May 31, 2008
The Road to Serfdom
Thousands of middle managers in local councils are being authorised to spy on people suspected of petty offences using powers designed to prevent crime and terrorism.
Even junior council officials are being allowed to initiate surveillance operations in what privacy campaigners likened to Eastern bloc police tactics.
Councils are increasingly allowing anyone of a “service manager” grade rather than high-ranking officials with a legal background to authorise surveillance operations. Relatively junior council officials are giving permission for operations to spy on people, their homes, obtain their telephone records and discover who they are e-mailing.
“A lot of councils are making the proactive decision to use these powers more,” a spokesman for Lacors, the central body that
oversees local authorities, said.
“They think it’s a fantastic tool. Inevitably, more middle-management staff will be called on to authorise surveillance.”
Tens of thousands of service managers work in hundreds of councils throughout Britain and many have less than three years’ experience.
Gus Hosein, of the campaign group Privacy International, said: “The tactics of local authorities are more like the behaviour of the Stasi.”
Last year, councils and government departments made 12,494 applications for “directed surveillance”, according to figures released by the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner. This was almost double the number for the previous year. Applications from police and other law enforcement agencies fell during the same period, to about 19,000. Councils have admitted using the Act to spy on people committing minor offences such as fly-tipping, failing to pick up dog mess, and littering.
Quincy Whitaker, a human rights barrister...said:“Spying by councils is just assumed to be the norm. It seems we’ve given up these freedoms to stop our streets being covered in dog s***.
“It’s all part of the increasing surveillance state.”
It's all going to plan - The Illustrated Road to Serfdom by Friedrich A. Hayek
Dim Prawnarolo bansturbation
Distinctive packaging for cigarettes may be replaced by plain black and white lettering under Government plans to reduce smoking, it has been announced.
A red packet of Marlboro or a gold Benson and Hedges wrapping could become a thing of the past after research showed children easily identify brands and link smoking to being "cool".
The new consultation, launched to mark World Tobacco Day, also includes banning the advertising of cigarette papers and other smoking "paraphernalia".
Dawn Primarolo, the public health minister, said: "Protecting children from smoking is a government priority and taking away temptation is one way to do this.
"If banning brightly coloured packets...helps save lives, then that is what we should do."
Treat the whole populace as kiddies who can't resist bright shiny things, condescending cow!
Plod, common sense not targets!
Officers are having to put Home Office targets before serving the public and are becoming increasingly alienated from ordinary people as a result...
A leading police chief has given notice his force would not pursue "misleading" Whitehall targets, but allow officers to better prioritise their time.
In a move which is apparently backed by three other constabularies, the head of Surrey Police said he wanted to return to "common sense policing".
Acting chief constable Mark Rowley admitted that his force - currently joint top of the police force league table - would slide down the rankings as a result.
But he said it was not always "sensible" to spend time recording, or issuing penalty notices for the most minor offences.
Instead a return to "common sense" and "discretion" for officers was required he said.
"Quite simply, local people's safety, confidence in police and their satisfaction when they call us for help are more important than misleading targets," he said.
Is the tide turning at last?
Thriving because of global warming and not being in the EU!
RARELY a month goes by without another scientific survey proclaiming that Greenland's ice sheet is melting faster than previously thought. But for the 56,000 people who live on the giant Arctic island, climate change is now being seen as an opportunity rather than a threat: a passport to prosperity, perhaps even independence...
Few could deny Greenland's Inuit understand the effects of global warming better than anyone on the planet. They have had a front-row seat to see the glaciers retract and the sea ice thin, altering a traditional way of life that has existed for 3,000 years. But global warming is also heating up the economy.
The fishing industry, which accounts for almost all of its exports, remains strong. Having opted out of the European Union in 1979, Greenland is not restricted by fishing quotas, and stocks remain healthy.
Let's leave the obligatory bowing to the native's wisdom, how they understand the global situation from their kayak and instead feast on that last paragraph. If we can't leave the EU straight away can we for the sake of our fishermen and the fish at least quickly leave the Common Fisheries Policy?
May 30, 2008
English music for a summer evening
Friday Night is Music Night (Cool in the bike warehouse edition)
I'm on the other line
had come to Papua New Guinea to learn how cheap cell phones were transforming the lives of the poor. Somebody somewhere had said that bushmen in the jungle, as they stalk their piggy prey, now dial one another up to coordinate the kill: "Hello, Tubuio? This is Gari. I think he's over there, behind that rock. Wait. Wait. I'm getting another call."
I set off for the jungle in a Toyota Land Cruiser accompanied by Clive Yamuna, a blasé ex-cop with a .38-caliber revolver strapped to his hip. With us was our bushman guide, Gari Gari, and several hunters, some with blood-red mouths from chewing betel nut, a popular narcotic. The hunters included camouflage-clad Tubuio Tubuio and Nese Lalai, a sleepy-eyed, long-limbed fellow who wore on his head, as if it were a hat, a blue wool ski mask. His unruly hair projected from the mask's nose and mouth holes. Our weapons included a Winchester 12-gauge shotgun, a machete and cell phones costing maybe 69 kina ($26) each.
By using phones, the hunters explained, you could find the pig faster, meaning you were more likely to kill it in your own territory, not that of a rival tribe. Killing a pig in another tribe's territory could get you killed.
Ain't technology a wonderful thing! Of course they are at one with Gaia and we should emulate their dignified and carbon neutral lifestyle freed from consumerism and multinational companies - while I suspect they a very happy that those wicked multinationals have freed them from chucking sticks at pigs as they walk through the jungle relying on the drums to communicate.....
The Climate Record - Fake but Accurate
An international team of scientists has uncovered the reason for a sharp cooling in observed global sea temperatures at the end of the Second World War.
The research team has concluded that this drop is largely artificial. It arises from the different methods used by the United States and the UK to measure sea-surface temperature. During the later part of the war, most of the available observations are from US ships. A sudden increase in the frequency of observations from British ships in 1945 caused the apparent temperature drop. The initial drop is large, but it is temporary. By the 1960s the observing fleet was more diverse and any necessary corrections are likely to be small.
The researchers say that although correcting the drop will change the character of mid-century temperature variability, it is not expected to have a significant effect on 20th Century warming trends.
David Thompson of Colorado State University, who isolated the issue ... Using a new technique....
Maybe they should just start reading Climateaudit.org which uncovered this in great detail last year - and is still ahead of them.
Well, folks, the discontinuity may have been overlooked by Hadley Center, CRU, NOAA and NASA and by the stadiums of IPCC peer reviewers, but it wasn’t overlooked here at Climate Audit.
Lost at Sea
Thompson et al 2008, writing in Nature, assure their readers,
the data before ~1940 and after the mid-1960s are not expected to require further corrections for changes from uninsulated bucket to engine room intake measurements
Is there a shred of evidence to support this assertion? There is convincing evidence otherwise - evidence already reported here....
And it is important for two reasons. Firstly as it is data in the middle of the century the difference in temperature from 1900 to 1999 is still the same, so the "20th Century warming trend" could be said to be unaffected. But the journey is very different. Whole rafts of theories, papers and models have been constructed to show how this dip can be explained. These models are the foundation stone of the "consensus" view and they are wrong, they need to be changed.
But more importantly they show how the whole towering edifice is built on crap data, just as with the Surface Station record, the out of date proxies and the dodgy statistics to name a few. There is a laxness and a lazyness in the climate study world. They want us to change our life, throw out our comforts, retreat in guilty penance to our caves; they want billions of people to suffer because their theory says we have to. And they can't get their bloody facts right to start with, and most of them don't seem to care because they are on a moral crusade.
Can't even run their own whelk stall
The Labour Party is considering turning itself into a limited company so that senior figures, including Gordon Brown, can avoid being made personally liable for its spiralling debts.
The drastic action is being discussed as the party struggles to stave off bankruptcy by finding new donors or persuading existing ones to hold off on repayment of their loans. ...
The Labour Party is an unincorporated association. As such “members . . . are subject to unlimited personal liability in the event of the association’s insolvency”....
Francis Maude, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “Labour have run their party finances in the same way that Gordon Brown ran the economy – incompetently. Now the party is mired in debt. David Pitt-Watson has already jumped off the sinking ship, how long before others follow him?”
Good to see The Times catching up with Guido et al. The question is would the debtors agree to their debts being transfered to a new company without assets. At the moment the lenders know they have Gordon by the balls, it must concentrate his mind wonderfully. If your squillions are just lent to a limited company run by sporty party youths where is the leverage?
It's been a long time since Britain last tried to turn itself into a fully fledged banana republic. But there are troubling signs that the oldest and greatest continuously functioning democracy in the world is succumbing once again to a serious bout of bananaisation.
The news from home as reported overseas makes it look as though the country has stepped into a 30-year time warp. The papers and television are full of stories of fuel-price protests, power cuts, new airport terminals that lose your baggage, panicky Budget measures to placate angry constituents. The country seems gripped by a lowering mood of economic stagnation, social disorder and political paralysis.... No other country, as far as I know, has had a Latin American-style run on a bank in the past few months. There are troubling indications that inflation is now rampant. It may not quite qualify as banana-style hyperinflation yet but real progress is being made in that direction. In April producer prices rose at an annual rate of 23 per cent.
