Trouble in Internet-land & the British Royal wastrels…

7 Months – still sober… still going strong…well done Mobi!

The World Wide Web: Is it unstoppable?

There have been countless instances of governments throughout the world, usually in states which have repressive, undemocratic regimes, which have tried to restrict unfettered access to the internet. Countries such as: Iran, Vietnam, Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia , North Korea, Belarus, Burma, Cuba, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Maldives, Nepal, Libya and of course China.

Yet I can’t help wondering if these countries are not just the tip of the iceberg. Here, in Thailand, which is supposedly a democratic country and freedom of  expression and access to information and the media is guaranteed under the constitution, we all know that many web sites are blocked by the Thai ‘internet police’. We have all tried to access supposedly ‘innocent’ sites only to see a stark warning on our screens telling us that access to the site has been blocked by the Thai police.

But before we start to accuse Thailand of being particularly draconian, last week even in one of the most  ‘open’ countries on the planet,  the UK High Court of Justice ruled that the internet provider, BT must block access to the pirate website Newzbin2. This ruling could result in all broadband ISPs being forced to block access to any website that is deemed to facilitate “illegal” internet copyright infringement.

Meanwhile, back in communist China, which will soon be the largest economic power on the face of the earth, the authorities have introduced yet more draconian measures in their attempts to restrict and monitor internet access. New regulations require bars, restaurants, hotels and book stores to install costly Web monitoring software which are prompting many businesses to cut internet access and are sending a chill through the capital’s web-grazing literati who have come to expect free Wi-Fi with their lattes and green tea.

 “From the point of view of the common people, this policy is unfair,” said, a cafe owner. “It’s just an effort to control the flow of information.”

It has been suggested that public security officials, unnerved by turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa which was partly  enabled by the Internet, are undaunted in their efforts to increase controls. China already has some of the world’s most far-reaching on-line restrictions. Last year, the government blocked more than a million web sites, many of them pornographic, but also Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Evite. Recent regulations make it difficult for individuals unaffiliated with a company to create personal Web sites.

The Public Security Bureau did not respond to requests for comment, but according to its publicly issued circular, the measure is designed to thwart criminals who use the Internet to “conduct blackmail, traffic goods, gamble, propagate damaging information and spread computer viruses.” Such nefarious activity, the notice says, “not only hurts the interests of the country and the masses, but has also caused some businesses to suffer economic losses.”

One book store owner said she had already disconnected the shop’s free Wi-Fi, and not for monetary reasons. “I refuse to be part of an Orwellian surveillance system that forces my customers to disclose their identity to a government that wants to monitor how they use the Internet,” said the woman, who feared that disclosing her name or that of her shop would bring unwanted attention from the authorities.

Whilst there are many, seemingly justifiable reasons to restrict access or ban certain websites – such as those pandering to  paedophiles, and indeed any sites that  promote and assist with crime – the arbitrary and draconian attempts to control access, is at the very least, a worrying trend.

I can’t help feeling that at the end of the day it will all prove to be a bit of a waste of time. The more the states try to control the internet, the more the world community of geeks in their dusty little rooms will work out ways to circumvent the restrictions. Already such devices proxy servers and VPN’s (virtual private networks) are common place, and a growing number of savvy internet users will find ways to get round the clumsy attempts to block them.

If some spotty little nerd in his three bed semi in a sleepy English suburb can succeed in hacking into the  most sophisticated defence system of the most powerful country on this planet, what chance do low-paid government ‘teckies’ have in thwarting the advance of the internet?

My guess is that most state officials who try desperately to put the internet ‘genie back in the bottle’ have no conception of what it is they are trying to do. They are mostly middle-aged or elderly officials of a bygone generation who grew up before all the modern, technical innovations that have transformed our daily lives became common place.They still believe that their old way of life can go on forever and that they can effectively turn the clock back. A bit like King Canute trying to turn back the waves.

As for that short sighted high court judge in London; he is probably another computer-illiterate Luddite who has never downloaded a single file in his life. Maybe it should be a condition that any judge who sits in cases concerning computer activities should be an experienced practitioner himself.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against the curtailing of movie piracy; I am an author myself and understand the need for creative people to receive recompense for their efforts and not have millions of people effectively steal the results of their labour for nothing.

