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CABINET OF CURIOSITIES (NEW CONCEPTS)
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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Joined-Up Thinking

1. I really fancy a boiled egg
2. I must get some egg cups
3. Repeat ad infinitum
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Hatty
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In: Berkshire
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Mick Harper wrote:
Why are there no rye-cakes?

We do have Ryvita. OK it's crispbread rather than bread but I only just noticed the connection with rye. Ryvita is completely tasteless but seems to be popular with dieters.
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Mick Harper
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Your ignorance about crispbreads is nothing short of criminal. I am typing this with one hand, the other is holding a black pepper encrusted, Mediterranean flavour Ryvita with a touch of onion. Leaving aside the spreadable Anchor and strawberry jam on top. Now you've made me drop it, I'm so angry.
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Mick Harper
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I was in the newsagents getting some tobacco for a friend.
"Some Golden Virginia, please."
"Thirty grams or fifty?"
"Fifty. And some red Rizla papers."
"Normal or king-size?"
"King-size."
"Tips?"
"No, I never tip in newsagents."
He laughed, she didn't.
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Hatty
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Discovering that Ryvita is made from rye wasn't an accident. When I logged onto Facebook a Ryvita ad appeared, something I've never seen before on Facebook or anywhere else. But I had googled 'rye bread' a couple of days previously so I assume that's the reason. On the other hand I haven't noticed ads urging me to explore early medieval monasteries so maybe I'm just paranoid.
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Boreades


In: finity and beyond
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Probably because FaeceBorg hasn't (yet) found a way of selling your personal data to early medieval monasteries.

Associated British Foods is a different story. FaeceBorg assimilates your search history, IP address, etc, and sells it to the likes of ABP almost immediately.
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Mick Harper
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So how come I keep getting adverts for rubberised rainware and police restraint equipment?
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Boreades


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Maybe it's one your neighbours sharing the same IP address as you?

Or maybe it's the parts of Notting Hill you frequent?

Notting Hill Vice Squad might be able to assist you with your enquiries.
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Mick Harper
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Yes, probably the same person I shared a lavatory seat with that I had to tell them about when I attended a clinic dealing with some communicable disease or other. Talk about the Nanny State.
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Boreades


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There was a time when what you did in a lavatory was your own business, but there's just no privacy now. Just don't use one of those smart phone healthcare apps either!

Many popular Android apps automatically share data with Facebook, regardless of whether a user is logged into Facebook on their smartphone — or whether the user has a Facebook account


We found that at least 61 percent of apps we tested automatically transfer data to Facebook the moment a user opens the app. This happens whether people have a Facebook account or not, or whether they are logged into Facebook or not.

In our analysis, apps that automatically transmit data to Facebook share this data together with a unique identifier, the Google advertising ID (AAID). The primary purpose of advertising IDs, such as the Google advertising ID (or Apple’s equivalent, the IDFA) is to allow advertisers to link data about user behavior from different apps and web browsing into a comprehensive profile. If combined, data from different apps can paint a fine-grained and intimate picture of people’s activities, interests, behaviors and routines, some of which can reveal special category data, including information about people’s health or religion.


https://privacyinternational.org/report/2647/how-apps-android-share-data-facebook-report
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Mick Harper
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I am a thorough-going wimp in all matters apart from the intellect, where I am entirely fearless. Not much of a boast given my total supremacy against all-comers but anyway yesterday, in the real world, I was confronted by three quite vicious-looking types who had jemmied our communal front door and were just about to start jemmying our individual front doors when I intervened, and ushered them off the premises. Even going so far as to say, admittedly once they were safely outside, "I've clocked your faces, don't you worry about that" or words to that effect.

Though in the event I couldn't even remember the very well-known logo they all wore on their "We're sort of official" navy windcheaters. In fact the whole incident immediately passed from my mind as nothing more than a mildly interesting episode in my humdrum (apart from the intellect) life. I'm telling you this not just because it casts me in a favourable light -- all right, if you insist, a heroic light -- but to comfort you with the observation that as you get older everything seems less important. Though being the world's top-ranking intellect probably helps too.
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Boreades


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Well done on seeing them off.

Did you ask them if they were after your police restraint equipment?

Or, perhaps, an Oscar Wilde - like quip?
"There's nothing here worth nicking except my intellectual property".

Or, perhaps, "Do you know who I am?" ?

Seb Coe once told me he tried that line to blag his way into Lords Cricket Ground.
The Commissionaire was having none of it, and had the temerity to ask this Lord at Lords :
"Why? have you forgotten your own name?"

Seb Coe obstinately countered :
"No, I'm Seb Coe".

The Commissionaire's response ?
"In that case, you can run round to the front gate and buy a ticket like everyone else".
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Mick Harper
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He told me the exact same anecdote. What are the chances?
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Mick Harper
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Every week the Guardian Review asks a writer to answer some standard questions. They've never asked me, they know I'd only refuse. This week it was Marcus Zusak. Yes, the Marcus Zusak.

The book that is overrated
Anything by Shakespeare.

I cannot tell you how my heart soared. I don't know why but it did. Only to have a dagger plunged into it by the addition of "(I'm joking!)" That exclamation mark was the knife being turned. It was genuinely affecting and I wanted to work out why.

Shakespeare is the most highly rated writer in the history of the world so the mere act of choosing him in any rating category is unusual, even challenging. But why be challenging and then not be challenging and then add an exclamation mark to show you were joking about being ... er... challenging. I just didn't get it. Is there some credential-waving going on here? Some, 'Hey, Guardian readers, I'm so one of you I thought I'd tease you about it.' I was completely baffled not least because I pride myself on knowing the ways of Guardian-folk and was furious not knowing what was going on.

But also maybe my reaction was to do with having watched a film called Anonymous during the week, portraying Shakespeare as a drunken bum who only got his name on the covers because the true author, the Earl of Oxford, couldn't. Maybe it was that, maybe it was this Zusak bloke, but finally I can say, hand on heart, and possibly enshrining a new AE Rule

Shakespeare's plays are wildly overrated and just because they are the best corpus of plays in human history does not negate that fact.
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Mick Harper
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I'm a bit of an expert on literary prizes ("We guessed, Mick, we guessed") largely because I sometimes send in one of my own books. Not to win it, just to get someone to read it. A bit of it. More than the blurb which is ninety-nine per cent the fate of my books sent out for review. When I started out it was getting your unsolicited manuscript past the cleaner, so there's been definite progress. But I digress. As one of the cleaners said.

It has been a busy week for literary judges

said the Guardian. When isn't it? I said. What tips can you offer us aspiring prize-seekers?

Judges for the £30,000 Wellcome prize, rewarding the best books about health and medicine, were drawn to studies of gender, including trans-gender boxer Thomas Page McBee's memoir, Amateur

As a boxer or as a trans-gender person? Either way, a bit specialised. What else?

and Sarah Krasnostein's biography of transgender trauma cleaner, Sandra Pankhurst.

I see her little game. Became a cleaner to pop her unsolicited manuscript on the pile marked "For Publication". I may ask Hatty to go undercover at Penguin Random House to scout prospects. Bit difficult though, she's already doing two cleaning jobs. What about the kids market?

The shortlist for the most prestigious children's book awards were also revealed this week. Three verse novels are in the running for the first time.

Who'd be a kid in this day and age? But if that's what Guardian mums want, who am I to buck the market?
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