Thursday, 10 April 2008

A Word A Day With George W Bush

linguistic experts have deciphered George W Bush’s latest verbal contortions on halting the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

The US President said earlier that, on the advice of senior US commander General David Petraeus, he was still pursuing a “limited drawdown” from 20 brigades to 15 by the end of July, but freezing further withdrawals.

Many ordinary English speakers were puzzled by the term ‘drawdown’. However, we can now clear up the President’s terminology. In economic terms, it seems that drawdown is the measure of the decline from a historical peak in a given variable, typically the cumulative profit of a financial trading strategy.

Basically, if X(t) is a random process [X(0) = 0, t≥0], then the drawdown at any time, T, denoted D(T), is defined as

D(T) = Max [0, Max {Tε (0, T)} X(t) - X(T)].

And if you’re having trouble with that concept and how it relates to the occupation of Iraq, just imagine what George Bush makes of it.

Lucy in the Nick with Diamonds

Drugs worth an estimated £100m a year are being traded in Britain’s prisons, claims the former head of drug treatment policy at the National Offender Management Service. Huseyin Djemil argues that the prison service has failed to grasp the scale of the drugs market.

However, Gordon Brown hailed the news as proof that the nation continues to lead the world in opening up innovative new markets.

“If enterprising British drug dealers can extract £100m from criminals doing time inside our jails,” said the Prime Minister, “Just think how much they could make if they were allowed into prisons around the world.”

He added that he would press other nations at the next G8 summit to open up their detention centres to British dealers, in the interests of free trade.

Numb and Number

The Food Standards Agency is said to be considering a ban on six E-numbers. The numbers, 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42, are said to be linked to child hyperactivity, mysterious airliner crashes and an underground hatch on a remote Pacific island.

A study by the University of Southampton has shown that the numbers are linked to psychological health.

“We did our research by watching DVDs of ‘Lost’ Seasons 1-3, and these numbers were found to be linked to at least two admissions to mental institutions,” said a square-eyed researcher. These highly-dangerous numbers should be banned immediately, because the fate of the world may depend on them. Don’t use the numbers!”

Shannon: Police Find Non-Suspects

Police in West Yorkshire have announced that some people in the town of Dewsbury may not have been involved in the disappearance of nine-year-old Shannon Matthews in February.

“It appears that we can rule out a bedridden 94-year-old with Alzheimer’s, a chap who’s been in a coma since 1998, and a baby who wasn’t born at the time,” said a police spokesman, adding: “Although we are still checking out their stories.”

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Employers' Rights Fearlessly Championed by Labour

Gordon Brown is reportedly having secret talks with EU officials over the issue of temporary workers’ rights, after MPs backed a private members’ bill to give them the same basic terms and conditions as permanent staff.

His Labour government succeeded in blocking such moves in December - but the issue is expected to arise again in July, when France assumes the presidency.

Gordon Brown – the Labour prime minister - has repeatedly argued that employers should not have to provide extravagant luxuries to their temporary workers, such as paid bank holidays and basic sick pay. The CBI claims that treating temps as human beings would cost 250,000 jobs – a nice round figure, and as good as any – reminding people that they accurately predicted that the introduction of the minimum wage would result in 100% unemployment, and the abolition of slavery would bring down Western civilisation.

Mr Brown is said to be pushing for the creation of a new commission, which would include employers, trade unions, members of Westlife and a pantomine horse, and would be tasked with wasting several years in fact-gathering and talks, conveniently allowing the status quo to continue indefinitely.

The Nev Filter has obtained a transcript of the secret talks. Experts are still working on it, but we can reveal that so far Gordon Brown has sidled up to a man in a trenchcoat and offered him a cigarette, to which the foreigner replied, “Try this brand. It is much milder.”

Cartoons Bad for Children, Rubber Breasts Good

Venezuelan TV channel Televen has pulled The Simpsons from its morning schedules, deeming the long-running cartoon series “inappropriate” for children.

In its place, schedulers are running repeats of Baywatch Hawaii – voted the worst ever TV import by UK television executives in 2004 – which features impossibly-built female lifeguards in tiny costumes bouncing along beaches in slow motion.

“The anti-social behaviour of the proto-terrorist Bart Simpson provides an unsuitable role-model for young boys,” said a station executive in Caracas. “And Lisa Simpson thinks too much for a girl. Women were put on earth to have so much plastic surgery that even a Cyberman would think they were a bit artificial, so that lecherous, shallow goons can salivate over their spherical rubber boobs. Baywatch clearly teaches our young children the important things in Venezuelan life.”

“And this later version doesn’t have that drunk guy in it, either,” he added, “Which is a bonus.”