But using legal weapons to ban downloading sites is not the right way to go about it. Firstly, it will never succeed because as fast as they shut down sites, new sites will spring up and new ways of accessing them will be devised. The use of VPN’s will probably mushroom and everyone will be exchanging movie files with each other in complete privacy.

I well recall back in the 1960’s when the BBC tried to stop people copying pop music onto their music cassettes at home. It was declared illegal, but the whole country was doing it, so detection of the ‘crime’ soon proved impossible. So what did they do? They came to an agreement with the industry whereby bulk copyright fees were paid to the BBC in return for permission to use their music, which included the public copying them at home.

Then, decades later, the music industry seems to have made a much better fist of adapting to the internet age, with the introduction of legal sites such as iTunes and innovative ways for musicians to publish, promote and sell their music.

One of the positive ‘spin-offs’ for the public from the digital revolution has been the growth of live performances by musicians, as this has now become their chief money earner. In the past, they would become incredibly rich by making a best-selling album or two, which was sold to the public at an enormous price, and they rarely felt the need to go out on the road and do what they are supposed to do, play live to their adoring public.

So what about the movie makers? Don’t they deserve to get paid? Of course they do, but trying to shut down internet sites will ultimately be no more effective than the BBC telling the public back in the 60’s that copying music from the radio was illegal. I suspect that I speak for millions when I say that if there were legal downloading sites that made a sensible charge for movie or a  TV product, then I would be more than happy to use that site and pay a monthly fee or whatever basis upon which they wished to charge – provided the cost was within bounds.

But I have no desire to subscribe to dozens of different sites to download the movies and TV programmes that I need. I just want one – or maybe, at a push – two sites to go to. The industry simply has to get together, as the music industry did with iTunes, and give the public what they want – a fast, user friendly, downloading service at a sensible price.

Will the industry be adequately compensated? I see no reason why not, as if you listen to their current protests; they are all losing countless millions – maybe billions – due to piracy, so anything that deals with this problem must be a plus.

Will the industry continue to be able to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a single movie production and will the movie stars continue to be able to demand 15, 20 or 30 million dollars to appear in a movie? I hope not! These amounts of money are totally obscene and the movie industry is insane to pay this level of fees for their stars to appear in what is generally turns out to be mediocre, hyped up rubbish.

We have seen time and  time again that it doesn’t take untold millions, in both production costs and movie star salaries, to make a good, successful movies, and if the advent of movie piracy plays any part in curtailing the financial excesses of Hollywood, then it can be no bad thing. At a time when the world’s economies are forever teetering on the brink, there is no place for crazy, uncontrolled, profligate spending in Hollywood, which after all, is itself located in an American State that is rapidly going broke.

And to the governments of the world; I say, get real, stop the bullshit internet police and get with it and get connected…..

Our beloved British Royals

I see there was yet another bullshit royal wedding over the weekend. 

Although I am a firm opponent of the royals and all their ostentatious trappings, I do concede that there was some justification in celebrating the marriage of our future King and Queen, and for those who read my blog at the time, you will know, that while deploring it I, like countless millions, enjoyed the pomp and circumstance of the occasion. After all, if they are going to spend all that money, you might as well enjoy it.

For the sake of clarity, I will state that I am not a republican, as I see no point, after all these hundreds of years, in changing the way we appoint our ceremonial head of State – for that is all it is – a purely ceremonial position. The UK is run by the two houses of parliament and that is the way it should be. The monarch is simply there to act as a ‘point of reference and stability’ to sign all enacted laws into being and to preside over state occasions, as necessary and as befits our place in the world.

In an ideal world, there should be a more democratic method of appointing our Head of State, but I recognise that any attempts to change this will simply result in endless acrimony and a failure to agree on a way forward.

Look at the countless attempts to modernise the House of Lords to make it more democratic and more representative. Most politicians, from every political spectrum, accept the need for reform, but it has proven nigh on impossible to get a consensus on the right way forward. Imagine how much more problematic it would be if we tried to abolish the monarchy?

So given that we are lumbered with a King or Queen for the foreseeable future, I firmly believe that the whole bloody ‘family firm’ should be severely ‘downsized’ and all, save the ‘key’ central players, should be ditched and put out into the wide world to fend for themselves.

