January 31, 2008
The New Toy - A Webley Mark One Air Pistol
Complete with original box of pellets, pull through, spare washers and instructions, see below:
French morale is at its lowest ebb in two decades, according to new research....the gloom has reached new depths since Mr Sarkozy's election - after a bright start - because of his attempts to reduce the overbearing role of the state.
"What do expect me to do? To empty the state's already empty coffers or to order companies to whom I have no right to give orders?" Mr Sarkozy asked earlier this month when quizzed on how he could boost French spending power.
"France is moving away from the nanny state towards more autonomy", said Gerard Mermet, a sociologist.
"Some people are happy about this, saying it's better to be in charge of ones own life and destiny than to depend on others. But it is painful for some social categories and in general in France we're not used to it. So perhaps the pessimism is a sign that we want to delay its arrival," he said. .....
But any Frenchman in need of a lift is strongly advised to read a "Loving Dictionary of France", by well-known author Denis Tillinac, which lists the reasons to love France and what makes it unique.
These include the ability of the French to laugh out loud at anything, however crude or trivial, while "English humour, subtler than ours, lends itself more to a smile.
Courage can be found everywhere, he goes on, "But panache is French".
"It is the cherry on the cake of bravura", and historically aimed at proving French "aesthetic superiority over the English, when bravery is equal". Panache is often mistaken by the foreigner for "arrogance."
However, Mr Tillinac's greatest love is for France's "superior woman".
"She is surely neither the easiest to live with nor the gayest. But the Frenchwoman is by far the most elegant. The most careful about her appearance, until the gates of death".
All very well, but the depressing downside is that to enjoy being French you have to live in France surrounded by Frenchies...
Criminals are being allowed to skip community service simply by claiming they overslept or forgot to turn up, a Government watchdog discloses today.
The National Audit Office (NAO) says probation officers are routinely excusing offenders who miss work sessions imposed under community orders even though they cannot provide a good reason for their absence.
Oh for the day when we see them dressed in orange chained together picking up litter from the side of the A303 - I could drive up and down all day chucking crisp packets out of the window...
Where Have All The Cowboys Gone
Rodeo riders, the last surviving champions of America's Wild West spirit, are being told by health and safety experts to swap their stetsons for protective helmets.
We need real men facing real danger for the good of our spirit, and for our dreams.
Baby It's Cold Outside
Britain’s growing café culture and taste for alfresco drinking and dining may be under threat from MEPs who want to ban the patio heater.
A vote in Brussels today is expected to call on the European Commission to abolish the heaters to help to tackle climate change. Such a move could cost the pub and catering trade dear.
Pubs spent about £85 million on patio heaters after the smoking ban was introduced last year. Besides forcing smokers into the cold there is concern that a ban on patio heaters could bring a significant cash loss to pubs, cafés and restaurants.
The hospitality industry has estimated that if only 10 per cent of Britain’s pubs offered outdoor facilities a ban could cost £250 million a year...
Using government figures patio heaters accounted for 22,200 tonnes of CO2 , 0.002 per cent of total emissions in Britain.
Philip Sellwood, chief executive of The Energy Savings Trust, said it was not good enough to wait for the rest of Europe. “We need UK action now. ... We know that a third of pubgoers are choosing pubs where there is a patio heater, but why not just wrap up warm instead if you need to go outside?”
His last word was "Remember"
Mall March 29th Jan 2007 Muskets, pikes and cannon in Whitehall opposite Downing Street and no result... At least they were paying proper remembrance to S.Charles, King and Martyr, something we all should do in these puritan blighted days.
January 30, 2008
A new toy!
Lookee what we found today:
In it's original box from about 80 years ago, never been fired more than a dozen times by the look of it. Tomorrow is clean it up day and reveal what it is, if you haven't guessed in the comments by then.
Repealing the Law
The 19th century law, which levied a 40-shilling fine on recalcitrant musicians, is one of 328 obsolete pieces of legislation which the Law Commission wants to repeal.
17 such Bills have been enacted since 1965 repealing more than 2000 Acts in their entirety.
Of course, this is a huge task and there are many ancient laws and legal curiosities that are still in use today.
Looking through the proposals it is all very well wanting to repeal Geo.3 c.cxxxiii (1806) (East India Company and the Nabobs of the Carnatic Act) but surely there are several thousand more that have been brought in more recently that should go for the chop as well. I can certainly think of a few....
Judge us on the NHS
Billions of pounds of extra investment in the health service has led to a 10 per cent drop in productivity, official figures show.
The huge sums of money injected into the NHS over the past decade have largely been spent on more staff, higher wages and increases in costs.
Prime Minister's weekly broadcast - The budget - 24 March 2000
..it is this Governments job, with health service staff, to draw up the plans needed to re-new that vision for the modern world. To show those who believe that the NHS has had its day are wrong. To prove the pessimists and the privatisers wrong.
We will publish that plan and you will then be able to judge us against our progress.
Not hard to do.
Kafka, The Castle and Local Councils
....There is a passage in The Castle, his other novel about impenetrable bureaucracy, where Kafka describes the mind of officialdom: “It's a working principle of the Head Bureau that the very possibility of error must be ruled out of account. The ground principle is justified by the consummate organisation of the whole authority.”
But of course the organisation is anything but consummate. It is riddled with incompetence. And it is on the double rock of obduracy and inefficiency that the whole principle of localism so often founders. Those who argue that power should be devolved downwards so that the citizens can be brought into closer contact with decision-makers, and can thus make their voice heard, ignore the fact that it is at town hall level that communication is often hardest. Anyone who has ever attempted to sort out matters such as housing benefit, disability allowances or planning permission, let alone challenged the might and right of a council decision, knows that finding someone who is prepared to listen or to understand is well-nigh impossible. Councillors or local MPs may do all they can to help, but when it comes to negotiating the system, even they may find themselves lost.
Yet no party now argues against the principle of ceding power to local authorities. Labour advocates it, the Liberal Democrats embrace it, and David Cameron, for the Tories, has become one of its greatest champions. “Local councils should be the collective instrument of local people rather than the local outposts of central government,” he said recently. At the same time, he added: “I have always believed that power needs to be accountable - and that means visible.”
There is, however, nothing less accountable or more invisible than a hidebound bureaucracy, exercising its right to omniscience and an implacable resistance to reason....
There is a line in that grim but absorbing movie The Lives of Others, about the East German police state, where the Stasi interrogator, instructing a class of students, explains how to tell the difference between a guilty and an innocent suspect: “An innocent prisoner will become more angry by the hour due to the injustice suffered,” he says. “He will shout and rage. A guilty prisoner becomes more calm and quiet. Or he cries.”
Well I'm all for the shouting and raging, though sometimes I get so tired by the continual banging of my head on the wall I feel like becoming quiet and crying, I must remember not to in case they see it as guilt.
Birds of a feather
Ministers are facing calls to scrap a controversial secret contract that gives Government officials access to detailed records of 16 million houses and property sales....
The Government has gone ahead with a deal with Rightmove, an online property search firm, to give HM Customs and Revenue [HMRC] staff access to its records of transactions.
The records contain details about individual properties, including their sale price as well as any internal features and modifications that may add to their value.
A copy of the contract between HMRC's Valuation Office Agency and Rightmove, released under the Freedom of Information Act, shows that Rightmove is bound by the Official Secrets Act and all its staff must sign a confidentiality agreement.
Rightmove keeps data on 16 million properties, and says it added 3.3 million records to its files in December alone.
Answers to parliamentary questions have revealed that officials are now in "commercially sensitive" talks over the extension of the Rightmove contract when it expires in March.
Eric Pickles MP, the Tory shadow secretary of state for local government, said it should not be renewed.
"The public will be alarmed that detailed information on 9 out of 10 house sales and rentals are secretly being passed from estate agents to tax spies without the public's knowledge or agreement. This is a shocking sign of the growing surveillance state under Gordon Brown."
Estate agents, tax spies, and the Labour government; they must all get on the shameless stygian pit of slime.
January 29, 2008
Leaked NIS ID Cards Document
Download or read it here: NIS_Options_Analysis_Outcome.pdf
Last week's leaked PowerPoint was six slides of timelines with about a page of bullet points. This document is seven sides of A4, all text, summarising all the options and approaches on which IPS is working. "Senior officials from IPS, the Borders Agency, the Treasury, Cabinet Office and Office of Government Commerce have contributed to the options analysis."
Last week was 'WHAT we're going to do', this is 'WHY, and HOW'...
New news (just a few examples, I'm sure you'll find more):
1) [Page 4, bullet point 3] Despite current assertions they are sticking with fingerprints, the strategy clearly includes options to gather personal information and issue ID cards WITHOUT fingerprints, e.g. "rising 16 year olds could be sent pre-populated forms for the Inclusion card... which would only need to be signed and returned".
2) [Page 4, bullet point 5] Indication that up to 10% of the population will be called in for 'interrogation' (ID interviews).
3) [Page 3, bullet point 1] Language suggests it will effectively be compulsory to *carry* the card - counter to Ministerial assertion.
4) [Page 5,'Next Steps', bullet point 1] Initial target groups ("trusted
relationships") to be identified and confirmed by end of January 2008 - i.e.
within the next 48 hours!
5) [Page 4, bullet point 6] They are explicitly pursuing a policy of "coercion" not compulsion because universal compulsion "cannot be delivered quickly due to the need for inevitably controversial and time consuming primary legislation and would pose serious political, enforcement and resource challenges."
More at NO2ID
Dave the Ditherer?
Cameron should dump Derek, not dither indecisively.
Right or wrong this is politics, a brutal game where impressions count. Dave has a chance to show some decisive cojones and contrast himself to Brown. He must do it, now.
Fifty pieces of silver - the price of treachery
The image of Britannia, which has graced British coins for centuries, is to be removed from the 50 pence piece as part of a redesign by the Royal Mint.
Gordon Brown personally approved the change as one of his last acts as Chancellor of the Exchequer, despite his current campaign to push Britishness...
I wonder what the Jelly Bellied Flag Flapper would like instead...
A Big Hello to all my readers at Kennet Council, the big building in Cheltenham and at the local exchange...
Britain is in danger of becoming a "surveillance state" as authorities including councils launch bugging operations against 1,000 people a day.
Councils, police and intelligence services are tapping and intercepting the phone calls, emails and letters of hundreds of thousands of people every year, an official report said.
Those being bugged include people suspected of illegal fly-tipping as councils use little known powers to carry out increasingly sophisticated surveillance to catch offenders.
In that period 122 local authorities sought to obtain people's private communications in more than 1,600 cases.
...in the last nine months of 2006, there were 253,557 applications to intercept private communications under surveillance laws. It is understood that most were approved.
A total of 653 state bodies — including 474 councils — have the power to intercept private communications.
These include the Financial Services Authority, the Ambulance Service and local fire authorities and prison governors.
Last night Mrs E complained our phone had been making strange "tinging" noises, and my mobile is also making strange noises at the end of calls, but then it is spring and like all farmers I'm ringing round to find the best price on Ammonium Nitrate.....
A landowner is facing a bill of almost £300,000 after his management company admitted illegally driving two tracks through one of Britain's finest shooting estates.
He invested a further £3 million in utility buildings and infrastructure and expressed his determination to restore 3,000 acres of wildlife habitat that had become degraded.
Yesterday, however, Mr Cannon, 66, was taken to court by Natural England...When a conservation officer visited the moor, he found two new roads about 1,000 yards long....."The construction of the tracks and parking areas has resulted in the loss of 4,433 square metres of internationally important upland habitat."
Muddling through the Imperial and metric numbers it seems that he damaged 0.037% (less than 4 hundreth of a percent) of the moor. On Salisbury Plain the Army have been commended for building a vast new network of roads because while the tracks destroy small areas by keeping traffic off the rest there is a net gain. But obviously crimes against "merlin, moorhens, short-eared owls, red grouse, snipe, curlew and redshank." deserve the full weight of the law.
January 28, 2008
Is Gordon planning complusory teenage stimulation?
ID cards may be issued by coercion, says leaked memo - Times Online
“Various forms of coercion, such as designation of the application process for identity documents issued by UK ministers (eg, passports) are an option to stimulate applications in a manageable way.
“There are advantages to designation of documents associated with particular target groups, eg, young people who may be applying for their first driving licence.”
Don't you just love the language, the whole dressing up of "coercion" - at the barrel of a gun - with talk of "advantages" and "stimulating applications". This obfuscation is worthy of a totalitarian regime.
Who really runs Scotland?
EC urged to put brakes on M74 project - Scotsman.com News
The Greens claim ministers and the companies involved in the tender process broke two key European Union directives and are calling on the EC to intervene and halt the project.
The official complaint is the latest stage in what has been a protracted battle between the environmental lobby and the Scottish Government over the £500 million project....
The extension is designed to link the M74 to the M8, west of the Kingston Bridge in Glasgow. The five miles of motorway are estimated to cost about £500 million.
The project has been backed by business groups, local authorities in the area and the current Scottish Government – it was previously supported by the Labour-led Scottish Executive.
Posters for charity event deemed 'anti-social' - Telegraph
Villagers have been barred from putting up posters inviting people to charity events because it is "anti-social".
Volunteers in the hamlet of Misterton, Somerset, regularly use the village hall for coffee mornings and jumble sales to raise money for good causes.
Because of the building's isolated location they often put notices up around the village to drum up interest for the functions.
However, they were threatened with prosecution after local council officials discovered notices pinned up on a lamp post advertising a children's charity bingo.
Ah, lamp posts and council officials, the two go together like a rickety chair and a length of hempen rope. I'm sure the locals know the difference between flyposting and local notices, and I'm sure they can manage to deal with the problem without a man in a hi-viz coat helping....
Thank God for Dave
The confessions of Clarkson's secret bride | Melanie Reid - Times Online
Top Gear is simply about the survival of blokeishness in a feminised world. It's about prime-time gender revenge and anti-authoritarianism and male camaraderie It's about the inner schoolboy in every man; and a nostalgia for the kind of power that men aren't allowed any more. It's the story of the little guy, dominated by his wife, and told to slow down as he's driving the Astra to Asda, who watches Top Gear and whispers “Yes!” under his breath as the three comic musketeers proceed across the land, doing insanely silly things their mothers would never have let them do, and generally dissing girlieness, women's cars and political correctness.
Now captured by Dave - the name is a thesis in itself - Top Gear in its endless rerun form is now rather brilliantly defining the essence of mild, heroic, misogynistic, right-wing British blokeishness.
Note, too, that none of Top Gear's three presenters is female, or are ever likely to be so. Note the self-deprecating nature of the three; their endearing lack of pomposity, their ability to fall flat on their faces and laugh at themselves. This is classic arrested-development, blokey stuff; these are men whom every other man on the planet, with the possible exception of Martin Amis, would like to go to the pub with. And quite a lot of women would like to join them.
