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Birds of a Feather

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Much as though - I suppose - Twitter are to be congratulated on reaching the 100 Million user milestone last week, the news that carpet-baggers (sorry - hedge fund managers) are now using random samples of trending topics on Twitter to decide what to gamble on (sorry - invest in), brings 'dumbing-down' to a new, all-time low.

Apparently, the theory goes that, if 'happy' topics are trending, our 'merchant banker' friends should invest in positive stocks - like Butlins or Center Parcs presumably - whilst, if things are a bit gloomy on the tweet-telegraph, then investing in more negative shares (like Co-Op Funerals or News International) would be more appropriate. If this highly sophisticated analysis of market economics is what merchant w*nkers are paid millions in 'bonuses' for, then Heaven Help The Recovery. And have they never heard of 'share-bashing' - the practise of undermining a company's share value through the spreading of false rumours, so that the shares can then be bought on-the-cheap ?! Web Sheriff has had to hunt-down numerous 'bashers' on financial message-board sites over the years and Twitter is, of course, the ideal place to drive a company's share price into the bargain-basement... although don't try this at home folks - as you may end-up eating porridge for 2 - 5 years in colourful clothing.

Talking of dumbing-down, I read in the Sunday papers that, instead of the usual, rigorously academic questions from the days of O-Levels that tested the mathematical aptitude of budding students, this year's GCSE equivalent asked aspirants "How do you spell 500,000 in words?" : precisely what is that 'testing' - the little darlings' numeracy or their literacy (or neither ?) ?! Maybe anyone 'passing' this rather taxing test should dispense with A-Levels altogether and just apply for an internship with a hedge fund, as this would appear to make them perfectly qualified for the job - well, that and names like 'Gervais' or 'Timothy' and brightly coloured waistcoats... as 'bottom marks' are no hindrance to Old Etonians, used as they are to years of 'fagging' (although it's best not to mention this in the presence of Call-Me-Dave and Cleggers, as The-Happy-Couple are alleged to still engage in such practises).

In another interesting development last week, it emerged that the 'Anonymous' hacking group have been attempting to hijack trending topics on Twitter that they disapprove of ... .. which is kind of ironic, bearing-in-mind that they are supposed to stand for freedom-of-speech and freedom-from-censorship ... .. although, when one considers the inane subjects that manage to 'trend' on Twitter, they may well be doing the public a service.

Actually, thinking about it, maybe we should be drowning-our-sorrows at Twitter's hegemony, having successfully reduced the language of Shakespeare, Chaucer, Joyce and Wilde - and every other language for that matter - to 140 character soundbites worthy of, well, a 2011 GCSE scholar. Why don't Twitter just allow people to tweet for as long as they want and let the water find its own level - then participating in it would be a far more rewarding experience (or did their Amstrad server just not have enough capacity when they launched ?) ?? Although, if Maria de Jesus Bravo Pagola and Gilberto Martinez Vera in Mexico had been allowed more than 140 characters, then perhaps War of The Worlds would really have broken out : as it was - and with echoes of Orson Wells' 1938, radio epic of War of The Worlds, that duped tens of thousands of New Yorkers into evacuating the city in fear of invading aliens in flying saucers - they tweeted that Mexico's deadly drug cartels had seized control of all schools in Veracruz, sending thousands of understandably concerned parents into mass hysteria and causing 26 car crashes in the ensuing melee. Unlike Wells, however, who went on to receive an Oscar for his precocious, directorial skills, our pair of banditos are facing 30 years in the slammer for their not-so-jolly-japes ... .. which makes the 4 year stretches received by the Riots-R-Us tweeters in the UK somewhat lenient.

Any-road-up, not wanting to be outdone in the dumbing-down stakes, perhaps for next year's GCSE maths exam they should ask our Little Einsteins whether 500,000 goes into 140 ... .. let's try it eh kids ?! ... .. F-i-v-e H-u-n-d-r-e-d T-h-o-u-s-a-n-d ... .. I think I'm ready for that hedge fund job - now where did I put my red braces and Dapper Dan pomade ?!