August 31, 2006
German Humour at its best
DA DADA DA DA DA DA-DA DA DADA DA DA DAH DADA - part two
The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson is to remake classic British war film The Dam Busters, he has told film industry trade paper Screen Daily.
Telegraph | News
Sir David Frost is to re-make the British classic The Dambusters, complete with the original Eric Coates music.
Or here is an even better idea, why don't they go away and make a new film and leave the classics alone - I doubt they can create the subtle build up of the story and devise the only moment in films that grown Englishmen admit to blubbing to - when the dog, whatever it is called, is killed.
An Apology to Kennet Council and Cllr Chris Humphries
I, The Englishman, arraigned personally before this tribunal, and kneeling before you, Most Eminent and Reverend Lord Cardinals, Inquisitors-General against heretical depravity throughout the entire Kennet Council, having before my eyes and touching with my hands, the Holy Gospels, swear that I have always believed, do believe, and by God's help will in the future believe, all that is held, preached, and taught by the Kennet District Council. But whereas -- after an injunction had been judicially intimated to me by this Kennet Council, to the effect that I must altogether abandon the false opinion that the Wheelie Bins are bugged, and that I must not hold, defend, or teach in any way whatsoever, verbally or in writing, the said false doctrine, and after it had been notified to me that the said doctrine was contrary to the word of Cllr Chris Humphries -- I wrote a blog in which I discuss this new doctrine already condemned, and adduce arguments of great cogency in its favour, without presenting any solution of these, and for this reason I have been pronounced by the Kennet Council to be vehemently suspected of heresy, that is to say, of having held and believed that the Wheelie Bins are bugged:
Therefore, desiring to remove from the minds of your Eminences, and of all faithful Citizens, this vehement suspicion, justly conceived against me, with sincere heart and unfeigned faith I abjure, curse, and detest the aforesaid errors and heresies, and generally every other error, heresy, and sect whatsoever contrary to the said Kennet Council, and I swear that in the future I will never again say or assert, verbally or in writing, anything that might furnish occasion for a similar suspicion regarding me; but that should I know any heretic, or person suspected of heresy, I will denounce him to this Kennet Council, or to the Inquisitor or Ordinary of the place where I may be. Further, I swear and promise to fulfill and observe in their integrity all penances that have been, or that shall be, imposed upon me by this Kennet Council. And, in the event of my contravening, (which God forbid) any of these my promises and oaths, I submit myself to all the pains and penalties imposed and promulgated in the sacred canons and other constitutions, general and particular, against such delinquents. So help me God, and these His Holy Gospels, which I touch with my hands.
I, the said Englishman, have abjured, sworn, promised, and bound myself as above; and in witness of the truth thereof I have with my own hand subscribed the present document of my abjuration.
I, The Englishman, have abjured as above with my own hand.
Hat-tip to Galileo Galilei
Old New London Street Cries - The Data Seller
Customers who move house and use Royal Mail's redirection service are being bombarded with junk mail because the postal group is selling its customer information to businesses.
The organisation describes the names, addresses and moving dates of customers who sign up for the £35-a-year service as a "unique data source" for direct-marketing companies...
A spokesman said that customers are given the opportunity to tick a box when they fill in the redirection form, if they do not want to receive the mailings.
The group is already under fire for making it difficult for customers to opt out of junk-mail services.
That is why I made the form for opting out of Junk Mail available here - took me ages to find out how to get it out of the bastards.
Opt-out is not acceptable - unless I'm a moron and say "please send me stuff" I do not want it - how can I make this any clearer without having to personally stuff the unwanted junk up Adam Crozier's arse?
(Suggestions for any other updated Old London Street Cries gratefully received)
Vote Lib Dim - Get nuLabour
Co-operation between new Labour and the Liberal Democrats was assumed to have ended with the departure of Paddy Ashdown. A new biography of Charles Kennedy by a Times writer reveals that it actually continued in secret during the 2001 general election.
Blair and Kennedy agreed to co-ordinate their national campaigns to maximise the electoral damage both could wreak on the Conservatives...
On Kennedy’s election as leader, Blair broke off his summer holiday to telephone with his congratulations and they agreed to meet soon. In the ensuing years they met many times, more often than the political world appreciated: alone, informally for dinner, with teams of advisers, across the Cabinet table in the Joint Cabinet Committee set up by Blair and Ashdown, spontaneously at state or parliamentary occasions......
At the Red Lion, Threshers, under the arches at Waterloo Bridge...
"Tony, mate, you're my bestest friend you are.."
"Yes Charles, have another"
"Tony, they don't understand me, but you do, I love you, I want you to be Mime Pinister, here's those papers you want, if you don't want that can of Special Brew pass it over, mate, you're my best mate you are...."
One law for us...
Children of celebrities will be given special safeguards in a new database that will store details of every child in England and Wales, it was disclosed yesterday.
Ministers said the contentious two-tier level of privacy will protect children of the rich and famous from intrusion.
Files are held by many bodies on the 11 million children in England and Wales, but the index will link this sensitive information in one database accessible to hundreds of thousands of officials.
Schools, doctors, the police and private-sector bodies will alert the system to such warning signals as low birth weight, poor exam results and a parent's depression or addiction. Two warning "flags" on a child's record may trigger an investigation.
Lord Adonis, the education minister, told the House of Lords: "Between 300,000 and 400,000 users will access the index....
So the Blairs and Beckhams will not have every detail and rumour available to hundreds of thousands of gawpers but you, me and the rest of us, we are just Proles to be herded and tagged at willl. Come the glorious day there will be a reason for the self appointed Patricians to be hiding.....
August 30, 2006
There was an excellent freedom of information story on The World at One this lunchtime, about the National Audit Office weakening (or should that be 'sexing down') its draft criticisms of the huge NHS IT programme Connecting for Health.
The final version of the NAO report on this scheme, published in June, was much less critical of Connecting for Health than generally anticipated.
Using FOI, The World at One obtained an earlier draft of the NAO report, dated 26 January.
And Private Eye points out that the "blacked out" sections with the really embarrassing stuff can be read by a simple copy and paste of them into another program. I bet BT are really pleased that their £11.6 million penalty has now been made public by Audit Office incompetence.
Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner....
This is the 50 year old biscuit tin I keep the chocolate digestives in - obviously Mother never claimed the 1/6 deposit - that is 1 shilling 6 pence - about 7 New Pence for youngsters.
When hefty deposits driven by the market were charged on tins, there was a sensible incentive to recycle or reuse.
How London has changed - what would a biscuit tin of common London sights look like now?
RELAXED rules on deerhunting will bring more marksmen into the countryside as the wild deer population continues to soar. ...
Barry Gardiner, the Biodiversity Minister, said that wild deer populations were growing rapidly in parts of the country despite annual culls, and as a result the animals are causing millions of pounds’ worth of damage to agriculture.
He said: “They are damaging some of our most threatened woodland habitats. In addition, they are presenting an increasing hazard on our roads, with more than 300 people injured each year in deer-related road accidents.”
If the proposals become law, the close season will be shortened by a fortnight and licensed killing of deer will be permitted even during protected periods “to prevent the deterioration of natural heritage or to preserve public health and safety”.
“Any reasonable and humane means” to destroy deer suffering from injury or disease will be permitted, and dependent young could be killed if their mother has died.
All sensible stuff - we certainly have had a huge increase in Deer numbers here.
A spokesman for the Defra-funded deer initiative said: “Changing farming patterns and the Government’s policy of increasing forest cover have increased the available food and habitat. Climate change has meant we haven’t had a severe winter since about 1963, so everything’s going their way.”
Of course - got to get the obligatory "it is all the fault of climate change" in there somewhere...
UPDATE - on opening the curtains this morning this is what I saw through the drawing room window...
August 29, 2006
A masterpiece of Management Speak from the local Rozzers
POLICE inquiry offices in west and north Wiltshire towns are closing to the public.
It means people living in Warminster, Westbury. Bradford on Avon and Corsham will not be able to walk into their local police stations to report crimes or speak to officers.
A statement released by Chief Supt Kirby said: "To enable us to offer consistent and reliable opening hours to the public and be able to afford our inquiry office staff with support which they deserve, we have decided to temporarily close a number of inquiry office facilities.
Well I suppose that being always shut is offering "consistent and reliable opening hours".
And I thought it should be Enquiry not Inquiry - according to AskOxford: What is the distinction between enquire and inquire?
The traditional distinction between enquire and inquire is that enquire is to be used for general senses of 'ask', while inquire is reserved for uses meaning 'make a formal investigation'. In practice, however, enquire (and enquiry) is more common in British English while inquire (and inquiry) is more common in US English, but otherwise there is little discernible distinction in the way the words are used.
Opting out of Junk Mail
A postman who advised people how to stop junk mail being delivered to their home could lose his job after bosses suspended him for misconduct.
If you want to follow my example of being green and cutting down on waste then here's the official badly formatted form to fill out and post back - no interwebbie stuff for them!
(See I'm really very environmentally friendly - or is it I just hate the rubbish? And I think I won't "miss important information from local, national or government publications that are sent using this service" too much.)
| ‘Stop Door to Door’ Confirmation Form |
| To:| Door to Door Opt Outs |
| | Royal Mail Door to Door |
| | Kingsmead House |
| | Oxpens Road |
| | OXFORD |
| | OX1 1RX |
| | |
| From:| |
| Address:| |
| | |
| | |
| | |
| | |
| | |
| Postcode:| |
| | |
| Reference:| Request to stop Door to Door mail being delivered to my address |
I confirm that I have read and fully understood your letter advising me of the implications of “Opting-Out” of receiving deliveries of Royal Mail unaddressed ‘Door to Door’ items to my address.
I understand that I may miss important information from local, national or government publications that are sent using this service.
From time to time, Royal Mail would like to contact you with information about our products and services that may be of interest to you. If you do not want to be contacted, please tick here.
Signature: Date: /
These are the official notes -
As a company we are quite happy to put the wheels in motion to arrange the cessation of these deliveries to your premises but before doing so, I need to make you fully aware of the implications of “Opting Out” and once you have considered these, get your final written authorisation to cease deliveries of this nature.
The main areas to be considered are:
· This service only relates to unaddressed mail. Mail bearing your address and “To the Occupier” or any other generic recipient information, Royal Mail is still legally obliged to deliver.
· It is not possible for us to separate advertising material and information that you may want, such as leaflets from Central and Local Government and other public bodies. Opting out from Royal Mail Door to Door stops all unaddressed items.
· Opting out means no one at the Delivery point will receive mail of this nature, is this acceptable to everyone inhabiting the property?
· If you simply want to reduce the amount of direct mail addressed in full to yourself you can do so by registering with The Mailing Preference Service. They can limit or reduce targeted direct mail by up to 90%. To obtain an information pack please contact them at:
MPS, DMA House, 70 Margaret St., LONDON, W1W 8SS
If you still wish to Opt Out of receiving Door to Door, please complete the form enclosed and return it to the above address and we will process your request. Every effort will be made to prevent the delivery of Door-to-Door items by Royal Mail. Exceptionally, if relief staff are used, an occasional delivery may occur.
