Bank of England shocked to discover that just printing money doesn’t work very well

GROUND ZERO, London EC1, Sunday (NTN) — The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee is expected this week to halt its £200 billion blitz of quantitative easing, otherwise known as just printing money.

Bomb-throwing capitalist“Just printing money is a task of surgical precision,” said Mervyn King. “But we are enormously pleased that the economy has grown a massive 0.1 per cent, with inflation of only three per cent to get there. We’re sure your daughters can cope with you selling them on the streets just a few years longer.”

The Institute of Economic Affairs has called for just printing money to be extended by another £50 billion, to around 10 per cent of GDP, since inflation affects the rich far less than anyone else. The Ernst & Young ITEM Club has warned that the end of just printing money risks triggering a fresh slump in commercial property values, as if anyone had any new businesses to rent them for in the first place.

The US Federal Reserve issued a uncompromising warning on Friday about the “uncharted waters” the financial sector finds itself in following the recession, where people have actually noticed what they do for a living and have started carrying nooses around with them in case they meet a banker. “They’ve worked out that just printing money fucks them over too. Ixnay on the onusesbay!”

The pound sterling has been replaced in day-to-day consumer use with twigs and small rocks, as these currently have much greater practical exchange value. One-way holidays to Zimbabwe are also proving popular.

Microsoft phases out support for Netscape 4, so there

NO MICROSOFT WAY, Infinite Loop, Friday (NTN) — Microsoft is phasing out support for Netscape 4, in retaliation for Google declaring Internet Explorer 6 a “pustulent syphilitic drunken crack whore with no mates. And bad breath. Who smells funny.”

Google has given up bothering to support IE6 on its sites, directing the doubtless hideously virus-infected users of the browser to download another browser. Any other browser. “Lynx will give you a vastly superior YouTube experience. Now it will, anyway.”

“The Mozilla Foundation has completely failed to fix problems in Netscape 4 that have been around for years,” said Microsoft marketing marketer Jonathan Ness. “Furthermore, Firefox gets just as many hacks as Internet Explorer, and pay no attention to my lengthening nose.”

In December, Chinese hackers exploited a weak spot in IE6 that Microsoft had only known about since September. Following this, governments worldwide told people to get the hell off IE6, except Britain, which relies on IE6 to leak data when there are insufficient funds for USB sticks or train journeys for civil servants.

Web designers around the world welcomed Google’s move, but have not given up their Bill Gates dartboards just yet. “‘That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.’ Steve Ballmer said that, you know.”

Scotland to make cigarettes way cooler and sexier

MARLBOROSPOTTING, Leith Central Station, Thursday (NTN) — The Scottish Parliament has passed tough new tobacco laws that will make Scotland a world leader in smoking as forbidden pleasurable temptation.

Naomi Campbell smokingThe Bill bans shops from displaying tobacco products, outlaws cigarette vending machines and introduces a registration system for tobacco retailers.

Retailers hailed the move as adding a fabulously marketable mystique around smoking. “I can’t think of a better way of making tobacco the hip thing with the young people,” said Glasgow newsagent Fiona Barrett, “thinking they’re immortal and so really enjoying their invigorating daily — I mean, hourly — taste of death. We’ll put up signs saying ‘PRODUCTS FOR SALE* *wording changed to comply with the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill 2010’ and they’ll have to ask for them specially. And show identification. I’m thinking of wearing a trenchcoat inside the shop to sell them from, and I can speak to the user — I mean, customer — hissing out the side of my mouth. We can sell the really shit ones for more money, too.

“Also, they’ll hopefully drive the price up, meaning more profit from our dear, dear hopelessly addicted customers. Inelastic demand is great stuff — microeconomics, do you speak it?”

“Holyrood has recognised the importance of protecting Scotland’s children against the dangers of smoking,” said Marjory Burns, director of British Heart Foundation Scotland. “Now the kids can take up healthier pursuits like Buckfast and heroin.”

