Friday, 30 January 2009

Lumbering political behemoth in economic china shop


I've never tried live blogging before, but us girls are good at multi-tasking so here goes. To be honest not I'm going to pick over the minute detail of Gordon's speech in Davos - I am way too superficial for that.

As I watch Gordon and Mr Moon sit side by side at their press conference I am reminded of two schoolboys facing a disciplinary for losing all the tuck shop money. Monster-rabbit-caught-in-headlight-panic mumbling incoherence is the order of the day. Oh I see Gordon forgot to mention his two main achievements, he is obviously a bit nervous, poor soul. I'd better call his mobile to remind him to mention "no more boom and bust" and "saved the world", I think that might sway those cynical journalists waiting for the Q&A. No answer - you'd think he would be polite enough to take a call from a fellow ex Edinburgh student, but to no avail, i'll try once more - no joy, he screened me again, sigh...

I see he's not got to grips with his new Nokia mobile phone, it's still on the default ringtone - why would anybody trust a global world leader who can't even change the ringtone on his mobile phone? Even my 67 year old father spent 20 minutes customising the tone on his new phone, despite the fact he is stone deaf, and never switches his phone on unless he needs it. 

Oops off on a tangent there

So in summary, everybody should mimic the UK; continue to spend every penny propping up their failed economy, print more money, borrow and spend. Press conference over.

Oh good, they've got a real expert on now, but alas Richard Branson appears to have nothing worthwhile to say either - other than bum up his Virgin brand. I can see a trend here, time to stop.

What a waste of 30 minutes, I've got to sign on today - guess I should go dig out my can of Stella Artois and flammable sports gear. Thanks Gordon I'll sleep better tonight knowing that you are looking after my future economic prosperity - there are oh so many new ideas bursting forth from your little bonce aren't there?

EDIT: I'm not one for telling jokes, but just heard this one on BBC News 24:
What's the difference between Ireland and Iceland?
One letter and 6 months

Looking good for Ireland, the 'Celtic Tiger', then...

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Hurt in my heart...

Just heard the sad news of the death of John Martyn aged 60.
A self adopted Scot and musical genius, who brought me so much pleasure - thank you John, sleep well x

Phil Cunningham interviewed him in 2007, for a BBC2 series on Scottish music

Goodbye to Betty today also...

Pushers vs Users


Am I the only one that is constantly amazed by the pronouncements of the carbon obsessed environmentalist lobby aided and abetted by greedy bastards sitting on the sidelines? These vultures, denied their global finance related rip offs, are conspiring to use every conceivable opportunity to fill their boots to our cost, backed by their righteous and completely fucking questionable equation:

anthropogenic global warming = we must reduce carbon + we all need to pay more * DO NOT QUESTION IT

[Further recommend reading: Manhattan Declaration, “Global warming” is not a global crisis]

Cue breathtaking hypocrisy today:
Tony Hayward, Group Chief Executive, BP, United Kingdom, attended a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, where he said "We need the world to put a price on carbon,".
Allow me to reply Mr Hayward

I am not willing to pay for my carbon emissions, first of all carbon is the fifth most abundant form of baryonic matter in the universe, and it's as much my universe as yours. Secondly I have no choice, what's the alternative?

By all means go ahead and set a new carbon price on top of the price you already charge us for your carbon based fuels, but you pay it - after all my carbon emissions are the residual components of the carbon based fuel I have already paid you for. So who produced the carbon?

How much profit has your company made from pushing hydrocarbon fuels? I'll tell you - billions and billions of dollars every quarter; obscene record breaking profit announcements from oil companies have been a regular fixture on the business pages for decades. You already know the cost of carbon - you produce it, you set the price and you sell it.

I think it's fair to say, in drug parlance, you are the pusher and I am the user who has no choice - a perfect arrangement for you. Your industry is directly responsible for the extraction and production of the fuels we use - you fucking fix it! If you believe anybody has to pay, it certainly shouldn't be us. For the last 100 years you have profited handsomely from your products, it was never in your interest to invest in alternatives or encourage your consumers to use less. Don't you see the eye-popping hypocrisy of carbon based fuel producers and greedy government exchequers, who have robbed us blind for decades, telling us now that we have to pay to sort a problem that may, or may not exist. As for your part in the unforgivable social engineering of collective guilt - give it up, the balance of guilt lies with you.

Tighten my belt and pay up? I know where I want to tighten my belt...

And that's as an ex-employee of British Petroleum!

Vive la Révolution

We may criticise the garlic munching surrender monkeys at every turn, but at least they have some gumption when it comes to letting their petit President know how they feel about French taxpayers having to stage a $477 billion bail out for banking and business when unemployment is on the increase.

A national strike, and a day of protests - now that's an idea; never happen here, more's the pity. Would suggest any sheep stay well clear though, the French have an interesting slant on protest...

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

New austerity measures in USA...

After the IMF's revelations today regarding the financial position in the UK being comparatively poor, I thought I'd investigate further.

It looks as if the IMF have missed some significant indicators of austerity measures in the USA: the page below is from Amazon today - and clearly shows a taped second hand box, and the opportunity to buy used condoms ('2 used & new'), at a saving of 13 cents.

BTW, what do you use to clean a condom?


