Friday, October 31, 2008

White Christmases have doubled under Labour

Yes it's true, the Labour Party have managed in just ten years to double the number of young people experiencing a white Christmas. This is apparently, according to the Government a successful vindication of their ten-year anti-drugs policy.

I'm sure all those sniffing youngsters in the depths of Bedfordshire agree. You can bet they;lve written to Father Christmas too and requested their hoover snorter too!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Craziest Conspiracy Theory of the Year Award

The Fink has posted what some of his nutters say in the comments and this one really is something extra-extra-special. It was posted in relation to the Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross *cough* granddaughter intercourse* incident and reads

Now we see clearly how the Jewish Mafia in the UK operate.

10,000 calls to the BBC. How absurd.

I'll bet 100 quid that 99% of them received SMS text messages from the Board of British Jews encouraging people to complain because Sachs is a Jew.
Bloody Jews! They're always manipulating the entire world from their tiny sliver of land aren't they?

Sums it up really....


Hat Tip: Beau Bo D'Or

The people from Richardson, Texas have "issues"

Google trends says so! Apparently Richardson, Texas is the most common location for those searhcing Google with the term "sarah palin porn".


Via email and originally noted on Popbitch

Public against Brown's spending splurge

The Taxpayers Alliance have a poll commissioned by ComRes that shows that public are not at all happy with the idea of Brown borrowing more and spending it all. What's more they think tax cuts would be a better way to combat the recession too.

As Mark Wallace from the TPA writes on the Coffee House blog,

Far from being the pork-barrel big spenders that the Government imagined, the public are clearly tired of glitzy, big ticket projects. People would rather have money in their pockets now to help keep their heads above water than yet more large public projects, with all the waste, delays and mismanagement they inevitably entail.
Absolutely on the money I'd say.

Syncronised Presidential Debates

Conclusion? Every debate was the same!


Via 236.com

Deripaska bailed-out by Kremlin with $4.5bn loan

How funny, apparently Oleg Deripaska, he of Yachtgate fame and reputedly "Russia's Richest Man" has had to be bailed out by the Kremlin with a $4.5bn loan.

In these "difficult times"....

I keep on hearing the phrase "difficult times" from Brown and others, yet when I read that the cost of hosting the Cabinet in Birmingham was £61,920 (not including costs for local Police security) I find the word "profligacy" springing to mind.

I realise that some might say £61,920 isn't very much money in the scheme of things, but I imagine hosting the Cabinet in the Cabinet Room is much cheaper. At a time when everyone is having to tighten belts it just seems a tad wasteful.

Having said this there are marginal seats up there in places, so you can see why taxpayers money might be used to shore up some votes as well.

For the past few days....

I have mostly been playing with my laptop to make the desktop pretty.

Oh yes, and I only just discovered Virtualbox by Sun.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Is it because it is English?

Don't laugh, but apparently virtually every Government department has achieved the Crystal Mark from the Campaign for Plain English. Lord knows how they have managed it.

Interestingly though there are two missing departments, the Wales Office and Scotland Office. When the relevant ministers were asked how many documents they had submitted to the Campaign from Crystal Mark status since 2005 they both said "none".

They do say closeness breeds contempt. Might that be why the government offices for these two celtic fringes have shunned something associated with the despicable English?

Q and A of the Day

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister if he will direct the relevant authorities to investigate the claim made by Wouter Basson during his trial in South Africa in July 2000 that an illicit weapons cache, including chemical weapons, seized by HM Customs and Excise (HMCE) was subsequently stolen from an HMCE warehouse following information he provided; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Timms: I have been asked to reply. HMRC officials have reviewed their historical records and have found no evidence to support the claim that a weapons cache, including chemical weapons, was stolen from a HMCE/HMRC warehouse.
Given the way they loose data put your hand up if you trust the "historical records"? It's a great non-denial denial though. Remind me of that advert in the Jerusalem Post.

Gerald "milky milky" Kaufman

Subtle as a sledgehammer in his insinuation methinks.

That this House notes the interesting coincidence that Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose have all simultaneously increased the price of a two-pint container of milk from 80 pence to 86 pence.
Who knows if hey are price fixing the cost of milk, what's for sure is that they each monitor the others prices almost daily and react accordingly. Milky milky!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tebbit insists on Farage?

Word reaches me that at the Bruges Group dinner last night that Thatcher attended there were some shenanigans about who should sit on the top table. According to a mole, Lord Tebbit rather liked the idea of the leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage sitting at the top table.

Unfortunately, Robert Oulds is said to have been quite against the idea and only acquiesced when Tebbit, and then the UKIP peer Pearson insisted that the most prominent withdrawalist in the country sat at the top table with Maggie herself.

Frankly I find this sort of stuff amusing because most ordinary people couldn't give a rats arse who sits where. Political dinner seating arrangements are a bit like weddings no? Who sits next to the dodgy Uncle or the black sheep child etc etc?

Quick Presidential Prediction

If Barack Obama becomes President-Elect next week, don't expect any of the snide anti-american Brits, Aussie and others to change their tune. They've had a hate figure in Bush for the past eight years, and I don't doubt that Barack Obama will become an equal hate figure within a short amount time.

This will be because walking in the Oval Office and actually executing the power is never the same as criticising from the sidelines. They will not be able to help themself the minute Obama has to say something positive about Israel, or makes nosies in the wrong direction towards Iran or some other state.

