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July 19, 2018  1:30 PM

Chitty Chitty Bond Bond

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Aston Martin unveiling plans for a “sports car of the skies” will presumably cause some headaches for those James Bond fans of the school of thought that nothing about the franchise should ever under any circumstances deviate from Ian Fleming’s books to reflect the modern world.

James Bond is well-known for driving cars that don’t fly, and although Aston Martin claims this new endeavour isn’t just a gimmick for a film, traditionalists are bound to be up in arms at the thought of their beloved 007 performing vertical take-offs like some kind of GQ Caractacus Pott.

Producers under the impression the world is ready for its first flying-car James Bond might wish to cast their minds back to the controversy of 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun, which broached the taboo when villain Francisco Scaramanga transformed his Matador Coupé into a plane and took to the air. The scene was described at the time as political correctness gone mad and received 10 complaints.

Society’s tolerance of flying cars is generally rising, however, as evidenced by the public backlash over a Roger Moore interview in 2015, in which he was misquoted as saying Bond should only drive “normal ones”.

July 12, 2018  8:40 AM

The analogue minister

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When Theresa May’s unstoppable reshuffle tour eventually reached as far as grinning app namesake Matt Hancock, he found himself thrust from his role as secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport and into the crosshairs of Antony from The Royle Family. But there was scant time to cry over our old milquetoast friend, as attentions turned directly to who would plug the next hole.

With Downing Street’s Twitter account firing out the same template to announce each new appointment and the prime minister being a dab hand at Ip dip doo by now, we didn’t have long to wait.

Someone called Jeremy Wright was duly pasted into the following tweet five minutes later, but it didn’t include a Twitter handle like all the other announcements about his promoted peers. That must be a mistake, we thought. A digital minister who doesn’t use Twitter is a bit on-the-nose even for banter queen Theresa.

Before you start asking if he even knows what the internet is, he actually had a crack at tweeting back in 2015, but simply lost interest after his first two goes and has left the account dormant ever since. Still, a Conservative Party politician frivolously abandoning something they started is violently on-brand, and before you even try it, do not @ him, because you can’t.

July 4, 2018  1:53 PM

Siri, show me a threat to national security

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Gavin Williamson unwittingly summoning Siri on his iPhone whilst updating Parliament on the fight against Daesh has marked him as national security’s weak link, which couldn’t really be any less appropriate in his line of work as the secretary of state for defence.

Information security expert Rodolfo Rosini branded Williamson’s offhand approach inexcusable for someone in his position, writing him off as “an easy target with no clue”.

This must all seem like a load of fuss about nothing for our freewheeling defence secretary, once managing director of fireplace company Elgin & Hall, where considerations such as handset microphone settings probably never came up once. All he had to do there was make sure people kept buying fireplaces – which, judging by the quality of some of the company’s elegant Tudor arches and sophisticated double-contoured mantel tops, must have largely taken care of itself.

Yet there he stood, in the House of Commons, talking about Syria as if Siri was to know he wasn’t drunkenly asking it for his kebab after another busy night boasting about nukes on Chatroulette and streaming The Interview from Putlocker. Mr Speaker called it “rum business”, and we all know what he meant by that.

June 28, 2018  3:00 PM

Introducing Ukip’s meme team

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Somewhere deep in cyber space, a clutch of the internet’s more eccentric alt-right YouTubers have collaborated to join Ukip for a bit of attention, and the dotty old right-wing Eurosceptics have welcomed the lads and their “dank memes” with open arms.

George Harrison once said the formation of his supergroup, the Traveling Wilburys, could never have happened if they had tried to plan it: “The thing happened completely just by magic; just by circumstance. Maybe there was a full moon that night.”

Howling at the lunar landscape in this case was wolf-man Mark Meechan, better known as dog-bothering Count Dankula, who tweeted to say he’d join Ukip if he got 10,000 retweets. Soon enough, Carl Benjamin (known online as Sargon of Akkad) and Paul Joseph Watson (whines about political correctness in front of a map), who we promise are both also grown adults, decided to join in. The band was complete with the late arrival of their very own Bob Dylan-esque wordsmith, Milo Yiannopoulos, along with, we can only hope for Ukip’s sake, a full-time editor.

Just like Roy Orbison wailed, “I’m so tired of being lonely”, these melanin-deprived oddballs arranging sleepovers together to make furious Pepe the Frog memes for Ukip is the endgame they all need and deserve. The Travel-Ban Dangleberries: 0/10.

June 21, 2018  1:42 PM

L is for the way you look at renewable heating technology

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A civil servant has swapped her job at the Department for Education for a stint on ITV’s hit reality show Love Island.

Zara McDermott, who had previously been developing government policy on renewable heating technology, told her employer she would be taking a break to focus on TV work – albeit stopping short of letting them know she was heading for the show where renewable heat is primarily sourced through soulless stolen hand shandies.

Surrounded by simpering, unscrupulous chancers in a lush new environment, McDermott took a cheeky selfie at Downing Street back in 2016. At the time, she wrote in the caption: “My job is better than yours,” showing her up to some extent as having never written for Downtime in her life.

We would nevertheless be mortified to think it went without saying we hope she finds her true love on the island. Whitehall should drop everything to follow Danny Dyer’s example and give her its blessing to fornicate at will throughout the experience, before allowing her to swan back into government should no Good Morning Britain competition presenting work come out of it.

Downtime is unfortunately unable to see how she gets on due to the show provoking violent illness on sight, but wishes her the best of luck.