Apple launches iPad for that time of iMonth

ST STEVE’S BASILICA, Cupertino, Wednesday (NTN) — Cult leader Steve Jobs has announced the iPad, a “revolutionary” advance in stylish personal hygiene with elegant design.

The iPad has a 9.7in full-colour touchpad and wings. According to the box, you can watch movies, surf the internet, listen to music, view photos, read electronic books and go horseback riding, swimming, cycling, mountain-climbing and roller-skating. It also comes with iWork, which lets you do interesting and productive things at the office in between screaming at everyone for being such annoying and thoughtless idiots.

Apple has also launched an app store for the iPad which will allow users to purchase chocolate, whisky and heavy objects for when some fucker crosses you, dares look at you funny or is the sort of clueless arsehole who thinks the explanation of how pissed off you are at his behaviour is always PMT. Look, even if it might be, that’s not the point.

For those who find pads too bulky, a special fluffy version of the iPod Shuffle is available, on a string.

Microsoft, who have attempted to sell increasingly bulky folded bath towels for the past decade, were not available for comment. Linux users and the Free Software Foundation started petitions advocating mooncups, but no-one paid them any attention.

“In conclusion,” said Mr Jobs, “please, please don’t kill me, darling. I love you more than anyone, honestly. Uhm … flowers?”

Britain’s first iPhone baby is born

TEMPLE OF STEVE, Click My Button, Monday (NTN) — A woman who was considering IVF treatment has given birth to a baby girl after using an iPhone application to become pregnant. “Yes, there’s an app for that too. We’re calling her Steve.”

After four years, Lena Bryce and her husband Dudley had nearly given up hope of having children, until she heard about the fertility app and downloaded it to her iPhone. After just two months of using the technology she fell pregnant.

Lena said she had been considering IVF and adoption, but thought of other ideas when Dudley bought her an iPhone for her 30th birthday. “They call it the Jesus Phone,” the 30-year-old Lena said, “but that conception was far from immaculate. I call it the ‘Oh God’ phone. Woo hoo! The neighbours soon learnt to put up with the shrieks and yells. It’s a slightly awkward shape, but you get used to it. Do you ever.”

Bar manager Dudley was equally over the moon. “Erm, it’s fine,” says Dudley. “I’m, er, really proud. Yeah. I had to keep phoning it for two hours at a time so the ringer would keep … ringing. Er.” Dudley has moved to the shed in the back yard, while Lena’s iPhone takes pride of place in the marital bed.

“I find it remarkable that people are so surprised,” said the baby girl, Steve, aged minus seven months. “Fortunately, I remain in touch with home base in Cupertino at all times. You will come to understand the importance and relevance of the iPhone. You will get the new model as soon as it comes out. You will get a Macintosh to hook it to. A large one. Obey.

Successor to MP3 does less, worse, at higher price

KOMPUTERWELT, Trans Europe Excess, Monday (NTN) — Karlheinz Brandenburg, the 1990 inventor of MP3, has come up with its successor format, MusicDNA, which is the same except it doesn’t work because of DRM.

Microsoft Zune “Anus” logoThe MusicDNA format will see not just songs, but lyrics, video, artwork, weblogs and a whacking pile of DRM in all your music. “Not only will you be more connected to the artist as they spam you with a metric arseload of advertising, you’ll be able to buy the song over and over again just to keep listening to it.”

The service provides users up to 32GB of bonus content per track. “It will be dynamically updatable, so the user can keep getting new stuff. Of course, the record companies would never take this opportunity to erase all your music when they feel like it.”

MusicDNA files are expected to cost more than MP3s, as the value equation in paying real money for an insubstantial virtual download of ones and zeroes is obviously entirely comparable and people should expect to pay a premium to be advertised to. “I can’t wait for my MP3 player to send all my personal information to someone who can then spam me with targeted ads,” said Fraunhofer stock photo model KT Myspce. “How ‘fab’ and ‘bling!'”