Shit, things ARE tough for our cousins on the other side of the pond...

(Click on the pic to enlarge)

Davos - a tribute to the Bonfire of the Vanities


Wiley Cash In My Pocket - Brown/Darling Viral from Bob Harlow on Vimeo.

Great video - hattip Bob Harlow


Q. How can the perpetrators of the biggest swindle ever be trusted to forecast the outcome of an event they didn't see coming, never mind resolve it?

A. They can't

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

It's official: Mandelson is an alien


I always thought there was something 'not quite right' about Peter Mandelson, you know; dark, different, sinister - but I couldn't quite put my finger on it, until now.

The Tories may be riding high in the opinion polls despite their complete inability to provide any kind of insight into the big issues of the day, with the exception of this, courtesy of politics.co.uk:
David Cameron has promised to make public any secret files on UFOs if he becomes prime minister.

Responding to a question about cover-ups of flying alien crafts, the Conservative leader pledged he would be "open and frank" about government knowledge of extraterrestrials.

"I'm convinced we've been visited by aliens - one of them is trade secretary Peter Mandelson," Mr Cameron said to the Cameron Direct meeting in Tynemouth, North Tyneside.

Perhaps TractorStats could come up with an appropriate picture for this one? Beyond me...

EDIT: Tractor Stats delivers again, awesome...

The things people know

After a little discourse in my comments section over Internet privacy, and given my previous employment I thought I would just clarify for the sake of public information what is stored on a server when you receive a webpage.

Pretty much every webserver in the world, collects and stores the following information about you in it's logs - this is a function of your web browser having to state its capabilities and the need to be able to deliver the data that makes up the requested web page to you, in the correct format for your browser and operating system, and to your unique address.

Need I say more?


Well yes I do actually:

At least US citizens have the right to bear arms - I believe conceived as a provision to allow them to protect themselves from a corrupt state...

As for us - we can blog - that'll do it, won't it?

Monday, 26 January 2009

A £224 million snoopers charter

After the usual plethora of delays we have come to expect in public sector ICT projects Cap Gemini have today begun the roll out of the ContactPoint system, a database holding the personal details of all 11 million children in England and Wales.

The first part of the roll out is to train 300 council workers as administrators, it will then be rolled out to 19 or so 'Early Adopters' - a motley group of Councils and charities including Barnardos. The eventual aim is to enable access by an estimated 390,000 users throughout England and Wales.

WTF? So we enable a massive group of false-charity-workers and jobs-worth-council-employees access to personal information on any child in England and Wales. If ever there was a charter for data loss and compromise of personal information this is it, but that is the least of my worries.
  • First of all who gave permission for their children's details to be held on this derisible control freakery database?
  • Give me one clear illustration how such a massive increase in state snooping will make any difference to child abuse? In all of the recent cases of child abuse the families were already known to Social Services.
  • Do you really believe that when 'the children' whose details are held on this database come to an arbitrary chosen 'age of adulthood' their details will be deleted?
  • Why, no how, could it cost £224 million?
  • Why is nobody willing to discuss the potential for serious abuse by pervs? There has got to be at least one in a user population of 390,000. It'll be like an Argos catalogue for them.
This is a national personal database by the backdoor, using yet another righteous argument that no-one will challenge "it's for the protection of children". It is my belief that this database will make no difference to child safety, will amass long term income for Cap Gemini and achieve nothing other than as a sink for public funds and the self satisfaction of do-gooders who will pat each other on their collective backs until the first child on the database is killed or kidnapped by their own parents - and that is inevitable isn't it?

Database state, too fucking right - while we are at it why don't we just barcode or chip every child born, use the scanners in every shop to monitor their movements, put them all under curfew after 5:30 and install CCTV in their parents homes? What hope have we got? Or more importantly what hope is there for our future, and our future's liberty?

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Ermine trimmed criminals


The story that broke today courtesy of The Times has been widely discussed on the MSM and in the blogosphere. First of all I would like to compliment the Times for this all too rare show of investigative journalism, more please...

There are a legion of things wrong with the grotesque spectacle of 4 peers willing to take money to change legislation, but primarily it is the confirmation (not that I need it) that our democracy is broken, dead. In your best Monty Python voice now:
'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This democracy is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!!
THIS IS AN EX-DEMOCRACY!!
My intervention on this is simple - charge, arrest, detain without bail, prosecute and send them to jail for a very long time. This is worse than any property crime, these criminals have shown a breathtaking contempt for those whom they serve and are paid to represent - as a foil to the first chamber, the House of Lords works only if we are confident in the impartiality of it's members, this parcel of rogues have single handedly undermined all of that. I guess you could say they've had their chance at Community Service, with ermine trimmed robes rather than hi-vis vests, and proved they can't do it - so, as with any other offender, go straight to a custodial sentence.

We should all now doubt every single bit of legislation that has passed through the Lords - the scrutiny of rogues and liars is worthless and undermines any vestiges of belief in British democracy I cling on to.

It's not as if it's the first time we have seen allegations of this type of behaviour, and it won't be the last. So just accept, if you can get over your brain atrophying diet of celebrity lives and reality TV, this country is fucked.

Can you believe we criticise China and Zimbabwe?

