Roadsign can't answer your call right now

"Out of office" (OOO) messages are generally a blessing. Set your email to wham back a "go away" message every time you fancy a break and you can quickly and immediately lower expectations as to when you will get round to that particulary pressing job of removing staples with your eyeball or whatever the task de la jour happens to be. Likewise, on the other end, you know exactly how disappointed to be at not receiving your demands within a few seconds. They rock.

However at times it seems they can be a curse. Check this sign out, from deep within Wales, where such critical things have to be translated into both English and Welsh.

The offensive ho

In the eyes of the Poorhouse, on many occasions the cry of "political correctness has gone mad" is apparently used to prefix some overt racist / sexist / homophobic or other similar statement. Now and then however a silly example does pop up showing some probably well-meaning idiot's attempt to remove offence where none was likely to be taken anyway.

For example, there's the current regulations for Santas (oops, yes kiddies, there is actually more than one Santa! But don't worry, they all love you very much) in Sydney. It seems that the traditional "ho ho ho" Father Christmas greeting is in danger of cultural removal, because it is in danger of being offensive to hos women who like to make money without even getting out of bed.

Smiley-face comes of age

A real smiley-faceA real smiley-faceGuess what anniversary you probably just missed. Why of course, the (presumed) 25th anniversary of this little fun guy: :-).

Yep, the geekazoid lollerchat textutal smileyface - and the Poorhouse bets you didn't even buy it a token gift and card, let alone something expensive enough to make up for your abuse of him throughout the past quarter century.

Scott Fahlman is claiming first-documented-use of it, in a message he wrote on an online bulletin (children, be afraid: this was before mainstream web access) back on the 19th September 1982. Many happy returns.

New words needed, mostly for Facebook

We need more, better, words. Presently, for the Poorhouse anyway, to do with the spiral of pointless, potentially humiliating time-wastingness that is Facebook.

More specifically, verbs are in demand. It has been discussed elsewhere (including by the very educational Linguistic Mystic) that "Facebooking" is itself a verb. But it's very unsatisfactory, being too long-winded by far for describing a process that often takes 5 seconds but is repeated 20 million times a day per person - arguably costing just businesses in Australia a nice $AUS 5 billion pounds per year.


To aid the next step in the robot takeover of humankind, naive researchers are letting these cyberbrains get a sense of humour. Yep, when the Terminator really does come into existence and start enslaving us all at least it will have the electro-nous to give witty Arnie-Schwarzenegger style one-liners.

The New Scientist reports on research by Julia Taylor and Lawrence Mazlack of the University of Cincinnati to program a bot to understand that most refined techniques of humour; the pun. Soon your computer might chortle out loud when it spies on your emails and finds that, for instance, they've brought out a portable stereo which looks like a big chocolate cake, which is, inevitably, called a gateaux blaster.

Mario Party bad word shocker

Wash your mouth outWash your mouth outDagnammit, one of the Poorhouse highlights of 2007 is being delayed again. Yep, another push-back for the Mario Party 8 Wii extravaganza. OK, it'll probably be pretty much the same as the other seven, it is written for 5 year olds, but hey, it's Mario Party; even Mario Party with barrel lassoing!

It was actually released in the UK a few days ago, but swiftly retracted. Whyso? "the wrong version of the game disk being included following an assembly error" according to Nintendo. The truth is funnier. It contained a naughty bad word. Tut tut.

McJob McAnger

Fairly or not, the prospects (for want of a better word) of "a job at McDonalds" is a threat oft-used by parents, teachers and other authoritarian figures to get their kids to work hard at school and learn something other than dirty sports songs and push-penny. Generally taken to mean a lowly, ill-paid, career-non-progressive, insulting job that really would be a hideous pain to have to turn up to each day, the highly respected Oxford English Dictionary has for several years defined the phrase "McJob" in the following manner:

McJob: an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector.

McDonalds aren't impressed.

Hands over your eyes kiddies

We've previously heard tales claiming factoids such as that as the less-than-innocent Bratz kiddies dolls have foul-sounding mouths. It now turns out even the audio-free world of sign language is being used to transmit awful words into the minds of our innocent kiddie generation.

The controversial children's programme of the moment is Something Special, a show featuring Mr Tumble who educates and informs the youngsters by using sign language to translate his speech as he goes around doing the sort of weird stuff these kiddy characters do. All good clean fun - the only problem is the way he joyously greets his audience. The programme makers claim his hand-rubbing hello translates to "I'm happy to see you".

Jamie Miller, who works for the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, disagrees.

Out of the mouths of babes

Bratz, the line of anorexic slutty stripper dolls marketed to 8-year olds, sunk to a new low over Christmas according to according to at least a couple of squeaky-clean families.

Upon unwrapping the electro-version of the dolls over the holiday season - and by unwrapping the Poorhouse means opening the parcel, rather than taking off a plastic baby's skirt to discover a black mesh thong - kids and parents were together surprised as they started firing off f-bombs, albeit accompanied with irritating tinny music.

The reputed lyrics? "Baby bottle with bling...doing our f**king thing. F**k you!"

Do cows have regional accents?

Last month, a cow-related story swept the media-waves. It was reported that not only are the formerly-regarded human traits of lesbianism and grudge-holding potentially rife in our bovine friends, but moreover they also have regional accents.

Lloyd Green, a Glastonbury farmer, came to the fore saying "I spend a lot of time with my ones and they definitely moo with a Somerset drawl.". The mind boggles. In his view it is all down to that special relationship between owner and future hamburger - "The closer a farmer's bond is with his animals, the easier it is for them to pick up his accent.". But all is not necessarily as it seems.

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