Monday, November 30, 2009

Government Press Release of the Day

Sorry if this seems typically libertarian of me, but I've just seen a press release that seems wonderfully creepy in an Orwellian way. The Central of Office of MisInformation have issued the following,

COI reveals new five step plan for behaviour change

A new five step process for behaviour change communications planning is at the heart of new guidance from the Central Office of Information (COI). It also recommends a practical behavioural model to be defined at the start of any new behaviour change initiative, and refined throughout the life of the campaign. These measures will help maximise the effectiveness of - and define the role for - government marketing activity on integrated behaviour change campaigns.
You can read the rest here, it's essentially a lot of civil service speak for guidance on using propaganda for the purposes of social engineering.

Doubleplusgood.

No "nut nuts" in Helmand

Did you know that if you have a nut allergy, or a special diet for any sort of medical reasons you can't join the Armed Forces? You did? Alright smartrase, well I didn't until I read a response in Hansard from Kevan Jones saying,

the services do not recruit or commission personnel with existing medical conditions which require special diets, such as those with nut allergies.
Yes, before you ask, if you have a special dietary requirement because of your religion or you have an issue with eating meat (but don't have an issue with shooting someone with an SA80) they do cater for you... which is nice.

The medical allergy thing does make you wonder how we ever managed to win two world war and ruled a third of world though.*
* Paraphrased comment by Croydonian

An evening in the Blackwall Tunnel

Last night I managed to get to tick another of the things off my "Things to do before you Die" list. So now - like doing a salsa class and having to dance with a bad* German transsexual that was at least 6"6' - I have also had the pleasure of being in the Blackwall Tunnel when a car/truck turns into a fireball and had to walk/jog through the tunnel from one side to the other leaving my car behind.

Annoyingly, in the process, some of the more panicked people manage to knock me over and I've totally buggered my left ankle up. After mooching around in the rain for half an hour we were finally told we could return to our cars and then had to wait for all the cars behind us to reverse back out. By the time they got to me they opened the front and let me drive out of the nearest exit.

It was a little like a disaster movie when you're in your car stationary thinking "hmm somethings not right" then you see smoke and people running towards you screaming "fire". I'll give the Police their due, they did get it sorted, but there were zero PA system announcements in the tunnel telling us what was going on, and when we were finally let back in it was drivers only.

This wasn't a problem for me because I was on my own, but a woman two cars back from me had taken her kids out with her, one with no shoes on, and then was told she had to leave them with a complete stranger and return to her car. She refused to go out of the North side and went back to the South side and picked them up, hopefully she got home alright.

So I've now added walking through the Blackwall Tunnel to walking through the Jubilee Line underground tunnel to my list. I entered the tunnel at approximately 5:10 and exited the other side at about 8:05. Go me!

* When I say "bad" what I mean is that you wouldn't ever be fooled in a 'There's Something About Miriam' or Caroline Cossey type way.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Damning report into the NHS reveals major issues

As some may have seen this morning, the Ovbserver is carrying a story that at least 11 NHS hospitals are at the centre of national safety scandal which is detailed in a report by Dr Foster, an NHS partner organisation.

Scarily the report, which I have seen a copy of, details incidents of so-called "wrong-site" surgery - that's operating on the wrong part of the body. It also found that 5,024 people who were admitted with a "low-risk" condition died in hospital last year, almost 20% of which were under the age of 65.

These included appendicitis admission, something that I have a personal experiences of with my other half only three weeks ago.

You've all probably seen the the Act F.A.S.T on stroke adverts, well, if you act fast, but you unfortunately live in an area of 10 NHS Trusts identified in the report, don't expect the hospital to follow your lead, as 40% of stroke patient don't receive a scan within 24 hours.

Another of the finding of the report is that last year alone the NHS spent £1.5bn on people who were being readmitted to hospital within a month of discharge. "Foreign objects" get left behind too, although the number is low, 209, five of the Trusts in the report could not even provide figures for these sort of occurrences.

The entire report is pretty much a damning indictment of all the horror stories and complaints you hear in your daily lives about treatment on the NHS. There will, of course, be those that say it's running down the goo work the NHS does, the problem is that for those that receive poor treatment such comments are a tad hollow.

Dr Foster have produced a web based guide to NHS hospitals here which allows you to see just how your local Trust's perform.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Essential Italian?

Click Image for Larger version

Via imgur.com

"CIA Manual Of Trickery And Deception" for sale on Amazon

Want to know how to do dead drops? How to lose a tail? How to be a tail that doesn't get lost? Spot dodgy far Left loony bloggers before it's too late? Well now you can.

It was thought all copies of the 1973 "CIA Manual Of Trickery And Deception", written by magician John Mulholland, had been destroyed, but one wasn't, it's been declassified and is for sale on Amazon.

That's soooo going on my Christmas list!
Via Wired

Virgin Media starts inspecting for copyrght infringement?

And so it begins. Virgin media are to trial deep packet inspection from CView to "measure" the level of illegal file sharing on its network. 40% of its network will be monitored and the system will identify what it believe to be peer-to-peer traffic and then you packet inspection to see if it contains copyright infringed material.

It will be interesting to see if there's a massive rise in IPSec tunneling as a result.

Anyhow, here's a funky video, now I must run along and listen to my Metallica MP3 collection.*


* Paid for!
Hat Tip: Guido

Twitter landgrab ahoy!?

There's an interesting article over on PR Week that notes quite a few MPs, including Labour's own "Twitter Tsar" may have to change their Twitter IDs when the next election is called because they're not allowed to use "MP" in their title during the campaign.

Apparently, Kerry McCarthy is writing to the Serjeant-at-Arms to clarify the situation. If she comes back and says that they will have to change their names I imagine there will be some party political landgrabbing of names going on very soon, if not already.

Errrr... how does that work then?

