Displeasure Parenting Stunt 2007


*This is a companion piece to a similarly-themed article on Karen’s site which, all things being equal, should be published at roughly the same time.*

Santa Claus is a big pile of bollocks. He’s what you get when you take two historical figures who are famous for gift bringing, blend them together, allow it to ferment for about 100 years until a dominant form emerges that bears little resemblance to either of the originals, hijack it for advertising purposes, and then continue using it for advertising purposes for another 80 years.

“You cynical bastard, ” some whiney git whines, “are you going to deny your son the tradition of Christmas?”

That depends, I reply. Are you talking about the tradition of giving? Or the tradition of demanding? The tradition of generosity? Or the tradition of shopping?

Once upon a time, Santa had good intentions. But now, he’s a corporate shill.

“But, ” the whiney whinotrope continues to whine, “children are innocent and beautiful. They don’t understand such foulness. They are incapable of conceiving such things. To them, Santa is a good man, for he brings them gifts.”

Exactly, I reply. Isn’t it our duty to protect children from the things that will cause them harm? If they don’t understand the dangers of wanton consumption and the worship of consumerism, surely we should be keeping them as far from it as possible, rather than burying our heads in the sand and saying “Oh, I’m sure it won’t do any long-term damage. We can always un-train them later.”

I’d love to be able to embrace Santa Claus. Like Jesus Christ, I agree with everything that he stands for. But his legacy has been poisoned by the people who have co-opted him for their own profit. I think that everyone knows this, but most people are too afraid to act on it. There’s pressure coming from all directions to perpetrate this destructive tradition.

And then there’s the whole magic/lies argument, which needs no introduction. In a nutshell (hmmm, apparently it *does* need an introduction) you’ve got “I shall tell my child the truth” versus “I shall let my child believe in magic, for innocence passes so fleetingly, and magic is fun.” Both sides of the coin have their pros and cons. I’m going to play that one by ear, I think. Half of my brain wants to encourage honesty, truth and trust with my son, but the other half wants to give him a memorable childhood that is full of wonder and awe and mystery. Pffft, exaggerated shrugging action.

*Next week’s stunt post will be on the subject of Christmas decorations – look out for it on Monday.*


An irrefutable argument that sarcasm isn’t actually the lowest form of wit

Cockney rhyming slang.

Displeasure Guidance

How To Leave Pipex: Part 2

If you are lucky, an email from arrives with the subject line “Migration Away Confirmation”. It contains a few paragraphs saying words to the effect of “We’re sorry you’re leaving, are you sure we can’t persuade you to change your mind?” It also contains a delicious MAC code, of the format ABCD0123456/EF78G. The email also contains a reminder that if you are still in the first 12 months of your contract then there will be a cancellation charge to pay. It would be extortion, if it weren’t for the fact that you agreed to it in the contract.

Sign up with your new ISP

This, hopefully, is the last contact that you will ever have with Pipex. All you need to do now is hop over to the website for your new supplier, enter in your details on their signup page, including this MAC code, and then choose a switchover date. It needs to be within the next 30 days, as MAC codes have an expiry date. Don’t worry about downtime – there shouldn’t be more than half an hour between the Pipex service terminating and the new service commencing.

Go to your new supplier’s web page and note down any changes to the settings that you will need for your router. You will also get an email from your new supplier with the new username and password. These will need to be entered into your router when the relevant time comes. You may find that there is an overlap, during which you can use both your old and new ISP, but it’s safest to assume that you won’t, so make sure that you have paper copies of everything that you might need.

Your new ISP should have an “Order Status” page, which you should follow on the changeover date, but the ultimate test will be to enter your new username and password into your router and try to connect.

*Continues here.*

*Part 1 is here.*

Displeasure Guidance

How To Leave Pipex: Part 1

14 months ago, I moved house. Pipex don’t offer a “Move House” service, as such – you have to cancel your own account and start a new one. Pipex are one of the few ISPs who still enforce a 12 month minimum contract, and as a result, I found myself once again chained in. I wish that I had been thinking a bit more clearly that day.

My Pipex contract is “unlimited”. This means that I can download as much data as I want. Oh, but then there’s a Fair Use Policy, which means that if I’m downloading “too much”, where “too much” is calculated by some magic secret formula, they can put me on the slow pipe. Oh, and they cap peer-to-peer traffic to about 10KB/s in the evenings, which is exactly when I want to be using it. Nice.

Basically, they’re unable, or unwilling, to supply what they originally sold me. So I’ve found someone competent, and today I began the process of migrating.

Phone Pipex

Phone Pipex on 0845 072 2865. Press the relevant buttons to get through to the right department. Ask for your MAC code. They’ll ask you why you’re leaving, and you tell them why. Be as polite as possible – remember that the person that you are on the phone to has feelings too, and they are not personally responsible for the atrocity that is Pipex. They will tell you that they are sending your MAC code in an email, and it will take up to five working days. You ask them why it takes five days, and why they can’t just tell you the code over the phone. They reply “Ofcom allows us five days to send you a MAC code.” You may have noticed that this does not actually answer the question, but hey ho, so it goes.

For the next five days, watch your inbox, and Spam folder, like a hawk.

*Continues here*.

Displeasure Stunt 2007

What would you put in Room 101

*This is a companion piece to a similarly-themed article on Karen’s site which, all things being equal, should be published at roughly the same time. We have not read each others entries before publishing, and have taken care not to discuss them.*

*Title suggested by Ade.*

Corrupt Governments

I’m fucking sick of it. I’m sick of governments that surreptitiously act in the interests of their commercial sponsors, whilst feeding an endless stream of lies to the people whom they are supposed to be working for, laughing their socks off because they know that the majority of their citizens are too dumb, naive or optimistic to realise that they are being taken for a ride. I’m sick of wars on terrorists, wars on drugs, wars on monks. Where’s the fucking War on War?