There are strong indications that double-digit declines in property values are around the corner. No one has called in the IMF yet, but perhaps we shouldn't rule it out. With the Budget picture deteriorating rapidly it won't take much for the UK to be tipped into a classic currency-fiscal downward spiral of the sort made famous by banana republics everywhere.
There are signs too that the political culture is becoming bananised. ...the most alarming sign of bananisation to date is the feverish talk that the governing party is plotting once again to throw out the leader...The public seems to favour leadership qualities that emphasise personality traits over the faintest evidence of competence or aptitude for the job. I can't be alone in seeing Boris Johnson, the blond aristo with a large popular mandate and a cultish following among the capital's youth, as a very English version of Eva Perón. Don't blub for me Argentina, old chaps.
At least, I suppose, we don't have to worry about a military coup. The repeated privations and humiliations visited upon Britain's Armed Forces have reduced them to a state where they couldn't overthrow a statue.
Milband "not straight" according to Hague
Miliband "not being straight"? As a first approximation if his lips are moving and sound is coming out he is lying so why the surprise?
May 29, 2008
If Europe had a vote in the US elections
So based on the data, people who HATE America prefer Barak Obama. That says it all.
The lights are going out all over Britain
Power rationing started this week
The National Grid control centre went straight to its stage-two level of warning to the energy market, a "High Risk of Demand Reduction" notice. (By "demand reduction", the Grid means it may forcibly reduce the amount of power that consumers can use - either by somewhat reducing the voltage supplied to them, or ultimately by cutting them off.)
The initial warning was issued to cover the period until seven pm yesterday, saying that a further 1200 megawatts was required. Another "High risk" warning went out just before 4 pm, saying that the gap had now widened to 1600 megawatts; and then eleven minutes later the Grid control room issued the next stage of alert, "Demand Control Imminent".
Shortly after that, "demand control" went into effect, as distribution companies reduced the voltage in their supplies....
One energy-market analyst, speaking to the Times, blamed lack of investment owing to years of uncertainty over government policy.
"The Government’s inability to make long-term energy security decisions over the last decade is coming home to roost," said the industry watcher. "Lack of political will to make tough decisions has left Britain short of power."
Global Warming puts natives at risk
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs outlined plans for a "rapid response" to control the invasive species.
Hundreds of native British animals and plants are being put at risk from an invasion of foreign species that thrive here because of rising global temperatures, the Government said yesterday.
Rapid response, eh? Good job global temperatures haven't risen for ten years, looks like they are on the ball - especially as they seem to be concentrating on grey squirrels, introduced "in the 19th century"; mink - introduced for fur farming - that dates it- and Japanese knotweed which Defra says was brought to Britain as an ornamental garden plant in the mid-nineteenth century.
But if you do spot a suspicious foreigner the government wants to hear from you:
The scheme includes an online directory of where the foreign plants and animals can be found and how they spread.
There are more than 3,000 foreign species flourishing in Britain and 66 per cent are plants
I remember reading about these plants, or deep cover agents as they are also known. Root'em out and turn them in to the police!
SERGEANT Major David Gibb ..is leading a handful of British soldiers training Afghanistan's army...
The Afghans have known fighting for most of their lives, but they are reluctant to change their haphazard ways. "It can be frustrating," Sgt Major Gibb admitted. "They've just got a different way of doing things."
Captain Mohammed Khalid, a 30-year veteran, carries his Kalashnikov casually balanced over one shoulder, like a farmer might carry a spade.
He has refused to break his patrols into three columns, something the British do for increased protection, and his troops rarely wear body armour.
"You ask them why they're not wearing it, and it's like, 'God will protect me',"
At patrol base Barakzai, the Afghan soldiers grow cannabis in makeshift flower pots made out of the giant wire and canvas sandbags, designed to protect them from rocket attacks. A lieutenant had to be removed last month because he was constantly high.
When they do come under fire, they invariably reply with a barrage of loosely aimed automatic fire, a tactic known as "spray and pray".
....AT THE Afghan headquarters, close to Britain's Camp Bastion, soldiers from the Royal Irish battle group are trying to wean the Afghans off their beloved AK47s and train them to use US M16s.
The M16s are more accurate over longer distances, but they need far more maintenance, they carry none of the Kalashnikov's kudos, and, crucially for an Afghan soldier, you can't empty a magazine in one burst.
"The M16 is not as good," said one Afghan private. "It only fires three bullets at a time."
The reason they carry their Kalashnikovs "like a farmer might carry a spade" is because they are an everyday tool for them, I wonder why we are trying to wean them off them as they are more suitable and also of the wisdom of teaching the Afghan how to shoot straight....
Michael Martin, the Speaker of the House of Commons, has successfully fought to retain a “grace and favour” pension worth about £38,000 a year. Gordon Brown and the Lord Chancellor, Jack Straw, the other office holders entitled to the special allowance, have given up their right to it.
The Englishman gets a drubbing from the Texan Fashion Police
Wearing 30 year old style suits doesn’t make any sense either. Dressing like a slob or without any style at all is disrespectful (for yourself and others). If you are older than 25, wearing your hair in the style you wore it in High School makes about as much sense as it did then, ie, none.
One of the signs of mental health (and intelligence) is paying attention to what is going on around you, and keeping up (in every meaning of that).
I'm pleading guilty, as do most landowners in England. Dammit woman, clothes have a natural progression, from being best, to "at home" wear, then for gardening and finally passed onto the pigman. New clothes aren't bought in response to any vagaries of fashion but just inserted at the top of the cycle as needed. Which in the case of suits and overcoats isn't often. Go to a country funeral and you will find many dressed as I was last week; in my Dad's suit (he died fifteen years ago and lord knows when he bought it), his white shirt and black tie - they never wear out and Great Uncle Percy's overcoat. He bought quality and it has lasted - here's him carrying it on 22nd August 1922.
And as for haircuts, of course we wear the same style we were given at prep school. I have no idea how to order a different one, I don't even know what I'm choosing when they offer a square or taper cut. And frankly I'm suspicious of those who do.
(The old boy in the wheel chair is Henry Adelbert Wellington FitzRoy Somerset, 9th Duke of Beaufort)
May 28, 2008
Not a real University bans university tradition for Health and Safety
A university has asked students to refrain from throwing their mortar board hats in the air to celebrate graduation in case someone gets hurt.
Anglia Ruskin University formerly Anglia Polytechnic... that explains it....
A letter to Richard Black about hedgehogs
I read your interesting article online this morning - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7422299.stm - and note that apart from cars you say that hedgehogs are becoming rarer because:
“Overall, however, researchers believe changes to the landscape are a more important factor in the species' demise. The ongoing use of once natural countryside for housing and other development, the tidiness of the urban garden, and the reduction in hedges across rural land may all be driving numbers down. “
But there isn’t a reduction in hedges across the country – hedges are protected and many more have been planted since 1998 when the official statistics http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/statistics/land/ldcslandsc.htm said :
“1990-1998. There was an overall increase in the length of linear features and no significant loss of hedgerows in that period.”
(I apologise I can’t quickly find more up to date figures online).
And hedgehogs actually thrive in urban areas – as this one example paper www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/pdf/10.1046/j.1365-2656.2001.00471.x says:
“Released hedgehogs tended to disperse into urban areas. A probable explanation is that urban habitat tended to be avoided by badgers and often supported existing hedgehog populations.”
Which brings us onto the real reason for the hedgehog decline – badgers:
“The abundance of hedgehogs varied in direct relation to the density of badger setts as a single variable. Absence of hedgehogs from all but a few isolated pockets in a site was predicted at densities of =2.27 badger setts per 10 km2” - http://www.jstor.org/pss/5262
- I wonder if I will get a reply....
The Government has lost control
...If the government had control of its spending it would be easy to offer something off fuel duty, as they will be collecting so much more tax from VAT on fuel anyway. They could offer us the amount of the extra tax back to show their “sharing of our pain” had produced some response. They could also offer to cancel the worst of the VED increases, by using the substantial windfall revenue they will be getting from North Sea oil.
Unfortunately the government does not have control of its spending, and it is finding it expensive to remedy the obvious economic and political errors of the error strewn last budget of Mr Brown and first budget of Mr Darling.....
We need to cut the tax bill on people. To do so we need to curb spending. Curbing spending is now very easy, because administrative staff numbers are so high, quangoland is so bloated, and the core public sector is profligate. Instead we have a government which is still spending on itself like there’s no tomorrow, whilst losing its authority to raise the money to pay for it all.
Quangoland and the "core public sector" is Gordon's Turkey Army, the votes the Labour MPs are counting on, they can't cut them. And the nation can't afford them...
Raiding the rainy day fund
Ministers are preparing to raid an "untouchable" £2.2 billion emergency fund set aside for last-minute costs of the 2012 Olympic Games.
A large slice of the official contingency fund that Tessa Jowell, the Olympics Minister, has said would remain "locked away" for the next few years, may have to be used to ensure that the Olympic village is built as planned....
