Thursday, December 31, 2009

Have a good one.....

Last day of the year today, no blogging apart from to say Happy New Year, have a good one.

See you in 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Let's spend like it's 2017!

Breaking news people, it seems that the election promises of jam tomorrow are starting to come out from the Government, as today we're being told the Government is to decide (by March) on a high-speed rail link (up to 200mph) that will run between London and the West Midlands in order to give us plebs a real "choice" at the next election.

Now comes the hilarious bit about the multi-billion pound project. Construction is planned to start in 2017 and end in 2025. Yes that''s right, its a proposal to give people a real choice at the next election as to whether they want to spend oodles of cash we haven't yet got on a rail link after the election after that. Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary has told the Times,

“In terms of new policy, high-speed rail is my top priority over the next three months”
Sounds familiar, wasn't it all about an "integrated transport policy" in 1997? Then in the 2001 manifesto didn't they say "Labour's priority is to improve and expand railway"? By 2005 I'm pretty sure we were promised "a new generation of high-speed trains
on intercity routes".

Incidentally, don;t be mistaken for thinking it's only Labour that are making proposals to spend money not yet in the current account in the distant future on the Mecca of "high speed rail". The Tories are proposing to start construction in 2015, just in time for the next election too.

Throughout all the hot air though not once have seen anyone talk about the passenger cost which is, in effect, what makes or breaks such things. It's all well and good if you can catch a train from London to Edinburgh that takes 2 hours and 40 minutes (assuming the right kind of rain and no leaves on the track), but if it's going to cost more than an Easyjet flight is anyone really going to use it?

I guess we're all going to have to get used to this sort of bullshit from the parties over the coming months. The economy is in the complete shit as we know, so what more can they do but promise us really cool new flashy things in six to ten years time? Everyone knows that budgets need to be cut, so the only scope for spending commitments can be on things where another election comes in between.

Frankly, I'll be sticking with my car.

Image via Flickr

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

With or without soap and water?

Via Imgur.com

Who wrote it then?

Yesterday evening I bought, for the first time ever, a copy of the Financial Times (had run out of puppy training pads and needed a broadsheet) and was thoroughly confused by an article and banner on the front page.

The paper had a picture of Niall Ferguson on it and directed you to the commentary section and this article by-lined as "by Niall Ferguson". Yet at the end of the article it says,

The writer is Laurence A Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, author of The Ascent of Money and a contributing editor of the FT
What's that all about then?

Update: Oh *face palm* fail on my part. Seems that "Laurence A Tisch" is a title/role at Harvard. Je suis un cock!

The Big Sale con trick?

I couldn't help but laugh the other day when I went into Tesco. They're having their sale, it's called The Big Sale and it is by-lined with the little image over there to the right.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong here, but if your sale involves taking the VAT rise of 2.5% as a hit on your prices what you're actually doing is keeping your prices the same and saying that because you have not raised them it's a sale.

Hustle!

Fight, fight, fight!

Oh my there is a little fight going on between my mate, the Devil's Kitchen and the immensely right on Sunny Hundal after DK commented on one of Sunny's posts about class war being a great strategy.

To summarise, DK has quite rightly pointed out that the politics of identity that Sunny specialises in are divisive and hypocritical because whilst he bangs on relentlessly about the evils of racism and arbitrary discrimination upon specific identity groups he is quite happy to cast arbitrary judgements upon people around the notion of class.

I can't say I disagree with DK's analysis of Sunny and identity politics in general. It has always struck me as richly ironic that people like Sunny complain so ferociously about racism yet have no qualms in making discriminatory judgement on people because of what they perceive as class privilege.

Of course, as DK points out, his post led to a Twitter storm of comments against him from Sunny's many cheerleaders, who claimed, as Sunny rather idiotically did, that DK was saying that class is a type of race, which of course he didn't, but was rather pointing out that when someone is labelled by their class it happens because of their parents not them, much like if you are born with green skin.

It's not a rocket science argument to understand really.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas, if you're reading this on Christmas Day what are you playing at? Leave the keyboard and monitor alone and bugger off and eat. Music time!

Please note this post was auto-posted, I am not really here. In fact, if you're reading this just after it appeared I am actually at Heathrow picking people up.

Happy Christmas

Thursday, December 24, 2009

For God sake, Jesus was a lefty-liberal!

There's a rather interesting piece in the Guardian today about how the Church of England has realised its buggered up with young people and intends to have a drive to "recruit" Churchgoers.What's most interesting for me are the comments under the article which contains lots of hyperbole about how the Church is being evil and planning to brainwash children.