I'm rather hoping someone amongst my readership will help me understand what is happening in the reactions to the stuff coming out of the YABII (that's Yet Another Bloody Iraq Inquiry for those that missed it) as I'm slightly confused.

A few years ago, when all that Hutton stuff was going on and the writing of dossiers was poured over in tiresome detail, one of the complaints from anti-war critics was that Blair et al had ignored caveats in intelligence and instead made statements of certainty from it. So, "intelligence suggests Saddam might have X" became "intelligence says Saddam has X".

Now we shoot forward to YABII, and we have mandarins referring to intelligence with caveats, and the critics are now doing what they said Blair did and ignoring caveats to create statements of certainty. So, "intelligence suggested Saddam might lack X" has become "intelligence said Saddam lacked X".

I mean, if it isn't bad enough that the nuance of the argument has been reduced to "ready to deploy" versus "oh you know what, it might take a couple of weeks to find some guys to plug things in, Imran, go onto yell.com an find me an electrical engineer mate!", we now have one side doing what it had previously accused the other side of doing.

Bah 'carbon' humbug?

Following on from a post the other day about Christmas, the staff at the Department of Energy and Climate Change - whilst not only being forced to wear sandal; eat tofu; drive Toyota Prius's; and engage in other assorted carbon saving requirements* - are now facing an 'Age of Austerity™' Christmas.

Apparently, according to Joan Ruddock, the department "is not planning to host any Christmas parties in 2009". Well why would you? Using an oven to cook a turkey will pollute the atmosphere, and who wants to have fun when there's a Christmas tree to hug?**
™ Gideon Esq
* Probably not true
** From sustainable sources natch!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Spot the Difference

Apologies for the lack of posting today, it was meant to be quiet but it turned out busy. I did just see this though and, whilst it's not exactly new, it's worth seeing when you consider Mandelson's Digital Economy Bill and the fact some Tory PPC were heard at conference priasing China's Internet strategy.

Click Image for Larger Version

Back tomorrow!

Nothing about the silent violence against men then?

The big news of today appears to be that children from the age of five will be taught, in compulsory lessons, that domestic violence and sexual abuse against girls and women is wrong. This is part of a Government drive to stop all of us evil bastard men beating up our wives and girlfriends because it's such a common occurrence we're all culpable bastards of the sorry state of affairs.

This is similar to the poster campaign in male toilets in pubs and restaurants that remind us not to rape girls. Personally I'm pleased such posters exist because if I wasn't reminded that forcing myself sexually on a woman was wrong I'd no doubt be raping and pillaging like a Viking warlord on a testosterone charged shagging spree - the reminder of it being wrong is truly remarkable on my internal moral code.

Rampant sarcasm over, this "drive" by the Government is one of those really annoying little bits of politicking that frames things in a way that means if you criticise it you must therefore somehow support doing what the campaign is trying to prevent. Thus criticising this latest policy must mean I think slapping women about or forcing them to do things sexually is acceptable.

Yet, all I could think of when I heard that it was all about tackling violence against women and girls was one question. What about violence against men and boys? Wouldn't it be more appropriate to teach kids that violence, sexual or otherwise, is wrong, and not just make this about violence against a specific gender? After all, there are just shy of a silent million men who are domestically abused in the UK each year.

Harriet Harman says that it's essential to "change attitudes in order to eliminate violence against women and girls and to make it clear beyond doubt that any form of violence against women is unacceptable". Fine Harriet, what about battered men? Do they not matter? What about the males of the future, who, having been taught that being violent to women is wrong at school, then find themselves in a relationship with a violent woman and simply 'take it' because to retaliate is "unacceptable"?

My apologies for ranting on this, but I find these campaigns by so-called champions of equality that target special interest groups at the expense of others to be the most hypocritical and intellectually bankrupt rubbish.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Harriet Harman's embarassing neighbours?

Poor old Harriet "you know where you can get me" Harman. Not only is she facing prosecution for allegedly driving without due care and attention and driving while using a mobile phone, she's also got a rather embarrassing neighbour it seems.

As some may recall, Harman decided in recent months that she was going after hookers and prostitutes. During her Labour conference speech she also singled out the website "Punternet" (based in America) which users of prostitutes write reviews on. This resulted in the site responding to her and telling her to sod off.

However, rather than concentrating on a website in America, perhaps Harriet should look out of her own front door once in a while. The road she lives on in Herne Hill - as reported in the press and blogs when "Fathers 4 Justice" held a protest on the roof - is, shall we say, quite close to somewhere that has good reviews on that American based website.

Fiesta Massages is a glorious 407 foot walk from her front door.

I wonder if Harriet will be knocking on the door anytime soon to sort them out? For added irony, Harriet apparently drives a fiesta although it is unknown if she chose that car to go with her neighbour's business name.

Obama and the boys watch some porn?

Give a bunch of boys a laptop, a network connection, then put them on a plane together and what do you think they'll do? Look at the Disney website?

Jesus Rocket....

The Economist does some funny things sometimes!

Motion of the Day

EDM 173

That this House welcomes the appearance of a person with a facial disfigurement as a newsreader on national television in the week commencing 23 November 2009; congratulates Channel Five Broadcasting Limited for this decision; and calls on all broadcasters to increase the visibility of people with unusual faces in everyday roles on television and to commit to adopt new guidelines, recommended by Changing Faces, for fairer and more balanced media coverage of people with disfigurement.
Currently none of the following pioneers of the issue have signed it... yet.



Update: Niall Paterson at Sky News is not amused by this post. What can I say? I have a warped and twisted sense of humour, but the tag for the post says it all.

Update II: OK, Niall has noted the tag now.

Misteltoe and BIG Christmas trees!

It's that time of year again where MP's start asking the Government how much of our money it is spending on parties where civil servants photocopy their arses, and the great wine cellar of the state gets raided by people wanting to get pissed. Yes, that's right, it's Christmas time!