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Doctortrek


I have mentioned before that I am a bit of a girl geek, I put it down to the fact that the first thing I ever saw on a colour TV was Star Trek. I still remember falling backwards in surprise as the Enterprise flew into shot in the opening titles and I realised it was in colour, and on the largest TV I had ever seen!

Around this time the other TV series I got hooked on was John Pertwee then Tom Baker's perfect Doctor(s) Who, often watched from behind the settee...

So this has got to be the best video mash-up ever, it's not new I know - but I have just found it, if this sounds like your kind of thing sit back and enjoy -

Gone with the wind


Thought it was about time I did a little retrospective on George W Bush, now that he has packed away his hunting trophies, toy box and plaid shirts and wound his way back to his Palladian southern mansion. Oh that quirky swaggering Southern Gentleman,with his distinctive drawl and ranch hand swagger, what are we going to do without you?

George dubya thank you:
  • For your contribution to English, the fact that we have coined a new phrase to describe your peculiar use of language is testament to you Mr Bushism - (I challenge you to read these and not laugh out loud)
  • For your commitment to the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, aced that one didn't you? Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, Russia, United States, North Korea and Israel all still seem to have them though - could it be that they don't feel safe?
  • For 'The war on terror', an abstraction that has given permission to future campaigners and governments to wage war on any illogical abstract concept they fancy, from sitting to infinity.
  • The 400,000 people of Gaza would like to thank you. Those shiny hi-tech weapons you sent the Israeli's have really sorted out the over population problem in this tiny corral gifted by Israel not to mention the urban regeneration needs.
  • Israel would like to thank you for the unchecked use of your Military Industrial Complex and your ability to, diplomatically speaking, turn the other cheek whenever Israel is mentioned.
  • Al Quaeda would like to thank you for helping extend their influence and much improved recruitment figures. Before you there was just one deranged Saudi and his followers in a big cave whose only friends were the Taliban and a herd of goats.
  • The commuting population in London, Madrid and Glasgow, and the family of Jean Charles Menezes all thank you.
  • Airport users throughout the world, those paranoid security precautions are such fun - you just never know what items you packed will reach your destination.
  • A high five from Wall Street and the City of London, and the ranks of unemployed and homeless US citizens.
  • Barak Obama says thanks, because no matter what he does he cannot look worse than his predecessor.
I have just realised I could actually continue this blog for days, might come back to it...

Friday, 23 January 2009

The Saints are Coming

A seminal song by an astounding Scottish band, had the pleasure of meeting these guys a few times. Have spent the evening chillin', put my venom aside and just listening to music, thought I'd share a little, enjoy.



Stewart, still think of you often...

Happy brithday Spud

Today is the birthday of Ewen Bremner (born 23 January 1972), the Edinburgh born actor probably best known for his portrayal of the kind-hearted Spud in Danny Boyle's film adaptation of Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting.

Spud is probably best remembered for the hilarious job interview scene, where he and Renton are forced to go for an interview for the same job - one neither of them want.

The film was primarily an analysis of urban deprivation and the dependency culture, both heroin and alcohol, that dominated many parts of depression struck Edinburgh in the 1980s. It also touches on the theme of the lack of a real Scottish identity and the false prophets of both Unionism and romanticised Nationalism.

In 2009 we find ourself, as announced today, in the midst of a burgeoning recession. I studied in Edinburgh during the 1980s and witnessed the damage done by unemployment and a dependency culture; something I hope is never repeated.

Ewen has gone on to carve himself a successful career as an actor with 'something different' whilst retaining his distinctive national heritage, happy birthday...

And here's hoping that Edinburgh does not see a repeat of the sorry decline immortalised in the movie that launched his career.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Do we ever learn? An anniversary...

On this day, January 22nd 1990 the geek legend 'rtm' (Robert Tappan Morris) gained immortality as he appeared in a US courtroom after his arrest for the damage caused by the release of the Morris worm, the first Internet worm. He was found guilty of -

Intentional access of Federal interest computers without authorization thereby preventing authorized access and causing a loss in excess of $1,000.00
and rewarded with 3 years probation, 400 hours of community service, a fine and costs for his intellectual curiosity, as he put it - "to gauge the size of the Internet". Pretty embarrassing for his Dad; Robert Morris, the former chief scientist at the NSA's National Computer Security Center.

That was 19 years ago, you'd like to think that the worlds largest software manufacturers would have got to grips with combating this sort of thing by now? After all Macs, Linux and Unix PC operating systems are pretty much immune to these attacks, by design.

But not Microsoft - Windoze users beware, should be an interesting 6 months - 9 million infected and counting...

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

More databases, more sharing = less freedom

We all know that there have been more than 3000 new criminal offences created since 1997 - now what happened that year, hmmm..?

