May 162020

By Suzanne Kelly.

Tally ho! Lockdown is bringing out the best in people; I’m getting more email than ever from lawyers of dead relatives in the Gabon and Bolivia than I never heard of, all wanting to give me money.

This is particularly heartwarming, as I’ve been singled out from the scores of relatives we apparently share in common.

All I need to do is reply with my personal details and a few hundred pounds and they’ll wire me millions. What a great thing the internet is.

Along with these generous offers I have email from people like ‘Claudia Hayman’ who emails saying I must pay her invoices immediately.

There is usually a ‘PAY NOW’ comment in Claudia’s subject line, and an invoice number – which means it’s genuine.

Funny though, she never says what service or item she’s invoicing me for, and Old Susannah must be getting forgetful, as I have absolutely no recollection of buying anything from her.

In the interest of saving time, I forward Claudia’s emails to people like The honorable Doctor Abraham Naki, who represents my deceased ancestor in Nigeria and who is about to transfer billions into my account. I tell Claudia that Dr Abraham will pay her invoices, as he apparently has US $8 million of mine.

By allowing them to talk to each other directly, I’m sure I’m making everyone happy while I stay well out of it.

Either I’m about to come into lots of money, or these people are scammers who have mistaken me for a run-of-the-mill Covidiot.

It’s ages since I wrote an Old Susannah column (thank god some may say), but I wanted No. 200 to be a landmark issue. I nearly wrote about poor misunderstood councillors Alan Donnelly and Jennifer Stewart.

He bravely continues to represent Aberdeen and won’t let a trifle like his conviction for sexual assault stop him collecting his remuneration – I mean bravely voting in favour of the ruling majority – I mean going to functions – er something like that.

And Jennifer; well, despite going to the newspapers with tales of her being bullied by unnamed councillors to the point of her being mentally ill, she didn’t let that stop her going to the press to stick up for Donnelly, questioning whether the sexual assault conviction was really a sexual assault (let’s hope the victim won’t find her remarks bullying).

But we are in lockdown, and it is time to write Column 200.

I’ve been doing lockdown, because I’m an overly-cautious, paranoid person who is too thick to realise I’m a sheeple, sleepwalking into giving government and vaccine companies my freedom for the rest of my life.

I’m clearly a stooge for following the ‘Stay at Home Save Lives’ NHS request when I could be throwing bar-b-ques and going to house parties. Or so some would have me think.

My lockdown has included BrewDog just as past columns have. I usually open my column with a quick look at what BrewDogs I drank in which BrewDog pubs.

I did this before I bought shares, I own shares now, and so do some 131,000 others. I bought shares because I wanted to see where James Watt’s and Martin Dickie’s dreams would go. They went large. Then Covid19 struck.

This is what they did next.

This photo shows me in my home-made BrewDog Neon Overlord costume (this being one of their brews a while back), which I made for the BrewDog Open Arms online pub.

Is it childish to dress up? Hope so. I will never stop enjoying such challenges when they come my way.

Like so many other businesses, BrewDog has lost a lot of income – c 70% since lockdown started. The Dog was not about to roll over and play dead though.

They immediately started making hand sanitizer in conjunction with the NHS. BrewDog has donated huge quantities of it to the NHS. Thanks BrewDog.

Elsewhere BrewDog has helped entertain, motivate and engage with people during lockdown that has reaffirmed every great thought I’ve had about them.

The online pub is a great place to virtually hang out with hundreds of others. On Fridays at 6pm there is normally a hilarious, frenetic quiz, a few words from Martin and James, and lots of silly dancing.

During the week there are other pub events too – eg beer yoga, virtual tastings, and (my favourite) art tutorials from the amazing Fischer whose art decorates BrewDog bars and bottles

This photo is my feeble attempt at doing one of his iconic whale creatures – the tuition was fine, my execution not so much.

I’m isolated at home with my cats (nb just Sasha now; Molly passed away), but when the BrewDog Open Arms is open, I sing, dance and laugh along with others, and I dare say many of us feel connected.

I’m currently drinking my favourite readily-available BrewDog, Jackhammer, but I recently discovered their delicious Zealots Heart gin. Juniper, angelica; the smell is divine – divine to the point I’ve broken out my home perfume-blending lab and am making my own version of the scent.

But I digress, and it’s time for some definitions.

Covidiot:  (noun) person who displays traits of gullibility, illogic, selfishness and/or good old-fashioned stupidity. Collective nouns for group of covidiots include: a Brian of covidiots (see photo below), a pandemic of covidiots, a murder of covidiots.

Never before in history has so much factual information been available to so many for free. Never before has it been so easy to corroborate information and separate fact from fiction. But for many, where’s the fun (or profit) in that?

Here is a look at some of the sub-species of covidiot:

‘I’m a Genius’ Covidiot:

We’re all of us so stupid, listening to the NHS, the WHO and the CDC. We could be taking our health advice from Kevin in Stockport’s sister’s friend who knows someone who’s a nurse.

Genius Covidiot posts go viral, they feature audio recordings of an unnamed, unseen self-styled ‘expert’ who tells you that Covid-19 is just the ‘flu or that if you shine a UV light in your mouth, you’re invincible.

Then we have the even smarter Genius Covidiot.

