange and, well, basically 'wrong' minds behind the Pan Arabia Enquirer have long provided me with much gentle amusement, even though I have been associated with many who have for one reason or another been horrified, outraged or otherwise disgusted by the shenanigans of the Middle East's only satirical news website.

For years, Spot On training sessions have been enlivened with exercises based around probably the world's greatest headline - and I really don't want to expand any PAE egos here, so you lot can stop reading right now - Dalai Lama In Bananarama Karama Shawarma Drama.

The site rarely fails to amuse - but even funnier than the satirical content is the reaction of the Middle East's inhabitants, many of whom wouldn't know satire from a Mars probe. The comments to the Gold Class Lane To Abu Dhabi story (just one of many, many examples) are beyond priceless. And many PAE stories attract similar violently ignorant - and consequently hilarious - opprobrium. 

Remembering the reactions to one's own mild attempt at satire, all those years ago, Ten Word Arabic, the PAE's crop of well-meaning crazies trying to put the clearly skewed news reporting right are a thousand times more outraged and all the more chucklesome for it.

Anyway, this post is just to say I bought some t-shirts and mugs and stuff from them on InkMash to take home with me on leave as pressies.

And yes, that's it. That's the post. If you wanted insight, context or analysis, I suggest you go read Gulf News...

Friday, 4 July 2014

Bee Bones


Back in 2007, a post on uber-blog Boing Boing alerted me to a new website from Harper Collins Publishers called 'Authonomy'. The site allowed you to upload the first 10,000 words of your book and then have other writers critique your work or vote it to the top of a pile to be read by a Harper editor.

I posted about it a lot at the time, pimping my first, silly, book Space - which I uploaded to the site. I also posted about my disaffection for a process and website I came to see as debased, not because my book didn't win a gold star (because it did) but because the gold star was actually duller under its micron of plating than the average Shiny.

Authonomy did something marvellous for me, though. It allowed me to meet other writers - to learn from them, to share the ups and downs with them. It transformed my approach to writing and led to me writing more books and, I like to think, better books.

I've kept in touch on a regular and almost formal basis with a group of ex-authonomites, the feared and shadowy Grey Havens Gang. And I've kept in looser contact with a number of the people I met during my month-long odyssey propelling Space to the top of the greasy pole. You know how Twitter, Facebook and all can keep people sort of popping up every now and then.

One such is Richard Pierce. Like everyone else I knew on authonomy, he never got picked up by Harper as a result of winning the monthly plugfest, but he did get taken up by British publisher Duckworth, who published his novel, Dead Men. Which I thought was a tad funny as that wasn't the book Richard was shopping on authonomy - that was a book called Bee Bones. It's a long time ago now, but I remember Bee Bones being pretty popular on the site - a stark and yet very human book that explored a young man rooting about in his dead mother's life.

Having had his taste of the conventionally published life, Richard has taken to self publishing - and so Bee Bones is coming out as a self published novel, some seven years after I first came across it on authonomy. Which is a while, I know, but then it took Olives - A Violent Romance about the same length of time to become a book rather than a manuscript.

I'll be buying it - I enjoyed it on authonomy as I enjoyed so many books from a selection which I thought at the time consistently threw up better and more diverse reads than I could find in my local bookshop. A number of the writer friends I made have been published - a few conventionally (a couple becoming best selling novelists) but many more taking the self-published route (a couple becoming best selling novelists).

So if you need a book recommendation, take this one. Richard's Facebook page is linked right here and when he presses the button and lets Bee Bones out into the wild, you can be among the first to know.

I hope he doesn't mind me nicking his cover...

Friday, 27 June 2014

The Infinity Conundrum

Rainbow mosaic infinity
 (Photo credit: mag3737)
Professor Liddle seemed to appraise his visitor coolly. Urquhart wore a camel greatcoat and a trilby. Unbuttoning the coat revealed a moss green suit, on his feet brown brogues finished off the odd appearance of a man outside his time. Liddle may have expected to see such a figure at the finishing post of a 1960s race track rather than in the sparkling modernist chrome and smoked glass surfaces of the Advanced Physics Institute.

