Antique  Observations by
   RLC members

last additions 2003/07/25

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Consumer Affairs

An RLC Member writes : The Fisher Space Pen writes over grease and fingerprints, under water, upside down and at -30 to +250 degrees Fahrenheit. It is filled with "a new kind of ink with the thixotropic viscoelastic and strongly cohesive and adhesive qualities". And "it does not ooze around the ball end even under pressure".
   The pen also comes with a guarantee that if the customer is not completely satisfied, the pen or the refill can be sent back for a full refund or replacement.
   So when my cartridge started to ooze ink around the ball, I sent it back to Boulder City, Nevada, for replacement. And 2 weeks later, I got a replacement ink cartridge.
   So is the guarantee worth having?
   Yes, the Fisher Space Pen Company keeps its promises.

Parcel Force, or Parcel Farce as they're known to many of their customers, send a form out from their claim centre in Glasgow when they lose something. And on that form is a section with the title: Please add below any comments, which may assist us in dealing with this inquiry.

When they sent a printer into oblivion instead of to his address in the summer of 1997, a RLC member offered the comment:

"I hope you will leave no part of Parcel Force unsearched in your efforts to locate and deliver my printer."

Needless to say, he's still waiting for the printer to show up in 2000...

Whatever happened to breathable garments?

A RLC member writes: "I have had two 'breathable' anoraks, one whose brand name I don't remember, but which had a lining which peeled off eventually like dead skin. The second has a Scantex™ lining, which is extremely effective at retaining body heat. Unfortunately, it also retains moisture to the extent that I now believe that the lining was installed backwards to keep me soggy inside and let rain flood in as a bonus.

In 1998, the Hawkshead™ catalogue was peppered with little diagrams showing how their so-called breathable lining system for waterproof outdoor garments worked. But when I tried to buy one of their anoraks in a sale in December of 1998, and I attached a few conditions concerning the effectiveness of the keep-you-dry-inside lining, I got no response from them.

And guess what? The 1999 Hawkshead™ catalogue was completely free of the little diagrams about how their keep-you-dry-inside system was supposed to work. Another price-boosting gimmick's bubble bursts? Sounds like it."

Millennium Bugged!

As far as our calendar is concerned:
The First Millennium = 1 AD to 1,000 AD
The Second Millennium = 1,001 AD to 2,000 AD
The Third Millennium = 2,001 AD to 3,000 AD
What's so difficult to grasp about that?


If so, the M3 Group wants to hear from YOU!

Please email to our 'Bogus Millennium Survey' details of your name, postcode, age, IQ (if known) and category number from the list below:

1. Morons

2. Free-Loading Politicians

3. Mug Punters

4. Exploiters of Mug Punters

Thank you for your assistance.

A RLC member writes:
Guess what? Today, on Saturday, December 18th, 1999, I actually heard a programme on BBC radio insisting that the 3rd Millennium doesn't start until 2001!!!
   Not on a serious programme like the news or today's From Our Own Correspondent, which had Kate Adie spouting a load of tripe about "the first dawn of the new (bogus) millennium". No, it was the Radio Two comedy programme King of the Road.
   While allegedly serious news and features programmes may have been totally dumbed down, it seems that there is still the odd true word spoken in jest on the Beeb.

