Monday, June 28, 2010

It's a funny old game

Let's first be clear about something, this is not a sore loser post. Yesterday England got hammered and deserved to lose. Frankly they could easily have been four down at the break, and they were lucky not be given the sort of kicking North Korea got from Portugal.

What's more, it was deliciously ironic, nay, almost amusing to see England concede the first goal as a result of the atypical English "long ball" strategy, given that Germany's own legend Franz Beckanbauer had slated England for playing that way.

Yes, it's indisputable, the England team have had a woeful World Cup. However, there is a far more important reality of yesterday's game that FIFA need to sort out and it's obvious where I'm going with this, we need to sort out managing the goal line, be it with technology or people.

Last year, in the Europa League, UEFA introduced two extra officials who stood on the goal line for just this reason. Had such officials been present yesterday, or during Italy's game, the result and course of the torunament may well have been very different.

Of course, you could introduce the hawkeye style technology that tennis uses to judge a ball in or out. The argument of FIFA that this will effect the universality of the game because lower levels will not be able to afford the technology is nonsense.

No doubt Sep Blatter and FIFA were releived that Germany put the game beyond doubt in the second half because it makes the "it was a goal" line an academic one that can be easily ignored.

Yes, football is harsh sometimes. Decisions can go your way, and other times they can't. But surely it is becoming a bit of a joke that in the 21st Century you can confirm a ball is over the line within in seconds and yet the referee is not allowed to review it.

The only positive to take is if Germany go on to win the tournament and then at least England know they were beaten by only the best.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Eating one's words......

Well what can I say, still on holiday in sunny Spain and it ends up being the Italians who don't go through and England did - that will teach for me having so little faith. Japanese free kicks last night were awesome. I'm now wondering if Spain will manage or whether the only "giants" of European football in the final 16 are going to be Germany, England and Portugal by the end of the day.

What a crazy World Cup.

Interesting facts. Until last night, no defending World Champion (update as per @burwellian comment: 'and the other finalist from the last tournament') had gone out in the group stages. The last time Italy did go out during the group stage was 1974 when the only goal they scored in their last game was by some guy called Fabio Capello. No team has ever won the World Cup with a foreign manager.

Spooky huh?

Note: I still have Brazil in the sweepstake as a backup :)

P.S. England need to play in red more.

Update: I see Spain made it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Class war and VAT

For the first time in a very long time I didn't watch the Budget, why would I? I'm in Spain in the wonderful heat of the mountains! In fact, I even decided to wait until this morning before reading how the Government intended to screw me - not that it wasn't all leaked and trailed in the Sunday papers anyway which I read at the airport.

I understand, having glanced around the web this morning, that there's been considerable reaction to the VAT rise from pretty much all quarters. On the one hand it's condemned as a bad thing because it's a tax rise, and on the other it's condemned as being unfair because it disproportionately hurts the poor as they tend to end up paying more of their income out on it than the rich.

The argument, advanced by the Left, is you're pretty bog standard statistcal jiggerypokery that creates the perception of shocking inequality without for a second thinking about other possible contextual factors that make it not nearly as bad as they make it sound. Sunder Kawala put it like this,

The richest 10% pay one in every 25 pounds of their income in VAT; the poorest 10% pay one in every seven pounds as VAT (Source: Office of National Statistics)
Sounds terrible doesn't it when you see it in those terms huh? Now let's put some contextual reality on that. First up, let's deal with the "richest 10%" line, this is class war at its best.

To get yourself into the "richest 10%" you need to earn just over £50,000 a year, a household with two people earning £25K achieve that and whilst they may seem to have a lot more money coming in than the lower income brackets they are not, by any stretch of the imagination, rich.

Comfortable certainly, although still very likely to be stretching themsleves to pay mortgages, saving each month for a holiday once a year, running a car, paying for public transport to work, paying energy bills, phone bills and the like. Let's not piss about here calling these people "rich".

Being "rich" is when you don't know or care when payday is. Trying to categorise people based on statistical groupings around income is little more than rhetorical envy politics that fails to recognise the reality in which ordinary people live.

Then we have the "poorest 10%" and their income. This group earns, just over £14,000 per year. Undoubtedly not as well off in income terms as the so-called "richest 10%". However, this group is subsidised already by the "richest 10%" through tax redistribution, benefits and the like. Thus their income is split between earned income, and handout income.

The point I'm driving at here is that making the "one in every 25 pounds spent on VAT vs one in every seven pounds spent on VAT" argument fails to realise that on the one hand you have someone spending their money, and on the other you have someone spending money that that's been taxed once already and given to them for free.

I'm not arguing that they shouldn't be given the money, rather that trying to make out VAT unfairly hits those on the lowest income ignores the reality that the money spenton many of the servives that are subject to VAT isn't really "income" int he traditionally earned sense.

Don;t misundertand me here though, I'm not saying I support the rise in VAT. I'm just aking issue with the argument being deployed by the Left against the rise. Much better to argue against it in the basis that people will probably start to spend less, or will start using the black market to avoid it.