As the shortest sentence in the Bible says. Jesus wept. Is belief in a God really so bad that children shouldn't come into contact with a general message that tells them that they shouldn't murder; shouldn't steal; shouldn't lie; should respect their parents; shouldn't cheat on a partner; should treat others as they would wish to be treated themselves; should look to forgiveness over retribution etc etc?

Look, I'm not suggesting for one moment that the Bible (like the Koran), isn't full of some right vicious and violent nastiness. In fact the Old Testament makes the violence in the Koran look pretty mild in comparison. However, what I find incredible is the way the positive sides of the message that Christianity gives (be it in Catholicism (putting aside its patent heresy natch!*) or Protestantism**), get cast aside by you're typical Guardian reader when in fact they're exactly the sort of liberal values they support generally, and all because at the top of it it has some subjugation of one's hope and faith to a monotheistic Deity.

Seriously, if Jesus was alive today (a man's who's existence at least is not I think in dispute) he would be a Guardian reader. Yet, he would of course be pilloried for believing that he was the Son of an unprovable God, no doubt ridiculed for being a bit mad (oh the irony given the average Guardian readers hatred of prejudice towards the mentally ill), and his core beliefs about non-violence, turning the other cheek, forgiveness and the like would be dismissed out of hand.

I realise this is the second post in as many days where the subject of faith has come up, but honestly, I just don't comprehend the sheer hypocrisy of those on the so-called "Liberal Left" when they display so much hatred for a faith that is essentially in keeping with their values, all, so it seems because of the bit about God.

If a kid is brought up with the liberal moral teachings of Christianity but also believes in God is it really "evil"?

Apologies for labouring the point here, but politically speaking, if you look at the New Testament, the carpenter's son from Nazareth known as Jesus was essentially preaching a message that today would be seen as incredibly left wing. He was a little man standing up against an Imperial oppressor, he was preaching the evils of capitalism, and extolling the virtues of the weak and meek over the the rich.

Pardon my blasphemy for those that have an issue with it, but: Jesus Christ! Is it not patently absurd that Guardian readers should hate something so in line with their own beliefs just because it's not secular?

Here endeth the lesson for the day.
* This is a running joke with a Catholic friend.
** Obviously there are other denominations in Christianity, I just couldn't be arsed to write them all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas decorations banned by the elf of 'elf and safety

Here's an extract from a letter sent by social landlord, Bedfordshire Pilgrim Housing Association to its tenants in a block of flats.

"On a recent inspection of this block it has been noted that a number of items have been left in the communal areas. This includes Christmas decorations and pictures on the walls plus micellaneous (sic) items. I am writing the same letter to all tenant sin (sic) the block....

Recent guidance issued by the fire brigade states that "All communal parts must be kept clear at all times".... If these items are not removed within that time it states that 'the association may arrange for their removal and disposal with no fruther (sic) notice'.
Note: The Elf pictured is for illustrative purposes. The real one in the story probably didn't look so pretty.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

HP 'racist' webcam!

Whoops!

Vai The Register

You don't have the right not to be offended Kerry

Have just ben redirected to a post by Kerry McCarthy MP via Iain Dale's Daley Dozen. It's a post which Iain says he doesn't agree with but is well argued - sadly I think Iain wrong here, it's not well argued at all.

The post is about some teacher who is in trouble for saying she was going to pray for a child. Kerry takes the view that his was offensive to the parents, and goes on to argue that whilst she doesn't think causing offence is right, hence she does not disrespect religion when placed around it, she thinks that Christian, and people of faith* generally should pay the same level of respect to her atheism.

To this I say, bollocks. No one has the right not to be offended, be it Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Hindu or whoever. Do I get offended when Jehovah Witnesses knock on my board and try to preach ot me? No. I invite them in and annoy them so much they have to ask to leave. Have I been offended by the people saying they would pray for my other half and the cancer she has? No.Whatever floats their boat as far as I'm concerned.

The teacher offering to pray for someone did bugger all wrong, likewise I an atheist decided to tell a child about their strongly held belief in a nihilistic ending to life then so be it. Rather than people getting "offended" perhaps instead they should stop acting like infants needing rules and regulations to protect and grow up.

* Please note that athiesm itself is an article of faith (so they are people of faith) as there is no means of falsifying the existence of a Higher Being anymore than there is the means of proving its existence. I have had many amusing arguments with atheists who claim to "believe in nothing that cannot be proved" whilst failing to realise that belief itself is something that cannot be proved - after all you cannot prove a negative.

Basically, people are stupid, and if they take offence to me saying that then sod'em.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Chilcott needs to speak to British Gas

You thought he'd swung from a rope, but no.. he actually got a job in Customer Service.

