Monday, 31 December 2007

Auld Lang Syne

For most of us - who only sing the first verse and the chorus.

Here is the whole thing…

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And old lang syne?

For old lang syne, my dear,
For old lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For old lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For old lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For old lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For old lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu'd the gowans fine;
But we've wandered mony a weary fit
Sin' old lang syne.

For old lang syne, my dear,
For old lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For old lang syne.

We twa hae paidled i' the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin' old lang syne.

For old lang syne, my dear,
For old lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For old lang syne.

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught
For old lang syne.

For old lang syne, my dear,
For old lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For old lang syne.

Robert Burns (1759 –1796)

Quote of the day

" I do think New Year's resolutions can't technically be expected to begin on New Year's Day, don't you?

Since, because it's an extension of New Year's Eve, smokers are already on a smoking roll and cannot be expected to stop abruptly on the stroke of midnight with so much nicotine in the system.

Also dieting on New Year's Day isn't a good idea as you can't eat rationally but really need to be free to consume whatever is necessary, moment by moment, in order to ease your hangover.

I think it would be much more sensible if resolutions began generally on January the second.”

Bridget Jones (Helen fieldingl

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Sperm donor fights CSA demands for cash

Two Lesbians Terri and Sharon Arnold got ‘married’. They decided they wanted children and being unable to come up with it themselves canvassed for sperm donations amongst their male acquaintances to avoid costs of £3 to £4 K.

They conned London Fireman Andy Bathie into donating sperm on the understanding that he would never have any responsibility financial or otherwise. After having one child they asked Andy to donate again, so a second child would be full genetic siblings.

Now Terri and Sharon have gone their separate ways and Sharon has left Terrie ‘holding the baby’. It seems that Sharon can walk away from the relationship Scott free and the Child support Agency (CSA) is rather unjustly holding poor old Andy responsible instead of Sharon. They are confiscating £450 each month from his pay.

The CSA’s view is that, unless a child was legally adopted, both biological parents are financially responsible.

They state "The Child Support Agency legislation is not gender or partnership based. Only anonymous sperm donors at licensed centres are exempt from being treated as the legal father. This does not apply to men who donate sperm as part of a personal arrangement."

Now Andy is to fight the CSA in court over the matter.
So there you are folks. Never ever donate sperm without taking into account you may be held financially responsible.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Quote of the day

” A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side.”

Aristotle 384 BC - 322 BC

RIP Benazir Bhutto.

It seems that Benazir Bhutto is nfortunately the latest member of her unlucky dynasty to pay the ultimate price for being a part of it.

Reports are that she was fatally injured in a suicide attack today along with followers and members of her police security detail.

It is a blow to democracy, as it was no doubt intended to be.

Monday, 24 December 2007

A Visit from St. Nicholas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Clement Clarke Moore (1779 - 1863)

Yet more personal details lost by the UK State, this time the NHS

You really can’t trust these cretins with your data.

The Department of Health has now admitted they have lost data pertaining to 168,000 people!

Unable to look after the data they have they are planning a single giant database of 50 million patients.

The scope for loss on that will be so much more spectacular, but then they don’t really care if they loose it or if someone else can use it – as long as they have access to every detail of every citizen.

Then let's not forget the National ID Database these authoritarian incompetents are so desperate to force on the citizen.

And what a perfect time to bury bad news, when everyone is busy rushing around trying to think if they have everything they need for Christmas guests and the family. Chasing last minute presents… too busy to pay attention to the news?

Friday, 21 December 2007

Quote of the day

” On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.”

George Orwell

Harriet Harman plans to make it illegal to pay for sex in the UK

Why is it with our current government that if there is bad way of doing something, amongst a host of other choices, they will inevitably make a beeline for it - and then compound the problem with incompetence.

Harriet Harman is at it again. Last heard of in connection with concealed donations. This time she wants to make it illegal to pay for sex. Her motives would appear to be reasonably honest, but her reasoning is certainly open to question.

Firstly you can pass as many laws as you like (and New-Labour frequently abuse this privilege) - but that won’t stop it happening if it is something people refuse to give up, or want regardless of the consequences. All you do is bring the idea of the law into disrepute and leave whatever it is you are legislating in the hands of criminals.

Take prohibition in the US – It is arguable that absolutely made organised crime in the US and effectively criminalised vast swathes of the otherwise law-abiding population. It failed and left a detrimental legacy felt to this day.

The ‘War on Drugs’ that is obviously highly effective. It has clrearly absolutely eradicated cannabis use in the UK – Not!.

Illegal drugs are even more lucrative than legal ones and almost certainly maintain an increased level of real crime to support habits. More to the point the illegality of it sucks people who are tying to deal with a habit into a world of crime that they might otherwise never have become involved with.

So paying for sex. How will you define it? What exactly is payment? Cash? Payment in kind?

When all is said and done under the ‘moral questions’ it is a ‘service industry’. The government should be more interested in protecting those who provide sex for money, ensuring that they aren’t forced to, that they will be reasonably safe and able to complain to the police if they are abused. That it can’t be concealed in the shadows.

The English Collective of Prostitutes are certainly not in favour of Harriet’s crusade/jihad. Their spokes woman pointed out that forcing prostitution further underground would only make women more vulnerable to violence.

With this government the first reaction always seems to be towards thoughtless reflexive additional ill-conceived legislation, with little or no consideration of the likely consequences - and a sound bite to go with it, to attempt to justify their existence.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Quote of the day

” There is no nonsense so errant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.”

Bertrand Russell

Brown expects his current rolling string of Crises to be forgotten

It shows the truly cynical direction that Gordon Brown’s thoughts are tending, after his bottling out of legitimising his regime with an election.

He evidently thinks he can get away with truly screwing the sheeple now, because he is gambling that if he can get his many chickens (suspicion, incompetence and broken promises) home to roost now the sheeple will be too myopically stupid to remember being fleeced by the time he decides to allow them to vote again.

Speaking at his regular monthly Downing St press conference he primly suggested: "Many of the things that have been written about for the last few weeks would be forgotten quickly,"

What is dispiriting is that on past performance he may not be as far wrong as he ought to be.

Then again, if Government incompetence and betrayal continue to come to light on a regular basis, as is quite possible based on past performance, then he may still have plenty of prominent roosting chickens on display when he is finally forced, by time, to go to the people with a reputation as solid as a northern rock.

Then who knows, even sheep can get nasty sometimes…

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Quote of the day

” If Beethoven had been killed in a plane crash at the age of 22, it would have changed the history of music - and of aviation.”

Tom Stoppard

Lib-Dems choose Nick Clegg as leader

Well the Lib-Dems have chosen a replacement for Ming.

It is Nick Clegg. He looks young and personable. It will be interesting to see what he does and if it will result in an actual change in the party.

It is bound to lead to some improvement in their standing.