Please be advised that it may take up to 6 weeks or more for the implementation of unaddressed mail to not be delivered by Royal Mail.
Finally, there are, a number of other companies that deliver material through your letterbox. We have no control over their actions. Again, the Mailing Preference Service, can offer advice on firms operating in your
Last of the Summer Whine
I walked in town on silver spurs that jingled to
A song that I had only sang to just a few
She saw my silver spurs and said lets pass some time
And I will give to you summer wine
Ohh-oh-oh summer wine
Next Monday I start a new job which involves leaving the house earlier and will keep me busier so blogging may become lighter. And this week I really should be getting prepared rather than writing about Kennet Council...
Strawberries cherries and an angel´s kiss in spring
My summer wine is really made from all these things
Take off your silver spurs and help me pass the time
And I will give to you summer wine
Ohhh-oh summer wine
So don't panic if I don't post - there are an increasing number of good bloggers out there who write far better than me - the bastards...
When I woke up the sun was shining in my eyes
My silver spurs were gone my head felt twice its size
She took my silver spurs a dollar and a dime
And left me cravin´ for more summer wine
Ohh-oh-oh summer wine
August 28, 2006
Weasel words on Bin Bugs
The Local Government Association (LGA) has called on the Government to give councils the power to introduce variable waste charging schemes.
Paul Bettison, chair of the LGA environment board, said people who do not recycle should be made to pay more as they are receiving an extra service."
No one would be happier than I if we paid our taxes just for the services we receive - there a huge raft of council services I don't use or want to pay for but that is not how the system works.
"He said: "We tried to persuade people that it is good to recycle. Now we are seeing that not everybody was persuaded and now we have got to really encourage them."
By "encourage" I think he means make them pay through the nose a second time for a service they already pay Council Tax for...
Asked about privacy concerns, he said that collecting general information about the amount of waste created by a community was not a "state or personal secret".
Of course he avoids the point here, the tags monitor the personal amount of waste that a household produces - which is personal data.
Peter Evans, of Kennet District Council, which includes Devizes, in Wiltshire, said the tags were mainly being used to settle disputes over bin ownership.
Asked about if people were told of their existence, he said: "A lot of people did not know. We did not broadcast that the information was there for the obvious reason that they might rip them off."
I think he means to say - we kept this secret because we knew the public wouldn't want them - well Peter, judging by the reaction I was hearing in Devizes this morning, most people think Kennet are a bunch of untrustworthy sneaky bastards now. Pleased with that?
Who paid for Kennet's Bin Bugs
Councillor Chris Humphries, Leader of Kennet District Council, boasted that the new bugged wheelie bins had external funding:
"The Council has been very successful in obtaining external funding in the provision of these new services.
Almost all of the capital costs have been provided by external sources and partnership. This way of working has funded most of the Councils operational costs."
But he didn't say who or why they were funded. Has Kennet District Council done a secret deal with Defra?
A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) spokeswoman said the government is looking at a "range of options" to help the UK meet tough European landfill reduction targets.
She said the department has paid £5 million to councils to fund 40 pilot schemes, which include waste monitoring.
Kennet District Council Buggers
Apologies for the rash of articles on the Kennet District Council Bugging scandal!
Let me just summarise a couple of points.
My big complaint is that that Kennet Council secretly introduced an electronic bug onto my premises - it doesn't matter what the bug can do or is for - that is simply unacceptable.
We will now hear all sort of "reasonable" reasons why the bugs should be there. Here is Kennet's first version:
Martin Smith, head of Environmental Services at Kennet District Council, which covers Devizes, admitted that residents had not been told their bins were electronically tagged. Nor is there any reference in documents about the council's waste-recycling strategy. There is nothing sinister about this,' he said. 'These are simply chips that will enable us to sort out disputes between householders about whose wheelie bin is whose. If there are any arguments we can just send out an officer to scan the chip and settle the argument.
'There is a debate in Government over the possibility of introducing charges but that's not what we had in mind when we ordered the chips.'
And that sounds like complete rubbish to me.
The truth is that the EU is ruling our refuse and the councils are just doing what our European masters want them to - and that means that our bins are going to be policed tighter than our borders.
And as to the RFID tags produced by deister electronic. We are told they are just to identify the address - so why do they need to be so large? Why do they need to have Read/Write capability - TC chipnest transponder specification? And what is the purpose of choosing a system that has an "open architecture (which) allows Software houses and systems integrators to provide bespoke solutions."
All this at £2 a bin just to provide an address? Pull the other one.
If Kennet District Council has a reasonable explanation why did they not declare it and argue for it instead of secretly installing them?
When did our Civil Servants become the Stasi?
More EU madness on Rubbish
Neil Parish MEP: News - What a lot of rot! Compost will go to landfill, rather than on the roses via Numberwatch
Pre(com)posterous changes to rules governing green waste will mean tonnes of compost will now have to go to landfill, rather than being spread on gardens and farms - leaving local authorities with the prospect of a multi-million pound fine from the EU for failing to meet recycling targets, Conservative agriculture spokesman in the European Parliament, Neil Parish MEP, has warned.
Until recently, once green waste had been shredded, composted and screened it was classified as 'product' and could be bagged and sold in bulk. However, recent changes now say the material is still waste and cannot be moved without significant additional paperwork. A gardener would now require three separate permits to store, transport and use the compost on his roses!
With costs set to spiral for compost processors, it is almost certain a vast amount of composted waste will go to landfill instead. As Green waste represents around 50 percent of the annual recycling tonnage, many Councils' recycling figures will effectively be cut in half at a time when the European Commission is already threatening the UK government with fines of up to £180 million for its failure to significantly reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.
Sheer bloody madness yet again but it does highlight that the whole Rubbish Emergency which councils are proclaiming so they can bully the householders into line is a pure EU invention - we are not running out of landfill sites, recycling is not always the best option and restricting the official amount of rubbish one can disposes of only means it is dumped unofficially....
Kennet Bin Bug Secrecy - Council leader "not told of true purpose"
Martin Smith, head of Environmental Services at Kennet District Council, which covers Devizes, admitted that residents had not been told their bins were electronically tagged. Nor is there any reference in documents about the council's waste-recycling strategy. There is nothing sinister about this,' he said. 'These are simply chips that will enable us to sort out disputes between householders about whose wheelie bin is whose. If there are any arguments we can just send out an officer to scan the chip and settle the argument.
'There is a debate in Government over the possibility of introducing charges but that's not what we had in mind when we ordered the chips.'
The Tories have already condemned the proposed charge as another New Labour tax-raising measure. And they warn that people will simply start dumping bags in their neighbours' gardens or at the end of the street to avoid paying.
Wiltshire farmer Tom Seaman urged residents to protest by unscrewing the bugs and sending them back to the council. Mr Seaman, who dumped a digger bucket-ful of uncollected bin bags on the town hall steps during last month's heatwave, said: 'This is a disgraceful backdoor policy. Monitoring devices have been secretly installed without a word of consultation or information. People should not damage council property but send these things back to their rightful owners and demand an explanation.'
Kennet Council chairman Gerry Knunkler said neither he nor council tax payers had been told about the true purpose of the bugs. 'I was assured these things were simply to ensure bins could be returned to the right addresses if they got mixed up or drunks rolled them off,' he said.
Kay Twitchen, of the Local Government Association, said: 'This technology would certainly help councils to levy charges on individual householders.'
Anyone who removed a bug and threw it away might not get their bins emptied, warned Paul Bettison, the Association's environment chief.
Mr Bettison, an advocate of charging, said: 'Removing one of these devices would not break any law as far as I know. But if in the future a local authority decided to charge for taking away rubbish, it would be within its rights to say to that person, "If you don't want to pay, we don't want to provide you with a service."'
But he admitted that at the moment no action could be taken against protesters.
As a note I think it is Jerry Kunkler not "Gerry Knunkler" and he is not the leader of the council but then the Politburo style photo of our glorious leader Councillor Chris Humphries seems to have disappeared off the front page of the Kennet web site overnight. And to believe the tags are just to "help" householders be reunited with their bins is charmingly naive - bins already have a unique serial number and most householder prefer to paint their house number on the bin, which seems slightly easier and cheaper to read than having to wait for a man with a RFID reader to do it.
The BBC reports on "chipped bins"
Chips in bins which help councils charge for the weight of rubbish collected could be common across the UK within two years.
Three local councils are about to trial the chipped bins. ....
The weight of rubbish in each bin would be measured by equipment installed in collection trucks.
Mr Bettison said if councils get the go-ahead from government, the weighing schemes could be piloted within the next 12 months and commonplace across the country a year after that.
A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) spokeswoman said the government is looking at a "range of options" to help the UK meet tough European landfill reduction targets.
She said the department has paid £5 million to councils to fund 40 pilot schemes, which include waste monitoring. ....
Privacy campaigners, however, are warning against the "chipped bin" scheme.
Simon Davies, founder of Privacy International, said he had grave concerns about the increasing use of tagging technology to gather information.
"Residents need to be aware that once they accept this there is no turning back," he added. "This just takes it to a new level."
So - "Go ahead" not yet given; councils not being named; cash being splashed and behind it all an EU directive - oh, and an assumption that "residents" will be consulted to give their go ahead!
August 27, 2006
Guess what I found in my Kennet Council Wheelie Bin this morning?
Alerted by this article:
Germans plant bugs in our wheelie bins | the Daily Mail
Electronic spy 'bugs' have been secretly planted in hundreds of thousands of household wheelie bins.
The gadgets - mostly installed by companies based in Germany - transmit information about the contents of the bins to a central database which then keeps records on the waste disposal habits of each individual address.
Already some 500,000 bins in council districts across England have been fitted with the bugs - with nearly all areas expected to follow suit within the next couple of years.
Until now, the majority of bins have been altered without the knowledge of their owners. In many cases, councils which ordered the installation of the devices did not even debate the proposals publicly.
The official reason for the bugs is to 'improve efficiency' and settle disputes between neighbours over wheelie-bin ownership. But experts say the technology is actually intended to enable councils to impose fines on householders who exceed limits on the amount of non-recyclable waste they put out. New powers for councils to do this are expected to be introduced by the Government shortly.
So I went outside and tipped my bin over to have a look under the lip at the top - and here is what I found...
Details on the bug's abilities are here.
I have checked the information the Kennet Council sent me when they introduced the bins last month with a great fanfare and at no time did they say they were going to introduce an electronic bug onto my premises.
So now what do I do? Do I meekly accept the right of Kennet District Council to secretly bug me or not?
I think the buggers at Kennet Council can expect a follow up....
Time for the Tories to wake up and smell the coffee
ONE in five Britons — nearly 10m adults — is considering leaving the country amid growing disillusionment over the failure of political parties to deliver tax cuts, according to a new poll.
The extensive survey conducted by ICM, the polling company, shows that — contrary to the current approach of both Labour and the Tories — an overwhelming majority of voters do want to see cuts in income and inheritance tax.
The results will raise alarm in both political camps, but particularly for David Cameron, who has yet to solidify the Conservatives’ lead over Labour in the opinion polls.
The Tory leader, who has ditched his party’s long-standing commitment to tax cuts in favour of “economic stability”, has maintained a solid lead over Labour since May in most of the polls, but is still well short of securing a majority.
