Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Sick note

Well I find myself stuck inside suffering from the flare up of a pretty nasty injury I picked up many years ago.

In between visits from my best friend and, to be honest, rather frightening dreams - I thought I might share with you the antagonist from one of the dreams.

The background is simple, in the early 90s I was working in Germany and myself and some colleagues decided to go to a rather upmarket restaurant for a slap up dinner.  Traditional German food, in my opinion is wonderful; if a bit oversized in the portion department, it's generally bursting with flavour and ingredients. It's a rare occasion indeed to leave a German restaurant without being stuffed to the gills, if you can actually stand up.

So I asked the Oberkellner for a recommendation, and without hesitation he recommended a dish called "Karpfen Blau".  Now I know carp aren't blue in colour, and was concerned the blau referred to it being raw - "no no" I was assured, this a special German recipe often served on Good Friday and Christmas.  Being a bit of a fish fan I took him up on his recommendation.


I can't find my original photograph, but this is pretty close, at the time I joked that it's eyes were following me around the table -  now it's chasing me through my nightmares...

Why have you come back to haunt me Herr Karpfen?  My friend would tell me it's a zen thing, I ate it ergo I should be haunted by it - nonetheless it's the most terrifying nightmare I've had in a long time.

One last thought: If you do find yourself in a decent restaurant in Hamburg and the waiter recommends this dish, just bear in mind - it's for life...

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

You couldn't make this up


As I mentioned at the time I couldn't quite get the apotheosis of Obama, but this really takes the biscuit:

Chia Obama on sale now

Priceless

Well actually not - only $19.95

Monday, 28 September 2009

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Bribery or Business?

 
I like to think of myself as healthily skeptical and not at all naive: and for a fleeting moment I believed hoped that the practice of bribing for business had pretty much died out, laid to rest in these more enlightened times. Buying benefits for your business is never right, is it?

Do you hear that loud buzzer?  That means I'm wrong...

Many years ago I made the mistake of 'blowing the whistle' - I contacted the board of directors of a large software company whose IT Director, during negotiations, asked me directly for a substantial amount of money to ensure my company won a lucrative hardware and network supply contract.  The end result; he stayed in position with a warning on his personnel record, my company lost its largest client, permanently - oh yeah and I lost my job.  That was the 1980s, and bribery for business was commonplace: the public and private sectors equally, as I learned very quickly - and so it continues to this day...

Labour has finally broken its 1997 bogey on prosecuting firms for bribery this week; naming and shaming those involved in a string of international bribes paid by British bridge builder Mabey & Johnson.  The company have been ordered to pay fines and reperations of £6.5million for crimes that included a breach of UN sanctions by illegally paying Saddam Hussein (remember him?) £363,000.  Congratulations to the SFO then?

Fired up by this success the SFO have delivered an ultimatum to BAE, Britain's largest arms dealer, to plea bargain over the long running corruption allegations.  It turns out that BAE use lube regularly and in most of their foreign deals, including -

South Africa, Tanzania, Romania, Chile, the Czech Republic, Qatar, Bosnia, Nigeria, Zambia, Costa Rica and Egypt

...and let's not forget the dropped investigation into the Saudi Arabian deals

So it's commonplace - Twas ever thus...

But it's not as if these businesses are stealing the money from anybody, Cost of Sale is reflected in their Profit and Loss - and tax returns.  Let me assure you a bare-faced demand for 'lubrication' isn't easy to ignore, and always shocking - you accept it reluctantly; it doesn't benefit you financially, but commercially it is often the only way to close a deal - the twisted psychology of a buyer who feels entitled to a share of the profit is a pretty strong objection to overcome, I know I've been there.

The current Government, both directly and indirectly in it's pursuit of these businesses is displaying an astounding degree of hypocrisy, whilst deftly failing to demonstrate any understanding of the reality of doing business abroad, do they really believe US and European companies aren't doing the same?

Q: Hypocrisy?
A: Look at the billions paid by Labour government and councils in bribes in the UK, there are too many to list here but some good examples are; the Trade Union Modernisation fund, false charities that pander to their health agenda, single issue groups, unaccountable NDPBs and Public Private companies that support their policy initiatives and deliver government services, and of course the large payments made to private companies just to bid for public contracts. EDIT - And what are pre-bid tender payments, if not bribes?

