Friday, 13 March 2009

Competition time...

I've just booked my car in for an MOT, and as usual was left feeling somewhat patronised by the 5 foot Lynx perfumed spanner monkey, age 10, in dirty overalls who sucked his teeth when I told him the type of car I own, observing "we don't see many of those, and the parts urny cheap missus". I only want an MOT?

So I've decided to have a little competition, what do you think I'll be charged for an MOT on a well looked after 2004, low mileage Subaru Impreza? The closest guess wins the mechanics obviously unused bollocks, or some Lynx...

Was reminded of a classic Viz moment:
June Spears taken for a £6,322 ride by her local garage.

The largest bill for fictitious work carried out on a woman's car by garage mechanics was one of £6,322.88 charged by Joskin Bros Motors Ltd. of Stevenage, Herts. (GB). Calling in for a routine service on her one-year-old Peugeot 305, Mrs. June Spears agreed to pay for, amongst other things, new trumpets (£725), cracked gangle pin (£1,785), realignment of main glib shaft (£2,268), new grommets (£112), set of hexagonal tag nuts and dangleberry adapter (£35) and new piss-take valves (£120). No work was actually carried out on the car during the six weeks that it spent at the garage but 4000 miles were put on the clock and she later received a speeding summons from Italian police.

Yes you can save the world - eat a vegan...

I don't know if you've come across this website, but it's hard to describe my astonishment, no incredulity, no gobsmacked-ness - you get the idea; spluttering at the pretentious hubris and reaching for Roget.

So in keeping with their fine ideals I have started a group committing to eating a Vegan, just one a day - and yes your interpretation is valid Finbarr Saunders...

Sign up now
, and let's have some fun whilst saving Gaia - just like pork I'm told, and completely organic.

Edit 14/3/09 09:00: Surprise surprise my group has been removed, will come up with another over the weekend.

Computers are computers are crap

I've mentioned before that I am a bit of a girl geek, having worked in and around IT for quite a few years. I'm constantly bemused by the competition between the various operating systems. For those of you who don't know there are 3 main competing operating systems - Windows (big share of the PC market), Apple OS X (small share of the PC market) and Linux & UNIX (hobby and serious PCs and BIG share of Internet servers). Some geeks may give me a hard time for lumping UNIX and LINUX together, suffice it to say they are similar enough in design and execution for it to be splitting hairs for most non-techies. The fans of the various operating systems are a devout lot, almost religious, and at times their cognitive dissonance gets the better of their logic - much to the amusement of us who have sufficient experience to know nothing stays the same in technology for very long.

All neatly explained by this video

It's worth checking this one out also...

Great fun to be had by all...

Hattip Kezia Dugdale,
go on give it a try here...

Thursday, 12 March 2009

This is a rant, plain and simple...

Royal Bank of Scotland, Bank of Scotland, Scottish Nationalists - I am embarrassed.

In a written answer on 9 Jul 2007 by John Swinney (Scottish National Party)

"The Scottish government is determined that Scotland can and will do better.

We want to make this country a wealthier and fairer, healthier and smarter place. The performance of Norway, Iceland and Ireland demonstrates exactly what we should aspire to in Scotland. These countries form an arc of prosperity that surrounds us, which proves that this is something we can achieve.

The policies we put in place will improve our performance giving Scotland a clear competitive edge and helping us achieve our overarching aim of strong sustainable economic growth.

Really John, really? John should know, he was a research officer for the Scottish Coal Project (1987-1988), a senior management consultant with Development Options (1988-1992), and a strategic planning principal with Scottish Amicable (1992-1997) before his leap into single issue campaigning politics courtesy of the SNP.

I want John and Alex Salmond to apologise to the UK as a whole; they were content to stand on the lines watching the demands for contrition being made of Gordon Brown without comment. In my opinion the time has come for the SNP to apologise, in particular you owe the liberal and left wing Scots who voted for and supported you, often against their natural revulsion of Nationalist politics.

Both Alex and John are products of the same banking system that leaves the UK tottering on the edge of financial calamity.

The English nationalists are making the MSM and the blogosphere extremely uncomfortable for all Scots - and they are entirely justified in their disapprobation of our Darien regime.

The one group who fail to accept this reality are the Scottish Nationalists who still believe tartan tat, whiskey, shortbread, oil and hydro/wind power will somehow guarantee a future wealthy tartan trimmed idyll bathing in the Northern Lights - if only we could shake off those nasty English, Welsh and Irish and go it alone.