From: britishgas.co.uk
Date: 2009/12/19
Subject: Thank you for your email - Ref XXXXXX
To: marc@XXXXXXXX.co.uk

Dear Marc

Your Gas Customer Reference Number: XXXXXXXXXXXX

Your Electricity Customer Reference Number: XXXXXXXXXXXX

Re: Your recent home move. I’m sorry for the delay in replying to your enquiry.

We’ve closed your gas and electricity accounts, from 26 November 2009 using the meter readings you provided for gas 04400 and for electricity 29460.

Your final bills have been sent to your new address which you will receive within the next 21 working days. We’ll also refund any credit we owe you. On the other hand, if you have an outstanding balance to pay you can make your payment when you receive the final bills, you can view you bills online.

You can get a great deal at your new address online and it couldn’t be easier to switch. Why not take a few moments to check out our latest tariffs and offers now.

We wish you luck in your new home and look forward to welcoming you back to British Gas in the future.

Kind regards

Saddam Hussain

britishgas.co.uk – Looking after your world
Your enquiry received: 30/11/09 22:54

Letter to my 16 year old self

Iain Dale has tagged me so I thought I would oblige.

Dear Phil

Don't be thinking I'm about to give you sage advice or tips that might change your future, that would create a paradox and actually it's impossible to do because this letter has already been read by me in the past, your present, as it was destined to be. Has your head exploded yet with that thought? Don't worry, smoke a little more pot and it will become so self-evidently obvious that you'll wonder why everyone doesn't get wasted now and then.

Anyhow, you're 16 at the moment and wondering what you want to do or be in life. Don't worry about it, you'll be wondering that for at least the next 17 years and probably longer. You see, you're one of those people that coasts through life rather than being driven towards goals - don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Don't worry about money, you'll earn more than enough one day.

Likewise don't worry about school. You're an "I can't be arsed to try straight B student" and you'll be just as successful, if not more so, than any of your peers. You'll do it with the added advantage of not really having tried hard and enjoyed yourself along the way - it may get a little hazy in your memory though, if you ever get the choice between a Silver Dollar and a Mitsubishi go for the latter, although you'll probably know that already when it happens.

I'm not saying that you won't have regrets of course, you will, but rest assured by the time you get to my age you'll be more than happy with your situation. The regrets are an essential part of that little journey you're going to go on. Changing things so you have less would just be silly because they're what make you what you are.

You'll probably think I'm keeping things from you and to be honest I am, that's because I can't change them from happening and they will be hard to deal with but you will deal with it. Trust me. If I could give you a tip though, try to pick up and learn a bit of Italian. It will help you in the longer term although you'll begin to learn it one day anyway.

Good luck and enjoy

Phil

P.S. She is coming out of the house behind you with a rolling pin and it's going to hurt.

P.P.S. They really are following you but they're an anti-terrorist unit and not who you think they are. You'll laugh about it one day.
As per usual I won't tag anyone in particular and will just invite anyone to write one and then link to it in the comments.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Caption Competition

Am out and about on personal business today so feel free to provide a caption to this.

The winner will receive smug bragging rights.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vote Sith, Go Green?

Via Imgur.com

Guide to Election 2010 - The Leaders

General jist? They all suck.

Video by Garry Dumbill

MPs seek to ban labourers working in hot summers?

Tabled by lefty John McDonnell, signed by many across the parties including Peter Bottomley (who signs anything and everything) I give you the following idiotic EDM.

That this House notes that whilst there is a legal minimum workplace indoor temperature, there is no clear legal maximum workplace temperature so that conditions can vary greatly from employer to employer; further notes the many employees, particularly those working in bakeries, are often subjected to very high temperatures which can impact seriously on their health and well-being with effects ranging from discomfort, stress, irritability and headaches, to extra strain on the heart and lungs, dizziness and fainting and heat cramps due to loss of water and salt; and urges the Government to provide clear and coherent guidelines to employers about how to combat heat in the workplace, and to introduce a maximum working workplace temperature of 30C (86F) and of 27C (81F) for those doing strenuous work.
That's gardenrs in a hot summer screwed. Professional tennis players (who are at work of course) banned from playing at Wimbledon if the temperature rises. Lord knows what it will mean for the 2018 World Cup bid if June in that year is a bit on the hot side - global warming after all.

Oh and if you're a labourer it doesn't even have to be that warm before you'll be told to lay down your tools.

P.S. The failed Labour leadership candidate McDonnell (and yes, Bottomley too) is also calling for price control to return. No doubt because it was such a roaring success in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Harman to disenfranchise the unemployed and workless?