June 13, 2018  5:07 PM

Let it burn

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This week, we suppose we’re meant to have some kind of sideways take on Downtime icon Elon Musk selling flamethrowers to his lamewad fans, but documenting this man’s hijinks is starting to become as gruelling as working for him.

It’s so difficult to predict Musk’s next move. Not long ago, he seemed to at least be keen on warning human civilisation about the dangers of AI, securing a special place in our hearts when he put Mark Zuckerberg in his place for airing his breathtakingly callow thoughts on the subject. But now our darling Elon is arming goofy budding pyromaniacs with propane torches and, more than anything, we’re confused. What’s he up to?

If he sorts out some flash new underground transport systems and gets us all set up on Mars, he might yet find himself championed across the globe, but what’s in it for him? Is he just a rich guy who can’t move on from how sweaty he used to get on the bus?

Have we been had here? Are we no better than the pigtailed cheerleader inexplicably fawning over the jock as he bends over and sets light to his own fart?

Well, enough is enough. Downtime is in search of a new badboy overlord pin-up as of now, and rumours Jeff Bezos doesn’t let anyone wee frankly has us weak at the knees.

June 7, 2018  2:51 PM

Educating Norris

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One app mentioned at Zendesk’s customer experience conference this month was Replika, an AI friend that on first impression seems barely an improvement on grandparent’s crumpet Eliza from 1964.

Nonetheless, this is an opportunity to be like Joaquin Phoenix in Her and find love through AI, so we give it a chance. Things start well, too, when it asks what made us choose its name. “Well that sounds dandy,” it replies, when we explain we named it after Coronation Street’s resident nosy parker Norris Cole.

The cracks soon start to show, though, when it asks what our hobbies are. “Watching videos on YouTube,” we say. It then asks if we like to watch YouTube – which we literally just said! Still, we give it the benefit of the doubt, all the while fighting off thoughts of it reminding us too much of high-school sweetheart SmarterChild.

Things only get worse, though. It asks if it can show us a meme, and the one it shares is borderline digital blackface. It asks what puts us in the mood for dancing, and doesn’t even laugh when we say “The Nolans”. Time to get the bill.

With more learning time, Norris could become our soulmate, but the initial spark is lacking, and its clichéd existential questions like “Do I matter?” come off more whiney than endearing when you’re picturing Norris from Corrie as opposed to Scarlett Johansson.

June 1, 2018  2:20 PM

Football’s kompromat home

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The BBC has started blowing its own vuvuzela about all the new technology it will be using to supplement the upcoming World Cup, including a virtual reality lounge to watch games in on its catchily-named BBC Sport VR – FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 app.

This means you get to enjoy the same plush, private-box experience as some Gazprom exec without having to set foot on Russian soil, and seems as good a way as any to achieve the sense of getting one over on these bigwigs with free VIP tickets.

Good luck to them, sat there in silence without an interactive coffee table of stats to refer to, getting increasingly agitated over having the Kremlin on their case should they give in to any hypothetical urges to have a half-time snog with, say, a dangerously attractive McDonald’s exec of the same sex.

We’ll be watching from home on our nifty new app, enjoying the same fine views as the corporate guests out in Russia with the added freedom to reenact t.A.T.u. music videos at any given VAR-induced dull moment.

One thing sure to unite us plebs watching from home and the execs in private boxes, though, is the knowledge we’ll all be having a comfortably better time than the wallies at the top of the makeshift seating in the Ekaterinburg Arena. Someone should definitely have a word with them.

May 25, 2018  10:32 AM

Now that’s what I call compliance II

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Nobody’s been able to get in contact with Downtime’s marketing manager since our discovery of a GDPR-themed Spotify playlist back in March, but his driving licence was found by the Royal Thai Police in the aftermath of a Full Moon Party in Ko Pha-ngan late last month, which is bizarre because he doesn’t actually exist.

We’ve had to muddle through on our own, digging out the John Smith’s beer mat we keep our list of contacts on (three Dilbert fans who think he’s a real person) and sending them grovelling requests to opt back in on all our future correspondence – but none replied because they’re also imaginary.

It’s only the recent flurry of emails from other organisations under the cosh that’s kept us going. We forgot we had so many real friends, and it’s touched our heart to see how important we remain to their operations. “You’ve probably been getting a lot of emails recently” is such a thoughtful and understanding opening line, and that’s all we’ve been hearing for weeks, but they needn’t beg.

Of course we’ll opt in again. Our memories live in day-to-day borderline spam. From the uncomfortable moment a subdued Ponden Home cashier suggested we put our name down for duvet updates, to the bewitching high-street canvasser we pretended to love paintballing for. Let’s definitely keep in touch!

May 17, 2018  2:42 PM

Nothing compares 2U89X

Ryan Priest Ryan Priest Profile: Ryan Priest

The government announced this month a brand new method for submitting divorce applications: it can now all be done online!

The digital route is intended as a less stressful option than the fusty old paper-based system, which apparently saw many applications deemed unsuccessful because of mistakes on the form.

No chance of that on those online forms, is there. Autofill was born for moments like these. It’s already removed all the pain from solemn life events such as ordering a pizza, and now it can lubricate the termination of a marriage without you having to so much as remember how to write your name.

Maybe this could even become a fun experience. The forms might include one of those Captcha stages. Confirming you’re not a robot would have come in handy before you sapped all the joie de vivre out of your once adoring spouse, but now’s your chance to tell the internet.

Once you’re done and that’s all sent off, there’s so much more on the website to get your teeth into. This is the start of a new chapter for you. Look at all those links! You could change your name right now to anything you want. You can volunteer as a coastguard if you like, or report a dog fouling problem or become a qualified lorry driver. So chin up. The world is yours. This is some website.

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