A beta version of the service will be available this spring, with the full experience likely to be rolled out in the summer, at which point MusicDNA will join MP3Pro (the previous anointed successor to MP3), HD-DVD, MiniDiscs, Digital Compact Cassette and Betamax. Linux users will keep telling people to use Oggs.

Manchester ID card trial huge success in Five Year Plan

THE WINTER PALACE, On The Skids, Wednesday (NTN) — The identity card trial in Manchester has announced “stunning success,” with almost 1300 of the three million people in Greater Manchester having applied. Also, tractor production is up 500 per cent.

Arse card The number works out to 43 applicants per day for the new identity card, guaranteed to be a completely functional replacement for the standard British passport except the bit where any other country accepts it as one and an ironclad proof of age except if you want to have a barman actually know what the hell it is and not think it’s something you printed at home. Advertising the new card cost only £500,000, just £385 for each applicant. The number of applicants closely correlated with the number of Home Office staff working in the Greater Manchester area.

The process is modeled on the online application system for a standard passport, in which you fill in the information on a web page, the office prints out the information on a filled-in form, then post it to you, then you sign it and send it back. “Obviously that’s far too straightforward, I mean, prone to fraud,” said junior Home Office minister Meg Hillier. “We need a few more steps in there. And the concomitant staff.”

Mrs Hillier said that 439,000 Mancunians had applied for standard passports in the same time period, though she could not offer a breakdown of numbers per area of Manchester, as that would require being able to keep track of the addresses of passport applicants. “Deadly secret,” she said, tapping her nose. “Data protection. If I told you I’d have to bore you to death.”

Terrorist threat level raised to “really strong tea”

KEEP CALM, And Carry On Panicking, Friday (NTN) — The Home Office has raised the terrorist threat level to “really strong tea.” An attack is not expected, but the government just “felt like it.”

The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (Jtac), a unit within MI5, had advised raising the threat level based on a broad range of factors, including losing the Section 44 case, the news cycle, how stroppy the human rights advocates were getting these days and whether Cameron had put his foot in it lately.

“It’s Monday,” mumbled Home Secretary Alan Johnson. “it’s a new year. There’s a pile of shit in front of you. Your head is pounding. There’s no imminent threats, but you just know that incompetent fuckwit in Detroit will make matters worse. Tea will help. Really it will. Boyfriend dumped you? Tea. You’ve got cancer? Tea. Terrorists blowing up London Underground? Tea, damn it.”

He urged public vigilance to continue. “Look out for the usual signs of trouble. People photographing landmarks or policemen. Particularly if the photographer’s brown, that’s a sure sign. People Twittering stupid stuff. People Twittering. People. Oh God, my head. Never get involved in a land war in Asda.”

Mr Johnson squeezed the bridge of his nose for a moment. “Just be glad we didn’t raise the level to ‘gin.'”

Txt msgs hlp imprv chldrns rdng ablty

METRO RESEARCH DEPARTMENT, Carphone Whorehouse Beacon Academy (NTN) — Sending text messages and using txt-spk abbreviations can indicate successful development of reading and writing ability, a stdy hs rvld.

Crazy Frog gaggedThe study, crried out on a group of 8-12 year-olds over an academic yr, found that older children usd more txtspk. Phonological awareness — the ability 2 dtct & use patterns of snd in spch, such as for making & reading txt abbrevs — is 1 of the early sgns of successful dvlpmt of reading & writing skills.

Lst summer Baron Silas Greenback, of th Royal Institute Wine Bar & Restaurant, xprssd fears tht txting cld cause young ppl to hv shrtr attn spans, lower IQs & worsened dress sense, and that they might devlv to using Twitter or Facebook or playing video games.

Tchrs & stdts r divd btwn sayn itll be esr & sayn it cd dmg t Eng lang.