Sounds like a crazy and incredible post title doesn't it? But yesterday, standing in for the cursed Prime Minister, Harriet Harman invoked the old American independence movement saying "no taxation without representation" and flipped it saying there there should be,

no representation without taxation
So... the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, and Cabinet Minister for Equality believes that only those who pay tax should have the vote and and an elected representative. Looks like the "class war" is going to also create a new and official underclass.

Coming Soon: Extra votes for those who own land!

Would you buy this rubber cheque?

Below is a picture of a cheque for £3 written by Gordon Brown for his rent at University which bounced. Apparently the Landlord who received it has kept it for all these years as it was the only rubber cheque he ever received and he's thinking of selling it on Ebay.

How much would you be willing to pay for it?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sod the God aspect, what is it with family print Xmas cards?

Last night Guido posted a copy of John Bercow's family christmas card (below) under the title Godless Christmas Card from Bercow.


This prompted a reaction from former Mail on Sunday hack Suzanne Moore on Twitter (now speculating that she was hacked) of the following:

Now, personally I couldn't care less about whether a Christmas card sent by a family has God on it or not. What does worry me is this habit, especially amongst politicians, of sending a Christmas card that has a photo of the whole bloody family on it.

Perhaps I'm alone in thinking it displays a level of narcissism that is creepy. However, what confuses me more is the rationale behind doing it.

Do they think that the people they send Christmas cards to might not know who they are? Or in this case is it more "Look at my posh swanky new grace and favour pad that you're paying for!"?

No job for Mr Tiddles?

What I want to know is whether it would get expenses or any other allowances?

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if the House of Commons Commission will consider the merits of providing a resident cat.

Nick Harvey: The Commission has no plans to introduce a cat. The House Service includes a qualified pest controller, who monitors and controls pests on the parliamentary estate using humane and effective methods. In addition, an independent expert is employed to audit and advise on pest control, and inspections of catering areas are undertaken by the local council. The clear advice we have is that all effective measures possible are being taken, but that in a building such as the Palace, pests such as mice can only be controlled rather than eradicated.

Hansard
All seems pretty clear, the House already has a "qualified pest controller", if a cat wants the job it will have to at least have a C-Grade GCSE in Ratting*.
* Qualification coming to a Comp near you soon

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quote of the Day: Ed Miliband

From November 24th Hansard.

The hon. Gentleman knows that we have published our own home energy efficiency plan for 700 million households to be insulated by 2020
By my calculations even if every man, woman and child had their own home (unlikely) he's implying that the population of the UK is going to be double the current population of the EU in just 11 years.

No doubt we'll have an announcement soon about a latex shortage for condom production.

The EU is corrupt and everyone in the EU thinks so

Via Croydonian, who has been looking through the latest Eurobarometer polling of EU citizens, we learn that when asked if there is corruption within the institutions of the EU virtually everyone in Europe thinks there is.
As Croydonian asks, "Now who's eurosceptic?"

Anti-paedophile pram launched?

No need to vet parents now is there?

gun shape baby carriage
image © designboom


More styles here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Another handshake cock-up from Brown

He looks a bit miffed when he gets knocked back doesn't he?

Via Guido

Dear Father Christmas....

I need a new computer desk.

Pretty please?

Pretty transport offices?

Random Government spending of the day from Hansard.

The Department for Transport spent £87,401 on pot plants and £3,419 on cut flowers in 2008-09
Nice, bet it smells lovely and looks pretty.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Blair states the bleeding obvious - newspapers get excited

Many of the papers this morning seem to be excited by a BBC interview with Tony Blair by Fern Brittan in which Blair essentially says that he would have still taken Britain into Iraq even if he knew Saddam Hussein had no WMD, as he would have just had to use a different argument. Blair said,

"I would still have thought it right to remove him. I mean, obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments about the nature of the threat."
Why precisely this is somehow a shock I will never know. I've often said in posts and comments here that the WMD line was just the chosen argument, whilst the overall rationale was wider. It's also been documented for some time in Peter Stothard's Thirty Days: A month at the Heart of Blair's War, which I'll post again in case you've not seen it before.