'It was regarding your Turing Memorial Lecture yesterday, I came, actually,' Urquhart helped himself to a seat in front of Liddle's neat desk. 'I hear it was fascinating.'

'It appeared to have been well received, I do flatter myself to think.'

'What was it? "On Infinity"? I'm surprised it wasn't endless.'

'Very droll, Mr?'

'Urquhart. What was the premise? We are all atoms, wasn't it?'

'Not at all. I explained that we have an altogether too finite view of infinity. We see infinity as being really very big, but rarely do we afford the concept sustained thought that would allow us to truly appreciate infinity as it really is. So when we regard the universe as being infinite, we think of it as an expanse of stars that goes farther than we can see or imagine. It's a little like primitive tribesmen regarding the night sky as heaven. The scope of our imaginations and experiences limits how we can possibly conceive of the infinity of infinity.'

'I'm certainly starting to feel small. You shared a rather fantastic illustration, though.'

'It's by no means fantastic. If you wish to begin comprehending the vastness of the concept of infinity, you could perhaps regard the sun as being an atom and our planets as particles surrounding that atom. If that were the case, then we would be part of a larger entity, so huge that we could barely conceive of it. We would possibly be an atom of Flourine. We might be an infinitesimal part of a very large frying pan, for instance. And that frying pan would be held in hand by a woman cooking in a kitchen on a landmass on a planet so huge that we, standing on a particle of a single atom of Flourine, would find it hard to even scale in our tiny minds. And yet she and her planet are part of another atom, an infinitesimal element of an even greater hand in a greater kitchen.'

Urquhart shifted in his chair. His brown eyes were alive and inquisitive and he waved Liddle on.

'So as we imagine this onion skin of worlds of infinitely larger size, we must also conceive that for them time moves at an infinitely slower pace. Our smaller size quickens us. We are correspondingly more volatile, you see? If the universe is truly infinite, even our concept of time has to give way to an infinite range of the passing of time.'

'I think I do. But you are talking of remarkable scales here. It all sounds, well, fantastical.'

Even his visitor's vocabulary seemed a little old fashioned, Liddle may have pondered, but his mind wouldn't really have been on his audience, but on his favourite subject and he would have been on a race to complete his thought process. 'Infinitity is by its nature fantastical. So we have dimensions to infinity, not just the planar infinity of a universe so large we cannot imagine it, but a universe so small we cannot imagine it. You see? And then we have infinity of scale and of time to take on board. How many thousands of lifetimes on our planet will pass before that frying pan containing its atom of flourine as part of its non-stick coating will be put on the hob and heated. And how long will the changes of that heating process take to manifest themselves in our solar system? You start to see the scale?'

'Yes, but-'

'And so it is for our own frying pan. We are on a scale, just one layer of this infinite onion skin of nested universes, our own frying pan contains countless million solar systems, each containing in its turn countless million more.'

'Which is all very well, but it doesn't explain the odd leap to nuclear-'

Liddle's animation took on an annoyed edge. 'Odd leap? Don't be a fool, man! Think about it! Our universe consists of a perfect amount of mass, which never changes. We might change the state of matter, but we don't change the amount of matter. And so there is balance across this whole infinity of universes. Except for one small problem: every time we split an atom for nuclear energy, we are releasing the power of the destruction of an infinite number of universes smaller than our own. That wondrous release of inexplicable energy is because we are inflicting infinite gigadeath on countless, increasingly infinitesimal, planets and systems. In our natural state we disturb nothing in the universe, but this constant atomic holocaust is inflicting untold destruction in the infinite layers below us. And I believe as an ultimately self repairing system, as all natural systems are, the universe will move to stop us in time.'

Urquhart sat forward, his face unhappy. 'It is a fascinating view of things, Professor, but it has sadly cost your whole audience their lives as, I am afraid, it will cost you yours.'

'I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean,' Liddle twisted in his chair to rise, but there was a gun in Urquhart's hand and Liddle would only have had a second to note the darkness of its little mouth when a sharp report followed by a tremendous impact to his head flared his world into darkness.