Stonehenge Revealed as Symbol of Ice-Age Cold War

Archaeologists carrying out the biggest excavation in years at Stonehenge say they have uncovered a layer which may hold the key to the mystery of why the megalith was built.

“Sure, why not?” said Professor Timmy Team, the dig leader. “Look at this hole we’ve found. It held bluestones. We think they were like Redstones – a stone-age form of ballistic missile. This would imply that Stonehenge was some kind of doomsday weapon, in which grunting Neanderthal druid people would threaten their peaceful comedy neighbours, the Flintstones, with huge stone missiles - which would hurtle through the air and land with a pretty devastating thud, several yards away. Or something. Prove it didn’t happen. You can’t! I’ve got a degree in stuff - so if I say that’s what happened, then that’s what happened, OK?

"Now let’s go over to Phil, who’s dressed up as a Roman soldier trying to drive a steam engine.”

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Celebrities - Get Out Of Here

As British Airways bans stroppy supermodel Naomi Campbell from its flights after throwing a hissy fit on one of its planes, and walking chemistry set Pete Doherty receives a 14-week prison sentence for breaching his probation terms, an exasperated Gordon Brown announced that a ban on celebrities would take effect from midnight tonight.

“These famous people are an unacceptable blight on British society,” declared the Prime Minister. “They have no respect for common standards of behaviour or decency, terrorising innocent members of the public with their high-profile celebrity lifestyles. I will not see ordinary members of the public put at risk by phone-throwing models or drug-crazed minor rock stars. I am giving all media tarts until midnight to hand themselves in to the the police, or it’s open season.”

Goody-goody pensioner Cliff Richard was the first star to comply, and is reported to have been taken to Dartmoor Prison under heavy security. Meanwhile, armed police have surrounded a house in which they believe Peter Andre and Jordan to be holed up with a hostage from Heat Magazine, and Stephen Fry is said to have died in a hail of bullets while desperately attempting to commandeer the best table at the Garrick Club.

Universities Too Elitist, Says Minister

Universities in the UK have been told that they must make their admissions procedures more transparent, Universities Secretary John Denham told the Higher Education Funding Council on Tuesday.

“There are far too many clever people at university, and this is wrong,” said the minister. “I want to see lots more vicious thugs from deprived, inner-city warzones terrorising our campuses. Otherwise society will get the impression that university admissions are based on some kind of discrimination, like merit. This does not sit well with young thick people, who may get the impression that being a feral illiterate is in some way a barrier to academic achievement.”

Come On In, Water Fine

Water industry regulator Ofwat is fining Severn Trent Water a record £35.8m - £34.7m for deliberately providing false information, plus a further £1.1m for poor customer service.

The fine, which represents 2.9% of the firm’s total turnover, will mean that its customers will see an impressive £2.40 reduction in their bills for two whole years.

“It wasn’t me that done it, mister, honest,” said Tony Wray, chief executive of parent company Severn Trent plc, “It was some big boys who were here before me. I saw them running away. They were a lot of fibbers. I’m not like that. I’m a good boy. Right lads, we’ve still got the other 97.1% - let’s have a party. Management meeting in St. Tropez, now! Last one to the Learjet’s a girly wuss.”

Silly Fuel

A hydrogen-powered, manned plane has flown for the first time, according to Boeing’s chief technology officer John Tracy.

The small, prop-driven aircraft made three short flights at an airfield south of Madrid, powered by hydrogen fuel cells. According to the makers, the plane has an endurance of up to 45 minutes. While fuel cells are unlikely to provide sufficient power for large passenger aircraft, they could provide a secondary power source, according to experts.

However, the briefing was cut short by an almighty explosion from the plane, which slowly fell to earth engulfed in flames in front of horrified onlookers.

“Oh, the humanity!” cried Mr Tracy. “I can’t go on, folks.”

Monday, 7 April 2008

"I've Been Such A Fool," Says Fayed

Mohammed Fayed today apologised to the Royal Family and to the nation after the Diana Inquest delivered a verdict of unlawful killing, The jury found that his drunk employee, driver Henri Paul, and the paparazzi were jointly responsible for the fatal Paris crash.

“I humbly retract all of my groundless, hysterical accusations,” said a repentant Fayed on the steps of the High Court. “Diana was certainly not murdered by Prince Philip, Prince Charles, MI5, MI6, MI:2 starring Tom Cruise, the SAS, the KGB, the KLF, CBBC, Islamic fundamentalists, the McCanns, Lee Harvey Oswald, Gavrilo Princip, Jack the Ripper, the Spanish Inquisition, Richard III or Pontius Pilate. I would like to withdraw my patently ridiculous claims - and if any of these parties wish to seek compensation, my cheque book is still open after writing one out to cover the massive cost of this entire ten-year farce, which has dragged on for far too long because I was too pig-headed to see the nose in front of my face.”