The fund originally contained £2.7 billion, but £500 million has already been allocated. The aim was that the remainder be used for last-minute problems, if at all.
Boris - tell them to scrap it! Or at least get the auditors in now and expose the financial profligacy of this nuLabour farce
Brown and Darling have lost control
Huge rises in road and petrol taxes for millions of motorists could be scrapped after two Cabinet ministers hinted at another U-turn in government policy.
After warnings from MPs that the party was alienating ordinary voters, Jack Straw and John Hutton suggested that the Pre-Budget report in the autumn would contain changes to plans set out by the Chancellor in March.
But, in a further sign of government confusion, Downing Street and the Treasury insisted that no plans were being considered to revise the vehicle excise duty changes announced in the Budget....
Mr Darling and the Prime Minister were cautious because any change of the sort demanded by Labour MPs would cost up to £2 billion, money the Government does not have at its immediate disposal.
The £2.7 billion tax package last month was paid for directly by borrowing and a senior official said last night: “We can’t do that again. Money does not grow on trees.”
Even so, it is clear that changes will be made as the Government tries to appease backbenchers and address their concerns over the changes that are hitting the middle classes.....
No confusion - Mr Darling and Mr Brown are no longer in charge of Government policy. The scared shitless Labour MPs are now in charge and are demanding voter mollification whatever it costs, no matter how short term, anything that gives them a slim chance of holding onto their jobs.
Out, Out, Brief Candle!
Britain was hit by electricity blackouts as a string of power station shutdowns wreaked havoc on the national generating system yesterday.....
....analysts are warning that said the shortage of power was symptomatic of under-investment in Britain's energy generation infrastructure and indicative of its current fragility.....anticipates of a generating shortfall of 35,000 megawatts by 2020, but problems are expected even before 2014, by which time we will have closed down the nuclear and coal-fired power stations that now generate 47 per cent of our electricity. The coal-fired plant closures are being forced by the EU's large combustion plant directive ....calling on the government to build new power stations to reinforce the crumbling infrastructure. This, of course, the government cannot do without contravening EU state aid prohibitions.
In the meantime, the government's obsession with wind farms soaks up money and costs us a fortune without contributing anything significant to the Grid, while no decisions have yet been made on building nuclear power plants.
Yesterday, therefore, was a taste of things to come. Many experts in the generation sector believe it is a miracle that we have not suffered major outages until now, and fully expect more to follow. One cold winter, some believe, will bring prolonged power cuts.
It cannot be said, though, that this is entirely the fault of the EU. Once again we have the poisonous combination of EU action and provincial government inaction, the two in harness guaranteeing to make a bad situation worse.
Plymouth Rubbish Stasi
Every household could have to nominate an adult who will take legal responsibility for its bins as townhalls start to crack down on residents who are not recycling properly....
A draft letter from the Tory-led Plymouth City Council includes a questionnaire which asks each household to nominate an adult who will take legal responsibility for its bins.
The questionnaire also asks about the number of adults and children living in a house, their medical conditions, and whether they use disposable nappies.
The move follows a failed attempt by Exeter City Council to prosecute a woman for putting the wrong items into her recycling bin.
The council could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the woman was personally responsible.
Just bugger off, just get on with your job of picking up the rubbish, and if you can't do it properly there are a lot of private firms out there who would do it cheaper and better.
Eric Pickles, the Conservatives' shadow Local Government Secretary, added: "There is a growing public backlash at the over-zealous 'Bin Bully' policies cooked up in Whitehall for town halls to implement.
"These latest rubbish tactics directly stem from rules passed by the Labour Government.
Eric, your right in that there is a backlash, but this is a Tory lead council, and it is the Tory councils that are leading this madness. And while of course Labour have promoted these rules we all know who the real instigator of this is don't we? The EU.
May 27, 2008
Wildlife watchers are concerned about a reduction in the number of hedgehogs killed on the country’s roads which they fear may indicate an overall drop in the animal’s population.
Strangely the People’s Trust for Endangered Species. which did the roadkill count didn't mention the reason for the decline of Mrs Tiggywinkle: -
Research carried out by Government scientists and flagged up by farmers pressing for the badger cull found a direct link between areas where large numbers of badgers were spotted and those where few hedgehogs were seen foraging in the open.
An older paper from 1994 also makes the same point:
The abundance of hedgehogs varied in direct relation to the density of badger setts as a single variable. Absence of hedgehogs from all but a few isolated pockets in a site was predicted at densities of =2.27 badger setts per 10 km2
And again in 2006 - The present study concords with results from previous surveys
and experimental studies, which found a strong negative spatial relationship
between hedgehogs and badgers
Welcome to your future. An EU mindset that is arrogant, anti-democratic and frankly scary
The European Union assembly’s political establishment is pushing through changes that will silence dissidents by changing the rules allowing Euro-MPs to form political groupings.
Richard Corbett, a British Labour MEP, is leading the charge to cut the number of party political tendencies in the Parliament next year, a move that would dissolve UKIP’s pan-European Eurosceptic “Independence and Democracy” grouping.
Under the rule change, the largest and most pro-EU groups would tighten their grip on the Parliament’s political agenda and keep control of lavish funding.
Mr Corbett’s proposals will also give the President of the Parliament sweeping powers to approve or reject parliamentary questions.
Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, claimed that the move goes hand in hand with the denial of popular votes on the new EU Treaty.
”Welcome to your future. This shows an EU mindset that is arrogant, anti-democratic and frankly scary,” he said.
”These people are so scared of public opinion they are willing to set in stone the right to ignore it. Freedom requires the governing elite to be held to account. They must be getting very worried if they are enacting such dictatorial powers for themselves.”
Knife Ban and Cricket Bats
Eight years ago a councillor was killed by a man wielding a samurai sword in the office of Cheltenham Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones.
Anyone found guilty of importing samurai swords will face up to seven years in prison and an unlimited fine.
With calls for the law to be extended to banning knives ever more vocal it is worth remembering that it has been said before that it isn't the knives and swords that are the problem and the logical progression is to call for the banning of cricket bats...
An illegal immigrant beat a student to death with a cricket bat in an apparently motiveless attack
I note I have previously postedThe Official Explanation of the Ordinance against the Possession of Weapons:; still chilling reading explaining why it is important to the state to disarm the people..
Brown's Green Taxes give him the Blues
GORDON Brown, the Prime Minister, is facing the prospect of another damaging back-bench rebellion, as nearly 18 million motorists are set to be hit with an above-inflation rise in their car tax.
The leading parties acceptance of the green lobbies pathological hatred of the personal freedom a car represents, compared to the dull regimented crap world of state provided transport, is coming back to bite them with a vengeance.
No to Yeo
John Redwood bitchslaps Tim Yeo and explains "Why personal carbon accounts will not work". Of course he is too much of a gentleman to take Yeo outside and give him a good kicking as to why the idea is repugnant and contrary to everything a Conservative should stand for. Firstly they would be a gross intrusion into the privacy and freedom of choice of individuals, and secondly they are a tax on prosperity, aspiration and achievement. A tax designed to keep the uppity workers in their place, a very socialist desire to ensure they stay working at t'mill, paying their union dues and not dare hope for anything better. But then that is the whole point of the green movement...
And of course as a mere aside that it is all a giant scam...
May 26, 2008
Memorial Day Pictures - Poppies and a Pillbox
Both taken in the field in front of my house this morning...
Teaching them a lesson for life
A powerful coalition of England’s leading independent schools is demanding that the Government scale back its new national curriculum for the under-fives, claiming that it violates parents’ human rights by denying them the freedom to choose how they educate their children....
The framework becomes law in the autumn and will affect all 25,000 nurseries and childcare settings in England, whether they are run by the state, charities or private companies. It sets out up to 500 developmental milestones between birth and primary school and requires under-fives to be assessed on 69 writing, problem solving and numeracy skills....
The ISC also complains that the requirements for teachers to produce written observations on each child will result in teachers “acting as time and motion experts hovering around children with clipboards, Post-it notes and cameras to collect ‘evidence’ ”.
Ah, but that is just preparing the kids for life in modern Britain; spied on, reported on, judged on, Government target driven robots.
CCTV is not working, we need more!
NEW fears have been raised over how effective CCTV cameras are in cutting crime after it emerged that only one in seven incidents caught on camera in Scotland was followed by an arrest at the scene.
More than 200,000 incidents have been picked up by CCTV cameras over the past four years, at a cost of £42 million.
But experts admit that it is still not known how many crimes they have solved....
Walter Kean, the man in charge of CCTV in Glasgow, admitted here were doubts about its effectiveness. ..he insisted that the benefits of CCTV extended to identifying missing children and aiding the work of council services by spotting local problems, such as burst water mains and abandoned cars.
But he conceded that it was unclear how successful CCTV was at solving and deterring crime. "It's very difficult to look at statistics and say whether CCTV is working or not. There are too many reports saying 'maybe it does, maybe it doesn't'. But we are convinced it is beneficial," he said.
"How many people get convicted on the back of CCTV? I would struggle to tell you. And how many have been charged on the back of CCTV? I wouldn't know either." He added: "CCTV doesn't make a difference on its own. If we had more resources, we would make better use of CCTV footage.