When I heard him last night he appeared to be trying to pull the tired old Lib-Dem trick (that has earned them the title Fib-Dems) to be all things to all people. Suggesting that both disaffected Labour and Tory voters should vote Lib-Dem.

This might be understandable in the case of some Labour voters, as the Lib-Dems are arguably more left wing, in many respects, these days than New-Lab.

It is difficult to see how any Tories could square voting Lib-Dem with their political beliefs - unless they happen to be an ancient dyed in the wool Heathite Paternalist/Socialists. Also as the Conservatives now finally seem to be a credible alternative to New-Lab it is difficult to imagine they would support a more left wing alternative to New-Lab with less actual prospect of ousting Gordon Brown.

At the moment the smart tactical voting against Gordon Brown will probably have to be for the Conservatives if it is not to be wasted. It will be interesting to see if this changes in the new year…

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Saudi King pardons Gang rape victim

This Blog previously criticised Saudi Arabia's sentencing of an young woman who was ‘hate crime’ gang raped - and then sentenced to 200 lashes for her troubles, along with an ex boyfriend.

It seems King Abdullah has pardoned her - Not because he doubted the psychotic judges, but in the "interests of the people". Presumably code for trying to undo some of the damage the sentence had done his country’s reputation internationally.

The Royal pardon goes some way, but should never have been necessary in the first place. Still, for whatever reason, it is good that a wicked injustice has been averted and no doubt the King is hemmed in by many considerations. So credit where credit is due.

One wonders if the ex is also to be pardoned.

Quote of the day

” The impersonal hand of government can never replace the helping hand of a neighbour.”

Hubert H. Humphrey

Brown Caves in on pension rescue package

It seems that Gordon Brown has agreed, under pressure, a rescue package for pensions that were lost when the companies that ran them went bust.

One wonders if he will ever compensate those who’s pensions he has personally damaged by effectively stealing from them in order to finance his devious incompetence and profligate spending as Chancellor.

Never, one suspects…

Saturday, 15 December 2007

The Government is not your friend

Re Polly’s: “The state is not public enemy number one”.

Maybe not Polly - But remember, the State is not your friend either!

Quote of the day

“ It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”

Leonardo Da Vinci

Question – Are the English FA in bed with Gordon Brown, or was it just coincidence?

The FA’s unnecessarily early announcement of their selection for the England manager/head coach must have come as a great boon to Gordon Brown, coming as and when it did.

It dominated the UK MSM to the exclusion of almost everything else.

Very helpful for him as it helps to bury the bad news that on the 13th of December 2007, (unlucky for the citizens of the UK) he signed away parliamentary privileges to the EU under the EU Constitutional Treaty that his party and he had falsely promised before they were elected would be subject to a referendum.

He was clearly so very reluctant to be seen doing self congratulatory smug back slapping with the other European heads of state (at finally anti democratically finessing 99% of the rejected constitution through), that he left that to Milliband and managed to find an excuse to avoid the signing until everyone had cleard off - "They thought is was all over - It is now!".

Gordon Brown has now clearly betrayed promises his party and he as an MP were elected on, thus demonstrating his party's so called mandate is bogus. If he had a shred of honesty or honour he should resign call a general election as soon as possible.

He won’t of course. His problem would be who could trust his manifesto promises?

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Quote of the day

“ Reality is that which refuses to go away when I stop believing in it.”

Phillip K. Dick

Adventures in Second Life

Blogpower has a presence in Second Life (SL) - sensibly conducting awards ceremonies using it.

How else could people so spread out over the globe get together without expensive flights, hire of venue and using up the annual leave of Real Life (RL)?

Anyway, not normally being a ‘Face book’ type, because of the above, and the fact that you don’t have to advertise details all over the net, I decided to take the plunge - you can do it for free.

Though I can see how one might quickly be sucked into purchasing some Linden$$. For those who may not know it Linden Labs devised and administer SL. I feel the faint tug of the lure even as I type.

SL is actually a sort of Multi User Dungeon (MUD), for those of you familiar with the now reasonably venerable term, where you can create your own environment, if you wish, or use those provided by Linden, or other users. A bit like a cross between the Sims, with you as a sim - and a first person hack and slash or shooter like Heratic or Delta Force. Though it is much more than these.

So far I have been pleasantly surprised. It has provided a couple of hours interest and entertainment already and I have barely scratched the surface. I have ‘met’ some interesting and helpful people and discovered from ‘seeing’ the damage they cause that there are some despoilers out there who disrupt things for the more constructive for their own warped amusement.

Still, on balance so far I am impressed. Oh! - and you get to fly like Superman!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Western Digital blanket block on sharing some types of files

It looks as if anyone purchasing a Western Digital hard drive for networking purposes may now need to think twice.

Western Digital have instituted a heavy handed ‘blanket’ block on the sharing of certain types of files, copyrighted or not.

They have incorporated a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ block on file sharing into their Anywhere Access software, (or at least Anywhere Access - except for over 30 types of files) maybe they just assume all their customers are natural copyright violators.

So Western Digital apparently thinks it has more right to decide what you do, than you yourself do - even if what you want to do is perfectly legal.

Prospective purchasers may need to factor this in their decision making process when purchasing hard drives in future, or they may find what they end up with is not fit for the purpose it was purchased for.

If in doubt ask - In the UK, under the Sale of Goods Act 1979, goods should be of a satisfactory quality and reasonably fit for the purpose(s) that goods of that particular kind are commonly purchased including any particular purpose asked for by a buyer.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Quote of the day

“ Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation.”

Henry Kissinger

Are 80% of UK jobs really going to ‘foreigners’?

Far be it for me to defend the current UK Government in any way. The low opinion in which I hold them - and the many reasons for it should be readily apparent within the posts of CFD.

However there seems to be much interest in the MSM recently over the Statistics Commission study that indicates 1.4 million of the 1.7 million jobs created since 1997, over 80%, had gone to people born overseas.

This conjures up images of hoards of foreigners stealing jobs from the willing, but down trodden British worker. Gordon Brown’s dubious 'British jobs for British workers' sound bite.

Now let’s see if we can spot any weasel words here – ah yes! Not too far to look: ‘born overseas’.

So that will include British citizens born abroad - Not necessarily actually ‘foreigners’ at all then. It would for instance include three of my nieces and nephews, were they not students. That inflates the headline figure by 300,000.

Now those jobs. Exactly what sort of jobs are we talking about here. I don’t have the figures but I would hazard a guess that they are not all well paid highly sought after posts.

Might some include poorly paid work with unsociable hours; janitorial posts, security work, waiting at tables, maybe even fruit picking?

The numbers are high enough to cause some concern, but not legitimately as high as the study claims - and the figures do not tell the whole story.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Quote of the day

“ As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own.”

Margaret Mead

Out and about in Munich

Well we were out and about in Munich City center yesterday (Friday) evening - and a magical time we had of it too.