Mark my words, you'll still here and read crap about how America is "slaughtering" people in Middle East; how she has her hands tied by the evil Jews in Israel, and all other manner of Noam Chomsky-style bullshit about so-called American imperialism.

Who owns the ticket for the FA Cup Final that you buy?

In yesterday's Guardian there was an article about how the Government is planning to crackdown on what it calls ticket toutings, however they want to make it so that you and me cannot resell a ticket we might buy for one of its "crown jewel" events, like the FA Cup final, Wimbledon etc.

Personally speaking this sort of thing is an affront to basic private property rights. If I buy a ticket for an event and then for some reason cannot go, it is my property to sell, period. It shouldn't matter what the event is.

Polling by ICM, commissioned by eBay in 2006 and 2007 found that that view is held by over 80% of people, and quite right too. So this begs the question, why is the Government even considering introducing laws that stop me selling my private property?

Telegraph gets conned... at what cost?

Guido has beaten me to it about a press reelase from the Telegrpah boasting that they have secured a deal to give them the rights to post content from The Onion.

I've just come off the phone with the people that sent me the press release having essentially asked them "why have the Telegraph paid for something that is free for us all to use and post already? What is it that they bought that is special?". The answer to that question is being sought.

Something tells me the official answer won't be "they got hustled" even though we all know it is. Anyhow, here's one of my favourite Onion videos posted on this blog for free with no deal required thanks to them giving me the embed code.


Live From Congress: The Skull Fucking Bill Of 2007

Kids get all the good stuff from Government

If you're a Tory PPC you get your ex-girlfriend to pay for the first, whilst all of us have to pay for the second.... unless you're a kid at school in which case it's apparently free now.


Via email

Brown's tax rise promise needs to be tackled before it is too late

Why is it that politicians are allowed to obsfucate meaning so readily and journalists so happily help to parrot their obsfucation? Yesterday we were subjected to Gordon brown telling us that it was "responsible" to borrow what is predicted to be an extra £60bn by the end of the year in order to allow Britain to spend its way out of recession.

At the same time we were told that this would keep the economy moving and when better economic activity returned, the jam tomorrow was delievred, and we were not in a recession anymore, there would be a sharp decrease in that borrowing and the consequence debt.

Now let us cut through the bullshit. What our illustrious former "prudent" Chancellor andnnow complete lying fool of a Prime Minister actually announced yesterday was that he's going to defer £60bn of tax rises, and, when he thinks things are getting better, he will grab that money back from us all.

Time for a reality check. If you have defer massive, and I mean massive tax rises - with an effective promise to implement them when economic activty returns - what you're going to do is kill that economic activity stone dead.

Right at the point when you think the corner is turned you're going to take away the soending capability of the population through tax cuts and the economic activity will start to go backwards yet again. It's not rocket science. Gone is Austerity Brown banging on about the Age of Irresponsibilty. No, now it is the "responsible" thing to promise to increase tax on us by a staggering amount. The question is what taxes will be raised to make us pay for his "investment"?

If past perfiormance is anything to go by then I expect we'll first see a freeze on the tax thresholds to create a little bit of fiscal drag. Possibly an increase in VAT or making VAT chargeable on items for which it wasn't before. Certainly an increase in fuel duty in the coming months. A "readjustment" of inheritance tax threshold in line with falling prices. A reduction in tax rebate on private pension contributions? An increase in National Insurance across the board?

Of course he may not do any of these things because he may not be in power to do so. This latest "responsible borrowing" is really just a burden on future Governments. If the polls are to be beleived it will be the Tories that will be forced to do this and cause much pain and increase the potential of a one term administration where Labour come riding to rescuse as angels of the people who have been so hurt by the evil Tories.

There has been much said about how there is limited dividing line between the parties these days. This however is the opportunity for one to appear. On the one hand you can have Brown's Labour promising to hit you where it hurts in the future, or Cameron's Tories promising to create an economic stimulus by cutting tax and letting us all individually spend our way out of recession. Whether Cameron and the Tory Leadership is willing to have that battle of ideas once more I do not know.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Are they taking the piss?

Home Office civil servants spend 323 years a year living in hotels

Well I'm back from illness and decided to start the week with a little light skim of Hansard and I'm now feeling quite ill again. The DUP MP, David Simpson has been asking questions about how much departments spend on hotel accommodation and for some of them it's staggering.

Starting at the bottom, we have the Wales and Scotland Offices, spending £24,875 and £38,053 respectively in the last year. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport tops them by spending £43,748 in a year.

However, the next leap is quite a big one, with Hazel Blears' De[partment for Communities and Local Government spending £482,887. I;m guessing it wasn't a Travel Inn or dodgy B&B.

It's the Home Office though that really made me feel quite ill. They managed to spend, on hotel accommodation in one year, £5,790,000. That's equivalent to around 118,163 nights at a Travel Inn, or just short of 324 years.

Obviously these are civil servants though so they probably go up market and stay somewhere like the Grosvenor. In that case it's around 24,225 nights with a single (cheap) room, or just over 66 years.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Joke of the Day

Three doctors are bragging about their country's medical achievements. The Israeli doctor starts by saying "medicine in my country is so advanced we can take a kidney out of one person, put it in another, and have him up and looking for work in six weeks".