The Entertainment Industry

At the point at which entertainment needed an industry to keep it alive, it ceased to be entertaining. The industry took over, and now it’s just like another form of drug peddling. Entertainment, true entertainment, is sitting on a sofa with a friend and two guitars. It’s throwing a ball with your kid. It’s watching drunk men stumble home. It’s riding a bike down a muddy hill, with the ever-present threat of falling off. It doesn’t need DRM, because it can’t be duplicated.

I understand the appeal of CDs and television, obviously. I’m not suggesting that we destroy it all, because there’s a place for it in a well-balanced diet. But I believe in moderation, and remembering how to make your own fun.


Do not want.

Displeasure Meander


Last night, at the end of a long journey, I noticed that I was being followed by a red Vauxhall Astra at an uncomfortably close distance. I did what I always do, which was to slow down a bit. Ostensibly this is to protect my wife and son, but I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t also partly to teach the asshole behind that tailgating doesn’t pay.

As I took my turning off of the main road (slowly, of course, in case there are pedestrians crossing) I took a glimpse at my rear-view mirror, and noticed the driver of the red Astra shaking a loose fist at me.

A number of thoughts went through my mind, but the most prominent of these was a certain satisfaction. I would have hated to go to all that effort, only for it to be completely unnoticed by him. In fact, by acknowledging my actions with that particular gesture, he demonstrated that he knew what I was doing, and why I was doing it.

I consider this to be one of my greatest victories.

Displeasure Food

High fructose, low satisfaction

Karen was forced to rescind on our lunch arrangements, leaving me somewhat up in the air. This is a figure of speech. I was not really up in the air. I was stood on the ground, and then shortly thereafter, sat back down in my chair.

So I went to the nearby sandwich shop for the first time in months. I used to go there every day, before realising exactly how much money I was wasting, and all the marvellous things that I could do with that money instead.

I purchased a can of Coca-Cola to go with my sandwich and my bag of crisps. Upon taking my first sip, I was unimpressed. It didn’t taste quite right. Close, but not close enough.

I turned the can over in my hand and realised the cause. Again, I didn’t *literally* turn the can over, because this would have resulted in the drink pouring over my lap. I actually rotated the can, whilst craning my neck to silly angles until I could read the (very helpfully) vertically-orientated text.

This drink had not been canned in the UK, but it was actually made to the US specification. For the last 22 years, Coca-Cola from the US has been made using High Fructose Corn Syrup, or HFCS, instead of sucrose. This is for the simple reason that it is cheaper, because importing sugar into the US is ridiculously expensive, and corn is ridiculously cheap. Other soft-drink manufacturers do it too, along with producers of other processed foods across the nation.

The Coca-Cola corporation, unsurprisingly enough, claim that there is no difference in flavour between Coke made with HFCS and Coke made with natural sugar. To which I counterclaim: O RLY? ((Now that O RLY has passed out of vogue, I feel like I can get away with saying it))


Naughty West

Everyone knows that credit card companies hate people (like me) who pay off their balance in full, every month.

Though I could set up a direct debit to pay my credit card bill, I’ve never got round to it. Instead, for the last few years I’ve been manually logging in to NatWest Online Banking once per month to do it manually.

Recently they’ve introduced a new feature ((perhaps it was there all along, I don’t know)) to simplify this process. Instead of having to remember how much your last statement was, there is now a new screen which prepopulates this data with the balance of your most recent statement, as well as giving you the following options:

Payment Amount And Date

Yep, the default option is “Pay the minimum amount”.


Computing Displeasure

Pipex Don’t Care Anymore

Back on the 27th October I told you about the trouble that I’d been having with [Pipex][]. Here’s a short update.


> **Sent:** 30 October 2006 16:31
> **From:** billing@dial.[pipex][].com
> Dear Mr P [redacted],
> Thank you for your reply.
> I can confirm that the credit of £35.19 for the security suite invoiced in error (on your new account) has been refunded back to your card today on 30.10.06. Please allow 3-5 working days for this to clear with your card issuer.
> I have arranged a pro-rata credit on your cancelled account for the period of paid subscription after your cancellation date. The total credit of £9.38 shall be refunded back to you within the next 28 days.
> Please accept our apologies for any confusion / inconveniences which may have been caused by this matter and if you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us.
> Kind Regards,
> JR
> Finance Team

I replied, of course.

> **Sent:** 30 October 2006 16:55
> **To:** billing@dial.[pipex][].com
> *Dear Mr P [redacted],*
> *Thank you for your reply.*
> *I can confirm that the credit of £35.19 for the security suite invoiced in error (on your new account) has been refunded back to your card today on 30.10.06. Please allow 3-5 working days for this to clear with your card issuer.*
> Thank you
> *I have arranged a pro-rata credit on your cancelled account for the period of paid subscription after your cancellation date. The total credit of £9.38 shall be refunded back to you within the next 28 days.*
> As I wrote in an email on Friday, I requested a cancellation date of 15th September, but for some reason it seems that the cancellation actually occurred a few weeks later, on 3rd October. I believe this to be an error on the part of someone at Pipex, and I feel that I am entitled to a refund from my requested cancellation date of 15th September.
> Regards,
> Pete



It feels wrong that by attempting to play a malformed ((not physically – I mean in terms of the data on it)) disc, it should be possible to crash your DVD player, to the point at which the on/off button does not work, and the only way to get the disc out is to pull the mains lead out the back and put it back in again.

However, I made a discovery this evening.

The mind boggles. Bring back mechanical on/off switches.