First on the list this year for mentioning their budgets is, Sion Simon (yes two posts in a row about him). The Minister at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, has todl the Commons that his department "has budgeted £560 for three Christmas trees."

They must be very big trees, as you can get a 12ft one for £130. Wonder if they'll be buying sustainable stock and be buying from a Tree Aid scheme?

Why Ministers should not use Twitter?

A Minister of Crown no less. Do you understand what the hell he's dribbling on about?
Yet more evidence for why Minister's conducting a discussion in 140 characters sucks?

YABBI

Excuse me for possibly speaking out of turn, but can someone, anyone, honestly tell me what the point of YABII (Yet Another Bloody Iraq Inquiry) actually is? We've already had a number of them each with exactly the same outcome i.e. the anti-war lobby screams its a whitewash and will do so until they get the answer they are so damn sure is the truth. Meanwhile, during a time when the deficit of the country is running rampant, we throw even more pointless millions into another investigation, and for what?

It was an "illegal war!" you'll hear them say, yet not once have I ever seen any of them actually point to a specific law that was broken. Yes, OK, I know that they'll say it was about a breach of what they call "international law", but it doesn't take a genius to realise that such a thing is a rather woolly concept and not so much "law" in the sense of rules with sovereign oversight, but rather just agreements or norms that are not cast in stone.

I've said ti before, and I'll say it over and over again on the subject of "international law". That is that "law" can only exist where there is a common sovereign power. There is no common international sovereign in the world. That is a Fact. The United Nations does not have any conferred power from it members that allow it to compel its members to do anything. As such, there is no such thing as "international law" in the commonly held understanding of law.

People may not have agreed with the Iraq war, but to claim it was an illegal act by either the US, the UK, or the others willing members of the coalition is complete bollocks. Having YABII to establish how the decision was taken in Britain is rather pointless too because is well known already. That is why you're going to hear lots of nuanced arguments about timings. You;re going to hear people making tenuous leaps of logic that say "if Bush had made a decision, and Blair knew, then Blair had made a decision too even when he might have said he hadn't".

The argument will totally preclude any sort of rational analysis that says, if war is an option on the table, then you have to prepare for it even if you're not going to go ahead. Thus it was that Tommy Franks was doing just that for the White House and his British counterparts were doing the same for Downing Street.

Let's be under no illusion now. The clamour for YABII is more about a desire for the far Left screaming of "argghh Bush and Blair are war criminals!" than anything else. A total waste of taxpayers money at a time when the taxpayer coould do with spending it much more wisely.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A poster for your window?

Yours as a 44" x 55" digital print (or canvas print) for just £30.89 here by the artist Paul Baines.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

How much does the Internet weight?

According to Cnet, they reckon there are 22,837,511,120kg ofcomputers, 1,754,809,310kg of servers, 87,000,000kg+ of cables, 6,075,000kg of iPhones, 6,800,000kg of Blackberries, and about 0.01kg of websites which gives us the following for the total weight of the Internet *roughly* :-)

For further explanation of the figure see here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sad but true....

Balls and his Education team fail GCSE maths?

Ed Balls MP, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, is a man very proud of children's achievements in schools. He also, as the man who would be Chancellor likes to think of himself as a bit of an economics/maths whizz kid.

This makes the following from Parliament from Balls quite funny, because, whilst discussing GCSE questions he said the following,

The third question comes from the mathematics exam, GCSE, June 2008: "Work out 33/4 minus 12/5 " Does the hon. Gentleman (addressing Michael Gove MP) want to try?

I asked the Minister for Schools and Learners (Vernon Coaker MP) a moment ago. He worked it out as two and seven twentieths.. I do hope that he is right.

The Minister for Further Education, Skills, Apprenticeships and Consumer Affairs (Kevin Brennan MP) checked it as well, and he says that that is the right answer.
Two and seven twentieths you say Mr Balls? You say you got this answer from your learned colleague in charge of Schools, and had it double-checked by another learned colleague in charge of further education, and they told you it was right? Why did you not get a bit of paper out yourself?

Let's see, 33/4 as a decimal would be 8.25; and 12/5 as a decimal? That would be 2.4. So... 8.25 minus 2.4 is 5.85. Or as fraction, five and seventeen twentieths. So, where did the two and seven twentieths come from?

Isn't it good to know that the team in charge of schools, from junior minister up to the Secretary of State are so reliable with their figures?

Update: Sadly it seems this is a fomatting error in Hansard's online version and there are missing spaces in the fractions. It should be '3 and 3/4' minus '1 and 2/5' which apparently is '2 and 7/20'. Oh well. I forgot to say in the original, the point being made by Balls is rather weak anyway because you're allowed a calculator in most GCSE maths anyway.

That work thing is drawing to an end....

Over the past month, as regular readers will know, I have had a lot going on, both work and personal, that has meant my blog has taken a back seat for a while. The professional side of that is now coming to end as tonight some colleague and I go for a big bang and move a 20+ server web and database infrastructure that provides 24/7 service across national boundaries.

So basically, blogging takes a back seat again today as I prepare to get some sleep around lunchtime and sort out some home office stuff this morning.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Your office/desktop meme.....

The office in the cellar is finally up and running and I at last have a proper desktop to work with. Decided to go dual display vertically for the first time. Quite like it.

Click for uber-large image
Anyhow, this is a crossover post betwen the geeky and the political because I want to see screenshots of what other political bloggers look at on a daily basis. So it's time for Guido (far to cool to respond natch!), Croydonian, ToryBear and Iain Dale to show the world what their desktop looks like. If they feel like it they can ask others to do the same.

Last Facebook Updates from History

Via the ever hilarious College Humour.




Some more here.

BCK FR MR 2 BE IGNRD!