The German doctor says "that's nothing, in Germany, we can take a lung out of one person, put it in another, and have him looking for work in four weeks".

Not to be out done the English doctor says, "we can take an arsehole out of Scotland, put him in 10 Downing Street, and have half the fucking country looking for work within 24 hours".

Friday, October 24, 2008

Blogging cancelled....

Have not been very well for the last couple of days, the post from yestedray was only posted because I write it on the train on Wednesday. Back soon, need to sleep.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lib Dems, data protection and member profiling

In August, after yet another data loss scandal engulfed the Government, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg said,

"I'm just gobsmacked, like everyone else is, that the government can be so systematically incompetent in failing to keep our data safe. Frankly the Keystone Cops would do a better job running the Home Office and keeping our data safe than this government, and if this government cannot keep the data of thousands of guilty people safe, why on earth should we give them the data of millions of innocent people in an ID card database?"
"Absolutely Cleggy!" you might think, but the important thing to remember here is that whilst the Government have been shown to be incompetent at protecting data on numerous occassions, the Liberal Democrats have instead actively breached privacy rules and data protection responsibilities.

Some may remember that back in September they were told they would face prosecution by the Information Commissioner after their decision to use so called "robocalling" to contact 250,000 people with unsolicted direct marketing and play a recorded message from Nick Clegg. I can also reveal that the Liberal Democrats are playing loose and fast with their own members data too.

The independent Lib Dem Voice blog has been given a form of access to the Liberal Democrats membership list in order to allow them to authenticate genuine Lib Dems for their "members only forum". To register for the forum the site requires full name, postcode and party membership number, and it then has query access to the Lib Dem membership list in order to confirm if the person registering is a member or not. The site says,

this information is passed into a piece of software provided by the Liberal Democrats that responds simply to say whether or not you are currently a member of the party, and this will be used to permit or deny you access to the forum. Lib Dem Voice is not given access to the party’s membership records and is not provided with any information from them other than “is a member” or “is not a member”.
Now you see, it doesn't matter whether Lib Dem Voice have or have not got "access to the party’s membership records" the key here is that they, as an independent third party, are given a response by the Liberal Democrats which discloses someone's personal information in the form of their membership. I ran this by the Information Commissioners office and there was little doubt from them that this would constitute a breach of data protection.

It's a bit like if I rang a bank and gave them someone's full name, postcode and their account number and asked them to confirm that the details were valid. They would not disclose that information and be quite clear that it ould breach the data protection laws for them to do so, and they would be quite right too. This not so with the Liberal Democrats it seems.

The only people the Liberal Democrats should be disclosing this information to are legitimate requesters, and legitimate requesters most certainly do not include an independent website with a discussion forum. A legitimate requester would be, according to the ICO, someone like the police carrying out an investigation.

It doesn't just end there though, once someone is a member of the LDV forum they are sent personalised surveys each month which ask questions such as "Who did you vote for in the leadership?", "do you regret your decision?" and "who do you intend to vote for as the next President of the Party?".

These are questions about what someone has done or intends to do in an "officially" secret ballot. Responses which can then be cross-referenced against membership IDs meaning that LDV is profiling its forum members in quite extensive detail. It's probably worth noting at this point as well that one of Lib Dem Voice's primary contributers is Mark Pack, Head of Innovations for the Liberal Democrats at Cowley Street.

So not only do we have the Liberal Democrats breaching data protection by disclosing whether someone is a member to an illegitimate third party. We also have a website that is profiling members of the Lib Dems on matters such as their secret ballot decisions and that information could quite easily be fed back into the Party HQ.

Such information could thus potentially be used for malign purposes like identifying the "bad eggs" for example, and/or helping to rig ballots etc etc. The Liberal Democrats and Lib Dem Voice have quite a lot of explaining because of these two information security issues I'd say.

Firstly, why is Cowley Street confirming to a third party whether someone is or is not a member (the other two main parties do not and would not do this (I checked))? Secondly, why is the independent Lib Dem Voice blog gathering secret ballot data that can be cross-referenced for profiling purposes and can so easily find its way on to a desk in Cowley Street?

Now I'm guessing that some may respond to this suggesting that this is not really that bad, they're not disclosing names and addresses after all. However, what one needs to remember is that by confirming a name, postcode and membership status (essentially reverse searching) they are in fact disclosing those three things and they should not be.

Data protection is not just about whether you give details out directly, it's also about whether you unwittingly confirm details when requested to do so. As I said above, a bank would not confirm if someone was a customer of theirs if you just happened to walk in and gave them a name, postcode and account number.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Another yacht at another inappropriate time?

Guido is reporting that Peter Mandelson, the Business Secretary, spent some time on another yacht at an inapproriate time. Apparently he gatecrashed a party hosted by a Microsoft man, Paul Allen, when he was EU Trade Commissioner and Microsoft was fighting a €497m fine on the subject of trade with the Commission.

So, we have him on a yacht with an aluminium magnate, the magnates financial advisor, whilst he was responsible for such things as aluminium trading deals in the EU, and now he's gatecrashing another party, this time whilst he was responsible for a fine that the party host was facing.

Apparently the hosts were not happy he was there, but it does make you wonder about Mandelson's judgement in thinking it would be appropriate to turn up.

Two tits in a trance.....