  • How did the allegedly respectable firms that sold bogus millennium change souvenirs get around the Trade Descriptions Act and legislation aimed at stopping people passing off items which are not what they are claimed to be?
  • What is this Millennium Change all about? Extensive studies have shown that the change-over from one millennium to the next will be totally undetectable. A time traveller arriving in any of the years between 1990 and 2010 will not be able to tell which year it is just by the look and feel of what's going on in society at large.
       Wouldn't it be a good idea to celebrate the dawning of the third millennium at the proper time, i.e. at the start of the year 2001? Especially as there are so many essential services which have not got to grips properly with the Year 2000 computer problem.
       So doesn't it make more sense to celebrate the start of M3, the third millennium, rather the start of the dumbed-down bogus millennium? Especially if we won't have aircraft dropping out of the skies and all sort of computers going belly up on the stroke of midnight on 31st December, 2000.
  • Is the early millennium change - The Bogus - just an excuse for rip-offs? How strange it is that the government expects the UK to be over-run with tourists and that ‘the UK will be the focus of the world in the year 2000'. Given the highest hotel charges in the world in London as a base for an even greater rip-off, people are more likely to stay in their own countries and be ripped off to a lesser extent.
  • Who's it for, The Bogus? Cynics would say it's for the politicians and the usual suspects - the free-loaders and moochers - who expect to be living it up at public expense, and who won't wait for 2001. Even more cynical cynics would say it's just a rehearsal because the free-loaders are planning to have an accuracy attack as an excuse for living it up at public expense in 2001 as well!
  • What's the Millennium Dome all about? Is it just another excuse for handing out large amounts of cash from the public purse to the usual gang of cronies and hangers on; the junketers, the free-loaders, the Westminster Wonders and all their mates?
  • After the BBC's strenuous efforts to sell the bogus millennium change and the end of the 20th Century on 31.12.1999, what does one make of a news-reader citing 'the biggest of the decade'? If it's the BBC decade 2000-2009, then a 'biggest' in January 2000 in no big deal. Surely the BBC wasn't talking about the current decade, i.e. 1991-2000? Did somebody slip one past the spin-doctors as a personal exercise in 'dumbing-up'?

"Listening to politicians spout on about getting the world into shape to face the next millennium," a RLC member writes, "I began to wonder whether they have too little to do or whether they are incapable of tackling real-world problems in case they fail and it tarnishes their shine of spin-doctored perfection.
   "Imagine the effect on King Ethelred II [the Unready or ill-advised] in the year 999 AD if a contemporary spin doctor had tried to tell him that he had to get the country into shape for the next millennium! Remembering that this was a a time when the people at large were worrying about Danish invaders/immigrants when they weren't worrying about the world coming to an end, and the king himself was gearing up for a spot of Dane-slaughtering to re-assert a measure of English authority.
   "I bet Ethelred wouldn't have been as eager as Tony Blair was if the spin-doctors had suggested dipping into his treasury to put up a tent which no one would visit as a focus of the celebrations. And just what influence have things that happened in the period 999-1,001 AD had on life in 2,000 AD? About as much effect as anything that happens in the bogus/genuine millennium change period will have on life in 3,000 AD, I should think."

Reader's Letter faxed to the Guardian, 1st January, 2000 - Not published

Dear Editor,
   So today's Guardian [1/1/00] thinks that anyone who didn't buy in to the bogus millennium change is a pedant? Well, if the alternative is to be one of the morons who "Bought The Bogus", I reckon I can live with my label quite comfortably. A happy new year to all the morons at the Guardian; and to any pedants who are pretending to be morons for purely contractual reasons.

Thought recorded on 30th December, 1999.

After months of promotion for their bogus millennium change and their bogus "millennial" souvenir issues on 1/1/2000, both the Grauniad and its best buddy the Daily Mail actually print letters pointing out that the millennial change doesn't happen until the end of 2000. And they both do it on the same day!!! Spooky coincidence? Or further proof that all of the nationals are working to the same script, no matter how different they pretend to be?

Reader's Letter to the Daily Mail, sent 9th November, 1999 - not published

The Daily Mail Yearbook** published at the beginning of December, 1900 was sold as ‘a 20th Century idea', which shows that the Mail knew that the 20th Century would begin on January 1st, 1901. If the same newspaper is busy doing a countdown to the start of ‘The Millennium' on January 1st, 2000 – and also the end of the 20th Century – that means the 20th Century will be unique. It will be the only century that is 99 years long!
   There were riots in 1752 when reform of the calendar meant that 11 days were cut out of the year. Will we now see angry mobs besieging Downing Street shouting: "Give us back our year, Tony Blair!"
   I blame it all on dumbing down and politicians who can't handle anything more complicated than round numbers. And it sounds like the Mail's current editor needs either a good dose of 'education, education, education' or the sack.
      ** See the Daily Mail 100 Amazing Years CD

Item sent to the Guardian's Notes & Queries page on 16th November, 1999 - not used

The start of the 21st Century was still 2001 when Arthur C. Clarke's Space Odyssey was published (1968). When was the year 2000 promoted, reducing the 20th Century to a cut-price 99 years, and who made the decision?