(Dave for those without UK freeview boxes is a new bloke's television station that just shows repeats of blokey shows, and with the crap on the other channels a safe refuge on a boring evening.)
McDonald’s A level in running a burger bar - Times Online
McDonald’s and other big businesses will award their own qualifications equal to GCSEs, A levels and degrees, in subjects such as fast-food restaurant management, the Government will announce today.
As an employer I would trust and respect a degree from McDonalds more than one from our Mickey Mouse universities.
January 27, 2008
They don't know they're born today
Alan Johnson - dirty tricks?
"We did what the law asked us to do. We checked that he is on the electoral roll, we checked that he is registered to vote in this country," he said. "We also checked - although we are not required to - whether he was a member of the Labour Party, and he is a member of the Labour Party.
"We submitted his donation to the Parliamentary Register, it has been on there since May 9. We submitted it to the Electoral Commission."
As much as it pains me to say it i believe him, I don't think there was anything dodgy from his end of the process, what niggles me is why the story? We read it and think "Oh that is real nitpickery, this donorgate stuff isn't really bad, he is an honest bloke so surely everyone else accused is the same..."
BBC - it is the unique way we are funded that...
Fears of bias as BBC gets £141m in EU loans - Times Online
THE BBC last night faced accusations of pro-Brussels bias as it was revealed that the corporation had taken out £141m in “soft” loans from the European Union.
The broadcaster has taken out three separate low interest loans from the EU-backed European Investment Bank (EIB) to fund the expansion of its growing commercial empire.
It also emerged that the BBC has received grants from the EU worth £1.4m over the past five years.
You would never have guessed from the BBC's treatment of the EU......
The ego has crash landed
Peter Hain's closest political allies have said they are ready to blow the whistle on the chaos that plagued his failed campaign for Labour's deputy leadership....
"This is typical of Peter. It's his colossal ego. He'd been planning this campaign for years. It must go down as the worst result of all time for a campaign with that much planning and that much money."
....senior Labour figures fear that the police and prosecuting authorities, having failed to bring charges over the long-running cash for honours investigation, are determined to "do better" this time round.
One MP said: "There are serious concerns at high levels in the party that both Peters - Hain and Watt - will be charged. That would be disastrous for us."
I almost wish I had slipped Hain some more fivers in a brown envelope as his £103,000 is proving to be such good value.
NHS angels with their fingers in the till
NHS staff steal £80m every year - Scotsman.com News
DISHONEST NHS staff – including doctors and nurses – are defrauding the service of up to £80m a year in Scotland and have been threatened with court action unless the pilfering stops
Mustn't upset the staff by actually prosecuting them unless they have been really, really bad as they are all angels
Dr Kevin Cormack, Scottish spokesman for junior doctors' lobby group Remedy UK, said: "If anyone is letting the people down when it comes to public services, it's politicians rather than health workers. All the NHS staff I have ever encountered are honest and altruistic
Bridget Hunter, of health union Unison in Scotland, said: "We don't condone fraud, but we are very concerned at the emphasis in all of this. It's like they're telling staff: 'We don't trust you.' The Government risks giving a very wrong impression of NHS staff who all work to the highest professional standards under very challenging conditions."
And in the rare cases they aren't they seem to get off lightly.
Last year a Fife nurse was sentenced to 135 hours' community service for claiming £3,000 sick pay while working shifts for an agency.
£22 an hour seems a decent wage to me....
January 26, 2008
That Alan Johnson Allegation in Full
Skynews doesn't seem to have it, but the PA is reporting a story that the Sunday Mirror has, but the Sunday Mirror doesn't seem to have it on their website
Gordon Brown's donations nightmare deepened further as another Cabinet minister was accused of accepting cash through a proxy.
The Sunday Mirror claimed that immigrant Waseem Siddiqui was used to channel more than £3,000 to Alan Johnson's failed campaign to become deputy Labour leader.
However, the 50-year-old told the newspaper he did not know who the Health Secretary was, and his brother - a Labour official - had asked him to write a blank cheque....
Tennessee Ernie Ford, Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant - Shotgun Boogie
- features Speedy West (steel guitar) and Jimmy Bryant (telecaster)
And here is what they were doing years before other axe heroes! - Only 33 seconds but worth it.
Equipping the unemployed
Gordon Brown's dismal economic record
An exclusive Daily Telegraph poll today shows voters are unimpressed with the way Mr Brown is running the country, and confirms the Tories' solid lead over Labour.
Overall, 61 per cent of voters say they disapprove of the Government's record to date, with only 23 per cent approving.
Mr Brown's political strategy for the next election is rooted in his claim to competence, hoping that voters will see him and the Labour Party as better qualified than David Cameron's Tories to run the country.
But damagingly for Mr Brown after a week of financial turmoil, the poll shows that voters are no longer convinced by his economic claims.
Over on the Adam Smith blog the full story is laid out:
Now that he's gambled £55bn of the taxpayers' money on Northern Rock, you would have thought that Gordon Brown's record for economic competence would be well and truly buried. After all, the defective regulation he put in place was responsible for the first run on a British bank for 100 years, and many economists are now forecasting a recession. Yet Brown blames all this on international trends and seems to get away with it. People may not think much of him as a prime minister, but they still believe he did a good job as chancellor. The reality is very different:....
The French give us two fingers
French hunters pursuing an ancient thrill feel the pull of the bow - Times Online
..a growing number of Europeans have taken to stalking prey with bows and arrows — a weapon that may have been first used about 12,000 years ago.
The movement arrived in Europe from the US in the 1970s and has taken off in the past decade, notably in France, where the Government has sought to regulate the practice through the introduction of a bow hunting licence. More than 15,000 French people have obtained the licence — up from a few hundred in the 1990s — and about 5,000 are regular practitioners of la chasse à l’arc, which has also gained in popularity in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Scandinavia. Deer, boar, rabbits, hares, pheasants and coypu are among the prey.
A spokesman for the French Bowhunting Federation said that the pursuit was gaining ground because it offered an alternative to a technological society. “A hundred hours alone, concentrating on hunting a roebuck or a wild boar, has a different impact on you than 100 hours in front of a television”.
The spokesman said that the rise of bowhunting enabled the country’s archers to claim an unprecedented superiority over their British counterparts, who shoot at targets but not at game. “We’ve looked up to British archers ever since Agincourt,” he said. “But we’re probably better than you now.”
Now that is fighting talk - right all of you, if you aren't practising on the butts after church as required by 3 H.8.c.3 then there will be trouble - better than us, huh.
My Kind of Bear
Like any soldier, he loved to relax with a cigarette and a bottle of beer when out of the firing line.
But in the heat of battle, he became an inspiring figure - bravely passing ammunition along to supply the guns.
All the men in the Second Polish Transport Company agreed that the recruit they called Voytek was the perfect comrade.
As for Voytek, he was just happy to be part of the unit... ever ready to lend a helping paw.
The 250lb brown bear, standing more than 6ft tall, was possibly the most remarkable combatant of the Second World War, seeing action amid the hell of Monte Cassino in Italy.
After the war, he and his fellow troops were billeted in Scotland and he lived out his days in Edinburgh Zoo, dying in 1963. ....
Teacher Garry Paulin has written a book Voytek -The Soldier Bear, which will be published next month.
Tax data security doesn't matter for the common people
The security of the online computer system used by more than three million people to file tax returns is in doubt after HM Revenue and Customs admitted it was not secure enough to be used by MPs, celebrities and the Royal Family.
From this year, anyone wishing to file a self-assessment tax return after October will have to do so online or face stiff penalties.
However, HMRC has a list of those excluded from the new rules who must send hard copies of returns for "security reasons"
Jane Kennedy, a Treasury minister, said: "There are categories of individual for whom security is a higher priority."
Mike Warburton, of the accountants Grant Thornton, said: "Either the Revenue have a system which can guarantee confidentiality for all or they should defer plans to force online filing. It is extraordinary that MPs and others can enjoy higher security."
Mark Wallace, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "This double standard is unacceptable. If the online system is not secure enough for MPs, why should ordinary taxpayers have to put up with it?"
That stench you smell isn't your morning kipper being off, it comes from the body politic in Westminster - bastards.
January 25, 2008
To the immortal memory - Burns night special
Friday Night is Music Night (When punks get romantic version)
The Eastgate Hotel, Oxford, student party 1981, this was the music at the end of the night...
Guido Tory Stooge? No Evidence Yet
Who is Guido working for? : January 2008 : Three Line Whip : Politics : Telegraph Blogs suggests that hero of the hour Guido Fawkes is a Tory stooge -
Tim Ireland points out that the text of an email doesn't say much about who it is from and has asked for the header data or even just the "From" address, which seems to read "From: Guido.firstname.lastname@example.org On Behalf Of Guy Fawkes [email@example.com]
Now Tim is no fool with regard to interwebby stuff so he knows that faking a "from" address is as easy as a really easy thing in easyville. Has he seen the rest of the headers which would tell us more or is he running with it on just this?
I would ask on his website or on the Telegraph one but they both want me to register before commenting.
UPDATE: All is revealed:
EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01HRS 26 JANUARY 2008
Fawkes: Contrary to Lobby rumours, Guido's blog is not a subsidiary of CCHQ
Commenting on today's online reports in The Daily Telegraph, The Times and The Mirror that the Guido Fawkes blog is a CCHQ operation, Paul Staines said:
"The rumours are absolute bollocks, if I'm in the pay of CCHQ they have been incredibly lax in sending the cheques.
"Particularly enjoyed Kevin Maguire's completely made up story today and similar conspiracy theories and speculation from James Kirkup, Sam Coates and Tom Watson MP.
"To all of you who haven't figured it out, yesterday I simply emailed the Daily Lobby distribution list server used by CCHQ's press office which automatically forwards emails on. It is not only the government that has data security issues."
Warren Meyer's Simple Skeptic's Argument
Climate Skeptic: My Best Skeptic's Argument
.......In sum, to believe catastrophic warming forecasts, one has to believe both of the following:
1. The climate is dominated by strong positive feedback, despite our experience with other stable systems that says this is unlikely and despite our measurements over the last 100 years that have seen no such feedback levels.
2. Substantial warming, of 1C or more, is being masked by aerosols, despite the fact that aerosols really only have strong presence over 5-10% of the globe and despite the fact that the cooler part of the world has been the one without the aerosols.
Here's what this means: Man will cause, at most, about a degree of warming over the next century. Most of this warming will be concentrated in raising minimum temperatures at night rather than maximum daytime temperatures (this is why, despite some measured average warming, the US has not seen an increase of late in maximum temperature records set). There are many reasons to believe that man's actual effect will be less than 1 degree, and that whatever effect we do have will be lost in the natural cyclical variations the climate experiences, but we are only just now starting to understand.
To keep this relatively short, I have left out all the numbers and such. To see the graphs and numbers and sources, check out my new climate video, or my longer original video, or download my book for free.
Humping bad for the planet
Road humps slow the traffic but speed up death of planet - Times Online
They damage cars and give drivers a nasty jolt, but now speed bumps have been found guilty of an even worse crime — they are helping to destroy the planet.
The traffic-calming measures double the carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption by forcing drivers to brake and accelerate repeatedly, according to a study commissioned by the AA. A car that achieves 58.15 miles per gallon travelling at a steady 30mph will deliver only 30.85mpg when going over humps.
The results, calculated by averaging the performances of the two cars, also showed that reducing the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph resulted in 10 per cent higher emissions. This is because car engines are designed to be most efficient at speeds above 30mph.
A motorist who observed the speed limit on one mile of 20mph road during a daily journey would produce an extra tonne of CO2 in a year compared with driving at 30mph on the same stretch.
That whistling sound you can hear is the your local transport expert weirdy-beardy at the council's brain exploding as he tries to understand this.
Darling offers battered Gordon "relief"
Mr Darling unveiled a new "entrepreneurs' relief"
Is that the same as the "Executive Lunchtime Massage and Relief" that used to be available on the Devizes Road in Swindon, or so I'm told?
Peter and Gordon - Please Lock Me Away - A World Without Love
Please lock me away
And don't allow the day
Here inside where I hide
With my loneliness
I don't care what they say I won't stay
In a world without love
- Peter and Gordon
I know others were before me with this but I couldn't resist this video, and with jodhpured girls with whips and what looks like a scoped Mauser who could...
An Irishman's home is his castle
A millionaire businessman singlehandly fought off three armed burglars after they put a knife to his teenage daughter's throat, he told a court.
Bernard Dwyer, 51, who runs a construction business, said he believed they would all be killed and decided he "would rather die like a man than a dog" defending his family.
Mr Dwyer, who was raised on a farm in Ireland, came to Britain with only £30 in his pocket and worked as a labourer but is now a successful businessman with contracts all over the world, said:..
"These b**tards were out of control. We were going to die anyway, that's what I thought.
"I thought if I am going to die then I would rather die like a man than a dog. The guy was standing over me with the gun and I thought if I can move the gun with my arm and make the bullet go into the wall I could come up and bash him."
"I hit him several times, I hit him plenty,"
"So we had another bout of fisticuffs," said Mr Dwyer, "But this time I’m in charge of this battle. I let the door go and let them fall in and then, bam, had a go at them again.
"I have never used a weapon in my life and it was a great feeling. I grabbed the gun and bashed it across the knuckle-duster guy.
"Next thing is they took off and I chased them down the stairs. I bashed knuckle-duster man with the gun and I broke the handle on his head."
January 24, 2008
Haman and Alexander - next for "You know when you've been tangoed"?
The reason Brown didn't want Hain to go was because it could have a domino effect on Wendy Alexander and Harriet Harman.
Headline h/t Harry Haddock
Hain runs for it as the police arrive at the door.
BBC NEWS | Politics | Peter Hain resigns from Cabinet
Peter Hain has quit the Cabinet after his deputy leader campaign donations were referred to the Met Police.
Mr Hain, work and pensions secretary and Wales secretary, said he had stood down so he could "clear my name".
He quit within minutes of the Electoral Commission saying that it had decided to refer the late declaration of £103,000 of donations to the police.
And just in time for a celebratory tincture at lunch time, it is only a pity that the story doesn't continue with him being found dancing the Tyburn jig.
The envy of less happier lands
Climate change ‘will lead to warfare over food and water’ - Times Online
It was “almost certain” that, by 2050, droughts, food shortages and flooding would lead to the mass movement of up to 200 million environmental refugees...with many of them heading for Britain, according to the paper, An Uncertain Future: Law Enforcement, National Security and Climate Change for the Oxford Research Group...security services would be challenged increasingly by the number of refugees, and the Government would need to consider stronger border controls. Protests against companies that continued to emit greenhouse gases were possible as climate change intensified and they might even provoke riots.