What a strange and wonderful world editorial judgement and story prioritisation is, huh? Take for example these two stories. The first story is about an EU trade commissioner overseeing aluminium imports into the EU consorting, wining and dining, on the yacht of a dodgy Kremlin-linked billionaire Russian, who just so happens to manufacture and sell aluminium to errrr... the EU.

The second story is about a Tory MP, with bugger all actual power, that happens to visit the same yacht and decides not to accept a donation from the same dodgy Kremlin-linked billionaire Russian. The second story is, at least at the moment, considered much bigger than the first. Both are of course important, but one involves the possible corruption of power; the other involves (currently at least) the rejection of the corruption of potential power. Funny old world huh?*

However, even more strange today is that the Commentariat seem to have bought the line that this is really just the result and consequence of George Osborne breaking the Calabrian code of omertà. Poor old Nathanial Rothschild is miffed at the outrageous breach of etiquette. Well do excuse this little old prole passing comment from the floor, but that's bollocks.

This is nothing to do with etiquette it's about politics plain and simple. George Osborne (the tit) decided, rather stupidly, to start gossiping about Mandelson (also a tit) not realising that he too could come under the spotlight when Mandelson decided to hit back. The idea that Nathanial Rothschild didn't receive a phonecall from someone doesn't just smell like bullshit, it looks like it too when you consider little boy Rothschild has changed his story three times.

Of course, what Osborne and Mandelson should really be worried about is not the way the story is unfolding in their little spat against each other with the whole "he said, she said". What should be concerning them both is if the Russian billionaire himself decides to intervene and push the story along in some way.

After all, given his well placed link and influence in the Kremlin and Putin, it is not inconceviable that the Queen K, Oleg Deripaska’s yacht, was bugged. This story could yet take a dramatic turn and, to paraphrase Alastair Campbell, "fuck them", nay, "fuck them royally". The Cold War isn't over, it just changed it shape and our politicians have taken their eyes off the ball and become complete idiots.
* this observation was provided by "john miller" in a comment.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sony's behaviour is bizarre

Is it me or it utterly bizarre that Sony have pulled the release of a game because it has on its soundtrack a tune by a devout Muslim which includes verses of the Koran in Arabic. They did this after receiving an email saying

While playing your latest game, "LittleBigPlanet" in the first level of the third world in the game (titled "Swinging Safari"), I have noticed something strange in the lyrics of the music track of the level. When I listened carefully, I was surprised to hear some very familiar Arabic words from the Quran. You can listen to part of the track here:

The words are:
1- In the 18th second: ("kollo nafsin tha'iqatol mawt," literally: 'Every soul shall have the taste of death').
2- Almost immediately after, in the 27th second: ("kollo man alaiha fan," literally: 'All that is on earth will perish').

I asked many of my friends online and offline and they heard the exact same thing that I heard easily when I played that part of the track. Certain Arabic hardcore gaming forums are already discussing this, so we decided to take action by emailing you before this spreads to mainstream attention.

We Muslims consider the mixing of music and words from our Holy Quran deeply offending. We hope you would remove that track from the game immediately via an online patch, and make sure that all future shipments of the game disk do not contain it.
The fact is those two sentences are in the Koran, and the first is a statement of fact for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, whilst the second is merely a scientific reality (as another Muslim correspondent pointed out here). So tell me, what's offensive exactly?
More at Salon.com

Brown gimmick exposed

Anyone remember when Brown came to office and hailed a "new type of politics" where Citizens' juries would shape policy? I know it was a long time ago now but that was now 15 months ago back in July 2007. How many citizen juries have there been one wonders? Well, according to repsonses given to Theresa May MP, not very many at all it seems. The full departmental list is not yet complete but thus far it looks like the following:

* Department for Culture, Media and Sport - 0
* Department for Children, Schools and Families - 1
* Wales Office - 0
* Minstry of Justice - 0
* Leader of the House - 0/1

There is something quaintly amusing about the Ministyr of Justice failing to hold something with "Juries" in the title. however the biscuit has to go to the Leader of the House. When they were asked they simply said that they'd had a "deliberative forum" (hence 0/1) which cost £52,575, had 76 members of the public and concerned itself with

"how people would like to be consulted on the annual legislative programme in the future and how best to consult people on a range of individual bills."
Yes folks, that's right. It cost £52K to hold a consultation with 76 people and ask them how they wanted to be consultated.

He did it and he'll do it again

I'm sure that Fraser Nelson over at the Spectator Coffee House can't really in shock that much at the fact that Brown really did change the whole way debt was calculated in light of the ONS figures showing it was at 43% by putting Northrn Rock off-balance sheet yesterday.

After all, this is a man who has, for the last ten years, been an absolute svengali with statistics. The biggest irony of course is that Brown is running around the world banging on about the immoral bankers who hid debt whilst he himself has become just that with his latest sleight of hand with the liability of Northern Rock on thenation balance sheet.

Given this form, who wants to bet that he's about to do it again on the issue of the cost of fuel? Last week he moaned about the terrible oil companies even though most of petrol cost goes in tax, this morning the Daily Mail is reporting plans to increase the duty on fuel by 2p a litre now the price has dropped.

I bet Fraser won;t be asking "he couldn’t – could he?" this time though. We all bloody know that he will.