"Has Tony Blair become some sort of reckless crusader over Iraq? He thinks not. In September 2002 his analysis of relations between Washington, London and Baghdad was clear and cold. It rested on six essential points to which he and his aides would regularly return:
  • Saddam Hussein's past aggression, present support for terrorism and future ambitions made him a clear threat to his enemies. He was not the only threat, but he was a threat nevertheless.
  • The US and Britain were among his enemies.
  • The people of the US, still angered by the September 11 attacks, still sensing unfinished business from the first Gulf war 12 years before, would support a war on Iraq.
  • Gulf war 2 - President George W Bush v Saddam Hussein - would happen whatever anyone else said or did.
  • The people of Britain, continental Europe and most of the rest of the world would not even begin to support a war unless they had a say in it through the UN.
  • It would be more damaging to long term world peace and security if the Americans alone defeated Saddam Hussein than if they had international support to do so.
These six points - when scribbled on the back of an envelope or set out on a printed page - are not exceptional. What is exceptional is the certainty required to follow their logic. It is Tony Blair's certainty that has been the surprise for many Labour MPs."
People may not like it, they may wish to bang on about illegality*, but given Blair's form in office for putting the British military into theatre for global interventionist reasons, should anyone really be surprised about what he has now said?

* Funny how so few bang on about Kosovo being illegal.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Japanese know about build quality

The Toyota Hilux is renowned for being totally indestructible, thus its the car of choice for most African warlords on a jolly. Likewise it appears that the Nintendo Gameboy is from the same indestructible Japanese fold.

Labourlist cocks up with chimney sweep 'class war' post

I see Labourlist's Alex Smith is complaining about out of touch politicians and is outraged (quite rightly) because George Osborne had his chimney swept on the taxpayer.

What about George Osborne's apparent £180 claim for a Chimney Sweep?

Unless you were Dickens, you really couldn't make it up.
Yay, nice bit a class war there, no doubt he'll be taking an identical line and complaining about wee Douglas Alexander's claim for errrrrr a chimney sweep.

[Insert clever smartarse comment about chimneys calling other chimneys black here]

Seems to me it doesn't matter what side of the fence a politician sits on when it comes expenses as they take the piss across the spectrum.

Note: I believe there are regulatory requirements to have chimneys swept if you have an open fire, so having a chimney sweep come isn't exactly a sign of wealth. Whether we should pay for it is another issue though.

An MP literally full of shit?

Loving the use of his title too.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

March election?

ToryBear has an interesting post noting that Sam Tarry, the National Chair of Young Labour, has sent out an email to Labour activists giving dates they should keep free for campaigning

Hey Comrades!

With a General Election only a few months away it is more important then ever that Young Labour and Labour Students are organised and working together to fight for Labour victories across the country.

As part of our BIG Campaign please keep the following days free:

1. Saturday 19th December 2009
2. Saturday 16th January 2010
3. Saturday 6th February 2010
4. Saturday 6th March 2010
As TB notes, interesting that they only go up to March isn't it? Mike Smithenson over at Political Betting also had a post about March yesterday.

On a non-election related point, Sam Tarry closes his email to "comrades" with the words "Lotta continua".

Isn't it good to know the head of the youth wing of the Labour party is happy to make reference to extremist far-Left organisations with dubious criminal histories involving such things as murder?

Life online in a flowchart

Via Gizmodo but originally from Achewood, I imagine quite a few will recognise the Facebook/Twitter Infinite Loop Syndrome.

Click Image for Larger Version

Liam Fox threatened with legal action over £62.50

As reported elsewhere, both David Miliband and Michael Gove were apparently threatened with legal action over their Council Tax bills. It's not just forgetfulness with Council Tax bills that's been occuring though.

Liam Fox, the Shadow Defence Secretary, was also threatened with legal action it seems over a £62.50 ground rent bill. He was sent a reminder in January this year, and then a legal threat in April having still not paid the bill.

Don't panic though, we paid the bill for him in the end.

No wonder we have an energy problem

Below is a three month gas bill submitted for an allowance claim by Hilary Armstrong MP (North West Durham).
Does she leave the heating on all day?

Update: I see Guido has noted that Nadine Dorries may also be leaving the heating on as she had a gas bill for £1000.

Labour's delusional ad-words?

Seems Labour have completely lost it if they really think this about the Pre-Budget Report.

A tax rise on total earnings over £20,000 of 0.5% and freeze of tax thresholds for people not even on the top rate of tax - how pray tell is that putting Middle Britain first?

Quick PBR Observation

From the Pre-Budget Report,

£20 million to fund the national rollout of the Money Guidance service in 2010-11, helping one million people to manage their money better
Deliciously ironic huh?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The 'Freudian' Web 2.0/PBR Bombshell?

The "independent" Left Foot Forward blog has an interesting Web 2.0 world cloud thingy on the Pre-Budget Report.


That cloud looks familiar doesn't it? I'm sure I've seen that shape before!

Just saying is all.
Via email

Sweet Jesus No!

Did no one think before creating that logo? Actually maybe they did.

