Wednesday, 31 December 2008

2008 in retrospect - The best and worst

I thought I would try a 2008 retrospective, this is by no means a comprehensive list I am after all new to this blogging thing - so for what it's worth here's what comes to mind, and remember it's only my opinion, a random stream of consciousness, and if challenged I will not stand by any of these assertions:

Most accident prone politician:
Winner: Blunder Woman - Jacqui Smith; the woman who lost everything, and threatens to take every liberty we enjoy
Runner up: David Cameron; who wants us to entrust our country to him, but can't even look after his own possessions - namely attach his bicycle to, well - anything

Most terrifying political wannabe:

Winner: Sarah Palin; the thought of this gun totin, folksy, 'mavericky', right wing religious nutter taking control of anything larger than a BB gun terrified me for months
Runner up: Tina Fey; the Saturday Night Live comedian and impressionist for her astonishing potrayal of Sarah Palin, which in no small part helped the voters of the USA see Sarah Palin for what she was - and made us all smile at the same time

Worst song of the year:
Winner: The Ting Ting's 'That's Not My Name', a song that won by far - easily the most annoying and persistant plastic pop song in decades
Runner up: Anything by Scouting for Girls

Best album of the year:

Winner: Kings of Leon - Only By The Night
Runner up: Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
Honourable mention: Glasvegas - Glasvegas

Biggest waste of money:
Winner: All unaccountable Quangos/NDPB/Agencies
Runner up: The expenses and bonuses of elected (and unelected) officials and public office holders
Honourable mention: The Princess Diana inquiry

Best Blogger:
Winner: Tom Paine, The Last Ditch - a thoughtful and insightful blog that undoubtedly benefits from the analytical objectivity only an ex-pat can employ
Runner up: The Devil's Kitchen - a terrifying blog that covers an astonishing range of subjects with an informed passion and a rage against the machine that leaves me in awe, and to be honest feeling a little inadequate
Honourable mentions: Old Holborn, Ideas of Civilisation, AMW - thanks...

Worst technological advances:
Winner: Micrsoft Windoze Vista, and Server 2008 - and the missing 2008 SP2, like that would help polish a turd...
Runner up: Despite my love of OSS and Apple hardware the Apple iPhone - "all the parts of the internet are on the iPhone" - yea except Flash and Java (so says the Advertising Standards Authority), and how shit is touch screen?

Happy New Year from Edinburgh

Happy New Year to one and all from Edinburgh, and a good riddance to 2008 I say...

Clara x

Monday, 29 December 2008

They're havin' a larf...

As a regular recipient of Holyrood magazine, 'Scotland's leading political publication' I would like to get back to them with some constructive reader feedback.

Given the fact that they do not respond to posts or comments I guess I'm left with no option but to post it here.

So here goes:

Your magazine is a poor excuse for an insightful political publication that takes the establishment to task. A lightweight political journal of the most sycophantic editorial line; regurgitating press releases verbatim and offering virtually incomprehensible tracking information.

Did I see the editor kissing Jack McConnell or was it hugging Alex Salmond?

Depends who is the ruling party in Holyrood I guess.

As for the interviews, sigh!
I resent the 'girly' bonhomie (if that is actually possible, gender 'notwithstanding') that results in Alistair Campbell being a sex symbol and Nicola Sturgeon being reduced to a reproductive body clock - spare me please from media editorial women in positions of power that undermine generations of hard won equality milestones through reductive pre-feminist recidivism. Not to mention the annoying 'pretend' third party tone that the balsa light questions are couched in!

And another thing, why do they employ so many journalists (I thought periodicals employed writers?) to produce so little, about 22 issues per annum to be exact? I reckon the ex-editor could do that on his own and still hold down his job at the Sunday Herald...

And another thing - why is the design so shite? It's like trying to read the Beano with random column flow. Why are there so many typos? Why are the supplements (oh sorry 'Special Reports' à la Economist now) sold as a separate publication when they are bound in? Why are the sales people so downright shifty? Why are their predictable and lightweight conferences patronised by Ministers?