Back in July last year I posted about an Early Day Motion which said,

That this House notes that there is no facility to allow people to use text messages to contact blue light emergency services and believes that such a service could assist people needing to contact the emergency services while unable to speak; and calls on the Government to encourage the mobile telephone industry to come up with a text message 999 number through which blue light emergency services can be contacted.
Well guess what. Having received 44 signatures and after being completely ignored, it's back. No doubt it will be ignored again and is yet further proof of the complete waste of money such motions are.

Dissecting the Labour PPB

Last night, Labour apparently had their Party Political Bullshit Broadcast. Guy News has dissected its accuracy.

The comment experiment...

Just wanted to do a quick housekeeping update. Back in June I posted about the change in the comment system to the one provided by IntenseDebate. I know that people have been annoyed with it, things like cookies etc meaning it did not remember names. Apologies for that but the experiment is over and the system is staying.

Since installing it I have had a pretty steady traffic of comments on many of threads, and most importantly I no longer receive any comments from certain users who I suspected were alter-egos. Intense Debate has provided me with a snapshot of commentators IPs and I think this has deterred some of those people.

Basically it's here to stay. I may look into doing some video posts soon but I stress "may". What that probably means in reality is that I will think about it then not bother.

Labour Lords turn on Brown over elderly care

Lord Lipsey, former member of the Royal Commission on Long-Term Care and labour peer telsl the Times in relation to Brown's "National Care Service".

"I’m not looking forward to the night of the next general election but, if the result goes as I expect, one of the consolations will be that one of the most irresponsible acts to be put forward by a prime minister in the recent history of this country will be swept away with his government"
Brown's "big idea" was also compared to "an admiral firing an Exocet into his own flagship". Meanwhile, Lord Warner, a former health minister called it misjudged.

I fully expect an Early Day Motion similar to the '10p tax' one too appear very soon. We'll then get a measure of how many of the Labour backbenchers intend to openly rebel.

Get your popcorn ready.

Bomb-proof wallpaper!

Every home should have the X-Flex Blast Protection System wallpaper.

Ain't technology great?

Tastes like what....?

I never knew you could bottle the flavour!

Linux Geek Fight!

This is a geeky post about Linux so please ignore it and move along if the subject is not to your liking. OK.. still with me? It seems it's all kicking off over on the Fedora Core mailing list with the release of Fedora 12 and the discovery that an undocumented "feature" exists whereby any user can install packages on the system without being root.

Frankly it is kind of strange that Fedora would put something like this in as it's a little bit of a "Microsofty" approach. If you;re running a multi-user system is really sensible to allow anyone to install whatever packages they like (as long as they're digitally signed)? Personally I say no.

Anyhow, the thread is a good read.

Eradicating child poverty and debt reduction.. together?

As expected, the Queen's Speech was an electioneering speech designed to "flush out" the Tories, or more correctly force the Tories into positions where Labour could then paint them as heartless baby-eating bastards that make Jeffrey Dahmer look like the sort of nice chap you'd take home to meet your mother for a spot of tea.

The coverage is pretty general on this point, and it's always a good sign of a Government losing its way when the media agrees with the lines that the Opposition pushes. However, what I find strange, and feel free to correct me if I've missed it, but I'm yet to see anyone saying - in response to the bit of the speech which says the "government will continue to enshrine in law its commitment to abolish child poverty by 2020" - what happens if you don't achieve it?

It's a bit like having legislation that makes it law to "halve the deficit" in four years. What's happens when events mean that you can't? They cannot write into the law that it cannot be repealed - at least I don't think they can. So surely, whichever political party is running the Government in the future, will just break the laws by repealing it if they don't look like they're going to achieve it, right?

The phrase "rod for their own back" springs to mind.

Isn't there also a stark contradiction between the two goals anyway? Achieving the child poverty target requires money that the deficit reduction target precludes - not to mention that the Government has been an abject failure in achieving its first target on the child poverty anyway.

In 1998, Gordon Brown pledged to halve the 3.4 million children living it what the Government measured as "poverty" to 1.7 million by 2010. In February this year the figure in poverty was 2.9 million, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation along with the Institute for Fiscal Studies said that it would cost £4.2 billion alone for the Government to meet their 2010 target.

That's 4.2 billion extra spending during a time when the Government is also saying its going to be legislatively committed to halving the budget deficit, and it doesn't account for the extra spending that they would then need to meet their 2020 target. Its not only pie in the sky, its a complete contradiction in policy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Unworkable filesharing laws..

Eariler on I mentioned that I would do a post about filesharing, and now that the Government has said that its going to press ahead with its impractical and stupid plan (with added support from the Tories who have been all but silent on voicing criticism), here it is, bullet pointed.

Please note that I am not going into the realm of the moral and legal arguments about sharing copyrighted content but rather the practical realities of why it is a pointless approach to dealing with the problem.

  • I can quite easily walk down my street, or any street for that matter, scan for Wifi access points and find any number of open access points to connect too. I can then connect to them and happily download the latest movie if I wanted too, and the person who's left their access point open will get the blame.
  • I can buy a 3G HSDPA modem on a PAYG basis with a bandwidth voucher and plug into a mobile provider networks, from my car, and drive whilst leeching all manner of copyrighted content - on the move. By the time it was spotted I would be offline.
  • I can buy a 3G HSDPA modem with no credit, but still connect to a mobile network and only be able to get to the mobile operators home page to "top up". However in order to do that I need to be able to convert domain names to IP addresses which means I need to be able to access UDP protocol via port 53 of a DNS server. It is quite simple to tunnel ordinary IP traffic through a DNS server. In effect I could leech to my hearts content without ever having to buy a voucher - on the move.
  • Alternatively, I could set up a VPN concentrator elsewhere on the Internet to operate over UDP and connect to that thus encrypting my traffic whilst simultaneously tunneling it through DNS. Handy!
  • The DNS stuff will also work on a number of wifi hotspots where it appears access is restricted but in fact isn't.
  • If I wanted to share copyrighted material I could compromise someone else's system entirely and pass the blame on to them.
Now, I'm not suggesting for a minute that anyone should be trying any of these, in fact they're all probably illegal in one way or another. The point is that those that distribute illegally on large scales tend to be the more savvy technical people anyway. So whilst these points may seem quite technical they are not for those who want to try.