Note: If you don't get it then be glad.

Is something happening with the Lords before the election then?

Following on from yesterday's post, blogging will be light but don't expect absolutely nothing from me as I will have the odd moment, probably in the mornings like now where I can post something.

So here's a little one for you on the day of the Pre-Budget Report, there's going to be a little chat today in Parliament about the House of Lords here's the invite (highlighted bit by me)

Subject: Current prospects for House of Lords reform - Library talk

Current prospects for House of Lords reform
Dr. Meg Russell, Constitution Unit, University College London

What will the House of Lords look like post-election? More importantly, what is it likely to do in the medium term? If peers can resign, will they shake up the constitution still further? Dr Meg Russell, from the Constitution Unit, University College London, explores the implications of current debates; and, in particular, the Bill currently in front of the House.

Macmillan Room, 4pm, Wednesday 9 December. Call 3666 to reserve your place.
Is that a trick question? Surely the House of Lords post-election will look exactly the same as the House of Lords pre-election? Or does someone know something that no one else does?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Using the C word

This post is one of those that I wish I didn't have to write, but it doesn't feel right if I don't explain why, in the immediate future, I may not be posting as much as I might normally. As some of you will recall, back at the beginning of November my other half was rushed into hospital and had her appendix removed.

On Thursday just gone, three weeks after discharge, she was called back to the hospital for a routine follow-up, following her stay and surgery. Sadly, it turned out this was not the ordinary routine follow-up appointment we expected it to be, as we were told together that there was in fact a rare type of cancer in her appendix known as Carcinoid and she would require further surgery.

Now, Mrs D is only 31, and this type of cancer is most often found only by accident (when doing something like appendix removal) in people during their 60s and onwards by which time it is often too late, so in way, it's a blessing in disguise that her appendix decided it was time to rupture and cause her to collapse. Of course it does remain the big C word, with all the same connotations, possibilities and general shittiness.

Hopefully this post explains where all the normally regular content, be it political or just some hilarious picture has gone too over the last few days. My mind has been with the love of my life helping her deal with what she's been told and helping us both understand what is to come. Now before anyone asks, with the exception of some tests this week, this won't be happening on the NHS. Work provides BUPA, and if you've got it, use it.

Cheers

Phil

Update 09/12/09: Thanks for the all the supportive comments and emails. We both appreciate them greatly.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Cabinet of the Few?

How I do love Wikipedia. In light of the apparent strategy of Gordon Brown to paint the Tories as elitists who all went to private school, and this intervention by Ken Clarke, I had quick scan of the online encyclopedia for the other members of the Cabinet.

  • Alistair Darling - Educated at private fee paying Loretto School, Musselburgh, East Lothian
  • Harriet Harman - Educated at private fee paying St Paul's Girl's School, Hammersmith, London
  • Ed Balls - Educated at private fee paying Nottingham High School
  • Tessa Jowell - Educated at private fee paying St Margaret's School for Girls, Aberdeen
  • Hilary Benn - Educated at private fee paying Norland Place School in Holland Park, private fee paying preparatory Westminister Under School before attending Holland Park School, comprehensive school known as the "Socialist Eton".
  • Shaun Woodward - Educated at private fee paying Brisitol Grammar School
  • Peter Hain - Educated private fee paying Emanuel School, Battersea, London
Does being lucky enough to go a private fee paying school really matter? And before anyone asks, I did go to Eton for three days along with 120 others to take the Kings Scholarship. Didn't get in, failed my 12+ and then got kicked of Secondary Modern and got into a Grammar instead.

Am I bitter? Did failure at a young age scar me like it scarred John Prescott? No on both counts. Do I really care what school someone went too? No. It's what you do, not where you were educated that matters.

Eat a rat get nicked?

Whatever anyone might think of reality TV shows, and, in particular, "I'm a Z-List Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here", this story in the News of the World is absolutely bloody insane.

Apparently, the TV chef, Gino D'Acampo, along with Stuart Manning from the "yoof soap opera" Hollyoaks have been charged with cruelty by the Australian RSPCA after they killed and ate a rat when they found themselves in low-rations exile camp.

By all account there is a belief that the rat was planted by the TV show to create some drama and was actually tame and not wild, thus chopping it's head off and eating it was an act of cruelty by the two.

It's a bloody rat for Christ sake in an out-door scenario where food was scarce. What were they supposed to do, stun it first?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Coronary Burger!

Yum!

Abuse of Terrorism powers questioned

The Independent has a worthy front page spash this morning on the use of terrorism legislation by the Police to stop people taking innocent photographs.