Here we go again with more shock doctrine tactics in the latest announcement from the DoT's Jim Fitzpatrick MP, no doubt backed by Jacqui Smith. As if the police aren't busy enough already:
Police to match records for new motor offence
21 January 2009

Police are likely to be given extra powers in using the Motor Insurance Database to detect
vehicles that have not been insured

The move is part of a package of new powers proposed for the police to crack down on people who do not take out motor insurance. It will support new legislation enabling them to prosecute owners who keep an uninsured vehicle without necessarily taking it onto the road.
There are more than 33.3 million registered vehicles on UK roads [source Transport Statistics Great Britain, 2007 edition - DoT]. The DoT claim that there are some 2 million uninsured vehicles on the road, and that the cars are often untaxed, that a significant number of them are involved in other criminality (that's pretty easy these days given the choice of offences) and more likely to be involved in accidents - although sometimes it's 1.2 million rather than 2 million - how exactly would you count the number of people 'not doing something'? Do I see the scaremongering hand of the commercial insurance lobby and the taxman behind these widely ranging numbers, or am I paranoid?

We have been hearing the same claims for years varying from '1 in 5' to '1 in 20' of vehicles on the road being uninsured. Powers of seizure were covered comprehensively in the 'Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill - Final Regulatory Impact Assessment, Seizure of Uninsured Vehicles' published in 2004. The extensive deployment of ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) cameras throughout the UK road network was a direct response to this - you know the funny little cameras that you pass, look a bit like a regular CCTV camera and are sometimes set-up alongside a traffic van.

But despite the ANPR network being deployed for 3 years or so we still are no further forward it seems, (despite Mr Fitzpatrick's claims that 400 uninsured vehicles a day are seized currently). He would now like access to a commercial database to address this problem, but is it a problem? Tell me - are we succeeding or are we failing? I'm confused because it appears that you are crushing an awful lot of cars already, and pretty much guessing at the number of offenders you haven't caught. Now armed with a justification that nobody can argue with; that uninsured drivers are bad, the Government are going to mandate and regularise access to a commercial database system - the 'Motor Insurance Database'.

I have some issues with this, first of all it is a commercial database and it isn't always correct; of my last two cars, one did not exist and the other was wrongly identified. Secondly it is a realistic fundamental expectation that personal information collected for one purpose should not be used for another, but in this case commercial organisations (the insurers), the tax man (Vehicle Excise Duty) and the police are all accessing and sharing information about us. How long will it be before the few safeguards in place are eroded by a faceless civil servant wielding the repugnant "if you have nothing to hide" justification to allow access to your information by any publicly funded do gooder with half an excuse?

The already over burdened police force backed by "wannabes in uniform" (PCSOs) are now empowered to come into the private parking around my flat, seize my incorrectly identified car, for not having something I disagree with (legally mandated commercial insurance - I do buy it, but it's wrong), even if it is off the road. They will then inform my insurer, and probably everybody else involved, and of course that won't prejudice me in the future at all, will it?

Leave me alone give me some privacy, I've done nothing wrong. I do not trust anybody with my information - and neither should you...

They take our jobs, our liberty - can I leave mommy?

Source (published today at 09:30), 1.92 million unemployed at the end of November 2008 - and that's the figures calculated by the 'Government's preferred method', yeah the massaged ones that give the lowest total.

Other news...

The identity card consultation comes to a close soon, bet you had forgotten about that? The highest unemployment figures for a decade are convenient for Jacqui Smith though; the unemployed have no time for responding to consultations, they are just too busy undertaking their mandated 3 job seeking activities a week?! Anyhoo, why not take a little time to refresh yourself on just how pernicious this legislation is, then get yourself off here.

Mind you perhaps ID cards will prove useful for counting the actual number of unemployed, accurately, you know the real number of 'economically inactive' - I suspect that would be an even bigger distraction.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

All hail the President...


I sit here bewildered by the Obama coronation show in Washington.

There are so many things wrong with the commentary and speculation by mainstream media professionals, the general public and the assorted ill-informed celebrities wheeled out for a vox-pop.

BBC News 24's second by second sycophantic coverage just adds to the hysteria. The invaluable interviews with political experts such as June Sarpong and Will Smith and the orgasmic sightseers on Washington Mall add nothing to what is an important day for me personally, that is the demise of George W Bush.

The whole build up to this inauguration is astonishing; people just have to get over Barak - and perhaps his avid supporters should try to get their facts right:
  • Obama is just a man and a politician to boot, definitely not a god
  • This event is about a new President, not colour or race
  • You cannot have "Kenyan" blood, or any other kind of geographical blood
  • If there was a identifiable genetic trait in African leaders, it wouldn't be a good one...
  • Tomorrow will be no different for the poor, the oppressed, the dead and dying in the USA, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan or anywhere else on this planet
  • Barak Obama is not the descendant of a slave
  • Barak Obama is not the first black leader of a democracy
  • Barak Obama is not the natural inheritor of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King or any other figure in the US civil rights movement; his father was a black African man who left when he was 2 years old, his mum (a white American) married an Indonesian and he spent most of his childhood in Indonesia and Hawaii
  • Every young black American as of today has not automatically acquired the right nor opportunity to become the President, do the math - there have been 44 presidents since 1789. They could and they can, but the chances are slim, as they are for any other citizen
  • He will not magically put an end to discrimination. Any kind of difference inspires discrimination at the hands of the stupid and intolerant and there are still plenty of intolerant US citizens - they will not wake up tomorrow feeling any less inclined to be so
What are people so excited about?

I genuinely wish Barak Obama the best of luck, and I hope he improves the lot of his own battered country and puts an end to US foreign policy inspired savagery. But I can't help thinking that there are too many stupidly over optimistic evangelical supporters who are almost setting him up for a fall. He is just a man, a politician and hey, a smoker - he is human after all.