Scottish Nationalists also tend to emphasise the financial benefits they believe we will garner from independence, in light of the collapse of our financial sector and the historical approval and involvement of SNP politicians this is starting to look a bit like endemic greed in the SNP rather than concern over what is best for Scotland - do you have to be greedy to be a Nationalist? It's beginning to look that way...

It is time wake up - Scotland is bust and if it wasn't for the Union the Nationalists so despise we would be queuing at soup kitchens, in debt to the IMF, have troops on the streets and would be, like our Icelandic cousins, trying to work out how to fish and farm again.

Scotland's financial sector is a laughing stock, a pathetic shadow of the prudent stereotype it once was. We did have a reputation for financial services, and we have turned that positive reputation 180 - to infamy, a financial sector that is a byword for calamitous greed and abject failure. So the next time a Nationalist drone tells me we would 'better off' as an independent nation - I warn you now; I will tear your fucking arms off and use them to beat your head to a bloody pulp...

Thank you

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Land Rover gets government cash for new car

It was announced today that Jaguar Land Rover is to receive a government grant of up to £27m to develop a new Land Rover vehicle.

Land Rover, which is owned by India's Tata Motors, said the car would be the smallest, lightest and most efficient it has produced - not exactly in keeping with either Jaguar or Land Rovers traditions then...

The Mondeo cost Ford $6billion to develop, so one has to wonder what Tata will come up with for £27million - nice one Gordon, another pointless give away I fear.

The peoples front of Judea

First of all I am no expert on the situation in Northern Ireland, I did however grow up in a small village west of Glasgow and have witnessed at first hand the Catholic vs Protestant religious animosity endemic in that society and mirrored across the short stretch of water that separates the west of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

I have never understood the hatred cherished by Protestants towards Catholics, fully reciprocated on the other side - they are two splinter factions of the same supernatural believing fuckwittery aren't they? It's not like either side has some fundamental belief in a different book, god or messiah - it's pretty much a case of splitting hairs over managerial structure (or who holds power) as far as I can make it out.

So the Catholics are killing the Protestants in Northern Ireland, or should I correctly put it the Nationalists are killing indiscriminately any icon of the British state that they deem a target, justified through logic as twisted as the philosophical divide between Christian factions - and it looks quite possible that we are set to return to the illogical political and religious dissonance that existed prior to the start of the peace process.

The perpetrators are splinter factions of the IRA - the "Continuity" and the "Real", or to use a Life of Brian analogy - "The peoples front of Judea" and the "Judean peoples front" with a common enemy, in this case not the Romans, but us. Us the peaceful, and oft indifferent to the "Irish Question", subjects of the United Kingdom.

In the recent coverage of the shooting of a police officer I was astonished to hear of, again and again, local residents refusing to talk to the Police for fear that they will killed. The one thing I can assure anybody witholding information is that someone (else) will die as a result of your cowardice. Fuckin' hell we have initiatives in playgrounds to encourage children to report bullying - they get it, we would not hesitate to report an Islamic neighbour who was stockpiling bags of fertiliser in their garage - what is wrong with these people? Did they not enjoy the peace, stability and normality of the last decade - do they miss the 18 year old squaddie sticking an Armalite in their face at another random road block - do they remember the Omagh bombing in all of its indiscriminate horror? Where is their dearly held religious respect for life?

I give up;

Let's wave a fond farewell to Northern Ireland - I am not going back there, let's pull out the Army, Intelligence Services and call the Police back to barracks and let them solve the problem, themselves. I am embarrassed to think I am the same nationality as these cowards - and I don't just mean the gunmen...

Note: The picture shows the red Vauxhall Cavalier saloon containing the Omagh bomb. This photo was taken shortly before the explosion; the camera was found afterwards in the rubble.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

PFI = extortion

Lots about PFI over the last few days - that is the folly of paying for capital projects on tick, or more correctly never paying for them at all. PFI and its various incarnations (PPFI, PPP, SFT etc) are exactly the same as the much discredited Photocopier industry - you buy the kit, then pay a rental and at the end you don't own it.

Alarm bells were ringing as far back as 2003 and fell on deaf ears in a zealous PFI obsessed government; this document dated 3rd November 2003 was particularly prescient - it should be re-released with the title "Told you so!"