The king and/or Queen, his or her spouse and their children, until they come of age, (save the heir to the throne), are the only royals that the State should be responsible for. And even then, they should have a single, more modest place of residence – maybe a nice, large house in a pleasant leafy suburb – and all the royal palaces and castles should be turned over to the state to use as the state sees fit, ideally for profit.

We could get rid of all the servants and 99% of the royal trappings and all the myriad royal ‘hangers on’ who do nothing for the country, except provide salacious gossip for the readers of tabloid newspapers.

As for the hysterical nonsense of the weekend, when the bloody marriage of Lady Zara Phillips with a ‘washed-out’, bald headed rugby player became the ‘talk of the town’; well, the sooner these kind of public events become a thing of the past, the better. It is crass elitism and a total anachronism in 21st century Britain.

One of the biggest waste of spaces in our beloved Royal family is the eminent second son of our current monarch, that wonderful, handsome, dedicated prince, the estimable Prince Andrew… known to his mates far and wide, as Randy Andy.

To me, the high point of this otherwise, arrogant, ignorant, lazy and dissolute member of the Royal firm, was when he worked as a helicopter pilot during the Falklands war. That took a certain degree of bravery, and I take my hat off to him for that. But what has he done since, apart from bringing the most outrageous spouse into royal circles since Charles 2nd had it off with Nell Gwyn?

Not a lot, I’m afraid.

Sorry, I forgot; over the past decade or so, he has been Britain’s ‘Special Trade Ambassador’. He was – that is – until recently, when he was obliged to relinquish this post after the intense controversy over his links to an American sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein; an American billionaire who pleaded guilty to solicitation of prostitution and a single charge of procuring minors for prostitution in 2008 and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

He has also faced questions over his friendships with billionaires and politicians in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Libya and Turkmenistan. And his position came under added pressure when leaked US State Department cables revealed that he had lashed out at British journalists and law enforcement agencies while on overseas trips.

Added to all this were recent revelations that his ex-wife, the incredibly asinine ‘fat Fergie’, had admitted that Andy had arranged for Jeffrey Epstein (the convicted paedophile) to pay off her debts, confirming that her ex-husband had handled the negotiations.

Andrew’s role as a trade ambassador has cost the taxpayer nearly £15m in travel expenses and police protection.

Official figures show that over the past decade, Randy Andy has spent £4m to fund his work as a special representative for trade and investment. Royal protection officers provided by the Metropolitan police are estimated to have cost a further £10m over the same period.

During his role as Trade Ambassador, Andy travelled with a retinue of five officials, flying first class on chartered planes and staying in five-star hotels. Police usually travelled out in advance to assess the security ahead of visits, and he was accompanied by two bodyguards.

The cost of his  travel and  hotel accommodation was borne by the taxpayer. When he stayed at an expensive hotel, royal protection officers had to stay there as well. The high cost of funding Randy Andy’s role as trade ambassador became apparent amid growing concerns that he was blurring the line between his official trips abroad and his personal business.

The Daily Telegraph revealed that Randy Andy used an official trip to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in 2004 to try to find a buyer for his house in Berkshire. He failed to find a buyer in the Gulf, but in 2007, a Kazakh billionaire, paid £15million for the house, which had been Andy’s marital home before his divorce from Fat Fergie.

The billionaire, who regarded Randy Andy as a personal friend, has never explained why he decided to pay £3million more than the asking price for a house that had no other offers and which has since been left uninhabited and in an increasing state of disrepair.

An ex-chief of the Royal Protection squad commented recently: “He needs protecting from himself. As a trade representative, what on earth is he doing mixing with these people? He is a member of the royal family and as such has a responsibility. Nobody seems to be holding him to account.”

Randy Andy receives £249,000 in a parliamentary annuity that is reimbursed from the Queen’s private funds, has previously described the cost of funding his role as “cheap at the price”. Last year he spent £620,000 as a trade envoy, including £154,000 on hotels, food and hospitality and £465,000 on travel.

In just three days, Andy and four staff spent £19,200 on meals, accommodation and entertaining dignitaries at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He also ran up a £33,800 bill on an 11-day trip to the Middle East and Egypt plus a further £31,000 over nine days in Singapore, Thailand (!!!) and Vietnam.