Well Scotland, stand and up and be counted, our foremost political publication with it's < 2000 subscribers is a disgrace, and a bit of a laugh - just as well we are so good at doing that, you know - laughing at ourselves. Mind you I suspect I suspect somebody at Holyrood magazine is laughing at us.

Guess i'll have to cancel my subscription, or perhaps not - the renewal is only £195.00, or is it £99.00 or £79.00? Who knows what it's worth? Nobody in Holyrood magazine that's for sure...

Of course I could read it on-line for nothing, but that's still too much.

It's only a map!

Okay so I got involved in whole Middle East thing today after posting my map, I have been inspired and astonished at the range of comment on this subject, all worthwhile - but little solace for those injured and the families of those killed so far tho'...

Iain Dale
Old Holborn
Devil's Kitchen

Hey that's what this blogospherical thing is about I guess...

How to stop getting stung...

Stop whacking the wasps nest!

My response to Iain Dale's post of this morning in support of the Israeli position in the burgeoning Israel/Gaza standoff.

No surprise the Palestinians feel hard done by then?

Truth, lies and guns...

Yet more environmental tosh, this one around another symbol of conservation - seals. Why is it that the green lobby just cannot count and flagrantly ignore scientific evidence, to the point where the emotional nonsense they spout is discredited by the very research they quote?

50% of the Scottish parliament's token green streak Robin Harper is calling for an end to the shooting of seals around fish farms this morning. He cites research from the SMRU (Sea Mammal Research Unit) to backup his claim that the seal population is declining.

There are so many things wrong around this claim:

First of all and why is he targeting the fish farmers?
"Those flagrant murderers of lovely sea mammals?"
Fish farming came around in response to the green lobby's hysterical insistence that conventional fishing was destroying our wild fish populations, and our need to find alternatives. I suspect that now that it is a commercial business venture, it's fair game for the greens. This is just another example of the knee-jerk rejection of technological solutions to solve environmental problems, whether real or as in this case imagined, and how dare they protect their investment? tut tut!. The environmentalists natural aversion to technology and business shows itself in this.

Read this, interestingly not published by the SMRU as reported, but by the SCOS (Special Commitee on Seals). It is the official definitive study of seal population, and documents that despite the devastating effects of two outbreaks of phocine distemper virus (PDV), largely among harbour seals that occurred in 1988 and 2002, the seal population is in rude health. It's an in-depth 93 page scientific publication that shows quite clearly that estimated seal pup production has increased from 7326 in 1966 to 39727 in 2006. The other tables show a similar increase in populations across the board, I cannot find one set of figures that backs Mr Harpers claims of impending doom. Sure populations have shifted, but the trend is definitely in the "more seals not less" direction.

Robin, stop picking "route of least resistance" publicity seeking press releases and campaigns. You know that with their big eyes and cute faces the general public cannot help themselves; the wholesale anthropomorphising of cute animals is a trademark of our increasingly numerically illiterate and non-scientific society, you know this and are exploiting it for maximum publicity!

Pass me an AK47, i'm off to hunt me some single issue politicians...

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

It's that time of year...

I would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas/Xmas/Winterval, or whatever your preference is, and a prosperous and happy new year.

Special thanks go out to the small group of followers who have regularly visited my "scrawl on the wall and the extraordinary community of erudite bloggers who inspire me, it's been fun, thanks...

Have a great one.

Clara x

Monday, 22 December 2008

Highway to Hell

It's not often that two of my passions come together in such a perfect way, but news reaches me of Christine Grahame MSP's motion calling for the achievements of AC/DC to be acknowledged.

Now I don't quite know what difference a motion in the Scottish Parliament will make to AC/DC, but having watched bemused Crap Holyrood Chat's ever growing list of pointless motions in the greatest "Wee Parliament", I suspect very little.