Finally, just for a little spice, let's throw politician's expenses into that mix, who is corrupt?

So British companies, the few that are left, take heed - this government do not want you to compete on a par with your competitors abroad; you may find yourself considerably poorer and in the big house if you have the audacity to close that lucrative deal.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

What dog are you?


Purely for the purposes of indulging my innate misanthropy, and to further increase the volume of abusive email I receive, I thought it would be amusing to speculate on what dog breed the supporters of the various UK political parties are.  So as I set up a new Google email account, feel free to comment:

Conservatives - Pekingese, strong willed, will try to dominate the family group - In the past venerated familiars of the Chinese imperial families; cosseted, guarded, pampered, theirs was a life of luxury and privilege
Labour - Cerberus, multi headed mythical breed (usually 3) - a dog unable to resolve its internal conflict, without direction and unable to decide where it stands on anything other than bodily functions.  Permanently lost, and full of shit on account of it eating for three.
Lib Dems -  The Afghan Hound, likeable but stupid, hard to train and nigh on impossible to get to do anything worthwhile on account of its inability to grasp reality
BNP - Siberian Husky, intolerant of other dogs, pets and animals - a pack dog who is quick to turn
SNP - Nodding dogs, not so much a breed as a genotype I know - anything the party does in government is nodded through as long as it gets its stage in the back window of the car as it leaves England behind

Woof woof!

I love blogging, just not my blog...

If you have ever had to learn a musical instrument, one you wanted to learn, you might recognise that moment of clarity when you have put the basics behind you and feel empowered, that moment when you have climbed the technique slope and internalised all that is required to play competently.

And then?

With all of the potential to play anything - there are only 12 notes after all; you see yourself setting new standards and composing groundbreaking material until the day you meet a natural talent; one who makes you want to cut off your fingers and drop your beloved noise machine off at the local charity shop - or better; crush/burn it in a fit of self inadequacy and contempt for this cruel world.

Well in a rather clumsy metaphor for blogging, that's where I find myself...

I arose this morning filled with the joys of a bright Edinburgh autumnal day and set to writing that one blog entry that would salve my tortured raging soul - encapsulate the frustration I feel with all that is wrong in this fucked up existence and make the rest of the bloggy-sphere sit up and take notice.   And then I realised i'd been soundly beaten into last place, blog ranking 9 to the power of a googleplex - so in the hope of some self aggrandisement - and looking for their talent to rub off on me, here are some examples of why I feel like an amateur:


A Very British Dude tackles a very unlikely subject for him, and despite my feminist liberal anger bubbling just under the surface I think he got it right by god.

The charmingly monikered Pig Dog Fucker tackles a subject close to my heart, freedom of speech, using the thorniest of examples on the awesome Devil's Kitchen - a blog I hope to photocopy one day, 'cos that's the closest i'll ever get.

Marina Hyde, the MSM whore I can't ignore (perhaps I should take up poetry?), takes the wind out of the Brown Obama snub story that has tiresomely dominated the media this week in her own style - M&Ms and Diptyque candles???

Jeff over at SNP-Tactical voting gets all in-depth and analytical on the Irish vote on the Treaty of Lisbon - the result?  A triumph of balanced reportage which concludes in a call for real Eurpoean debate and democracy - huzzah!

One of the things I love about blogging is how often I gain an insight to a subject and learn something from other bloggers; often individuals, who on the surface of it, hold opinions and beliefs that would have been an anathema to me in the past - you know, the kind of people you ask to "wait right there" whilst you go inside and load your shotgun.  One such is JuliaM over at Ambush Predator; you know what? She talks a lot of sense that woman does - read and weep! I did, oh yeah I laughed and flamed too - you won't see it coming...

Finally peace to all the bloggers out there and thank you for adding to the richness of what my favourite ex-pat Tom Paine's post referred to yesterday as "citizen journalism" - long may it prosper.

Now where can I get my laptop crushed?

Friday, 25 September 2009

What were you doing on 29th May 1981?