They are bravely protesting against the lockdown with a breath-taking array of signs. In America, many are financed by the far right, including the charming Dorr brothers, who like guns and want freedom (unless you’re a woman needing an abortion, or a person who wants gun law reform).

Here are some of my favourite Genius Covidiots.

(Moran, if you’re out there, hope you’ve got a Brian now. I recommend May, Eno or Cox)



It’s Pennsylvania, by the way – something most people who live there know. And… it’s ‘people’ not ‘peaple’.









Personally, I don’t think we’re paying frontline NHS enough to flip burgers let alone deal with Covid19.

Imagine taking the time to make such a kindly sign, but not knowing how to use an apostrophe or the difference between ‘there’ and ‘their’.









Paranoid Covidiot:

We see the Paranoid Covidiot in its natural habitat on both sides of the Atlantic, huddled together in protests. Many of them in the USA need guns because, well, rights.

To the Paranoid Covidiot the lockdown and coronavirus is all a government/Bill Gates/5G/Elon Musk/Leftist/Communist/Socialist/Illuminati/Vaccine company plot to permanently take away our rights and mandate that we be force-injected with poison, don’t you know?

If you don’t realise all this and protest, then you are not woke. On the other hand if you don’t attend mass protests, you may well outlive the Paranoid Covidiot all the same.

Survivalist Covidiot:

Also crawling out of the woodwork are the survivalists – a predominantly American type of covidiot.

They usually wear camouflage gear so they can blend into the background. They also wear unmissable bright red Make America Great Again caps so that they stick out to fellow Survivalist Covidiots.

Reading things like ‘Survival Times’ or emails from some guy named Sam, the Survivalist Covidiot should be able to survive every disaster known to man.

If you had taken their advice, you would now have an underground concrete bunker filled with canned food, turmeric and krill capsules, radiation suits and protein bars (and lots of guns and ammo and toilet roll).

If you had acted on some of their bulletins, you’d have stocked up on enough tinned Cheeetos and dehydrated tacos to last 15 years. Their missives warn that those who didn’t stockpile would be in terror during a crisis but the survivalists would be smugly safe.

And now that they’ve been asked to stay indoors for a few months to stay alive? The Paper Survivalist Covidiot is freaking out.

The ‘It’s all about me’ Covidiot:

This genre of Covidiot is typified in Kristin from Hastings:

“I’ve been going out and I don’t even have a sniffle,” she boasts online, advising that since she personally doesn’t know anyone who’s had it, then it is just a big joke.

If it doesn’t impact Kristin personally, it can’t be bad right? Kristin doesn’t know anyone who died? Let’s all go back to normal then. Thanks Kristin.

The WTF Covidiot:

The WTF Covidiots are the ones who’ve taken being a covidiot to new levels.

The ‘My Body My Choice’ covidiot has taken a pro-choice slogan, which would be fine, if not for the fact the highly-contagious virus can live for days on some surfaces, and a single infected person can infect scores, hundreds, even thousands in the case of South Korea’s Patient 31.

They are often American, almost always far-right.

This person supports Trump, who with his evangelical preachers oppose the ‘My Body My Choice’ mantra when it comes to abortion.

Thank you, mystery woman, for fighting for our right not to wear facemasks and freedom to infect others at large gatherings and all those they come in contact with; your contribution will not be forgotten.

Face Masks are controversial even among experts. Can they pose risks if used wrongly?Apparently.

Can they stop an infected person’s droplets infecting others? Seems so.

But dang, they’re just so uncomfy – and unflattering.

Thinking outside the box, a Kentucky woman has solved the problem.

No need to thank me for sharing this tip.

PS: do not agree to pull a bank heist with this woman.

The Head of State Covidiot:

I cannot express how I felt when Boris Johnson announced he had shaken hands with Coronavirus patients. Then he got criticised and said he hadn’t.

Then he fell ill.

Now he’s making speeches again. Thanks Boris. Where would the NHS be without you?

But in this pandemic, the greatest head of state covidit is undoubtedly Donald J Trump. I admire how flexible he can be – not afraid to change his stance from ‘zero cases’ and ‘just one person from China’ into recommending specific, as-yet untested drugs (which may add profits to the Trump family coiffers) and recommending that people ingest bleach.

You first Donald.

At the time of writing the valet who serves POTUS diet coke, Kentucky Fried and hamberders has tested positive.

I’m not worried for The Donald: evangelical preachers tell us Trump is God’s man on earth, and they’ve prayed for him. Bleach and prayers, that’s all you need – if you’re Trump.

The ‘I’ve found a new expert’ covidiot:

In times of pandemic, nothing’s more important than being the first person to push a radical theory or wacky pseudo expert.

So if your google search comes up with one chiropracter who has a radical theory about the disease, if you find a video from a woman denounced in her profession because she can’t run experiments properly – by all means share these peoples’ views on every social media page you can.

Join new pages, tell everyone how the world’s greatest minds are wrong/corrupt/in a conspiracy, but Dr Bloggs from Dumbarton or Muskeegee has the solution to the pandemic. That’ll help.

And if someone takes dodgy advice you’ve shared and falls ill because of it, well, that’s not your fault, is it?

I think that’s enough Covidiots for now.