Yes – until they go wrong in a small way. After all, what could be more frustrating than knowing that the fading component is easy to remove and replace, cost about a fiver when new and is now obsolete? Which means that you can't get another one and soon, you won't be able to use a computer on which you've spent a couple of thousand pounds over the last seven years.
   In that position, the alternatives are simple: get a new PC or attempt a repair; spend a lot of money or spend a little money and kid yourself that a small problem can be solved quickly – even though bitter experience tells you exactly the opposite will occur.
   Historical Diversion: My first computer was a 386SX25 with 4 MB of memory and a 100 KB hard disk drive when I bought it. Since then, I've given it two 486 motherboard/CPU combinations (a DX2 66 and the current DX4 120), a 2x then a 24x CD drive and an 8-bit then a 16-bit SoundBlaster card and I've increased the memory to 32 MB. We have evolved together, that PC and I, learning to use DOS and Windows 3.1 programs, and now dual-booting between Windows 95 and DOS 6.2. And most importantly of all, it purrs along when running DOS programs and I use it for all my serious writing jobs, like technical writing and writing and designing books.
   So imagine my frustration when this well-tuned piece of kit looked like heading for the scrap heap because the five-quid CPU fan was getting ancient and too tired to work.
   Given that 486s are more than obsolete in the age of Pentium IIIs, the replacement option involves getting a new Pentium or equivalent CPU and a working fan, a new motherboard, some new memory as half the memory in my 486 is in the form of 4 MB 30-pin SIMMs, and probably a new case as well for an ATX motherboard (the original case is AT, of course). All that because a five-quid fan is giving up the ghost!
   The prospect of spending the best part of £200 on a £5 problem is more than guaranteed to tickle my stubborn streak – the one that makes an abstractor say, "I'll be glad when I've finished this!" before getting into an all-day struggle with a 390-claim WO patent.
   It was while out and about, stubbornness fading as the problem with the CPU fan grew, that I spotted a likely looking fan in an electronics shop. And it was only two quid, too! The only drawback was that it was bigger than the existing fan and the mounting holes were too far out to let me screw it on to the fins of the existing CPU heat sink.
   The solution was to create a mounting plate with a big hole in its centre, screw the fan to the plate and screw the plate to the heat sink. Problem solved? Well, no, not actually.
   A couple of weeks later, my PC seemed to develop a form of Alzheimer's Disease, when started doing pointless hard disk access operations and hanging up. I eventually worked out that the CPU was overheating and I needed to create and install a gasket between the fan and the mounting plate to concentrate the air flow on to the CPU heat sink. Since then, I've not had the case off the PC and I've dared to put back two of the three securing screws that hold the case in position.
   So what have I got out of all this? Apart from a lot of aggro and a lot of practice in taking the case off my PC. Well, I have a sense of accomplishment and a sense of having beaten the system. I have a totally obsolete, top-end 486 still running my DOS programs with its two-quid fan, mounting plate and gasket in position. And I've not had to rewrite all my WordPerfect for DOS macros because I've not had to transfer my abstracting work to the Pentium II running Windows 98 and WordPerfect 8 in my other computer room. And best of all, I can spend the £200 upgrade budget on CDs, which can't be bad.

p. s. I'm writing this on the Pentium II system, which is playing one of the CDs bought with the upgrade budget. Not that you can't do exactly the same on a 486.

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