Angus and Malcolm Young's family emigrated from Scotland to Australia in 1963 (aged 8 and 10 respectively). Bon Scott's family emigrated when he 6 years old. The band was formed in 1973, and they went on to stupendous success characterised in the early years by Bon Scott's powerful vocals, original driving guitar riffs and Angus's wild head banging SG lead guitar style - not to mention legendary stage antics. The band members readily acknowledged their Scottish roots and even recorded a cover of a traditional Scottish song in 1976. To say this proposed recognition is belated is a bit of an understatement, even Melbourne named a street after the band in 2004 - the aptly named ACDC Lane.

Christine Grahame is way off the mark if she thinks that a motion in the Scottish Parliament will make one iota of a difference to a group of anarchistic rock musicians, even the memorial to Bon Scott in Kirriemuir is pretty questionable - particularly given his legendary sociopathic tendencies and ultimate demise through alcoholic poisoning, although he was quite stereotypically Scottish I guess.

Smells a bit like another attempt at self-aggrandisement by association with the famous to me.

It's not big, it's not clever and I doubt if it is really a good use of parliamentary time Christine, go and carve yourself a reputation for outstanding achievement rather than vicariously...

Or buy their albums, that's how I marked my appreciation; and a much more sincere mark of appreciation it is methinks.

Rock on!

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Sunshine on Leith...

So I got up this morning and despite the gales blowing off the North Sea, thought i'd go for a wander around Leith, my hometown. For those of you who don't know Edinburgh think Brighton = London-on-sea and Leith = Edinburgh-on-sea, just not quite as gentile.

It was an inspirational afternoon, with fast moving piebald skies and wind inspired mania best enjoyed with some Cullen Skink inside to warm your cockles and a stoic determination to make the most of the waning year; well wrapped up against all that mother nature can throw at you - the classic Scottish winter afternoon.

For a change I dragged my camera along, and thought I might share my pics with you.

Enjoy - and in the spirit of the 'net no reproduction limitations apply...

Have a great Xmas all..


Opinions are like a**holes - we all have one...

Both Iain Dale and AMW have recently run stories regarding Bridget Prentice's proposed changes to the libel laws and in particular the impact this may have on the blogosphere, I orginally posted the following as a comment, but thought it might be useful to air it here. I have been involved in advising website owners on DMCA legislation, and providing investigation services over the last 5 years, so I am pretty sure that this is how it would play out:

Well here's my tuppence worth on the proposed changes to the law, as it stands Bloggers are not exempt from the libel laws see here.

And I guess that's just a result of our civil law, any individual who has the resources can raise an action against another, which must be defended - as to the rights and wrongs of buying law and at what cost, that's another debate.

However comments are in the first instance the responsibility of the individual making them, not the blog owner, and as such a valid defence if the commentator can be identified. Whether the commentator can be identified or not the blog owner or his ISP will be served with a removal order by a complainant, and if not compliant with that, may only then subsequently be sued in lieu of the commentator (Godfrey vs Demon).

As such the only decision a blog owner has to make is whether they want to use moderation or not - this does not make one iota of difference: if a valid email address (or tracked IP address) is associated with a comment then the commentator will be found and sued, and the blog owner served with a removal notice however if anonymous posts are accepted the only action available to a complainant is to serve the blog owner with a removal notice - and only then if it is ignored will the complainant be in a position to sue the blog owner.

So in summary, lawyers get more work serving removal orders, and every blog has only anonymous posts which would be removed if objected to - problem solved Bridget...

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Panda fricassee anyone?

I hear that

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has backed plans to bring a pair of giant pandas to Edinburgh Zoo.

Surely this is an outstanding example of diversionary tactics, akin to the magician in Little Britain insisting you "look into my eyes, not around the eyes".

Gordon, there are one or two other things I would like you to pay attention to that don't involve trying to save an animal which the head of the RSPB once referred to as "an evolutionary dead end". He went on to express his frustration at it's use by those who should know better as "a cutesy flagship symbol for conservation", finishing on the perfect flourish that if he could divert just a small percentage of the funds that have been spent on Panda conservation he would "happily eat the last surviving one".