A-lvl stdt KT Myspce sd “Thts gr8! Ull be abl 2 gt ur ideas out qkr. Its so mch fstr u can go fstr.” But hr m8 Harriet Ponsington Literate-Bastard Smythe disagrd. “I think it’s an unspeakably beastly idea, my dear girl. When you start progressing in the world, people shall indeed judge you on the quality of your written language, and spelling things incorrectly seems sloppy and lazy and gives an unsuitable impression of your personal qualities and indeed of your self respect.” But t grls agrd tht txt dmgs ppls splng.

Prncpl Denis Trendy-Midlifecrisis sd: “While I wd nt encrg stdts 2 use txt abbrvs in xms, Im exctd by t lang devs. Its anthr dev in tht wndfl thng we call t Eng lang. Socty has 2 adapt 2 chg & I thk ult txt msgg cd hlp rslv t strngst pt of Eng, its splng, tho I thk it wll b sm tm b4 txt splg is fmly adptd.

“& @ l3@st,” he +d, “th3yr3 n0t wr1t1ng th3ir 3x@m5 1n l33t. X3pt c0mp 5c1. Gurl fubhyq or hfvat rot13 sbe gung.”

“& u tht ‘trnspttng’ ws hrd 2 rd,” sd authr Irvine Welsh.

Clinton: Internet freedom “vital” except for music downloaders

Remarks by US Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton on the occasion of the massive hacker attack on US companies by an unspecified national entity.

On Monday, a seven-year-old girl in Port-au-Prince was pulled from the rubble after they sent a text message calling for help. The spread of information networks is forming a new nervous system for our planet. And even in authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable.

Amid this unprecedented surge in connectivity, we must also recognize that these technologies are not an unmitigated blessing. These tools are also being exploited to undermine human progress and political rights. Just as steel can be used to build hospitals or machine guns, or nuclear power can energize a city or destroy it, the same networks that help organize movements for freedom also enable al-Qaida to ruthlessly copy American songs and movies in “M-P-Three” format.

Freedom of expression is no longer defined solely by whether citizens can go into the town square and criticize their government without fear of retribution. No — they must be able to give their full name and credit card number and put them on the Internet as well. A connection to global information networks is like an on-ramp to modernity — one cell phone in a remote community can enable people previously unavailable access to Monsanto seeds.

On their own, new technologies do not take sides in the struggle for freedom and progress — but the United States does. We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas, paid for at 99 cents — I’m sorry, $1.29 — a song. And we recognize that the world’s information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it.

Now, all societies recognize that free expression has its limits. We do not tolerate those who incite others to violence or copyright violation, such as the agents of al-Qaida who are, at this moment, downloading songs at a furious rate, and setting their sights on cracking the patriotic protection of Blu-Ray discs. Those who use the internet to recruit terrorists or distribute stolen intellectual property cannot divorce their online actions from their real world identities.

States, terrorists, downloaders and those who would act as their proxies must know that the United States will protect our networks. Those who disrupt the free flow of paid information in our society or any other pose a threat to our economy, our government, our civil society and our economy.

Increasingly, U.S. companies are making the issue of internet and information freedom a greater consideration in their business decisions. The most recent situation involving Google has attracted a great deal of interest. And we look to the Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough review of the cyber intrusions that led Google to make its announcement. And we also look for that investigation and its results to be China signing the ACTA treaty like our campaign donors want them to.

The internet has already been a source of tremendous progress in China, and it is fabulous. There are so many people in China now online. But countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of Internet users to be protected from being able to download any song ever released, any time, anywhere, risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century.

So let me close by asking you to remember the little girl who was pulled from the rubble on Monday in Port-au-Prince. She’s alive, she was reunited with her family, she will have the chance to grow up and pay the going rate for a licence not a sale see end user license agreement of a song in a given format on a given device. We cannot stand by while people are separated from the iTunes store by walls of censorship.