It was a Friday, and at this time of the day I was digging out my tightest black jeans, a vest top and a bandanna thing (dunno why either); showered, hair washed and blown dry, preened and polished...

Last check before I went out; khaki canvas shoulder bag with the essentials - Contax 35mm SLR, Ilford black and white and Fuji colour film, flashgun and batteries, and the other stuff us girls carry - this was a time before mobile phones, mp3 players and other such fripperies...

Nite Club Edinburgh here I come, the band tonight: Theatre of Hate in the hottest, sweatiest and coolest venue in the town, and I fancied them all. Ah them were days - enjoy



Note: This is the only decent video I could find - and neatly it was John Peel's first TOTP in 14 years!

Two birds with one Mandrill

Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt was obviously looking for a genie yesterday when he commented
"I wish (I wish, I wish) they would go and look for some Conservatives to be part of their news-gathering team, because they have acknowledged that one of their problems is that people who want to work at the BBC tend to be centre-left"
There are so many puzzling aspects to this astounding utterance and stupid statements of this ilk do nothing to dissuade me of the suspicion that the touchy-feelly Cameron Conservatives are no less out of touch than their predecessors.

Now notwithstanding the legal problems posed to any employer who discriminates in their recruitement on the basis of political party membership, does Mr Hunt really believe that only left leaning job seekers apply to the BBC? I'd love to see his conclusive evidence for that - at times the BBC appears to be pretty conservative (small c) to me, often tying itself in knots as it tries to maintain it's impartiality.  That impartiality can only ever leave left or right wing audiences dissatisfied, in fact by implication anyone with a strong opinion on any subject will feel unrepresented.  Surely if you want the news to reflect your views and opinions you are looking for propaganda?

Try comparing the BBC news to that offered by some other news sources - The Guardian, Daily Mail, Telegraph, Sky and Al Jazeera all spring to mind as valid comparisons - considerably less impartial and with tacit, some may say sinister, agendas.

On the same day the BBC announced the end of the "autocutie" (love it) and have said they will put more older women on screen.

In light of Jeremy's plea, and the BBC's commitment - what about Margaret Thatcher as a news presenter?  I can picture it now; perched atop a mountain of incontinence pads, her cracked voice asking for "her Bernard", wondering why the Daleks only visit on a Tuesday and frantically searching for her front door in her handbag...

Oh bring it on...

Thursday, 24 September 2009

The SNP 2007 manifesto - an inconvenient truth

Peter Murrell told me some time ago that technology was key to the SNP's success in the face of an at worst hostile and at best indifferent mainstream media. So let's play a little, using online technology in the new media world - the party Chief Executive could only approve...

First of all download this, and reacquaint yourself with the haughty election ambitions of the party, a party that obviously never expected to win an election.

Now let's start analysing the SNP government's performance by their own yardstick.  After all the SNP are now halfway through their alloted span, so we should see some tangible progress on those all important manifesto commitments - especially those headline grabbing flagship policies, you'd have thunk?

Dualling of the A9?
Council tax abolition?
Scrapping PFI/PPP?
Abolition of student debt?
The Saltire Prize?

and oh so much more, see how many you can spot...

It would appear to me that the SNP are no more, or less, trustworthy than any other political party when it comes to keeping manifesto promises - a pity after the optimism of 2007.

Hey they're just politicians after all, what did I expect? As Homer would put it - and I don't mean him of the Odyssey...

DOH!

Earth shattering announcement???


In an earth shattering announcement yesterday by Education Secretary Fiona Hiccup, we are told that primary one class sizes are to be capped at 25; a variation from the SNP's manifesto commitment of 18.  I have no doubt smaller class sizes benefit pupils, but I'm more than a little puzzled, why the fuss? Average class sizes are well below this number already, and have been since 2001 - could it be that the Secretary knew this already, but felt she had to announce a sure bet with a view to trumphalising her success at some later date?

Seems to me that falling birth rates and rising investment over the last decade have more to do with this lucky coincidence than any single policy; SNP or Labour.