A report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the business consultants, commissioned by Andy, is understood to have urged him to cut his costs. I wonder how much it cost him to have the largest consulting firm in the world tell him what he and world already knew? The results have never been made public; I wonder why?

There must be literally hundreds of  royal hangers on in this city – this has been the story of just one of them….

BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…. I don’t give a hoot…..

Mobi’s Postbag debate on to blog or not to blog…

6 Months, 26 Days – still sober

Mobi Babble

I haven’t been babbling much lately so some of you may be wondering what I have been up to.

Well, nothing very exciting really, my life is becoming a bit ‘run of the mill’ which is one of the reasons I haven’t written much on my daily activities, as I would probably bore you all to death.

I have been trying to keep away from the hookers and their places of employment. By and large, I have succeeded, either spending my time at home or going to Pattaya with Noo on various errands. 

But Sunday saw a minor slip in my resolve when out of the blue, Rick called me at around 7 pm. and told me that a large centipede had bitten his foot, that it was badly swollen and very painful and wanted to know what he should do. I thought that he should go to hospital, and as he seemed to be in no condition to drive, I drove quickly down to the ‘Church’, where he had ensconced himself earlier that evening to watch the Formula One Grand Prix. I had intended to take him to Pattaya to get a doctor to look at it, but upon arrival, he announced that his foot felt a little better and that it didn’t require any urgent attention..

In other words, he decided he would rather risk losing his foot or even die, than miss his beloved Formula One race. Once this was established, I stayed long enough to see that over-hyped, spoilt brat of a cheating, British, so-called hero leading the pack in the most boring sport on the planet, before adjourning to a new bar, just down the road, which had recently opened – the bizarrely named, ‘Bad Luck  Bar’.

My luck was in at ‘Bad Luck Bar.’ For starters, they were not showing the Formula One race on their television, and for seconds they had a couple of bright young things decorating the bar stools and it wasn’t long before I had both of them literally eating out of my hand.

They were 21 and 22 years old respectively, Ying and Ping, and I would rate them about 7 out of ten in the looks, body and personality departments. They both appeared to be quite new to the hooking profession, having only just arrived from their Issan homes about 2 weeks earlier. They soon become fascinated with my new Galaxy Tab, which I was amusing myself with, and it didn’t take long before they homed in on the thousands of songs that I had downloaded onto it. We then spent the next two hours finding songs they liked which I then transferred to their phones via blue tooth. Every time I succeeded in blue toothing  a new song onto their mobiles, I received a lovely big hug and kiss for my efforts. Their excitement and joy was infectious and it took a lot of will power for me to reluctantly drag myself away and make my way home to the ever waiting and faithful Noo.

So while admit to being a bit of a heel, this was my only transgression in quite a while, and let’s face it, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. If it hadn’t been for Rick and his bloody centipede bite, I would have never have left the comfort of my home and my lovely Noo. So it’s all his fault – or maybe the centipede’s….

Postbag

I haven’t had one for a while now, so here we go…

On the subject of my deliberations on whether I should stop writing my blog, here are a couple of worthy comments

Firstly, a comment from TT, Submitted on 2011/07/14 at 10:22 pm

(It is a very long comment, which can be read in full in the  ‘Comments’ section, so below are a few relevant extracts:

Hi Mobi,

Just in reply to your previous post about your consideration to junk the blog.

Personally I am of the opinion that it would be a waste to do that and can offer only two reasons, one selfish personally and one on your side – feel free to whale in…..

….Now, in your case, the drunken Mobi used the blog, in my opinion, to look in a mirror. ‘Mirror, mirror what do I see?’ Great, you were reinforcing something in yourself. Pattaya must probably be the worst place on the planet to try and avoid any form of addiction. Within yourself you came to the conclusion that you had become nothing more than a cunt and that throwing money at the problem didn’t actually make it go away. Good on you for that strength – so many make an excuse…..

….Sure there have been some who have been most risible to you along the way, but as they always are they will not front up to your face and tell you their opinion – wee keyboard bairns with masturbatory fantasies of being ex SAS….

. ….Getting off booze is easy, just got to find something to do – which is what you do with your blog….