The blind belief, unjustifiable expectations and the virtual beatification of Barak Obama makes me uncomfortable, and reminds me more than a little of a story I read about an ordinary guy thrust into the limelight of adulation, a guy called Jesus Christ. I know many other commentators have already made this and similar observations, but no less valid is it for that.

Barak - watch out for anybody called Judas, in fact don't trust anybody - they all want a bit of you and in the main it's based on fantasy and a stellar detachment from realistic expectations of any one man.

Good luck President Obama...

Monday, 19 January 2009

Death of a small town...

My Mum is a nice lady in her mid sixties, after a lifetime of paying taxes and working hard while bringing up her family she chose carefully when it came to the question of where to retire to and chose well. But her heart is breaking and I am fuming.

My childhood is a patchwork of happy summer holiday memories, the most dearly held of these spent in a little town on the west of Scotland; Girvan. My Mum and Dad obviously felt the same way, so some 10 years ago or so they packed their possessions on the proverbial cart, didn't dilly and dally and wound their way from Cumbernauld to Girvan.

They have a house that overlooks the park and the seafront, with fantastic sunset views over Ailsa Craig - their home has been a place of tranquillity, rest and refuge for me over the years - and my brothers and their families, friends and the many other people my parents have welcomed into their home.

Through the years Mum and Dad have immersed themselves in what is a friendly and decent community; my Mum working in the local cancer charity shop, and both participating in local art projects, SNP politics and various campaigns for local redevelopment. There have been many highlights over the years; torchlight parades, fireworks, fairs, the harbour day to mention but a few. The local community, the many tourists and those just making a welcome stop on the long road to and from the Irish Ferry ports south of Girvan all benefit from this real community.

But when the visitors go home and the town's inhabitants are left to get on with their day to day lives it is a different picture. Girvan's high street; a wander along which was a treat with a burning pocketful of holiday money for me all those years ago, is a pale shadow of what once it was. Boarded up shops (yes now including a Woolies), a proliferation of charity shops, pound shops and pretty much nothing else. The Beach Pavilion - once the centre of a vibrant seafront, harbour-side community amenity is now boarded up, left to rot by a neglectful council. The Stair Park pavilion (in the picture at the top of this blog) until recently a host to various displaced community groups has been condemned by the self same bureaucrats and closed, even the play parks are badly maintained, if at all.

This weekend my Mum called me, upset; she had been up since 5:00 am on Saturday morning - writing and rewriting a letter of protest, destined for anybody that would listen, as news of the latest blow to her beloved community had come to her. The closure of a swimming pool may seem small fry, and it is on a global scale - but when it is the single last community amenity left in a town that has been neglected by a council who have undertaken the development of shiny new Gyms and Pools in the wealthy well served areas under it's jurisdiction - it is an outrage.

Girvan's air is no longer that of ozone but decay, and this may be the final nail in the coffin of this small town that pretty much nobody cares about.

So what are the local South Ayrshire councillors going to do about the demise of yet another small town?

Well they are obviously committed to sports, so much so that the greedy bastards are off on a £15,000 junket to Dubai to play golf - at the taxpayers expense of course.

What a cabal of despicable sleazy, money grabbing demons, not fit for office , let's re-employ them to care for the only council tended garden left in Girvan - ironically a place where Robert the Bruce held court in 1328 as he tried to unite disparate political factions into one country.

Really, no really - when can I leave?

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Winter


I pulled on my walking boots, braved the ice cold wind blowing off the North Sea and meandered my way along a short section of the John Muir Way around Skateraw Harbour.

A cobweb clearing experience, and despite the darkening skies and sleet showers a great way to spend an hour or so on a Sunday afternoon, hope you like the pics...





If you are interested it's here (D):

View Larger Map

A thought for the day...

I may not have mentioned it before, but I do actually have a life. You know the sort of thing; lie in bed reading until I start to feel guilty about the waste of the best part of the day, going out at night to consume liver shrinking volumes of plonk and generally putting the world to rights by disagreeing violently with any loosely held assertion that emanates from the ill informed around me.

Strangely though the invitations are few and far between these days...

But enough introspection

My other great passions are; music, reading anything with a typeface on it - from packaging to weighty tomes, debating the futility of it all with friends and exploring the world around me - as I try to understand it just a little better.