Crucially we have to remember that the real targets in file sharing are not the teenager in the bedroom download the odd mp3, but rather the big time pirates who provide massive seeding locations for this material. Taking it to the level of the consumer end-user won't deter or alter the problem at all because the most determined will carry on anyway.

This is putting aside the fact that there are many legitimate uses for the most popular filesharing protocols. Many major software providers now distribute over such protocols to save on bandwidth costs. So just because someone file shares it doesn't mean the files can't be shared. The arbitrary nature of what is currently being proposed doesn't seem to take this into account.

I've said it a number of time before, but when the VCR was invented there was outrage of the same kind until thankfully a court judged that just because a tool can be used for illegal activities it doesn't mean it will always be so. We don't ban hammers because they can smash windows in a burglary after all. The same is true for data transfer on the Internet, and the Government is taking a sledgehammer and trying to crack a nut with it.

Bosses huh?

Funny but a little rude if you're a prude.

YouGov: Twitter UK full of Guardian readers talking amongst themselves with no else listening

I do like it when I'm shown to be right, and I like it even more when a left wing publication does it for me. Prospect magazine sent me an embargoed press release yesterday, 'churnalistically' written up by Sunny Hundal on Liberal Conspiracy. The press release basically said that Prospect did a poll and most people on Twitter are Guardian reading whingers.

Hilariously, the press release is being written up as showing that the left is a force to be reckoned with on Twitter. Now comes the reality check. What the poll actually shows is that Twitter actually tends to be used by like-minded people talking to themselves about the views they all agree on. Far from being a "campaigning tool" what it shows is that no one in the real world could care less what a bunch of Guardian readers are saying amongst themselves in 140 characters, and, crucially, if they did care enough to look they'd disagree with them anyway.

The most validatory statistic from the poll toward my view that Twitter 'ain't all that', is that 76% of the British population said they'd never used Twitter and, also, had no intention to use it in the future. In other words, Twitter is a communication medium that encourages groupthink whilst simultaneously making the group believe their views are having influence on a wider population when in fact they're all just shouting at each other in a locked and sound-proof room.

Swindon - leaky nets?

The big techie news story of today seems to be that Swindon is saying it is going to offer free wifi to the entire town. Besides this being great news for hackers and those that wish to piggyback others' services to carry out things they'd rather not to on an easily traceable line, Swindon appear proud that it will be the "first town" to have done this.

When I heard the news on Radio 4 all I could think was "another entry in the annals of Swindon's history, another of which far more important to remember is that their third division football team once made it into the top flight and then achieved a still standing record of conceding 100 goals in season".

I thought this particularly ironic as any wifi net is bound to be leaky which would be in keeping with their football record. Anyhow, if you're in Swindon and its live its time to learn about IP-over-DNS.

Queen's Speech Overview

It's a pretty well accepted fact that anything announced in today's Queen's Speech is unlikely to make it on to the statute books before the General Election. That doesn't of course stop papers like the Guardian pushing the line that it will be the evil Tories in the Lords stopping bills being passed. However, to be honest, who would really want half of the crap that's being trailed anyway?

  • Fiscal Responsibility Bill - a binding law on successive Parliaments to halve the deficit. A triangulated bit of politicking by Brown. If the Tories oppose it he can say they're not fiscally responsible and/or lying about their true intentions.
  • Financial Services and Business Bill - The regulation of private individual pay by private institutions. How 1970s is that? If the Tories oppose the line will be that they are only interested in helping their wbanker friends.
  • The Flood and Water Management Bill - Alternatively called the "Cnut Bill" as it will apparently give councils powers to prevent it raining and thereby flooding people's home.
  • Social Care Bill - A piece of law that will give the "neediest elderly" care in their home. Basically the exclusions will be so wide that hardly anyone will get covered by it, and you'll probably find if they do they'll lose other benefits so it won't be worthwhile. Another nifty piece of triangulation, if the Tories oppose it they're bastards that don't care about the elderly.
  • A guarantee that you'll be seen by a specialist within 18 weeks of a GP referral - how in the name of every thing holy anyone can think saying that you'll be guaranteed an appointment with a consultant within 4.5 months of requesting one is a "positive" step or populist is beyond me. Makes a mockery of the claim that the NHS is the "envy of the world".
  • Bribery Bill - No this one has nothing to do with MPs, but it will apparently make it an offence for a business to fail to prevent bribery. That's a bit like making it an offence to fail to prevent your child from being a little shit when they're not with you.
  • Digital Economy Bill - A £6 per year addition to everyone's phone bill for fixed lines. I'm sure the mobile provider will be pleased with that. Also nonsense about downloading which I will come to later in another post probably.
  • Energy Bill - An intention to give the regulator the power to control prices and keep them low. How very 1970s yet again. Ironic given that the Digital Economy Bill guarantees to put the prices of fixed telephone lines up. Swings. Roundabouts.
It's rather clear I;d say that what we're going to get today is a little more than a list of supposedly eye-catching initiatives that in reality are little more than intended to sound popular and provide the Government with a "Tories oppose X therefore they don't care about you" line.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Whining about the Sun

I see the Sun celebrating its "40th birthday" (Murdoch buy-out was year zero I think) is causing some frothing on some blogs. Whether its the likes of Tim Ireland complaining about Page Three in a way that reveals more about his own condescending view about the intelligence of Sun readers than anything else. Or simply general whining about how they've crossed the line in attacking Gordon Brown personally whilst simultaneously ignoring the Mirror engaging in similar attacks on Cameron's (both of which as enjoyable to watch I should add), the message is clear. The Sun is EVIL!