Well he would say that, wouldn't he. Of course 350 full-time police officers could have been paid for with the public money spent on CCTV in the past four years. Would a few more on the beat have reduced crime more, and freed us from the continual spying?
A little piece of old England and if we are not careful we will lose all our rights
Bunting that has fluttered above visitors to a village festival for the past 43 years has been taken down because of "ludicrous" health and safety fears... Old black and white photographs, thought to date back decades, show union flag bunting strung above dozens of villagers marching proudly through the village.
Another, taken on June 9 1907, shows a marching band standing beneath bunting hanging between two buildings....
Leigh Trevitt, 40, a parish councillor who has lived in Hatfield Broad Oak for 15 years said the whole village was furious about the lack of bunting.
Mr Trevitt, the director of a paper company, said: "We use common sense when we put up the bunting. Of course we are concerned about safety, but there has never been any accidents. We are talking about a piece of string with flags on it, nothing heavy, it's ludicrous.
"Our village is a little piece of old England and if we are not careful we will lose all our rights."
May 25, 2008
A MULTIMILLION pound scheme has been launched to halt serious alcohol problems before they take hold in drinkers who are unaware they are exceeding safe limits.
Doctors, nurses and dentists across Scotland will be trained to quiz thousands of patients about their drinking habits and offer counselling to those breaching safe levels.
Women who regularly drink more than three units a day and men who drink more than five will be subjected to a 'brief intervention', where NHS staff will warn them about the dangers of alcohol, ask them to cut back on their drinking and tell them to return for a follow-up appointment...
Despite it emerging last year that guidelines on safe alcohol consumption are not based on clear evidence, the strategy is using the 1987 figures because no credible alternative has been provided by researchers....
Health boards have a target of offering up to 150,000 Scots identified as 'hazardous drinkers' help ranging from leaflets and guidance to extensive counselling...... Paying GPs up to £200 a patient to carry out brief interventions and monitor progress;
Health boards are expected to meet targets in line with other responsibilities and will be accountable to the Scottish Government if they fail..
Incentives matter! Looks like the Doc will soon find enough patients to justify £200 in the back pocket and the bureaucrats will fulfill their target - that is what really matters! Maybe they should start cutting down on targets, istead of four a day get it down to one or two, and then try to go cold turkey and spend a whole week without reaching for a target....
A former paratrooper who had a sex-change operation has won a £250,000 payout for hurt feelings after being ordered to wear a man’s army uniform.
Jan Hamilton, formerly Captain Ian Hamilton, was awarded the sum by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in an out-of-court settlement after claiming that she was humiliated by the order.
The size of the payout will outrage veterans who have received far lower awards for being injured in the line of duty. Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, 23, who lost both legs and suffered brain damage after triggering a Taliban landmine was initially offered £152,000. Although described by doctors as the worst injured soldier ever to survive, the MoD only raised his payout to £285,000 after a campaign from soldiers’ families.
According to current MoD settlements soldiers receive £57,000 for the loss of a leg and £285,000 for the loss of both arms or legs.
Yesterday Hamilton said she was happy with the settlement. Of the payouts to other soldiers, she said: “I count my blessings I came home in one piece. My thoughts go out to anyone serving out there in a uniform.”
I bet they do, Love....
Is Delusional Disorder Catching?
David Miliband is preparing to throw his hat into the ring in a leadership contest to “save new Labour” after the party’s disastrous defeat in last week’s Crewe & Nantwich by-election.
The foreign secretary has confided to friends that he is prepared to stand for the leadership if a critical mass of backbenchers turn against Gordon Brown.
He is discussing a strategy to position himself for the top job without personally engineering the prime minister’s downfall.
Cowardy cowardy custard! Poor Diddy David is getting worried, he was seen as the natural heir apparent of Blair, with Gordon standing in as regent until Diddy was tall enough to reach the door handle. But no longer, Foreign Secretary used to be a senior Cabinet role where a rising star could show off, but a combination of the EU making the role irrelevant, especially to a creepy little europhile, the Big Man stealing all the limelight that he can and David's refusal to meet Arabs means the little pipsqueak has been roundly ignored. So he is floating the idea he is the man to save Labour in a way that he can deny when Gordon thumps the table at him. And maybe he is the the man the rest of the cabinet is looking for to stand in for Gordon at the next election, lose handsomely and then be consigned to the dustbin of history. His vanity may be mistaking their enthusiasm for some else to take the poisoned chalice with them suddenly liking him.
May 24, 2008
There is one fear that is keeping Cameron awake at night, that Gordon steps down in a civilised way. Either Gordon hanging on or a vicious civil war in the Labour Partyare the two options he needs. But if G Brown Esq packed his bags, citing a heart mumour or whatever, and Postman Pat took the reins by acclamation than he would be worried.
Could it really happen? Personally, I'm not so sure. The formal procedure required for the Labour Party to remove a sitting leader makes a coup unlikely, so Gordon Brown would have to step down voluntarily – which I can't imagine. Having wanted to be PM for so long, he'll prefer to cling on as long as possible.
More to the point – would anyone else really want the job at this stage? Ambitious politicians will want to wait until after the next election, rather than take over a sinking ship and captain it to a landslide defeat (a sure-fire way to end a career in Westminster). Any new leader would probably be forced into calling an early general election – the public would not take kindly to having a second unelected prime minister imposed on them in a single parliament – and would have almost no opportunity to turn things around.
I may be wrong, but I think we’re going to have to put up with Gordon Brown for a little while yet.
Delusional Disorder - A Definition
I understand that the message of the British public is clear and unequivocal....I understand people’s concerns...My task is to steer the British economy through what have been very difficult times in every country in the world and that I will continue to do with a clear direction that shows that we will address all the problems that people are facing.”
Delusional disorder is a psychiatric diagnosis denoting a psychotic mental illness that involves holding one or more non-bizarre delusions in the absence of any other significant psychopathology (signs or symptoms of mental illness).
A person with delusional disorder can be quite functional and does not tend to show any odd or bizarre behavior aside from these delusions. "Despite the encapsulation of the delusional system and the relative sparing of the personality, the patient's way of life is likely to become more and more overwhelmed by the dominating effect of the abnormal beliefs". (Munro, 1999)
MP Expenses - All you need to know
The claims show that among the items of furniture he bought for the home were a new bunk bed, costing £145, and a new mattress, costing £99.
I'm not surprised he needed a new mattress, but why should we pay for it? Or are we just someone else he can screw and get away with it?
May 23, 2008
Friday Night is Music Night (Driving Edition)
Careful how you go now.
Recycling Bins too Dangerous for Refuse Operatives.
Thousands of residents are being told to help empty their own wheelie bins because they pose a potential health hazard for binmen.
Council officials...claim that the bins are at an "awkward height", making it difficult for binmen to remove the containers – for cans and glass - without a risk of strain and injury.
However, residents say the request is disgusting, asking why they should have to lift containers deemed too heavy for manual workers.....
Julie Ward, 40, a resident from Cross Hills, North Yorks, said: "When I think about it, I crack up laughing. The binmen are being lazy. It's just so annoying that we've got to start doing half their job for them."
Jean Ainsworth, 80, added: "I only put the rubbish out once a month because the pods are too heavy for me. It makes me wonder what I'm paying council tax for."
Depression heads Britain's way, it's all Harold Wilson's fault.
Rain, cold temperatures, gusty winds and a possibility of gales — the meteorological misery that is the late May Bank Holiday will be playing to type again this year.
Ever since 1967, when Harold Wilson’s Government replaced the moveable Whitsun holiday with a fixed one in late spring, this has been a thoroughly nerve-racking holiday, with 27 of the 40 so far having been spoilt by heavy rain.
Any thoughts of a pleasant weekend will be washed away by forecasts of rain, rain and more rain, all of it carried on a stiff and very chilly wind.
Still it will be cheery and sunny compared to the bunker at No.10!
Ambition's debt is to be paid - A Play for Today
Caesar did never wrong but with just cause,
Nor without cause will he be satisfied.
I kiss thy hand, but not in flattery, Caesar;..
I could be well moved, if I were as you;
If I could pray to move, prayers would move me:
But I am constant as the northern star,
Of whose true-fix'd and resting quality
There is no fellow in the firmament.
The skies are painted with unnumber'd sparks,
They are all fire, and every one doth shine;
But there's but one in all doth hold his place:
So in the world; 'tis furnish'd well with men,
And men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive;
Yet in the number I do know but one
That unassailable holds on his rank,
Unshaked of motion: and that I am he,....
[Casca stabs Caesar in the neck. Caesar catches hold of his arm.
He is then stabbed by several other Conspirators, and at last by
Et tu, Brute?-- Then fall, Caesar!
[Dies. The Senators and People retire in confusion.]
Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!--
Run hence, proclaim, cry it about the streets.
Some to the common pulpits and cry out,
"Liberty, freedom, and enfranchisement!"
People and Senators, be not affrighted;
Fly not; stand still; ambition's debt is paid.
The number of people admitted to hospital because of their drinking has doubled in just over a decade to reach more than 200,000, new figures show.