I wouldn't be surprised if the words "can we do it without the VAT if I pay cash" becomes more commonplace after January in thiose areas of trade which can accomodate such things - e.g. mechanics, plumbers, builders, market traders etc.

To be honest though, the most interesting thing to watch over the next few years, assuming the Coalition can get its VAT hike through, will be if HM Opposition campaign on a platform to cut the rate of VAT. They might be arguing vehemently against it now, but I'm willing to bet they won't cut the rate if they won the next election and it remained above 17.5% at that time.

That's politics you see, and Government's - espeically Labour Government's - love to take our money and spend it as if it is theirs.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Holiday!

Mrs Dizzy and I are off on our holidays today to sunny Andalucia where we'll be watching Italy and Spain attempt to progress in the World Cup. England will be lucky if they progress (as will Spain but at least they can score goals ocassionally). Back in July.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Teeside Hospital - another Labour failure

Questioning Danny Alexander on the decision to not build a replacement hosiptal for an already existing one in Teeside, Pat Glass, the Labour MP for North West Durham, said,

My understanding is that [the hospital] was not promised in the last weeks before the election, but had been planned, committed to and expected for five years.
So what you're saying is the local electorate have been expecting something for the last five years of the Labour Government and it's not been delivered or even started.

What a ringing endorsement of the Labour legacy that is!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lost... in one minute


Just think how you could have saved over six years of your life huh?

New Tory MP calls SamCam a slut

Well, sort of.

Therese Coffey MP's website got pwned. As she herself notes.


I'm guessing she uses the same password for Twitter too though, as that remains under the control of "thegh0st" who is clearly 1337! Apparently Samantha Cameron is a slut and a whore.

Awesome pin-up calendar

Great piece of advertising for medical imaging company.

Am quite impressed with July. She's hot!

Via ufunk.net

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A missing signature....

Currently there seems to be a rather obvious Opposition backbencher's signature missing from this Early Day Motion.

That this House notes that 14 to 19 June 2010 is the UK's first ever National Eye Health Week; further notes that at least 50 per cent. of sight loss is preventable and that early detection through regular eye tests is a simple and practical way to maintain good eye health; and congratulates the organisations involved in Eye Health Week in bringing to the nation's attention the importance of regular sight tests for good eye health and prevention of sight loss.
Perhaps he's not seen it yet?

Old Government website you didn't know about...

I give you the National Counter Terrorism Security Office's secureyourfertiliser.gov.uk circa 2006.

Lots of useful info about how to use locks and close doors, and how the 1993 World Trade Center bomb was made from poo and wee.

Oh yes, and you can also "Win £500 by submitting your feriliser [sic] security ideas".

Yep I was like that too....

Featherstone confirms Union flag taken down once every four years at DCLG

Via Hansard,

Lynne Featherstone: The Government Equalities Office is based in a building Eland House occupied by Communities and Local Government. CLG's policy is to fly the flag 365 days a year."
I guess it probably needs to be washed or something.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Each to their own......?

The Internet always provides a good "WTF?" moment huh?

stdmatch.net

How to swear in English

Times offers online subscription to dead people

Never let it be said that Rupert Murdoch is not an astute businessman. Not content with slapping the Times behind a paywall so that the living can be charged for the paper online it seems that they're planning on exploiting the as yet untapped market of the dead.

Click Image for Larger Version

Absolute genius!

Saville Inquiry: Pre-Match Opinion

It cost how much?????

Is class war against the military coming?

Call me suspicious, but I have a funny feeling that we may see Labour attack the Government over the fact that the MoD gives an allowance to military personnel and some civilians posted overseas so that their children can have a stable education.... in other words, boarding school.

The former minister David Hanson has been asking questions about how much is spent "on private or independent education of children of serving military or defence personnel" and the figures provided certainly look like a bit of "class war" ammunition.

Currently the MoD spends £172.8 million each year on the allowance, although that does not mean it is going to private education as it could be being spent in state boarding schools. However, I doubt that will change any potential line of attack.

Argument about "school cuts" juxtaposed against "posh private education for top brass military" coming to a screen near you very soon methinks.

Monday, June 14, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: The Downing Street website redesign

Back when Gordon Brown was Prime Minister he had a flashy redesign of the Downing Street website on Wordpress, complete with lots of flashy social media stuff and all manner of bugs which have been well documented.

At the time of the redesign there was much talk of how much it cost with one hack saying his sources put it at £100K+. The thing is, when you tried to find out the cost of the website, Downing Street hid behind a 'commercial interests' argument.

However, after much arguing and emailing - emails that pointed out no other department hid behind the commercial interest argument, along with threats to take it to the ICO - Downing Street, with its new resident, has revealed the spending at last.

£12,700

Yes, that's right, Gordon Brown spent a perfectly reasonable and small figure having the Downing Street website redesigned compared to so many other departments and yet it took over a year and a change of Government to get the answer.

What a twat.