And that is what a small band of "extreme" bloggers have been saying for a while....
August 25, 2006
Writely - Word processor (owned by Google)
Who needs Office?
- The Gorse Fox comments in an email:
For some reason I am unable to comment at your blog... (and have tried on a number of occasions).
However, your entry about free software prompted me to lookup a post I made back on 14th August where I listed my favourite and heavily used portfolio of free software from around the web. To paraphrase you.... eat you heart out Bill Gates!
Never follow a farmer
Ignore that stunning view and keep your eyes on the road because admiring beautiful scenery or dramatic buildings is putting drivers at risk, according to a survey released on Thursday.
Have you ever driven with a farmer? To us every field is a story waiting to be read, every animal is of interest. We are the ones checking the furrows are straight or wondering what the damned fool has done with his straw - by looking out the side window as we wander down the middle of the road at speed.
Not being able to read the countryside must make driving through it very strange and odd.
Roll up, Roll up!
Giffords Circus - "a traditional, 1930's village green circus"
Highly recommended - I still can smell the sawdust, horsesweat and greasepaint as we went last night. If you have a chance don't miss it, even if you have to borrow some children to go along with.
August 24, 2006
Do we need UN peacekeepers in Wiltshire?
SECURITY fears have led to the United Nations pulling out of a project to bring a group of disadvantaged schoolchildren from Malmesbury, South Africa, to their English namesake town.
Nine youngsters, aged between 11 and 13, were due to make the week-long trip in October.
However, the UN has withheld their £2,000 grant for the scheme as they feel the children's safety cannot be guaranteed with the current increased threat levels in the UK.
As a result of the decision, the children will not be able to make the journey.
Malmesbury Wiltshire Crime Statistics - Malmesbury seems to have the lowest rate of violent crime in the low crime area of North Wiltshire - the only crime rate above average are for Drug Offences, but then Prince Harry does party there....
Global Warming - the proof
Huh, I say, I'm a Climate Change Scientist and suggestions that I pick and choose my data, dates, baselines and anything else are a wild calumny - if there is data missing it is because I need more research money, OK!
Anyway here is the proof of Global Warming - look at that temperature rise according to Met Office official figures!
So what if this covers the years 1695 to 1737 - this proves it, or something anyway!
Registering the Huffington Post Failure
The Huffington Post has suffered through a short, uncelebrated career as one of the internet's lamest gag sites since it first logged on back in May of 2005. And the blog's condition has shifted to what doctors call "Mel Gibson's Tequila-infused Critical" this week after it let Adam Hanft make on the site.
Hanft seems to have gotten his Arse Feed confused with his globule in a mad dash to chuck up a huge scoop for the Huffers. In a very concise post, the journalist-cum-adverister wrote, "Google 'Failure and Be Stunned by the First Link: You heard it here first. But do it quick, before they get the Geheime Staatspolizei to have it removed."
Hanft rather seriously seemed to have been claiming that he was the first person to notice that gogoling "Failure" turns up an entry for George Bush. Most folks with a web pulse know that the "failure" gag has been going around for months, only to be preceded by the "miserable failure" gag....
maybe it was just the site saying, "We'll stop at nothing to demean Bush, including letting any tool with a keyboard and mouse dribble drivel here."
Wonderful news from The Lebanon
In my previous post on the Levantine war - An Englishman's Castle: In the land of Canaa - I mentioned that:
my main worry is what is happening to the vineyards that supply Serge Hochar with the grapes for the wonderful Château Musar wines, if this year's harvest is disrupted then that would be a disaster.
So I'm delighted to note:
They were almost left to rot, another casualty of the month-long war between Israel and Hizbollah, but yesterday Lebanon's oldest château began its annual wine harvest, eager to meet a surge of orders from abroad.
At Château Ksara, deep in the Hizbollah heartland of the Bekaa Valley, Bedouin women went to work among the vines, collecting the 149th harvest of Lebanon's oldest labels, which just weeks ago seemed certain to be lost.
The slopes of the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountain ranges are home to some of the Middle East's finest wines. But for 33 days, Israeli war jets pounded the area, seeking out guerrilla hideouts and destroying houses, bridges and factories.
That what was so important about the timing of the ceasefire - I know "Château Musar, a wine beloved by the late Auberon Waugh and regarded by many critics as one of the finest in the world, captured the public imagination after tales circulated of a harvest conducted through heavy bombardment during the 1975 to 1990 civil war" - but let's get serious. The production of truly great wine is far more important to civilisation than nearly any other act - it must be given all the protection it can be.
Is 6:40 am too early to open one of my dwindling stock of rich red "hint of medical iodine" 1982 Musars? (Tasting notes)
Never mind the bollocks - BBC blue pencil in action
A RADIO comedy show containing a joke about Rolf Harris drawing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad has been pulled by the BBC because it was deemed too controversial.
The Franz Kafka Big Band, a comedy series commissioned for BBC Radio Scotland, has been withdrawn from the schedule after editors thought that jokes about Israel and Palestine and a sketch in which a cow flies into the World Trade Centre were inappropriate.
The BBC had billed the group’s second series as “sure to surprise even the most unshockable”, but said yesterday that it had asked the writers to rewrite some sketches.
I think we can guess at what sort of the comedy the BBC was pleased to put out to "surprise" the "most unshockable" - but it seems there is still one line that is too tough to cross....
Of course as the comics say:
Franz Kafka Big Band
All this, is, of course fabulous news as being banned by the BBC is a sure fire recipe for success!
ROCK N ROLL !
The Castle Cycle of Climate Change Theory
Numberwatch brings us news that the world is warming faster than we thought - to quote an email he received:
It's 0.023K per year, and that is increasing.
Please see: http://members.cox.net/rcoppock/Slope1952-2005.jpg
As Numberwatch says :"First, it behoves us offer congratulations. It does not fall to many of us to create a new scientific unit, but the measure of thermal acceleration in K century -2 appears to be quite unique. Let us hope that the International Organisation of Standards will do the right thing and name the new unit the coppock."
The temperature records are from 1880 to 2005 for full years. And it shows a steady rise over that time with little sign of acceleration.
To compare the rate of warming I split the record into two halves 1880-1942 and 1943-2005. Out of interest the C02 concentration went from 292.3 in 1887 to 307.9 in 1943 (a very small rise) and then up to 374.61 in 2004 (a larger rise).
Here is the graph of the NASA data split as described - the Y axis is "GLOBAL Land-Ocean Temperature Index in .01 C - base period: 1951-1980"
Now isn't that strange - in one period CO2 hardly changed and yet the warming seems to be the same as the more recent 63 years. You don't suppose that there are other factors at work do you?
Now as every man and his dog makes wild claims about climate change let me claim that there is a 63 year cycle of warming and this is called The Castle Cycle of Climate Change Theory - book, television series, and world tour to follow....
UPDATED - the Spreadsheet now has the English Temperature record added which shows the same trend - 1691 to 1754 seems to be the fastest rising temperature 63 year record - beating even the most recent - what did The Royal Society make of that then?
August 23, 2006
Cows have regional accents like humans, language specialists have confirmed.
They decided to examine the issue after dairy farmers noticed their cows had slightly different moos, depending on which herd they came from.
The farmers in Somerset who noticed the phenomenon said it may have been the result of the close bond between them and their animals.
Farmer Lloyd Green, from Glastonbury, said: "I spend a lot of time with my ones and they definitely moo with a Somerset drawl.
Yes they might speak softly in a local burr but the sheep is still a liar - I never did.
And in other news the old sport of winding up townies who are drinking cider in the local gains another champion....
I don't mind them living next door - to you...
The cry has gone up 'Enoch was right'. Tosh. Immigration is good for Britain - Comment - Times Online
Immigration has, by and large, been of enormous benefit to Britain. It has helped to transform our economy, enrich our cultural life, support our public services and improve our image abroad. It would be inconceivable to imagine our health or transport systems functioning without it. It fills a skills gap among doctors and teachers. It allows the nation’s corner shops to survive...
At the same time I am beginning to find the argument against multiculturalism tendentious — it plays too easily to the bias of racism, and it is manna for the British National Party; radicalised Muslims are not, by and large, immigrants — they are born and raised in Britain, their extremism owing more to events abroad than diversity in this country.
Of course Magnus Linklater is a proud Scot and Edinburgh resident - a bit like us here in the country we are largly ignorant of the effects of having "multicultural" neighbours - I wonder if he would be so gung-ho for immigrants if they lived next door to him?
Figure 2 shows the ethnic composition of selected cities in the UK. The cities with the greatest ethnic mix are London (71.2 per cent White, 10.2 per cent from Indian Sub-continent, 1.1 per cent Chinese and 17.5 per cent Other Ethnic Group) and Birmingham (70.4 per cent White, 18.5 per cent from Indian Sub-continent, 10.6 per cent from Other Ethnic Group). These are also the cities with the largest total populations.
Of the selected cities, Edinburgh is the least ethnically diverse (95.9 per cent White, 1.6 per cent from Indian Sub-continent, 0.8 per cent Chinese and 1.8 per cent Other Ethnic Group). Bath, Norwich and York all have white populations greater than 97 per cent.
Cutting the H&S crap
Children are being prevented from taking part in activities by over-zealous "health and safety pedants" terrified of taking risks, the chairman of the Health and Safety Commission said yesterday.
Bill Callaghan said that misunderstandings and fear of the "compensation culture" had led to organisations being over-cautious and preventing worthwhile activities and trips....
The Health and Safety Commission launched its Get A Life campaign to counter its image as a public killjoy.
It urged organisations to take "sensible risks" and said there was no need to create bureaucratic mountains of paperwork.
Mr Callaghan said: "We are launching the principles of what risk management should be about.
"It's not about creating a totally risk-free environment or creating useless paperwork mountains. We think poor risk management hampers business and constrains people's freedom.
"We are pretty fed up with the way in which the good work that the Health and Safety Executive's staff do is overshadowed by trivial, petty and wrong stories about us banning conkers or forcing trapeze artists to wear hard hats."
He said many of the bad decisions were made by people within an organisation who were given responsibility for health and safety, but had no training about sensible precautions.
Whenever I have dealt with HSE or RoSPA inspectors they have always been sensible and level headed - it is the self appointed "experts" who are the pain. I was told last week in all seriousness that it was "illegal" to have a tree nearer than 30 feet to a house because of "Health and Safety", when I said "bollocks" there was a pained look of hurt that anyone should insult the sacred god of H&S (PBUH)...
August 22, 2006
Good news - a world of excess
The number of overweight people in the world has overtaken the number of malnourished for the first time,...
And this is being presented as bad news!
For those of us of a certain generation this picture of a Biafran child was seared into our memory. The starving millions are still with us but Malthusian pessimism of the twenty years ago has vanished and the problems are now political not agricultural. The Greens of the day were cheerfully predicting worldwide famine, revolution and pestilence unless we all turned to eating Mung Beans, cultivating our own allotments and resisting evil chemical companies.
They were wrong then and they are wrong now.
To illustrate the rate of change and the blessings of science here are the wheat yield averages of England.