No they haven't, the way the figures are collected and analyzed has changed. If you are sitting at home on your sofa with a glass of wine and a truck crashes through your wall you are now an alcoholic victim...
May 22, 2008
Now is the Summer of Our Discontent
Mr Brown will face a summer of uncertainty against the backdrop of the economic downturn and rising living costs.
The troubles come as civil servants, college lecturers and firemen are threatening summer strike. The Public and Commercial Services Union yesterday announced it will ballot 280,000 of its members over strike action.
More than a million people employed by local authorities could take also take action this summer. They are angry over a 2.45 per cent pay offer.
Just the start of his misery? It hasn't all been exactly a bed of roses up to now. And the comrades in the party are getting restless...
IQ and Class in the Classroom
Elite universities are failing to recruit working-class students because IQ is, on average, determined by social class, according to an academic.
Bruce Charlton, a reader in evolutionary psychiatry at Newcastle University, claims that the greater proportion of students from higher social classes at highly selective universities is not a sign of admissions prejudice but rather the result of simple meritocracy.
Student union leaders responded angrily to his claim, which was also dismissed by a minister.
I haven't seen his paper, or the report of it in the Times Higher Education, and I guess neither have the rent a quote Gemma Tumelty, NUS president, or Bill Rammell, the higher education minister. As with most of the education debate in this country they prefer to stick their fingers in their ears and chant "nah, nah, nah we can't hear you" when anything that disagrees with their cosy view of how the world should be is threaten by a report of how the world actually is.
Yates's Wine Bar
HE WAS the government adviser on alcohol abuse who couldn't say when. Paul Yates is used to lecturing on the dangers of drunkenness, but yesterday the academic heard a sheriff cast doubt on his testimony and so found him guilty of twice drink-driving.
Do as I say etc....
I only feature this story because I wanted to use the headline - tsk to the sub editors for failing to do so, at least they managed to use Act now to save drama school
Norwich Rubbish News
City pensioner Barry Freezer has today told how Norwich City Council refused to collect his garden waste bin because it contained cabbage stalks.
It comes just days after we reported how 96-year-old war veteran Lenny Woodward was left angry and confused after his recycling bin was not collected because it had a coffee jar and a tomato ketchup bottle inside.
A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council said .."We run a programme of education rather than enforcement and our schemes are designed to encourage people to contact us if they have a problem so that we can successfully advise them to get the best out of our services."
Is it the brown, green or red bin that surplus bureaucrats go in?
May 21, 2008
Hat tips, Blog Etiquette and a Wallace
I recently noted another had beaten him to a story and suggested a hat tip was in order. On reflection I think I was wrong and apologize. What we need is another term for a blogger to acknowledge priority, in that they acknowledge another blogger was first, but that at the time of writing their post they were unaware of it. This a concept that is alien to the MSM but one that the good manners of bloggers need.
May I suggest a "Wallace"?
If I note that another blogger has beaten me to a story but I was unaware of it at the time I will give them a Wallace; If I have sourced a story from another blog I will give them a Hat tip.
I commend it to the house, what do you think?
Levantine Lament and Lessons
EU Referendum: reports on a clinical analysis of an important series of events, where the blogosphere took on the MSM and challenged its partisan and mendacious reporting of the Lebanese War in the summer of 2006.
It is interesting that, of the blogs mentioned, most were American. This was the only significant British blog that took up the issue, which was largely (with some honourable exceptions) ignored by other UK-based political blogs. If that is a reflection of something, I am not sure quite what. Perhaps, others can explain the narrowness of vision that seems to pervade our blogosphere.
I think there are two points, firstly with Richard's excellent work there was little for us other Brits to add. Though when I did point out a couple of staged photos it was roundly ignored - was that because they were posed to raise sympathy for Israeli victims?
And secondly unlike the United States, and maybe it is wrong of us, most of us don't really give a damn about Israel and the squabbling children of Abraham. A pox on all their houses would be the general view. Sorry, I know we should care, but our plate's full as it is.
Every dollar and hour diverted to a crisis that might not exist has real and tragic costs
An anti-nuclear, Toronto-based, urban-loving, 1970s peace activist who opposes subsidies to the oil industry might be the last person expected to detail cracks in the science of global warming.
But Lawrence Solomon has done just that in a short book with a long subtitle: The Deniers: The World-Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, And Fraud (And Those Who Are Too Fearful To Do So).
No one who reads The Deniers will be able to claim a scientific consensus exists on global warming. (Some scientists even argue the planet's climate is about to cool.)
But it might leave honest readers with this question: So what? Why not spend billions to reduce possible human-induced climate change just in case?
Because, as Antonio Zichichi (a professor emeritus at the University of Bologna and author of more than 800 papers) argues, global warming is only one alleged calamity that faces the world's poor. As Solomon writes in his interview with Zichichi, "every dollar and hour diverted to a crisis that might not exist has real and tragic costs."
The "deniers" and The Deniers matter because the book is about the search for scientific explanations for a complex phenomenon by eminent scientists in a better position than most to judge whether a consensus exists on global warming. Their collective verdict, much varied in the particulars, is "No."
Northern Crock - our money is at risk, surprise announcement!
Taxpayers' money tied up in Northern Rock is more at risk than first thought, the nationalised lender's chairman, Ron Sandler, has conceded, as the credit crisis threatens to undermine its restructuring.
Than who first thought?
Ask a Policeman
The uniformed policeman stood in the road next to his motorbike and pointed sternly at me to pull over. “Census” said the blue sign propped on the pavement. I pulled over. A woman in a reflective jacket stuck her head through the window and thrust a card at me. “Thank you for taking the time to provide Transport for London with this important information,” it read. Eh? Transport for London? What information? Since when do the police pull you over so you can have a chat with TfL? According to a spokesperson for TfL, the police are present simply to make sure the traffic flows smoothly....TfL later said, as if this made it better, that it only uses off-duty policemen. But why are off-duty policemen impersonating on-duty ones? And to assist TfL? When I queried this, the surveyor got stroppy. “The police have the authority to pull you over,” she snapped. True, but that's not the point. When pushed, she admitted that I didn't have to answer their questions (so I didn't), but how many people are going to make a fuss?
How many are going to feel cowed, obediently answer yes and no, and end up as a statistic backing some TfL “multi-modal transport” proposal? What wouldn't pollsters and market researchers give to have the might of the police at their disposal?
If Transport for London wants to ask me something, it can call me, or write to me, and I may or may not tell it; using the police in a crude attempt to force me is disgraceful. As for the police, whose power to stop people from going about their lawful business is an awesome one, they should be ashamed of themselves for using it to help TfL to tick boxes. And if they really are off-duty, they've got some explaining to do.
Last time I was stopped for one of these surveys the surveyor got angry and tried to put me down as a non-answerer just because she didn't believe my answers - why wouldn't I be going from Glasgow to Inverness along the A4, I like taking the scenic route. I got angry back and told her she had to record my answer, and then the policeman suggested I might like to be on my way....
Pupils from state schools are missing out on £90,000 salaries as teachers refuse to push them towards elite universities, according to a new study.
Half of comprehensive school students believe there is no difference in earning potential associated with a degree from a top university compared with a former polytechnic, it was disclosed.
Poverty of Aspirations is the probably the biggest curse the state sector inflicts on its charges, that and the ignorance of the second rate teachers who prefer their blinkered world view to actually looking at the truth.
Though The Telegraph doesn't paint that rosy a picture for graduates, ..nearly a fifth of students who graduated from leading universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh, the London School of Economics, St Andrews and University College London were earning £90,000 a decade after graduating.
Nine grand a year?
May 20, 2008
Tamsin is the real Toff according to Google maps...10:00 exclusive etc....
Let me add an interactive aerial photo of Ms Tamsin Dunwoody-Kneafsey's country estate in Wales.
(Her public nomination papers give her address as Cwarre Dduon, Ambleston, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire. SA62 5DR and this seems to be it, though she may not own it all or the bit with the stables and menage.... But if I was an enterprising hack I would be motoring down there to find out ASAP.)
UPDATE - according to a knowledgeable commentator I got the wrong house:
Her house is North East of the one shown in the aerial photograph above - that is
It is identified on maps etc as QUARREY-DDUON (SN 00184 26724), she must
have translated into Welsh.
Kudos to Guido for getting her Peerage entry noticed by the MSM, even Paxo on Newsnight was able to front her about it but a hattip to Chris Whiteside is in order as he had the story first.
More on Ice Core CO2 measurements
A reader writes:
My training as a Chemical Engineer tells me that the CO2 in trapped air bubbles will seek equilibrium with the ice. This would give a consistent and lower concentration than the original air bubble. I have not been able to find any studies or information that looks at this -except the abstract below. I have not yet managed to get a copy of the presentation. If I interpret the abstract correctly it means that CO2 concentrations in trapped air bubbles are not related to the original concentration, but probably more related to the temperature and pressure of the ice. This kind of takes the legs out from under the whole global warming theory.