For those of you who don’t know it Munich Town center is largely pedestrianised. It has a beautiful medieval Town Hall (Rathaus) and Cathedral and is lined with modern shops.

What is more important right now, are the Christmas Markets. Everything is decorated like a wonderland. There is a huge Christmas tree outside the Rathaus lit with more lights than you could shake a stick at and there are stalls everywhere selling sweets, roast chestnuts, decorations, mulled wine, all manner of things - and some of the tastiest fast food it is possible to get.

There was a band playing from the town hall balcony and a choir singing and the market was literally thronging with the citizens of Munich, salted with the odd tourist, good naturedly enjoying the season. If you have never been I can heartily recommend it.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Quote of the day

“ The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

Albert Einstein

Off on our travels

Posting may be light for a few days, as I shall be in Germany.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Quote of the day

“ Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.”

Douglas Adams

Education in the UK continues it’s inexorable slide under New Labour

At one time the British education system was one of the leading ones in the world and arguably helped pioneer the concept of universal education.

Sadly, this is no longer the case.

In the stewardship of the present government and confirming what many believe but has always been strenuously denied by New Labour it now seems our world standing has slipped out of the top ten.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development produce an international study. The Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa). They assess the performance of 15 year olds and are published every 3 years. The UK’s marks are not good – a definite ‘could do better’.

The UK avoided participating in the 2003 round of tests and their chickens are coming home to roost now. The latest assessments now place the UK, previously in the top ten, 24th in maths and 17th in literacy.

According to the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, the fact is the reading performance of 10 year olds in England has fallen to a world ranking of 19th.

Government ministers have tried to spin away the results, attempting to claim the rankings were not comparable with previous years. But a spokesperson for the OECD refuted this insisting the comparisons were "perfectly legitimate".

If the Government were actually serious, or even capable, of managing the education system they should look at scrapping all of the meddling changes and targets they have introduced over the last decade or more - Before them we were in the world top ten, now we are not. It speaks for it's self.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Quote of the day

“ When in doubt, observe and ask questions. When certain, observe at length and ask many more questions.”

George S. Patton

Are memory researchers making monkeys of themselves?

It seems Japanese memory researchers have tested young chimpanzees against University students and found that the chimps perform better in certain memory tests than the students.

Now I am not normally a betting man, but in this case I would be prepared to bet that they didn’t even think about testing the chimps against non, or pre-literate people.

I recall reading a study, or article, some years back - but I can’t remember ;-) where now - that showed non and pre-literate people performed significantly better in certain similar memory tests. It was concluded that this was because literate people, being able to and used to writing down what they wanted to ‘remember’ didn’t need to practice and develop their memory in that way. Conversely in certain other sorts of memory test literate people performed better.

I do seem to recall studies on the detrimental impact of cannabis on memory as well...

Dr Tetsuro Matsuzawa innocently said: ”No one can imagine that chimpanzees - young chimpanzees at the age of five - have a better performance in a memory task than humans.” Well, based on the above, one might well do so.

It could be the good Dr would have done better selecting his test subjects from amongst illiterate hunter gatherers.

God knows what the availability of the internet will do to us…

Monday, 3 December 2007

Quote of the day

“ Beliefs are what divide people. Doubt unites them”

Peter Ustinov

UK Government to pull troops out of Basra, having failed to make it safe.

The UK are handing over control of Basra to the Iraqui ‘forces’

This sounds OK, on the face of it, but a report to MPs paints a different picture.

It points out that Basra is in fact run by militias and it’s police force contains "murderous" and "corrupt" elements, it also notes that the whole purpose of the UK forces' presence may be in question due to cuts.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the invasion of Iraq, having been part of it, it is surely our moral duty to leave the people of Iraq, at least no worse off as a result of our being there, and preferably in a better situation.

Have we done so? No - Why?

Well the main reason is the insurgency. There are vast amounts of money, arms and often foreign fighters pouring into the country, whose sole purpose is ensure things there never get any better. This is funded and cannon foddered by Islamicists. Some, no doubt, see their financial contribution as charitable. It is promoted and sustained by Iran, Syria and certain elements within Pakistan, not necessarily all for the same reasons.

All this has made the job of the armed forces insanely difficult, but what has made it impossible is much closer to home and lurks in the palace of Westminster. It is the Government.

They have, as they say, overstretched and over committed the limited available forces to the point where, as good as they are, as willing and brave as they might be, there are just not enough of them to get the job done in any one place and they can’t keep up indefinitely with no rest.

There are not enough forces there to do the job and the Government has reduced them on the ground in Iraq because of political expediency. They weren’t too worried about it wen they got into it, now they want to drop the ball and run off the pitch.

There is certainly not enough funding to sustain our forces out there, again because a greedy short sighted government wanted to – and still does – want to, take advantage of the so called and largely illusory ‘peace dividend’. By cutting military funding to the bone. To the extent that vital personal equipment is not available where it needs to be and heavy equipment, even if it is there, is not quite suitable for the job in the environment and not necessarily actually functional.

They should have realised that without the pressure of the cold war superpowers that the potential for medium scale conflicts that demand more, not less, troops would rise. Having the bomb is ok as a deterrent, but is not much use in situations where you can’t use it and it is not a credible threat. Then there is no substitute for plenty of well equipped, highly trained forces.

Although it is said that war is an extension of politics, you can’t play around in a field of conflict like you can in a debate and the consequences of getting it wrong can be much more ‘permanent’ for those who actually have to try to back up the hot air. Being able to talk the talk is worse than useless if you can’t walk the walk too.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Quote of the day

“ You have to be careful who you let define your good.”

Lois McMaster Bujold

New Labour - Is it time they went?

New Labour was looking pretty tired when Tony Blair was still in charge. They thought getting rid of him might mend their fortunes. It seems they were wrong. Now we know for sure it wasn’t ‘just’ Tony Blair at all.

First there was their Government by increasingly empty sound bite and spin.

Since then, they have definitively demonstrated their manifesto promises can’t be relied on, by Gordon Brown’s betrayal of the electorate over his utter refusal to allow a the promised referendum over European Constitutional ‘Treaty’ – Demonstrating New Labour’s word can’t be trusted.

Brown then demonstrated a contemptible opportunistic vacillation over weather he should call a ‘snap’ election, allowing his minions to make preparations, brief and bluster at first in favour, when they thought they could win comfortably, then pulling their necks in when they thought things might be a bit closer than they liked. Finally his bottle went and he precipitously called it off . There he trashed his reputation for nerve and decisiveness.

Then their handling of the problems of the Northern Rock. As it is more by luck than judgement if the Virgin deal goes through they should eventually get their money back, the shares will be worth something again in the long term and the employees will keep their jobs, but if the Government had handled the matter more adeptly the public money would not have been hazarded in the first place. Yes economic factors were involved and the management of Northern Rock business model was also at fault, but New Labour demonstrated they could not handle a financial crisis without having a crisis themselves. This has sunk their reputation for financial competence.