2006 9.39 (So far)
I can remember the first field of wheat I grew that was 10 Tonnes/hectare - a real feeling of triumph - now it is average!
And he gave it for his opinion, that whoever could make two ears of corn, or
two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew
before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service
to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.
- Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels
August 21, 2006
For you Tommy the argument is over
How are we telling the climate story and can we tell it better?
Author: Gill Ereaut and Nat Segnit
Publication Date: 03 August 2006
Putting in place effective policies to stimulate climate-friendly behaviour in the UK is clearly essential, but so too is the use of effective communications.
It is a manual on how a government can lie to its people. It is a prescription for marketing falsehood in the same way as selling soap powder. But this is Blair’s Britain now, and Cameron’s Britain will be no different. Above all, it is the Britain of Orwell’s nightmare. But if people cannot (or will not) see it for what it is, no amount of line-by-line analysis is going to change their minds. Furthermore, for those with the wit to see, these people have tacitly admitted that they (and their clients) are lying.
Here is an extract to give a flavour:
Much of the noise in the climate change discourse comes from argument and counter-argument, and it is our recommendation that, at least for popular communications, interested agencies now need to treat the argument as having been won. This means simply behaving as if climate change exists and is real, and that individual actions are effective. This must be done by stepping away from the ‘advocates debate’ described earlier, rather than by stating and re-stating these things as fact.
The ‘facts’ need to be treated as being so taken-for-granted that they need not be spoken. The certainty of the Government’s new climate-change slogan – ‘Together this generation will tackle climate change’ (Defra 2006) – gives an example of this approach. It constructs, rather than claims, its own factuality.
The terror - an expert writes
The Register has got to ask, were these guys for real, or have they, and the counterterrorist officials supposedly protecting us, been watching too many action movies?
We're told that the suspects were planning to use TATP, or triacetone triperoxide, a high explosive that supposedly can be made from common household chemicals unlikely to be caught by airport screeners. A little hair dye, drain cleaner, and paint thinner - all easily concealed in drinks bottles - and the forces of evil have effectively smuggled a deadly bomb onboard your plane.
Or at least that's what we're hearing, and loudly, through the mainstream media and its legions of so-called "terrorism experts." But what do these experts know about chemistry? Less than they know about lobbying for Homeland Security pork, which is what most of them do for a living......
The al-Qaeda franchise will pour forth its bowl of pestilence and death. We know this because we've watched it countless times on TV and in the movies, just as our officials have done. Based on their behavior, it's reasonable to suspect that everything John Reid and Michael Chertoff know about counterterrorism, they learned watching the likes of Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Vin Diesel, and The Rock (whose palpable homoerotic appeal it would be discourteous to emphasize).
It's a pity that our security rests in the hands of government officials who understand as little about terrorism as the Florida clowns who needed their informant to suggest attack scenarios, as the 21/7 London bombers who injured no one, as lunatic "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, as the Forest Gate nerve gas attackers who had no nerve gas, as the British nitwits who tried to acquire "red mercury," and as the recent binary liquid bomb attackers who had no binary liquid bombs.
For some real terror, picture twenty guys who understand op-sec, who are patient, realistic, clever, and willing to die, and who know what can be accomplished with a modest stash of dimethylmercury.
You won't hear about those fellows until it's too late. Our official protectors and deciders trumpet the fools they catch because they haven't got a handle on the people we should really be afraid of. They make policy based on foibles and follies, and Hollywood plots.
Meanwhile, the real thing draws ever closer. ®
Read the whole thing.
Keep up at the back
Iain Dale's Diary: How Does This Advert Help Tackle Religious Homophobia?
Thursday, July 20, 2006
UK 'Gay Police Association' Investigated for 'Faith Crime'
By Randy Hall
CNSNews.com Staff Writer/Editor
July 26, 2006
(CNSNews.com) - Britain's "Gay Police Association" (GPA) is under investigation by Scotland Yard for possibly committing a "faith crime" when it ran a newspaper advertisement claiming that Christianity was the cause of a jump in violence against homosexuals.....
The Times August 21, 2006
Gay police advert investigated after religious hate complaint
By Andrew Pierce
A CRIMINAL investigation has been started by Scotland Yard into an advertisement from the Gay Police Association (GPA) that blamed religion for a 74 per cent increase in homophobic crime.
The Times has learnt that the inquiry into the advertisement,......
"The Times has learnt" used to mean something - now it seems to mean "I have just come back from a lovely couple of weeks in Tuscany and looking throught my old emails I notice a story I can knock off quickly as I work out my notice?"
Monday, 17 July 2006
The Times's award winning reporter, Andrew Pierce, is to join The Daily Telegraph as assistant editor.
Is Blair becoming delusional?
LONDON is returning to an era of neighbourliness and low crime in which people are happy to leave their front doors open, according to the country’s most senior policeman.
Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said the work of community-based Safer Neighbourhood Teams was making people feel as safe as they did 25 years ago.
He cited a recent visit to Haringey, North London, where he met two officers who had “adopted” a 19-storey tower block.
“How long is it since police patrolled the corridors of a tower block?” Sir Ian asked.
“It’s as if, when the slums they replaced were flattened, the police stopped patrolling. People are opening their doors, leaving their doors open now, or leaving them unlocked, certainly, in a way they haven’t done for 25 years.”
In the year to July, Haringey police dealt with 2,834 burglaries of people’s homes (54 per week) and 6,399 incidents of violence against the person.
Sir Ian is on holiday, do you think he has locked up and set the alarm or not?
Pants on Fire offers Brown target
Telegraph | News | Brown team slaps down tax plea by Blair ally
Tension between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown increased last night after one of the Prime Minister's closest allies called for inheritance tax to be abolished.
Stephen Byers, the former Transport Secretary, said that the tax had become an unacceptable "penalty on hard work, thrift and enterprise".
A source close to Gordon Brown added: "I don't think Stephen Byers actually believes a word of this nonsense. He never said anything of the sort when he was in Government."
Byers Byers "Pants on Fire" wouldn't recognise a principled policy on tax if it hit round the back of the head, this is all about jockeying for position and smoking the Scottish Beast out of his lair where he has been hiding all summer. As has been remarked whenever the shit hits the fan Brown is absent. What long game Byers is playing I don't know or care, though knowing his vanity he may be pitching his hat into the ring for leadership himself - he might get one vote, his own, but only if Tony OK'd it.
August 19, 2006
Hello, Hello. It's good to be back, it's good to be back.
Hello, Hello. It's good to be back, it's good to be back.
Did you miss me, Yeah, while I was away,
did you hang my picture on your wall
Did you kiss me, Yeah, every single day,
although you couldn't kiss me at all.
And did you love me, Yeah, like a good little girl,
Did you tell that naughty boy not to call,
did you love me, Yeah, in your own little world,
Although you couldn't see me at all,
although you couldn't see me at all,
Hello, Hello, it's is good to be back, it's good to be back,
Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello, I'm back again, I'm back,
I'm on the right track,
Hello, Hello tell all your friends I'm back, I'm back as a matter of fact,
as a matter of fact I'm back
August 14, 2006
I say Missus have you heard this one?
“Garlic bread — it’s the future, I’ve tasted it” has been named the greatest one-liner in television comedy history.
With such Wildean epigrams being the nation's favourite what hope is there? I give up.
August 13, 2006
CBeebies Sex Shocker
Back from the Sunday lunchtime session in a suitable state of refreshment I draw the wingback up close to the roaring television and the 405 line fire to catch a glimpse of the poppets on the children's programs. And what do I find?
Eva Alexander, all 5' 2" of Italian goodness is up the duff! What sort of example is that to set the youngsters? A quick game of "Let's hide Noddy's car" and then - "Oh look the rear wheels don't fit in" and that's what happens. You never caught Valerie Singleton doing that sort of thing - did you?
I must point out that I don't actually know that Eva is actually pregnant - she has never returned my calls - , it might be that she has just eaten all the pies...
Prif Copyn update
Incoming Englishman Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom has had a fair bit of press with his draconian views on speeding drivers, controlling yobs by handing out lollipops and considering prosecuting Tony Blair for calling some Welsh people bastards - maybe we get a hint of his mindset as he has been draped with the sacred tourist teatowel and made into a druid and he said "
"I don't think I have ever felt English. I'm a passionate European and I'm passionately in support of devolution in Wales," said Mr Brunstrom.
"I don't think my wife understands this. She doesn't speak Welsh. She's not interested," he added.
At least one of them has some sense....
Another royalty cheque for Guy Fawkes
The other suspect practise favoured by those think-tanks close to the government is cash-for-access, IPPR was a master of this wheeze. Never as crude as "give us a donation and we will introduce you to the minister", but effectively that was the implicit deal offered. IPPR boasts of its "strong networks in government" and the flow of wonks to the civil service as special advisers (who later become well paid lobbyists) keeps the corporate cheques coming. IPPR has "partners" not clients. The IPPR pitch is careful, but clear: "partners have regular contact with our research directors to discuss the progress of projects relevant to their sector. Partners have the opportunity to get on the inside track of policy development." You bet they do.
ONE of Britain's leading think tanks is offering firms privileged access to government policy makers as part of paid-for "sponsorship" programmes.
During an undercover investigation a senior executive with the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) claimed the Blairite organisation was able to provide "the inside track on policy development" from key government figures in return for an annual fee of at least £10,000.
August 12, 2006
Coming out the pub last night I met up with this classic piece of local engineering and ingenuity - I'm glad I wasn't near him when he drove back having had his fill of snakebite....
Some kind of electric powered moped-thing. He got it from the scrapman and decided its not worth spending money on so instead of buying a slim 24v battery for it, he made a basket and sat two regular size 12v car battery's in it.
The throttle is broken, so instead of being able to pull away gently you have to flick a switch, ON or OFF. And its quite front heavy due to the whopping great battery's over the front wheel.
Well done Del Boy, You've done it again. - Oldpigbarn
August 11, 2006
More Kennet Council Rubbish
Having popped down my local for a half gallon sharpener before going shooting with Mr FM this evening I discover all is not well. As you may imagine a pub produces a fair amount of glass waste, empty bottles of single malts and Bacardi Breezers seem to dominate - one for the decent chaps and the other for the poppets one dangles from one's knees. But Kennet District Council want several hundred pounds to collect the cullet - and of course it can't be put in the recycling bins as it is commercial waste, even if the Landlady takes it herself to the recycling centre she is risking a £5000 fine so it is going to landfill. Recycling - pah!
Newsnight parrots propaganda
Newsnight is sending reporters across the globe to seek out "the best public services in the world". The series culminates in a debate with the Institute for Public Policy Research and Policy Exchange (IPPR) on the future of public services in Britian. Here, Nick Pearce from the IPPR looks at the public service picture across the world.
Our public services were written off in the 1980s. Neo-liberals asserted triumphantly that globalisation would force the state to retreat from welfare provision in a race to cuts taxes and stay competitive.
Yet from South America to New Zealand, that fatalism has been decisively rejected. Strong public services provide an essential foundation for decent societies. But they also support dynamic economies, supporting the investments in education, R&D, and healthy populations that make businesses competitive. ...