This may not come as a shock to most folks who know me - but it is my dearly held opinion that television is the single reason for the unprecedented infantilisation and general dumbing down of society we see around us. I have tried it, and I just don't get it - 99% of the hundreds of channels broadcast to our moron boxes appear to consist of, literally, nothing. Marx (Karl not Groucho) once reflected that religion is the opiate of the people, but television's influence is better summed up in Marquis de Sade's Juliette, published in 1797 - a couple of years before John Logie Baird stumbled upon his technological "opiate of the people", I would like to share it with you -
Though nature lavishes much upon your people, their circumstances are strait. But this is not the effect of their laziness; this general paralysis has its source in your policy which, from maintaining the people in dependence, shuts them out from wealth; their ills are thus rendered beyond remedy, and the political state is in a situation no less grave than the civil government, since it must seek its strength in its very weakness. Your apprehension, Ferdinand, lest someone discover the things I have been telling you leads you to exile arts and talents from your realm. You fear the powerful eye of genius, that is why you encourage ignorance. Tis opium you feed your people, so that, drugged, they do not feel their hurts, inflicted by you. And that is why where you reign no establishments are to be found giving great men to the homeland; the rewards due knowledge are unknown here, and as there is neither honour nor profit in being wise, nobody seeks after wisdom.
Do not doubt for one second that society's dependence on television suits our politicians - we watch shit whilst they steal our hard won liberty and money.
Billions of people just living out their lives... oblivious
Now, it's Sunday morning, there's not a cloud in the sky - get up off your arse, switch off your moron-box and do something worthwhile before your existence passes you by. If you don't your next moment of sentience may be a flicker of realisation, through the fog of dementia, that you are in a nursing home babbling nonsense, pissing into a bag whilst your dearly beloved family squabble over the home entertainment centre.

Now where are my walking boots?


Breaking News: Series Of Concentric Circles Emanating From Glowing Red Dot

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Mr Moon, please don't look over your shoulder...


You can see them now - IDF leaders around a table discussing their plans to tighten the screw on the Palestinians by bombing the remaining UN relief agency installations within the Gaza strip - picture the scene:

In a brightly lit command and control bunker on the Gaza border, humming with activity and the crackle of RT traffic - a disjointed tinny commentary marking the progress of the IDF as their ground forces call for air support. The IDF's deadly march through Gaza is being orchestrated by a bank of tactical operators hunched over laptops. Two officers sit around a table, the subordinate officer (obviously 2iC through the lack of bling on his uniform and his relatively youthful pallor) is fully engaged in planning the next stages of the invasion. Maps are strewn across the table, the young officer referring to his PDA finishes marking up a map.

"That's it, we have all the locations macher, UNRWA were good enough to send us their coordinates - they actually believed we wanted them for their own protection. Tsss UN they're all schmendricks and goyin they are, and sympathisers with the Arab gonifs."

The senior officer studies the map of Gaza city handed to him by the young officer

"Did they comply with our request to keep their compound lights burning all night and hoist flags?"

"Yes macher"

"Oy oy oy, great we can send in the conscripts, none of those shmeggegies can read maps"

The young officer enquires tentatively

"What about the timing"

An immediate response follows, leaving 2iC in no doubt as to the significance of political considerations in this mission

"We'll wait till Ban ki-Moon is in the Middle East, that's the optimal time. We can close the curtains in the meeting room when he meets Tzipi Livni, and get Mossad onto a distraction - a puppet show, a young boy or a shaina maidel - whatever floats his boat. He's in Egypt first but they are so disorganised that their press are still trying to work out if there is a war in Gaza or if that drunken English footballer Gazza has signed for FC Ashdod"

he continues, smiling

"Apart from anything we've got to finish the UN in Gaza before that schvartzer Obama takes over, Bush is still being operated remotely by Ehud Barak. It's the simplest remote control I've ever seen, it has only two buttons - Dumb and Dumber"

2iC stands up, smiles and salutes smartly - and so it begins...

Where's that rattle?

To Iain Dale, where's that rattle?

Liberal Conservative my foot...

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Russian gas to Europe 'blocked' - I don't think so...


According to the BBC, it is really happening again - those pesky Ukrainians are tampering with our gas supplies, or are they?

I must tell you I have had an itch about this since 2006 when I read a very interesting article, which identified structural shortcomings in Gazproms ability to deliver Gas to the EU. Again in 2008 this piece by a British Academic in the German Press here caught my eye - there is a nice summary here in English. Alan Riley the academic responsible for the 2008 article is also published here and here, citing fundamental problems with the Russian monopoly Gazproms inability to deliver, which in summary are
  • An antiquated pipeline system, going in one direction west through Ukraine
  • Lack of investment in bringing on new reserves
  • State enforced commitments to meet domestic priorities for supply
  • Aging agreements with former USSR states to supply Gas at cost
  • The falling cost of Gas on the wholesale markets, further restricting development of new transmission systems and reserves
  • Gazproms dependence on cost price East Asian gas imports to meet current demands

Russia may have extraordinary reserves of gas, but these are underexploited, and they lack the transmission systems to meet their current demands - ostensibly there is a shortage of Russian gas, and the solution is investment - however the first of the new pipelines and fields are unlikely to get past the planning stage this year and will not be available for at least another 3-4 years...

This shortage became apparent in 2006, but was blamed on the Ukraine, 2007 was a relatively warm winter in Europe and Gazproms European transmission pipeline was called upon to deliver less gas than for some years - no problem there. But this winter is a cold one across Europe and the inability of Gazprom to meet it's delivery commitments is a symptom of a shortage, not the fictional wrangle between Ukraine and it's former masters. Gas is stored in high pressure pipelines, backed by storage and production facilities, when the taps are turned on by consumers the pressure plumments unless you have sufficient supply capacity and compressors, Gazprom has insufficient supplies and aged compressors - ie. neither.