Please isolate yourself from idiocy, please take any non-medical advice with a pinch of salt, do not buy all the toilet roll in the asda superstore, and please – don’t go to mass protests against lockdown, even if you do believe you have a right to a haircut or golf game.

Lockdown measures are designed to stop you joining the 30,600 dead in the UK and 279,000 dead worldwide – and taking others with you.

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Jul 142017

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

As small businesses look to compete, grow and develop in today’s fast-paced digital world, they need first-class connectivity that will support their business needs today and far in to the future, one of Scotland’s leading experts in digital industry has said.
According to Graeme Gordon (pictured), Chief Exec of Aberdeen-headquartered IFB – a leading managed service and data network provider – keeping apace of the digital transformation will ensure firms are not overtaken by competitors, giving opportunities to increase productivity and future-proof their businesses as the thirst for greater bandwidth continues to grow.

“Digital technology is developing at rapid speeds, and although small businesses may find it hard to keep up, we’re constantly working on new solutions to ensure all businesses, regardless of size, can stay ahead and have access to the best digital connectivity for their business and to suit their needs,” comments Graeme.

“There is now a new wave of full fibre digital infrastructure available in Aberdeen and Edinburgh which provides superior connectivity speeds, and opens up greater opportunities for businesses. World-class connectivity is the key to success for running any business in the digital age. That’s why we’re constantly striving to meet businesses’ digital needs now and for decades to come.”

Powered by this new full fibre infrastructure, IFB Ultrafast offers lightning speeds to support businesses and help them grow and take up new opportunities that the digital economy offers. It’s a platform for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – the backbone of Scotland’s economy – to be part of the latest tech transformation with connectivity that is fast, reliable and fit for purpose, as speeds and connectivity take on even more relevance to the way business is done.

An increasing number of everyday business services and applications are now online and used as a matter of routine, these cover banking, accounting, sales tools, customer management systems, voice telephony and critical data backup and recovery systems   – all of which need to be accessed reliably and securely to support  the day-to-day workings of all modern businesses.

Graeme adds:

“Connectivity is at the heart of how all businesses operate and the next stage has arrived. This state-of-the-art full fibre digital infrastructure provides blistering connectivity speeds to support SMEs now and moving forward.”

The ultrafast network is delivered by IFB and powered by CityFibre in Aberdeen and Edinburgh – two of Scotland’s ‘Gigabit Cities’. It is being hailed as an affordable independent network offering superior speeds that leads to increased efficiency and productivity by dramatically accelerating the digital capabilities of business, providing quick data transfers between locations for backup and recovery.

To find out more call 0845 270 2101 or email

Aberdeen-based IFB is one of Scotland’s leading managed service and data network providers. For over 20 years IFB has been providing critical connectivity and ICT services to the UK market place. Its key markets include the demanding on and offshore oil and gas sector, professional services and public and third sector. It designs, deploys, manages and supports key services including Cloud, Backup and Recovery, Internet Access, Networks, Hosting, Workplace Recovery and Telecoms through national, multi-Gbit/s network that links Aberdeen, Edinburgh and London points of presence.

IFB can be contacted on 0845 270 2101 or More about the company can be found at

CityFibre is the UK’s builder of Gigabit Cities and the national alternative provider of wholesale fibre network infrastructure. It has major metro duct and fibre footprints in 42 cities across the UK and a national long distance network that connects these cities to major data-centres across the UK and to key peering points in London.

The company has an extensive customer base spanning service integrators, enterprise and consumer service providers and mobile operators. Providing a portfolio of active and dark fibre services, CityFibre’s networks address 28,000 public sites, 7,800 mobile masts, 280,000 businesses and 4 million homes.

CityFibre is based in London, United Kingdom, and its shares trade on the AIM Market of the London Stock Exchange (AIM: CITY).

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Dec 162016

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

Graeme Gordon, Chief Executive Officer of IFB.

IFB, one of Scotland’s leading managed service and data network providers, has invested a further £1 million to expand its UK network capacities, specifically designed to increase fibre and ultra-high speed connectivity to firms across the UK.

Effective connectivity is critical for strong modern businesses in the digital economy with the demand not just being driven by devices – laptops, tablets and smartphones, but also from more complex data in sensors built in to the environments we live in.

Through its delivery of reliable, resilient, secure and fast connectivity to 1000’s of its SME and Enterprise business customers, IFB has the ability to move large volumes of business data around.

The investment allows IFB to continue this whilst delivering next generation fibre to the premise connections, assisting its customers in competing in today’s modern digital economy.

The investment has been made in new network fibres and hardware infrastructure connecting IFB’s main network and Data Centre hubs in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, London and Stavanger. As well as further enhancing the abilities of IFB’s super connected hubs in the London Internet Exchange (LINX) and at the Scottish Internet Exchange (IXScotland).

IFB also connects to Europe through trans-North Sea fibre connectivity, providing resilience and alternative routing for business data and traffic in and out of the UK. The investment is the next in a series of key developments IFB will be announcing during early 2017.

IFB’s CEO, Graeme Gordon commented:

“We are seeing rapid acceleration in the need, use and creation of diverse types of data from every shape and size of business, these businesses are sharing more data online and using more online applications and services.