Mandelson spins back

This morning's Times is running a tidy little "exclusive" about the ongoing "Mandelson/Russian oligarch tale. Nathanial Rothschild, a mutual friend of Lord Mandelson and George Osborne, has written to the Times saying that the Shadow Chancellor and Andrew Feldman, chief executive of the Tory party, spent time on the Russian billionaire's yacht too, and there has been the suggestion of a proposal for an illict and illegal donation to the Tory Party from him.

Peter Mandelson spins back huh? Ahh but wait I hear you say, the article is clear that this was a letter written to the Times by someone else and it also says at the end of the article "It is understood that Lord Mandelson was told yesterday of Mr Rothschild’s intention to send a letter to The Times." Ergo, this is not a Mandelson spin job at all but merely someone coming to his aide. OK, well if that is true, then why is it that the second paragraph of the article says?

After the furore of Lord Mandelson’s stay on the same yacht, friends of the new Business Secretary have let it be known..
Note the plural there? I'd say that suggests more than one person has been on the phone briefing Phillip Webster on this one, and we all know that "friends of" is a euphemism anyway. Also note the use of the phrase "it is understood"? That's a nice hedged phrase of ambiguity there should it ever come to light that Mandleson knew and/or was involved a little more than the report suggests with the letter.

Of course, the contents is interesting too as it's obvious aim is to do the whole "Tory Sleaze" thing and the classic tu quoque which is a mainstay of politics. The only problem is that with Osborne there is only a perception of a possible future conflict of interest. However, with Mandelson there is the perception of an actual conflict of interest when he was in a position of power which could be influenced.

Not that any of this matters of course, the "you too" defence is tried and tested and few will challenge it. If one side accuses the other of something and then an identical counter accusation can be made what they're really saying is "well, seeing as we both do this dodgy shit it must be OK". That's the problem with politics though.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The politically expedient tinkering begins....

Back in February this year, Alistair Darling told the House of Commons that

The new board [of Northern Rock] will operate at arm’s length from the Government with commercial autonomy for their decisions.
Then last week, when everyone became outraged that Northern Rock had the highest repossession rates, Gordon Brown defended criticism repeating that,

"important to note that it is at arm's length from government.... It is not a company we are running on an everyday basis"
Then, over the weekend, we have Yvette Cooper telling the banks (including Northern Rock and the others that they now have a major share in) that they must cut their repossession rate. So much for arm's length huh?

This is how it is going to be now of course. Politicians won't take actual decisions in banks, but they will, for political purposes, try to shape the actions of banks where commercial reasons are detrimental to votes. They just won't be able to help themselves.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Brown scraps his email address

It took a long time and and a campaign by a guy I don't particularly like, to get the Prime Minister to have an email address. OK, so he probably wouldn't read them himself, but at least you had somewhere to send rants etc. Well not anymore. The contact page of the Number 10 website says

Email Number 10

We have decided at this time that it is important to take another look at the E-mail Number 10 service to ensure that it meets the same high standards as the other content and communication measures that the website delivers.

Unfortunately, this means that we will be unable to replace the service as quickly as we had hoped, but we aim to have it up and running as soon as possible. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused.
Pretty poor show really, I mean it's just a mailbox, it's not like email hasn't been around for over 30 years now is it?
Pointed out to me via email

Absolute Genius

Via b3ta

Does Brown really think we're that stupid?

According to Gordon Brown,

"The public know that when oil prices go up, it's reflected very quickly in the pump price. What they want to know is, when oil prices come down, that is also reflected in the pump price. I want to see the competition between supermarkets and oil companies reflected in lower prices at the pumps"
Let's get something straight right now. When you buy a litre of petrol approximately 70p in every pound you spend goes to the Treasury in fuel duty and VAT. It's not the evil oil companies that are the problem, it's the Government, and that means him.

David Drew must love it..... I hate it

A motion in Parlaiment from the Labour MP David Drew all about Marmite

That this House applauds the aim of the Welsh Assembly Government of promoting healthier food in schools; is concerned however that councils may be taking this welcome initiative too far by banning Marmite in breakfast clubs in schools; recognises that Marmite is relatively high in salt; but asks for common sense to be applied as a scraping of marmite or equivalent yeast-based spread can be part of a balanced diet, and a ban may be seen as counter productive in the quest for healthy living as it produces negative publicity.
Let's watch and see what evil sick weirdo MPs support his motion because of their perverted tastebuds.

At that point a dark mark can be placed against their name for finding a sticky brown yeast based prodcuts enjoyable. Did I mention that Marmite and those who consume it are evil too?

Update: Janet Dean, Labour MP for Burton, ought to support the motion because that is where the Devil's Oil is made.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why oh why?

Why would you knowingly take a leak on an electric fence? No nudity that I can tell if you choose to press play. Trousers on fire though.

The word "dumbass" is too flattering.

SFO probe into Robert Peston leaks?

While I was away in Spain I managed to buy just one newspaper during the whole week, it was the Daily Mail and it ran the story pictured.

The general thrust (which others papers have also pondered upon) is whether Robert Peston - the BBC Business Editor who moves markets - might just be a little to influential and dangerous with his exclusive leak breaking.

That story has now moved on it seems with, according to the blogger, Nicollo Machiavelli, an as yet unnamed Tory MP has written to the Serious Fraud Office "to ask that they investigate the leaks to BBC Business Editor Robert Peston, and events surrounding those leaks."

