England has traditionally relied on landfill because of the country’s abundance of holes.
My recent foray into the world of people who think that eclipses happen at the behest of governments and tourist boards, and that Facebook is about to give away all the data that makes the company so valuable, led to one of my customers coming to me with an even more bizarre story.
His collection of unusual cuttings comes from the British Government and includes a report called “Waste Not, Want Not: A strategy for tackling the waste problem”.
It is a document that was presented by the Government Strategy Unit a few years back and contains the wonderful phrase:
“England traditionally relied on landfill because of the country’s abundance of holes.”
As a resident of the said country I find that somewhat less than reassuring, and I must admit that I had the temerity to suggest to my client that this must be a spoof. However, whipping out his tablet he typed the phrase into Google and then showed me that self-same phrase on a website from Norfolk County Council.
Careful scrutiny of the document reveals that the end of the sentence has been omitted in the quote above. To be specific the words “from extractive industries and other activities,” have been lost from the conclusion of the sentence.
But although there is a rational explanation for this one there is not a similar explanation for the way people regularly write to, well, more or less everyone, telling them that they have been assiduously studying their website and have discovered that it is not constructed in the right way to enable it to be picked up by search engines.
One of my clients, who runs a football blog that gets around 1 million page views a month (and retains with us a print out of each of the three articles a day the blog has published for the past seven years – in case the whole system goes up in smoke) told me that he got half a dozen of these emails a day in which the writer offers to increase the readership of his site dramatically (although failing to give exact details of how this might be arranged).
Apparently my customer now has a standard letter he sends back begging the writer not to perform his magic tricks because he is already struggling to cope with the readership he has got and would have to shut the site down if the audience grows any more.
But even more bizarrely there is a report in New Scientist magazine (that tends in its lighter moments to follow such issues) to the effect that Google recently received a note saying, “Dear google.com, I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed properly on www.google.com…
Of course this sort of gibberish is as old as, well as old as quite an old thing. Indeed I suspect if one searched long and hard enough one would find a parchment with bits of the Old Testament on one side and a note on the other saying “This parchment has been around the world at least seven times. It has been incorporated in many of the world’s major religions. Now it has come to you. It will bring you good fortune. This is true even if you don’t believe it.”
Personally I love the fact that people collect wild and bizarre statements, not to mention mistakes. It reminds me of the No Child Left Behind Act which was passed in 2001 in the United States as its major piece of legislation to help disadvantaged children.
The original version of the Act had a sop to the military in it, in order to get enough votes to get it through Congress, in which schools were required to let military recruiters have students’ contact information and other access to the student, if the school provides that information to universities or employers.
Should the school not abide by this or other provisions, it could have its funding cut. It was suggested that some rebellious students then not only refused to give the school the relevant detail, they then told their representatives in Congress and demanded that the school be shut for disobeying national orders – thus giving them a prolonged holiday.
The legislation (it is said) was quickly changed so that students had the right to opt out of giving military recruiters access to their data without penalty to the school. Seemingly at the time the legislation was passed no one ever imagined that it might cause a problem. Or that students might have such energy when it came to avoiding work.
But perhaps it was not as much of a problem as the advert sent out by North Tyneside Library Service in 2002 for firms to pitch for the business of digitisation of a range of children’s books. Unfortunately the advert went out inviting companies to pitch for the business of the digitisation of children.
It was, of course, a total waste of money. Children are perfectly capable of digitising themselves. Just give them a tablet.
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Admiral Document Storage
Tel: 0800 810 1125