“Cloud, or your data in an offsite data centre, means that getting to and from this data requires better connectivity – this ever increasing need will continue to grow as you combine more connected everyday object sensors and devices as part of The Internet of Things and as we start to talk about Industry 4.0 – seamlessly combining physical, digital and cloud based data and applications more of the time.

“We have seen a tenfold increase in bandwidth usage by our clients in the last three years driven by these and other key factors. For some time now our clients have not just been using the connections we provide to simply access the Internet, they are using it to back up and protect their data offsite, for access to online private and public applications, and to move more services such as voice and video calls off of traditional phone lines.

“This data demand calls for much higher, constant bandwidth availability simply to stand still, and in real terms much more bandwidth if you want to grow your market position. IFB’s investment means its clients can become much more productive and effective by creating and consuming the same amount of data in a much smaller period of time, or do much more in the same timescale.

“The enhanced network infrastructure also allows IFB to accelerate and deliver directly to the user, its own range of innovative and affordable cloud, data backup and hosted voice services to meet client’s individual needs.

“A recent survey by The Institute of Directors showed that 57% of its members store their data on owned or leased servers with 30% doing so in the cloud. 60% of members feel an increase in connectivity speed would improve competitiveness and 78% believed their organisation’s productivity would increase by an uplift in speed.”

IFB’s network expansion is part of a major project developed in partnership with one of its long term key technical suppliers, Softcat.

Seán Connolly, Account Director at Softcat says:

“We were delighted to collaborate with IFB to help expand their network capabilities. Our Cisco and Juniper technical design team complimented IFB’s existing skillset to deliver a robust, scalable solution fitting with IFB’s growth plans.”


Apr 012016

April_GogleFrom our special correspondent, April McNulty.

In the wake of the recent Trump US Presidential Campaign Google, a normally non-partisan search-engine, has taken a stance.
Outraged by the Donald’s deliberations on Mexicans, Google-Chiefs have today announced that the Trump organisation is decidedly a not for profit target.

They will instead concentrate on the newly emerging Alaskan Taco market.

“We candidly respect the rights of anyone within our inter-world globally focussed community to say what they like mainly and without prejudice or fear of perfidious litigation” said Google CEO Bryan Sordid,

“but from today on, we will be taking positive action to ensure that our web-content reflects only positive search news and sadly, and I cannot put it any other way, Donald’s public statements no longer provide a positive fit in the future Google global domination empire epoch-making strategy.”

From 9am this morning Google search engines will return false negatives in response to searches relating to the man and despite US Department of Justice compliance issues, search results which slip through the Google Trump search-ban will simply read “Error 404 – you have reached the end of the line please re-submit.”

Critics of the internet ban remain largely silent today however a spokesperson for the Hebridean village of Tong, the Stornoway ancestral home of Donald’s mother Mary Anne Mcleod, went on record as saying:

“I have no idea what all the fuss is about really, the man only spent around 9 minutes on the island. I kind of liked him despite the toupee. His chances of becoming president are nothing to do with me but I wish him well.”

Mr Trump’s mother was born in the village of Tong in 1912 and his father Fred, a property developer, seemingly married her following a romance conducted by letter.

Mr Trump’s office today was unavailable for comment.

© April McNulty

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Mar 172016

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.


Aberdeen CORE, the state of the art pure fibre network, is continuing to take root transforming Aberdeen into Scotland’s first Gigabit City. Aberdeen CORE continues to be rolled out, delivering a brand new ultra-fast fibre network and helping prepare city businesses for the explosion of data predicted in the years ahead.

The work continues as the Institute of Directors (IoD) has called on new targets to be set for world-beating broadband for the UK, amid claims that the UK is lagging behind many European nations when installing fibre optic cables that enable the fastest broadband connections.

ISP provider Internet For Business (IFB) partnered with CityFibre in the multi-million pound investment that is turning Aberdeen into one of the best digitally connected cities in the world.

Graeme Gordon, chief executive officer IFB believes that ultra-fast network offers resilience to businesses in the city.

He says:

“The amount of data generated globally is set to increase by 500% over the next 5 years.  90% of the world’s current data has been created within the past 2 years. 

“This indicates the requirement for businesses to transfer data and connect to the internet in a fast and secure manner is set to increase, meaning the demand for bandwidth will continue to increase.  There is an increasing requirement for businesses to ensure they have a sufficient amount of bandwidth to manage data now and into the future.  Gigabit enabled connectivity is a way in which businesses can manage this data growth effectively.

“In line with the global trend, IFB’s clients’ bandwidth consumption has been steadily increasing over a 15 year period, and is set to continue to grow. The demand for bandwidth is going to increase through time and supports the trend of increasing data usage.”

North Sea oil and gas plants alone each create and transfer an incredible 1TB of data every day.

Through close collaboration CityFibre and IFB developed a network route, covering the major business locations throughout the City and began the network build in April 2015.  The network route covers the key business areas within Aberdeen: the city centre, Altens and Tullos, Dyce and Bridge of Don, with businesses in these areas already taking advantage of the ultra-fast speeds of the Aberdeen CORE.

The IoD has called for faster broadband access for homes and business, with members saying that better broadband speeds could increase business productivity, make them more competitive, and enable them to offer more flexible working to their staff.

