The History of Television for Visopix. Enjoy.
In might seem callous to say, but you always know a particular strand of a group has gone a bit bat-shit mental when people start blowing themselves up in the name of said cause. And though the leaders of the Third Reich had somewhat already undermined their sanity with some of the most horrific years of persecution and unparallelled atrocities in modern history, they still had time for a touch more crazy come the close of the war.
Named after the Spartan King who took 300 hardened warriors into battle against the tens of thousands of Persians at the Battle of Thermopylae, the Leonidasstaffel – or Leonidas Squadron – were a special branch of the Luftwaffe who were meticulously trained as suicide pilots towards the end of the Second World War.
Plans for a manned version of the V1 missile had been drawn up after the missile’s flaws began to be shown up by adept fighter pilors and anti-aircraft gunners, who often shot down the auto-piloted weapons with ease. Its accuracy was also often sent awry by the sheer strength of the engine’s vibrations.
The solution? The Reichenberg.
The Reichenberg was the brainchild of Hanna Reitsch, the female test pilot-extraordinaire, and the villainously-scarred figure of Otto Skorzeny, liberator of Mussolini. For them, the answer was simple: form a brigade of willing young recruits to pilot the planes directly into their targets, preventing any chance of technological error.
The Führer was unimpressed; the weapon was still far slower than the Japanese Okha equivalents, and therefore were easier targets for enemy fighters nearby. He insisted that these Selbstopfermänner (self-sacrificers) be given a means of escape before they flew to their deaths. So modifications to the project were completed, volunteers from the Luftwaffe amassed, and the recruits’ training began – once they’d signed the declaration:
“I hereby voluntarily apply to be enrolled in the suicide group as part of a human glider-bomb. I fully understand that employment in this capacity will entail my own death.”
The squadron gained little success from their limited active period. An initial tactic of ramming German bombers rarely proved effective, and those pilots who did manage to eject from the doomed wreckage were often simply obliterated by the enraged Allied gunners. Then in 1945 during the Battle of Berlin, as battle-weary German troops defended across the Oder river in the capital, Lieutenant Colonel Heiner Lange and a fleet of 35 pilots took out Soviet-held bridges with what German documents described as a a “highly successful” project. History suggests these reports were near-wholly inaccurate, and in reality only one bridge was significantly damaged in the attack.
After this final scramble in defence the Leonidas Squadron – and indeed the Nazi forces as a whole – had little else to offer. The war was mercifully soon over.
Occam’s Razor - The simplest solution with the fewest assumptions is always the best.
Hanlon’s Razor – Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock – English league footballer for Liverpool. Geezer.
We all know what Sports Direct are like. We abide the terrible service and labyrinthean caverns that contain their shops because we’re getting cheap sports deals. We’re ok with this. However, matching their online service to delivery company Yodel is the equivalent of getting a dog to cook you dinner and only giving him an apple.
Having already left an entire box of books outside my front door in my absence over Christmas (which was, unsurprisingly, sharply nabbed), Yodel then kindly proceeded to “deliver” my latest package – clearly marked “Fragile” – over my fence.
I wrote them an email to inform them of their delivery service’s ineptness in a precise and calm manner, and received a cryptic email in response. I have removed the names below to maintain anonymity.
Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to you and the service you have received,
I am going to conduct a thorough inquiry, bearing in mind all the points you have raised and I will take whatever action appropriate, to endeavour to ensure that we do not fail to offer the correct level of service to our customers at all times.
When my investigations are complete, any action that we find necessary to take against any member of staff will be dealt with as an internal matter and the outcome will remain confidential, in accordance with our Company disciplinary procedures.
Sorry for the inconvenience caused
[Name] | Sports Direct Customer Services
Thanks for your semi-mollifying reply.
Whilst it’s hugely reassuring to hear that you will bear in mind my complaint – which you quite succinctly summarised as: ‘all the points [I] have raised’ – I can’t help but feel you might have slightly missed the point of my email and/or not actually read it.
It may perhaps come as a surprise to you given the tone of your reply, but my complaint didn’t actually involve any of your own members of staff. I can assure every time I have been in a Sports Direct I’ve been met with nothing but the exceptional sullenness and apathy that I expect from one of your company employees and therefore claim no “beef” with any of them. If you’d have read as far as the second sentence in my email you’d have realised this, but I understand don’t worry – your inbox is probably pretty full.
In fact my complaint actually centered on the delivery company Yodel, who deemed that a package marked as “Fragile” in big shiny capital letters, was worthy of being blindly hurled over my garden fence into a bubbling pit of lava. OK, there wasn’t actually a pit of lava there, but you get my point – there could have been.