In other parts of the world the pressures caused by global warming, particularly through changes in rainfall patterns and the disappearance of glaciers, would provoke wars over agriculture and water rights.
No need to worry, they won't make it past the turbines, they will be sliced and diced by the tens of thousands of blades; this sceptred isle, this earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, this precious stone set in the silver sea, filled with whirring whirligigs which serve it in the office of a wall or as a moat defensive to a house, against the envy of less happier lands,--
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.
The lights are going off all over Europe
NEARLY 10,000 wind turbines will be spinning on land and sea by 2020 if Britain is to meet a new renewable-energy target announced yesterday.
The estimated fivefold increase in the number of turbines would be required to meet a new renewable-energy target for the UK under a plan detailed by the European Commission.
This could potentially mean a total of 5,200 turbines on land and 4,000 on sea, plus a mix of about 5,000 wave, tidal, and small run-of-river hydro and biomass devices by 2020, generating up to 46 gigawatts – or around 37 per cent of electricity demand.
At present, there are 1,800 turbines on land, producing about 1.9 gigawatts of electricity, while offshore schemes are only starting to be developed.
There were conflicting estimates of how much the plan, which also affects gas for heating and transport fuel, would cost.
José Manuel Barroso, the EC president, claimed it would cost every European £2.20 a week, but a Eurosceptic think-tank pointed to a leaked government document which stated the package could cost UK households up to £730 a year. However, the EC said the measures were a vital step in the fight against global warming and other countries must now join the effort.
The Telegraph reports it as:
A family of four will pay £465 a year more for energy by 2020, on top of any hike caused by oil prices, as a result of proposals announced by the EU.
The Times : The commission’s own estimate of the cost to consumers of low-carbon energy looks disingenous; a rise in electricity bills of 10-15 per cent is suspiciously low given the need for a high carbon price to justify investment in new technology. Moreover, the target for renewable energy imposed on Britain, 15 per cent, will be very costly, if not impossible, to achieve.
It means raising the share of renewables from 5 per cent to 36 per cent by 2020. According to the British Wind Energy Association, it implies an extra 30 gigawatts of wind power. That suggests that another 12,000 wind turbines need to be built, at a cost of some £30-40 billion.
The engineering challenge in building such a vast turbine fleet is enormous, at a time when the Government is also backing a nuclear revival.
National Grid has given warning that a big extension of the power grid will be needed to deliver power from disparate wind farms to urban areas. There are simply not enough trained power engineers to build this infrastructure. However, the regulations that will force us to pay the bill are already on the way to becoming a reality.
The offset cost of CO2 is about £7.50 a tonne today, so if we accept the EU's figures then we are being forced to compensate for 62 tonnes of CO2 a year. I don't know about your fuel bills, but astronomic as mine are I don't get through over a tonne of coal every week of the year, do you? It wouldn't just be a rip off designed to consign us back to the dark ages, would it?
Slipping new "rights" in under the radar
Within the next couple of months, Jack Straw will outline the Government's plans for a new Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.
Will this legislation, if enacted, give "practical effect to our common values", as the Lord Chancellor suggested in a speech this week? Or will it just be a lot of hot air, unenforceable in the courts and designed simply to wrongfoot the Tories?....
...Mr Straw's Bill of Rights will probably not give us any rights at all - or, at least, not the sort of rights you can enforce in court.
Instead, he is thinking of including economic and social rights in his Bill - benefits payments, the minimum wage, and so on. These are already legally enforceable, as Mr Straw pointed out. "But," he stressed, "we would have to look very carefully before making any further economic or social rights justiciable."..Even so, Mr Straw insisted, "this would not in any way make the exercise worthless". A Bill of Rights was "a combination of law, symbolism and aspiration"...."There is a continuum," Mr Straw said. "And it is entirely consistent that some broad declarative principles can be underpinned by statute. Where we end up on this continuum needs to be the subject of the widest debate."
So you want the widest debate about a weasel worded bill which you claim will confer no new legally enforcible rights, but just enshrine "feel-good" sentiments into law. OK here it is: you are a duplicitous shyster - you know lawyers and judges will pick up these aspirations and create new "rights", creating the laws you would like to see but daren't present to public and parliamentary scrutiny.
January 23, 2008
On this day in 1879
From The Barrel of a Gun reminds us:
On this day in 1879, roughly one hundred able-bodied men of the 24th Regiment of Foot, accompanied by some 40 wounded men, despite being grossly outnumbered and outgunned, engaged and defeated a force of some four to five thousand Zulu warriors at the mission station of Rorke's Drift, South Africa.
Watch before it is banned
With the ban on smoking in public places now in place in Wales, and the wish by thousands of smokers to kick the habit as a result, children and young adults will see less smoking around them. However, they are still exposed to smoking on TV and are likely to take up the habit as a result. BMA Cymru Wales believes that broadcasters have the responsibility to banish smoking from the screen.
Quite - who wants disgraceful examples like this?
and blatant exploitation...
Written consent needed from illegals before we can detect them
The French have banned Brit border guards at Calais from deploying immigrant-hunting gamma-ray scanners, claiming they breach EU health and safety regulations and can only be used with the intended targets' written permission.
According to the Evening Standard, the scanners have proved somewhat successful in cutting the numbers of illegals entering the UK via France, contributing to an 88 per cent reduction in those reaching Dover in 2006.
The machines, costing ｣2m a pop, sweep along the exterior of lorries, revealing any illicit human cargo within, but deliver "less than a thousandth of the background radiation" anyone in their path would normally receive in a year.
Of course the French don't want them to tarry in France, far better to let them carry on over to us.
BBC NEWS | Education | Three Little Pigs 'too offensive'
A story based on the Three Little Pigs has been turned down from a government agency's annual awards because the subject matter could offend Muslims.
The digital book, re-telling the classic fairy tale, was rejected by judges who warned that "the use of pigs raises cultural issues".
The awards which rejected the book are run by Becta, the government's educational technology agency.
The judging panel also attacked the book's stereotyping of builders.
...The Three Little Cowboy Builders has already been a prize winner at the recent Education Resource Award - but its Newcastle-based publishers, Shoo-fly were turned down by the Bett Award panel, run the government's technology agency.
The feedback from the judges explaining why they had rejected the CD-Rom highlighted that they "could not recommend this product to the Muslim community".
They also warned that the story might "alienate parts of the workforce (building trade)".
The judges criticised the stereotyping in the story of the unfortunate pigs: "Is it true that all builders are cowboys, builders get their work blown down, and builders are like pigs?"
The book's creative director Ms Price said that rather than preventing the spread of racism, such an attitude was likely to inflame ill-feeling. As another example, she says would that mean that secondary schools could not teach Animal Farm because it features pigs?
Judge for yourself - unlike the BBC I can provide a link that works - it is the unique way I'm funded...
Why it is right to lie to help your kids.
Parents who pretend that they have Christian beliefs in order to win places in church schools are doing the best for their children, David Cameron believes.
The Tory leader refuses to criticise the “middle-class parents with sharp elbows”. Asked for his views on the families accused of playing the system, he says: “I think it’s good for parents who want the best for their kids. I don’t blame anyone who tries to get their children into a good school. Most people are doing so because it has an ethos and culture. I believe in active citizens.”
Well said Dave, parents have a duty to lie, cheat and play the system in anyway they can to do the best for their children, their primary duty is to their children not to some socialist system where the individual children's interests come very low down the priorities.
The dribble-soaked smiling guide to going green
Go green to save the planet… and £80,000 - Scotsman.com News
LIVING an environmentally friendly lifestyle can save more than £80,000 and cut carbon emissions by nearly 900 tonnes, a scientist will tell a group of schoolchildren today.
Dr David Reay, who is giving the opening speech of the second annual James Clerk Maxwell Lecture Series at the Edinburgh Academy, has calculated how different choices over a lifetime can have a radical effect on a person's impact on the planet and their finances.
A fairly affluent western person who is "ignorant" of climate change might produce 1,251 tonnes of greenhouse gases, costing £131,000.
However, a similar person who lives a "climate-aware" life might produce just 370 tonnes at a cost of £48,845, a saving of 881 tonnes of emissions and £82,155.
Let us look at how saving that £80,000 changes your life:
AWARE AMY Vs GREEDY GEORGE: HOW GOING GREEN MAKES A DIFFERENCE
• CHILDHOOD: Wears disposable nappies as a baby and is driven to nursery and primary school in his parents' four-wheel drive car. Gordon also leaves computers, stereos, televisions and video game machines on for hours when not using them. Instead of putting on a jumper, he turns up the heating in his room. Family holidays involve flights to France and Egypt.
• EARLY ADULTHOOD: Buys a seven-year-old old Ford Escort as a student, flies to Thailand on holidays. On getting a job, he upgrades to a VW Golf GTI, goes to a large out-of-town shopping centre, buying food from all over the world, and takes holidays in Spain.
• FAMILY MAN: Buys a Volvo V70 estate car, food bill and miles rise as children are born. Holidays are in the United States. Children leave home, reducing emissions, but Gordon buys a Mercedes Benz S500 and now holidays in Peru. He consumes 33kg of food from around the world a week, resulting in 4,370kg of greenhouse gases a year from transport costs.
• RETIREMENT: Buys a Jaguar XJ8, takes annual holiday in New Zealand.
• DEATH: Chooses a brushed steel coffin and elaborate concrete catacomb.
Lifetime emissions of greenhouse gases: 1251 tonnes
• CHILDHOOD: Wears washable nappies, saving 12kg of greenhouse gas emissions a year, compared with disposables. Parents take her to nursery by bicycle and she later goes to school by bus. Family holidays are in UK towns, such as Plymouth and Chester. Amy turns off appliances after using them.
• EARLY ADULTHOOD: As a student, she uses a bicycle and public transport to get about, stays in UK for holidays. Sets her computer to go to sleep mode when inactive for more than a few minutes. Uses low-energy light bulbs. On getting a job, buys energy-efficient appliances, insulates her well-designed home, recycles and composts, buys local food.
• FAMILY WOMAN: Arrival of children sees increase in emissions, with amount of food bought rising to 33kg a week. Buying local food limits rise in emissions from transport costs to 147kg a year. Holidays spent in Skegness and exploring home city.
• RETIREMENT: Uses public transport to get around and continues to holiday in UK.
• DEATH: Buried in a hessian sack.
Lifetime emissions of greenhouse gases: 370 tonnes
If that isn't the best £80k you will ever spend I don't know what is.
You will be pleased to know that Dr Reay is writing a book for children explaining it all, look out for it for Xmas 2008, as he says "The inspiration was only ever a dribble-soaked smile away."
The ID Card delay
ID card scheme put off until after election | Special Reports | Guardian Unlimited Politics
A compulsory identity card system for British citizens looks as if it will be deferred beyond the next election, according to documents leaked to the Conservatives.
Result all round - obviously the costs and technology are spirally out of control - it's a government IT project so that is a given. So a delay eases the pain, especially if it can be booted beyond the election and so instead of an election dominated by ID cards it is still a distant nightmare. Of course it does mean that they intend to creep them in, first for your Kosovan cleaner, then for your kids teacher, and who could object to that? And then somehow when you renew your passport or apply for a job suddenly you have to have one as well. How did that happen? But they are useful, and then some womble in a chequered hat demands to see yours as you walk down the street and then you know what has happened.
January 22, 2008
Global Temperature - Not so anomalous now
Historical data provide a baseline for judging how anomalous recent temperature changes are and for assessing the degree to which organisms are likely to be adversely affected by current or future warming. Climate histories are commonly reconstructed from a variety of sources, including ice cores, tree rings, and sediment. Tree-ring data, being the most abundant for recent centuries, tend to dominate reconstructions. There are reasons to believe that tree ring data may not properly capture long-term climate changes..... In this study, eighteen 2000-year-long series were obtained that were not based on tree ring data. Loehle (2007) obtained data for long series that had been previously calibrated and converted to temperature by their respective authors. Essentially no tree ring data were used. After an extensive search, all data were used that had at least 20 dates over the 2000-year period.....
The Medieval Warming Period (MWP) was significantly warmer than the bimillennial average during most of the period 820 - 1040 AD. The Little Ice Age was significantly cooler than the average during most of 1440 - 1740 AD. The warmest tridecade of the MWP was warmer than the most recent tridecade, but not significantly so.
More discussion here
See below for the global distribution of the proxies included in the study.
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?
Giant Steps for Mankind
BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Rising sea 'a threat to Causeway' The National Trust report warned access to the site would become more difficult, with problems as early as 2020.
Wot no mention of Climate Change? Is the BBC slipping in not blaming every thing on 4x4 drivers?
Of course the sea levels in the northern parts of these isles is a competition between the isostatic and the eustatic changes - the north is still bouncing up from being depressed by
having Gordon Brown living there the last ice age and the sea levels have also been creeping up for as long as records have been kept. Estimates of the result based on the IPCC report are, on the mainland side, from the sea dropping 10cm to it rising 10cm by 2020 . Gosh, the worst scenario is a 4 inch rise in average sea level which will make "access to the site difficult", and to think if they had waves as well!
Fog on the Tyne
Only one question needs to be asked - if this wasn't Northern Rock but had been based in the Tory heartlands, say Surrey Rock, do you think the taxpayer's cash would be being spent so recklessly?
January 21, 2008
There was an attractive young lady rattling a tin in town today, big sign on it saying:
Please Help Young People Who Have SexDaily
Being a gentleman of course I offered to help, I didn't want to embarrass her so I took her by the hand into a doorway where I whispered into her ear...
It's spelt "Dyslexia"
Teaching to teach
Las Cruces Sun-News - Educational failure to thrive
....the problem in education is the use of the factory model of education. It assumes all students are basically the same; all teachers are basically the same and all schools should be the same. Anyone spending time in our schools will know that the factory model doesn't work.
The students, teachers and administrators are all different as can be expected since they are human...That is the secret that the politicians do not get. They want every lesson across America to be the same, every teacher in America teaching the same way and every American child learning in the same way. The standardized tests with No Child Left Behind are the darling of the data people who themselves have never taught.
Tim Worstall on the Adam Smith Blog expands:, Teach First's idea is to take bright graduates, give them a few weeks of training to polish their educational skills and then stick them into bad schools. The schools that they find it very difficult to get fully trained teachers to go to.
On the face of it this seems absurd: for as we're constantly and consistently told, teaching is a profession, one which requires either a full degree in the subject or at minimum a one year post-graduate course after a non-education major degree. How could merely clever people pick it up in weeks?
Quite how well can they? Results from the American equivalent show:
...research on Teach for America that suggests these teachers outperform other starting teachers, and even the more sanguine evidence (eg. work by Jonah Rockoff and coauthors) has Teach for America teachers being no worse.