Update: Just to clarify, as per some of the comments, Michael Howard wrote to the Financial Services Authority, not the Serious Fraud Office.

Update II: Story disappeared on Machiavelli blog. Weird.

The Council of Regional Insemination

This morning, Liam Byrne chaired the first meeting of the Council of Regional Ministers, which is part of Gordon's "wise men" solution to the finanical crisis. What surprised me was the content of the press release which explains that the Council remit was to (my emphasis),

disseminate key messages for Regional Ministers to use in their discussions in the regions. This will include the narrative agreed by the NEC*
So basically they're going to have a meeting where they all get told what to say in their region that fits in with what has been decided nationally is the way we must all understand the state of things. Eurasia is at war with Eastasia this week... that sort of bollocks.
* National Economic Council

Get your WMD here!

Croydonian has spotted an absolute classic in the Jerusalem Post where the contextual advertising has an interesting take in its pop-up when you hover over the phrase "weapons of mass destrcution"

I would say "priceless" but clearly there is a good comparison market for such things!

The Audacity of Complete Crap

Whilst I was away I decided to grab a copy of Barack Obama's "The Audacity of Hope" and see what the guiy was all about. To save you the time and energy I thought I would offer a quick review.

In short, if you want to know what Barack Obama is all about then just read some Blair speeches and interviews from 1994 to 1997. Woolly communitarianism, a need for a "new politics", and need to tackle "cynicism", blah blah blah.

Incidentally, this doesn't mean I am supporting McCain. Frankly I think they're both crap.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Flattery will get you a link!

Amazing what you find in your referers sometimes. I guess I should be flattered that the Telegraph spent the pennies on the sponsored link* to Dan Hannan's blog for when people search for my site on AOL.

Dizzy's Solution to save RBOS (and HBOS)

Did you know that there is a huge market for Royal Bank of Scotland notes on eBay and more amusingly they sometimes sell for almost four times their face value.
So here's an idea, maybe RBOS should dig down in their vaults and get all the old banknotes out. They might make a profit then! Perhaps they could print some but pretend they were older than they are?

Even Bank of Scotland (HBOS) notes are selling at almost twice face value. Funny old world huh?

If they hurry they could make a fortune! (not)

Motion of the Day

From John Mann

That this House notes that salvia divinorum is a drug with hallucinogenic effects; is concerned that this drug is entirely legal and sold freely in the UK and is cited on websites selling it as `the drug the Government forgot to ban'; is further concerned that young people have taken to using sites like YouTube to broadcast their friends taking the drug and experiencing the hallucinogenic effects; and urges the Government to take urgent steps to rectify this oversight and to refer this drug to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs with a view to banning salvia divinorum under the provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Utterly pointless, it's not that popular and it isn't something you recreationally do. As one person pointed out here in April, "You don't take salvia, the salvia takes YOU." I guess that it's places like Salvia Online that worry Mr Mann.

Wash your hands!

Today is Global Hand Washing Day. Have you washed yours?

Enough with the Churchill references Gordon!

The picture to the right is a screengrab of part of the current Downing Street website. Note the interesting name of the estate agent on the board?

I wonder who chose "Churchill Estate Agents" for the graphic given we've just had Brown's so-called 'Churchill Moment' to protect us all from mortgage hell?

Delusions of grandeur or some techies taking the gentle piss out of him? The heart wishes it was the former, but th he head thinks its more likely the latter. Still, it made me laugh!

Race Against Global Poverty: The Game

Following on from the last post a commenter left this link to another DFID initiative, a flash game called "Race Against Global Poverty".

I wonder (a) how much it costs, and (b) how many people have actually played it?

Discover the Discovery Zone!

I hadn't noticed this until someone asked in parliament, but the Department for International Development website has had a makeover. Was done for the grand total of £13,600 apparently, and they now have something called the Discovery Zone.


The Discovery Zone has managed to attract a whopping great 993 unique users in the first 22 days, which is approxuimately 45 visitors a day. Why they need to spend so much on redesign when so few people are looking at I will never fully understand.

Perhaps this post will help more people discover the Discovery Zone?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Maggie T Nutcracker

Interesting stocking filler and only £9.99!

From iwantoneofthose.com

++ SATS about to be scrapped? ++

Just heard a rumour that Ed Balls is apparently going to be making some sort of announcement this afternoon and "probably/might be/who knows" scrap the SATS.*

* This was hinted at by Balls in an interview with Andrew Marr in September.

Normal Service will resume tomorrow....

Back in the UK but busy today.... come back tomorrow.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

On a lighter note....

I reckon this girl is in with a chance of winning this years X Factor. She isn't the best singer in the world, she makes mistakes and hit the odd bad note too, but for some reason (at least for me) it doesn't seem to matter.

More nationalisations on their way?

According to the Observer this morning "Trains, water and power may be next in line for a bail-out". I just can't help feeling like the current financial difficulties of banks is providing perfect cover for the wholesale renationalisation of the means of production. "Bail-out" is becoming a euphemism for "nationalisation" it seems.

It's worth remembering what nationalised industries were really like though. Anyone remember what it was like before BT were privatised? It tooks months to get a phone line and you had to rent a handset from BT. If a company fails then it does not need to be taken under Government control, it needs to be sold to somewhere that will make it work.