Would it come to you as a surprise that our inept UK and European politicians are aware of this, I wonder why they are so silent on the issue?
Paragraph 170 and 171 of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Global Security: Russia Second Report of Session 2007–08

170. The CSRC told us that “Impending shortages of gas […] present new risks of supply disruption to [the] EU.” It also warned of the risk that CIS states dependent on Russian energy were most likely to fall down the widening gap between demand for and supply of Russian energy resources, since, as we have seen, Russia is prepared to prioritise its higher paying EU customers. Dr Averre warned that the likely reduction in Russia’s ability to export “may be more of a problem than the idea of holding countries to ransom. Similarly, Ms Barysch told us that “Our main concern at the moment is not that Russia cuts off the energy to us, but that it will not be able to deliver as much gas to us in the future as we would like to buy”. We conclude that the prospective shortfall in Russian gas production represents an urgent energy security concern for the EU, and a greater one than the risk of Russia disrupting supplies for political reasons. The intensified competition for Russian gas which appears to be in prospect between Russian domestic consumers, Russian CIS customers, and the EU, has the potential to aggravate a number of political relationships. We welcome the Minister for Europe’s apparent awareness of the urgency of the problem. We recommend that the Government work to achieve a common understanding of the likely Russian gas shortfall with both EU partners and Moscow, and that it inform us in its response to this Report of the steps being taken in this regard.

171. Our witnesses largely attributed the shortfall in productive investment in the Russian gas sector to the dominance there of the Russian state, in the shape of Gazprom. Our witnesses pointed to developments in the Russian oil sector as foreshadowing the pattern that seems likely to unfold in gas. Having been below 20% in 2004, state ownership of the Russian oil industry (by output) is expected to exceed 50% in 2007. However, Professor Hanson told us that “growth of output and export volume of oil has slowed strikingly” over recent years. According to Mr Clark, the two main previously private oil firms, Yukos and Sibneft, were achieving returns on total assets of over 30%. By contrast, Gazprom and the state oil firm Rosneft, which have largely taken over these two firms’ assets, achieve returns of less than 10%.
We should be very concerned about this lack of clarity, in this piece and the associated research paper, again by Prof Alan Riley it is made clear that Gazprom and our reliance on Russian gas is a threat to global security.

All the time the Ukrainians are being turned into scapegoats by dint of their misfortune to host the main interconnect to Europe, to save the face of plundering Oligarchs and corrupt Politicians in Moscow.

I don't have a solution, but I do know that we are sitting on massive coal reserves in the UK, in addition to oil that is nowhere near peak, and some gas reserves. Why do we need to import energy and fund a state (Gazprom represent 25% of federal state revenues in Russia) that poses a security threat and is incapable of honesty about their one genuine commercial success since Glasnost?

Edit: Do not thunk for one second it is coincidence that the gas supply falters at peak demand times only - this is a direct function of Gazproms inability to meet the demand. If Ukraine wanted to force a price negotiation with Gazprom, as a prospective candidate for EU membership, surely they would limit supplies in the summer - thus flexing their only means of control over the Russians with the minimum of disruption to their prospective EU partners not to mention their own citizens and neighbours.

Hard pressed families...


Lord Mandelson was interviewed on Radio 4's Today this morning. When challenged about the success of the recent 2% VAT cut he wheeled out the "Hard pressed families" justification oft favoured in recent times by Labour.

The VAT cut in his estimation amounts to £270 per year (per household, per taxpayer - WHAT?), that in itself is questionable. He then went on to drone about how it "will make a real difference to the spending power of consumers on top of cheaper mortgages, cheaper commodities and therefore food". At this point I started shouting at the radio, and then remembered as I calmed down that I have a blog for just this purpose...

Do we pay VAT on food or mortgages and do businesses pay VAT? No, and NO they claim it back; albeit the demarcation of VAT is now less distinct than the original concept of a tax on non-essentials/luxuries - it does not apply to the basics (yet).

Mandelson: What did your house cost, and how did you finance that? And really, what do you know about 'hard pressed families'?

Absolutely nothing, you patronising fuckwit...

Hat tip Old Holborn

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

We don't do body counts

Many years ago I came across a website entitled Iraq Body Count, at the time I was researching a quote I had read attributed to a US General Tommy Franks, thus - "We don't do body counts". Around then (2004) I was horrified to see that the civilian death count total had hit 10,000 (yes ten thousand), and that seemingly nobody other than the IBC was counting, nobody cared?

Years have passed, with us all forgetting Iraq, as it is displaced in the headlines by the latest celebrity-do-dah-shit-reality-cheap TV headline...

Old Holborn's post today citing 1.3 million deaths as a result of US action in Iraq hit me right between the eyes, and prompted me to revisit the IBC website.

As it stands IBC are quoting 93-98,000 civilian deaths, a bit of a difference from the justforeignpolicy.org total, in fact by an astonishing factor of more than 10 times. Both organisations use different methodologies to calculate their figures, as can be seen by their macabre totals. I would say that statistical methodolgies are irrelevant, after all the US isn't keeping count so we have no 'official' figures - at least these guys are trying in the face of institutional obfuscation. I am sure we can say with reasonable certainty that the truth lies somewhere between the two figures.

One fact is irrefutable - too many innocent lives have been extinguished in a vanity war justified on the most tenuous of grounds. Be it the ridiculous claims of Al Quaeda in Iraq, the incredible disappearing WMDs or just downright family face saving revenge for a job that Dad didn't finish - our puppet like complicity in this massacre should have our government (and the supporters of our involvement) hanging their heads in shame.