My personal favourite was by Uponnothing on the Angry Mob website - a site that appears to specialise in moaning about the right wing press. Uponnothing considers the Sun journalists and writers to be "utterly fucking shit". When I read it I was reminded of the tale in Stick it up your Punter which chronicled a time when Sun hacks swapped jobs with hacks from a quality paper - can't recall which. The Sun guys found the swap easy, the quality paper guys just couldn't, if you pardon the pun, hack it.

The reason? Anyone can ramble on writing up a news story in 1000+ words. Doing it in 50 takes skill though. Just take any random day and have a look at a Sun leader and compare it to a Guardian one. They could even be making the same point but the former will be succinct whilst the latter will be waffle - not much different to the blog posts of some of those that moan about Sun funnily enough.

People may not like the political agenda of the Sun. They may feel that the Sun readership needs to be 'educated coz they is thick init' into realising that the girl with her tits out doesn't really know about quantitative easing and campaigning is a matter of justice and truth goddamit! However, thinking that that the people that work and write for the Sun are shit misses the point of how difficult it actually is to do what they do compared to the so-called "quality press".

Government sponsors anti-goth propaganda

This is the new "Tales of the Road" website from the Government which replaces the immensely popular hedgehogs.gov.uk website. The latter cost just under £16,000 over two years, I somehow think the fancy CGI in the advert for the new one cost just a teensy bit more and will be seen by just as view.

Got that kids? Goths are not cool. Dress in black and you're roadkill!

Update: As noted by Croydonian below, doesn't she look just a little like Tim Burton's "Coraline"?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Funny because it's true....

Alan Johnson and the rabid drug prohibition advocates should listen and learn from Bill Hicks.

Hardly a ringing endorsement of the policy is it?

How amusing, the Downing Street website is currently bigging up Gordon Brown's Mansion house speech tonight and the subject of Afghanistan with a picture of happy Afghan voters showing off their ink stained thumbs, presumably to show us how important it is to bring democracy to Afghanistan.

Have they forgotten that the election in question was err... how do you say it.... rigged? Perhaps Gordon is sending a subtle message to us all that the next election in the UK will go the way of the Afghan one? It's his best hope isn't it?

Labour plans Party Political Bullshit Broadcast

I see there is a little chatter going on about the news that Labour may be planning to use the video below as a party political broadcast.


Obviously lying is par for the course these days for Labour so a bit of rewriting of history should be expected too.

Love the bits where they try to claim credit for giving women the vote; ending apartheid in South Africa; and defeating fascism.

Mind you, wouldn't it be funny if they didn't use it, but just wanted lots of higher traffic right wing blogs to post the video and bump up its viewing figures! Sneaky... but funny.

Another day another pointless apology

I know that I've said this before, but what is this stupid bloody obsession with issuing official apologies for things you were not responsible for? Yet again it's Kevin Rudd, the Australian Prime Minister kicking things off with an apology for the Child Migration Programme from Britian, and Gordon Brown is reported to be following it later with his own apology.

Now, don't misunderstand me here, do I think the Child Migration Programme was not a moral travesty? Of course I don't. Should however a Prime Minister apology for it when they themselves had bugger all to do it with it, and, in fact, say they are apologising on behalf of the nation? No they shouldn't. As I said before,

I mean, seriouisly, get a grip. Harry Enfield one quite famously had a sketch character that was a German tourist that would constantly apologise for the war. We, at least I, was always laughing at the characters inherent feeling that he had to apologise for something he wasn't involved in. Do I expect the Japanese to apologise today for their conduct in the war? Of course not. Do I expect Putin to apologise to the Russian electorate for Stalin? Should we demand apologies from the Vatican for the Romans, I mean what did the Romans ever do for us? How about we get Sarkozy to say sorry about William the Bastard whilst we at it? We didn't need the Mott and Bailey thank you very much.
Please Dear God, stop the insanity of our lords and Masters by striking them down with herpes or genetal warts or something equally itchy.

It's socialism not populism

How throughly depressing. Less than a week after celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the Government is planning to interfere in the salary and renumeration of to private individuals in private businesses.

Am I jealous of a banker that gets a bonus of X million pounds? Hell yes, he's a lucky bastard. Do I think the Government have the right to dictate whether a private institution should be allowed to give him or her that money? Hell no.

It's the very worst kind of socialism masquerading as populism.

An NHS Tale

Ahhh Monday morning and it's almost back to normality. The better half and I just want to thank everyone that sent their well wishes. Thankfully, 'Mrs Dizzy' is on the mend, but it looks like it may take longer than it might have thanks to the wonders of the NHS. As you may recall she was rushed into hospital a week ago on Friday. This was because of with severe stomach pains on her right hand side. She was put in a surgical assessment unit where for the next two days she was prodded in the stomach every few hours, asked if it hurt, said yes, and told she'd have an ultrasound later that day.

On the Sunday night - still awaiting an ultrasound and still in much pain - she was moved into a different wards called the "Ambulatory Care Unit". At this point the NHS staff told her she should pack all her bags up and walk (carrying her bags natch!) the 500 or so yards to the new ward. She then uttered - as I would expect from my Italian bloodied darling - the inevitable 'vaffanculo' and was pushed in a wheelchair after pointing out she could hardly walk.

Late Monday afternoon the news came that the ultrasound had been canceled because more seriously ill people had come into the hospital. Tuesday morning came and the pain was by this time excruciating and barely concealed by the multiple painkillers provided. Her white blood cell count had been steadily rising throughout the weekend, a crude yet rather indicative sign of inflammatory problems and likely appendicitis.

By the time the consultant came round on Tuesday morning it was decided to cancel her ultrasound again, and instead just go straight for the laparoscopic appendectomy that afternoon. On internal examination it was discovered that the appendix had burst some time before, there was an abscess on the tip of it, and the insides were rather, shall we say, messed up, meaning her recovery time has been extended because of quite sever internal bruising caused by the clean-up.

One positive side to this story is that her private medical insurance will be paying her for every night she had to spend in the NHS.