If I want to get pissed then that is my choice

What is it with this Government and its obsession with telling people what to do? These alcohol ideas have been brewing for some time if you pardon the pun, and they're nuts. Apparently they plan to ban the use of the name "Sex on the Beach" (a well known cocktail recipe). Will it stop people drinking? Of course not, they will do it at home instead.

The thing is, when you read between the lines of some of these ideas what they're actually in effect doing is bringing in price controls by the backdoor. By banning a pub from setting its own prices in order to increase business they are effectively tinkering with the businesses ability to do business.

How strange the past few months have been, we've seen the nationalisation of banks (hailed as necessary to save us all) and now we're starting to see the implementation of regulations on businesses to decide how much or how little they wish to charge for their goods.

Perhaps we should call the principle progressive regressivism?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Oaten makes a good point

I see Mark Oaten has raised the valid point via a motion that the new Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Lord Mandelson, being in the Lords, cannot be held to account by the Commons for his department.

That this House notes the appointment of a new Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to the House of Lords; further notes that the lead Minister for this Department will therefore not appear in the House of Commons; and calls on the Government to bring forward proposals to ensure that all Government Ministers who are members of the House of Lords be required to attend departmental Questions and make Ministerial Statements in the House of Commons so that the elected House can hold them to account.
I have no idea what or how you could have a Lord answer questions in the Commons. How has this sort of thing worked in the past?

P.S. Am loving this motion about Skull Spliter ale.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Has Matthew Freud joined the Tory Party?

From David Cameron's latest entry to the Register of Members Interests

16 August 2008, private plane from Farnborough to Istanbul for my wife and two children. Then from Istanbul to Santorini, and return to Dalaman, for myself, my wife and two children; provided by Matthew Freud, of London. (Registered 15 September 2008)
Is that the same Matthew Freud who is/was a celebrated Labour Party member, unofficial PR guru for Tony Blair, and husband of Elisabeth Murdoch?

Thought for the Day

There is a question that I have been pondering over the past week that I want to throw out there. That is how much impact might today's global communications network have on avoiding a repeat of the early 1930s? Take a look at the graph below first and you will see that we have quite a long way to go yet before we end up back in 1932.

This poses the question for me about what role rapid communications might be seen to play in all of this? After all, back in the 1930s communications were much more limited. True the telephone and telegraph existed but the sheer scale of information readily available to the globe at one single point in time was nothing compared to what it is today.

The inevitable knock-on from that is that reaction to events would be slower. During that time other events could occur whilst reactions were only just being thought of, thus creating a snowball effect. Today, in comparison, the speed with which someone in Australia can know what is happening on the FTSE or Wall Street is calculated at worst in seconds and at best in milliseconds depending on bandwidth.

As such reactions by people and/or Government can, and are, far quicker than they would have been in past, which suggests remedial action to events ought to occur in a speedier fashion and (in theory at least) mitigate a snowballing caused by other events.

This said, is it possible that the Internet (and by that I mean the global communications internetwork, rather than just the web) could play a role in shaping future movements and events in a more positive way than when communications were slightly more antiquated?

Think of it this way, in the war days of old it was the case that what was happening at the front was not fully known about back home until a significant time after the event. Reacting was then delayed further as the messages flowed back to the front. In modern warfare however, a guy in CENTCOM knows what is happening on the ground instantly making reaction more rapid.

Might the rapid reaction that today's global communications network provides become seen as a pivotal player in how quickly the system recovers from the downward spiral it currently faces?

Can someone show me that Brown isn't lying?

Whilst I may still be in Spain, I also have Sky News, and can someone, anyone, please give me examples of where Gordon Brown has been calling for global finanical regulations "for years"?

I keep hearing him say that he has been doing this but I am yet to actually see an example of where he has. My instinct tell me that the man is lying through his teeth, but what I am wondering is why not one single journalist has asked him for an example when he did this.

I have read numerous Brown quotes from the past decades where he keeps on talking about light touch regulation and the need to back off, I have yet to see one that preceded any of these problems where he called for a global agreement on banking regulation though.

Seriously, if anyone can pull the quotes out with sources I'll be happy to say "oh look he's not a lying bastard after all".

Update: The Grumpy Old Sod has come up trumps, noting the detail of Brown's Mansion House speech last year (mentioned in the comments) where far from calling for what he claims to have been calling for he said we had to actually avoid it.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Treasury involved in Nigerian 419 scam?

Via email and b3ta

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Some PMQ possibilities?

1: The Prime Minister has spent the past decade claiming everything the Opposition suggests will cause a black hole in the public finances. How does he intend to plug his own new £50bn black hole of unfunded public spending?
2: What direct taxes does the Prime Minister intend to increase?
3: Is the wholesale buyout of business corporations that find themselves in trouble an option open on his table if required?
4: Who wins? Who loses? Who pays?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

It's still going to be unworkable

I know I said come back Wednesday but hey, I had a spare few minutes and thought "why not!?". I've just noticed that the whole Internet monitoring thing has come up again. I've said before how unworkable I think it will be, and I stand by that. Even if you were only recording source, destination and protocol details (i.e. the remote TCP port someone accessed), you would have, literally millions and millions of records each day.

When you add in the requirement to have a rolling 12 months, you're talking about a data warehouse of insane proportions in administrative overhead and performance, and that assumes it isn't encrypted. If it were encrypted you then have the overhead required to not only run a query on it but also decrypt the data on the fly.