Let's organise a campaign to offer a Chinese zoo the loan of Brown, Balls, Darling, Blears, Mandelson and all...

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Nice quote

Heard this the other day, thought I would share it:
Politics is showbiz for ugly people...
I can't attribute the quote, but if you need any confirmation as to it's veracity I refer you to the current Cabinet.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Scottish Waster

The more I stare at my research the hotter I get under the collar - cartoon like; steam is coming out of my ears and there is a whistling noise, much louder than my usual stress induced tinnitus.

Scottish Water, well to be precise its privileged exec and non exec members (who freely acquired previously publicly owned assets and were given tacit sanction to plunder their worth) have surpassed themselves. In an unashamed exploitation of the most basic of essentials, they continue to line their pockets at our expense, and it has to stop.

Now I have lived in Scotland for all of my life and feel secure in asserting that the one natural resource we have in abundance is water - from the Borders to Caithness the unique topology of Scotland ensures that this water is available in natural lochs and, if necessary, easily dammed glacial valleys.

Water treatment and disposal is also a relatively straightforward engineering process, and since the "Great Stink" in 19th century London, accepted as a necessary - easily cost justified through it's health benefits; particularly when offset against the alternative disease, suffering and death.

So why the hell are we on course to pay more £1,000,000 in bonuses and pension benefits between now and 2011, this on top of already generous remuneration packages, to those who are doing what one could simply interpret as the job they are paid for? To run a state owned water company.

And if they don't make bonus? Does that mean the rain stops falling, we let sewage back up on our streets and our lochs and shores became polluted? Is that the implicit threat if we don't pay bonuses, if so it sounds like hollow threats and extortion to me.

Really, just get rid of the exec and non-exec members and appoint a management team of technically competent professionals with a sense of civic duty, pay them a decent salary, and even a good pension. Scottish Water is not a commercial company forged in the white heat of competition and innovation, it is a necessary public utility, indeed the most necessary of them - and I resent its exploitation for individual personal financial gain, or should I say downright greed!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Defective defection

Okay I know that I am pretty cynical about most things, but the story regarding the defection of Colin Deans from the SNP to Labour has left me bemused...

Fellow Scottish bloggers Indygal and AMW both come to the same conclusion, for different reasons, that this defection heralds the demise of Labour, whilst Scottish Unionist is concerned over the arrival of Councillor Deans and his controversial views to the Labour Party. On the other hand most Scottish Labour commentators assert his defection is a good thing, and a sign of happier times to come.

I think we are all missing one fundamental point here; if you stand as a party candidate in an election you should accept that, if elected, it is on the understanding that you are the representative of that party - for better or worse. There are few politicians charismatic or compelling enough to transcend their party membership - particularly in local politics and I seriously doubt Colin Deans is of that ilk.

Both parties involved should be advocating a local by-election, and Colin Deans should resign to accommodate, simple as that...

Saturday, 13 December 2008

I want one of those...

"Git panzers", "Chelsea Tractors" whatever you want to call them, they're one of the main targets of attavistic green activists; who blame them for all evil and in part justification for their call for a shift in society to some vegan de-industrialised non-technological dark ages that will save us from anthropogenic climate warming, hmmmm...

I have a sneaking suspicion that much of the venom reserved for owners of large vehicles derives from poorly disguised jealousy, but I digress...

If we are at "the end of days" as we are told, then I think we all need to consider our vehicular transport; and surely the environmentalists who assiduously assert that we are past the point of no return, climatically speaking, should be looking for suitable survival strategies other than hemp clothing, allotments and soil toilets - such as, say 4x4s?
Can we do it? Search me. Reviewing the new evidence, I have to admit that we might have left it too late.

What I think I need is a floating, hybrid powered 4x4; with solar recharge and a diesel engine, optional sails and that's capacious enough to live in - the bigger the better.