Note: This post is titled 'exclusive' in a tongue and cheek manner. That Downing Street took so long to answer a simple question is testament to the secrecy under which it instinctively operated. I will add links and the pdf from the Cabint Office to this post tomorrow as I'm currently using my phone to post this. Apols for typos. Now football calls. ITALIA! ITALIA! (Said for Mrs Dizzy natch!)


Come to Daddy!

From the Daily Telegraph regarding the misclaimed repayment of expenses.

Bernard Jenkin, Con, Essex North: asked to repay £63,250 after renting home from his sister-in-law, along with housekeeping and other undisclosed bills
From Bernard Jenkin's Register of Interests and the Electoral Commission,

I received £45,000 from my father [Lord Jenkin of Roding] for the repayment of money to the Department of Resources following the inquiry by Sir Thomas Legg, and to cover associated legal expenses.
Talk about keeping it in the family huh? Wonder if he still wets the bed too?

Only in America......

Interesting definition of "win".

Update: Incidentally, I think the USA were very lucky and England need to sort out their finishing. Also, see comments for what the headline is a reference too.

Balls attacks Darling with a familiar argument

In this morning's Telegraph, Ed Balls has written a stinging attack on Alistair Darling, saying that the refusal to rule out a VAT rise by Labour cost them dearly at the election.

I was one of those who privately urged Gordon Brown to make our stance on VAT explicit in our manifesto. I believed that if we made a principled case for ruling out a VAT rise, as well as against premature cuts in public spending, it would change the course of the election.

Others disagreed – and ultimately we made no hard commitment on VAT. That was partly the traditional caution of governments, wanting to keep options open... I did not see the logic in either argument then, and I do not see it now.

Perhaps Ed should have pointed to right-wing bloggers making his argument for him at the time, or perhaps he just didn't see it, and wasn't really arguing against it but is doing so now because of a leadership campaign. Either way, it's good to see that the wisdom that was... errr me in April is now being deployed.

Has anyone noticed the really odd tactical failure Labour has made with its VAT argument? I mean, I can understand why they're arguing that the Tory figures don't add up unless they secretly plan to hike VAT (the Tory tax rise of choice historically), therefore leading to the conclusion that the Tories are going to hike VAT.

Putting aside the logical fallacies that always appear when politicians argue, I "get it". From a purely political point of view it's a simple, effective and potentially devastating line to take.

However, here comes the but, if you're going to go down the line of trying to drip the idea into the minds of the electorate that the Tories are going to increase VAT, why would you not be prepared, absolutely instinctively, without hesitation, to rule out rising VAT yourself when asked by the media?....

Did they really sit around a table and think that they could credibly hold a line that refused to rule out VAT increases whilst simultaneously arguing that the Tories planned to rise it even though the Tory position is actually identical to theirs?

As tactical failures go it's pretty epic isn't it? If Labour had just said "we will not raise VAT" then their attack on the Tories would hold and get repeated by the media quite willingly. By refusing to rule it out, they've basically ensured that the media will cut through the bullshit and not give their line the time of day (with the exception of the Mirror natch!).
Never let it be said that I don't have flashes of political soothsayer cleverness, oh no! Or flashes of sheer masturbatory enjoyment at seeing a potential Labour Party leader fall in line with what I already said.

Next time Ed you should listen to us crazy right-wingers.

UPDATE: Iain Dale has posted saying that Ball sis delusional if he thinks this would have changed the course of the election. In a way I do agree with him, it's unlikely that it would have been a total game changer, but it would have definitely made the course the media took very different and have had a more positive impact on the Labour vote I think.

Don't hold your breath on health and safety madness ending

Here's the funny thing about "elf' and safety", half the time the stories are not because of legislation that deems the mundane a risk but rather over-zealous Council officers and pathetically scared facilities managers worrying about a vexatious lawsuit to the point that common sense doesn't just leave the room but actually runs up a mountain, finds a cave and refuses to come out until someone checks that the grass verges it needs to walk on have been freshly cut lest they cause it to have a terrible bout of hay fever.

I mention this because, apparently, we're going to have a massive shake up of the Health and Safety laws so that common sense can come out if it's little cave hideaway where it's shacking up with Bin Laden safe in the knowledge that it won't start sneezing or trip up on a rock that someone forgot to put a bloody great warning sign around.

The thing is, the reaction to this by the Oppositon is thoroughly predictable. Expect Labour MPs, Left wing commentators, and the leftie bloggers too start listing lots of statistics about work place injury, and subtle hints that what is going to happen is a return to pre-war industrial death on a massive scale. There may very well be a desire to let common sense reign once more, but there will still be many who will wince and murmur "better to be safe than sorry" and bemoan our inevitable return to Victorian hardship.

What will, of course, be ignored by the moaners will be that even the Health and Safety Executive itself agrees that the manner in which H&S operates has becomes an absolute joke. Not because there are laws that ban conkers at school, but rather that all the tales you hear happen because the people that enforce them at grass roots or in private business don;t understand what is and what is not necessary.

Saying this though, there is undoubtedly scope for the HSE to be heavily culled, especially it's insanely expensive advertising campaign budget.