CO2 in Natural Ice
Stauffer, B | Berner, W
Symposium on the Physics and Chemistry of Ice; Proceedings of the
Third International Symposium, Cambridge (England) September
12-16, 1977. Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 21, No. 85, p 291-300,
1978. 3 fig, 5 tab, 18 ref.
Natural ice contains approximately 100 ppm (by weight) of enclosed
air. This air is mainly located in bubbles. Carbon dioxide is an
exception. The fraction of CO2 present in bubbles was estimated to
be only about 20%. The remaining part is dissolved in the ice.
Measurements of the CO2 content of ice samples from temperate and
cold glacier ice as well as of freshly fallen snow and of a
laboratory-grown single crystal were presented. It is probable
that a local equilibrium is reached between the CO2 dissolved in
the ice and the CO2 of the surroundings and of the air bubbles.
The CO2 content of ancient air is directly preserved neither in
the total CO2 concentration nor in the CO2 concentration in the
bubbles. Possibly the CO2 content of ancient air may at least be
estimated if the solubility and the diffusion constant of CO2 in
ice are known as a function of temperature. (See also W79-09342)
Like blogging but for people with friends...
Returning from a long lunch at the pub on my birthday I realised i had promised some young friends that I would join Facebook.
So I have.
I'm still not sure what it is for, it seems to be like blogging but for people with friends...
The Telegraph asks why Britons are fleeing the UK
Two million British citizens have left the UK in a decade, the greatest exodus from the country in almost a century.
The Office of National Statistics is expected to release figures later today showing that more than Two million Britons emigrate in 10 years
In the same year, over 500,000 foreign nationals arrived in the UK, which gives a total of almost four million immigrants over a decade.
Why are so many Britons emigrating?
Is it the prospect of a better life elsewhere, or are British citizens repelled by life in their native land?
Has globalisation made it easier to settle abroad?
>More on: Your View >
Can't think why at all......
A massive government database holding details of every phone call, e-mail and time spent on the internet by the public is being planned as part of the fight against crime and terrorism. Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecoms companies would hand over the records to the Home Office under plans put forward by officials.
The proposal will raise further alarm about a “Big Brother” society, as it follows plans for vast databases for the ID cards scheme and NHS patients. There will also be concern about the ability of the Government to manage a system holding billions of records. About 57 billion text messages were sent in Britain last year, while an estimated 3 billion e-mails are sent every day....
The proposal has emerged as part of plans to implement an EU directive developed after the July 7 bombings to bring uniformity of record-keeping. Since last October telecoms companies have been required to keep records of phone calls and text messages for 12 months. That requirement is to be extended to internet, e-mail and voice-over-internet use and included in a Communications Data Bill.
And how the MPs squealed like pigs when we demanded to see the receipts for the goodies they have been claiming from our taxes....
When the state fails to protect us
Daniel Sweeney had the misfortune to be confronted by a self-professed thug who had been out of control since the age of 11, when he first carried out a frenzied stabbing...
Cornelius first hit the headlines in October 2000, when, as an 11-year-old, he carried out a knife attack on a girl of nine.
He abducted the girl from her grandmother's house, stabbed her eight times – narrowly missing the artery in her throat – and left her for dead near the Fountain Park leisure complex in Edinburgh.
He was not prosecuted for attempted murder because he was shown to have a mental age of less than eight, the age of criminal responsibility.
Cornelius was dealt with at a children's panel hearing and ordered to spend 17 months in secure accommodation.
However, he was released after only eight months,....
If the State won't protect us from these thugs, then the bargain that we forswear our rights to self defence in return for its protection is broken.
He never married.
Count Gottfried von Bismarck, who was found dead on Monday aged 44, was a louche German aristocrat with a multi-faceted history as a pleasure-seeking heroin addict, hell-raising alcoholic, flamboyant waster and a reckless and extravagant host of homosexual orgies.
The great-great-grandson of Prince Otto, Germany's Iron Chancellor and architect of the modern German state, the young von Bismarck showed early promise as a brilliant scholar, but led an exotic life of gilded aimlessness that attracted the attention of the gossip columns from the moment he arrived in Oxford in 1983 and hosted a dinner at which the severed heads of two pigs were placed at either end of the table...became an enthusiastic, rubber-clad member of the Piers Gaveston Society and the drink-fuelled Bullingdon and Loders clubs.
Perhaps unsurprisingly he managed only a Third in Politics, Philosophy and Economics....von Bismarck was ordered home to the family castle near Hamburg by his father.
His removal from Oxford was so abrupt that he was not given time to settle his bills; Prince Ferdinand sent a servant who did the rounds of von Bismarck's favoured watering-holes, restaurants and his tailor bearing a chequebook.
Although described personally as quiet and impeccably mannered, von Bismarck continued to live high on the hog, hosting riotous all-night parties for his (chiefly gay) friends at his £5 million flat off Sloane Square....
He never married.
A year or two after my time at Oxford, and a year or two before Cameron, how different it all was in those halcyon days.
Vostok Ice Core / CO2 correlation - an AGW myth demolished
Jonathan Drake has released an interesting paper called A Simple Method to Correct Carbon Dioxide Concentrations in Ice Core Data for Ice / Gas Age Difference Perturbations.
Before you skip to the next item tarry a while because this is interesting. He had a look at the Vostok ice core data / CO2 correlation, one of the great poster children of the AGW movement.
The ice core data as presented goes back 420,000 years. Various parameters can be measured from it, or inferred. It is understood that the age of the gas (air) trapped is generally younger than the ice containing it and therefore this difference needs to be determined. This is done using models of the system and the measured parameters.
As he says:
For the purposes of my paper, I use IGD, for the ice age to gas age difference. What I noticed was that IGD appeared to move with the CO2 measurement (correlation). I looked for a relationship between IGD and CO2 and found it was close to linear, so I calculated the linear trend. Now using this mathematical function, I adjusted the CO2 levels so that they represent the concentrations at an arbitrary IGD = 0 because this corresponds to what the level of CO2 ought to be had it been trapped at the time the snow hit the ground. A secondary effect of this is to correct the time reference. At IGD = 0, the ice and gas are the same age by definition.
So once the compensation I describe is applied, the resultant CO2 levels are very different to the original, both in level and character. It appears that, for some reason, the temperature is modulating the original CO2 data.
In the corrected version, there is virtually no correlation between temperature and carbon dioxide.
I leave you to draw your own conclusions regarding how this relates to the AGW story.
I like to look at it this way: the original data is like a tail wagging the dog, and the corrected version analogous to the dog wagging its tail.
May 19, 2008
A £10 million campaign to tell adult drinkers exactly how much alcohol they are consuming is announced by the Government today.
The “Know Your Limits” campaign aims to reduce binge drinking among the over-25s by reminding social drinkers to stay within recommended limits.
It isn't the over 25s who are fighting on the streets, it isn't the over 25s who are learning about alcohol for the first time, it isn't the bloody over 25s who need to be educated about some limits that were just plucked out of the air, not based on any firm evidence at all."
But it is the over 25s who have to pay for this through their taxes; it's about time that the nannies "Knew Their Limits".
Name an Iceberg
Children aged between 3 and 12 are invited to suggest a name that will be adopted by the United States National Ice Centre, which tracks icebergs using satellite technology. It will be the first time that an iceberg will be referred to by anything other than its number and co-ordinates. The iceberg, at present known by the codename C19A, was created in May 2002 when it broke away from the Ross ice shelf. It was 2,480 sq miles (6,420 sq km) but has shrunk to 1,985 sq miles, making it larger than Northumberland.
Icebergs this big are created every three to five years. Scientists need to monitor them to enhance their understanding of climate change.
Witty and original names, avoiding those of living people, can be submitted to hayfestival.com/iceberg.
Blow - the link doesn't work and I had so many good names thought up....
Global Warming Causes
More Fewer Hurricanes
Hurricanes and tropical storms will become less frequent by the end of the century as a result of climate change, US researchers have suggested.
But the scientists added their data also showed that there would be a "modest increase" in the intensity of these extreme weather events.
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Hurricane boost 'due to warm sea'
man-made climate change, which has increased the temperature of the sea surface, is the major factor behind the increase in numbers.
"Over the period we've had natural variability in the frequency of storms, which has contributed less than 50% of the actual increase in our view," said Dr Greg Holland from the United States National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, who authored the report.
"Approximately 60%, and possibly even 70% of what we are seeing in the last decade can be attributed directly to greenhouse warming," he said.
Natural England - Fighting for survival
England's green and pleasant land is under threat and must be better managed if it is to survive, a report warned on Sunday.
More intensive use of the land and sea, economic development and the threats posed by climate change are piling on the pressure, putting the survival of wildlife in danger, claims Natural England..which is responsible for looking after the countryside.
In other news:
grough - Axe falls as Natural England announces budget
... 150 staff are being made redundant in a bid to save £4m.
... cutbacks in Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs budgets.
Hybrid cars - a gimmick
Eco-friendly claims for ‘hybrid’ cars dismissed as gimmickry - Times Online
Three models, including the Honda Civic hybrid, performed so badly in tests that their environmental claims were dismissed as a gimmick. Instead of the 109g/km of CO2 claimed in the makers’ specifications, it was found to put out 171g/km. The testers said its electric motor was “not strong enough to propel the oddball four-door Civic on its own” and they concluded that the vehicle “failed to match the firm’s economy claims”.