Britain is well placed to meet these challenges. Its mix of high employment, economic dynamism, public services funded through general taxation, and an active welfare state are strong foundations upon which to build a fairer society.
Over the next month, Newsnight will help us see how we measure up to the best public services in the world.
And remind me again why I have to pay for this crap though I never watch it...
Nice hot cup of tea for you, Dr Reid
John Prescott was barred from running the Government's response to the terrorist alert yesterday as Tony Blair and John Reid took joint command to ease public concern.
Although Mr Prescott has nominally been left in charge of the country during the Prime Minister's holiday, he was relegated to a behind-the-scenes role in Downing Street.
Someone has to lay out the blotters, sharpen the pencils and push the tea trolley round..
Local Book Plug
IS THERE SOMETHING DARK AT THE HEART OF
CROP CIRCLE COUNTRY?
AN ANGEL CAME DOWN
A Mystical Thriller by J.P. WARNER
The sudden appearance of an “Angel” on the hillside above a sleepy village plunges teenage twins, Em and Joe, into a whirl of mystery and menace. The twisting tale of their journey of discovery leads to a murderous conclusion that finally explains the real and deadly significance of Wiltshire’s world famous crop circles.
I'm off to buy my copy this morning - the main picture on the website is of one of my fields....
Good wholesome fare for the family I believe - unlike the last Angel from the village...
Round up the ususal suspects
No surprises there - except maybe to the BBC and some of the other media types...
The Telegraph Headline puts it:
Plotters were middle-class and British
August 10, 2006
Make Poverty History
The coolest wristwear in town simply declares "I BUY GOODS FROM POORER COUNTRIES." The bands are available from the Adam Smith Institute, and they are free. E-mail us (email@example.com) with a mailing address and we'll send you one.
I presume they are made by child labour in some unregulated sweatshop in the far east which is why they can afford to give them away... I have asked for mine, why not do the same.
Early entry for 2006 Press Plagiarist of the Year award?
Mobile phone companies are well aware how vulnerable their voicemail messages are to eavesdropping. This is how easily it can be done:
Call a mobile phone when the user is unobtainable
When the voicemail message begins, dial the user’s four-digit security code (for O2 phones dial * then the four figures).
Many users never choose a security code and it is left as a factory setting, typically something obvious such as 1234.
Guido was aware that for years it was easy to tap into the voicemails of one mobile phone network's customers - when you got put through to their voicemail you just pressed * and typed the default last 4 digits of their phone number as the pin code. Most people never changed the pin number.
..A commenter added ....default PIN codes on their mobiles,
02 = 8705
Orange = 1111
T-Mobile = 1210
Virgin = 7890
Vodafone = 3333
Friends across the Ocean
I remember one story in particular my great-grandfather told me that demonstrates feelings for his first homeland. It goes like this:
One day a British patrol vessel in the channel during the Second World War sunk a Nazi U-boat. All the crew was lost but the captain. Being an officer and seeing that the ship was too small for a brig the man was given an armed escort and allowed to wander about the deck. The British captain warned the old tar assigned to watch the Nazi not to be provoked and treat him politely. The British captain wanted the captive treated humanly; he didn’t want to be un-British. An hour later the tar is in the captains quarters being dressed down for beating the hell out of the German. "What the hell happed? Didn’t I tell you not to let him provoke you, didn’t I say act British?" "Well sir" says the old sailor "as we walked along he starts saying the our ship was a rust bucket and any one stationed must be the bottom of the navies barrel. I let that go, seeing that you said not to get upset. Then he says all of England’s woman will welcome real men when they invade. Again I let that go too, but it did get me angry. THEN he said our king was born on the wrong side of the bed! Well it was all I could do not to knock his head off. But then sir he did something that I couldn’t forgive, captain" And what was that?"
"Sir, he spit in our ocean!"
My Great-grandfather spent nearly 90 years on earth, the first 22 in England.
But he left a little bit of his heart behind…along with mine.
I love the Brits!
Kissy kissy - we love you too!
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman
HM Revenue and Customs wants stronger powers to investigate tax crime including authority to take fingerprints to avoid delays in finding a police constable, the right to charge suspects, and simplified procedures for obtaining search warrants...
HMRC has no powers of arrest and detention for ex-Revenue matters. This "leads to a number of difficulties", says HMRC, including problems obtaining police support. It already has powers of arrest for offences that would previously have been within HMCE's remit.
Arranging for a constable to take a suspect's fingerprints can cause delays and "can raise logistical and security issues", adds HMRC in its consultation.
" Comments on any aspect of this consultative document are welcome.. Comments should be received by 1 November 2006.
Comments should be sent
by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
or by post to: HMRC and Criminal Investigation Powers, Room 1C/03, 1st
Floor, 100 Parliament Street, London SW1A 2BQ
or by fax to: 020 7147 2460
The Review team can be contacted by telephone on: 020 7147 2401"
I feel as an old Moonraker I ought to comment that I don't care if rules make life a little difficult for the Taxman, they are there to protect us and should only be loosened for the strongest reasons - you may wish to add your own comments.
Meanwhile, a further blow was dealt to Mr Prescott's authority as it emerged that Peter Hain, the Welsh Secretary, was wooing four of the five big unions to back him as the next deputy leader.
Sources close to Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary and Mr Prescott's closest rival for the job, said there would be a "Celtic problem" if Scot Gordon Brown was leader and his deputy was Welsh.
Can one of my Welsh readers please contact the North Wales Police who take such anti-welsh sneers seriously. To suggest that the oleaginous Hain is Welsh is the nastiest sneer on a fine body of men, women and sheep I have ever heard. I wouldn't believe him if he said the sun rose in the east this morning without checking it myself but I think we can rely on his official website :
Peter was born in Nairobi, Kenya on 16th February 1950 to Adelaine Florence Hain (nee Stocks) and Walter Vannet Hain. Peter's parents were South African born, his mother of British 1820 settler descent and his father of parents who had emmigrated from Glasgow during the depression of the 1930s.
"A G&T for me, Giovanni".
JOHN Prescott has finally got himself a new job - as the Government's "heatwave tsar".
The £134,000-a-year Deputy Prime Minister has taken on the task of ensuring preparations are in place in the event temperatures climb back up to last monthâs record levels.
News of his appointment came as Tony Blair left for his holiday in Barbados, supposedly leaving Mr Prescott in charge.
A spokeswoman for Mr Prescott said: "There has already been one heatwave, so he is satisfying himself that all the plans are in place should there be another."
Pimms - check
Ice Bucket - check
Sun Lounger - check
Croquet Set - check
Courage under fire
A teenage medic is in line to become the first female soldier to be decorated for bravery in Iraq after saving her commander's life during a fierce gun battle.
Pte Michelle "Chuck" Norris, 19, who is just 5ft tall, braved heavy sniper fire for three minutes when she climbed on top of a Warrior armoured vehicle to pull her sergeant to safety after he was wounded in the head.
"It was my first casualty since training, which was pretty scary," she said. "On arrival at the scene, we stopped and when I heard 'dings' off the Warrior, I thought it was stones.
"All of a sudden, the driver shouted down to me that my commander had been hit. I didn't know where he'd been shot and how bad it was at this stage.
"So I jumped out the back of the Warrior, climbed up on top of the turret, looked down and saw the extent of his injuries.
"I then heard the crack and a thump of a round going past my head. I was under fire from a sniper. Luckily it just missed me. We managed to cross the turret and get my commander into the back where one of the lads put a sweat rag over him.
August 9, 2006
It is easy to recognise bravery in feats of heroism, though sometimes they are hard to distinguish from thought free recklessness. But we often miss the quiet courage shown by those to whom every day is a struggle. This is my eldest daughter who is six today. She was born with mild cerebral palsy and was unable to walk until she was four; she still falls over a lot. Falling over doesn't get any less painful because you do it a lot. She rarely complains but what she wants for her birthday is for her legs to work better - I wish I could give her that gift.
August 8, 2006
You probably think this song is about you
Whenever I walk into the gym I get a twinge of paranoia as I pass another Lâ Oréal advert that states: "You think you look the business, she thinks you look overworked?". Do I have too many wrinkles under my eyes? Will the pretty girls stop talking to me if my hair is not perfect? Should I buy some more moisturiser? Perhaps I should take my father's advice and be a "real bloke"...
When I arrived at university, I chose to blow some of my student loan and go to Toni and Guy. Surely they could solve my problems? When I walked out of the salon, my hair looked great, but when I woke up the next day it was back to resembling a bramble bush.
Frustrated yet again, I returned to the salon and asked how the stylists had achieved such a miraculous transformation of my hair the day before. They told me to purchase a pair of hair straighteners....
The routine I go through, usually twice a day, takes around half an hour. First, I wash my hair — two lots of shampoo and one of conditioner — and then I blow-dry my hair while carefully holding a towel across my fringe. If I do not do this, my fringe puffs up and is impossible to style.
After finishing my fringe, I straighten the sides and then do the main body of my hair. In the summer, I even have to position a fan so that I don’t start to sweat, as moisture makes the hair curl again. I have to be careful not to be in the direct line of the fan, though, as a gust of air can ruin the whole process...
we wear women’s jeans. The reason for this is our slight builds; it can be a nightmare to find jeans to fit our 28-inch waists. Also, women’s jeans generally have more interesting designs and are cheaper.
It can be embarrassing, at first, walking around the women’s section of jeans shops, but you soon get over it. I take pride in the fact that I can get into jeans that some of my ex-girlfriends could only dream of — I am a size 10 but can get into a size 8. Sweet.
I am worried that this article will make me sound vain,....
The Times also in the same section profiles another man:
Billionaires on a budget are thin on the ground, but John Caudwell is one. He not only cycles to work at manic pace, a 28-mile round trip from his Jacobean mansion on a bum-brutalising racing bike, but also cuts his own hair. "Why would I waste the time and pay somebody ten quid?" he once wondered.
He will probably still keep his bruiser-length bristle in shape with a powered clipper from Boots, despite selling his business, which includes the Phones4U mobile phone chain, for a sum that will give him £1.24 billion in cash.
Me - I'm a martyr to vanity - that's my skin care cream in the photo - and as to the hair? I washed it last week and it will get its post harvest cut soon....
We shall... surrender
CHURCHILL did not win the war by kowtowing to pettifogging bureaucracy. He smoked that cigar wherever he pleased, and puffed its cloud with the insouciance of a man who knew he was in charge.
But then the Greatest Englishman only had to deal with the likes of Hitler and Stalin; he had the good fortune to live in the days before the Scottish Parliament and its enforcers, the environmental health inspectors of the City of Edinburgh Council.
Mel Smith, who is appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe playing Churchill in a drama about his relationship with Michael Collins, was forced into an un-Churchillian surrender yesterday when he succumbed to a demand that he not smoke on stage....Unfortunately for Smith, the council — like certain of Churchill’s foes — appears to have the backing of the forces of Europe: the EU indicated yesterday that banning someone from smoking was not an infringement of their human rights.
I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.
Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.
We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the Old....
The rock band U2 came under criticism yesterday after reports that it has moved a portion of its multi-million-pound business empire out of Ireland for tax reasons.
The band, fronted by Bono, the anti-poverty campaigner, has reportedly transferred some of its publishing company to Holland.