They have managed to loose the personal details of millions and millions of citizens with their loss of the child benefit data. This is not the only case, just the most prominent. Other details have been lost on several occasions and some were sent to contactors and had to be returned. And these are only what we are aware of. New Labour’s Darling glove puppet chancellor, twisted, turned and made explanations to parliament that were frankly untrue, pathetically trying to blame a clerk a long way from Westminster, the best light that can be put on his performance is that he is incompetent and so are his officials, but then they already demonstrated that by loosing the data in the first place. And they expect us to trust them with a national ID database they will let every Tom, Dick or Harry, junior council clerk, trawl through at their leisure.

Then there is their holier than though posturing over finances. They bring in a new system, trumpeting their virtue - and then break the rules themselves. Firstly there is the accusation of selling honours to enrich the party coffers where the police find insufficient evidence. Then this matter of the secret donations laundered through third parties, in at least one case is seems, by subterfuge. So much for honesty, probity and trustworthiness.

They have mismanaged the health service. It has had billions poured into it to no obvious effect. NHS Hospitals today are riddled with super bugs, where if you can get treatment it is a real threat. People are refused treatment because the hospitals have a policy against their lifestyles. All to the extent that those who can go private, or abroad for treatment.

State education has had it’s reputation destroyed. People no longer trust the exam system to be an honest indicator or ability or achievement. Again it seems so much so that people are willing to beggar themselves to send their children to a good private school if they can’t gain admission to a reasonable state school. Every interfering initiative or new target only seems to make matters worse.

Then there is the creeping slide towards some sort of soft fascism with their manufacturing alarming statistics in order to justify intrusion, social engineering/controls and increased taxation over aspects of our lives that should be nothing to do with the state. Threats of increased taxes on ‘fattening’ foods, alcoholic drinks, even dustbins, etc.

Endless un-needed duplication of legislation in order to appear to be doing something.

They ignore petitions when it suits them, no matter how many people may have signed them.
The catalogue seems endless. This isn’t a blip - it’s the way it is.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Quote of the day

“ Whatever religious people may say about their love of God or the mandates of their religion, when their behaviour toward others is violent and destructive, when it causes suffering among their neighbours, you can be sure the religion has been corrupted and reform is desperately needed.”

Charles Kimball

Teacher charged in Sudan inciting hatred and insulting Islam over naming of Teddy Bear

Many of us will now be aware of the plight of Gillian Gibbons, a teacher fairly recently arrived in the Sudan, who is in trouble because she didn’t prevent a pupil of her’s named Mohammed naming a teddy bear after himself. It has been posted about quite a bit on the net.

Teddy bears have a pretty positive image, so inciting hatred is difficult to see and if a president of the US did not find it insulting to have them generically named after him, then why should it be seen as an insult?

In any event, it was not Gillian Gibbons who named the Teddy.

Before this incident I had rightly, or wrongly, largely associated the place largely with the slaughter and beheading of General Charles Gordon, in Khartoum, by ‘mad’ Mahdi Mohammed Ahmed - Now I have something else to tuck into my mental ‘Sudan’ pigeonhole with that.

And before anyone says it - no I have not forgotten Darfur, or the Sudanese government’s semi official military arm the Janjaweed.

The Sudanese Embassy had previously claimed it was all "storm in a teacup" and she could be released soon, as the incident was based on a cultural misunderstanding.

It seems this is not the case and she has now been charged with insulting religion, inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs. This could result in a fine, prison, or 40 lashes. It’s just as well New Labour had the teeth pulled on a bill introducing similar legislation here - for the moment.

It is difficult to see what the Sudanese authorities are playing at, one presumes they are not actually trying to bring Mohammedism and Sharia Law into disrepute, or make the average Westerner more suspicious of their co-religionists, but they would have found it difficult to do a better job of it if they were.

Maybe they are hoping to use the affair as leverage...

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Browser Wars

Whoa! For the first time over half the Site visitors are browsing with Firefox.

Is this a blip, or are the various versions of MS Explorer really loosing ground?

More interestingly - is this reflected on other sites? Does it depend on the type of site?

Comments welcome, especially if you can shed some light on any of the above.

Quote of the day

“ Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

Helen Keller

Health and safety. Is it time we did something about this ‘industry’?

We regularly read of cases where our way of life is being changed by health and safety for the worse, where things we have done and enjoyed largely safely as far back as living memory recalls are suddenly curtailed or banned.

The latest case is that 4 in every 10 employers will no longer make any contribution to a works Christmas bash. This used to be a perk that many enjoyed. Now apparently companies are shy of being sued because over things going wrong where they have made a contribution.

Bonfire celebrations, traditional charity races, Christmas lights, annual festivals, traditional celebrations events, private activities, amateur pantomimes, shows, flower shows, etc., etc.

The costs in complying with OTT rules, the vast number of man-hours used up in committees and assessments for every aspect of life. The huge sums spent employing health and safety experts. All this has gone too far.

No one would argue that we should not take care and try to be safe, but there is a reasonable limit. Too often this appears to be exceeded. Take things too far and dramatic as it sounds, you are in danger of having a greater detrimental impact on how we live our lives than the threat of terrorism.

It seems to be a combination of excessive backside covering by officials and businessmen afraid of being sued, or jailed. Using H&S as an excuse. The cost of complying with inappropriate H&S requirements. Plus a tendency on the part of those doing an assessment to want to find something just to show they are doing their job.

Carried too far Heath and Safety turns from a benefit into a curse that saps the spirit and enjoyment out of life and changes the way we live for the worse.

It is impossible to legislate all risk out of life and probably bad for society and the individual in the long run. Those who believe it is have good intentions but are misguided.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Quotes of the day

“ Free speech, exercised both individually and through a free press, is a necessity in any country where people are themselves free.”

Theodore Roosevelt

“Free speech is intended to protect the controversial and even outrageous word; and not just comforting platitudes too mundane to need protection”

Colin Powell

Controversy over Oxford Union Free speech event

The Oxford Union has decided to allow Nick Griffin, the British National Party (BNP) leader and David Irving, the historian who was jailed in Austria for ‘Holocaust denial’ to speak at a free speech event today.

This is billed as ‘examining the limits of free speech’ and should not be a platform for them to air any controversial views.

The predictable reflex protests have arisen from ‘advocates’ of free speech everywhere - including the Oxford Student Union, the university's Jewish society, Muslim society and Tory MP Julian Lewis who symbolically resigned his life membership of the union in protest.

The Muslim Societies apparent rejection of Griffin and Irving, presumably based on their views, seems promising, given the previous recent support of Islamist states for holocaust denial and genocide and certain parallels between the BNP and Islamists.

Though unfortunately their chosen means of expressing them tends to betray an authoritarian tendency and a cavalier attitude to free speech that we have unfortunately seen demonstrated so often before by their co religionists.