So we seem to have a situation where an absence of specific training in education produces better educators: or at the very least, ones that are no worse.
An excellent result I think all can agree: the policy implication is therefore clear, make teacher training a 5 or 6 week course, close the vast majority of the educating to educate system, save a great deal of money and possibly improve the education system, or at least leave it no worse.
And remember, we're doing it for the children.
Exactly the whole "teaching to teach profession" is a worthless house of cards, but we have an entrenched compulsory unionised closed shop to ensure its continence. Public schools always used to thrive by just hiring bright minds to teach rather than trained teachers, says it all really.
EU Referendum: They lied yesterday; they will lie tomorrow
An absolutely stonking column on the Lisbon treaty from William Rees-Mogg hits the streets in The Times today, the title of which we have borrowed for our own post.
With the strap line, "The Lisbon treaty is a dangerous betrayal", Mogg tells us he is against the treaty "because it involves an important constitutional transfer of powers from the European nations to the European institutions, from national democracy to supranational bureaucracy."
There is no need to re-invent the wheel. Go to the site and read the piece in full – and fume.
Our freedom of movement is being withdrawn
Ministers have previously rejected random breath-testing but it is understood that there was a change of heart when the results of the latest Christmas campaign against drink-driving were revealed.
These showed that while the number of tests carried out in England and Wales rose six per cent, the number of drivers who failed fell to 7,800 - down from 9,700 in 2006.
(The number of breath tests rose from 145,867 during the 2006 Christmas period to 155,216 last year. The number of motorists failing "fit to drive" tests - designed to detect motorists under the influence of drugs - also dropped from 666 to 550.)
So the proportion of drunk drivers dropped from 6.6% to 5% - most people would see that as a success and that the present policy is working, but somehow it is presented as a failure and that we need to do it differently. And differently in a way that causes John Spellar, a former Labour transport minister, to say .
"Yet again they are straining the tolerance of the British public, when they should be focusing on the minority who are grossly over the limit and causing mayhem," he said.
"This system has been working well for many years and has left us with one of the best safety records in Europe.
"There is a serious danger this will erode the confidence of the public in the police and create ill will."
A spokesman for the Association of British Drivers said: "It seems like an infringement of people's liberty.
"It is as if our freedom of movement is being withdrawn. We would need to be convinced that it would save lives."
Together we can beat obesity | Alan Johnson - Times Online Britain is in the grip of an epidemic...without action this could rise to almost nine in 10 adults and two-thirds of children by 2050....a public health problem that is comparable to climate change. Failure to act now will lead to serious adverse consequences in a few decades, and any delay raises the real possibility that reversal of these trends may cease to be an option ...The rising tide of overweight and obese people is the most significant public and personal health challenge facing our society. With concerted action across government and with wide institutional support aligned to personal responsibility...Some will characterise any attempt by government to tackle this problem as unnecessary interference with individual choice. The fact is that people worry more about a neglectful state than a nanny state.
It is not the government’s job to hector or lecture, but....
Government may ban fast food near schools - Telegraph - as part of a more interventionist approach by the Government to tackling childhood obesity.
It is quite obvious that the Government is enjoying the command and control of people's lives they have granted themselves because of "climate change" enough, so they need another scare to get right inside your personal life as well. Combine food rationing with fuel rationing and you are close to the socialist utopia of 1948. In the meantime let us remember a victim of living a life of personal freedom and reckless disregard for food labelling;
Eddie 'Bozo' Miller - Telegraph - was an American described by the Guinness Book of Records as the "world's greatest trencherman".
Though he achieved this accolade by virtue of his competitive eating stunts - such as eating 27 2lb chickens in a row to win a $10,000 bet, or out-drinking a lion in Martinis - Miller was just as keen on the table in ordinary life. "Before lunch, I'd have 10 to 12 martinis, every day," he told the Oakland Tribune last November. "In Las Vegas, I ate 12 club sandwiches in a row. I ate 400 raviolis a couple of times. I'd eat 6,000 to 12,000 oysters on a half shell. Sometimes I'd eat the entire menu." Despite these prodigious exercises in gluttony, he insisted: "I never really had indigestion."
Eddie "Bozo" Miller died on January 7 aged 89 of natural causes.
January 20, 2008
The Northern Rock deal explained
"A little fun, just now and then,
Is relished by the best of men.
If you have nerve, you may have plenty;
Five draws you ten, and ten draws twenty.
Attention given, I'll show to you,
How 'Umbrella' hides the peek-a-boo.
Select your shell, the one you choose;
If right, you win; if not, you lose;
The game itself is lots of fun,
Jim's chances, though, are two to one;
And I tell you your chance is slim
To win a prize from Umbrella Jim."
Full details of the deal to bail out Northern Rock with tens of billions of pounds of taxpayers' cash can be found here
EU Treaty "unlikely to be beneficial to the UK's position in Europe" - Official
BBC NEWS | Politics | EU treaty 'same as constitution'
The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee's report, entitled Foreign Policy Aspects Of The Treaty Of Lisbon, claims there are only two small differences in the area of foreign policy between the treaty and the abandoned constitution.
These were the addition of two non-legally binding declarations proposed by the UK and the change of the title Minister for Foreign Affairs to High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
"We conclude that there is no material difference between the provisions on foreign affairs in the Constitutional Treaty which the government made subject to approval in a referendum and those in the Lisbon Treaty on which a referendum is being denied," the report said.
It also accused the government of seeking to downplay the significance of new institutions, such as the creation of a new EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security.
This was "unlikely to be beneficial to the UK's position in Europe", it said, and called on ministers to acknowledge their true significance in public.
And that is about as close as a bunch of MPs can to saying that the Government has acted like lying traitorous bastards.
Patio heaters axed - Times Online
Patio heaters, the near-ubiquitous prop for British summer evenings, are to be phased out by the country’s biggest DIY retailer after pressure from environmentalists.
B&Q, which sold 50,000 of the heaters in 2005, is to stop stocking gas and electricity powered heaters at the end of this year, forgoing potential sales of more than £8m.
The B&Q initiative comes at a difficult time for its parent company Kingfisher, which has seen its share price almost halve during the past 12 months over fears that sales will be hit by the faltering UK housing market.
Yes that's the way to do it, losing sales so stop selling stuff, I wish I was a retail genius like that.
Jacqui Smith on the streets
Home secretary Jacqui Smith scared of walking London alone - Times Online
JACQUI SMITH, the home secretary, has admitted she would feel unsafe walking the streets of London late at night.
I know times are hard love, but let's be honest with a face like yours you aren't going to earn much doing it and with the collapse of policing under nuLabour you are right not to take the risk.
January 19, 2008
How Britain has destroyed itself - The Last Testament of George MacDonald Fraser
Irons in the Fire reveals that The Last Testament of George MacDonald Fraser is found here
... there is a groundswell of anger and frustration at the damage done to Britain by so-called reformers and dishonest politicians who hardly bother to conceal their contempt for the public's wishes.
Plainly many thought they were alone in some reactionary minority. They had been led to think that they were voices muttering to themselves in the wilderness.
Well, you are not. There are more of you out there than you realise - very many more, perhaps even a majority.
Plod picks on easy target
A pensioner who stepped in to stop youths throwing stones at ducks on a canal was arrested by police.
Bill Marshall was expecting officers to investigate his complaints about being repeatedly taunted by the gang. Instead the 73-year-old great-grandfather was taken to a cell and accused of attacking the teenagers.
Mr Marshall, who has a heart condition and diabetes, was left distressed and angered by the arrest....
Now police have dropped any charges and apologised.
Chief Insp Glenn Harper of Nottinghamshire Police said the arresting officer acted correctly but added: "I will ensure the necessary training needs are addressed."
More "training" - the answer to everything - what about giving the officer a right royal bollocking?
Stamping State Ownership on Teenagers
DAVID Cameron has called for a revived form of National Service to steer out-of-control youths back on the straight and narrow,
There was a need for "big social, cultural and political change" to tackle the problem of social disorder", he said.
While he said he would not bring back National Service in a traditional form, he called for a new "national citizens' service", which would involve the army and other voluntary services. He said it was "something all 16-year-olds should do, to learn about their duties and responsibilities as citizens and inspire them as being part of our country instead of being people who hang round on street corners".
Mr Cameron has said that a "rites of passage" scheme would encourage school-leavers to devote six weeks to military training, working in prisons, with the elderly or in developing countries.
Sometimes he is just a silly arse, isn't he. I thought we were now seeing the new grown up Cameron but underneath he still is same old Spliffy.
A dozen to save us from the decimal - your help needed.
woman who is being prosecuted for selling vegetables by the pound branded the case against her "disgusting" yesterday as she made her first appearance in court.
Janet Devers, Britain's latest "metric martyr", vowed to continue trading at the stall set up by her mother at the height of the Blitz in 1940.
The 63-year-old made a brief appearance at Thames Magistrates' Court in London where she elected to be tried at a Crown Court in front of a jury, in the first prosecution of its kind for six years.
After the hearing she said: "I am much happier about having a jury trial because you won't get 12 people on a jury who will find me guilty. It's in the hands of the public and I hope they all support me."
I share her trust in the sense of the people - but it all costs money.
Donations can be made in a number of ways either:
* by cheque or postal order through the post,
* by credit card over the telephone 0191 565 7143
Postal address is:
Metric Martyrs Defence Fund
PO Box 526
January 18, 2008
Friday Night is Music Night - If you can't do it in two minutes you aren't doing it right special
A request to the Tech Dept - please fit this ASAP
Ministers are threatening to change the law to stop supermarkets advertising beer and wine at bargain prices in a bid to tackle the epidemic of binge drinking sweeping Britain....
Ideally ministers would like to force retailers to charge customers more for beer, wine and cider. Mr Coaker is understood to be determined “to find a way through the Competition Commission” and stop big retailers selling alcohol at loss-leading prices.
One source said ministers “want to make it illegal”. However The Daily Telegraph understands that officials have come to the view that a crackdown on price would be near-impossible under Competition Law after talks with the Office of Fair Trading.
As the Adam Smith Blog will say later today (The workshy layabouts don't update their blog before seven in the morning...):
Don't blame the drink
On Wednesday, three youths were convicted of murder after kicking and beating a man to death outside his own home. His sin? Telling them off for vandalism.
Peter Fahy, Cheshire's Chief Constable, blamed Britain's drink culture and called for a 'crackdown' on cheap alcohol. Apparently, supermarkets and off-licences are to blame for selling booze too cheaply. He even claimed that some of the youths involved in the attack were "reasonably decent people who drink too much and do something stupid and attack someone".
Rubbish. These youths did not kick a man "like a football" as his daughter watched because they were drunk. They did it because they are ignorant, savage, brutal people without a shred of respect for anyone else. Blaming supermarket prices is absurd. The vast majority of people enjoy inexpensive alcohol responsibly. Most of us drink more than we should from time to time, but it doesn't end in violence. In any case, alcohol is already more expensive and more strictly controlled in Britain than in many other European countries.
'Drink culture' is a handy excuse for the social ills that plague many communities in Britain, but it is not the real reason. It is the welfare state that has promoted family breakdown and eroded personal responsibility. It is politically-correct, target-driven policing that has abandoned our streets to violence and thuggery. And it is the rotten state school system that has left so many young people without any aspiration beyond the bottom of a beer bottle. ..
Peak Oil Worries Peak?
Eventually, we'll walk away and leave it in the ground - Times Online
It's the politics, stupid. The message that is coming loud and clear from the oil industry is not surprising but not very reassuring. The world may run out of love for oil before it runs out of oil.
It is the same message that Sheikh Yamani, the former Saudi oil minister, famously delivered when he said: “The stone age did not end for lack of stone and the oil age will end long before the world runs out of oil.”
World not running out of oil, say experts - Times Online
Doom-laden forecasts that world oil supplies are poised to fall off the edge of a cliff are wide of the mark, according to leading oil industry experts who gave warning that human factors, not geology, will drive the oil market.
A landmark study of more than 800 oilfields by Cambridge Energy Research Associates (Cera) has concluded that rates of decline are only 4.5 per cent a year, almost half the rate previously believed, leading the consultancy to conclude that oil output will continue to rise over the next decade....
Peak Oil theorists believe that the output of oil reserves can be plotted on a graph as a bell curve, rising to a peak and then falling rapidly....analysis is disputed by many geologists today, who argue that technology has changed the equation, allowing oil companies to produce more oil from reservoirs than was previously possible.
Meanwhile, increases in the price of oil has made the extraction of difficult reserves economically viable.
Last week I was arguing about peak oil with an ex Marc Rich oil trader who believed that "peak oil" had been reached and massive price rises were imminent, I wish I had had this study then to thrust in front of his nose. But then what do I know? He retired from the City after only five years of work whilst I still struggle on in the mud....
Heathrow crash | Computer glitch | The Sun
GORDON Brown’s convoy had a near-miss with the stricken jet yesterday.
The PM was being driven on the Heathrow perimeter road as it flew low overhead — and crashed seconds later.
A ONE-in-a-million computer glitch was last night being blamed
Bugger, a cockup - The remote control was calibrated in metres and of course the jet thinks in feet. Back to the drawing board.
Ah Ha my hearties - cutting down on the Pirate menace
A village amateur dramatic group performing Robinson Crusoe has had to tell police about the use of plastic swords because of health and safety fears.
The Carnon Downs Drama Group, at Perranwell, Cornwall, must lock up its two plastic cutlasses, six wooden swords and a toy gun when they are not in use and appoint a "responsible guardian" for them. A co-director, Linda Barker, said: "In some scenes pirates hit each other with frying pans and saucepan lids but there's no problem with them.
The group said it informed police about the use of replica weapons after studying new health and safety guidelines and new legislation to crack down on violent crime.
January 17, 2008
Your chance to buy Bob Ainsworth's Absolute Bollocks for a worthy cause
This Hansard has printed on page 608 a comment associated to The Minister for the Armed Forces, Rt Hon Bob Ainsworth MP who was recorded during a Debate on Armed Forces Personnel as saying 'Absolute Bollocks' in reply to a speech by Mr John Baron MP regarding equipment shortages in the British Armed Forces
All money received from the sale of this item will be donated to a selected Armed Forces charity so please be as generous as possible!
Civilised thoughts in an uncivilised world
An overnight power cut again here last night and the electricity has only just been restored. I must out and feed the pigs so thin blogging gruel for you today. As I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast by candle light with the kettle burbling on the range I wondered why I don't retreat from the hurly burly of modern life more often. Luckily The Times had been delivered so I was able to drop crumbs across it as I tried to match up the newsworthy for bouts of celebrity cage fight.
Heather Mills vs Tessa Jowell
Paul Burrell vs Peter Hain
Gordon Brown vs the long dead bloated corpse of Marlon Brando
I'd pay good money to see any of those.