What are they going to take credit for next:  The number of earthquakes in Scotland since 2007? (figures here - amazingly there have been 3 recently, so congratulations are in order)

Average primary class sizes by type of class and stage, 2001-2008

Class Type
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
All
24.3
24.0
23.7
23.9
23.6
23.6
23.3
23.2
Single stage
25.7
25.5
25.1
25.3
25.1
25.1
24.8
24.7
Composite
20.6
20.2
20.1
20.2
19.9
20.0
20.0
20.0
Single stage classes by stage
P1
23.7
23.5
23.2
23.2
23.1
22.9
21.1
21.1
P2
24.8
24.6
24.3
24.6
24.2
24.2
24.2
23.6
P3
25.3
25.3
24.6
25.1
25.1
25.0
24.8
24.7
P4
26.5
26.3
25.9
26.1
26.0
25.9
26.0
26.1
P5
26.7
26.5
26.2
26.5
26.3
26.4
26.1
26.3
P6
26.7
26.6
26.3
26.2
26.2
26.3
26.2
26.3
P7
26.2
26.0
25.7
25.9
25.4
25.6
25.6
25.6

Figures here

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Melancholia

I knew these guys pretty well in the day, Stuart Adamson was a friend - I broke my heart when he left us.  Enjoy this poignant song, whilst I shed a tear...


Where's our Abe Lincoln?


Abraham Lincoln, was the first, and some say last, US president who drew his political philosophy primarily from the Declaration of Independence and Lockean classic Liberalism:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Fine ideals for an impressive man and ironically for a committed believer in independence Abe was a unionist: Lincoln guided the fragmented America through a civil war, successfully uniting disparate states and ideologies for the first time since independence - setting the United States on a course to become the dominant force in world politics, founded on, as he said in his Gettysburg Address
government: of the people, by the people, for the people
Lincoln understood the strength to be derived from the creation of a united America, diversity was something to be embraced and he created a stable political system with strong representative federal and local government, and maintained a low profile as a President - leaving Congress to write the laws while he signed them.

At this time of nationalist separatist politics I see no real debate in the UK, and believe me we need it.  Westminster is devoid of politicians who put a convincing, compelling argument in favour of the strength of our union of disparate states.  In fact it would appear that our politicians are obsessed with reductive inward socio-political segregation. I wish I had a buck for every middle England, the north, the south, nationalist, 'why we are different' political statement I hear or read - I'd buy a ticket out of here.

The result of the next general election, a Conservative victory I have no doubt, will only help further alienate the Scottish electorate and reinforce the nationalist sentiment (sen-ti-ment, noun: A thought, view, or attitude, especially one based mainly on emotion instead of reason).  Without a popular and convincing advocate for a United Kingdom in Holyrood or Westminster, I fear the election of a Conservative UK government will gift the SNP all it wants, irrespective of the rights and wrongs of separation.  The National Conversation is a discussion premised on independence, I can see no real debate - where are the advocates for the other side of the argument, you know - the benefits of the Union?

Without proper debate we may be making the biggest mistake in Scottish and British history, will the Scottish Abe Lincoln please step up?

Monday, 21 September 2009

CLEGG TO UNVEIL SERIES OF THINGS THAT WILL NEVER, EVER HAPPEN

LIBERAL Democrat leader Nick Clegg will rally his party this week by outlining a series of things that are never, ever going to happen.

Image
Mr Clegg will tell the party conference that he is no longer pissing the bed
In his keynote speech to the party's annual conference Clegg will claim the Lib Dems will hold the balance of power after the next election, despite a stunningly comprehensive lack of evidence.

Julian Cook, professor of politics at Reading University, said: "We've reached that point in the year where you may see headlines such as 'Lib Dems to tax homes worth more than £1m' as if that's a thing that could happen, instead of what it actually is which is just some noises coming out of a hole at the front of Vince Cable's head.

"You may also see stories about Mr Clegg rejecting an alliance with David Cameron, because obviously when the Tories win the next election with a majority of at least 60 seats the very first thing Cameron is going to do is offer Nick Clegg the Foreign Office.

"Over the weekend you may even have noticed Mr Clegg abandoning his pledge to abolish student tuition fees and thought, 'oh dear, poor old students' before quickly correcting yourself and thinking 'oh, hang on, that doesn't make the slightest difference to anyone or anything. At all'.

"In fact he may as well have said that he is abandoning his pledge to make your balls the size of pomegranates or cover China in a gigantic, Paisley-patterned table cloth."