Also there are likely to be protestors intent on disrupting it. Weyman Bennett, National Secretary of pressure group Unite Against Fascism, showed just how much he knew about fascism when he smugly claimed:

"We are planning to have a big protest. There will be more people outside the Oxford Union than inside, and there will be more people outside the union than voted for this debate to go ahead."

He would have done better to ensure he was invited to participate and armed himself with all the arguments he needed to refute any attempt Griffin and Irving made to push their agenda and then went on to poke hole in anything else they said.

If you seek to suppress views you object to, and those who hold them, only supporting views compatible with your own – well frankly if you do not support free speech for everyone, including those you disagree with, then you do not really support free speech at all. You oppose it.

The whole point of debate is to air views and theories in the bright light of day, where they can be judged, if they are full of holes and do not hang together, it should be obvious to all - and then publicly shoot them down in metaphorical flames.

All extreme protests against these people and attempts to suppress, or silence them, does is make them look reasonable by comparison, hiding the faults in their ‘thinking’ under the fuss and demonstrate the poor thinking and authoritarian leanings of the objectors.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Quote of the day

“ Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other. ”

Ronald Reagan

Is UK Chancellor lying, or just poorly briefed?

There can be very few people in the UK who are not aware by now that the state has managed to misplace the personal details of millions of people. There are probably quite a few who are concerned about where their details will end up.

Your data – safe in their hands - just as well it wasn't the contents of a national ID database.

What’s more when the state is not loosing it they are parcelling it out to private companies.

Alistair Darling claimed in Parliament that the data was lost because:

“it appears that a junior official in HMRC provided the National Audit Office with a full copy of HMRC's data in relation to the payment of child benefit.

In doing so, the strict rules governing HMRC standing procedures were clearly not followed. Those procedures relate to the security of and access to data as well as their transit to ensure that they are properly protected."

Unfortunately it now ‘appears’ that this was nothing like what actually happened.

It seems the National Audit Office (NAO) were checking up on HMRC and needed some details to contact some ‘customers’ at random.

HMRC executives decided to provide the entire child benefit database (including bank account details, addresses and telephone numbers) or nothing, as it would apparently have cost £5K to filter the info – I bet they wish they had spent the money now…

Many of us who regularly handle databases for a living will wonder at this.

NAO insisted they did not need such details and urged the data to be sent as safely as possible. instead the whole database was sent in their internal mail.

The top official dealing with child tax credits, Nigel Jordan, was party to all this and could not possibly be accurately described as a junior official. He was senior enough to have chaired government committees on tax credit policy.

Is Alistair Darling telling Porkies, or just poorly briefed?

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Animal rights activists forced to hand over computer passwords

Now I don’t normally have much time for animal rights activists. Many of them seem to be more like people haters, than animal lovers.

However Tom Pain’s quote serendipitously posted yesterday eloquently points out why I and everybody else, should be concerned about their rights.

Earlier this month, some 30 animal rights activists are reported to have received letters from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in Hampshire requesting they hand over the passwords to decrypt data on seized computers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA).

The PCs were seized in raids carried out in May 2007. Section 49, covering demanding keys only came into law on 1 October 2007, so presumably the authorities held onto the machines until they could use the Act and didn’t expect the activists would garner much sympathy in any case.

This Act effectively removes the right of silence from anyone who has something intensely private, or incriminating in any way on their computer, even if it is nothing to do with what is being investigated. It effectively forces a person to incriminate themselves and lays them open to a ‘fishing expedition’ on pain of two years imprisonment.

Another possibly even more disturbing part of the Act is section 54, a gagging order preventing the recipient telling anyone about the demand, thus presumably preventing them from making a fuss about it.

Putting recipients of the order in a similar position families who have had their children taken by social services who are gagged from defending themselves or complaining.

Not only that, it prevents anyone else, who subsequently may become aware of it telling anyone. In this case no such order was made, but if it had been it would presumably be an offence for the BBC to report on it or indeed for me to post on it.

The state will argue that they need these draconian powers to protect us from Terrorists, Paedophiles and Serious Crime. Is it really worth paying the price of seeing our freedom and rights eroded away by the state, piece by piece, to gain a marginal and possibly illusory increase in physical security?

Folks it’s not just the Terrorists, etc. you need to be afraid of…

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Environment Minister seeks to increase UK Cod Quotas

Jonathan Shaw, UK Environment Minister is planning to lobby the EU for an increase in cod quotas for the UK next month when they meet to decide 2008s quotas.

Predictably researchers, including the EU's advisers, say stocks are still too low.

Helen MacLachlan of the pressure group WWF UK complained: “I would say that 'business as usual' in the North Sea is not an acceptable position for a minister to be taking,"
"To be looking for an increase in cod quotas without changing fishing practices is unsustainable and untenable."

Callum Roberts of York university critiscised him saying; “If he's suggesting increases in cod quotas then he doesn't seem to be fully in control of his brief yet”

Their comments go with the ‘accepted wisdom’ of those who never actually do any fishing and rely entirely on theory.

Shaw may well have a point though.

Although it is seldom spoken of the UK has done rather badly out of the EU over fishing.

In order to be allowed the dubious ’benefits’ of joining the EU, the Government gave away fishing rights over the UK’s territorial waters it had formerly enjoyed - to allow them to be effectively plundered by European fishermen, to the detriment of our own. This over use helped damaged the stocks and devastated the UK fishing industry.

North Sea cod numbers appear to have experienced a small recovery in the last few years.

Also the fact is that the current EU quota system results in the needless killing and dumping of tons of cod. Thanks to the law of unintended consequences. When fishermen go hunting for prawn they often catch cod as well. If they are over their cod ‘quota’ these dead cod have to be dumped back into the sea.

So in fact many more cod are caught and killed than those setting the quotas realise and the quotas actually result in the appalling waste of tons of cod.

Quote of the day

“ He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”

Thomas Paine

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

UK Premier’s tough talking ‘War on Carbon Emissions’

Will climate change be Brown’s bid for world fame (or at least infamy)? His ‘War on Carbon Emissions’ to Blair’s ‘War on Terror’.

He is talking tough on carbon emissions. Legislation already in the planning stage sets the difficult target of cutting the UK's emissions by 60% by 2050.

Typical New Labour response to anything - more legislation than you can shake a stick at.

Not something Gordon will ever have to actually worry about the political chickens coming home to roost over though, as he is unlikely to still be in office then.

But that’s not tough enough for tough old Brown. He is apparently thinking of going even further, possibly even doubling of the targets to produce renewable energy by 2020. Again hopefully he will not be in office by then.

Renewable energy is OK, as far as it goes.

If Brown is actually serious about reducing carbon emissions he will stop playing around, get serious - and commit to a comprehensive nuclear generation program.

Quote of the day

“ Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises; for never intending to go beyond promises; it costs nothing.”