Urquhart placed the gun back in his pocket and peered over the desktop at the dead scientist splayed out on the floor. He died because he knew too much and talked too much and spread dangerous ideas that had all too much impact on the gullible and impressionable public. And someone has to weed out thinking like that before it gets out of hand and threatens our cosy view of the world, a view so important to the functioning of a healthy society. It's a job that knows no limits and is, like the universe around us, timeless. But someone, you'll understand, has to do it.

You might have worked out by now that I am Urquhart.

And I'm behind you.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

On Writing Books

Quill
Quill (Photo credit: campra)
There you are, head thoroughly in the clouds. You're in the middle of a rainy day in Thurles, Co. Tipperary. It's cold and there's a wind - what they call in Ireland a 'lazy wind', the type that can't be bothered to go around you but goes straight through you. The thud of a car door sounds and footsteps scrunch on the wet tarmac. A man pulls his coat around himself and then you get a Man From Porlock.

It's like being torn out of your life and jettisoned instantly to another time and place, suddenly finding yourself in the 25th century in a massive space station, surrounded by little bald naked green men making strange inquisitive hooting noises and poking you. It's a moment of almost existential discontinuity.

Can't you see? You want to scream. I'm writing!

British poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge it was, feverishly jotting down the vision he'd experienced during a particularly vivid opium binge, who was apparently interrupted by a knock on the door. It was the Man From Porlock, the nearby village. Coleridge dealt with his visitor and returned to his poetic vision only to find he'd forgotten the rest of it. The poem (It's the one that starts 'In Xanadu did Kubla Khan, a stately pleasure dome decree, where Alph the sacred river ran, through caverns measureless to man, down to a sunless sea'. You can tell the years of being beasted by increasingly frustrated teachers weren't entirely wasted, can't you?) stands as one of the great creations of poesy, a fragmentary, brilliant thing. But it ends badly.

Sometimes it goes well and the words cascade off your fingertips like flicked butterflies. Sometimes you just sit staring at the screen and drooling. More often you wander off to Twitter, making some awful excuse about 'taking a break' or 'building one's author profile'. I might be lying about the latter, only a complete arse would think of Twitter as being any good for that.

But the worst thing in the world is when you're in your other world and the words are tumbling and someone thinks the scandalous price of broccoli is something that you need brought to your attention RIGHT NOW.

Apart from that, it's all going very smoothly, thank you. Taking a bit more research than I'd reckoned on, the story twisting in my hands like an over-excited anaconda with a sparkler up its bottom, but that's okay, that's how it goes.

All of which is my way of saying sorry for not posting very much, as if anyone cared whether or not I did anyway. And now, if you'll forgive me, I'm off back to a cold day in Tipp...

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Shaheen The Camel. A New Gulf News High.


Gulf News is breathlessly presenting the World Cup match winner choices of 'Shaheen', a camel apparently blessed with octopus-like powers of footbally prescience. Or as GN puts it, 'our resident hump-backed football genius."

Shaheen is placed next to two signs, each representing a team about to play. Just in case we forget this is about football, the speculative ungulate has a football tied around its neck. Shaheen then picks a team by attacking one of the two signs, which appears to have been festooned with a sock dipped in the camel equivalent of catnip. Camelnip?

This is the top local story on Gulf News' website today. It confirmed something I have long held dear as a belief. I'll let you guess quite what that is...

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

HSBC IVR SNAFU

Looking Upwards at HSBC
(Photo credit: lipjin)
HSBC has, in a moment of rare brilliance, broken its IVR. Not that it was ever an IVR to write home about in the first place, but now they've really cemented things and ensured it doesn't let you do telephone banking.

The one thing you'd want a telephone banking system to do, really. But then my expectations are probably set too high. Maybe I should expect my phone banking system to be set up to let me craunch a marmoset or perhaps provide me with philosophical inspiration. Because it sure as hell can't perform a transaction.

IVR is, in case you're interested, Interactive Voice Recognition. It's the phone system where.robotic.voices.tell.you.to.press.1.to.be.annoyed OR PRESS two.to.be.really.annoyed. It doesn't really have to be about voice, it can be keypad response. I'll never forget Rick Dees' highly amusing breast self examination hotline IVR gag: "Welcome to the Rick Dees breast self-examination hotline. Press one. Now press the other one."