Don't get me wrong here, the ward staff, nurses and the like were great. What wasn't was the rather obvious bureaucratic stranglehold they were working under. For example, in order to book an ultrasound they had to actually walk someone with a card to another part of the hospital and hand it to someone else to check a diary. Or take discharge, 'Mrs D' was told she could go home at 10am, but didn't leave until 4.30pm because she had to wait for the pharmacy to dispense her tablets.

Anyhow, thanks again for your well wishes.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A reminder - bumped

As per the post last week there will be exceptionally limited blogging due to professional real world job stuff going on. Added to this, 'Mrs Dizzy', my better half, was rushed into hospital over the weekend, so rather busy there too. I'm sure Guido et al will keep you all busy with stuff to read.

Update 21:12: Mrs Dizzy says thanks for your well wishes.

Update 12 Nov: Bumped to the top because I can't be arsed to write another post about it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Brown buggers up on the phone

Morning all, just a quick post. Incredible exclusive in the Sun this morning which can be listened to here.

I'm amazed one of Brown's people, who must have been listening, didn't try to get him to wind the call up. Bet he won't be happy this morning.

Front page image from Political Betting.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Brit-Cit is here.....

Way back in 2006, I posted about the news that Government planned to introduce Brit-Cit Judge Dredd style extra-judicial powers for local authorities and the Police. At the time, this move by Labour sat quite well with the fact that they had shut down 122 Magistrate Courts and 22 County Court Houses since 1997.

Thus it does not surprise me at all that, as commented on by the Tameside Eye blog that ex-military men through a security firm are being paid by the Council to patrol streets.

Worth noting that the Labour Councillor mentioned in the story has allegedly said of a UVF punishment beating that "I bet this lad does not reoffend I understand the number of criminals on this estate is nil".

As I said 2006, welcome to Brit-Cit!

Cheers Gordon!

Last night, whilst driving home I received a call from Guido to inform me that Gordon Brown had said he would be cheering Everton on in their Europa league match against Benfica at Goodison Park. As Guido notes I was none too impressed saying,

"That’s it we’re f****d, that f*****g c**t has really f****d us now."
I have to admit, I really don't understand why Brown feels the need to say he's supporting this team or that. If it wasn't bad enough for Everton that we've got so many injuries, do we really need the kiss of death from Brown to help us on our way?

On the positive side, Brown also said that he supports all British teams in European matches, so at least Liverpool are screwed as well now. Shame on the others but c'est la vie!

The score last night? Oh we got beaten 2-0, that adds to the 5-0 kicking at Benfica two weeks ago.

The Thick of It - Greenwich style?

Below is a picture from the Greenwich Council propaganda newspaper Greenwich Time which is delivered to the doorsteps of thousands of residents in Greenwich at a cost just shy of a million. The picture features the Labour Leader of Greenwich Council, Chris Roberts, receiving a charitable cheque for £5.98 million from John Anderson, Director of Berkley Homes.

Now... did no one at the Council's press office think a picture of the Leader - who sits on the Planning Board for Greenwich - receiving a very large cheque from the Director of a building company - that's received planning consent for a massive contract in Greenwich - might be a bit.... well a bit stupid?

It's like one of those great cock-ups in The Thick Of It when some politician makes themselves look dodgy when they're not. Talk about life imitating the art!

Note: This post did feature for a short period overnight under a different title. However, someone quite rightly pointed out that it might just be a bit actionable. I admit it was poorly written and could be construed as making an allegation (which was not the intent) rather than simply pointing out a cock-up in political news management. That's what too much red wine does for you. Apologies.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Can't imagine why Ashley Cole is "obsessed"

Earlier this morning I downloaded (and paid for) Cheryl Cole's new album, "3 Words". I'm not sure which is worse, the fact I downloaded something by Cheryl Cole or the fact I actually paid for, both are totally shameful and I've come to the conclusion I must be getting very old, however I had to listen to it because her latest single is just way too catchy.

To put it bluntly the album is largely as crap as I expected it to be - they clearly released the very best single off it first. However, what's interesting about the album is the lyrics of most of the songs. Virtually all the songs are about a crappy relationship with a man who is a complete git, in one case he even drives the female half of the relationship to drink.

Now, according Cheryl Cole herself, in an interview on GMTV, Ashley Cole, the erstwhile footballer and husband of Cheryl is obsessed with the album.

"Ashley is obsessed with it! I have to actually, physically hide the album from Ashley – it’s quite embarrassing!"
Well yes, if my wife released an album that was all about bad relationships that included lyrics like those below you can probably understand why he might be, no?

How can I know what you mean when you never ask
How can I drive you crazy when I've got no gas
How can we be together when we're so far apart
You tell me that you love me then you go and break my heart
Or

Is it better? Is it worse?
Are we sitting in reverse?
It's just like we're going backwards....
we got a fight for this love
True I doubt the former Miss Tweedy wrote the songs herself, but she no doubt had an input in choosing them.

Poor old Ashley - not!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Brown responds to "resign" petition

How odd, I always thought that Gordon Brown would simply ignore the resign petition which went top on the Downing Street website, but no, the "Government" has responded.

Unsurprisingly, Brown is "getting on with the job" with the response reading,

The Prime Minister is completely focussed on restoring the economy, getting people back to work and improving standards in public services. As the Prime Minister has consistently said, he is determined to build a stronger, fairer, better Britain for all.
A bit silly to drew attention to a petition that received 72,234 signature isn't it? Although I guess they calculated that if they didn't reply it might be picked up as well?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A brief pause....

Many may have noticed that my post frequency has reduced in the last week or so. This is because of work commitments. Apologies, it's going to be like this quite a bit during this month, so you may get the odd post in the morning and possibly at lunch, but little more.