At that moment, Prince Philip drove past in a white Fiat Uno, coughing loudly.

“Germ warfare!” shrieked Fayed, running back up the steps. “I demand a retrial!”

Animal Crime Shocks World

A New Zealand man has been charged with using a hedgehog as an offensive weapon. Police in the North Island town of Whakatane said William Singalargh hurled the hedgehog at a 15-year-old.

“It hit the victim in the leg, causing a large, red welt and several puncture marks," Senior Sergeant Bruce Jenkins told reporters.

The ghastly crime has shocked the world, harking back to a savage era when gangs of brigands would terrorise law-abiding citizens with savage star-nosed moles, and highwaymen would threaten travellers with brutal, slavering badgers.

Gordon Brown is studying the case with interest, and has not ruled out the introduction of a wildlife ban in the interests of public safety.

Next Week's Audience Delivers Verdict on New Dr Who Assistant

BBC executives danced for joy yesterday as figures showed that 8.4 million viewers watched the first episode of the latest series of Doctor Who.

The episode, which featured new assistant Donna, played by Catherine Irritate, pitted the heroic Time Lord against an army of fat children - a situation familiar to thousands of teachers.

The figures do not include people who recorded the episode for later viewing - perhaps because they were unable to face the thought of watching the wrinkly Tate for three quarters of an hour without frequent breaks. Meanwhile, viewers who watched some original 1963 episodes later on BBC4 said it was more believable and had better acting in those days.

A quick trip forward in time by the Nev Filter, however, revealed audience figures will fall to 250 next week as viewers reflect that maybe ITV’s Primeval wasn’t so bad after all.

“It says something that they had to dangle a glimpse of Billie Piper in front of us to keep us interested,” said one middle-aged fan from the near future. “I could swear - but mum won’t let me use rude words in the house.”

Not all viewers took an instant dislike to the Tardis’ latest passenger, however. “I think she’s brilliant,” said one Dave T Russells from Cardiff.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Vicious Clod In Royal Health Scare

Anxious Britons around the world remain glued to their radios for further news of Prince Philip’s health, following his life-threatening three-day battle with the deadly clod virus.

The Prince was admitted to the £500-a-night King Edward Potato Hospital on Thursday as a precautionary measure, after a prolonged bout of trying to get a lot of unpleasant stuff about foreigners off his chest.

The Queen’s personal Harley Street physician, Professor John Cunningham, who visited the ailing 86-year-old Duke, said the clod was the worst he had seen in his entire career, and added that the best thing for him to do would be to wrap up and stay indoors, well away from cameras.

The Duke has since been discharged from hospital, and is said to be vituperating well at Windsor Castle.

Economic History According To Brown

A weekend gathering of world leaders in Watford heard from Gordon Brown that the world is facing “the first truly global financial crisis”.

Ex-President Bill Clinton, one of the delegates, said: “I’d like to thank Mr Brown for putting me right on the 1929 Wall Street Crash. I thought it was a global collapse of confidence in the banking system that led to a decade of worldwide unemployment and poverty, and ushered Hitler into power, ultimately leading to the Second World War and the deaths of 50 million people. I now realise that the effects were in fact confined to Wall Street and a few surrounding blocks.”

Gordon Brown, however, defended his comments, saying: “Mr Clinton is forgetting that, in Britain at least, history began in April 1997 when I became Chancellor. Previous events - e.g. socialism - officially didn’t happen.”

Olympic Fans Delighted By All-In Torch Wrestling Contest

The Olympics officially got under way in London yesterday, with Britain’s Konnie Huq emerging victorious from the first round of the all-in Torch Wrestling competition.

The eagerly-awaited big fight began outside Wembley stadium, with pro-Tibetan protesters making several attempts to break through the cordon of Chinese security staff and Metropolitan police. At one point, the Chinese ambassador found himself holding the torch, but he managed to get rid of it before being tackled on the issue of human rights abuses. Faced with a particularly large group of protesters along the Fleet Street leg of the route, the police even directed the Olympic torch onto a London bus, where they fined themselves for smoking on public transport. Finally, the torch made it to the steps of 10 Downing Street, where Gordon Brown greeted the torch without actually touching it.

“Hello, torch,” he said, “How the devil are you?”

With this moving speech the Torch-Wrestling contest was over. Former Blue Peter women’s endurance champion Konnie Huq was declared the winner, after managing to keep the torch from a protester who nearly broke through the ring of security.

“I always said my taking part in the procession doesn't mean I condone China in any way, even though that might be the way it looks to most people," she said, adding: “It's just unfortunate that China has such a terrible track record when it comes to human rights and they are the host nation."

The losers - as usual - were the people of Tibet.