I want to survive Armageddon, and this is the tool for the job. I would personally like to thank the evangelical Grün-Kirche for the heads up on the imminent flooding and climatic turmoil; I am now in the market for a low mileage diesel 4x4 and some welding gear; time to give up my little saloon car. I don't trust them, I don't trust the politicians I don't even trust the deniers, so I will do what any self respecting geek would do, find a technological solution for the problem myself - just in case.

NB: The ideal solution would be a flying 4x4, I did find one here - If only Gaia can hang off until 2009 before exacting her revenge.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Stay at home or get far away from it Mr Swinney...

Few things are better worth a cynical smile than a politician solemnly declaring of some trouble spot that he has been 'to see for himself'

Never a truer word -

Witness John Swinney's visit to Hawick on the 3rd July 2008 to support textile workers facing redundancy.
Witness John Swinney's visit to Hawick on the 8th November 2008 to support textile workers facing redundancy.
Well his visit obviously made a big difference, thank goodness we have such an influential Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth. John's summer intervention seems to have sealed the fate of even more workers despite his assurances that

"What the government will do is make sure that every support that we possibly can make available to individuals and the wider Hawick economy will be available,"

and his observation that

However, he said the textiles industry as a whole had a "very good future".

"There are a lot of strong textile companies in the Borders," he said.

John a bit of advice; please don't visit any other business or regions facing financial decline, I really don't think the Scottish economy could withstand it! And drop the uncanny psychic like predictions whilst you're at it.

I guess the borders rail link due to open in 2013 won't be carrying freight then, just unemployed textile workers attending call centre interviews in Edinburgh.

If Mr Swinney really wants to get away from it and investigate something worthwhile can I suggest we despatch our clumsy and accident prone Cabinet Secretary to investigate the plank of wood discovered on Mars. That should keep him out of trouble for a while.

Monday, 8 December 2008

On a journey of discovery...

Part of my motivation in starting this blog was to explore my own feelings about politics and the burgeoning disconnect, confusion and dissatisfaction I felt towards traditional rightwing vs leftwing politics over the last few years. I was, as mentioned in a previous post, easily identified as a bit of a Marxist leftie in the past. Now many years on I was pretty amused to find my blog classed as an English Right Wing blog on the Total Politics blog list, but not at all upset...

I've recently discovered "Libertarian" and read with some interest this post by The Devil's Kitchen, finding myself in agreement with him and many other bloggers who self identify as Libertarian.

I decided to test myself on "The Political Compass" website, and lo and behold I guess I might have discovered that I'm a Libertarian, as you can see from the graph above - of course given my natural cynicism about online tests maybe I just wasted 5 minutes of my life.

Now the only dichotomy I need to resolve is my natural aversion to joining a gang!

Guess I can give up blogging now, him indoors will be glad!

I'm losing my perspicuity...

I am fuming over the censorship thing today, having written and re-written this post I am struggling to express just how furious this cheap-shot precedent makes me; and in how many ways it is one of the most breath taking acts of blind stupidity and state sponsored bullying ever... Of course supported by a self-appointed bunch of publicity seeking do-gooders, looking to increase their power and influence.

When I have calmed down, finished compiling my hitlist and found a way of conducting an impact analysis that will contribute positively to the debate I will return to this post - without sounding like a fuming idiot.

In the meantime, just ponder this; it is not about a now very old image (1976) of a pre-pubescent girl, taken with her guardian's permission and obviously a unique piece of album art, intentionally chosen for it's shock factor. There are after all thousands of similar images from classical art to modern manga.

However if you want the general (non-thinking) public to support unfettered government Internet censorship this image is a great target to choose; just publicise the censorship and ask them why shouldn't we ban this? Then ease us into a new era of darkness, and we can sleep soundly knowing that our government is "taking care of business" online:

By taking it all offline...

And another thing: Politicians and the IWF who obviously have such a poor understanding of the nature of the Internet and the 1000s of alternative ways of viewing this image have just encouraged the small number of sick puppies who "need to see" this image to seek out and add a copy to their collection. How did that help?