[Name], I am hugely glad to learn that you are going to conduct a thorough inquiry, but given my doubts over you actually reading my initial email, am not entirely sure you are necessarily the meticulous authority I’d like to conduct it. I was wondering if you might consider any of the following preferable options:
- Miss Marple
- Lieutenant Columbo
- Hercule Poirot
- Sherlock Holmes
- The Hardy Boys
- Jonathan Creek
- That woman off Murder She Wrote
- Sarah Lund (might need to centre of any Danish strands of investigation)
- D*ck Van Dyke
- Monk (you may need to factor in his OCD requirements, so I would perhaps suggest spacing out the shops to be a little more Feng Shui)
- Mulder & Scully
- Inspector Gadget
- UK Garage Sensation DJ Pied Piper
- Patrick Kielty
- Ant and Dec
- The Backstreet Boys
- Huw “Party Boy” Edwards
- God/Allah/Buddah/Any other omnipresent deity
- Ray Winston’s massive head
- An apple tree
- Brian Blessed
- The wind
- Some Bombay Mix
- Some Bombay Aloo
- Some Bombay Sapphire
- Mario Balotelli
- Shaggy (at least I know it wasn’t him)
- A chimpanzee
- A photo of an apple
- A top hat
- A goat
- An apple
If you need to take any witness statements or require any other information about my complaint, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’d be more than happy to help with the inquiry.
Best of luck with the investigations,
UPDATE: I got a further generic email a month or so later, so I passed on a further note…
Thanks for your swift response (this is sarcasm) and for passing on my comments to your brothers/sisters-in-arms. I wonder if there have there been any results from your investigation?
Forgive my impetuosity and impatience but in the absence of your response I resolved to kick off a parallel investigation.
On the 30th of March I employed a private detective named P.I. Dazzlewick to look into this matter. Dazzlewick is something of a maverick: he don’t play by no rules but he does get sh*t (shit) done. He also was the only private investigator on Gumtree.
Though his addiction to Dib Dabs sometimes slows his workrate, Dazzlewick’s savviness and sassiness give him the upper hand over mystery, and in this investigation he stopped at nothing to get to the root of the problem. He determinedly interrogated each of my neighbours with techniques he learned in the T.A., including old Mr Crabtree who has had a recent hip replacement and did not take to the stress positions well. He also dusted for fingerprints on my whole front garden but unfortunately it was raining so no strong leads were upturned.
Despite these set-backs, P.I. Dazzlewick came to the following conclusions:
- Yodel employed an ape to deliver my order
- Yodel probably have employed apes to deliver all orders
- Yodel may well be entirely run by apes
- 80 year olds do not like waterboarding
- Tuna mayonnaise and ginger biscuits combined taste of vanilla ice cream
- Yodel are a terrible delivery company
I pass on these case notes in the hope that they might aid your manager’s investigations. Do let me know if you need any further details, you can usually call Dazzlewick on: 020-CRIME-KIL. The phone may be answered by his mother, Mrs Dazzlewick.
Picture the scene:
It’s a cold, biting Wednesday in January. The football season is beginning to reach a trotting pace, and Liverpool vs Manchester Utd in the FA Cup 4th Round lies in wait for the UK at the weekend. Four ITV football producers sit in a pale, unadorned room, the air conditioning on that little bit too high for a winter morning in London.
One suit looks around – he’s clearly in charge – eyeing the others with hungry contemplation as his eyes dart between them in expectation. “Well?” he asks.
The other producers furtively flick through their scribbled notes. One man’s sweat patches defy the chilly atmosphere. He’s nervous. They all are.
“Roy Keane…Paul Ince.”
He pauses, but it’s not for effect. He mumbles the last name: “Gareth Southgate.” The boss sighs with contemplation. “Couldn’t we get any more ex-Manchester United or ex-Liverpool players?” he enquires with a slightly pained grumble.
They shake their heads. They’d Wikipedia’d the shit out of Sunday to no further avail.
“Well I suppose they’ll have to do. It’s not like we can have non-ex-footballers now, is it?” He accents the ‘non’ with the kind of scorn normally only used by Kerry Katona on her children. He chuckles, and his minions quickly follow with sycophantic giddiness. The decision is made.
Saturday arrives. Roy, Paul and Gareth are up with Adrian Chiles, live on ITV. They haven’t got much in the way of insight to provide between them, but that’s OK, as Chiles the pro is always at hand.
Things start well: Paul Ince makes a fantastic point about both teams wanting to win…a lot. He says “a lot” with so much sincerity you’re almost tempted to believe it’s an interesting point. It isn’t though.