The IoD report follows communication watchdog Ofcom calling on BT to open up its cable network and allow competition to improve UK internet connections. Ofcom claimed there was a digital divide in the UK between those with the latest technologies, and those without and stated that decent, affordable broadband should be a universal right.

Graeme Gordon comments:

“BT routes go right back to nearly 170 years ago and like an incumbent national provider that has been deregulated it has struggled to keep competitive pace.

“It is heavily regulated in what it can and cannot do for good reason as the national infrastructure needs predictability and stability – if you look at the US for example where no single national provider exists for many reasons the areas of not spots and super-fast connectivity vary wildly, along with costs and service levels.

“In saying that we shouldn’t be looking back at how badly BT was deregulated or is performing but looking forward at the infrastructure and services levels we need from our national digital network.

“The end user cost and speed options for copper-based connections have plateaued over the last 3 years and the majority of land-based digital connections continue to drop in price per megabit and continue to deliver breath-taking increases in speeds.

“It is this drive for fibre to premise networks, such as IFB delivers with the Aberdeen Core network, that we should be looking to BT and other providers to deliver.

“Government can help here through smarter planning – where digital infrastructure must be part of granting planning permission for a new building or development as electricity and water are. Government should also look at how taxation affects the roll out of new fibre network and could encourage these through a lightening on the ‘fibre tax’ together with more progressive view on planning applications.”

As well as being a lead partner in Aberdeen CORE, IFB designs, deploys, manages and supports key services including Cloud, Backup and Recovery, Internet Access, Networks, Hosting, Workplace Recovery and Telecoms across the UK from its Aberdeen data centre.

For two decades IFB has been providing critical connectivity and ICT services to the UK market place. IFB service over 900 clients throughout the UK, with its key markets include the demanding on and offshore oil and gas sector, professional services and public and third sector.

For more information about IFB, visit or call 0845 270 2101.

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Jan 242014

By Bob Smith.
Working online

Mair fowk it seems are buyin online
Toon cinters noo are in decline
A click on tae ony online store
Aathing seen cams tae yer door
Fowk they claim es saves them time
Aboot local shops care nae a dime
As lang as fin they click the moose
The “stuff’s” deliver’t tae their hoose
Empty shoppies they’re aa aroon
Some are even bein rugg’t doon
Ither eens struggle tae survive
As yearly profits they tak a dive
Money nae langer spint in the toon
Causin city faithers tae hae a froon
Weel kent shoppies they gyaang bust
As fowk embrace es online lust
Amazon noo is fair takin ower
Bigger they git the mair the power
Add tae basket ye jist click
As throwe their website ye div flick
They say progess ye canna stop
An es is noo the wye tae shop
High Street shop’s wull be nae mair
As modern shoppers cwidna care
As lang’s they git fit they wint
An online orders are nae tint
They’ll click the moose fer ivver mair
On laptop screens they sit an stare
Toon cinters seen fu’ o ghosts
Shops an shoppers are aa lost
Online shoppin kills the trade
O local fowk fa war self made
So cast yer myn back a fyle
Fin city cinter shops hid style
On streets there wis a bustle
Syne online stores,trade did rustle
©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2014

Image credit © Alex Kirichenko | Dreamstime Stock Photos
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Dec 142012

A few lucky souls got an advance copy of Oh Myyy! There Goes The Internet, George Takei’s latest literary offering. Aberdeen Voice’s Suzanne Kelly was one of them, and she’s very glad indeed.

Wielding his pen with the same flair Sulu wielded a rapier in Star Trek, the wit of George Takei cuts grammar Nazis, spammers, homophobes, trolls and other ne’er-do-wells down to size.

Is this book an updated biography? Is it a how-to manual on effectively using social media? A treatise on tolerance and equality? A history of the internet? A philosophical discourse examining issues such as collective intelligence?

Perhaps it is a compendium of memes found on the net that will make you laugh out loud?

Yes to all these, and then some, including an examination of our fascination with the end of the world, and… bacon.

Taking its name from the exclamation of surprise now synonymous with Takei, Oh Myyy! mixes  pearls of wisdom with memes (those cute/funny/cringe-making photos and captions found on Facebook and other social  media websites). One moment the reader is presented with offerings such as:

 “Have we as a society forgotten the importance of satire in our cultural dialogue? Have we grown so afraid of offending that we no longer dare pose the hard questions, or even the easy ones?”

The next, he/she is laughing out loud (perhaps I should say ‘LOL’) at memes of cats or tweets directed to Schwarzenegger.

The book also charts Takei’s journey from his early Twitter forays to becoming the de facto centre of news and fundraising when the 2011 Japanese tsunami and quake hit. No one could have foreseen his meteoric rise as a presence in social media from his early tweets and posts, but his messages and Public Service Announcements have become viral sensations.

Whether tackling an increasingly-fundamentalist element of American politics and its anti-gay legislation proposals, or the insidious and insipid Twilight franchise, Takei sets out to entertain and educate us: this strategy is key to what he has achieved.

Takei is not infallible and is the first to admit this, for instance owning up to accidentally posting Facebook status updates meant for intimate friends which went world-wide instead.

One of the book’s recurring themes is his sense of social responsibility. While he wants to post items on his home page to make people laugh, he also genuinely wishes to help as many deserving causes as he can.