Edmund Burke

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Income Tax, Oversight and Government Accountability

Taxation is a bit like a multi-channel TV package crossed with a protection racket.

You get a load of rubbish that you wouldn't want for free - let alone actually have to pay for - forced upon you, along with a few things that you might actually want, some of the time – and if you don’t cough up the boys will be round...

Of course with the TV you are not actually forced to subscribe (except for the BBC TV Tax of course)

Most people don't know where their taxes are going, what they are being spent on, or why. If they did they probably wouldn’t approve of some of it - and until people can engage more with where their contribution goes they will be reluctant to endorse, or even support the expenditure. Voting just does not do it.

If it were actually the Government's money that would be no problem. But its' only the Government’s money in the sense that the proceeds of any robbery become the thief’s. Taxation is not voluntary.

So here’s an idea. What if only a 3rd of tax gathered actually went to the Government to do with as it would - But the rest the individual contributing it could, if they wanted to, decide where it went and on what, depending on their priorities.

It would still have go on something, but they could decide what. That would surely be much more democratic, help to engage the public in politics and make them feel more empowered.

It would harness the so-called wisdom of crowds and reduce available Government spending where it was not generally wanted and increase it where it was felt to be more needed. That way it is unlikely anything worthwhile would suffer, as people’s views would probably tend to balance out generally. Maybe the poor old armed forces might do better out of it for instance

Pensions, as an example. One would want to make sure it was kept up, for the benefit of elderly relatives and friends. Also you never know you might need it yourself, what with the former Chancellor making raids destroying the value of pension funds, best be on the safe side there.

Ditto for most of the important stuff. Those who actually make the effort to do it are likely to operate on the principles of enlightened self-interest to some extent.

You would have to watch that the Government didn’t try to loose details of some of the worst unpopular wastes of money in some innocuous budget. So you would need to drill down into the categories in some detail.

This could be done by post (forms from the library or post office, completed ones to a freepost address) or via the internet.

As they say Tax doesn’t have to be taxing…

Quote of the day

“ Taxation is very much like dairy farming. The task is to extract the maximum amount of milk with the minimum amount of moo. And I'm afraid to say, that these days, all I'm getting is moo.”

Terry Pratchett

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Saudi rape victim gets 200 lashes and six months

While the great and the good were busy sucking up to the Saudi King Abdullah on his recent State Visit, no doubt salivating at the prospect of more arms sales to the regime, one wonders if they gave much if any thought to this:

A 19 year old Shia girl went to meet her former boyfriend to get any pictures he had of her, as she was due to marry someone else. (Note at this point that the Shia are a minority in Saudi Arabia.)

They were discussing the matter in a car when seven Sunni men kidnapped them both and gang raped them both - Her 14 times!

Naturally enough they complained to the authorities – big, big, mistake.

They were both tried under Sharia law for being unchaperoned and sentenced to 90 lashes.

She made the even bigger mistake of appealing - so the court upped her sentence to 200 lashes and sixty days behind bars.

Their lawyer, Abdul-Rahman al-Lahem, is facing disciplinary action. His comment:

“My client is the victim of this abhorrent crime. I believe her sentence contravenes the Islamic Sharia law and violates the pertinent international conventions,"

"The judicial bodies should have dealt with this girl as the victim rather than the culprit.

"The court blamed the girl for being alone with unrelated men, but it should have taken the humane view that it cannot be considered her fault."

There is something deeply repulsive about a system that will do this and feel it justified.

Maybe a word in the right ear during that visit could have made this appalling miscarriage of justice go away - like the suggestion of anything untoward concerning certain commercial arrangements with the regime did - when they felt it might be ‘appropriate’.

Quote of the day

“ Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect”

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

Friday, 16 November 2007

Today Europe – Tomorrow the World!

During a speech at the College of Europe, in Brugge, Belgium, Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, has suggested the European Union should work towards including Russia, Middle Eastern and North African countries,

I have often suspected that the EU secretly wanted to regain all the ground the Roman Empire once held.

He then told (with acknowledgement to Burger King) a double whopper: "The truth is that the EU has enlarged, remodelled and opened up.”

And here it comes…

“It is not and is not going to become a superstate. But neither is it destined to become a superpower."

He went on more frankly, that a successful EU must be prepared to "deploy soft and hard power to promote democracy and tackle conflict beyond its borders" and its goal "must be a multilateral free-trade zone around our periphery".

So one could be forgiven for interpreting what he is suggesting as; if you are a neighbour of the EU, then one way or another, you will be persuaded to fit in with what the EU wants and in the longer term will probably be swallowed up and if the ‘softly softly’ approach doesn’t work then there is always the hard way.

Quote of the day

“ They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Innocent until proven guilty? Not in the UK anymore it seems

I was channel hopping last night and I saw one of those ‘enforcement’ programs where they follow police and bailiffs.

One incident struck me. Liverpool police were trying out this piece of kit that appeared to combine an automated number plate recognition camera with a database, or databases.

A car registered on their system driven by a woman on the way to help arrange her mother’s birthday party, she had the cake and children with her.

This wonderful piece of kit flagged her up as uninsured, the last one had recently expired.

When they spoke to her she was adamant they had cover. Her husband had arranged it with a different insurer. What insurer? Could she prove it?, they asked. Not right there and thenshe couldn't.

There did not appear to be any doubt as to her identity. They knew where she lived. The vehicle had current tax and you can’t get that without insurance.

Given her strenuous and obviously sincere insistence that they had insurance the sensible thing would surely have been to ask her to produce her documents within seven days at a police station and let her go on the way to arrangeing the party.

Not these boys though. Maybe they were performing for the camera - maybe not.

The computer says No!

So I presume the presumption of the law of the land is no longer ‘innocent until proven guilty’, certainly not according to the Liverpool Police.

They turned her out of her vehicle together with her children and the cake and stuck big stickers all over the windscreens saying the vehicle was uninsured.

At the end of the program it was mentioned that she had been insured all along. Her husband had changed companies and the new details had not found it’s way onto the clearly inadequate database.

So here we have a perfectly law abiding person forbidden from lawfully going about her business, on the whim of a police officer with a discretion (and common sense) bypass, on the basis of an inadequate incomplete database.

Presumably causing her considerable inconvenience, stress, embarrassment and some expense. Her only 'crime' bing her husband changed insurance companies.

A database is not definitive proof someone is uninsured. She could and did easily prove she was insured given the opportunity, but surely it should be the job of the police to prove she was uninsured, not the other way round and their precious database did not and could not do that.

I remember thinking as I watched the segment unfold, that if the family had changed insurers the new details may have been slow finding their way onto the system. Why could the police officer not have worked that out.

More worryingly, one fears it is a taste of things to come. God help us all if New-Lab do introduce their precious Fascist ID cards and almost certainly unreliable (just like other systems they have introduced) database to go with it.

“Don’t have your ‘voluntary’ ID with you card? Can’t prove who you are then, can you? Must be an illegal immigrant. You’re nicked.”