Professor Cook added: "The Liberal Democrats are actually very sweet. It's a bit like watching a child put on a pair of daddy's shoes, pick up his briefcase and clomp up and down the hallway pretending to be a 'businessyman'.

"Then, of course, everyone has to sit down and discuss 'plolicies' while eating invisible cake and drinking a small, plastic pot of imaginary tea."
As far as I can tell that is a perfect summary, hattip...

Free thinkers of the world, disunite!

I've always taken pride in the fact that I am not racist, but something happened the other day that made me reassess my self-belief , and it got me to a-thinking; is racism a manifestation of our basic primary behavioural characteristics, a flaw in our programming, so to speak?

It is widely accepted that our neocortex, developmentally, limits the number of people with whom we can maintain stable social relationships - an idea first proposed by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar. Dunbar's number, as it was originally entitled, predicts a mean group size of 150, although other studies resulted in figures from 140 to 300.

This number range coincides neatly with village and tribe sizes since neolithic times, church congregations and military company sizes. Since they were first documented in Roman times military forces maintain company sizes of between 90 and 200. A number found to be the optimum size for a physically close group led and managed by one senior officer, fighting for each other.  A military company is by definition an artificial construct which is a reflection of our natural optimum 'gang-size' and our predilection for such.

But the actual numbers aren't important, what is important is that we need gangs. I use the word 'gang' in the sense of a group of people who, through the organisation, formation, and establishment of an assemblage, share a common identity.

In situations of survival pressure we are programmed to seek out and maintain physically close gangs, employing mutual grooming to maintain a sense of group identity - modern human mutual grooming differs from our ancestors in that language has evolved to replace the the time consuming physical social grooming we can observe in the animal kingdom, you know; delousing, ear-hole hygiene, preening etc - thankfully...

Implicit in this social model is that members of other gangs are 'different from us', whether these perceptions are real or not, that 'otherness' in part defines your group as different, usually superior - we can't help it, our basic cognitive processes drive us to reinforce our own identity through our social network and our shared characteristics. In essence we are programmed to fear anything different, it is a threat to our identity - an identity we define and reinforce through our gang membership.

We just can't help ourself, it is a matter of survival - when we feel passionate about something, anything, when we believe that it's a matter of survival so to speak - we seek out groups of like minded people who in turn help reinforce our dislike of that which we perceive as different, whilst corroborating the correctness of our views, no matter how illogical they are.  And there is a gang for everything; mugging, Christianity, racism, right wing, left wing - you get the idea.

Even those who claim to be anti-'pickyourprejudice' join gangs; social groups of like minded individuals who draw strength from their network and feel superior to, whilst fearing, those who dare to disagree - no wonder they're so bloody righteous, so sure that they are correct - it's a matter of survival.

So the next time you feel angered by those who dare to question your most dearly held beliefs or preconceptions, try to transcend your reflex response to tear their arms off and smash their heads to a bloody pulp and understand that they aren't as different from you as you might think - they're just programmed to disagree with you.

We don't need to flock like sheep to reinforce our prejudices, we know what they are and we should be willing to have them challenged, not just willing to, but enjoy it.  If you must join a gang; don't join the gang you might support, join their opponents and relish the opportunity to walk in another man's shoes and have your beliefs tested - that and the opportunity to fight your biological limitations, you might just help advance the species.

Oh yeah and back to my navel gazing: I'm not racist - just a little afraid of those who are different from me, I canny help it...

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Saturday, 19 September 2009

The best verbal onslaught ever...

I've just bought "The Thick of It" DVD, and thought I'd share some mesmerising brilliance, enjoy

Providing a second to none policing service


The title of this little post is the neat tagline adopted by a police force, a tagline that has recently proven itself to be an idiom in it's truest sense. From memory an idiom is defined as a word or phrase whose meaning cannot be interpreted from it's literal interpretation. From their website:

Leicestershire Constabulary is committed to providing an excellent service in all that we do. We desire to have a national reputation that is second to none.

We fully acknowledge our influence as a positive force for good within communities and our ability to build community cohesion, provide reassurance and tackle criminality.