For example, and long time readers of the blog might remember this, the HSE spent £2.1 million on a campaign that saw them create a fake rock band and auction a spandex outfit on ebay all to raise awareness of back pain. Honestly, they really did spend that much on this. Hilariously the HSE did once concede that most of the time health and safety generates useless paperwork, yet they insist on wasting money telling hairdressers to wear gloves.

A review upon the application of health and safety should really be welcomed, but unless it comes with wholesale reform of what the Health and Safety Executive spends its money and time doing, along with some legal reform to restrict the absurd work that many ambulance chasing lawyers get involved with, I doubt very much will change and the Daily Mail and others will continue to catalogue how common sense is still up in its cave in Bora Bora.

Friday, June 11, 2010

She called him, I mean he called her.....

Bless! From the mouths of babes on live TV....

Child Poverty Action Group know not what it says

It would appear this morning that Tim Nichols, of the Child Poverty Action Group, is talking bollocks. Apparently,

"Child benefit is extremely successful ... guaranteeing that there is an income paid directly to the mother and spent on children."
Excuse me? Child Benefit "guarantees" that the money is spent on children? Errr hate to burst the bubble of fantasy here but it does no such thing.

Child Benefit is a universal handout given to every mother that goes straight into a mother's bank account with no string attached. There are no rules that dictate how a mother chooses to spend it.

The only thing the benefit guarantees is that mother gets the money, after that it could be spent on booze, fags or the child.

Isn't it always about oil?

Oh my this whole BP thing is getting interesting isn't it? Anyhow, for a start lets make something clear, they're called BP, they've not been called British Petroleum since 1998, and, if the sainted Barak Obama must insist on playing silly games with their name perhaps he should refer to them as British Petroleum American Oil Corporation (BP Amoco) which was their name from 1998 to 2000.

Anyhow, what strikes me as most odd about this whole thing is the complete lack of perspective from the White House and others about the fact this was an accident. A bloody awful cock-up of course, but not some deliberate act of sabotage against the good people of Louisiana and Florida as some of the hyperbole spewing from Democrats might have you think.

The most hilarious thing though is the synthetic outrage being displayed across the pond about how it's all the businesses fault, those nasty "British Petroleum" people. Now Obama, the White House and leading Democrats whoring themselves on British media airwaves have been falling over themselves to say this is not an anti-British response at all. To this I have one word which is a typically British response. Bollocks.

By continually, and repeatedly referring to "British Petroleum" the politicos over the water are constantly pushing a subliminal line that it's not America's fault. The key here is to refer to another nationality in order to ignore the reality that many of the staff involved before it went wrong are American. To ignore the fact that the company is a merger of one of America's own oil big boys.

It is little more than a cynical politicking by a President who's approval ratings have been dropping through the floor since December last year with an eye to the mid-terms which could see Congress re-balance. Obama is basically following the principle expressed by his Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel that you should "never let a serious crisis go to waste".

Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying American plebs are any less stupid than the British plebs, rather I'm just pointing out that the White House approach is a cynical spin operation that far surpasses the spin operation that BP are able to counter with. What;s more the White House is playing a rather worrying game with it's threats about seizing control of BP or forcing it not to pay a dividend to it's shareholder, many of which are, as has been made clear, pensioners in the UK.

Right now, splashed across much of the British press is the fact that thanks to just a few words by Obama, the share price of BP has gone into free-fall. It doesn't take a genius to realise that someone somewhere is going to make a hell of a tidy profit when it rises again, and you can guarantee that it won't be money that ends up helping the devastated communities in Louisiana or Florida.

In fact, this is probably the most amusing and contradictory reality of the White House's and loony Democrat approach to BP. By constantly battering the business with ill-judged words, its value is falling, at the same time the White House is demanding that BP pay every penny and not "nickle and dime" people. Should they continue this approach there may not be much money left as the company plummets on the markets.... but then the hard-Left has never really "got" markets.

OF course, there is one other wider issue that is beginning to be raised in the British press which I expect may gather some traction if some Brits start to whore themselves on American media. That being the sheer hypocrisy of the Obama Administration to demand retribution and compensation on the world stage, whilst simultaneously denying any liability for the many equally catastrophic and sometimes worse environmental clusterfucks they've been involved in.

Yes, it's true, such an argument is "whataboutery", and just because America hasn't stepped up to the plate in the past it does not mean that their demands now are necessarily wrong. Frankly, it's right that BP pay to clean up a mess they're responsible for. What is wrong though is to dictate what BP does with its profits. It is not the role of the Federal Government, or for that matter any Government to dictate to a private company how it should spend it's money when it has as much as BP.

All the White House should be concerned with is that BP have a legal obligation to pay up. It has no place allocating which pot of BP's money should be used for that legal obligation. However, like I said, there are mid-terms coming, and when a President is disliked more than he is liked, a crisis such as this is a golden opportunity to make yourself look tough and resolute to your voters that don't have a well-tuned political antennae.