Anyway, if you want to transfer money between accounts and you have multiple accounts (I do. There isn't enough room in one account to hold all the money I have, see?), you are now presented with a list of accounts to debit. Let us assume I want to transfer from my number two account to my number one account.

Foryour HSBC.UAE.Advance.Account.0...2...0...1...1..TWO...press ONE. For.other.accounts.press.two.

So you press two.

Foryour HSBC.UAE.current.account. ZERO....too...ZERO...WUN...ONE...2 press ONE.

So you press one.

Please.select.the.account.to.credit. Foryour HSBC.UAE.Savings.account.. 0..2...0...0...FIVE...0. Press ONE.

And that's it. You can't actually choose the account to credit and the account to debit. It's broken. Bust. Kaput. Borked. Non-functional. Usefully challenged. Without point. Eff all use.

So, heart heavy, you call the call centre. 

"Hello. Your IVR is broken."

"I'm sorry sir, I didn't understand you. Did you want to have your car washed, top up your credit card or craunch a marmoset?"

"No, I just want to tell someone at the bank that the new IVR is functionally broken. It won't let me transfer between accounts." I nearly say it's pining for the fjords but remember in time that you never, ever try to make a joke with the HSBC call centre or F16 strikes are called down on your house.

"I know the new IVR is complex sir and hard to understand and I appreciate your difficulty. Can I do the transfer for you?"

"But you're just reciting a script you've been given because of the high volume of complaints you're getting and that doesn't alter the fact or escalate the information to someone who could act on it that the IVR is actually functionally non-functional. Ineffective. Not fit for purpose."

"Yes. Umm. No. Is there anything else I can do for you today?"

They're taping the call. I hang up because I know what I want to say won't read well in the court transcript of my verbal abuse case.

I hate them. With a passion.

But then you know that...


Monday, 9 June 2014

Amazon, Createspace And When Customer Service Goes Heroic


So my third serious novel, Shemlan: A Deadly Tragedy is only available online, there's no Middle East edition. Don't you just loathe people who start sentences with 'so'? Me too.

You can buy Shemlan as a paperback from Amazon.com (and the various Amazon dots), Barnes and Noble, The Book Depository or order it from any independent bookshop in the world by citing the ISBN number 978-1493621934.

It's a rather smashing book. I strongly suggest you do one of the above. The kitten might just make it through, see? This here handy link to the buy links for the book shows you where to get it as a paperback, Kindle ebook, Nook, on your iPad or, in fact, as any other ebook reader format ebook. But the paperback can be yours wherever you live, from Alaska to Kamtchatka. The Book Depository even ships it FREE OF CHARGE!

Do it now, you'll feel better. It's okay, I can wait. Here: I'll even do a reminder link.

Right? Great, thanks. Anyway, the reason you can buy Shemlan as a paperback anywhere in the world is because of a clever little Amazon owned operation called Createspace. Createspace allows authors to mount their book online and then prints out books to order using POD technology - Print (or Publish) On Demand. So they put an ISBN number in one end and a printed paperback with a nice glossy cover filled with wonderful words comes out, gets put in a shipping box, addressed to you and arrives a day or so later.

So when you hit that 'buy' link on Amazon or any other serioo book website, Createspace prints your book to order and despatches it to you.

A POD book is barely different enough from a booky book printed on novel paper for most readers to notice a difference. The quality is just fine.

It's all pretty marvellous, really.

However, there's trouble in paradise. People in the UAE hate buying books online - and Amazon hates selling ebooks to the Middle East. So most people don't bother buying the thing, they wait for me to have stock and buy 'em direct from me or just don't bother at all. For this reason - including a couple of upcoming events I'm doing - I bought 20 from Createspace earlier this year. They're more expensive to print than booky books, no surprises there, really, and so cost about Dhs30 a copy landed. That's too expensive to make traditional book distribution make any sense, 'cos disties take 50% and so with a cover price of Dhs60 dufus here doesn't make any money. Not, incidentally, that I have to. But I sell 'em direct and at signings and so on.

My books never turned up. I kept popping up at Sharjah Post Office so full of hope and optimism it was starting to remind me of back in the day when I used to go there to pick up the inevitable wodge of rejection slips. Months passed. Nada.