We welcome the increased accountability and scrutiny applied to policing and will use this as a way of constantly improving our performance.

The challenge is hard with increasing global, national and local demand, but it is one that we seek to meet to the best of our ability within limited resources.
Leicestershire Constabulary strives to be

  • innovative and creative, using every opportunity to improve the quality of life for the residents of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
  • self-critical, unafraid to challenge the status quo and flexible enough to change our work practices wherever necessary.
  • accessible and open, listening and developing greater knowledge and understanding of our responsibilities and potential.
  • wise custodians of public money, ensuring that our resources are positioned where people can gain maximum benefit from their investment.
  • people of integrity, setting the highest professional standards of behaviour, welcoming diversity, straightforward with information, and not making promises we cannot keep.
Leicestershire Constabulary strives to focus its efforts on

  • providing highly visible policing situated in the heart of communities through local policing units, providing every police officer with the opportunity to exert personal influence and bring about positive change
  • becoming information led, concentrating resources where our impact upon vulnerability, offenders and criminality will be most effective to the benefit of all
  • setting clear standards in the non-negotiables such as our response to emergencies and crisis and the investigation of crime when it has occurred
  • entering into partnerships to resolve clearly identified problems and needs, sharing accountability wherever necessary
  • ensuring that any resource not at the front line is fully justified on the basis of clear and objective evidence.
This comment is already far longer than I intended, please forgive me - I felt it important to quote verbatim the mission statement of a police force whose neglect, in part, led a lonely and 'quiet' single mother of two disabled children to take her and her daughter's life in a final act of self-immolation in her car on a deserted lay-by. I do not pretend to understand what went through Fiona Pilkington's mind as she doused the interior of her car with petrol. I can only imagine this was the final dreadful act of a woman who, after 10 years of criminal attacks by local children, and numerous calls for help to the local police, gave up in the realisation that nobody cared.

Leicestershire Constabulary fell well short of their (over) ambitious mission statement; both the internal investigation and the current coroner's inquest will surely find against the police force and probably some paperwork or intelligence collation procedure will be tightened up as a result. However the police alone do not carry responsibility, similarly ridiculous mission statements can be found in the websites of local social and community services and government departments - and yes, as you suspected, they aren't worth the server space they're stored on.

There are few cases over the last years that have inspired such despair in me as this one, the failures are legion; local children, their parents, fear politics, the media, the local community, the local council, social services, the justice system, the family and the police all carry some responsibility.

I offer no solutions, just this - only we can stop this, not Police, ASBOS, Councils nor "professionals". If we don't take responsibility our society is irrevocably fucked, I suspect that there are many other Fiona Pilkingtons adrift out there - alone and desperate beyond logic, and that breaks my heart.

"There's no justice - just us"

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Gies a drink, and a book...


I was going to blog on our laughable national newspaper's bizarre lead story today - the best Scottish headline of the year:
Scotland's alcohol problem: 'I drink to get out my face and fall asleep'

No shit Sherlock; cue more hand wringing, inflated 'cost to society' guestimates and oppressive legislation - to the dubious benefit of the self righteous do gooders, fake charities and single issue life stealers, not us.

Please leave us alone, I live in 21st century Scotland and it's a badly educated, ambition crushing and rude country full of parsimonious people represented by second rate politicians and press, not to mention the weather; No wonder we drink too fuckin' much, you would too if you had to live in this shithole - and oh the beautiful irony of this being the same newspaper who participated in childish hand wringing over the demise of a Whisky plant in Kilmarnock (Breaking News: Ayrshire died decades ago!); are they suggesting we should populate the country with tee-total drinks industry employees manufacturing alcohol for the rest of the world??? Is it any wonder Grounds-keeper Willie, Sean, Scotty, Billy and millions of others joined the diaspora...

But after hours of research I could not find one iota of evidence of the claims that alcohol costs Scotland 75% of its share of the annual NHS budget - no surprise there then?

So instead I finished Dan Brown's latest yarn 'The Lost Symbol', a good read - it was peppered with the usual technical inaccuracies, it is fiction efter aw, but nonetheless a fast paced intelligent story. Brown's fiction is finely balanced with a suitable and convincing factual background - should do the tourist business in Washington no harm, thinking of booking a flight myself...