The chummy anchor then makes a funny about what would have happened if Andy Carroll had been in the Manchester United dressing room with that slick, oleaginous horse’s tail haircut. Keano doesn’t bite – humour isn’t something he can do without at least a day’s notice – he simply sits there seething, maniacally itching to return to his locker and slaughter the kitten that’s he left in there earlier.
Ince continues to warble on like a nervous cockney sparrow, making little sense but ticking the ‘ex-of-both-teams’ and racial cards (it’s EVRA VS SUAREZ day, remember, even though neither are playing) neatly. Job done.
Southgate tries to save the day with some “real” insight and talks about how much both sides will be looking to keep the ball early on, not make too many mistakes. But no matter how enthusiastically Chiles nods his head, the audience already knows this.
It’s a disaster. And yet the producers don’t see. They never see.
This pattern is repeated cross-channel on a weekly basis, and each time troubled minds like my own berate their television screens with a despairing hiss:
Why do you persist with giving dour footballers, former and current, the self-appointed authority to describe things that, quite frankly, readily apparent?
Thankfully, with the birth of the “new media age” of webcasts and podcasts there are dozens of ready-made replacements who are always at hand to provide some genuine sporting knowledge. These people are eloquent, astute and often funny. Contrasted to Andy Townsend, Dwight Yorke and Alan SheareZzzzzzz, shouldn’t this be a searingly easy choice?
There are certain circumstances when the footballers’ speak-before-you-think policy can work, mainly when the pros are played for chuckles. Soccer Saturday has learned to play up to the semantically licensed and cliche-driven footballer’s language, never really taking itself too seriously, and Goals on Sunday puts the players in a more comfortable environment (sometimes too comfortable) where there is a preference of reminiscence over actual tactical analysis. Vinnie Jones’ appearance on the show was a joy to watch.
The problems arise such as with the aforementioned day, when my enjoyment of a football match is hopelessly tempered by the presence of vacuous punditry from the pundits on display. It simply needn’t be this way. Intelligent, well-informed and insightful journalists are out there who could fill the role with gleeful skill.
Let’s consider three key attributes when commenting upon football live on the television:
Vocabulary – Having a reasonable gamut of words and synonyms at hand to employ during conversation can allow the speaker to voice his opinion with greater clarity and engagement. Footballers and ex-footballers have a notoriously limited verbal dexterity, and their favourite books tend to be either their own autobiographies or, at the very least, other sportsmen’s. Generally speaking, the only time a footballer comes across a new word is when his iPhone corrects words like “Nandos” to “nanometre” or “narwhal” in his texts. Not that either of those would be particularly helpful in football, but you get my drift.
Witness Jamie Redknapp (not) literally dribble under-constructed sentences of which if you were to quote them verbatim, it would be a struggle to comprehend. Just imagine how many other words the tight-trousered tool could use to praise a quality instead of his cherished, and ultimately meaningless:
At the end of the day, Jamie, vocabulary is a top, top requirement.
Research – I’m not going to make the assumption that footballers don’t do any research before they step up to the cameras on, but if they do it doesn’t often show. This is unproblematic when they are waxing lyrical about one of the top clubs in the country or continent, as there tends to be some handy residual knowledge of such subjects. However, it does mean they’re a little thin on detail when it comes to the smaller clubs. Hence watching shows like Match of the Day as a fan can leave you screaming at Alan Shearer’s droning whirrs, “NO, NO, NO. PAUL SCHARNER DOES NOT PLAY IN DEFENCE FOR W.B.A.”
Contrast this to the encyclopaedic knowledge of Spanish football that Guillem Ballague employs in Sky’s Spanish coverage (and that Matthew Boulton formerly did before Sky shamelessly ditched him for – surprise, surprise – ex-Benfica and Chelsea dullard Scott Minto) and across the breadth of quality soccer podcasts around the globe; it almost pains me. It shouldn’t need to be this way.
Comprehensibility – Aside from the fact that no-one has the faintest idea what language Ossie Ardiles is using when he appears on Sky’s La Liga show, there are still endless examples of ex-footballer “analysts” making less sense than a drunk with echolalia.
It’s a recently-invented fact that approximately 60% of the sentences that come out of ex-footballer’s mouths on television are nonsensical brainspills. Another 25% are cliches, of which over half are misused. Probably.
Whatever the numbers, there’s little doubt that footballer pundits, untrained in media, struggle to piece together a intelligible sentence without the assistance of familiar phrases. There’s no real comprehension that goes into their words, they’re just repeating like a schoolboy who has overheard some exciting new swear words and wants to impress his mates.