Based in Dublin, U2 have long benefited from the artists' tax exemption introduced by Charles Haughey, the late prime minister. It is reported that the band's move has been made in response to a £170,000 cap on the tax-free incomes introduced in the last Irish budget.
Joan Burton, Irish Labour's finance spokesman, said: "Having listened to Bono on the necessity for the Irish Government to give more money to Ireland Aid, of which I approve, I am surprised that U2 are not prepared to contribute to the Exchequer on a fair basis along with the bulk of Irish taxpayers....
There are words to describe the sanctimonious Mr Bono but this is a family blog and so I won't use them.
August 7, 2006
Another "faked" picture?
A boot lies on the ground near the cars destroyed when a Katyusha missle landed in the northern Israeli village of Kfar Giladi. The violence intensified yesterday on both sides of the border YOAV LEMMER / AFP / GETTY IMAGES
It seems the papers aren't learning the lesson - this picture is from today's Times - in the paper it is blown up to take up half a page.
It is a boot with smoke curling out of it. The car in the background is no longer alight. The exterior of the boot, as a far as can be seen, has no signs of heat, even the laces haven't burnt. The boot has cleverly landed on two stones to prop itself up at just the right angle. There wouldn't happen to be a cigarette in there would there?
Is it just a staged shot of a prop?
And you can't blame the Hezbollah media manipulators for this one.....
UPDATE - same shoe - different picture this time from Reuters is used on the front page of the Telegraph Online News.
with the caption "Missile victim's shoe"
Teaching Junk Science
This is the whole and only paragraph from Letts "Revise AS& A2 Biology" book about Global Warming. Spot any mistakes? Leaving aside the gases forming a thin layer, look at the maths - 0.035 is obviously larger than 0.1 otherwise they couldn't make the claim that "It is clear that Carbon Dioxide has the greatest overall greenhouse effect."
Don't students and teachers notice this sort of thing, or have they forgotten how to think for themselves?
Correcting Junk Science - blame the Hajib
Symptom of 'fear the sun' propaganda? "Vitamin D often low in seemingly healthy girls" - "NEW YORK - In a study of healthy adolescent girls, researchers found that insufficient vitamin D levels were a relatively common finding, with non-white girls more severely affected.
For once it doesn't seem to be the fear of the sun panic that grips middle class Britain to blame but instead the custom of wearing all covering black clothing for religous reasons - I think you can guess the rest.
"Gordon's been smoking the biometric crack"
Harsh realities however have meant that we've only seen glimpses of the weird vision of total security, total surveillance in ID scheme documentation. The idea has still always been there, in the sense that the Identity & Passports Agency is being positioned as the UK's identity gatekeeper within a Government monopoly of ID verification services, but the point where the private sector piles in has always been out there in the middle distance, in some future phase where ID cards had already taken off.
So on hearing what Gordon is allegedly thinking one begins to wonder if perhaps this man skipped watching most of the last series. The proposed "massive expansion" of the project certainly suggests he's been smoking the biometric crack, and has bought into the notion of single, centralised ID big-time.
Yesterday's Observer report details some of the benefits Brown and his team see as deriving from a more extensive and pervasive ID scheme, but gives no indication that they've considered the associated costs or the feasibility of the proposed extensions. It is suggested, for example, that stores could be allowed to "share confidential information with police databases" and that this would mean police "could be alerted instantly when a wanted person used a cash machine or supermarket loyalty card."...
We probably shouldn't hold our breath waiting for the civil liberties implications of this to dawn on Gordon, but the complexities and impracticalities of actually doing it will likely come to his attention sooner. How would the check be set up? Would warrants on the police national computer be matched by an automatic flagging of the individual on the NIR? No, because the police don't necessarily want everybody to know who they're looking for, and the 'automagic' linking would be a pig to set up, considering the current state of police systems. What would happen when a fugitive was IDed at POS? Tricky one this - you can't safely alert the checkout operative, or the potentially dangerous terrorist currently buying a kumquat. So it has to be an alert tripped at the NIR level and then a further alert has to go to the police response centre covering the area, then a patrol vehicle has to be alerted...
The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh will be shut down if actor Mel Smith flouts Scotland's smoking ban, its director has been told. The comedian, who is playing Winston Churchill in a show at the Edinburgh Fringe, is said to be planning to smoke during a performance on Monday. The actor recently vowed to continue to ignore the ban at the Fringe festival.
Venue director William Burdett Coutts said he was in an "extremely serious situation". He said he has also been told he will lose his Fringe licence for good if the actor smokes during his performance.Mr Burdett Coutts said: "We have just been visited by the chief enforcement officer who has told me if Mel Smith smokes on stage then I will be given a £1,000 fine and he will shut down the entire premises. He said he would also never give me a licence again so I'm in an extremely serious situation
They wouldn't get irony if they were hit round the head with a Morphy Richards Jet Steam on the Linen setting would they? You can wave your willy about on stage as much as you like but a play about Churchill, who knew a thing or two about freedom, has to be censored..
"Who knows, maybe I'll light it [the cigar]. Maybe I won't. But maybe I will. I mean, what are they going to do to me? Are they going to extradite me? " Smith, who has ruled out using a fake cigar, added: "I will not have people protecting me from myself. That's the whole problem with this country.
"I've often wondered what the Scottish Parliament does. Maybe this is an opportunity for me to find out. The thing I would like to say about it is that it would have delighted Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler, as you know, was anti-smoking. You couldn't smoke at Adolf Hitler's dining table, so he'd be pleased, wouldn't he? Congratulations Scotland."
No straight answer from a pretty straight sort of guy
British households may be given individual carbon audits to encourage them to do more to reduce their own contribution to global warming, Tony Blair has said.
Mr Blair said he had already made an effort to "set an example" by installing low-energy lightbulbs and turning the thermostats down by one degree at 10 Downing Street. Steps have also been taken to ensure that all his travel since April last year has been carbon-neutral.
Yep - Boy Miliband's personal Carbon Cards tracking all our purchases are finding "traction" - nothing is too small or private to escape from Nanny's beady eye. But how is Tony neutralising all his global swanning about? Nothing on the official site that I can find, and Google draws a blank - however we do find this:
Asked what was being offset, the PMOS replied that we were both reducing our overall emissions by being more energy efficient, and also offsetting the remainder as well.
Asked if that meant planting trees, the PMOS said that he was told that planting tress was the simplistic view of it. People were also investing in energy efficiency in third world countries, for example, too.
Ah the classic Sir Humphrey answer - a straight answer would be too "simplistic" and so just trust us we are doing the right thing. So what exactly is Downing Street doing to offset the CO2 produced by the Blairs and their luggage going to the West Indies?
We are from the Government and are here to assist you
COMPANIES that bid for multimillion-pound Government contracts will be rejected if they do not employ enough black and Asian workers, under new proposals seen by The Times. ...
Iqbal Wahhab, a member of the Task Force and the chairman of the Ethnic Minority Advisory Group, a government-backed think-tank, said the plans were moving ahead quickly.
“These new procurement policies are required to assist employers in making more enlightened recruitment decisions,” he said. “It may be unpopular in certain quarters, but the fact remains that we should not have been in this kind of position in the first place.”
Don't you love that weasel word "assist" in there! And of course if you were designing a policy to boost the BNP you could hardly do better. The BNP's core activists are young white working class men - and when they are laid off from plastering the MOD offices so an Asian can do it instead who are they going to vote for? They might even echo Iqbal Wahhab and say "we should not have been in this kind of position in the first place.”
Safe in their hands - update on court case
A CORONER investigating the death of a woman allegedly starved and deprived of fluids in hospital has been asked to hold an inquest into the death of a patient on the same ward....Last month David Maisey, a consultant physician, astonished the inquest into Mrs Nockels’s death when he said that he saw people die of dehydration “all the time — two or three times a week”. ...Gillian Craig, vice-chairman of the Medical Ethics Alliance, said: “Any hospital or ward where patients are said to die of dehydration ‘all the time — two or three times a week’ should be the subject of a police inquiry.”
Shoemaker Levy crashes to earth
British shoe retailers could face months of chaos and uncertainty despite the apparent victory in their bruising battle against the European Commission last week.
Fourteen of the 25 states threw out proposals put forward by Peter Mandelson, EU trade commissioner, to impose so-called anti-dumping duties on shoes imported from China and Vietnam.
The proposals would have been disastrous for UK shoe retailers, which source the majority of their products from these two countries.....
Alisdair Gray, director of the British Retail Consortium in Brussels, said: "We really think the vote is a sign that the European Commission is moving towards free trade. And that's got to be good news."
The EU has been on the warpath against below-cost selling or "dumping" of goods over the past few years. Its latest battle is against Chinese makers of ironing boards.
It sounds more like individual Governments are against their taxpayers subsidising Italian cobblers rather than the EC waking up to the benefits of free trade, still there is obviously the important battle of the Ironing boards to rally the troops for next. This is a complaint by the three EU manufacturers who have over 50% of the market between them that China and the Ukraine are ruining their cosy market. Is nothing too ridiculous for the EU?
August 6, 2006
Another Graph from the Heretic
We all know how evolution works - selection pressure on a population that has heritable variation. We also know how modern knowledge of training, nutrition,
drugs and so on has allowed athletes to run faster. You may also be aware of the vast amounts of money that is at stake on the Derby. Put it all together and here you have an example of intense selection pressure combined with unlimited resources with one aim - to make a horse that runs faster. You only have to look at the Stud Fees associated with the breeding of winners to see how owners believe in heritability of "fitness". So before you go below the fold imagine what the graph of the winning times will look like.
Yes flat-lined - no improvement for years. The creationists crow it shows that evolution doesn't work, geneticist mutter about limited gene pool and I'm just perplexed.
Sources: Kentucky Derby 132 | 2006 | Derby History | Derby Statistics | 1896 -- Derby shortened from 1 1/2 to l 1/4 miles so times not included.
The Kentucky Derby Limit (As they had done the grunt work of converting the times into seconds).
Epsom Derby - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
6th August - Tan Hill Fair
From "time immemorial" until the War there used to be a huge sheep Fair, with sideshows and stalls on the hill above the Castle every August 6th. A few old men still talk about it and the fun that was to be had. This quote sums it for me:
Tan Hill fair had a bit of a reputation. An 80 year old shepherd, Daniel Swatton, speaking in the 1930s, said "Th' used to reckon as anybody could get a pint o' beer an' a smack on th' yead ver dreepence up at Tan Hill."
The good old days - I miss them.
August 5, 2006
Suffer the little children
EU Referendum has been feeling for the truth about the Qana photos all week. It is all coming together now, and it damns the complacent media.
August 4, 2006
Ἂν ἔτι μίαν μάχην νικήσωμεν, ἀπολώλαμεν
Tony Wright, 52, denied breaching the Hunting Act, when he led the Exmoor Foxhounds on 29 April last year.
But he was fined £500 at Barnstaple Magistrates' Court in a case brought by the League Against Cruel Sports.
He was the first fox huntsman to be summoned to court for defying the law which came into force last year in England and Wales.
Wright, of Exmoor Kennels, Simonsbath in Somerset, said he would appeal and called the Hunting Act a "stupid and pointless law".