Loved this spoof on the hype around the release of The Lost Symbol.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Don't knock the eighties



Sigh - bring back the Stasi and the wall, at least we were certain who our enemies were...

Berlin was so much more fun to visit then... Die gute alte Zeit

UN Gaza war crimes report - Final score 1100-13

There were considerable concerns over his impartiality when Judge Goldstone was appointed to head the UN Gaza war crimes investigation in April this year, even the Judge expressed surprise in this from the New York Times.

Goldstone said he was ''shocked, as a Jew,'' to be invited to head the mission.

''It adds an additional dimension,'' said Gladstone, who is on the board of governors at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. ''I've taken a deep interest in what happens in Israel. I'm associated with organizations that have worked in Israel. And I believe I can approach the daunting task that I have accepted in an evenhanded and impartial manner.''


The report was released yesterday and clearly lays out the case for war crimes against Israel, in their use of intentional and disproportionate force and complete disregard for civilian life.

Both the Israeli government (below) and Hamas, have rejected the report - which is a good indication that it is a fair reflection of the facts.

The interview below with an Israeli spokesman who makes the assertion the "we will not apologise for the fact that we are stronger than our enemies", and compares the role of the imprisoned, mainly civilian, population of beseiged Gaza to Germany in WWII demonstrates just how intent the Israeli's are on ignoring international condemnation and continuing the persecution of their neighbours. Israel's military and political stance is breeding extremism throughout the Islamic world, rightly or wrongly others see their shared supernatural belief with the victims of Israeli action to be an important bond.

The inability of the west to resolve the Israeli issue is the principal reason we all live in fear of terrorism - not Pakistan nor Afghanistan, the sooner we deal with the "Middle East Problem" decisively the better. Even the innocent sounding "Middle East Problem" is an equivocation created by an embarrassed west, problems are flat tyres and broken broadband not 1100 civilians dead at the hands of one of the best equipped armies in the world.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

My contribution to the "National Consternation"


There is a big conversation going on, I'm told - although as I mentioned before it wasn't exactly the hot topic when I wrote this blog entry. But it has been picked up, brushed off and given a wee clean for this parliamentary term and you can participate here; that is if scrawling your bytes on the already overcrowded Internet wall can be defined as 'participation'...

I stand by my previous comment "not so much a conversation as shouting at an empty room", devolution is the SNP's raison d'etre and dissenting voices are not welcome.

Anyhoo - thought it would be worth reminding myself, nationalists and dithering ex unionists just how precarious a state Scotland would be in if the SNP's 2007 election victory had actually heralded the start of Scottish independence.

Public Sector employment in Scotland, swollen by our share of the new "Public Sector Financial Institutions" now stands at 25%.

Income tax revenue raised in Scotland stands at £10 billion, over 25% of which is paid by aforementioned public sector workers - so in effect just a fiscal discount.

Other tax revenue amounts to an additional £25billion.

Oil revenue stands at £1-12 Billion; incidentally any of you adherents to the "Oil would have made Scotland wealthy" argument really should take the time to read this well buried government "Background Paper" - so no real contribution since 1975 then?

At this point Scotland is in deficit, or on a good "Oil Price" year maybe a little in the black - based on the current devolved Scottish budget of £33billion.

Bailout of RBS and our share of the bailout of the Hydra like "Lloyds TSB BoS Halifax"? The total cost of this to the UK is expected to be £500billion to £1.5trillion. Apart from the obvious arithmetical inconsistency of attributing say just 10% of that cost to Scotland (they were Scottish banks after all) let's just do that - so can we agree on a cost of £50-£150billion to an independent Scotland as a starting point surely?

Our share of military spending, let's say £3.3billion. Other non-devolved costs, of which there are many, we'll leave aside.

As for the fiscal stimulus, who knows what an independent Scotland's post-industrial, public sector heavy and financial sector dominated economy would have cost in addition to the bank bailout. Pointless "busted flush" economics I think...

At this point we are having a pissing contest with Iceland and Ireland to see who has the biggest overdraft, and begging for help - perhaps from the English, in an ironic echo of the Darien scheme.

All hail New Caledonia !