….Since you started being more political and newsy, your blog has in my opinion, become far more readable. You are obviously a man of intelligence and erudite with it and why therefore, stop?…..

A lot of folks for sure were interested in your novel and that seems to have come to a grinding halt. Can’t fit in the transition from sober Mobi to the previous Mobi? …..

…. Mail me and I’ll send you excerpts from [what TT used to write] 5 years ago. And why don’t you call it ‘Mobi’s Arc’?.

Biggest problem is going to be when you get back to Blighty and their culture of drinking……

Anyway, keep writing.

Another on this subject, from ‘Showstopper’, Submitted on 2011/07/11 at 8:30 pm

Wait until you get back from your UK trip before quitting the blog. That will be quite a trying time, no Noo and family issues to face. If anything can drive a man to drink it’s family bickering with no one to cuddle up with after. If you can survive that without hitting the bottle it will be a good sign. And I was looking forward to your thoughts of the UK after all this time away. I go back to Blighty every year and every time it I hate it more, apart from country walks, country pubs and proper beer it really has nothing to offer me.

I go back next week …. gawd help me …

My response

Following these and other comments, I will indeed continue with my blog  into September, if for no other reason, to let my readers know whether I survived the trip back home and whether I succeeded in remaining sober.

I am not making any promises, but I will try to write so0me blogs while I am in England, maybe brief in nature, but enough for you to know I am still in one piece. If and when it proves too difficult  to find the time and/or  the facilities to write and post a blog, I will use Twitter as a means of  keeping my readers informed, so if you aren’t doing so, you might like to follow me on Twitter at @mobithailand .

For those who have yet to take the Twitter plunge, it takes less than five minute to open a Twitter Account. Alternatively, you can read my tweets on the home page of my web blog, where all my latest Tweets are automatically posted and appear in the right hand margin, even if I haven’t written or posted any new blogs.

I am both nervous and excited about my first trip back to the UK for 5 years; nervous about going so far out of my ‘comfort zone’, but also excited to spend time with all my family and in particular my two daughters. I am extremely ‘bullish’ about my chances of remaining sober throughout my trip. I have never liked English pubs very much and will be avoiding them whenever possible, and I think that the last 7 months has provided me with plenty of experience in being with people who are drinking and in places where they drink without it unduly bothering me. I fact, these days I hardly give it a second glance – it just doesn’t register that they are drinking alcohol while I am drinking coffee, or a Diet Coke or a glass of water.

On the plus side, I will be with family and friends who will be much more supportive of my efforts to stay sober as they are my loved ones and although I have spared them the gory details,  they have some awareness of how booze all but destroyed my life. Over here, outside of AA, I get little or no appreciation of what I am about – nobody could care a less whether I am sober, drunk, or even die – and indeed, why should they?

TT, thank you for your kind words about my blog and indeed your offer to help with content. I will wait to see if I keep it going before thinking further about your offer.

It  saddens me to realise  that there are many out there who can’t wait for me to ‘fall off the wagon’ so that I can relate my latest drunken and accident prone adventures for their personal gratification. Yes, it makes me sad, but I completely understand, having so often seen the more degenerate and the voyeurism side of human nature – especially in this part of the world.

As for my novel; I don’t think that my continuing sobriety has anything to do with my lack of progress. The fact that I am writing my blog is evidence that I am not suffering from writer’s block or some other impediment. I think the main reason is that I simply do not have enough time or mental energy to keep both projects going. I do not wish to spend my whole life writing – from morning to night, day in day out, even though I do enjoy writing and get a lot of satisfaction from it.

I know it may not seem much when you read my humble offerings, but it takes the best part of a day to research, write, proof read and edit my daily blog; then sort out the photos, post them and sort out all the peripherals connected with the blog before finally publishing it. Then I have to do my tweets, post my blog on Face Book, and even try to post some of my blog pics into Flickr to try and capture more readers.

Once I get going, I actually write quite quickly, but it is all the other stuff that becomes so time consuming. At one point I was actually writing my blog and my novel on the same day, but that became such a herculean effort so I gave it up. Then I tried to write my blog one day and my novel the next, but as stated above, I found I was spending almost my entire life writing, and when I wasn’t, I was too mentally drained to do anything else. There are other things I want to do in what remains of my life.