Suggestions for additional pairings welcome.
January 16, 2008
Teaching the BBC world view
The BBC is to provide political analysis for every schoolchild, in a controversial web venture...The portal will give children the BBC’s analysis of issues such as the European Union Treaty...he new venture, which remains uncosted...
Iain Dale, who publishes an influential political blog, said: “Not all of us want children emerging from the educational system with a BBC-engendered outlook.”
Iain, as always, puts it much more politely than some of us would.
Risk assessment watchdog set up to halt march of the nanny state - Times Online
Unnecessary warnings that bags of peanuts “may contain nuts” and overly protective rules banning conker fights in schools will be targeted by a new watchdog intended to restore Britain’s spirit of adventure.
Gordon Brown is so concerned that the cotton-wool culture is denying people the freedom to enjoy themselves that he has asked the watchdog to report to him personally.
Hurray, rehang the bunting, bring out the conkers, build the bonfires, oh hang on...
Mr Brown’s response to such killjoy acts is not to halve the number of health and safety officials or revise the hundreds of regulations introduced under this Labour Government.
The Risk and Regulation Advisory Council has been set up in response to recommendations from the Better Regulation Commission that it has replaced.
The body for common sense will be set up alongside a national campaign to emphasise the importance of self- reliance and a sense of adventure. It is intended to engage the public, and remind them that the Government is not responsible for every accident or piece of bad fortune that befalls its citizens.
Oh, so it just yet another shuffling of the commissions, all of which have to report to Gordon personally (who said he wasn't a control freak), with a primary purpose of preventing us suing the Government when it cocks up.
Suzi Leather - Nice name, not sure about the rest.
Independent schools are to be made to open their doors to more children from poor homes under guidelines announced to stop them being run as "exclusive clubs".
Schools failing to meet the regulations could have bank accounts frozen, trustees suspended, buildings seized or even be closed down under a range of sanctions.
This is from the new exciting Charity Commision, not a nuLabour front organisation, as run by Suzi Leather.
Dame Suzi, as she has been since January, a committed member of the Labour party; Her CV:
Born April 5 1956 to doctor parents. Mother was a psychosexual counsellor
Family Married to Prof Iain Hampsher-Monk (Professor of Political Theory at the University of Exeter); one son and two daughters
Education Exeter University (BA hons politics 1977; BPhil Dist. Social Work 1986); Leicester University (MA Eur. politics 1978). CQSW 1986
Career "Experimenting with job after job, market research, probation officer, politics lecturer, three different degrees, when she stopped work for ten years to become a full-time mother...suddenly, she was catapulted straight into public life: chairwoman of an NHS trust, and from there, head of some of the country’s most prominent public bodies: deciding on everything from food safety to IVF". 1979-84, senior research officer for Consumers in Europe; 1984-86, trainee probation officer; 1988-97, freelance consumer consultant; 1997-2001, chair of Exeter and District NHS trust; 2000-02, first deputy chair of Food Standards Agency; March 2002-, chair of Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority; May 2005-, chair of School Food Trust, head of the Charity Commision Aug 2006. (Additional material from The Times)
Behold the enemy.
January 15, 2008
The Bloated Bottler's Basket Case Britain
Britain has slipped out of the ranks of fully "free" countries in this year's Heritage Index of Economic Freedom, reflecting the sharp rise in the tax burden and ballooning state sector.
The country has continued to slide down the league under Gordon Brown's economic management, falling from fifth to tenth place over the last two years...Britain now scores below 80 points on a range of key indicators, dropping into the "mostly free" camp with Germany, Japan, Bahrain, Armenia and Trinidad.....The ever harsher verdict on Britain comes as Mr Brown's tax and spend policies begin to reshape the basic structure of the UK plc, transforming it from one of Europe's leanest fiscal states to one of the most bloated.
"Total government expenditures, including consumption and transfer payments, are very high. Government spending has been rising since the 1990s and in the most recent year equaled 44.7 percent of GDP," said the UK country report.
Whenever the state sector rises above 40pc or so in any country it tends to start dampening economic dynamism,...
Most of Europe has been trimming the state share steadily over the last decade. This year the German public sector will fall below that of Britain for the first time since the Thatcher revolution...
The turn-around in German fortunes contrasts starkly with Britain's dire performance, led by a budget deficit of 3pc of GDP and an alarming current deficit nearing 5.7pc of GDP in the last quarter.
Both sets of figures are now the worst of any major OECD economy. Even Japan's fiscal deficit is better using comparable forms of measurement.....
Judge me on my economic record? Prudence anyone?
Not Hunting Yet Again
The scene from my lawn this morning - I know some readers who will be pleased to see that yet again we aren't hunting at The Castle. Last year's post when we didn't hunt here either. - You may wish to compare this morning's photos of a Not Hunt meet with a meet of the Hunt at The Castle from when hunting was legal.
More below the fold:
Inclusion in Schools
Adam Smith Institute - Common No. 9
"It is wrong to allow bright children to go to special schools. This deprives the ordinary schools of their beneficial influence."
If you regard children as the property of the state, existing to serve it, then it is explicable why the bright ones should be regarded as a scarce commodity, and rationed accordingly....
The vicious notion is that children, whether bright or not, should be regarded as the instruments of the ends of others, instead of ends in themselves. Children do not exist to serve the purposes of the state, it is the other way round. The concern should be with what is of benefit to the individuals concerned, rather than with how they can be made to serve some ideological view of society....
Read the rest, I would add that it isn't only the bright kids who are suffering from this ideology. Special needs schools have been closing at an alarming rate and part of the reasoning is that integrating the those kids into "normal" schools improves the morals of the other children. Poor bloody kids in wheelchairs or with learning difficulties, don't deserve to be used as object lessons in how caring society should be towards them, they just deserve the best chances they can get, and that often means "special" schools. More and David Cameron's view
Surging fuel and food costs sent the price of goods leaving factories soaring last month at the fastest annual pace for 16 years, raising fears that persistent inflationary pressures will thwart steep interest rate cuts to bolster a vulnerable economy.
Much worse than expected official figures yesterday showed that prices at factory gates leapt by 0.5 per cent in December, lifting their annual rate of increase to 11.2 per cent - the highest since August 1991, when Britain was stuck in the depths of the last recession....
Prices for manufactured food products leapt by 7.4 per cent year on year...Upward pressure on food prices was underlined as the cost of home-produced food materials rose by 28 per cent year on year last month,...
The EU is reexamining its targets for biofuels. Stavros Dimas, the Environment Commissioner, has admitted that the adverse effects on the environment and poor communities have been underestimated.
Please no, those biofuels have soaked up that surplus wheat nicely, giving us farmers a great harvest, it is a pity poor people can't afford to buy food but with spiralling returns from arable land who cares?
Feeling Peter Hain's Collar
PETER Hain is to face a full parliamentary "sleaze" inquiry over his failure to declare £103,000 in donations to his Labour deputy leadership campaign, it was announced yesterday.
John Lyon, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, has ruled that the Work and Pensions Secretary does have a case to answer.
It was also reported last night that frustrated officials might yet call for a police inquiry
Tessa Jowell denies she has a black hole
Olympics 'may face £1bn black hole' - Scotsman.com News
Olympics minister Tessa Jowell and London Mayor Ken Livingstone say that they will be able to recoup £1.8bn following the Games from land sales at the Olympic site in east London.
But reports claim a London Development Agency warns that, if land prices increase by 6% annually over the coming years, it may be possible to raise only £800m.
A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport .. said: "There is absolutely no black hole in the 2012 finances, and these claims are completely misleading and a distortion of the facts.
"The £800m quoted is the most cautious of a range of LDA projections of how much might be raised by land sales in the Olympic Park, based on 6% per annum growth.
I wonder if any private company would be get away with basing its forecasted revenues on more than 6% compound growth in land values....
January 14, 2008
Educational Conscription - the reasoned case against
Don’t make them stay at school | John Redwood's Diary The Education Bill we will debate today in the Commons contains the worse kind of gesture politics. Frustrated at the lack of progress in raising standards in schools, and worried by the continuing difficulties of getting 16-18 year olds into work where they are not studying A levels, the government has come up with the proposal to require 16-18 year olds to study and train, whether they wish to or not....
Read the rest of the demolition of the policy idea.
Take some more Gin and Tonic with it
Warming Is Blamed for Antarctica's Weight Gain - New York Times
The eastern half of Antarctica is gaining weight, more than 45 billion tons a year, according to a new scientific study.... The finding matches expectations that the earth's warming temperatures would increase the amount of moisture in the air and lead to greater snowfall over Antarctica.
''It's been long predicted by climate models,'' said Dr. Curt H. Davis, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Missouri and the lead author of a paper that was published on the Web site of the journal Science yesterday. ''This is the first observational evidence.''
But a new study released today, based on some of the most extensive measurements to date of the continent's ice mass, presents a worrisome development: Antarctica's ice sheet is shrinking, at a rate that increased dramatically from 1996 to 2006....the trend is due to global warming, and isn't part of a normal natural fluctuation....
Within scientific circles, there is little doubt that Greenland's ice is melting, but there has been more uncertainty over the fate of the larger stores of ice on Antarctica.
The authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN-sponsored scientific body that compiles information on global warming, said last year that studies on the subject have been all over the map.
Some have suggested the ice cap was expanding by 50 billion tonnes a year from 1993 to 2003, while others projected losses over the same period of up to 200 billion tonnes.
Back to the Future for the Police
SOME of Scotland's most crime-ridden areas have seen a massive reduction in offences following the return of bobbies on the beat.
Now all we have to do is return policing to Peel's Principles and we may be making progress..
I make no apology for reproducing them yet again:
The nine principles by Sir Robert Peel
1. The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.
2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.
3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.
4. The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.
5. Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.
6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.
7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence
8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.
9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.
"Hain? You mean Peter Hain? The former Liberal? He's on his own." That was the brutal judgment passed on the beleaguered Work and Pensions Secretary by one of his Labour colleagues yesterday.
January 13, 2008
How to live longer
BEING overweight or mildly obese means you will live longer on average than people who are slim or skinny, according to the astonishing conclusion of a team of statistics experts.
A person who is overweight can expect to live two and a half months longer than someone of 'ideal' weight and 15 months longer than an underweight person, concludes the study of the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and longevity.....
The Scottish Faculty of Actuaries commissioned the new research, which included examining databases in the UK and from the world-famous Framingham Heart Study, named after a Massachusetts community whose 10,000 inhabitants share their health data in return for free medical care.
The Scottish team concluded that:
&149 A 20-year-old man who is overweight or mildly obese on the BMI scale (25-40) will live on average to 78.8 years; an underweight counterpart (less than 18.5) will live to 77.5.
• A 20-year-old woman who is overweight or mildly obese can expect to live to 82.5, while the underweight will typically die at 81.8.....
So the Life Insurance Companies who were proudly advertising reduced rates for "healthy lifestyle followers" will be adjusting their rates?
Giving Celebrity Chefs the Bird
Chicken sales have increased this week despite fears that they would slump following a campaign by celebrity chefs against the treatment of the birds.
Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall have highlighted the differences between standard and free range chickens.
Supermarkets had braced themselves for a drop in chicken sales, which are worth £3.5 billion a year.
A Tesco spokesman said: "This week, daily national sales of standard whole birds are running approximately 7 per cent above the November 2007 daily average."
Doesn't anyone take the advice of pious sermons anymore? We haven't all decided to make up our own minds and say sod the lot of them have we?
Your Bodies Belong to The State
The condition in which the life, liberty, and fortune of an individual is held within the absolute power of another.
January 12, 2008
Keeping Cool in Bali
AMID talk of offsetting the hefty carbon footprint of the United Nations climate conference in Bali, organisers missed a large elephant in the room.
The air-conditioning system installed to keep more than 10,000 delegates cool used highly damaging refrigerant gases - as lethal to the atmosphere as 48,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, and nearly the equivalent of the emissions of all aircraft used to fly delegates to Indonesia.
Staff from Australia's Natural Refrigerants Transition Board and the London- and Washington-based Environmental Investigation Agency noticed the stockpiled cylinders of hydrochlorofluorocarbons - a refrigerant likely to be phased out over the next few years because it devours ozone in the upper atmosphere.
In addition, the refrigerant is a potent greenhouse gas, with each kilogram at least as damaging as 1.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Investigators at the Balinese resort complex at Nusa Dua counted 700 cylinders of the gas, each of them weighing 13.5 kilograms, and the system was visibly leaking.
The air-conditioning system, which used two kilometres of plastic pipe, serviced the European pavilion, the UN Secretariat offices, the media centre and other temporary areas.
She has emerged from deepest Wales to be hailed as the sound of 2008. And with prodigious natural talent and dollops of retro cool, it’s easy to see why
Her background is being airbrushed a little by a record company that probably don't see coming second in 2003 on 'Wawffactor', the Welsh version of X factor, as anything to shout about. Here she is singing in Welsh
MP3 Aimee Duffy - Cariad Dwinunig
Iain Dale Beta - like it!
(It wasn't meant to be secret was it?)
Hain's Progressive Policies
Quit now over £100,000, Peter Hain is advised by a member of his campaign team - Times Online
The team member said that the Work and Pension Secretary’s position had become untenable after he disclosed that half the money was originally intended for a fledgeling left-wing think-tank but was instead used to pay off campaign debts.
The monies had been previously donated to Progressive Policies Forum (PPF). When unpaid bills came to light PPF was approached and with the permission of the individual donors concerned the monies were donated to Hain4Labour to meet these debts.
Progressive Policies Forum, incidentally, was set up in December 2006, has no website and lists a solicitor as its only named director and last night nobody in Westminster seemed to have heard of it. Willie Nagel, a diamond dealer, is one of the 17 figures who both donated and lent money to Peter Hain. According to the Financial Times,.., he wanted to keep his identity secret. Nagel is understood to have requested that Hain repay a £25,000 interest-free loan this weekend. Hain's bad week is not over yet.
Why did Peter Hain take donations through a think-tank that doesn't seem to think?
It's been more than six months since the Labour leadership contest finished, but incredibly the row about campaign funding is still raging.
Peter Hain has been under attack from bloggers for months, but this week the row erupted into the mainstream press.
It's a very unusual think-tank that has no internet presence of its own.
Most think-tanks, such as the Institute of Public Policy Research, or the Smith Institute, are registered as charities. But there is no Progressive Policies Forum registered with the Charities Commission.
A minority of think-tanks, including the Policy Exchange and the Centre for Policy Studies, are registered as companies, rather than charities.
But those two are both a type of organisation called a company limited by guarantee, which is what you would normally use to incorporate a not-for-profit undertaking, like a youth club (or indeed, a think-tank).