I have a bit of an insight into this as many years ago I worked (contract) for a company called "Consort Healthcare (Edinburgh)", a nice bunch of construction and building management professionals brought together to build and manage a much needed new hospital for Edinburgh, which opened in 2002. I remember enquiring at the time why a private company was building and running the hospital, it was explained to me that "it was a licence to print money; built by the partners as cheaply as possible, on cheap finance courtesy of another partner, on cheap land (prone to flooding and previously unsellable) with the planning waved through." And the best thing was ultimately if the Health Board weren't happy there were plans on ice to turn the site into a retail & business park - "it is a great location, better for a shopping centre than a hospital"

The hospital was built by the Consort Healthcare consortium, comprising an alliance of Balfour Beatty Construction (Terminal 5 courtesy of), Haden, Morrison Development and The Royal Bank of Scotland (the peoples bank - literally). Having looked at the figures to date, and the little that has been made available via FOI requests it would appear that for their initial capital investment of £184million (the cost of building it) the partners will have earned about £1200million by 2061 from the Health Board alone. They also generate revenue from Edinburgh University, other concessions and continue to levy unjustifiable parking charges whilst supporting the paying of non-medical support staff minimum wage.

Surely now that we own the Royal Bank of Scotland we can put an end to this healthcare PFI rip off - although depressingly I suspect there is very little political will to do so. It would mean breaking a contract - interestingly Labour were willing to consider doing just this in the battle over Fred Goodwins pension; a drop in the fiscal ocean compared to this.

Consort are at the same game in at least 8 other locations and are involved in similar bids in Northern Ireland, it's just extortion - well to be more precise an 'off balance sheet' scam, i'll be watching this episode of Dispatches with interest and I recommend you do too...

An Archaeologist Archaeologist?

The Lords exercised themselves yesterday over the poor employment prospects of - of all professions - Archaeologists; "really m'Lud Archaeologists you say? Really?"

It was news to me, but seemingly with the disappearance of new building projects many "archaeology full time hobby-cum-jobs" are disappearing. It seems that the majority of Archaeologists are employed in what is called "rescue archaeology" which depends completely on blue collar workers digging up something interesting - only to be rewarded by a flock of 'ologists who patronise them, stop work on the site for 6 months, meticulously uncover, catalogue everything that was buried and then cover it back it up again - contributing the net sum of bugger all to society in the process. Am I missing something - this is just digging holes and filling them back in isn't it?

Isn't construction an industry responsible for the employment of many more than Archaeology? An industry perhaps more deserving of debate and notes of concern in our second chamber than a hobby disguised as a job...

Why the Lords think that we should be concerned at all by the employment prospects of a bunch of anal retentive, middle class, over educated, under achievers inspired by family television evenings watching that nice Tony Robinson on Time Team eludes me. If ever there was an abject lesson in why not to base your tertiary education choices on a "pretend to be better than other reality television programmes aimed at middle class approval" this is it.

I have news for you Tarquin and Beatrice - Time Team and The Antiques Road Show are not undergraduate career adverts. You are expensively educated, cosseted and over indulged pricks who are financed by your parents to undertake a pointless degree course - a middle class reality TV inspired course choice into the bargain - not like that nasty chav Big Brother.

Get a proper job, and indulge your hobby at weekends.

I do love the neat social comment implicit in the fact that the brutish working class construction industry is directly responsible for the employment of effete middle class Archaeologists - class war? To the barricades and JCBs comrades, our middle class brothers need some employment, lets dig a hole for social cohesion.

I guess what we could do is bury all of the unemployed Archaeologists and dig them up when we need them; would we need an Archaeologist Archaeologist for that?

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Free money

But only in Japan.

On the day the Bank of England embarks upon its controversial quantitative easing plan in an, I suspect ultimately futile, attempt to kick-start the British economy the citizens of Japan benefit from an alternative take on financial stimulus.

The Japanese government, in a controversial plan led by the PM Taro Aso, has decided to gift 12000 yen to every adult and up to 8000 yen to 18-21 years olds and those over 65, in the hope that they can help stimulate the faltering Japanese economy and avoid the pain suffered in the 10 years following the "Asset Price Bubble" disaster of the 1980s. Given that Japan is one of the few nations currently suffering as a result of the global financial catastrophe who has recent experience of a similar financial depression - and one that it successfully extricated itself from, I wonder why consideration isn't being given to a similar stimulus plan elsewhere.

I know it may be hard to swallow, particularly for the moronic right wing MSM and blogosphere - but the UK isn't the only country suffering, indeed many are much worse off; citizens of other countries also blame their own governments, that is the default position of lazy thinkers. I am the last person who would jump to the defence of Gordon Brown and Labour, they are guilty of many things that have marginalised the quality of freedom and life in Great Britain - but this disaster is patently not their fault, and to assert otherwise is complete and utter nonsense. That said, it is their responsibility to get us out of this, and the Japanese plan looks like a better way of doing it than creating financial instruments for financial institutions - the same avaricious wankers that got us into this quickly imploding black hole.