The second car labelled a gimmick was the Lexus GS450h, leased by David Cameron, the Conservative leader. It managed fuel consumption of 26.7 miles per gallon (mpg) in the road test compared with the claimed 35.8 mpg – meaning higher carbon emissions. Diesel rivals were said to “produce similar emissions and better economy”.
Skoda’s Fabia Greenline was condemned because its emissions were higher than two other less bulky super-minis that use the same 1.4 litre diesel engine...
A further five vehicles, including Volkswagen’s Polo BlueMotion, hailed as Britain’s greenest car when it was claimed that it emitted less than 100 grams of CO2 per km (g/km), failed to match the claims made by their makers. The five were Ford’s Focus ECOnetic, the Mini Cooper Clubman D, VW Polo BlueMotion, Seat Ibiza ECOmotive and Toyota Prius.
May 18, 2008
Annual May 18th Self Indulgence
Ah - Legs and Co
Politics are the cause of food shortages
However, a fascinating article in The Sunday Times (business section) today points to the real cause – which is none of the above – and also underlines a salient but uncomfortable fact – "global food crisis" there may be, but there is actually no global food shortage.
The story in The Sunday Times is about rice...Behind this is a tale which verges on the surreal, going back to the early eighties (and perhaps before) when the United States was getting extremely concerned at its balance of trade deficit with Japan. By the late eighties, this had become politically highly contentious and had focused around reciprocal deals on the sale of US rice to Japan, as a way of compensating for the inflow of manufactured Japanese goods.
To cut a very long story short, in 1995, Japan eventually caved in to huge pressure and, under the aegis of the WTO "Uruguay Round", agreed to accept from the US some 770,000 tons of rice a year,...However, there was a slight problem. Japan was is self-sufficient in rice and there was no domestic market for US imports which, in any case were a different variety and regarded as inferior by Japanese consumers. Despite continued efforts of US growers to make their product more acceptable, only small quantities of the imported rice was used – and then only for manufacturing – or allowed to rot. The one thing Japan was not allowed to do was re-export the product.
As a result, Japan has built up a huge surplus of unused American rice, currently estimated at 1.5 million tons.....
The point that emerges from this is the cause of what turns out to be a "perceived" shortage is in fact an artificially induced phenomenon, arising entirely out of subsidy and trade distortions, overlaid with a heavy dose of politics.
And from that, the lessons are clear. If market mechanisms are allowed to work, agriculture is well able to feed the current world population, and accommodate population growth for the foreseeable future. The only thing standing in the way of that are the politicians. We do not have a food crisis – we have a political crisis.
Bloody TB tests
Tom Maidment of Wiltshire. Thirty-one of his cows were condemned by Defra after blood testing had shown them as positive, and he pleaded in vain with London to have them skin-tested.
When his local Animal Health Office, unaware of London's refusal, ordered that skin tests be carried out, not a single animal showed any sign of TB. Defra's response was that the cows must all nevertheless be destroyed. Who gives a fig for science when someone else is footing the bill - and the courts are there to support you?
(Tom is my cousin and No.2 Son helped with the TB tests as work experience, so I know the depth of anger and frustration this madness is causing.)
May 17, 2008
Dambusters' wartime daring celebrated - Times Online...the 65th anniversary of the Dambusters raid.
ID Registration - Simpler and Easier.
Recent changes in the double tagging legislation for sheep and goats have received a lot of publicity. However, the good news is that the updated rules are simpler and easier. Nonetheless it is still worth highlighting what is required and how farmers can ensure they are compliant with the law.
To help you understand the new rules we have created a few common scenarios to show how the regulations will apply in practice.
Farmer John has a flock of 300 breeding ewes. Lambing has commenced and the first six lambs have just been born. All being well the first five of these lambs (lambs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) are scheduled for slaughter. Lamb 6 will be retained for breeding.
Farmer John gives each of the slaughter lambs a single UK holding of birth tag. The lamb that he intends to retain is double-tagged, i.e. two identical UK tags are applied, one in each ear. He could wait for up to nine months to do this, or before they leave the birth holding whichever is the sooner. However, for simplicity he does it all at the same time, shortly after birth. The holding of birth tag has the flock number and individual animal number on it. This tag should only be applied once, at the birth holding.
As time goes on Farmer John decides that one of the lambs, Lamb 1, that he had originally intended for slaughter, will be kept as part of his breeding flock. He needs to double tag Lamb 1 as soon as possible. The farmer has two options here: a) the easiest option for him and the animal is to apply an identical tag or b) he may apply two new identically numbered UK tags but with a different number to the original tag and cross-reference the numbers in his holding register.
Another of the five, Lamb 2, loses its tag. The rules relating to lost tags can be quite complicated so Farmer John consults the tables in the Guidance booklet he received back in January, and then double checks he has done it correctly by phoning the Cross Compliance helpline on 0845 345 1302. In this particular case he replaces the lost UK tag with another UK tag from his stock and records the details of the new replacement tag in the holding register.
Lambs 3, 4 and 5 are sent to auction. Lamb 3 loses its tag at the market (after sale) so the new owner, Farmer Bill, replaces it with an R tag. This will indicate the flock mark, although not of the holding of birth. This R tag means Lamb 3 cannot be exported. If Farmer Bill did want to export Lamb 3 he could contact Farmer John and ask for a UK tag to be sent, and then put this tag in place instead.
Lamb 5 is sold for export and needs to be double tagged. The exporter has two options a) apply an identical UK tag or b) apply two of his own UK tags and cross reference the new number with the number on the existing tag in his holding register. If he opts for the latter then he should check first that this is acceptable to the importing authorities.
Holding Register and Movement Documents
As with tagging, record keeping has also been simplified.
There is no need to record flock marks or individual numbers (unless you are importing from outside the EU or exporting). There is also no requirement to record movements between parcels of land within your holding. Finally, you may retain a copy of your movement document instead of recording "off" movements in your holding register. If you do this please remember to retain and file these movement records in date order with your holding register.
So, going back to our example of Farmer John with his six new sheep.
Lamb 1, that was originally intended for slaughter and now is part of the breeding flock, is kept at the home farm and just moved around the holding. Farmer John doesn't need to keep any movement records for this sheep as the holding is under sole occupancy and is all within a 5 mile radius of the main site. If the holding had outlying land more than 5 miles away to which animals were being moved then the movements would have to be recorded and reported. Separate holding registers would also be needed if the animals were kept in a variety of different holdings as each separate holding requires its own register. The only exception to this is common land.
Lamb 2, who lost its tag and now has a replacement tag, is moved from the main farm holding onto rented land 7 miles away. Farmer John completes a movement document and records this movement in his holding register. The receiving keeper, Farmer Alan, who will be looking after the animals for Farmer John, fills in Section D of the movement document. He keeps a copy of the document for his own records and also sends a copy of the movement records to the Local Authority within 3 days.
For Lambs 3, 4 and 5, who were sent to mart, Farmer John completes a movement document to show that they have been sent off the farm. However, Lamb 4 doesn't sell so is returned to the holding. Farmer John completes another movement document and makes a record in his holding register to show that the lamb is back on the farm. He also, as usual, sends a copy of the movement document to the Local Authority office.
Lamb 6, which has been retained on the land until now, moves from the main farm onto common land. Farmer John has not applied for this holding to be linked to common land on the central database so he records the movement in his holding register and sends a copy of the movement document to the Local Authority.
If you have any queries about what is required or just want to ensure that you are complying fully with the regulations, contact the Cross Compliance helpline on 0845 35 1302 or have another read of the 'Guidance for keepers in England: Rules for identifying sheep and goats'....
And that is just for sheep and goats, wait till they get onto us poor humans...
How much easier it was in biblical times!:
St. Matthew 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory,..
32 and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
May 16, 2008
Friday Night is Music Night (Before it became a cabaret turn)
And if you are looking for an understated subtle version of Delilah may I recommend this one:
Taken from the Total Balalaika Show shot on 12 June 1993 in Helsinki, Finland
I Hate Gordon Brown - Entry No. 1,490,001
Do we live in an age of hatred? Or has the language of political insult simply become more extreme? Tap the words “I hate Gordon Brown” into Google, and it comes up with 1,490,000 entries...
The internet does, of course, encourage extreme reaction - or perhaps just the reaction of extremists - but some of the online comments made about public figures today are the kind you might once have expected to see confined to the mad threats of a serial killer....
Here is one sentence, culled from a recent national newspaper leader (OK, the Daily Express, which some might argue scarcely qualifies for the name): “They [British voters] know their Premier to be a neurotic, dysfunctional mediocrity; an insecure Stalinist who worships power but cannot take a decision; a moral and political coward who tries to fill the vacuum at the heart of his leadership with blustering rhetoric and adolescent bullying.”
Elsewhere, the barely concealed suggestions that Mr Brown is psychologically flawed, even autistic, possibly mad, that he cannot communicate, is hopelessly insecure, an inept loner incapable of running his own life let alone that of the nation,....