If there was one compelling reason to rout the current Westminster Labour apparatchik machine it would be this, and this alone - we have no right and no mandate to take innocent lives in Iraq. No wonder Labour is reluctant to criticise Israel for their behaviour towards Palestinians, I am not in the habit of quoting the Christian fantasy novel but "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone" seems to be worth considering when trying to make sense of the UK & US reluctance to condemn the Old Testament team...

Last word to Gerald Scarfe of the Times:

Mind control is possible

Much to my regret I couldn't get to CES 2009, I love mega-exhibitions and have regularly attended CEBIT over the years - but CES is by reputation the most fun show there is. Check this out, OK it's just a toy but think of the potential if the technology is refined...



Perhaps one day we could send a small ball to the moon...

Monday, 12 January 2009

Wee Nicola

A "no employment recovery" looms

For the first time yesterday I heard commentators talking about a "no employment recovery" in the UK.

In the style of the Met Office I would like to warn you all of a Red extreme event (sic) , defined as "High risk of major damage to infrastructure and the environment. Casualties are possible".

"No employment recovery" is a curious and illogical phrase and it's recent appearance can only be seen as an attempt to warm us up for profligate use in the future. I can see this politically expedient phrase being used authoritatively and often over the next few years by financially inept politicians, those who got us neck deep in do-do, in an attempt to convince us that we are on the road to recovery and despite evidence to the contrary.

Bullshit alert ends - consider yourself warned

The New Year Blues


I find myself in a 2009, out of work, skint and pretty much browned off with everything - even my new found interest in blogging is waning. The new year blues have taken a hold...

This morning I decided a good bit of navel gazing as regards my blog was in order, and gazed I have:

A blog, on the face of it, seems to differ little from the vanity websites of yesteryear, or the open and closed Bulletin Boards and newsgroups which defined and often diminished public commentary on t'internet. So why blog?

Unlike many bloggers I've no desire to be a journalist, 'just as well' I hear.

I'm often accused by those who know me of being a frustrated politician or political commentator. So perhaps the blogging platform is a logical soapbox for these ambitions - but why should I indulge in the self delusion that anybody will be interested in what I have to say? I am not seeking political office, or to be involved in propping the political status quo as a researcher or communications professional.

Perhaps blogging is just about revenge, expressing as vituperatively as my good upbringing allows, frustration and rejection of all the wrongs (real or imagined) I see around me. Like some kind of bloggy-wonder-woman-avenger and righter of wrongs, I don't think so. As if any further confirmation was required I stuck my name into the Superhero name generator here and found that:
Your Superhero Name is The Ring Racer
Your Superpower is Abnormal Brain Function
Your Weakness is Sunlight
Your Weapon is Your Fire Army
Your Mode of Transportation is Hang Glider
Pretty definitively not the profile of an avenging blogger, and who am I to question an on-line generator? It's on the Internet, must be true, besides I would need to lose some weight before slipping into a super hero outfit

I think it's fair to say that I harbour pretty much widely accepted as 'outspoken opinions' on most things, and blogging isn't as cathartic as I thought, so what to do?

A.
Sign on on Thursday, and tell the dole that I am seeking employment as a "Grumpy Old Woman" methinks...

And that's good enough reason to keep my blog going too!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

The toughest millionaire question ever...



Must confess I did originally consider the answer options Dunt, Runt, Punt and...
Hat tip

The D word

There is a dearth of paid employment at present, you may have heard. I stand aghast as I witness this employment disaster cutting a swathe through the ranks of respectable, clever, talented and hard working people, what a waste.

Now, given the lack of freelance work for my peculiar skills, and against my better judgement I have taken the first steps to signing on and claiming a refund on that tax I've paid over the years.

Always inclined to use technology first I was pleased that I could complete a Job Seekers Allowance application form online this morning - so far so good, painless even. I had taken the precaution of conducting some web research into Job Centres; both Ciao and Dooyoo have a number of amusing and rather frightening reviews of the back to work service available from the state. Having never been unemployed before, the prospect of "signing on the dole" is pretty terrifying, I take little solace that i'll be in good company as daily more of my fellow citizens are faced with the same propect. I'll keep you updated here on my progressing public humiliation as I work my way through the Job Centre/Unemployment meat grinder...

Incidentally why do the press and politicians avoid using the word Depression?

Spin perchance? cycnical old me; even the BBC has a whole indice dedicated to it, albeit they use the more innocent sounding "downturn", rather than the D word.

Because a depression is what it is. Depression is the correct word, literally and emotionally it encapsulates perfectly the state we're in, a country that is paying the price of hubris in Government - a ruling party that took the credit for a boom, a patently ridiculous claim and as stupifying as Michael Jackson's (pictured below) claims that "he has not had surgery".
"No more boom and bust", "Saved the world" - Really? thanks a fuckin' lot Labour...

Monday, 5 January 2009

Is the Middle East an insoluble problem?

Drunken Israeli Settler Threatens Film Crew





In a drunken racial tirade, an Israeli settler threatens a British film crew. The wild exchange has the settler cursing Jesus, threatening to kill the film crew and Palestinians.