Question of the Day

Am mildly confused this morning. Evolutionary theory says that species adapt to change, that some survive and some die through natural selection, or what one of Darwin's contemporaries, Herbert Spencer coined "survival of the fittest". So, why should we be so exceptionally worried that the list of endangered species has grown? Isn't that evolution in action?

Discuss.

Monday, November 02, 2009

EU gesture politics

I see there has been some talk this weekend about David Cameron and his "cast-iron" guarantee for a referendum on the Lisbon treaty having wiggle room. Iain Dale has posted arguing that if the treaty is finally ratified by all the member states of the EU then a referendum is pointless because you can't "unratify" it as it were so it would just be gesture politics. Iain also argues that what we should hope for is that the Tories seek the repatriation of powers from the EU instead.

Now, more often than not I agree with Iain, however on this I don't. For a start, there is an option available on Lisbon that would allow for its "unratification" by Britain. There is withdrawal clause in the Treaty. The Treaty states anyone can leave, but in order to do so you have to tell the European Council and then negotiate your exit. From a pure bargaining position, what would the Eurocrats reaction would be to the opening of withdrawal negotiation? They'd be facing the potential of Britain's EU budget contribution disappearing. I think they'd panic.

However, I also think that what really would be a gesture, would be if Cameron continued to push this absolute bullshit that it was going to repatriate powers from the EU (presumably argued on the subsidiarity principle). I wouldn't expect much success though, such a move would be too "unEuropean" for them to comprehend. As I've said many times before on this blog, whilst I support withdrawal from the EU, Britain's biggest problem in her dealings with it is that she is too bloody British. The reason none of the other member states get as over-animated about the EU as Britain does is because they have a completely different attitude to it along the line of, "when the EU suits us then great, otherwise affanculo!" (as they might say in Rome)

This is why the idea that Britain can negotiate some powers back simply won't work. It's not because the others want the EU to keep the powers, it's because the others just don't understand why Britain can't just ignore the EU when it suits her to do so like they all do. In private they'll be scratching their heads thinking "those crazy British, why do they have to be such meticulous rule followers? Why can't they be more European?"

If we must stay in the EU we have to start being more like them by only implementing the bits we like and ignoring the rest. What are they going to do if we ignore them sometimes? Invade?

However, I digress. Should there be a referendum on Lisbon even if it's ratified? Most definitely. It should be a referendum on whether we should withdraw from the Lisbon Treaty - something the Treaty actually provides for. Yes, that does mean it would be an "in/out" referendum which would please the Lib Dem, but seeing as a large portion of this country has never had a say isn't it about time?

In fact wouldn't it be a good principle to have a confirmation of membership of the European Union every thirty years or so? Why should one generation be able to bind the hands of the next? Sadly though, I don't think David Cameron has the balls to hold just one referendum, so, whilst I disagree with Iain Dale that we can "repatriate power", I do agree that will be the inevitable gesture politics we're all going to get.

Update: How long before UKIP take this post and add Cameron too it?

Free the Weed - and pills

How funny it is to see Alan Johnson finding himself in a row all because he sacked a professor who expressed his view on the differing harmfulness of drugs. Johnson has even written a letter to the Guardian with some pretty hilarious of arguments.

Your leader on drugs policy (Shooting up the messenger, 31 October) is long on righteous indignation but short on logic.

Professor Nutt is indeed a reputable scientist whose views on drugs policy are well known. However, his role as my principal adviser was to (unsurprisingly) present advice. It is the job of the government to decide policy.

Professor Nutt was not sacked for his views, which I respect but disagree with (as does Professor Robin Murray, who wrote in your newspaper on Friday).

He was asked to go because he cannot be both a government adviser and a campaigner against government policy. This principle is well understood and long established.

As for his comments about horse riding being more dangerous than ecstasy, which you quote with such reverence, it is of course a political rather than a scientific point. There are not many kids in my constituency in danger of falling off a horse – there are thousands at risk of being sucked into a world of hopeless despair through drug addiction.

Alan Johnson MP
How odd, where is this "campaigning" he refers too? The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs has as its remit the classification system, its role is to advise on the harmfulness of drugs in relation to classification. How can he be a campaigner when what he was talking about is what his role entails?

What Johnson is really saying is that if you don't agree with the entire flawed and half-arsed Government policy on drugs then you can't advise upon it.

As for equating the taking of ecstasy with a "world of hopeless despair", it's called ecstasy for a reason and it's got bugger all to do with despair and everything to do with gurning joy. The sooner the Government realises that the so-called "war on drugs" is an abject failure and start mass legalisation and proper regulatory control the better.

Take the organised criminal out of the drug market and let individuals decide what they do to their own body. We already do it with alcohol and tobacco and look at the harm they cause.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Gordon "No mates even for £80K" Brown

The mail on Sunday is reporting that no one wants to work for Gordon Brown as his official £80,000 a year spin doctor. They've alos said,

And the political editor of a national newspaper also turned down the post – despite a personal plea by the Prime Minister to work for him.
Wonder who that could be? Paul Dacre of the Daily Mail perhaps?

An Interview with Shane Greer

On a blogging about blogging angle, there is a rather good little profile interview with Shane Greer over on the Tory Rascal blog. Shane is now the Executive Editor of Total Politics, having been a presenter on the 18 Doughty Street Internet TV station and involved with the Young Britain's Foundation.

I first met Shane a few years ago at Doughty Street, and I have to say he's an absolute natural on TV. Always sound and impeccably dressed - yet scarily very very tall. Sadly, I and the other half are not going to be able to make it to his wedding to Brittany in a few weeks due to parental commitments, but we with both all the best.

I have a feeling over the next few years Shane's media profile will continue to grow and he becomes a regular guest on other political programmes. He is very good at thinking on his feet under pressure, a skill that suits live television very well.

Shane also has a taste for good punky music and a sense of humour aligned with mine (although perhaps he might say mine is a little more extreme). As I say, expect to see him doing punditry on your screens and in print more over the coming years.


 

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