Recognised world-wide as a humanitarian (most recently launching an appeal for the people hit by hurricane Sandy), Takei has been decorated by Japan in recognition for services to Japanese-American relations.

He is heavily involved in his legacy project ‘Allegiance’ – a musical concerning his experiences as a Japanese internment camp detainee in America.  Takei is recognised the world over for his work to bring about equality for LGBT people, notably taking to task high-profile homophobic American figures.

Takei survived early life ordeals (spent in part in an American internment camp for those of Japanese ancestry and subsequent poverty before the family recovered) going on to carve out an incredible acting career, fight successfully for his beliefs, help just causes, and entertain like no  one else can on social media.  I personally think the secret to his tenacity, endurance and success is his sense of humour, which is splendidly wicked.

In the book’s closing pages, Takei asks us to ‘dig a bit deeper on the pressing questions of the day’ and to ‘remember to keep things lighthearted so as not to take ourselves too seriously.’ Truer words were never tweeted. Finally, he describes himself as ‘laughing alongside you as the naughty gay Asian uncle you wish you had.’ Takei is that uncle for several million people the world over.

This collection of gems will repay your attention with laughs one moment and food for thought regarding social issues the next. Fans of Takei (over 3 million Facebook likes) will perhaps appreciate most the author’s winsome tone ringing true in every sentence.

A famous model once said: ‘I never read any books I haven’t written,’ a risible claim as it was well-known her novels were ghosted. Takei may have had some help from his husband, some interns and others – but these are his words and thoughts presented in his own inimitable style.

Takei writes that he is dazzled and inspired by our technological society; this is evident in the way he uses media and in how he writes. It is often hard to remember this is a 75-year-old man; his energy and enthusiastic embrace of technology should inspire people of all ages to push the boundaries of their skills, to learn, and to explore.

Note: in Aberdeen, Silver City Surfers are ready, willing and able to help older citizens get to grips with computers and the internet. Contact them here if you need help getting online:

The downside for some Aberdonians is that, while George once referred to Donald Trump as a douchebag, he now seems to think there is a side to the Donald that is willing to listen. Many local residents will agree with Takei’s first assessment.

Below is a link for buying Oh Myyy! There Goes The Internet. This is not a read for the humourless, easily offended grammar Nazi troll, but it is great fun for the rest of us. As one Amazon reviewer put it:

“I got the e-book a week ago in the pre-sell and have already read it through twice and have directed many of my friends to get it for themselves. You will not be disappointed! Why haven’t you stopped reading this review and clicked on ‘Add to Cart’? ;)”

The pre-order copy has an extra chapter providing further insight into Takei’s world.  This closes with the words: ‘May we Live Long and Prosper Together,’ a noble sentiment echoing Star Trek’s famous Vulcan greeting.

Live long and prosper together? If more people had Takei’s social conscience, enthusiasm, optimism, humour and energy, then I dare say we could do.

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Apr 262012

Digital Unite’s Spring Online Week runs from 23 to 27 April, and Silver City Surfers is calling on over-55s to join them for free IT taster sessions. With thanks to Christine Dunhill, Silver City Surfers Co-ordinator.

Launched in 2002 by Digital Unite, Spring Online is an annual campaign which aims to help older people benefit from using email and the internet to keep in contact with loved ones more easily, and to use digital cameras to capture and share special memories.

An ONS report published in February claims that a significant number of Britons have never used the internet and that 67% of those are over 65.

Silver City Surfers has been running in Aberdeen for seven years and was set up by older people for older people to run free weekly information and hands-on IT sessions. Margaret Smith, Chair of Silver City Surfers is particularly keen to emphasise that tutoring is one-to-one, so that people can progress at their own pace.

Taster sessions will see volunteer experts teaching basic skills such as emailing and searching the internet.

Drop-in sessions will take place at:

  • The Citadel, 28 Castle Street, from 1100 to 1300 on Wednesday 25 April
  • Northfield Community Centre, Byron Square, from 1100 to 1300 on Thursday 26 April

These are open to everyone over 55. Especially welcome are those new to technology.

Further sessions will be held in Michie’s Coffee Shop from 1430 to 1600 on Monday 7 May and on the first Monday of each month thereafter.

Christine Dunhill remarked:

We run sessions throughout the year and are participating in Spring Online week as it’s a great way for people to see what they can achieve by connecting to the internet. Recently someone came to us after their daughter had moved abroad, having given them a computer that they couldn’t use.

“Our volunteers have shown them how to connect with their family with their computer using the internet and email and it’s opened up a whole new world for them! Our tutors are all really friendly and patient, so it’s a great place to learn to use technology, and it’s free!”

More information here:

Feb 232012

What a week it’s been for Old Susannah. The pizza party that never was,  PR wars and public accusaltion of criminal activity.  Where to start? And where is it all going? By Suzanne Kelly.

According to the Press & Journal of 21 February, Tom Smith of ACSEF claims to be the victim of internet ‘bullying… harassment… intimidation’ and so on.  The nature of the claims are not spelled out, but allegations are made of an ‘objectionable’ image (no, not one of the ‘concept’ drawings of the Granite Web), e-mail hacking and receipt of abusive emails.

Smith has called in the police.  It seems those he accuses of this broad spectrum collection of attacks are the broader spectrum of people opposed to building in Union Terrace Gardens.