As for David Cameron, he should grow some balls and tell Obama to stop playing silly buggers.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Apple to diversify into Lego

Via imgur.com

Ahhh poor old students!

According to the President-elect of the National Union of Pissheads Students, and in light of David Willets saying those that study degrees are a "burden on the taxpayer", the average graduating student leaves University with a debt of £22,000 and this is why tuition fees should not be increased from their capped limit of £3225 per year.

Now, let's assume that your average degree is three years. That means, currently, a maximum degree course cost in fees of £9675. So, according to the soon to be NUS President, your average student spends, during his average three years, an extra £12,325 on tick. That £12,325 divided by 36 months means the "average student" spends just over an extra £342 per month after fees, or put another way, £79 per week.

That's just over 13 hours a week working on minimum wage of £5.80 correction 16 hours a week working on wage of £4.83, or, put another way, an 8am to 5pm Saturday, and a couple of 5pm until 9pm evenings during the week. I think it's obvious where I'm going with this and it can be summed up in just a few words.

Get a bloody job. I did. Go and work in a supermarket or something, and make sure that you work as much as you can during the exceptionally long holidays.


Now.... music! A nice little Peter and the Test Tube Babies cover version from Stu Dent & The Wankers.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Blogging Notice

I realise blogging has been light of late, this has been because of other real world commitments. It will continue to be light today as well. May be back later this afternoon.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Is this why "Bigotgate" had little impact?

Seems many people didn't know what a "bigot" was (at least in the world of "Google Suggests") yet they're still quite interested in politics.

Oh yes, they're interested in databases and grammar as well.

Google Goooooooooooooal!

Always with the zeitgeist is Google.

Is the MoD selling kit to its own soldiers?

For many years now with startling regularity we hear news story that tell us how the military has been so underfunded that soldiers have had to buy their own kit, lest go into theatre without adequate equipment or protection. The long-running accusations were even said to be the catalyst for the mole that leaked MPs expenses to the Daily Telegraph.

I've often wondered exactly where the soldiers buy their own kit from, and it never occurred to me, until properly browsing a site I have blogged about before, that they might, in fact, be actually buying this kit through the MoD's very own eDisposals website.

You can but all manner of kit, including a Mobile Hydration System and, my personal favourite, a Brennen Skin Graft Mesher 4:1 although it is "untested and comes with No Guarantee".

Does make you wonder though, whilst soldiers are saying they're buying their own kits, are they actually buying it through a website run by their own bosses?

Incidentally
, tasty ship for sale for the right price! Would work well for carrying aid somewhere probably.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Always knew there was more to it....

Already posted this on Twitter, but thought I would blog too as it made me chuckle.

Click Image for Larger version


Via imgur.com

Is @ns_mehdihasan for real?

My mind is currently boggling somewhat at something written by New Statesman's Mehdi Hasan, about the latest polling of British attitudes towards Islam where he asks,

If the majority of Britons (60 per cent) admit to pollsters that they "don't know very much about Islam", why then do they choose to "associate" Islam with terrorism and extremism and take such a firm view on Islam's treatment of women?
Is he serious? Is it not obvious? They may not know a lot about it, but what they do know is what they've witnessed on TV or the streets of London etc which has so often involved people blowing themselves up, or women dressed it manners which they might think slightly repressive, and they've made prejudgment based on those observations and actions.

It doesn't mean they're right of course, but to wonder how they can say such things suggests one is either a gibbering idiot or they've been living in a very dark hole as a hermit since September 10th 2001.*

I guess as well, when people read or hear audio online like that below, they might, rightly or wrongly, come to sweeping conclusions and generalisations too (video via Harry's place).



Yes. That is (allegedly) the aforementioned Mehdi Hasan who cannot understand why some Britons might have prejudicial and negative views towards Islam.

As the title of this post asks, is Mehdi Hasan for real? I find it difficult to accept that he can be so naive as to not understand how people cannot know about Islam and equally hold a negative view of it. As I said, doesn't mean they're right, but it's not difficult to understand why they might think like that.

As long as the dominant and most memory engraving moments of Muslims are connected to massively negative events, it will be difficult to shift such sweeping assumptions and conclusions amongst poll respondents.

You've got to laugh really....

Via imgur.com

Dear BBC Radio 4....

As someone who drives to work each morning, traffic news can be quite important. There is, after all, nothing worse than finding yourself stuck on the motorway when you could have gone round the problem had you know about it. Not a problem though really, just listen to the radio and you can hear where the problems are. Not, however, if you choose to listen to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.

Listening to Today will get you the news, the headlines, the sport, the weather, racing tips and all manner of things but not a general overview of what major things might be going on on the main roads of the UK. Likewise, if you listen to PM, the other news show at the other end of the "rush hour" day you won't know about traffic issues unless it's some sort of multi-car pileup like the 1991 M4 crash which then becomes "news".

Of course, you could configure your radio to automatically switch to local commercial radio traffic reports, but the interruptions can ebcome irritating. Isn't it about tiome that the two flagship current affairs shows on Radio 4 (listened to by a vast number of drivers), start having some sort of high level motorway traffic reports in their news bulletins?