“Ironic in many ways,” Peter Beagrie will say as an ex-Scunthorpe player scores an own goal against his own club. As viewers we’re required to gloss over this and carry on listening. But I don’t want to.
No Peter, I’ll say, it’d only be fucking ironic if the ex-Scunthorpe player had scored the own goal after his new club had just paid for to go on one of Frank Sinclair’s “Stop Scoring Own Goals” courses in Scunthorpe. Even then it would be ironic in just the one way.
Sometimes the footballers will try and go off-piste from conventional cliches, but this can have fairly disastrous consequences:
So who ticks the above boxes? Of the current crop of footballer pundits, you’ve got very few. Alan Hansen was good before he became a parody of his own personality, and Lee Dixon provides some genuine insight on Match of the Day, and Lawro can his less up-his-own-arse moments. Over at Sky, there’s Gary Neville, who’s bucked all the trends of footballing pundits to win over even the stoutest of City fans, and then there’s…ummm…um…mm…did Jeff Stelling play football?
I implore you TV producers. Next time you sit down together to try and decide which pundits you’re going to get for the live game, just stick one actual journalist, non-ex-footballer in there. They can even have played at semi-pro level. Give them a try; I promise you won’t regret it.
One day we’ll get some genuine football analysis that we can be proud of, that tells us something new, that we can understand. I literally can’t wait until this day finally arrives.
NEXT WEEK: Why can’t football interviews ask a proper question with a question mark on the end like this?
Luis Suarez isn’t all bad. Like that prick in Liar Liar he’s got some kind of evil claw effect on his whole right side. Here’s the proof.
Well nothing – NOTHING – beats boredom like whittling away an hour or twelve trawling through the beguiling comments section on YouTube. Fishing for lunacy simply comes easier on some websites.
Amongst video makers and commenters alike, YouTube appears to be the modern day asylum, the place to go to voice your shit-hurlingly mental views upon a mildly interested global audience. Choose any random video with a few thousand views and you’ll be sure to find dozens, if not hundreds of quickfire asides placed by passing surfers from Melton Mowbray to Michigan; from ประเทศไทย to Madrid上海.
Some are genuinely witty; some are clearly lost in translation, which, of course, makes them even better. Some are undoubtedly placed on the new communal wi-fi on Ward M.
Rather than blab on incessantly about why I like these brain burps, it’s plainly better to let them do the talking themselves. The first installment looks at SuBo’s first X-Factor audition back in 2011. With 175,000 comments, we’ve got plenty of room for silliness, and yet somehow we end up cramped…
On SuBo’s video, we’ve clearly got two main viewpoints: the lovers and the pokers. The lovers have the clear numerical advantage, but I’m not sure they’ve generally got a full grasp of the English language:
But as the delectably mamed wiraphone tells us (I think), SuBo is just so inspiring she’s likely to make us, well…
If ever there was an argument for grammar, there you have it. I’m sure they meant well at least, but here is a key ingredient in the recipe for hilarity – the lack of full comprehension either in the semantics of words, the fundamentals of punctuation or indeed the English language as a whole.
The pokers spring up intermittently in hope of stirring the nest of bees. Some do it with subtlety.
Some not so much.
Fortunately the lovers are always on hand to dispel any dissent.
Thanks FUdogcops – love the name by the way. Anyway, next up on the morality soapbox is foreveryoungmusic96, who has some words of wisdom for us:
Thing is, I didn’t really like foreveryoungmusic96 from the moment I saw they’d liked a video of Justin Bieber, so I’d advise ignoring everything they say. I bet he or she aren’t even good looking.
That’s perhaps very presumptuous of jvboy88, but SuBo did teach us that we can all live our dreams.
There ain’t no bigger praise than that.
I’ll leave you with the parting gift of the impossibly wise words of the Vestux123, proving the age-old maxim that if you’ve got a 123 against your name, people listen.
He is Vestux123, he really is.
The Daily Mail’s website, Mail Online, recently became the most visited online news source on the planet, overtaking The New York Times to reach over 45 million unique users in December.
Yes, you read that right. They’re a news source.
A quick flick through their website and its, let’s say celebrity-orientated stance on the world, seems to undermine this claim. No-one doubts the traffic figures are at least comparatively correct, but are they really a news source.
I decided to dig a bit deeper in their content. By analysing all the pages indexed by Google over 2011 – over 2m – we can get an idea on how they reported on the news across the year. The results, if perhaps unsurprising, are at least intriguing. Take a look below.
Incidentally, the word “Kardashian” was found in 36% of their indexed pages. It was obviously a big year for her.