I am not too sure what the answer to all this is, but a solution must be found. I acn confide in my readers that if faced with a choice between the two activities, even though I enjoy doing both, I would elect to write my novel and stop the blog. But I still feel that my blog may ultimately be a good ‘outlet’  – a way to publicise my novel and to increase the chances of it eventually getting published.

If I stop my blog, I will lose this outlet, let if I don’t stop it, I will not make much progress on my novel. It is a ‘Mobi -catch 22’

There has to be some kind of compromise solution – maybe TT’s idea is worth developing – getting some outside contributions into my blog. Or, better still, find someone who can put it all together – that’s the most arduous and unrewarding chore. Any offers?

Vince Cable and the ‘Right Wing Nutters’

The British cabinet minister, Vince Cable, has attacked leading US Republican politicians for holding up a deal to reduce US government debt. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, the business secretary called them “a few right-wing nutters in the American Congress”.

The world is watching on as the US Congress and their President fight tooth and nail for a deal to raise America’s debt ceiling, and so avoid yet another world-wide economic crisis. Any intelligent, impartial observer, can see that this is a ideological debate that runs very deep within American society, and this current battle is for the very ‘soul’ and future economic and social direction of  what is still the world’s most powerful nation. There is clearly right and wrong on both sides, and the parties to this conflict, not least of which is the President himself, are all trying to score political points in advance of the upcoming presidential election next year.  

So for the estimable, Mr Vince – bloody liberal-democrat – Cable to accuse some of these Republican members of Congress, who deeply believe and indeed were elected on the basis that substantial cuts must be made to the US budget and that any increase in taxes will stifle economic growth, as ‘Right Wing ‘Nutters’, is not only irresponsible; it is also childish, ignorant, rabble rousing rhetoric that adds nothing to the debate nor contributes to its solution.

Amy and a world that worships alcohol

Many have warned me that the drinking culture in Britain these days has to be seen to be believed. Indeed, I have read much and seen much on news and documentary footage to know that the lager louts and ‘lout-ettes’ rule the town centres and that binge drinking, alcoholism and alcohol related deaths are now endemic in society.

It seems to have become a society where nurses and doctors are attacked by drunks in hospitals, where fire fighters are attacked by drunks when they try to put out fires, where the police have to allocate large numbers of valuable resources to deal with the daily drunken incidents in our streets,  where law abiding citizens are terrified to walk the streets at night and where thousands of drug addicts and alcoholics under the age of thirty die terrible deaths every year.

Amy Winehouse was one such person, and it is a reflection – I would say an indictment – of 21st century Britain, that on an impromptu, memorial shrine erected by fans outside Amy Winehouse’s apartment in Camden, that in among the banks of condolence messages, candles and teddy bears left by fans, a trio of mementoes stood out: a can of Stella Artois, a bottle of Smirnoff vodka and some pinot grigio!

WTF!

Tiger, Tiger burning bright, in the scandals of the night….

So he fired his caddy after 12 years of faithful service during which time Tiger won 12 majors and 72 tournaments world-wide. Williams stuck by Woods during his recent scandal plagued years and was visibly shocked when he was informed that he was no longer required.

There has been no suggestion whatsoever that Williams was in any way technically deficient as Tiger’s caddy and where others may have bolted when the darkest hours came, and sponsors were fleeing after Woods’ marital troubles began and the scandal concerning numerous girlfriends became tabloid fodder, Williams remained strongly supportive of his employer and his ‘buddy’.

Williams now bitterly regrets that show of loyalty, saying he’s basically wasted the last two years of his life.

“I was prepared to hang in there through thick and thin, so I find the timing extraordinary.” Williams said. “When Tiger went through the ‘Tiger Scandal’, as it’s known, I was obviously very disappointed in him, as everyone was. Obviously I lost a tremendous amount of respect for him…and I told him that he had to earn back my respect. Whatever respect he may have earned back, he’s just lost.”

I was listening to one golf professional talking about Tiger the other day on the radio. He said, matter of factly, that: ‘Tiger just uses people and moves on…’

Poll ( for those who haven’t yet voted)

BUTT…BUTT…BUTT… I don’t give a hoot!