Labour spent £51K on fancy bins....

The headline says it all really, but this post really only exists because I saw this on Twitter,

Shocking huh? Well shocking if it was true, but if you click the link you go to a BBC News story which says,

Defra says the cost was justified. The 2007 report, which has been deposited in the House of Commons library, argues the case for getting rid of bins beneath civil servants' desks in favour of centralised "recycling stations" on every floor.
Spot the problem, yes, that's right, the report is from 2007, October 2007 in fact and can be downloaded here.

So, far from it being a waste by the "ConDem" Government as "Tweet4Labour2 would have people believe it's actually evidence of the complete insanity and profligate wastefulness of the last Labour Government.

Should we be surprised?

Amusingly, "Tweet4Labour" is adamant that because the BBC report was published today it must be referring to spending since the Government was formed.

Never let the actual words in the BBC report, or the actual DEFRA report itself get in the way of the truth huh?

Time for incentives on road tax too?

The "big" news this morning appears to be the planned scrapping of pay as you throw bin taxes, in favour of a more incentive driven approach that rewards people for recycling. Now, I've always been a rather big fan of a pleasure over pain Benthamite approach to environment policy and beyond, so such a move is welcome, but how about applying it further?

One area we could take the incentive approach is on "vehicle excise duty", more commonly called "road tax", the basis of which is currently an unfair arbitrary assumption about carbon emissions of a given car and completely ignore the usage of the car. Think of it like this. Currently, all owners of a 1.6L Ford Mondeo pay exactly the same road tax every year, yet the amount each person uses their car will vary wildly.

Every year, when you get an MOT, your mileage is recorded and the details of that MOT certificate submitted to a central database so that when cross-referenced with insurance, road tax can be issued. So, how about offering incentives, in the form of some sort of discount, based upon annual mileage as well?

Many people own cars with high road tax, but do minimal mileage, which means, perversely, their being punished on the basis of the arbitrary emissions of their car, whilst in fact they may be producing less emissions than someone with another small car who is paying less road tax for having that smaller car.

If you want to make people drive less, make it pay for them to do so, by factoring in their usage into their road tax cost. It's not rocket science now is it?

UPDATE: A number of people in the comments have said this already exists with fuel tax. That's not strictly true though. Fuel tax is a tax, I'm talking about incentives. If you need to drive somewhere you do it, and you pay for fuel with little choice. This is about adding an incentive to people by offering a discount or at least acknowledging that they're driving less in an area of tax where it is easiest to do so.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Carry on as normal....

Remember what I said on the morning of polling day about how it didn't matter who won the election "the Government" would still be in charge? Here's some evidence of how little really changes.

Mr Watson: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) how many (a) current and (b) former employees of (i) the Liberal Democrat Party and (ii) the Conservative Party have been issued with a (A) Cabinet Office and (B) 10 Downing Street security pass;

(2) which Members of the House of Lords have been issued with (a) Cabinet Office passes and (b) Number 10 Downing Street security passes since 6 May 2010.

Mr Maude: Passes for access to 10, 11 and 12 Downing street and the Cabinet Office are issued to staff who work in the building and to individuals who require access for business purposes.
Simple question that should furnish a simple answer but does it? Of course not. Obfuscation and avoidance continue as before.

Yay for open and transparent Government huh?

Thankfully he's not in Government

Newbie Labour MP, Chris Williamson asks the Home Secretary not to rule out allowing only criminals to own guns.

Will the Home Secretary give an undertaking that she will not rule out the possibility of the complete prohibition of the private ownership of firearms as the best way of preventing such atrocities in future?
What a prat.

Do you pass/fail the "posh" test?

What with Mrs Dizzy being Italian I was already at two for saying yes to 9 and 12.

Apparently I'm posh because I answered yes to more than that. *shrugs*

Hat Tip: @timmontgomerie

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The solution to the West Lothian Question!

An utterly pointless yet alarmingly curious little gem can be found over at If It Was My Home which helps you pick a place in the world and get a feel for just how big the BP oil spill is.


In fact, I think BP may have inadvertently solved the West Lothian Question.

Note: This is a joke OK. I don't really want to drown Scotland in oil. Wales yes, Scotland, no. Deep-fried Mars bars are a good thing, plus we need to keep taking their oil. It would be silly to waste it by drowning the country with it!

God to Alastair Campbell "call yourself a porn writer?"

You have to love the way New International Version of the Bible makes it easier to understand.

Ezekiel 23:19-21

(19) Yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the days of her youth, when she was a prostitute in Egypt. (20) There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses. (21) So you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when in Egypt your bosom was caressed and your young breasts fondled.
God was doing graphic sexual literature long before Alastair Campbell was.

What does Nick Clegg do?

I know that over the past few years I have bemoaned the fact that the Government spends far too much time building pointless websites that no one can be arsed to visit, so I caveat this post with the fact that I'm not asking for an all-signing all-dancing web presence, but Nick Clegg seems to have bugger all presence on any Government website, which leads me to the conclusion that he really is just a non-entity.