It reminded me of a post I did about the Tory PPC for Woolwich, and leader of the Tories on Greenwich Council, being stopped and told by local police he was a suspected terrorisr after he took a photo of the local police station for a by-election leaflet.

Labour HQ recruits blog spinner?

Now here's an interesting job on the Labour Party website. It seems they're looking for an Online Communities Organiser who's responsibility will include the need to "build relationships with key online stakeholders and encourage the creation of user-generated content from our online communities".

Expect to see ever more uncritical lines straight from Labour HQ being pushed by "independent" left wing blogs in the coming months.

They're looking for a Spammer-in-Chief to manipulate Google and deluge people's Inboxes as well.

I pledge Allegience to Unelected Bureacrats?

You're never going to get the response you want unless you frame the question right, the following of which is a good example. John Hayes MP asked Chris Bryant the following:

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has received any recent representations on proposals for an oath of loyalty to the European Commission.

Chris Bryant: No, none whatsoever.
Now I'm guessing it was inspired by this story in September. Perhaps instead of asking about oath's of loyalty to the European Commission he should ask about general oaths to the EU?

Or maybe he knows something we don't?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

PETA campaigns against cross-species breeding?

Look, I'm not going to lie, I think that this latest advert by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is very appealing to the eye. I see nothing wrong with Joanna Krupa whatsoever.


However, in response to accusations that the use of religious iconography might be a little offensive, Krupa said,

"We're trying to spread the word that breeding isn't the way to go. In my heart I know that Jesus would never condone the suffering that results when dogs and cats are allowed to breed."
WTF? Is she saying there is an issue of cross-species breeding or is she saying that male and females of the same species should not breed because Jesus wouldn't like it? WTF?

$1million dollars or I flick the switch!

Mephedrone Madness

There is a rather amusing article over at the Register about the medias latest "legal high" panic over mephedrone, which resulted in the classic headline in the Sun, "Legal drug teen ripped his scrotum off", who were following the lead of the Sunderland press it seems.

Anyhow, putting the bollocks of bollock ripping aside, my I offer a word of advise on how to research the latest and greatest chemical fads of the recreational home pharmaceutical testers out there. There is only one source you need for serious work on the effects of psychoactives, it's called Erowid.
Of course nothing beats "THE KIDS ARE TAKING FERTISLISERS!" stories though.

Why should we trust what they say about their spending?

You know how there is a general truism that you shouldn't trust statistics, and especially not if they come from the Government? Well.. some may say that sort of view is terrible cynical and helps solidify the anti-politics attitude that is pervasive today. However, sometimes they really don't do themselves any favour.

Take for example this document on the Cabinet Office website which apparently overseas visits made by all Ministers costing in excess of £500. Why does it not contain the £4,584 first class trip to New York that Barbera Follett took during the same period whilst a minister at the Government Equalities office?

Probably an oversight because the department in question exists only to placate Harriet Harman when she didn't get the Deputy Prime Minister title so was likely forgotten about, but still, if you're going to say you're listing "all Ministers" travel and then forget about 4.5K of spending, what faith can we put in the list as whole?

Obama kick starts second term campaign

So I finally heard Obama's plans for troops in Afghanistan. A further 30,000 and apparently the murmurings of an exit strategy saying that withdrawal of troops would begin in 18 months time - so around August 2011. That will be just in time for the beginning of the second term election cycle, just a few months before the Iowa Caucus.

I bet a fiver part of Obama's second term campaign will contain an "I brought the troops home!" narrative.

Obama says he doesn't take the decision lightly, and he'd be right, he has an election to win! I believe the phrase "teeing it up" would be applicable.


Note: Apologies for typos in original title. Need coffee

Protecting the second home income?

Cam me cynical if you must, but, in the wake of the expenses scandals and second home allowances etcetra, I found it rather amusing and oddly coincidental that the most popular Early Day motion thus far this session with 102 signatures and wide-ranging cross party-support reads thusly,

That this House notes that the repeal of the furnished holiday lettings rules announced in the 2009 Budget will have negative and unintended consequences for providers of holiday lettings; believes that the negative impact of the repeal will lead to a reduction in the supply of self-catering accommodation in particular, resulting in a significant loss of jobs and damage to rural and seaside economies; further notes with concern the lack of any industry consultation on the repeal; and calls on the Government to conduct a full consultation and review of this policy change as soon as possible to ensure all affected parties have the opportunity to voice their concerns and to promote an understanding of and mitigate against any unintended consequences on tourism, especially in rural and seaside areas.
For those wondering, the rules referred to are available in more detail here. Basically it;s another of those things where the Government is grabbing some more tax.