"Please sir, can I have some cash..."

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

We're special us - the window lickin' bastard cousins of the US

Special, of course we are...

Israel asks Bush to explain its 'special relationship' with U.S. to Obama

The Mumbai attack, many experts feel, is a "mujahideen" response to India´s special relationship with the U.S. and Israel.

Pakistan's "Special Relationship" with the U.S.
By Ayesha Jalal, professor of History, Tufts University; co-author of Modern South Asia: History, Culture, Political Economy.

If any European country is entitled to think it has a "special relationship" with the US, Italy has a strong case. Almost 16 million Italian emigrants live in the US, equivalent to a third of the population of Italy.

Other voices caution that hard-won experience and global realities compel Norway to continue its special relationship with the U.S.

Perhaps the best starting point is the so- called “special relationship” between Canada and the United States.

Qatar can reflect on its special relationship with the US.

Turkey simultaneously assuming the role of key regional player, building up new bilateral relationships with controversial neighbors, staying in tune with the EU, and maintaining its
special relationship with the US

"Tell us we special"

"Of course you are, where are you from again?"

Human Being

Another poem by Adrian Mitchell, this time an insightful observation on the human condition through analysis of our differences and achievements (sic). This poem won the coveted "Poem for Space" poll held in 2005 by the Poetry Society for National Poetry Day; voted the favourite to be sent into space, in the hope that it would be read in the near and distant future as a statement of who we are. I think Adrian nailed it, enjoy:


look at your hands
your beautiful useful hands
you’re not an ape
you’re not a parrot
you’re not a slow loris
or a smart missile
you’re human

not british
not american
not israeli
not palestinian
you’re human

not catholic
not protestant
not muslim
not hindu
you’re human

we all start human
we end up human
human first
human last
we’re human
or we’re nothing

nothing but bombs
and poison gas
nothing but guns
and torturers
nothing but slaves
of Greed and War
if we’re not human

look at your body
with its amazing systems
of nerve-wires and blood canals
think about your mind
which can think about itself
and the whole universe
look at your face
which can freeze into horror
or melt into love
look at all that life
all that beauty
you’re human
they are human
we are human
let’s try to be human


© 2004, the estate of Adrian Mitchell
From: The Shadow Knows
Publisher: Bloodaxe Books, Tarset, 2004
ISBN: 9781852248000

Monday, 2 March 2009

Naughty Nicola

I received the heads up on this one in an SNP members email from Colin Beattie with the subject line "SNP Sex Sensation", I thought it might be a nude photograph of Stewart Stevenson.

But alas I was disappointed to find attached a new painting of the "wild" MSP Nicola Sturgeon by Glasgow based French artist Laetitia Guilbaud, entitled Naughty Nicola.
"I wanted to show under the austerity of a politician, is a real woman of sexual attraction. I have seen Nicola many times on television. Many people may say she is a bit of a mouse with no sex appeal — but I see a wildness."

"I am sure she cracks the whip in Cabinet — as Alex Salmond probably can testify."
"She cracks the whip" - thats a euphemism, right? I am sure Peter would have something to say about that...

Note: Picture is actual size...

Welsh jobs for Welsh workers

The interview at 07:09 on this morning's BBC Radio 4 Today program covered calls for financial support (bail out?) for employers by trade unions and the Federation of Small Business:
"Unions are urging ministers to set up a multi-billion pound fund to subsidise workers' wages in a bid to help British industry. The call comes as the Engineering Employers Federation predicts that over 140,000 manufacturing jobs will be lost this year. Stephen Alambritis, of the Federation of Small Businesses, and Welsh Assembly member John Griffiths discuss how the fund would work"
It transpires that the Welsh assembly are already doing this through financial support schemes for employers (ProAct) and those made redundant recently (ReAct). These initiatives offer real money to those who qualify - what I want to know is: where are the Scottish, English and NI equivalent schemes? Is it legal to offer this type of subsidy in one province (region, country - take your pick) and not in others?

I mentioned recently I spent a miserable couple of weeks talking to various government bodies, banks, Chamber of Commerce, FSB etc. regarding funding for a new business, with no success. I have now found a commercial partner, so why no government money outside Wales?

Joined up government - yeah right!

In response to hubris

Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803 - 1849), a writer and poet who is now pretty much forgotten was a revolutionary thinker; anti-establishment and an outspoken liberationist. He surely would have been a goth blogger if he were alive today. Here he succinctly debunked the self import of humanity and all we understand better than any other in these three lines:

Why what's the world and time? a fleeting thought
In the great meditating universe,
A brief parenthesis in chaos.