Yesterday, at Prime Ministers Question he had his first experience of not being able to ask any questions as the leader of the third party. He just sat behind Cameron looking like someone who had suddenly realised that power had actually come at the price of his silence during the great weekly Parliamentary battle; and it also seems that the Government's digital face is keeping him quiet too.

He barely gets a mention on the Downing Street website, doesn't have a profile or biography of any kind (unlike the rest of the Cabinet who have their own departments). He has no formal website that I can see (not even a handful of pages hanging off the Cabinet Office) detailing what exactly his role as "Deputy Prime Minister, Lord President of the Council (with special responsibility for political and constitutional reform)" is actually about.

Call me cynical if you must, but it doesn't half look like he's being kept on a leash to avoid the "Number Two" of the Government doing a number two on the pavement for the rest of the Cabinet to slip up on.

The Impotent Government?

Yesterday in Parliament, Labour leadership hopeful and standard bearer of the hardcore socialist-wing of the PLP, John McDonnell posed a question to the Department of Transport about cuts.

He was clearly hoping for an answer that would provide a line of attack we can expect across the board over the next next few years having asked "what assessment has been made of the impact of planned reductions in his Department's funding of rail in 2010-11."

The response however was, I must admit, rather worrying, as it seems to imply that the Government, at least in some cases, may not actually have the power to cut some budgets (or at least not cut them until they scrap certain quangos). Philip Hammond, Transport Secretary said (emphasis mine),

My Department has agreed to contribute a total of £683 million to the £6 billion of in-year budget reductions sought in the emergency budget.

As part of this Network Rail has indicated that, subject to the consent of the Office of Rail Regulation, it will reduce its requirement for Government funding by £100 million.

I am clear that similar efficiencies can be driven from the large organisations to which the Department for Transport makes grants, such at Network Rail, as can be found by the Department.
So, not only do we currently have a £538 million shortfall still to be found, but it also seems that the Office of Rail Regulation has to provide consent for budget cuts at Network Rail.

Ted Heath famously asked "Who Governs Britain?" in relation to industrial relations and the unions. Looks like the question may still be relevant 35 years on, the only difference is that it's not about crazy trade unions but rather Government created quangos.

Talk about being hoist by your own petard, huh?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Editorial Juxtaposition of the Day

And the award goes too.....

Click Image for Larger Version

Submitted by an eagle-eyed reader

Time for Formula One regulations in warfare?

Please accept my apologies for doing a second post on Israel in two days, but look on the bright side, at least it provides somewhere for the batshit crazy types to slag each other off*. This said, it appears to me that the in the discussion about what happened on this boat, the debate has shifted slightly.

At the beginning, the reaction, inherently anti-Israel of course, was that the bastard vicious IDF had gone trigger-happy, shooting at very peaceful people who would rather hug a a butterfly and wear flowers in their hair than be violent.

Since then, footage was released showing that these peace loving hippies on the boat were in fact a little bit wild with metal bars, knives and other blunt instruments including rocks, boots etc.

At this point, the argument moved on to "well they only had rocks and sticks for God sake! The IDF had guns and should have defended themselves from a good kicking in a manner that didn't involve shooting". **

So, in the interest of fairness and equality in war, I think it's about time we all got together round a table globally at the UN and drew up a proper process for having a ruck, complete with Formula One motor racing style regulations so that when you're in a fight you know the other side only has the same numbers and weapons at their disposal.

Let's make some rules about however many you have on one side must be matched equally on the other at the start of the fight. Let's have a five day notice period for fights so that everyone can pass the word around so a big crowd gathers chanting "fight fight fight".

Let's match weapon for weapon too. Just think how good this could be for the British Army fighting in the desert? We could stipulate that there is to be no fight unless everyone else uses SA80s, it would be trigger-jamming-tastic!

Just think of the job creation too if we create a nice level killing field when it comes to weaponry. Did I say killing field? I meant playing field. We could have global trade in standardised weaponry. Hell, imagine if we could fool convince the entire world to use the SA80, we'd be laughing!

OK, OK, I'm kidding, but you see, such insanity is the logical end of those who seem to have shifted the argument about the IDF shooting when they're being beaten over the head with metal pipes in a 5 on 1 fight.

If you're going to complain that the other side has better weapons, then you either level the weaponry field available, numbers fighting etc; or... you accept that if you try to beat up a soldier with a metal pipe, and he just happens to be carrying an IMI Negev, he's going to doubletap you at the first opportunity.

Simples!

* It's made funnier when they scream censorship when I go to bed and don;t post their comments for a few hours.
** Note that if they'd killed someone in a bare knuckle fist fight it would still have been evidence of brutal nastiness by them evil Israelis.

Minimum pricing for alcohol.....?

I bet this politician would never introduce it!

Vote Young Boozer!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

New Hungarian Government says OMG!

Seems it's not just New Labour that have created pointless domain names and websites. The new Hungarian has made an announcement about it.

Truly an OMG!