The usefulness of such a system would be next to pointless as a result, even if it did have masses of clever indexing. I wouldn't even like to hazard a guess on how long it would take to back the thing up either. The fundamental problem with this is that you'd have to record every single packet in order to make it hold data that you could easily pinpoint to something.

There are just over 65,000 TCP ports that one can connect to with a service. It is very unlikely that a terrorist is going to be using standard ports for network services as well, that would mean recording everything if you really wanted to have total scope of monitoring. It's nuts.

The joys of the BBC website abroad

They have almost as many adverts as me!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Come back Wednesday.....

Sorry for the lack of posts but I have got the hell out of dodge and am now in exceptionally sunny Spain. The temperature is a cool 30 degrees and the pool is lovely. I shall be blogging on Wednesday after PMQs (assuming that it does start again this week).

Until then I'm going back to the pool to drink wine that costs only 59c for a litre and actually tastes quite nice. Tomorrow I need to go to the bank though and I have found my local Abbey/Bradford and Bingley so the world is good!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Another Government website on its way

Given that Ed Miliband is now the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate CHange he's also going to need a new swanky website. This is going to be hosted at www.decc.gov.uk which was registered yesterday on behalf of the Government by British Telecom and I imagine the webbies of Whitehall are now working busily to produce something that meets the usual requirements.

The domain has only been registered until 3rd October 2010 though which is useful given there will have been election by then and the office may well be scrapped.

Which one should be Biff?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Lalalala there is no credit crunch!

What a brilliant website! The Recession Blocker removes all those depressing words that remind you of the finanical crisis. Why worry about the credit crunch when you can pretend it's not happening? I wonder if Gordon Brown et al might like to use it?

The BBC site looks good too!
Via b3ta

That London councillor who lives in Australia

How amusing, back in Spetember I asked whether it was possible to be a councillor in Lodnon whilst lviing in Australia. Then, following on from that post, I noted that the Councillor in question, Danny Thorpe (Shooters Hill Ward, Greenwich) had flown in and then straight back out so that he could keep his seat on the Council.

Now it appears that the Deputy Leader of the Council may have actually stumped up the cash for his flight, and the most hilarious thing is that he has no shame about admitting that one of their councillors is living thousands of miles away and working in another country whilst still, allegedly, representing his constitutents.

"His wish to remain a member of the council and to continue as a young person in public life was demonstrated by his commitment to return to London to ensure he could continue in this capacity when his travel opportunity concludes in the next few months. He intends to return and continue to carry on his work as a councillor. In the meantime, modern communications mean that he is in regular touch with the leader of the council and with his co-councillors on matters of concern to his constituents."
Called me old fashioned if you must, but if you're a councillor you don't fuck off to Australia for a year whilst still thinking you can represent anyone. If I was the Lib Dems I would be pushing this one quite a lot, after all, they had a councillor sod off to America and he was forced to resign.

Brassneck of the Day Award

Bringing back into Cabinet (via the Lords) a man who has had to resign from Cabinet twice already in the last 11 years? Lord give me strength!

Funniest thing I've seen today (so far)

I can't help but think that the person who did the caption wasn't sniggering given that Paddick is gay.

Friday is off to a flying and amusing start!
Hat Tip: Guido

Absurdity of the Day Award

Today's winner is "politicians" in general. For only politicians could be so stupid as to argue that Boris Johnson played party politics over the resignation of Sir Ian Blair and has politicised the former top policemans role by arguing that the only person that should be able to exercise such power and influence is the Home Secretary.

Oh yes, it's all come out in the papers today. Livingstone and Blunkett arguing that the Home Secretary is the ultimate judge and jury, and that a poltiician like the Mayor of London having such influence is the shocking policisation of a role.

Seriously, do these people really think that we're that bloody stupid that we cannot tell that the Mayor of London is a politician and errrr... so is the Home Secretary? When the Home Secretary suggests that she might overrule the nomination for Blair's replacement, does she seriously think that that is not a political act also?

The contempt with which some of these people hold our intelligence, and the stunning lack of intelligence on their part to make such absurd contradictory argument is staggering, it really is.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Winding down for Spain

Am off to Spain on Saturday for a week in the sun (with a laptop) so there won't be masses of posts from me for the next couple of days as I have a lot fo work to get done.

Comment of the Day

The comment below is currently on the main page of ConservativeHome. The original comment actually makes reference to my post the other day as well. It's good I think that the view is being aired prominently on ConservativeHome though. If the party, and this is true for all of them I think, want to get the absolute maximum attendance, the ability to register for parts rather than just all of the conference would be a good idea.

As I said the other day, many people don't have the ability to take the whole three days out of their week to travel off somewhere and stay in a hotel. That doesn't mean though that they don't want to be able to have the opportunity to go.

I would be interested to hear the views of the Labour and Lib Dem supporters who read this blog as well, because I'll readily admit I am assuming that the other two main parties don't do day passes as well. Can anyone confirm if that is the case? In fact, can any Labour member register for the conference or is it delegates from CLPs only?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Charitable Yanks!


Via Flickr

Halifax cash machine problems?

Apparently Halifax cash machines have a problem this morning. Basicallyu they're not giving anyone money. The official line is that it is a systems problems. Eerily coincidental though on a day when HBOS is back in the news and the Lloyds deal is starting to look dicey though.


 

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