He said he had been trying to comply with the law "as I understood it".
He said: "I might have been found guilty, but I certainly don't feel like a criminal.
"If people were confused by the Hunting Act before today, they will be a lot more confused now."
He added: "I was doing my best to follow the rules as they are written down.
"I had no idea I was doing anything illegal."
Wright said he had stopped the hounds.
District Judge Paul Palmer told Wright: "I understand the difficulty that everyone has with the act coming into force."
The league brought the case at a total cost of more than £100,000 after Avon and Somerset Police declined to take on the case based on the evidence available.
The judge awarded the league £250 towards its costs.
A few more victories like that for the League and they will echo Pyrrhus - "One more such victory and I shall be lost!" (in original Greek above)
Looks like the "Cap" at a meet may have to go up a couple of quid..
Hat tip Bags Rants
Phew! What a Scorcher! - part three
A commenter takes me to task "Average temperatures can be misleading. Peaks are more interesting.
It is no consolation that average temperatures go down if one day the peak temperature reaches 100DegC, killing everyone above ground.
So since 1900 the hottest day graph, with added trend line in black, looks like this:
Enjoy with a long cool Pimms on the terrace.
Nude women wanted!
50 NUDE WOMEN SOUGHT FOR “ELECTRIC BRUMMIELAND” ROCK SHOT
FIFTY naked women from Birmingham are sought for a shot at fame by posing nude in the City Centre for the cover photo of a CD single in homage to Jimi Hendrix.
The huge nude photo session will take place at 12.00 Noon on Sunday, September 10th at The Mailbox.
The “grin and bare it” shot will be used as artwork for the CD single Queen Diva by rising band Purplemelon.
Organisers of the cheeky event say they want women of all shapes, sizes, colours and creeds to pose in the photograph.
“It doesn’t matter if the women are fat or thin, gorgeous or plain, giggly or gangly”, said Purplemelon manager Geoff Baker.
“We want to recreate the spirit of Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland album. Jimi’s guitar-playing has influenced the Purplemelon sound and this is a nod to that. We’re going for the Electric Brummieland look”.
Hendrix’s 1968 album Electric Ladyland pictured 20 models posing naked on its sleeve.
“But we want to use ordinary Brummie women, not professional models”, said Baker, “As long as they are aged 18 or above and are prepared to strip for a few seconds, all women are welcome.
“Purplemelon love women and this photo-session is to celebrate the female form. We want women of all cultures to take part. If the girls are shy, they can cover their ‘bits’ with their hands. It will all be in the best possible taste”.
Besides starring on the record sleeve, all those taking part will receive a blow-up print of their big moment and passes to Purplemelon shows at Birmingham’s Barfly club, where the band begins a four-month run on Tuesday September 5th.
All those interested in taking part in the photo shoot should contact Geoff Baker on email@example.com
PURPLEMELON PIX from Jason Liggitt firstname.lastname@example.org Mob 07855 330 691
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT:
The Purplemelon Press Office 0121 327 1007
Geoff Baker 07966 473 919
Gareth Main 07738 226 580
LAS VEGAS -- A German computer security consultant has shown that he can clone the electronic passports that the United States and other countries are beginning to distribute this year.
The controversial e-passports contain radio frequency ID, or RFID, chips that the U.S. State Department and others say will help thwart document forgery. But Lukas Grunwald, a security consultant with DN-Systems in Germany and an RFID expert, says the data in the chips is easy to copy.
"The whole passport design is totally brain damaged," Grunwald says. "From my point of view all of these RFID passports are a huge waste of money. They're not increasing security at all."
Grunwald plans to demonstrate the cloning technique Thursday at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas.
Like totally brain-damaged man - yep that sums up our masters' new obession with tagging us.
19.7 - number of the month
Misrepresentation of environmental science on the internet is widespread and weblogs are by no means a special case. From deforestation rates in the Amazon to climate change statistics, nothing is necessarily how it appears.
Furthermore, unlike most traditional forms of media that have gatekeepers, people whose job it is validate facts, check copy, exert some sort of quality control; the defining characteristic of the blogosphere is its lack of regulation.
Consider these two headlines:
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Backing for 'hockey stick' graph
The Earth was hotter in the late 20th Century than it had been in the last 400 or possibly 1,000 years, a report requested by the US Congress concludes.
Report Raises New Questions About Climate Change Assessments
Overall, our committee believes that Dr. Mann’s assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade of the millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year of the millennium cannot be supported by his analysis.’
The second headline is the actual report the BBC refers to, but doesn't link to! - go and read the whole thing, don't trust me on it. Remember don't listen to bloggers or do your own research - stick to the BBC and the rest of the MSM where the "gatekeepers" will make sure you get only the facts you ought to.
19.7 is the average July 2006 Temperature you may want to slot into the handy chart I provided here which is the official Met Office Central England Average Temperatures for the last four hundred years and graphs out like this:
Compare and contrast to the official Hockey stick graph:
Update: In response to a comment here are the hottest days graphed out.
A note to farmers
The National Counter Terrorism Security Office has launched its new "Secure Your Fertiliser" website, aimed at the farming and growing community.
I'm not sure I noticed this on the site but I think I can now safely say that anyone hanging round my potting shed eyeing up the bag of Lawn Sand may now be considered a potential terrorist and dealt with accordingly...
Update - as they say on the website:
Key attacks in the UK using fertiliser based explosives
1996 - South Quay, London Docklands
1996 - Manchester
1998 – Omagh, Co. Tyrone
2001 – BBC TV Centre, London
2001 – Ealing Broadway, London
2001 – Birmingham (failed to fully detonate)
Groups such as FARC (Columbia), ETA (Spain), Hezbollah (Israel and Occupied Territories), Tamil Tigers (Sri Lanka) and Al Qaida (international) have all used fertiliser based explosives, again with devastating results. Notable attacks have included:
1993 – World Trade Centre, New York
1994 – Buenos Aires, Argentina
1995 – Oklahoma City, US
2002 – Bali, Indonesia
2003 – British Consulate, Istanbul
2006 – Mumbai, India
It should be noted that all of these attacks combined (both UK and overseas), which killed over 700 people and caused billions of pounds worth of damage, used a total of less than 12 tonnes of fertiliser. This is only about half a lorry load of fertiliser.
ID cards - MPs warn of the coming debacle
The government has been advised to further postpone the introduction of ID Cards until it can be sure the scheme will work.
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry into the thinking behind ID Cards, published today, found the government had decided what it wanted to do before it had determined if it would even work.....
Government trials of the biometric technology it wants to use in ID Cards are planned to occur simultaneously with the procurement, which specifies the system, decides who will develop it, and how much it will cost. But the procurement process should be informed by evidence gathered from the trials.
To date, the committee found, the Home Office had been "unscientific" in its practice of selectively using evidence collected by previous trials to prove its own theories about biometric technology.
"We are surprised and concerned that the Home Office has already chosen the biometrics that it intends to use before finishing the process of gathering evidence," the committee report said.
It added that the Home Office should "act on evidence rather than preference".
The Home Office's consultation on ID Cards had also been inadequate. Industry was doubtful about what the Home Office was doing and sceptical that it had given it proper thought.
This lack of inhouse knowledge has been identified before as the cause of government IT failure, the Child Support Agency debacle being a case in point. As it happens, the committee was worried that the signs showed the Home Office had not taken enough notice of the accumulated wisdom of previous IT disasters, as surmised in numerous reports over the last decade.
It was also concerned that the committees set up to guide the ID IT plans had not been "best placed to offer expert advice" because they had few experts. The Home Office also lacked an IT chief, while there was uncertainty about who at the Home Office was in charge of the project.
The Home Office wanted a flexible, staggered approach because it was learning what to do as it went along. But until it fixes its plans, which the committee said should be done "as soon as possible", it will not be able to get the disparate parts of the ID scheme interoperating - i.e. working. ®
Another one to lay at Charles Clarke's door...
‘How Many Divisions Has the Pope?’
The so-called Queen of Pop brings her show to Rome on Sunday, and Roman Catholic leaders are furious at part of her performance in which she wears a crown of thorns and is apparently crucified.
Cardinal Ersilio Tonino, speaking with the Pope's approval, said: "This is a blasphemous challenge to the faith and a profanation of the Cross. She should be excommunicated. To crucify herself … in the city of popes and martyrs is an act of open hostility. It is nothing short of a scandal and an attempt to generate publicity."
Sometimes, just sometimes, I wish the Vatican acted a bit more like our Mahometan friends. I bet there is one old slapper who wouldn't be so "brave" then.
More problems at the RPA
Farmers have been overpaid by £20m by a government department under fire for its handling of a new subsidy system.
The Rural Payments Agency says almost 2,000 farmers have been paid too much in subsidies since June.
In some cases cheques will be stopped, but the agency will contact other farmers about recovering the money.
First they don't pay anyone, then they pay some of them a bit, now it sounds like they have given up and just sprayed the money out... oh and that whistling sound you can hear? That's me trying to look innocent with my pockets stuffed with Boy Miliband's cash as I walk up and down outside the Range Rover dealership...
UPDATE - 8:30 this morning the RPA were on the phone asking for their £19,000 back so I had better cancel the test drive..
August 3, 2006
Guido Fawkes' gay secret revealed
Iain Dale's Diary: Record Month 08/01/2006 - 08/31/2006 boasts of his well deserved rising popularity - and I note with pride my modest role in sending over some visitors. Well done Iain!.
Guy Fawkes also rightly boasts of his equally deserved visitors.
He doesn't mention where they come from, so as a public service I have looked under the bonnet and here are his top twelve referrers: (UPDATE - this is website referrers, not including RSS feeders or search engines)
31.49% http://order-order.com/ - Himself!
10.17% http://slashdot.org/ The Geeks come bearing gifts!
2.58% http://www.iaindale.blogspot.com/ Mutual backscratching!
1.65% http://conservativehome.blogs.com/ Of course.
1.40% http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4484718.stm So the MSM has its uses.
1.20% http://www.w4mp.org/html/resources/links.asp The Spads are reading
1.01% http://images.google.com/imgres Picture Post?
0.84% http://corner.nationalreview.com/ Rightwing Republicans
0.82% http://tottyworld.blogspot.com/ Gay Totty review - Guido, I thought you were a happily married man.
0.79% http://www.anenglishmanscastle.com/ Beaten by gays - again.
0.75% http://news.com.com/2061-11199_3-5981361.html Yawn.
0.60% http://www.recessmonkey.com/ he never phones, never sends flowers anymore...
0.58% http://iaindale.blogspot.com/ So good they named him twice.
Full list below the fold if you are interested...
Bang to Rights
the Howard League for Penal Reform thinks that because 64% of female convicts re-offend, women’s prisons should be closed, right
Well seeing that for all adult inmates the Home Office says:
For the baseline cohort (2000), the actual two-year re-offending rate was 57.6 per cent. Reoffending means that the offender committed an offence within the two-year follow-up period and was subsequently convicted in court. In 2002, the actual rate increased to 58.5 per cent but the cohort of offenders in 2002 was, on balance, slightly more likely to re-offend. This resulted in a predicted rate of 58.6 per cent, which is higher than the actual rate. As the actual rate is lower than the predicted rate, there has been an improvement over the 2000 results, Got that?