Now, I wonder, given the apparent cross-party support against a tax rise (from socialists to capitalist), how many of those MPs signing have furnished holiday lets of their own?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Obama is British!

Apparently, it's true, this advert from the Washington Post says so...

It seems its all because the British Nationality Act 1948 which has something to do with the colonies.

Rejoice for the Messiah is one of us!
Via The Fink

Would the "Blaney's Blarney Order" apply to this?

Some people may recall that back in October, Donal Blaney, via Griffin Law, managed to get an order in court, dubbed the "Blaney's Blarney Order", that allowed for an injunction to be served on Twitter in the UK.

Specifically the order required that an unknown Twitter user anonymously posting under the same name as someone else, and effectively impersonating them, could be ordered to stop posting and immediately identify themselves.

I mention this because it would be interesting to see if the legal precedent also applied to this, which is patently fake, but that is also, ironically enough, given publicity by those who claim to hate all forms of identity fakery online.

Then again, Richard Littlejohn might not actually care about it, but it would interesting to see if the order applied equally to this sort of thing.

My eyes are watering...

Definitely one for the "WTF" category, may I introduce you to the Rape-aXe, an anti-rape device from South Africa.
According to the website,

The Rape-aXe system consists of a latex sheath, which contains razor-sharp barbs. The device is worn in her vagina like a tampon. When the attacker attempts vaginal penetration the barbs attach themselves to the penis, causing great discomfort. The device must be surgically removed, which will result in the positive identification of the attacker and subsequent arrest.
If this is failing to compute for you they have an explanatory flash video here.

Apparently they were originally called RapeX but discovered the name was in use in Europe already so changed to Rape-aXe. Personally I think it's a far more applicable name.

Now please excuse whilst I walk outside gingerly for a cigarette and allow my boggling mind to find itself once more.

One Queen and Eleven Presidents

Saw these pictures in a post called "One Queen & 11 Presidents" over here and thought it worth repeating. Resilient thing is old Madge - bet she has some stories to tell.

Obama and Bush Jr

Clinton and Bush Sr

Reagan and Carter

Ford and Nixon

Kennedy, Eisenhower and Truman

Long time span for those aren't there?

Leaked Government IT report gets its own website? Submit Comments

Following on from the last post about a Harvard report in the U.S. that has concluded that computers do not save hospital's money, I have just learned of a new site going live called Make IT Better that's been set up by the Tories and is based on a leaked Government report into the crap that is public sector IT. As the site says,

This website allows you to post your comments and suggestions on this leaked Government report. We want to hear your ideas – and we will be responding to your thoughts in the weeks ahead. Many thanks for taking part.


The full Government report can be viewed here. Should be an interesting experiment and it will be interesting to see what the private IT industry has to say about the report.

Update: Looks like the site has been slashdotted. Whoops!

Error establishing a database connection


Update II: Back up now, and the Tories have produced a video to introduce the open consultation.

Computers do not save hospitals money?

Now here's an interesting report in the U.S from Harvard that has looked at the cost benefit of computerisation in hospitals. They studied 4,000 hospitals in the U.S over a four-year period and found that the massive spending required to install and run an IT system in a hospital outweighed the supposed cost savings of doing it and didn't produce more efficient outcomes.

Of course this is the private sector who never spend money on things in health that have negative cost beneifts because they're only driven by their evil desire for profit. I'm sure the NHS could take some lessons from this report on how not to waste money on IT, but I doubt it will.
Via ComputerWorld

Ice melts, water freezes

Just a random observation, but whenever you see the usual suspect lefty bloggers moaning, it is usually about newspapers like the Daily mail and Express etc being alarmist for one reason or another. Yet you never actually see the same rational and calm heads on these people when it comes to things like the Antarctic melting (on one side at least but more on that in a moment).

So this morning we have newspaper reporting that the prediction for this century on the rise in sea level is actually 1.4 metres rather than the previous prediction of 75cm. We have scientists saying "Anybody who lives in coastal cities needs to be slightly worried by a projections of one metre or more."

Oh do they now? Why would that be? Are they going to wake up tomorrow and discover they've been flooded because the South Atlantic has begun to boil and make the sea level rise overnight? It's alarmist nonsense. There is bugger all to worry about because the rise is expected over a long period of time during which flood defences, clever technological ones or less clever sandbags will be built.

However, and here's come the kicker, its only the west of Antarctica's ice sheets that are melting. The rest is seeing the ice sheet expand. So as the ice melts and adds to the sea level on one side, the water on the other side freezes and reduces sea level. Also, why is no one thinking the obvious about Antarctica? If all the ice melts we'll have some land to live on.


 

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