The PPF, however, is an ordinary limited company - the kind of company you'd set up if you were running a restaurant or a newsagent.
Most think-tank boards would be studded with the grandees and influential figures from whatever shade of political opinion the tank does its thinking about.
Not so the PPF. It has only one director and one sole shareholder - the same person.
So, what does all this prove? Well, on its own, it proves nothing. But it leaves a lot of unanswered questions. If the PPF is a genuine think-tank, why has it published nothing in more a year of its existence? Where are the thinkers? Where is their tank? Who set it up?
Although unconfirmed, one possible answer to that last question is lobbyist Steve Morgan, who was one of Peter Hain's campaign managers, and is now working on the Clinton campaign in the US.
One of his other companies, Nettrap Ltd, used the same Wimpole Street address for three years, from 2004 to 2007.
He was also one of the donors who sent donations through the PPF.
But if it's not a genuine think-tank, what was it? One possibility being suggested is that its purpose may have been to conceal the identity of the donors - but that seems unlikely. It's difficult to see how any rational person could ever think it would work.
And if the PPF was set up primarily to channel donations, why was it set up seven months before it paid out any cash?
There is no suggestion that any of this breaches election rules - the only wrong-doing was the failure to declare the donations on time, for which Peter Hain has already apologised.
The whole thing simply makes no sense. But it does serious damage to Hain's reputation for competence.
How Green is your Napa Valley?
How far has your tipple travelled? - Scotsman.com News
A “working paper” published last year by Tara Garnett of the Food Climate Research Network at the University of Surrey suggested the alcohol sector is responsible for around 1.5 per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions....the production of just one bottle of Italian wine created put 16 grams of sulphur dioxide into the air – even before transportation....
As for food – or in this case drink – miles, while it might make sense to choose wines from the south of England or France above those from Chile or New Zealand, in reality the new world wines have often been transported by sea, while the French ones generally come by road, making the difference between them in terms of transportation pollution smaller than one might imagine.
Confused? Even Friends of the Earth admit the issue of “green” alcohol is one that requires a great deal more research. It’s enough to make one reach for a stiff drink.
Just nine people have been punished under Labour's anti-hunting legislation over the past two years and not one of them was involved in an organised hunt, The Daily Telegraph has learned.
Iain Dale informs us that The Channel 4 Political Awards
have yet again surpassed themselves in their objectivity. One of the categories is "most inspiring political personality of the last decade".
1. Tony Blair: Call 09011 27 27 01
2. Ian Paisley and Martin McGuiness: Call 09011 27 27 02
3. Ken Livingstone: Call 09011 27 27 03
4. Alex Salmond: Call 09011 27 27 04
5. The Countryside Alliance: Call 09011 27 27 05
6. Anti-Iraq war protestors: Call 09011 27 27 06
If you don't fancy wasting 25p on a phone call you can also vote via their website HERE. The vote closes on January 18th.
If it was a vote for who deserves to be first with the hempen rope then it would be hard to decide, but to honour there is only one choice. Here is the hotlink: Vote by email
Harman wants teenagers
The voting age could be lowered to 16 to encourage young people to get involved in politics, Harriet Harman has suggested.
Not old enough to smoke, buy a knife or decide how to lead their own life by staying at school or not, but old enough to vote Labour....
January 11, 2008
Friday Night is Music Night
A winter warmer, for some reason gets me just there..
No Ifs No Buts
Reposted - coz of Iain
Ray Coursen, a Napa Valley winemaker, said it was "very easy" to make wines of up to 16.4%
He said it was impossible for two people to share a bottle over dinner as the wines overwhelmed the meal.
Of course it is impossible to share one bottle over dinner, you need at least a bottle each with the main course, after something cold crisp and white with the starter, followed by a Merlot with the choccy pudding or a decent Sauternes and then Port and cheese. Then you can start properly drinking, retiring to where you had a couple of pre-dinner sharpeners for something dark, peaty and old.
Thank Heaven for Little Girls.....
...a character assassination...
He is a French Politician, that's not a character assassination, it is a job description.
Buying the Climate Scientists
One of the arguments which frequently emerge from the warmers in climate change debates is that the scientific expertise of sceptics has been bought – literally – by oil companies....the "industry funded sceptics" argument seems to be that scientists can’t possibly have an honestly held position which contradicts the “consensus” because the consensus cannot possibly be mistaken, so their opinion must have been paid for. These scientists (and, for that matter, anyone with a public profile who has anything critical to say about global warming) are whores – “industry shills” , “corporate toadies”, or part of the “well funded denial machine” – who not only prostitute themselves, but also sell us all out to an apocalypse for dirty, dirty dollars... Those who "deny" climate change are in fact, denying a "holocaust"......
Of all the oil companies, according to Greenpeace, the Royal Society, and campaigning organisations, journalists, and scientists, ExxonMobil is the worst. And of all the wrong things it does, the worst has been to give $2 million to the CEI over the course of a decade. This funding has been sufficient to significantly stall international action on climate change on the global political agenda. Allegedly.
Yet as we can see, since 1994, Greenpeace have been the lucky recipients of well over $2 billion in roughly the same time. A difference of three orders of magnitude.
David Davis - toy gun grabber?
Crackdown planned for 120,000 deactivated guns - Times Online
David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, said that deactivated weapons accounted for a tiny proportion of gun crime. There were four recorded offences in England and Wales in 2005-06 in which a deactivated firearm was used and a further four involving reactivated weapons, out of a total of 21,521 recorded incidents.
Mr Davis said: “While we welcome any action, however overdue it may be, to tackle the scourge of gun crime the Government’s own figures show that in 2005-06 there were only eight incidents where deactivated or reactivated weapons were used – just 0.04 per cent of gun offences.
So Davis are you for or against this ban? Sounds like you are welcoming it, even though you know it is a nonsense.
Couldn't get a musician then?
But as the voice of Thomas the tank engine he is unsurpassed...
Schnell, schnell raus
Police dog handlers are learning to give orders to their animals in German, as 16 forces now import canines because of a shortage in the UK.
... commands including "sitz" (sit), "platz" (down), "aus" (let go), "holen" (fetch) and "bissen" (bite)...but police bosses say they are good value as they are already trained in obedience
That is the last thing I want to hear as I'm running from the Rozzers, I'ld start to get flashbacks...
How to live longer
News around the world has reported that “healthy habits can add 14 years to your life.” As incredible as that sounds, more incredible is that not a single health or medical reporter appears to have read the study behind the headlines and accurately report its findings.
... The script was provided by the publication’s press release: “4 health behaviors can add 14 extra years of life.”
.... Their key finding, which has not been reported, was they were unable to find a tenable correlation between any of the health behaviors and mortality
....So when you hear claims that some special lifestyle or food can add years to your life, let alone decades, it’s not founded on science.
....a correlation found among a population was turned into a cause and then transformed into a means to a longer life.
Of course, we can also fall back on another axiom: The saturation of media coverage is usually inversely proportional to the soundness of the science. When one study — out of the thousands of new studies released every single day — is reported in every media outlet, on the exact same day, all saying the exact same thing, this is primarily evidence of brilliant marketing. :)
A close shave for Peter Hain
Iain Dale lays into the oleaginous one, the permatanned pompadoured poser Peter "£103,000" Hain. I have always had a special place for him on my little list, normally way out in front at the top of the steps up to the gibbet. But he can breath a sigh of relief as he has been displaced by my new No. 1.
When I go to the barber I just want a simple shearing in silence, not some skinny poltroon with exaggerated wrist movements and a tousled barnet that looks like a hedgehog that got lost in a glue factory. I should have taken the warning but no I risked it. "Square cut or tapered?" What the fuck does that mean? In thirty years of ordering my own haircut I have never worked it out. Just cut it so I can see my ears and thin it out on top. Oh no, Sammy Scissorhands has to tiptoe round clipping here and there as though I was Her Ladyship's ornamental Box hedge. If i had wanted to end up looking like some limp fringed low rent Hugh Grant wannabe I'm sure I would have said so, It is either out with the buzz cutter or face the hell of trying to park in Devizes again....
January 10, 2008
Ice Ice Baby
A famous ice festival in China, that attracts tens of thousands of tourists, appears to be the latest victim of rising global temperatures. ...But higher local temperatures mean that even in January the midday sun starts to melt many of the sculptures.
Global or local? Harbin's population is officially 10 million with about 4 million living in the city proper, making Harbin China's 8th largest city. Couldn't be local could it, must be us here not using low wattage flicker bulbs..
This isn't just food
They should have tried:
More to my taste...
More breakfast advertising below the fold...
Failing to Understand the Basics
More than half a million children are being taught in under-performing schools, official league tables show today.
They are languishing in comprehensives where fewer than 30 per cent of pupils leave with five good GCSEs, including the vital subjects of English and mathematics.
Ministers say today that the number is down on last year and represents a dramatic improvement since 1997, when more than half of schools were failing to give pupils a good education in the three Rs.
But opposition MPs accused the Government of complacency, saying the 30 per cent target was too low.
An analysis of official data shows almost 550,000 children are taught at these under-performing schools, while 1.75 million - more than half - are in comprehensives where fewer than 50 per cent of pupils leave with acceptable GCSEs.
So in 1997 "more than half of schools were failing to give pupils a good education in the three Rs.", in 2007 "more than half - are in comprehensives where fewer than 50 per cent of pupils leave with acceptable GCSEs." And that is "a dramatic improvement".
I'm having trouble with my reading and arithmetic because I'm failing to see it, still if the glorious tractor production figures are up then it must be so, all praise to the comrades.
RIP Democracy in Portugal - 25 April 1974 - 10 Jan 2008 - No Flowers Please
A referendum on the controversial redrafted EU constitution was ruled out by Portugal yesterday after pressure from Gordon Brown and President Sarkozy.
The decision by Portugal not to hold a referendum but to ratify the treaty through its parliament will come as a huge relief to Downing Street and the Élysée Palace, which feared extra pressure on them to hold a public vote. The revelation of top-level phone calls will, though, only increase suspicions that the European political elite have coordinated efforts to avoid a repeat of the referendums in France and the Netherlands in 2005...
As with Labour’s last manifesto, Mr Sócrates had promised a referendum on the EU constitution during election campaigning. Like Mr Brown, Mr Sócrates argued yesterday that the pledge no longer applied...
And to think it was only in 1974 that the Portugese overthrew an authoritarian dictatorship to establish a democracy. It was nearly bloodless that time, let's hope it is again the next time.
(Worstall - get planting those carnations...)
Youngest in Class
Children born in the summer could also be held back a year before starting school, the report suggested, to give them a better chance.
Numberwatch - October 2007
Now schools no longer run themselves, but are subject to endless interference and targetry by Government ministers and underemployed bureaucrats. Pupils are repeatedly tested into a state of coma. Expensive research is commissioned to replace what was once common knowledge. Stupid interventions and “urgent action” are thought up at the drop of a hat. “Equity” and “efficiency” are the watchwords, while teachers and parents are deemed too stupid to be able to make the allowances that they once made without instruction from above.
Furthermore, changes are suggested that are self-evidently nonsense. However many children are “held back” there is always going to be one who is the youngest in the class, while those held back now become the eldest, so there is always a difference of one year between them. Even common sense is no longer common.
Children born in summer could start classes a year later - Times Online
January 10, 2008 Children born in the summer could start school a year later than their peers under government plans announced yesterday.
The youngest pupils in each academic year suffer in exams throughout their school lives.
It's raining pennies from heaven
Bad weather - we have to get used to it - Scotsman.com News
METEOROLOGISTS last night said Scots will need to learn to live with the extreme weather and the chaos it has brought to the country over the past few days, as the unpredictable effects of climate change begin to bite.
Experts from the Met Office told MSPs that the wetter winters and drier summers which would be visited on Scotland could bring "increased intensity of severe weather events" – such as flash flooding – in the years ahead.....
Stephen Noyse, director of operations at the Met Office, said up to £15 million would be required to bring Scotland in line with England. He also recommended a new expert forecast centre be set up to coordinate action...(and) ...invest in weather radars....target investment...
January 9, 2008
It's cold - put another Granny on the fire.
BBC NEWS | England | Manchester | Plan to recycle crematorium heat
A crematorium in Greater Manchester is proposing to recycle the heat generated when its furnaces are cremating people's remains.
Excess heats is produced by special equipment to filter emissions, such as mercury from people's fillings at Dukinfield Crematorium.
Tameside Council believes that this extra heat could be used to warm the crematorium's chapel.
That isn't very ambitious - look at this very informative site (totty alert) - Cremation and the Environment
The heat from the furnaces of the two crematoria in Helsingborg and Boras in Sweden is being piped directly to district energy companies. One local energy company heats 60,000 homes and estimates the crematoria have supplied about 10 percent of its needs.
How many people are they burning?
HatTip Mr Plod
Jacqui Smith - Cannabis Dope
Cannabis is to be reclassified as a Class B drug after an official review this spring, The Times has learnt.
Gordon Brown and Jacqui Smith are determined to reverse the decision to downgrade the drug when the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs completes its report in the next few months.
While its recommendations are not yet known, ministers are already making plain that the Home Secretary is prepared to overrule the expert body if necessary...
The council has recently been highly critical of parts of the Government’s consultation paper on the future of its drug strategy. “It is disappointing that the paper makes no mention of needing to improve the evidence base of drug misuse and treatments nor makes use of international evidence, for informing and guiding policy,” the council said.
I think that is what is called an academic bitchslap.
What is the point of employing experts to collate the evidence if you are just going to implement your own ignorant ideas anyway whatever the science says? But then what is the fucking point of Jacqui Smith anyway?
Got a Bright Idea?
BBC NEWS | UK | Climate change contest launched
A £1m competition to find the brightest ideas to help fight climate change is being launched...
Nine out of 10 people said they had come up with an idea that could have an impact on other people's lives.
According to the YouGov poll of 2,045 UK adults men were twice as likely as women to come up with big ideas over a pint in the pub.
If only I could remember the brilliant business plan Mr FM and I finessed last time we were down the King's Arms we wouldn't have just saved the planet but we would also be so seriously stinking rich that Bill Gates would play at our party.
BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Dozens killed by Iran blizzards
At least 28 people are reported to have died in Iran's heaviest snowfall in recent years.
Eight people froze to death as severe blizzards left 40,000 people stranded in their cars, authorities said.
Tehran has declared two days of national holiday, urging people to stay at home to avoid the bitter cold.
The temperature has been down as low as -24 degrees Celsius, and for the first time in living memory there has been snow in the country's southern deserts.
Is Al Gore visiting?
That Democrat Result in Full
January 8, 2008
Ne sorga, snotor guma! Selre bið æghwæm, þæt he his freond wrece, þonne he fela murne.
HWÆT, WE GAR-DEna in geardagum,
þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon!