Really? So is it or isn't it?

1. The impact of global warming on the vast Southern Ocean around Antarctica is starting to pose a threat to ocean currents that distribute heat around the world, Australian scientists say, citing new deep-water data.
Australian scientists warned last month that waters surrounding Antarctica were also becoming more acidic as they absorbed more carbon dioxide produced by nations burning fossil fuels.
Acidification of the ocean is affecting the ability of plankton — microscopic marine plants, animals and bacteria — to absorb carbon dioxide, reducing the ocean's ability to sink greenhouse gases to the bottom of the sea.
2. Melting ice may slow global warming
Scientists discover that minerals found in collapsing ice sheets could feed plankton and cut C02 emissions.
Professor Rob Raiswell, a geologist at the University of Leeds, says that as the sheets break off the ice covering the continent, floating icebergs are produced that gouge minerals from the bedrock as they make their way to the sea. Raiswell believes that the accumulated frozen mud could breathe life into the icy waters around Antarctica, triggering a large, natural removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Environmental science (Art?), you got to love it!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

I've always been more concerned about freedom, than democracy.

I know I am in danger of being characterised as a typical reactionary on that seemingly inevitable journey from socialist to conservative as I experience more of this mortal coil. And frankly my dear I don't give a damn, what I do care about is preservation of my freedom; specifically the freedom to go about my lawful business without interference, monitoring or to be required to explain myself to others.

We are all entitled to that and more, and perhaps the best stab we have made at defining freedom is contained in a knee jerk document hastily drawn up at the end of the second world war, when the powers looked around the world and realised what a mess had been made less than 30 years after the "war to end all wars". There are 30 simple statements in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the most translated document in the world. Most people I know have never read the declaration, and certainly it would appear that the bulk of our politicians are unaware of this fine document, and it's dignified, aspirational, hopeful and respectful message that rose from the ashes of a tired and war torn world.

Take the time to read it, if only once in your life - and answer me this; wouldn't the universal adoption of it's principles be the best seasonal gift any of us could ask for?

Article 1

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11

  1. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
  2. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.
  2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14

  1. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
  2. This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15

  1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.
  2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16

  1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
  2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17

  1. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
  2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
  2. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21

  1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
  2. Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country.
  3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23

  1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
  4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25

  1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
  2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26

  1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
  2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
  3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27

  1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
  2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29

  1. Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
  2. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
  3. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Every time I read the declaration I am inspired, and on the other hand bewildered - why has democracy consistently failed to deliver these simple objectives?

Here's hoping for 2009, I remain an optimist...

Friday, 5 December 2008

In mourning...

I read this comment by Tom Paine this morning and found myself reduced to tears.

It is a well observed, but rarely expressed, comment on the injurious state backed institutionalised neglect of children in the UK and speaks volumes of the decline of a great civilisation.

In my student days, oh so long ago now, I marched happily under the ANL banner, attended peace marches at Faslane, sent money to the ANC and generally believed that society, our British society was a shining light of liberal left wing goodness and democracy - and felt secure in that...

Now I find myself distraught and empathising with what, as a student, I would have written off in a trice, as fascist propaganda - to applause from like minded students. I spent my student years in the same city as our Prime Minister, in his time a much admired left wing radical. He opted to join the Labour Party, I on the other hand, always uncomfortable with the somewhat conformist feel the membership of a political party implied, opted to get on with my career and put politics aside; we were going to be looked after by our nurturing liberal democracy after all.

Oh brother Brown what has happened since?

I would argue that I have remained true to my beliefs and that Gordon has circumnavigated that circle - you know the political compass that has a left and right side, and in the middle, at the top is liberal centre, and at the bottom is totalitarianism; state centric institutionalised non-meritocratic apparatchik paranoid politics...

I still maintain a healthy loathing for all gang membership, particularly political parties, but if the truth be known, I always nurtured a secret love for Labour and had high hopes of a period of rebalancing after the Thatcher era - how wrong can you be?