Electronic boarding card issues rear their head again?

There's an interesting story in this morning, Daily Mail regarding a rather unfortunate "e-boarding card" in a picture on the front cover of an internal BA magazine.


It's interesting because it raises a rather reminiscent problem that was highlighted some time ago about electronic boarding cards. Back in 2006, I blogged about a Brit in the US who had found a flaw in Northwest Airline's e-boarding card system.

A PhD security student who exposed how easy it was to bypass airline security has had part of his website taken down by the FBI.

He was arrested and questioned by the FBI after he highlighted just how easy it was to fake a boarding card and thus get yourself through airport security and "air side" in an airport.

The idea of a boarding pass on a phone sounds great, but there are genuine security concerns about a system that is open to exploitation when it comes to accessing secure areas.

Most Important (and funny) Bit

Why is the seat number the same on the two year old fake boarding card as the one on the magazine advert? And the date, and the boarding gate. Can anyone say photoshop? Has the Mail been had perchance by a stolen image of a fake NW Airlines boarding card being used in a BA sponsored advert. The frequent flyer reference is even prefixed with NW.... hmmmmmm.

You've got to laugh I guess

Update: Incidentally, I spotted this news stories on a Tweet by Tim Ireland who was banging on about how the general idea of the boarding card was an "absurd fantasy". Of course, it's not a fantasy at all and is well documented across the Internet and in the press after I highlighted it.

Crazies attack soldiers, get shot, complain of brutality

Another thing that happened over the weekend it seems is that Israel is being chastised because it boarded a convoy of aid ships travelling from Cyprus that it had repeatedly warned could not come into their waters and dock. During the boarding it seems that most of the ships were stopped peacefully, accept for one, the Mavi Marmara, where the Israeli Defence Force started shooting and killed a few people.

Now, you know how this one works. The IDF say they were defending themselves, the people on the boat, along with Islamist supporters, and pro-Palestinian sympathisers say that they were in fact being peaceful and hugging the IDF who went batshit crazy with their guns for fun, because that is what evil Jews do.

So, here's some footage of the IDF boarding the Mavi Marmara for people to decide for themselves. I particularly like the bit where they throw a soldier overboard and get a big pipe and beat one of them with it.


And they wonder why they got shot at?

Hat Tip: Mike Rouse for video.

Green Book changes and BOGOF

Cor blimey Guvnor! What a weekend, and I'm not talking about the (non-political) weather! Should anyone be wondering why I have not posted since Friday, especially given the Coalition's first major crisis leading to a resignation, it's because I was enjoying the real world where politics is secondary and thought I'd wait until now before providing my jaded and irreverent view, so here goes.

What struck me as most amusing when I first read David Laws statement was the bit where he referred to the rules defining a partner as "one of a couple ... who although not married to each-other or civil partners are living together and treat each-other as spouses", and then went on to say,

"Although we were living together we did not treat each other as spouses - for example we do not share bank accounts and indeed have separate social lives."
Now, I please beg forgiveness for crudity and crassness, but to me that sounds awfully like "flatmates with extras" or what might commonly be called a "fuck buddy".

I'm not, of course, defending him as such, but rather find myself pondering whether the rulebook may be in need of some "real world" updating to cover such things as "people you shag regularly but have their own room in the same flat thus providing extra choice on where to engage in unadulterated debauchery and sexual activity".

Actually, whilst we're on the subject, shouldn't there perhaps be a section, perhaps with a little table too, where it defines which sexual acts one engages in a specific number of times thereby defining whether that person is a partner or just a bit of rough?

You know, so, fellatio or cunnilingus* just the once doesn't count, but if you do it five times then that's it, you're in a relationship and the Green Book kicks in? We've got enough CCTV around these days, maybe we should put it in the bedrooms of MPs second homes? If they've got nothing to hide they've got nothing to fear, right? Goose, gander etcetera.

Let's hope the Lib Dem MP for Colchester Bob Russell doesn't have a home in Fingeringhoe though, otherwise it may cause confusion.


Anyhow, after that digression into crassness, I see what followed the resignation was the appointment of Danny Alexander to the post, who was then promptly splashed across the Telegraph front page because he didn't pay Capital Gains Tax on a house he sold when he wasn't due to pay Capital Gains Tax on it anyway - the tax rules were described by the papers as "legal loophole" natch!

Worth noting that this doesn't mean Danny Alexander hasn't been dodgy with other things, just that on this CGT thing, nothing was avoided because nothing was due.

I fully expect in the coming weeks and months we'll also hear from the Telegraph how some money-grabbing MP managed to steal a biro from Tesco without paying for it by spending taxpayers money on a "buy one get one free" offer. Off with his head, bastard, [insert other insults here]. Incidentally, at no point must we mention the tax status of the Telegraph proprietors.

There we go then, I've said my bit, I'm so glad I waited until after the long weekend to say it.

* Am so proud of myself for writing a post that mentions fellatio and cunnilingus during such a serious topic as a Cabinet Minister's resignation. Thank you David Laws, I salute you!


 

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