I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would at the cinema last night. A legend from a foreign land about other gods and monsters, and yet part of the Anglosphere heritage, an integrated other culture!
I think I might have prefered a Mel Gibson approach of using the original language with subtitles though...
Translation - The Introduction:
LO, praise of the prowess of people-kings
of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,
we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!
Headline - "It is always better to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning" lines 1384-85
他人の不幸は蜜の味, tanin no fukou wa mitsu no aji,
Gordon Brown suffers a triple blow today in his attempt to relaunch his premiership as a Times poll reveals a big slide in his leadership ratings and a new report attacks the way that Labour has handled medical training.
The day after Mr Brown made health the centrepiece of his new year fightback, an influential report seen by The Times will propose that responsibility for doctor training should be taken from the Department of Health and handed to a new body.
Furthermore, Mr Brown today faces more unwelcome headlines over sleaze...
Hillary Clinton came close to tears during a campaign stop in New Hampshire as new polls showed her trailing Barack Obama on the eve of the crucial state primary.
Is it too early to crack open something bubbly to have with the Corn Flakes, as it does seem to be a day for good news.
(In Japanese, the phrase 他人の不幸は蜜の味, tanin no fukou wa mitsu no aji, translates literally as "others' misfortunes are the taste of honey" - Schadenfreude - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Bare Your Bodies to the Sun
LACK of vitamin D has been blamed for everything from weakened bones to rickets, but now a study has revealed it increases the risk of a heart attack.
Several life-style and environmental factors are likely responsible for the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in developing countries, as well as its resurgence in the developed world. . Inadequate exposure to sunlight is becoming more common as individuals spend more time indoors with access to television and computers, or actively avoid the outdoors because of concerns about pollution or the long-term effects of sun exposure on skin cancer. Cultural practices including traditional clothing (covered dress) also limit adequate sunlight exposure
Wot no pictures?
Hain's Criminal Conviction "Fully Justified"
IT has arguably not been the best of years for Peter Hain.
His campaign to become Deputy Leader of the Labour Party – which began well with him being the first to announce he had enough MPs backing him to stand – saw him come fifth of six.
But nothing compares to how he must have felt to have opened his newspapers to see headlines like:
HAIN: DEEPER INTO DONORGATE.
Reading on he would have found his fitness for his position seriously being questioned for the first time in his career, having been “plunged deeper into the scandal” of Labour’s so-called donorgate affair.
The accusation is simple: Mr Hain – or, more likely, his staff – failed to fill in papers about campaign cash.
The minister said his failure to register the payments was “extremely regrettable” and apologised, while sources stressed the failure to declare the money was an “administrative error”.....
Heads have not rolled. Mr Brown is alleged to have urged Ms Alexander not to resign over her part in the scandal as it would weaken Ms Harman’s position and therefore, by implication, that of Mr Hain.
For one senior figure to quit would cause a domino rally – each of those involved would have to go.
The only elected official to quit is the party’s Shadow Transport Minister in Scotland, Charlie Gordon, who solicited the suspect donation to Ms Alexander’s leadership campaign earlier this year.
It helps Mr Hain’s cause that even his biggest detractors are not prepared to try to pin any charge of corruption or dodgy dealing on the Neath MP. He is generally seen as an honest man.
Peter Hain - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A 1972 private prosecution... resulted in a ten-day Old Bailey Trial ... Peter Hain was found guilty of criminal conspiracy and fined £200. He appealed against the conviction in 1973. The Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal with costs. As reported in the Daily Telegraph of 23 October 1973, the court said his conviction was "fully justified". Lord Justice Roskill said Hain had not elected to give evidence, adding that "He gave no explanation of his part over the incidents with which he was charged."
January 7, 2008
Met Office loses 2,958,859:1 bet
Climate Skeptichas a raft of interesting articles up overnight - amongst them are these:
..now that the year is over, I can update one of those forecasts, specifically the forecasts from the UK government Met office that said:
* Global temperature for 2007 is expected to be 0.54 ｰC above the long-term (1961-1990) average of 14.0 ｰC;
* There is a 60% probability that 2007 will be as warm or warmer than the current warmest year (1998 was 0.52 ｰC above the long-term 1961-1990 average).
Playing around with the numbers, and assuming a normal distribution of possible outcomes, this implies that their forecast mean is .54C and their expected std deviation is .0785C....
Using the satellite data...and scaling the data to a .52C anomaly in 1998 gets a reading for 2007 of 0.15C. For those who are not used to the magnitude of anomalies, 0.15C is WAY OFF from the forecasted 0.54C. In fact, using the mean and std. deviation of the forecast we derived above, the UK Met office basically was saying that it was 99.99997% certain that the temperature would not go so low. Another way of saying this is that the Met office forecast implied 2,958,859:1 odds against the temperature being this low in 2007.
What are the odds that the Met office needs to rethink its certainty level?
"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed and hence clamorous to be led to safety by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. The urge to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it."
H L Mencken
Brace yourself for Manic Monday when everyone wants a fresh start - Times Online
So that was Christmas, then, and today is Manic Monday – the day of dread reckoning when we count the terrible toll the festive season has taken on our wallets and our lives, and perhaps do something about it.
As humdrum reality returns, we will be shuffling off the last fortnight’s lethargy in a big way, taking our life in our hands and giving it a good shake. It’s the day for grasping the nettle of a failed marriage, booking a holiday or starting the search for a new job.
Divorce lawyers are braced for the busiest day of the year, when the strains of Yuletide prove too much for thousands of couples....
Argggh, I feel a severe bout of martyrdom coming on | Melanie Reid - Times Online
It’s said that up to 200,000 people can expect to go down with novovirus, the winter vomiting bug, this week, and we are being cautioned to keep away from our doctors’ surgeries, wash our hands compulsively and — this is the best bit — avoid going back to work until 48 hours after the last symptoms have finished.
Yes, you heard that right. No return to work for 48 hours after the last symptoms have finished. Nothing less than an astonishing two-day holiday, when you are feeling fine, authorised by the Government. A glorious, officially sanctioned, windfall that will more than make up for the mewling and puking of the preceding three days. You can tell these people work for a quango.
In the public sector, where absenteeism is endemic, there is an an implicit understanding that one is entitled to at least two weeks off every winter, regardless of any actual illness. Local authority flu, it’s commonly called.
But for the rest of us, this is fantasy stuff. Forty-eight hours off! In the private sector, for years now, workers have abided by a 48-hour rule, all right, but with the opposite application, taking ourselves back to work well before we were fully recovered. Our reputations, our careers, our shareholders and our bonuses depend on it.
The old old cheat's refrain
Gordon Brown: 'Judge me on the year ahead' - Telegraph - try and forget I have been bloody useless, but lucky, over the last ten years, I have changed, I really have , please....
Darling, the candle's nearly finished
ALISTAIR Darling has summoned energy regulators into a Whitehall meeting to discuss the cost of power after one of the UK's biggest energy suppliers announced double-digit price increases.
Sweet, he has been allowed to get out his crayons and write a letter to break the boredom of doing sod all because Uncle Gordy won't let him. Obviously it is hard to understand why retail suppliers put their prices up when the wholesale price goes up, I mean wholesale prices are nasty Tory things that evil capitalists do to each other, but fuel prices effect Labour voters and so why should they also go up?
But if he does want an explanation he could try the Devil...
January 6, 2008
Chemical ‘cure’ to stop rapists - Times Online
Symbol Pb, 158gr delivered at about 1200 fps or above does the trick.
2008 is looking tight
A massive increase in gas and electricity bills for all of Britain's 24 million homes is to be announced by all the major energy companies in the next few weeks....
With rising food, petrol and borrowing costs eating into household budgets, there is a growing fear among economists that a leap in fuel bills will spark a consumer downturn which in turn could see layoffs in the retail and construction sectors....
Last week the Bank of England warned that one million home owners face a £1,000 'credit crunch tax' as the cost of borrowing rises after the US sub-prime mortgage disaster and the Northern Rock crisis.
Britons have £222bn of outstanding credit card bills as lenders refuse to pass on cheaper interest rates. The Citizens Advice service has already reported a sharp increase in inquiries from the public facing severe financial difficulties and it expects the situation to get worse this year
The government acknowledged there is little it can do...
I bet the Bottler Brown wishes he had taken the chance in the autumn as he looks at this economic forecast.
Living standards, us versus them
LIVING standards in Britain are set to rise above those in America for the first time since the 19th century, according to a report by the respected Oxford Economics consultancy....It says that GDP per head in Britain will be £23,500 this year, compared with £23,250 in America...the comparisons are affected by sterling’s high value against the dollar....The Oxford analysts also point out that Americans benefit from lower prices than those in Britain. With an adjustment made for this “purchasing power parity”, the average American has more spending power than his UK counterpart and pays lower taxes
So we don't enjoy higher living standards at all; the Americans can still enjoy more good stuff at home than we can - what a dickhead report, but one that will be seized upon by our lying leaders to persuade us we have never had it so good.
GM food poser
FRENCH farmer José Bové, who became a worldwide celebrity for his fight against junk food, went on a hunger strike yesterday with around 15 other activists to try and get the government to do more to ban genetically modified crops.
Millions of innocent Africans dying from hunger caused by "green activists" or 16 French Greenies starving themselves - your choice, not hard is it...
Tim Blair reports record snow in New Hampshire:
It might be an “inconvenient truth” for global warming hysteria preachers like Al Gore but it’s perfect timing for the primaries! Today the Associated Press is reporting that the National Weather Service recorded 44.5” of December snow in New Hampshire—the most snow they’ve received (in December) in over 100 years!
Makes you wish Al Gore was running, doesn’t it?
He must have flown in to support someone...
Teaching the Lowest Common Denominator
Just over 62 per cent of boys in "community schools" - as comprehensive schools are officially known - failed to achieve the target of five A* to C grades at GCSE, including the two vital subjects.
Boys in other types of schools fare better, with more than half achieving the benchmark in voluntary-aided schools, which include many church schools.
Teacher unions argue that league tables are simply a measure of how middle-class a school's intake is.
But don't worry the Council's have a plan..
The ambitious £45 billion programme, introduced by ministers in 2005, will rebuild or refurbish every secondary school in the country by 2020....parents fear that BSF is a "Trojan horse" that will redraw secondary schools in the image of councils that are opposed to selection, hostile to faith schools and determined to eliminate the ability of the middle classes to work the system...
Some Labour politicians have been open about what they think BSF should do. David Chaytor, a member of the influential Commons education select committee, wants to see it bring an end to England's remaining 164 grammar schools. "BSF … provides a unique opportunity, not only to reflect the emerging 14-19 curriculum, but also to end the anachronism of the 11-plus," said the MP for Bury North.
It is not just selective schools that are under threat. Staff, parents and pupils at St George's school, in Salford, are bemused and angry over a proposal to close the school as part of BSF.
Described by inspectors as a "good school with many outstanding features", the secondary gets more than half its pupils through the hurdle of five good GCSEs, compared with a local average of 32 per cent. The decision to close it under the city's £150 million BSF reorganisation does seem utterly baffling - until Harrop Fold comprehensive, barely a stone's throw away, is taken into account.
Salford's Labour-controlled city council is already committed to a £25 million private finance agreement at the severely under-subscribed school, which has struggled to improve and where last year just 19 per cent of pupils gained five good GCSEs.
St George's, a small Catholic high school, will be sacrificed to boost the fortunes of the comprehensive school over the hedge, where pupils enter the school with below-average results from primary school.
.Profound curriculum changes are also planned under BSF. Vocational diplomas in subjects such as hairdressing, engineering and media will be the raison d'être for many of the new buildings. In Wolverhampton, schools will become "project based" rather than "discipline based", doing away with traditional subjects such as history and geography, and emphasising "social skills" and "personal attributes".
Which doesn't fool anyone... universities are drawing up blacklists of “soft” A-level subjects that will bar applicants from winning places on their degree courses.
They are warning that candidates who take more than one of the subjects such as accountancy, leisure studies and dance are unlikely to gain admission. They say they lack the academic rigour to prepare students for courses and are alarmed at the way increasing numbers of state schools are using them to boost pupils’ top grades.
He May Say It
Islamic extremists have created "no-go" areas across Britain where it is too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter, one of the Church of England's most senior bishops warns today.
No white commentator would dare say that but the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali is the Bishop of Rochester and the Church's only Asian bishop.
January 5, 2008
I Don't Like Mondays
IT SEEMS Snow White had the right idea. Jauntily encouraging people to embrace their jobs in the ditty Whistle While You Work, she sang: "Imagine that the broom is someone you love."
Now, 70 years after she and the Seven Dwarfs first danced across our screens in the Disney classic, a professor of music has found that people really do work better with a song in their hearts.
Professor Richard McGregor, of the University of Cumbria, yesterday insisted there was plenty of evidence that the right sort of music, played at the right sort of volume, could help bring about a happy workforce and increase productivity.
"There's clear evidence that a happy workforce is a productive one, and the easiest way of raising the spirits in the office is to put on the radio or a CD," he said.
"But the choice of music is vital and there is a risk that, if it's the wrong choice, it could be a recipe for office disaster and upset most of the office."
The Snow White anthem or The Beatles' We Can Work it Out would be the kind of music likely to induce a happy, productive atmosphere. But playing the Boomtown Rats' I Don't Like Mondays or Cilla Black's Work is a Four Letter Word could be counter-productive if played in the workplace.
Monday morning it is back to work for the wage slaves, if any happy clappy manager suggests a company song or jolly ditty to make it more "fun" staple his head to the photocopier and send me the print out.
Friday Night is Music Night (Work Safe - Turn it up Edition)
It doesn't get much better.
January 4, 2008
Friday Night is Music Night (Naked Blonde Edition)
Having spent the afternoon in the theatre watching Britt Ekland playing the Fairy Godmother in Panto (still looking good) I thought a clip of the Wicker Man for tonight..
Englishman Reader Survey Results
And the results are in, and I think reflect the readers here very well.
On finding a suspect drug stash half of you think the appropriate response is to take the matter in to your own hands with a rifle, a quarter of you take it home and enjoy it, a fifth call the police and 8% ignore it and mind your own business. Sounds a reasonable raft of attitudes to me, and far more illuminating than other reader surveys I could mention...
Trying to make money from a Democrat Victory
It was on May 27th 2005 that I first suggested on the site that the then relatively unknown junior senator from Illinois was a good bet for the 2008 White House Race. At the time you could have got 50/1 on him going all the way
I have just got 11/5 at Betfair.
The result on the Republican side is less meaningful. I find it difficult to believe that Huckabee's appeal will stretch far beyond the so-called Bible Belt. Mitt Romney's poor showing tonight will not only hit his campaign's self confidence, but also his ability to raise money. Giuliani is also finding fundraising tricky. Does this mean the real money as well as the smart money will also now switch back to John McCain?...