I cannot stand alone in the disbelief I feel for what the Labour party has transformed itself and our country into, and to echo Will Hutton's apt book title "The State We're In"...

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Goodbye, au revoir, arrivederci, adios

Having just heard the news that the Herald and Times group have made 250 employees of The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times redundant, and in an insulting twist have invited them to re-apply for 210 vacancies, I feel I have to comment:
I apologise wholeheartedly for my criticism of the press, it may be in some small way I have contributed to the decline in print media consumption by the Scottish population

It makes complete sense for three titles owned by one company to be printed on separate horse driven Gutenberg presses each approximately 53.74563 miles apart. The papers then delivered daily by blind orphans on their way to the workhouse

I understand that the company standing "Canute like" facing the tide of technological advancement whilst screeching into the onshore gale; "we will not invest in our online presence - It's the power of Christ. The power of Christ compels you" is a postive example of embracing the reality of new media
Things move on, and the Herald group, much as I respect many of their journalists (Paul Hutcheon being one worthy of particular mention), are the old media - an important part of my life, gone now, which one day I will tell my grandchildren about much to their disbelief; 'you read what, printed on paper you wrapped a fish supper in? No way!'

I suspect there will be many more losses in the inevitable modernisation of the Scottish press over the next few years, and I do confess to a little schadenfreude - some of them had it coming!

A brave new future requires a little imagination, and a lot of perspiration - something the Herald group lack in bucketloads.

As Emily Bell so eloquently put it "nurture your geeks"...

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

It wisnae me...

Ahh Michael Martin, the inimitable stylish sophisticate who occupies the big chair at Westminster has finally adopted the defence of the idiot.

We should all sing along with the well worn playground refrain - "It wisnae me, a big boy did it and ran away".

A radical idea: what if we had politicians, and that is what the speaker is, who admitted that they were guilty as departmental head for wrongdoing within their department and resigned with immediate effect?

Really, how can an individual with so little understanding of the law and so little control over their own department preside daily over the business of Parliament?

Or is it that he is the smart one?

Anti-society virus warning!

I was recently faced with a PC system, belonging to a friend, that was misbehaving. Despite having taken the ill advised precaution of installing two anti-virus packages, her partner decided to respond positively to a pop-up window suggesting the PC may have a virus and that he should download another, better, free anti-virus program, the originally named XPAntivirus.

The so called anti-virus program actually contained a payload combining a choice selection of Malware; that is malicious software designed to steal personal details, drive traffic to commercial websites and increase your PCs susceptibility to further compromise - I guess you could say dumbing down your PC and influencing it's behaviour to meet the ends of the programmer. Malware is often coded to stay below the anti-virus scanner horizon, whilst wreaking damage that is as bad, or worse, than that inflicted by most viruses.

Good anti-virus software is analogous to the role of the press in a free democracy - informing us of threats, compromises, one thing disguised as another - allowing us to interpret and deal with these, whether real or perceived; however as I digest the infuriating diet of regurgitated press releases, speculation, conjecture and vanity offered to us daily by the British press I've come to the inevitable conclusion that they have more in common with the aforementioned XPAntivirus malware.

Has anybody got a good removal program?

Break from blogging

You have may noticed I failed to post anything for a couple of days, it's not that there is nothing happening - just the complexities of life happening to me!

So in order to fill the gap, and give you an indication of what has taken my interest, I would like to catch up by venting my spleen over:
the insane Damian Green affair and it's handling by an incompetent administration, the build up to the pointless Queens speech - wheeled out by the BBC as an affirmation of a positive democratic tradition, the waste of resources and time spend in compiling what will be the most ignored publication in Scottish history - The Calman Commission interim report, Jacqui Smith's absurd proposals to solve sex trafficking...
Yes I know it's just a rant, but thought I'd check the neurons are still firing. I refer you to the blogosphere for informed comment on all of the above and more...