Quote of the day

“The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. Instead of altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views. Which can be very uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering.”

Doctor Who

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

New-Labs promises on education look empty ten years on

If you had ordered something ten years ago and paid through the nose for it you might have expected to have, at lest, had sight of it by now.

Lancaster University has conducted research into New-Lab’s specialist schools programme and it’s Excellence in Cities initiative. They have concluded that, despite billions being spent on them the government’s policies have provided "meagre" benefits.

Cambridge University have published an interim report from a wide-ranging, independent, two-year review of primary education pointing out that despite some £500m spent so far on literacy standards of reading have been "more or less static since the 1950s".

New-Lab’s ‘National Literacy Strategy’ had "a barely noticeable effect" on reading ability and has apparently managed to significantly reduce any actual enjoyment children get from reading – bound to make them want to read then – not.

Further the literacy levels of the poorest children have dropped even further behind their peers than anywhere else in Europe.

It is a damning indictment on the Government and it didn’t need the universities to find that out, as virtually any parent with school aged children will attest, though perhaps it does to provide concrete evidence of it that the government can’t ignore.

We can only hope that the government pay more attention to what actually really works and less to educational and political theory, though one fears it is unlikely given that government interference is so often the kiss of death to anything they take an interest in with their regulations, policies and omnipresent measurements and targets.

“Schools ‘n’ Hospitals”, “14 Days to save the NHS” - but only if you are actually com-pet-ent. It all rings rather hollowly now but the spin goes on.
It seems that the official reaction to the reports were right in the river with the Egyptian crocodiles :-)

High Speed Rail Link

As many of us are aware the first of the Eurostar passenger services to Paris and Brussels are due to roll out of the magnificently refurbished St Pancras International at 11:01 this morning.

An undeniably magnificent achievement.

The new high-speed rail link now means that it is possible to go from the heart of London to the heart of Paris in 2 hrs and fifteen minutes. With, it has to be said, considerably less bother than the flying and in greater comfort, but at greater expense by comparison to flying. Even so it is no so great when one takes in the convenience and lack of the sort of problems with check in and security encountered at airports – more civilised.

So that’s the good part. It is fine for those who can get to StPancras/King’s Cross easily. The High Speed line known optimistically as High Speed 1 cost £5.8bn.

Unfortunately there seem to be no plans for a High Speed Link to the North. So what does someone who lives in Manchester or Edinburgh do? Or those in the west? Given the comparatively steep costs of rail travel within the UK, they do what they are already doing - They fly. So that means it is probably of little practical use to the majority of the country.

So how much real utility will the high-speed line actually be, apart from to Euro MPs and the like?

And would the money have been better used on first building a high speed lines from/to the North and West?

Quote of the day

“ Bad law is the worst sort of tyranny.”

Edmund Burke

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Quote of the day

“ Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Yet more ‘calls’ for increased UK stealth taxation on alcohol

The BBC Reports that an ‘Alliance’ has been formed by ‘medical organisations’ and ‘charities’ to increase pressure on the government to curb excessive drinking and provide more ‘resources’ for alcohol-related health problems and increasing tax.

An ‘alliance’ coincidentally makes it difficult to follow the money, but normally when an individual pressure group/charity sticks it’s head above the parapet individually, they have a strong vested interest in talking up funding for themselves, and/or they are directly, or indirectly, funded by the state - so have a strong vested interest in promoting more taxation for their paymasters. Alcohol Concern for instance is largely funded by UK Department of Health.

It is interesting to note that many groups that regularly call on the Government to raise taxation levels for various reasons are part of a set of Russian dolls, that if you follow the money, through various sources eventually turn out to be State funded.

These groups justify their claims by inflating the statistics on their particular bête noire to include not only examples of their particular ‘problem behaviour’ but by stretching the goal mouth a significant proportion of the general population. Alcohol being a particular case in point.

'Hazardous' drinking for instance - The way that is classified would effectively make the entire French nation, who are held up both as both healthy and as sensible continental drinkers, hazardous drinkers, according to the state-funded NWPHO. I am sure the French will be pleased to hear that.

The BBC report contains uncritically reported claims about under age drinking yet their own recent reporting points out that fewer underage teenagers are drinking regularly, due, according to a Trading Standards survey, at least in part, to more effective enforcement of the perfectly adequate existing sales regulations.

Is it not time the public stood up to these people and told them where to stick their dubious reports, authoritarian ways and continuous demands for higher stealth taxes?

Monday, 12 November 2007

Blog Readability

Some web fluff here - I am not sure if this is good or bad. I ran CFD through the Blog Readability Test (Hat tip to the Surreptitious Evil blog) it recons you need to be a genius to understand it.

Reading Level

So regular visitors and new visitors who can make sense of it – Congratulations you a clearly genius level great thinkers – and so must I be ;-)

The downside? Maybe I would improve my web traffic if I stopped being so high brow…

Chavez meets his match

During the closing speeches of the 17th Ibero-American Summit (a sort of Spanish version of the meeting of commonwealth head of states) on Saturday evening, in Santiago, Chile. Venezuelan President Hugo Chav-ez barracked the Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, keeping interrupting his speech.

Eventually it got too much and probably with the prospect of getting out of there any time soon receding before his eyes, the Spanish King Carlos demanded; "¿Por qué no te callas?"("Why don't you shut up?") - As one head of state to another.

Probably not the first, by any means, to harbour those sentiments, but one of the few able to say it to his face.

Quote of the day

“We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”

John F. Kennedy

French territorial ambitions over Wallonia?

It seems the French may be harbouring territorial ambitions over Wallonia, (Région Wallonne) the largely French speaking part of Belgium, now Belgium has no government, presumably on the basis of finders keepers if the original owner can not be established.

Up to their old tricks? The French First Republic annexed the area in the 18th century.

Of course there are a significant number of German speakers live in the east of Wallonia (Wallonische Region) - Could get interesting…

The lack of government is not such a problem for Belgium as they have regional governments that can manage quite well

UK – Rubbish at Rubbish?

The Local Government Association (LGA) are reporting that the UK dumps more rubbish in landfill sites than any other country in the EU, despite massively increasing our recycling, reducing the amount of rubbish landfilled by 3.6% it seems European countries had also cut their landfill amounts.

I would be more impressed by these figures if I could find out the actual tonnage. As it’s easy to reduce the percentage of 100 things but 1,000,000 is much more difficult to influence.

Also It would be interesting to know exactly what these European paragons of rubbish disposal actually do with their rubbish when they are not using landfill as a means of disposal.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Quote of the day

“ the nature of the people is variable, and whilst it is easy to persuade them, it is difficult to fix them in that persuasion. And thus it is necessary to take such measures that, when they believe no longer, it may be possible to make them believe by force.”