So I eventually told Createspace about it this week. And within the hour they'd mailed me back, said terribly sorry and promised to ship me a replacement batch out priority. I have to admit, I was impressed.

But that was nothing to how I felt today when DHL rocked up at the office with a box of 20 books. They DHLed them to me! How beyond the call of duty is that? I got my 20 books FOUR days later!

I emailed them to say thank you. They mailed back:
It is because of comments like yours that we strive to be the very best. Thank you for your very kind feedback! Without members like you, we could not continue to provide the service you have come to expect from us.

Your comments are greatly appreciated, and I sincerely thank you for choosing us for your self-publishing needs.  
Best regards,
Abu-Bakr
CreateSpace Member Services
Now you might call me easily impressed, but I'm blown away. Totally. I'm grinning like a Cheshire Cat who's just done a major hit of Amyl and found out in that very instant he's won the Lotto and Kate Bush is coming to tea naked.

If you want to buy a book, BTW, be my guest! Just hit me up at the usual @alexandermcnabb. I'm off to see if I can eat dinner with this grin in place.

Friday, 6 June 2014

How To Drool A Frog - More Weird And Wacky Searches

Google Chrome
(Photo credit: thms.nl)
I occasionally dip into Sitemeter, the natty little analytics widget I don't use very much, to see what people have been searching to land themselves on this mouldy sub-corner of the Interwebs. I took such a dip today because I couldn't really get into the swing of writing for a while and decided to play a bit until the fancy once more took me to recommence my story of The Simple Irish Farmer, which is my WIP of choice.

I found that not a few people are clearly concerned about whether or not they put plastic in Subway bread - in fact thousands of them have Googled the topic and found themselves reading my take on the whole thing - their searches for truth leading them here. I find it very odd that a silly little blog like this can not only rank so high in search, but draw so many searchers for both this and the Tim Horton's French Vanilla Coffee is junk post. I am similarly pleased to say I have offered succour to thousands of punters who have been tearing their hair out at Chuck Norris the Trackpad on their Samsung S5 Ultrabooks.

Similarly, Sri Lanka Gems is a popular search term - and to my mild shock, my post about the gem and spice sales scams of Sri Lanka is number six result on Google. In the world. I mean, how mad is that? "Gemstones Sri Lanka" gets the same result, which I guess has Klout running around saying I'm influential about gemstones. A subject about which - I hasten to add - I am pretty much utterly bereft of knowledge let alone authority. A similar mind-boggling search anomaly is to be found in the phrase, "where did Nokia go wrong" which features this post on the first page of search results. And that's bonkers. Truly.

Somebody in Pakistan searched the Interwebs for the interesting-sounding "picrs sixi porn salik 17 21" which just led him here, which I am willing to wager a considerable sum was not the result he had in mind. Or even she, come to think of it. Apparently, online onanistic fortune favours the literate. And another rube got here by Googling "marage night fack movie". Were they after a fake movie or a fu... oh, never mind...

Search "online onanistic fortune". It's mine, all mine, precioussss...

Someone else was looking for a cartoon character curry - searching for "tom and jerry masalas", presumably to accompany a nice Daffy Duck Dosa. The searcher, rather worryingly based at Nokia's corporate headquarters over in Finland, got here instead. I say rather worryingly because you'd think they'd have a future to concern themselves about rather than playing about on Google looking for silly curries.

Another person arrived at La Blog by Googling "salmon farming in saudi arabia".

It's Yemen, dunce.

Then there are the surreal. I mean what did you think you'd get when you slammed "www.indianheroinafack blogspat.com" into Google? Blogspat. Love it. Interestingly, the 'perp' works for the Miller Brewing Company in Wisconsin, Milwaukee and was using a crappy old Nokia 5.0 browser. They got this for their troubles...

My favourite of this particular batch was the search term 'How to drool a frog' which really makes the mind boggle just a tad, but led its searcher to this post about HSBC's drooling incompetence. Which wasn't, I'm sure, what they were after. And no thank you, I don't want to know what they were actually looking for...

Any of them, come to think of it.
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