Hacking is illegal.  Threatening is illegal.  When it comes to posting threatening remarks on internet sites, the law still applies.   But we are in a democracy which prides itself on centuries of press freedoms. 

The British Isles may truly be called the birthplace of political satire, a recognised and legitimate weapon of the press, often the only means of attacking people of wealth and power who might otherwise escape scrutiny.

The press has been filled with accounts of the nefarious activities in days not long past at News International.  Police have been bribed; phones of murder victims have been hacked, private correspondence has been intercepted.   The offenses are both shocking and illegal.   Elsewhere online,  threats are issued back and forth; the cloak of anonymity is often mis-used for the benefit of the coward or the manipulative.   As unpleasant as some online banter may be, not all of it is illegal by a wide margin:  the P&J know this extremely well.

If Mr Tom Smith and/or his family have had any bona fide threats (whether electronic or not), or if Mr Smith has been illegally hacked, then I will be the first to defend his rights and demand an enquiry.  (Note:  did you know that council officials can get court orders to snoop on residents for a variety of reasons?  If not, you know now).

However, there are several issues arising from this Press & Journal story which need to be dissected.

From the P&J, the blur between the allegedly illegal and the legal is as blurry as the specific details of the City Garden Project itself.

The timing of this claim comes close to the end of the referendum voting period – Mr Smith seems in the article in question to be making a blanket-bombing attack on all those who oppose the plans to build over Union Terrace Gardens.  I can assure Mr Smith that there was never a looser or more informal federation of people opposed to the City Gardens Project.

Why do he and the P&J feel the need to group political parties, grass-roots movements, students, OAPS, rich and poor into a single entity that is apparently illegally attacking him?

I am keen to hear the specifics of the accusation.  Perhaps Mr Smith is accustomed in his very many roles (1. ACSEF Chairman, 2. City Gardens Project Management Board, 3. City Gardens  Implementation Team Chair,  4. City Gardens Project Advisory Group, and  5. Director of Aberdeen City Gardens Trust) to only being treated with deference.  In social network sites; on newspaper comment pages, there is no automatic right to be treated politely.

Not everyone uses genteel language; one person’s foul language is another’s common vernacular.  What is the specific nature of the abuse(s) being claimed?  From the P&J, the blur between the allegedly illegal and the legal is as blurry as the specific details of the City Garden Project itself.

It is refreshing as well as amusing in the extreme to see the Press & Journal showing such concern to those ‘bullied and/or intimidated’ via internet:  readers of its online comments will be familiar with the abusive, bullying, personal, crude tactics of two of its most prolific, rarely censored anonymous posters, Jock W and the even more notorious Sasha M.

Months ago Sasha M made comments about me which were libellous in my (and my legal advisor’s opinion).  I complained and considered whether or not to sue; the editor of the P&J called me and agreed to take the posts off.  As I reported at the time, the editor told me that since ‘you skate pretty close to the edge yourself, you have to be able to take it as well.’

I reminded him that I write a satirical column, and that if Sasha M writes something about me which appears on a site owned and controlled by the P&J, purporting to be a place for comments on news stories, Sasha’s postings  had better be true. (I suggested ridiculing my overly-large nose; that at least would have a grain of truth in it:  but Sasha had claimed two libels against me which were  published on the Press & Journal’s website as if they were factual.  They were not, and as such I considered them illegal).

But now it is time to look at the Press & Journal. Today’s article is a very odd creature.

I have been sent occasional searing, blistering  emails by those I have satirised.  My satirical subjects have been politicians who have voted to slash benefits, close schools, destroy greenbelt land, and who have been convicted of criminal acts.

I see my small satirical column as my only weapon against a public/private power structure  that, in my opinion, seems to wants to suck as much out of the taxpayer and give them as little in return as possible, while commissioning portraits of themselves, attending concerts and other events.

My writing is certainly not to everyone’s taste – but I am using the legal, accepted, platform called satire.  If I have successfully drawn attention to any injustice and/or incestuous public/private sector overlaps, then I’ve succeeded.  But in any event, I stay within the law, and will continue to write as long as I can find a reader.

But now it is time to look at the Press & Journal. Today’s article is a very odd creature.  It voices Mr Smith’s complaints – but it mixes illegal activity such as hacking and threats with totally legal (if undesired) activity such as online posts.  It stops short of accusing anyone of libel, but it hints at it.  What is the P&J actually trying to say is the subject of the police investigation?  Are the police roping together all internet items which offend Mr Smith – legal and illegal?  The P&J certainly seems to be doing so.

For quite some time P&J editorial staff have been aware of the over-the-top, racist, nationalistic, insulting behaviour (in the opinion of many) of some of its posters.  Mike Shepherd is only one target of Jock, Sasha and their vitriolic crew.  Mike and the others have not gone to the police as far as I know, but by Mr Smith’s standards they certainly would be within their rights to do so.  In reviewing randomly the writing of Jock and Sasha, I’ve come across highly offensive, possibly illegal posts including:-

*  references to ‘incomers’ in less than flattering contexts, which certainly sound nationalistic and insular and to some degree threatening to me

*  references to specific politicians such as Lewis MacDonald which are extremely insulting

* stereotyping of anyone suspected of left-leaning politics

*  a remark from Sasha:  ‘let’s kill off these protestors once and for all…’  not kill off the protest – but the actual people – the protestors.