Niccolo Machiavelli

Founder of weather channel says global warming is a scam

Some interesting comments on Global warming from the weather channel man John Coleman. Coleman, now the weather anchor on KUSI-TV, San Diego, California and the meteorologist who made it his business to be right about the weather founding the weather channel.

So presumably he must know a thing or two about the climate.

That is why it is so interesting when he says that manmade climate change is a scam. You can see him here if the video above does not work.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Book Review

The Weapon
by Michael Z Willamson

Published by Baen ISBN-13 978-14165-2118-1
Science Fiction

At £4.40on Amazon UK
or $7.99 Amazon US

Ken Chinran lived on an independent minded Freehold colony world that had declared independence from earth. A very bright and somewhat disaffected youth who joins the military and is recruited to an elite military unit.

The story follows his incredibly tough training and subsequent military career and development, during diplomatic postings and in combat, as he matures and his career progresses.

Meanwhile the diplomatic situation between his home world and the Earth Government deteriorates and he is recruited to lead a deep cover operation on Earth against the possibility of war.

Plenty of military action with a ring of truth, the novel also considers the impact of combat and war on all those involved, on causes and motivations. An excellent read, both entertaining and thought provoking.

Nu-Lab look at increasing Speeding penalties

According to the BBC ministers are looking at a scheme to increase the penalty points for drivers caught speeding. So travelling at 15mph above the 30mph limit could result in 6 points and £100 fine.

This seems a far cry from where Blunkett in one of his incarnations was talking about a graduated scheme where the penalty might be less for minor infringements.

The fact is, that this form of stealth taxation on drivers is now so prevalent, that having points on your licence has virtually lost any stigma - and is only relevant (to the generally law abiding) in so far as they mount up to a ban. That on some routes you see far more speed cameras than the Belisha beacons of zebra crossings.

Surely it would make sense if one got a point and a £25 fine for every 5 miles an hour over the limit you were clocked at. With the first 5 mph free. Oh and get rid of 80% of the ‘speed' traps.

Reasonably fair simple and easy to understand - so there is no way Nu-Lab will adopt that idea.

Quote of the day

“ We should be careful to get out of an experience, only the wisdom that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid.

She will never sit on a hot stove lid again - and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Quote of the day

“ As soon as any man says of the affairs of the State "What does it matter to me?" the State may be given up for lost.”

Jean Jacques Rousseau

UK Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill – Yet another threat to free speech

Remember the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill? It has been hanging around since 2006.

It is another of the endless series of legislation the government like to trot out to make it look as if there is any point to them - which it seems there is not, as Belgium, the heart of the EU, are about to celebrate 150 days without a government, hat tip to the ‘Looking for a Voice’ blog.

The bill is actually a multitude of barely related things, many of which it would be difficult to object to that cover for some innocently packaged bits of legislation with some dangerous consequences to liberty, if taken any distance at all.

One of the bits they are trying to slip in (and what it has to do with immigration or indeed criminal justice is difficult to see) is: “Outlawing incitement to homophobic hatred and hatred against transgender people by amending the current offence of incitement to racial hatred in the Public Order Act 1986.”

Not content with this it seems the government are actually touting for other categories of people to include such as the disabled and transsexuals, to push to 'make the case' to extend it to cover them.

On the face of it like much of New Labour’s government by facile sound bite, it sounds ok. The devil, as they say, is in the detail – Much like the ‘Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill’ and the ‘incitement to religious hatred’ tucked away in it, that could have resulted in someone criticising, or satirising religion, or some aspect of it doing 10 years in pokey.

That was rightly watered down when people realised the actual implications and what the government were trying to get away with.

So should this ‘Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill’ be.

This government has a sinister compulsion to legislate to control and criminalise social mores, manners and interactions time and time again.

What will happen to the Little England team if this new bill is enacted? They press so many of the bills buttons they could end up doing life - yet what they do actually seems to increase tolerance.

You may well think that would never be a problem, but there are people out there who seem to make a profession of being offended at the drop of a hat over anything - and there are always ambitious ‘human rights industry’ lawyers willing to try to make a name for themselves.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Site Stats and Browser Wars

Looking at the site stats it looks as if Firefox is a fraction ahead of MS IE7 at 44% and 41% respectively. IE6 is fading at 15%.

It would be interesting to know how this compares with other sites traffic. And if different sorts of sites get visitors who use browsers in different ratios.

Selective inactivation of micro-organisms - Zapping Bugs

This could have far reaching consequences.

Specifically ‘Selective inactivation of micro-organisms with near-infrared femtosecond laser pulses’ - That means zapping targeted bugs with lasers to the rest of us.

The process is being proved by a team of 4 (K T Tsen, Shaw-Wei D Tsen, Otto F Sankey and Juliann G Kiang) in the US, based in Arizona.

Just the sort of thing they promised us in the late 50s and early 60s - and it seems that someone may be finally set to deliver on it.

Seriously, if they can bring it off practically, this could have very far reaching consequences indeed. They may be well on the way of developing an effective way of using lasers to selectively kill bacteria and Virus organisms without harming the cells that we are made of. Because of the wavelengths used the lasers will be able to penetrate body tissue.

A way of sterilising an object a room or a whole body, inside and out, that could stop and cure any germ, or viral, infection, including aids, or a flue pandemic.

Lets hope the bugs have no way to adapt to it.

Now - Where is the flying car for every family…

Quote of the day

“ To know what you prefer, instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Quote of the day

“ The highest manifestation of life consists in this: that a being governs its own actions. A thing which is always subject to the direction of another is somewhat of a dead thing”

Thomas Aquinas

EU moves to tighten controls on movement and the internet

Franco Frattini, the EU Justice Commissar Commissioner has a plan, a cunning plan.

It involves ’tough new anti terror proposals’ – and we all know that’s good, don’t we?

Especially the, highly trained, crack BBC old lady interviewee squad. Who will generally enthusiastically approve anything, up to and including, summary executions on street corners, on the grounds that ‘if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear’.

It seems one of the things they are looking at is based on the practice of gathering Passenger Name Record (PNR) data, adopted by the US post 9/11.

Frattini wants to make it obligatory for all EU states to collect 19 pieces of personal information about people flying to or from member states and store it for up to 13 years. Including a phone number, e-mail address and payment details.

The plan apparently also pays special attention to the internet…

Even some EU legislators have voiced privacy concerns over the proposals, but the steely Fratelli said: "There is no room for complacency - for letting our guard down,"

Some EU parliamentarians questioned the EUs enthusiasm for yet more and more anti-terror measures, when the effectiveness of those put in place following the Madrid and London have not even been properly evaluated yet.

They also pointed out that some of them, such as the restrictive rules limiting liquids allowed on EU-bound flights show no indication at all of having any positive impact on security.

Martine Roure, MEP for South East France, argued “We should look at the efficiency of the EU legislation in this area. Some extremely restrictive measures have been adopted. Some haven't had the results expected, and some might even lend a false sense of security."