So we can draw two conclusions - Reoffending rates are roughly the same for men and women and the call for women's prisons to be closed is pure sexism based on an outdated stereotype of poor delicate women needing special treatment - feminists should be appalled at the suggestion.
And secondly the Home Office expects two out of three ex-prisoners to be be caught and convicted within two years again - as I believe most people released from prison are on licence and so are being "managed in the community" what does that tell you about the effectiveness of letting them out as a crime prevention measure?
Adam Smith Institute Blog writes on a local issue:
99% or more of people who see Stonehenge do so from the A303 as they come over the Amesbury ridge. It is one of the most thrilling sights in the world, and engages thousands of people with the monument; but it would be lost under the current plan.
A much better idea is that proposed by Heritage Action: simply to grass over the A344 spur. Access to the monument would be gained by going past it on the A303 to the Longbarrow crossroads, and turning right and right again on existing roads, to the car park – which is indeed right next to the stones, but in a natural hollow that renders it invisible from them.
Go and support Heritage Action against the madness of purists!
Prescott's non sustainability
JOHN PRESCOTT’S declining influence was illustrated yesterday when it emerged that Ruth Kelly had cancelled his plans for an international conference after taking over his department.
The abandoned sustainable communities “summit”, which would have featured “Deputy Prime Minister’s Awards”, has still cost the taxpayer more than £300,000 in consultants’ fees and other expenses.
“It is clear that these conferences were purely to massage his inflated ego and his misplaced pretension of being a world statesman, rather than any attempt to improve people’s lives.”
The disclosure will heighten pressure on Mr Prescott as he prepares to stand in for Mr Blair from tomorrow after a series of humiliations: the loss of his department, news of an affair with his diary secretary and giving up Dorneywood, his official country residence.
All those schmoozing and after session bonding opportunities - all gone - what will are polyester suited bureaucrats do now? Bad news for places such as Stevenage which recently - Newsletter - "been awarded £5 million as part of its ‘Sustainable Communities Plan". I wonder if "Sarah Bissett Scott at the Council’s Economic Development Unit" has any other ideas of how to help the community?
Royal Tour Dates
If you want to know what and where members of the Royal Family will be and doing over the coming months see here: Royal diary search results
If you want to know what, where and who John Prescott will be doing while he plays at being in charge then I'm sorry:
Times Online ...he would undertake a regal-style tour of Britain, saying that he would make regional visits but would spend most of his time in London. Officials would not give details, saying arrangements were in progress and must be withheld for security reasons.
Obviously he is far more important than the Firm.
I wonder if his secret tour includes Central Doncaster?
August 2, 2006
Weakest to the wall
Vertical drinking, Police in Preston, Lancashire believe, is one of the country’s main causes of public disorder and would like to see it banned in the city’s pubs.
Vertical drinking is a new term for what used to be called standing at the bar, long regarded as the natural refuelling posture
Bloody Hell - Married women, domino players and poofters can sit down in a pub but real men drink vertically until they go horizontal.
At one of my stag parties down the pub before I was off to wed in the morning the sight of Pedro being offered a pint, missing the bar by six feet and falling down with his glass in the air, without spilling a drop - to which the landlord said to his prone figure: "I'll take that as a yes to another then" - almost made the whole debacle worthwhile.
Toni please stay pleads deputy PM
Friends of the Amarone reveal that:
Deputy PM wants vacation patriotism .... Sometimes it's easier to take a plane and flight abroad: there are beautiful views abroad too, and prices are much more honest for all.
The Deputy PM.. has asked ...public not to "betray" the nation by taking their summer holidays abroad .
No sorry - it is Italian news; the idea of Rawhide not wanting one last taste of power at the top or Toni and Cherie missing out on a freebie holiday is just ridiculous
Your caring NHS - part Two
AN NHS hospital has been penalised for treating people too quickly after its local trusts refused to pay the £2.5m cost of clearing a backlog of patients.
Ipswich Hospital had been so successful in reducing its waiting lists that it was able to meet current demand for treatment almost immediately.
However, the acceleration of treatment breached rules set by the Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), which stated that patients must wait at least 122 days, to ensure that its own resources were not exhausted too quickly.
The pride of Britain, eh? Make 'em wait just because, not for any real reason. When the Doc told me I needed an oriface examined last week I didn't even think about joining a queue, just got out the Mastercard and am off to see the specialist today, and I can see from his webpage he hasn't screwed up any of his last 2000 operations, so that's what credit cards are for. Priceless.
Your caring NHS
THE parents of a toddler who has become deaf in both ears were told by NHS bosses that he could have the hearing restored in one ear, but not in both.
However, after The Times asked North Dorset Primary Care Trust (PCT) to justify the decision, it relented and agreed to operate on both ears. The trust denied that the call from The Times had any influence on the decision, which it says it had been considering carefully for some time.
Kirsten and James Harvey, from Stalbridge, Dorset, were relieved that they would not have to spend £8,000 of their own money so that Matthew, who is 2, could hear in both ears. The trust had argued that one cochlear implant would meet Matthew's clinical needs, but that two was a matter of parental choice, for which it was not prepared to pay.
I think one smack round the back of the head of the Managers involved would fulfill the "clinical needs" but two would be my "parental choice".
Making Poverty History
With shrewd management, using offshore trusts and companies, Sir Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts paid only 1.6 per cent in tax on earnings of £81.3 million last year.
As they sang on "Hot Rocks" -
The best things in life are free
Look Ill give em to the birds and bees
I want money (thats what I want)
Yeah, thats what I want (oh yeah, thats what I want)
continues in same vein all the way to the bank...
Your starter for ten
Condo or Ma Beckett?
Come on it's not that hard, let me give you a clue, which one is tirelessly working, intelligent, talented and knowledgeable and which one is a total fuckwit who is going caravaning rather than put in a few hours doing what she is paid for?
August 1, 2006
Phew what a scorcher! - Part II
Graphically it looks like this:
(Larger below the fold):
A nice little series of warmer winters we are having, just the sort of thing that makes you want to run around with a hockeystick...
And any debates about the reliability of early recordings or of the effect of Urban Heat Islands are welcome...
What Broadband is for.
JungleDisk - Reliable online storage powered by Amazon S3™
All the stuff I need to back up - cost me 3 cents last month! It is missing an automatic backup program at the moment but that is promised soon. If you don't backup off site then don't come crying to me when you have lost the lot.
Pandora Internet Radio - Find New Music, Listen to Free Web Radio simply brilliant - you have to register with a US zip code but we all have one of those don't we! You will notice on the right I have played with it and put up a couple of links. Enjoy.
Buff Hoon's latest idea
CHILDREN will be required to learn more about the benefits of the European Union under plans to improve its image and standing in Britain.
Geoff Hoon, the Minister for Europe, has written to Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, calling for a boost in EU lessons in the national curriculum, The Times has learnt. Mr Hoon said that he was concerned that children were indifferent to the EU because they were not taught about benefits such as free trade and cheap travel. He said: “There is a kind of grudging acceptance that we are members [of the EU] but without anyone understanding what it does or what it means.
“We have got to make what goes on in Europe come alive. It is about trying to explain what it does and what it means in terms of practical consequences.
“ I certainly think that that should be part of the national curriculum,...
So the benefits are "free trade" and "cheap travel" - I'm not sure a protectionist tariff-slapping import-blocking food-dumping club can be said to provide "free trade" - unless it is to be used as a cautionary tale, and "cheap travel", who recently caused airflights to increase in price by implementing daft rules....
And doesn't it just show the shoddiness of the whole enterprise when Buffers isn't prepared to claim the EU is about "peace and security" or some other grand ideal but instead is reduced to touting it as some sort of international Walmart. They can no longer think of any real benefits of the EU - nor can I.
I wish Paxman would take up the Hoon's offer to open up the debate and grill him on Newsnight - "Mr Hoon, simply, what are the benefits of the EU?" " Really?"
And as a follow up he could ask him about this:
An urgent request from army commanders for enhanced combat body armour to give extra protection to troops preparing to fight a war with Iraq in 2003 was delayed for two months by Geoff Hoon, then Defence Secretary.
A devastating report by a board of inquiry into the death of Sergeant Steven Roberts of the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, who was not wearing one of the vital life-savers and died of a bullet wound in the chest on the fifth day of the war, said he would have survived had he been protected by the special body armour.
Phew, what a scorcher!
The average night and day temperature for the UK in July of 17.8C (64.04F) made it the hottest month since such records began in 1914, according to provisional figures from the Met Office yesterday
Um - weren't we being told it was the hottest since 1911 just a week a go - these "records" that are being broken seem to be curiously variable. The Victorians were great recorders of everything and yet the Met Office doesn't seem to be able to use their records, though a series from 1659 is available from their website and for an excellent overview see http://homepage.ntlworld.com/booty.weather/climate/wxevents.htm
An Englishman's right to a Hut
A man in a hut flouting a ban - probably a follow up to this story I thought:
A man's home is his castle. Unless, of course, the high court rules that a one-bedroom shelter under a corrugated iron roof cannot be called a home.
Stephen Grendon has been living in a 4.25 metre by 5.8 metre woodland shelter with a wooden veranda, which he named "Hermit's Corner", for close to 10 years.
Having experienced bouts of depression, he says he values "the simplicity of his unconventional lifestyle" in his Cotswold Valley home.
But yesterday the high court decided that Mr Grendon's home is not a "dwelling house" under the law (even by his own modest requirements), which means that, unless an appeal is successful, he will be evicted....
Years went by in relative peace and quiet before an enforcement notice was served indicating Mr Grendon did not have planning permission for "residential use". His defence was that the matter was time-barred under planning laws, as the building had been his dwelling for at least four years.... It is kept warm by a wood-burning stove, and while previously light was provided by candles, electricity has been connected.
The planning inspector had found there was no running water, bathroom or toilet. Mr Grendon had dug holes for a toilet and used a natural spring for washing and drinking.
The shelter was reroofed in 1982 and had the veranda and shutters added later. It also has a small window under the eaves, and a butane hob for cooking.
The building had not been constructed as a house and did not look like one, the inspector said.
The high court yesterday upheld the planning inspector's decision, with Mr Justice McCombe saying Mr Grendon's home "simply did not have the physical attributes of a dwelling house, even with the claimant's modest requirements".
The judge said the inspector had visited the site and was entitled to conclude it had not been turned into a dwelling house "by the mere fact of the claimant living there".
Mr Grendon, meanwhile, continues to live in the shelter in breach of the enforcement notice, and says he enjoys the peace and quiet.
Doesn't the Judge sound like a pompous fool - though of course he isn't, I add nervously, and you can imagine the planning inspector going home to his wife and 2.4 children living in their immaculate Barrett home in a nice cul-de-sac laughing over this as they sip their one, one-only-mind, glass of Pinot Grigio as she warms up a Marks and Spencer Chicken Kiev. Give me life in a hut anyday.
Oh and the Times story? Just a misprint,, it is about the League of Cruel Sports mounting a private prosecution against a HuNtsman...