*  Jock W invokes the Nazis in an insult directed towards Mike Shepherd  – Jock references ‘Goebbels’ and alludes to ‘Chemical Ali’ by way of typing ‘Comical Ali’.

Nazi related insults?  Threats to kill protestors?  What has been allowed on the Press & Journal online editions for all these past months? 

They are surely responsible for posts put on their website.  A feeble addition of links whereby readers can ask for a quote to be ‘reported’ is by no means a substitute for the responsibility the P&J have as the owners of this website.  I have had scores of people tell me they used these links to complain, all to no avail.

Clearly the P&J need to look at their own house.

The real point here though is that the Press & Journal knowingly allows this type of comment to go on, refuses to police its own comments pages, and yet has the gall to support Mr Smith in his complaints that people are being intimidating and bullying to him online, mixing illegal and legal activity in what seems like a very crude attempt to smear anyone who stands up against the City Gardens Project or those who support it.

A kind word to Aberdeen Journals:  things are changing.  Your circulation and profit margin are apparently not what they once were.  People are saying openly that you seem blatantly biased towards any hype the pro CGP teams throw at you.  Have you gone too far this time?  Just a thought.

I welcome any police investigation into any illegal activities – threatening people, hacking and so on.  Our police will be well aware of guidelines protecting free expression, satire and online comments.

One recent complaint I had threatened me with legal action and the Scottish Football Association (!)

If any attempt is made to curb, censor or halt normal rights of the individual, then this small writer through to the NUJ and all responsible news agencies will be there to safeguard our journalistic rights and day-to-day free expression.

In point of fact I am trying to make up my mind:  should I stand up to Sasha M and launch a suit against him and/or the Press & Journal now after all (don’t worry – I still have screen shots of Sasha’s remarks about me – in an item about the Lord Provost giving away expensive gifts which I neither commented on nor had any involvement with whatsoever)?

This could stop any further written threats to ‘kill protestors’ or nationalistic rhetoric about ‘incomers’.  For that matter – I thought the garden ramps project was to encourage newcomers to the area?  With Sasha’s rants against newcomers, this will indeed be hard work.

Back to my legal, online writing.  For every piece of fact I have written about, I can assure my detractors that I will have a source, and that source will be doubly – if not triply – backed up.  I have in the main while writing received many letters of support (for which I am sincerely grateful).

One recent complaint I had threatened me with legal action and the Scottish Football Association (!) if I did not print a retraction of my article.  Instead my source material was reviewed, not only fully vindicating my assertions, but also paving the way to printing further details the complainant may not have wanted publicised.

Finally, here is a nice way to illustrate these points, which I will call The Casablanca Gambit.

Classic Film readers will remember dialogue from the iconic (the word is well used in this case) film, ‘Casablanca’.  The Chief of Police in Casablanca, Captain Renault, has been ordered by Nazis to close Rick’s Cafe by any means.  This is what transpires:

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
Captain Renault: [aloud] Everybody out at once!

I leave it to you to decide who in this current Aberdeen drama are the Nazis, who is Rick, and who is Renault.  (I wonder if the P&J may wish to reconsider its position, or if it will continue to collect its winnings while it can).

Jan 192012

By Stephen Davy-Osborne

Nationwide book-retailer Waterstone’s may well be investing in the future by making the change over to e-books and readers, but the announcement that stores are soon to lose the apostrophe from their shop-fronts is what will drag the company into modern times.
– Or at least, that is the idea.

Announcing the change, which enraged the grammar police, Managing Director James Daunt said:

“Waterstones without an apostrophe is, in a digital world of URLs and email addresses, a more versatile and practical spelling.”

If the humble apostrophe is no longer good enough for a purveyor of literacy, then what place does it have in the fast food chain of McDonald’s or supermarket Sainsbury’s?

Neither of these non academic stores include the apostrophe in their website URLs, yet the apostrophe remains perched precariously between the final two letters on their shop facade, showing that these companies once belonged to a someone.

Indeed, Waterstone’s also was once a family run business, founded by a Mr Tim Waterstone a good 30-odd years ago. He no longer has anything to do with his legacy, nor is a family member at the helm in these uncertain waters. The removal of the apostrophe therefore distances the modern day company from its heritage.

Perhaps a deliberate move. Or perhaps a minimal cost PR stunt, knowing that any misuse or slight made against the apostrophe, which many would argue is integral to the English language, is likely to draw criticism and extensive media coverage. Especially from the Apostrophe Protection Society.

Professor Patrick Crotty, Head of the School of Language and Literature at the University of Aberdeen said:

“Everybody knows what Waterstone’s means, whether there is an apostrophe there or not. I don’t think that anything major is lost. I know some people get very excited about this and write to the Mail and Telegraph and so forth, but I must confess to a certain scepticism about their zeal. But when marking a student’s essay I would want the apostrophes to be in the correct place, because that is part of what we call Standard English.

“The English language has been around for a fair number of centuries, but the apostrophe rule itself has only been around for two centuries. There are some establishments, such as Kings College Cambridge which is far older than the apostrophe rule; and that has always been Kings College without an apostrophe. But these things change over time.”