Romney and Clinton can take comfort from the fact that in 1992 Bill Clinton only got 3% in Iowa but went on to win the nomination. In 1988 the nominee Michael Dukakis got 22% and was 3rd. For the Republicans in 1988 Bob Dole beat VP (and nominee) George HW Bush by 37% to 19%. Pat Robertson got 25%. Info from Kiwiblog.
Ask Nanny's Permission to Marry
Teachers could get power to stop forced marriages -Times Online
Teachers, social workers, women’s rights groups and local councils may be given the power to stop forced marriages, under government plans to protect vulnerable teenagers.
Ministers are preparing a list of third parties who would have the authority to go to court to try to prevent families from forcing children into marriage in Britain and abroad.
What a frightening bunch to be given quasi-police powers. It seems that the proposal is that busybodies can step in an stop a marriage without a "victim" complaining, or even being aware they are being saved.
A third party seeking to prevent a forced marriage would be able to ask the courts for a forced marriage protection order, which would result in a jail sentence if broken.
“An application made on a victim’s behalf allows the victim to be one step removed from the court proceedings,” according to a paper drawn up by the Ministry of Justice.
“Victims may feel unwilling or unable to take action against the perpetrators who may be members of their family.”
The third party would not need to get the victim’s permission before going to court to ask for the order.
Teachers, social workers, women’s rights groups and local councils are so conditioned to seeing ordinary people as "victims" that they believe it is their right to step in to run their lives. If there is a crime about to be committed, I'm not sure what forcing someone unwillingly into a forced marriage counts as though it comes pretty close to rape, than we already have the mechanisms in place through the police and courts to stop it. Spreading judicial powers to self appointed guardians is a dangerous precedent, how soon before they are seeking orders to stop all sort of other behaviours they disapprove of?
Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee win Iowa caucuses
Well with Chuck Norris approval what did you expect?
The Causation of Food Fascism
DESPITE a growing obsession with "aspirational" food and fancy recipes from celebrity chefs, parents are failing to make sure their children eat healthily.
A government-backed report warned yesterday....The paper, from the Prime Minister's strategy unit at the Cabinet Office, said the fact people were eating out more meant they were consuming diets higher in fat and calories....
The UK's bad eating habits lead to 70,000 premature deaths a year – 10 per cent of the national mortality rate.
However, boosting fruit and vegetable consumption to the recommended five pieces per day could cut 42,200 premature deaths a year, the report said.
Reducing daily salt intake from the average 9g to the recommended maximum of 6g could reduce the death toll by 20,200. And cutting excess saturated fat and sugar intakes could save 7,000 deaths.
The paper pointed out that people were actually consuming fewer calories than 30 years ago, but too much energy was taken from high-fat or sugary products, such as soft drinks, pies, cakes and crisps.
Overall, unhealthy eating is costing the NHS £10 billion a year and the nation £20 billion in lost benefits from good health. The report comes ahead of the release of an anti-obesity strategy later this month.
Before we all get arrested by the Fridge Police for possession of pack of Lard lets us quietly remember these figures are complete bollocks.
Salt - The truth:
No matter how you quantify the enormous costs associated with chronic disease and, in this case, heart disease, the key to assessing the veracity of the numbers associated with salt is the linkage. Simply put, there is none. It's manufactured -- it exists only as the product of a mathematical model that assumed that lower salt diets WILL lower population blood pressure AND that lowering BP in this way WILL produce the lower incidence of CV death. GIGO's the term for it; garbage in, garbage out.
Obesity - the truth:
Yellow teeth is a risk factor for lung cancer. ...no one would seriously suggest extracting healthy teeth to prevent lung cancer.
Instead, the only medical treatments and preventive health care that would ever be taken credibly, or have any hope of demonstrating effectiveness, are those directed towards the real causes for premature death and diseases.
What is a risk factor? A correlation. A risk factor is not a cause for a disease and it certainly isn’t a disease itself.
...obesity itself is not the cause of premature deaths. At the most extremes it can be associated with poorer outcomes. It can be a risk factor. The popular phrase “Obesity is deadly” is another example of turning a correlation into a causation.
Every study to date, however, has consistently shown underweight (another risk factor) to be a far more life-threatening (even when controlling for cancer, chronic diseases and smoking), yet it receives far less attention in media and condemnation in the medical literature. Even the most “morbidly obese” women live longer than “normal weight” men, yet maleness isn’t the focus of rampant attention, either.
The fattest women (and men) are, however, more likely to be associated with confounding factors that can adversely affect health, like disparities in socioeconomic status and healthcare access, side effects of prescriptions for health indices or weight loss drugs and diets, less cancer screenings, social discrimination and life stresses, and delayed and poorer healthcare. As that recent British investigative report on maternal deaths found, for instance, medical care often fails the heaviest women when their symptoms are blamed on their weight and go untreated or not treated until it’s too late.
January 3, 2008
Climate Change - where are we as enter 2008?
2007 has been a busy year in the Climate Change business. The catastrophic vision of future climate change has been seized on by politicians and activists in the largest global movement I can remember. The resulting policies affect us and every person on the planet to a remarkable degree. I don't think there is a more important issue in politics now than it. A mushroom cloud in Pakistan will kill far fewer than a years wrong policy in Africa. So I make no excuse at returning to this topic time and time again.
I have been trying to marshall my thoughts on what I have learnt over the last year.
In brief the AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) thesis is that man made CO2 is causing, and will cause more, unprecedented heating of the earth which will cause environmental and humanitarian catastrophe.
Nearly everyone of those elements has been examined and found wanting.
Firstly CO2 to blame:
...climate models to show that the future warming in the models from CO2 alone is not much more than 0.5C. All the catastrophe comes from positive feedbacks that modelers assume dominate the climate, ... you have seen higher forecasts. All of the "extra" warming in these forecasts come from positive feedback. So a sensitivity of 3C would be made up of 1C from CO2 directly that is tripled by positive feedbacks. A sensitivity of 6 or 8 still starts with the same 1C but has even higher feedbacks
Most thoughtful climate scientists will admit that we don't know what these feedbacks are -- in so many words, modelers are essentially guessing. Climate scientists don't even know the sign (positive or negative) much less the magnitude. In most physical sciences, upon meeting such an unknown system that has been long-term stable, scientists will assume neutral to negative feedback. Climate scientists are the exception -- almost all their models assume strong positive feedback.
But for the period of history we have the best data, ie the last 120 years, actual CO2 and measured temperature changes imply a sensitivity net of feedbacks closer to 1C, about what a reasonable person would assume from a stable process not dominated by positive feedbacks.
Secondly "unprecedented". The science and calculations behind the "hockey stick" graph which "proved" this for the past thousand years has been discredited and dropped by nearly everyone. And longer term records don't support it either.
Thirdly "heating" - yes it is recorded that it is warmer now than thirty years ago, but the temperature increase has flattened out over the last few years. There are factors such as La Nina which may explain this but it is a strange causal relationship which shows little correlation with the increasing CO2 levels. And the whole reliability of temperature recording and how the land, sea and atmospheric records correlate is now being questioned.
Fourthly "catastrophe" - Whilst every disturbance to the idealised weather we remember from childhood is denounced as an AGW caused catastrophe, fewer people are dying, hurricanes are rarer, polar bears are increasing, and so on. Yes, the weather can be a bitch and people die but it has always been so.
In fact the only part of the whole thesis that hasn't been tested and found wanting is the absolutely regular increase in CO2 concentration that is measured, after adjustments, at Mauna Loa...
A Revolutionary Idea for the Railways
Thousands of commuters face the prospect of further disruption to rail travel stretching into next week, after Network Rail again failed to complete key engineering work.
I'm sorry to intrude again upon the misery caused by our antiquated transport system but the solution is simple, and as it has been around now for over a hundred years, maybe even the die-hard nostalgia buffs who plan the system might consider it. Gentlemen let me introduce you to the concept of a steering wheel. Yes, you don't need fixed rails to guide coaches to London, you can fit them with a contrivance so they can drive round problems. This means that there is a flexibility in the system that no only can they bypass holes in the road, but they can also depart from, and go to, far more convenient places and many more passengers can be carried on the same amount of track more economically and more fuel efficiently.
GMC Strikes Off Fad Promoting Doctor
Exercise more, don't drink, don't smoke... in 1893 Dr Allinson tried to make Britain healthier – and was struck off - Scotsman.com News
THE best way to stay healthy is to eat less, exercise more, don't follow faddy diets and cut out drink and tobacco, according to a 19th-century doctor who was struck off for his views.
Recently unearthed archives of Dr Thomas Allinson show there is nothing new about much of the modern multi-billion pound health industry.
Yet the GP's essays, first published in 1893, were so controversial that his own profession banned him from practising when the General Medical Council struck him off a year later.
If they struck off Doctors now who promote fads and unfounded health advice there would be barely a Doctor left working.
January 2, 2008
MoD buys art while essentials are cut - Telegraph
In 2004/05, MoD civil servants bought a set of paintings by Zil Hoque called Nimbus I, II, III, IV at a cost of £160,000.
They also bought a set of four paintings by Louise Cattrell - Eyrie, Aerial, Tempest and Keep - that cost £72,000, all excluding VAT.
The following financial year, the department spent almost £53,000 simply on maintaining its art collection.
Since the beginning of the Iraq war, officials have bought 3,150 chairs for £1,000 each and 134 widescreen televisions costing £348,000.
I'm sure the boys at the sharp end will be reassured to know that the arses back here are comfortable.
NYPD keeps up the pace as murders fall to historic low - Times Online
Police plan to flood the toughest areas of New York with new recruits in an attempt to drive down the crime rate to historic lows as the city celebrates a record drop in murders in 2007.
New York, once dubbed the murder capital of America, recorded fewer than 500 murders in a single year for the first time since reliable record-keeping began in 1963. In the final hours of the year, the 2007 tally stood at 492, compared with the record high of 2,245 at the height of the crack epidemic in 1990.
Adding to residents’ sense of security is that fewer than 100 of last year’s murders were random killings by strangers.
Police on the streets = reduced crime, not hard is it.
Plugging into the state
'Big Brother' plug is watching you - Scotsman.com News
AN "intelligent" plug is being developed to help make our homes greener.
Designed to fit all domestic electric devices, the "Big Brother" plug will keep a close watch over household energy use – and curb it if necessary.
The plugs will transmit information to a central control point in the home and householders will be told how much power every device is soaking up, and when equipment is operating needlessly.
The plug will also contain an "integrated motion sensor". This will detect when there is little activity in a room where a device such as a TV has been left on.
The plug will alert the central controller, which can then switch the device off.
No more snoozing in front of the box then...
The plug is being developed with a £90,000 award from the Carbon Connections Development Fund..."The most important thing we need is government support. With that we could make sure one of these plugs is in every future domestic appliance."
Ah, got your drift now, "give me more money and legislation; it's for
my job the environment...
The Future of Healthcare is in your hands
Millions of people with arthritis, asthma and even heart failure will be urged to treat themselves as part of a Government plan to save billions of pounds from the NHS budget.
Instead of going to hospital or consulting a doctor, patients will be encouraged to carry out "self care" as the Department of Health (DoH) tries to meet Treasury targets to curb spending.....
• Using relaxation techniques to relieve stress and avoid "panic" visits to emergency wards....
The Prime Minister claimed the self-care agenda was about increasing patient choice and "personalised" services.
But an internal Government document seen by The Daily Telegraph makes clear that the policy is a money-saving measure, a key plank of DoH plans to cut costs....the plan would provide doctors with an excuse for ignoring the elderly or those with debilitating, but not life-threatening long-term conditions...
Increasingly the NHS is only interested in the exciting bits of medicine where they get blue flashing lights, sirens and the chance to run around a lot shouting like they do on the telly, and second role as nanny of the Nation where they can sit high up in their office block without ever having to meet the smelly and frankly unhygienic patients and issue them with advice, diktats and warnings to change their lifestyles.
January 1, 2008
Hat tip Theo's new site Last of the Few
The Seventh Annual Numby Awards
My forecast for 2008 is that the AGW climate change bandwagon will be increasingly mocked and that cracks in the "the consensus" will start to appear. But all this will mean is that the fanatics will just scream louder and politicians will grasp at the power the scare gives them even more vigorously. Even though it was impossible for anyone with a brain or heart to remain a communist after 1956 (video below) that didn't stop the reds infesting the system for many more years. They now have a green covering, hence the melon symbol for my greenery article, but they are tenacious and as evil as ever in their desire to destroy the pursuit of human happiness. The battle will be long and hard but we must drag it back to heeding and discovering the real science, not the apocalyptic dreams of demi-gods.
Insurance for Dogs
Under the Pru Health policy, customers earn premium reductions for each vegetable or piece of fruit they buy at Sainsbury's stores.
They also wear pedometers and qualify for discounts if they take 10,000 steps a day or attend the gym at least twice a week.
There are further reductions for giving up smoking and agreeing to be randomly tested and for buying sporting goods from the internet auction site eBay.
Each healthy choice earns the customer points, with premium discounts of more than 75 per cent on offer on a sliding scale.
Clients will receive a cash refund at the end of each year if they earn enough points.
A Pru Health spokesman said: "It's not Big Brother, we aren't telling you how to live your life. It's just showing a healthy way to live and asking people if they are comfortable with their health. The aim is a balanced lifestyle."
She also hinted that the programme could be extended to include discounts for people who reduce their drinking.
"We haven't got any policies on alcohol but that's not to say we won't have in future."...
But insurers admit it is open to abuse and there have been incidents of clients attaching pedometers to their dogs or putting them in a spin drier to rack up more miles.
Under the Pru Health scheme, gyms pass to the insurers details of how many times a client has attended but there is no way of knowing whether they did any exercise.
David Ross of Norwich Union said: "Just being a member of a gym doesn't guarantee you'll live longer."
That morning mist rolling across the valley is the moistness caused by how happy this nannying idea has made the health fascists.
Only the crumbliest flakiest legislation
A total ban on adverts for unhealthy food and drink products around TV programmes for under-16s has come into force...
You wouldn't want the youngsters to get the wrong sort of idea about pleasure - how did I ever survive...
More? A trip through memory lane....
Geeky New Year
Today, the first of January, 01/01, is the earliest "binary" day of the year (there are nine days to the next, on the 10th of this month, then nine months to the one after that on 01/10, and then the last on November 11)....2008 is certain to be an unusually cheerful year: for if you work on the sum of the squares of its component figures (2, 0, 0 and 8), you get 2[squared] + 0[squared] + 0[squared] + 8² = 68; then continuing, 6² + 8² = 100; and finally 1² + 0[squared] + 0² = 1.
This means that 2008 is what mathematicians call a "happy number