We should also remember that these political figures are also human beings. I cannot imagine what Mr Brown - to say nothing of Mrs Brown - feels when he reads the daily litany of insults delivered to his door. I imagine he suffers.
“If you prick us, do we not bleed?” asked Shylock; even prime ministers, I guess, have feelings.
There wouldn't be any fun in insulting him if he didn't.
Tagged and banned
A 73-year-old former Grenadier Guardsman has been ordered to wear an electronic tag after he was convicted of failing to report an accident.
Peter Ogden was ordered by a judge at Bath Magistrates' Court to wear the tag to ensure that he abides by a 4pm to 11pm curfew. He was also given a one-year driving ban and a £60 fine.
Ogden, from Keynsham, near Bristol, who insisted that he was not involved and stopped only to check if an injured person needed assistance, is to appeal.
Ogden was driving home in November last year when a woman ran in front of another vehicle. She was badly injured and he stopped to check whether any help was needed.
He said that when he heard that another passer-by had dialled 999 he drove off.
It was when he called into a police station the next day to inquire about the woman that he was arrested. The victim's DNA was found on his vehicle and he was suspected of having run her over.
He was charged later with failing to stop at the scene of an accident.
When the case came to court the Crown offered no evidence. He was, however, charged with the lesser offence of failing to report an accident.
Excessive? Only if you hold the old fashioned view that the state needs to charge you and prove you did the crime you are to be punished for...
Health and Safety Advice - "tuck the thin leather strap up inside the helmet"
Police officers have been ordered not to wear the chin straps of their traditional Custodian helmets because too many wear them "inappropriately" on their bottom lip.
West Midlands Police chiefs sent an email to all male officers after reports that some were balancing the thin leather straps on their mouths or pretending they were "some form of fashion accessory".
The officers were told to "tuck the thin leather strap up inside the helmet", or face disciplinary procedures.
Stuart Hyde, an assistant chief constable, said the decision was made only after taking "independent health and safety advice"...
At least it will make it easier to knock off a Policeman's helmet on Boat Race night....
Failing the examiners
GCSE and A-level students should not always expect to receive the correct marks in tests, according to the new examinations watchdog.
Kathleen Tattersall, the chairman of Ofqual, said the public had a "simplistic" expectation that the marking system should be "perfect".
Don't start condescending to us lady, you demand the kids get the right answers so we expect the examiners to do so too. Not "perfect" but as near as humanly possible to perfect; these exams are hugely important and let me put it simply, it's your bloody job to do it right. If you set the bar low and excuse your staff making cockups before you start then you aren't the person for the job.
May 15, 2008
Poisonous Hazel Blears
Community cohesion? You know it makes sense. Once your local community starts to get the slightest bit incoherent you're on the slippery slopes - riots, meltdown of national institutions then global revolution are only a few short steps away.
Fortunately, here in the UK we have the Department of Communities & Local Government and its useful document, Guidance for local authorities on community cohesion contingency planning and tension monitoring, to save us from ourselves. The document, described by the estimable Spyblog as "poisonous", tells how local government bodies should plan their response to growing signs of non-cohesion, and urges them to set up 'multi-agency tension monitoring groups' to spot incoming incoherence.
Which is where it gets weird. The three national indicators for cohesion, we are told, are the percentage of people who believe people from different backgrounds get on well together in their local areas; the percentage of people who feel they belong to their neighbourhood; and the percentage of people who have meaningful interactions with people from different backgrounds.
So, if you regard your house as just somewhere you live rather part of a 'community', if you hardly ever speak to your neighbours and if you're doubtful if they get on with one another either, you're at least symptomatic of The Problem, and you might even be part of it. And there you were thinking that this kind of stand-offishness was the sort of thing that made you properly British.
Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has plans for people like you.
Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames has been banned from driving for two months after pleading guilty to driving a quad bike on a road with no insurance.
The case resulted from an incident on New Year's Day near Mr Soames' Slaugham home when he was filmed by anti-hunt monitor Simon Wild...
Appearing at Crawley Magistrates Court today, he was fined £200 and asked to make a £15 victim impact payment and to pay £35 costs.
£15 for victim impact? I've watched the video and can't spot the victim, all I can hear is a whining little shit commentator presumably the professional bunny hugger Simon Wild himself.
Cattle trading allegations "scurrilous, inappropriate and wholly untrue"
A 130-year-old farmers' market, which has been at its current site since 1878, could be forced to shut down because its early morning delivery of cattle is too noisy.
A witness for the 130-year-old mart said the notice, which restricts animal deliveries and collections between 7am and 9pm, would have a catastrophic effect on business.
He said the move was part of a council plan to force the mart to leave the town centre site.
But lawyers acting for the council dismissed the allegation as "scurrilous, inappropriate and wholly untrue", and said the council was carrying out its statutory duty after an investigation into noise nuisance following repeated complaints.
The mart is appealing against the notice, issued in January under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which said the noise came from vehicles, shouting, gates banging and animals being unloaded.
Mart officials say unloading must be done early in the morning to allow for time to process animals being sold and taken to slaughter the same day.
The court heard from Arthur Corner, a director at the mart since 1984, who... said: "The council have a lot to gain by getting rid of the mart. It is a very valuable site."
Mart director and auctioneer Stephen Aitken also took the stand and accused the council of backing the mart into a corner over plans to move the auction market out of town.
He said at a meeting with two council officers - which he claimed was off-the-record at their insistence - they had said plans to relocate the mart on land at Humbleton Farm, off the A68, were not feasible.
He said one of the officers had asked for the meeting to be at the mart rather than the council offices, which was unusual, and for no one else from the mart to be present.
He said the officers suggested the mart relocate to land at Faverdale, which the council owned, in exchange for the land ....
As a simpleton I would make the suggestion that as the market and its practices pre-date the residents they ought to just put up with it, but then what do I know of local politics....
The Crown Prosecution Service and West Midlands Police will apologise in the High Court today for wrongly accusing a Channel 4 film of faking an exposé of Islamic extremism.
The producers of Undercover Mosque, a Dispatches investigation that showed preachers predicting jihad and calling for the murder of non-believers, have also accepted a six-figure libel settlement....
Abu Usamah, a preacher at the Green Lane mosque in Birmingham, was filmed saying: “If I were to call homosexuals perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered, that is my freedom of speech isn't it?”
However, instead of pursuing a prosecution of the preachers, police and the CPS began an investigation into the producers, accusing them of selective editing and distortion. The film-makers were accused of undermining community relations. ...
Undermining the cosy myths of the politically correct more likely, the sweeping under the carpet attitude to the hate filled beliefs.
Tesco - tossers
A father who tried to buy six beers from a branch of Tesco was told that he could not be served because he had his teenage daughter with him.
A cashier told Dominic Zenden, 45, that he could not leave with the Budweiser bottles in case he gave any to his 15-year-old daughter, Devon....Mr Zenden said that the alcohol was for his own consumption and he would not give any to the teenager but the cashier refused to back down and he left empty-handed...
A Tesco spokesman said that staff were entitled to ask for proof of age from anyone present when alcohol was being purchased if it was suspected that they might consume it. ..
“I can understand the frustrations of the customer but I think that any reasonable parent would understand the problem and support our policy.”
No I bloody wouldn't, I would have told the prodnose that of course I was going to offer my daughter a drink at home on that lovely warm evening. There is nothing illegal in doing so, and introducing teenagers to drink in that way is a sensible and responsible action of a parent. But whatever I want to do with the beer after I have bought it is no bloody business of Tesco. If Tesco want to not sell cans of cooking lager to an 18 year old, who is with his gang of younger mates, that probably improves the local environs; but when Tesco introduce thick as shit rules for their thick as shit cashiers in the hope they will show judgement, then Tesco shows it is as thick as shit.
That Old Queen's Speech...
BATTERED and bruised by the 10p tax-band battle, woeful poll ratings and questions about his personality, Gordon Brown gave no obvious sign of pleasure as he rose to tell the Commons about the government's plans for the future.
Here was the opportunity, in his draft Queen's Speech, to give people a compelling reason to re-elect a Labour government that looks increasingly past its sell-by date.....
IT WAS meant to provide focus to a directionless government and a compelling argument for a fourth term of power.
But the draft Queen's speech delivered yesterday by Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, merely seemed to reinforce the perception that his administration has run out of ideas.
First came the insistence that, at a time of rising food and fuel bills, the tight finances of British families were the government's primary concern.
But there was nothing inside the 84-page "draft legislative programme" to reflect the concerns of the Bank of England governor that the UK economy was heading for recession.
To be fair, the previous day had been dominated by the repair job on the 10p tax fiasco and the handing of £120 to most UK taxpayers.
Yesterday's document was to be all about the "vision thing", but close reading revealed it to be a familiar New Labour rehash – nine of the 18 Bills had been published already, or were due for imminent release.
The idea of buying up unoccupied new houses was novel – but only £200 million is to be allocated. Based on the average UK house price, this may buy fewer than 1,000 properties.
Other bills appeared little more than padding. One referred to the United Nations adopting a red crystal symbol. Another required airports to draw up security plans – as if they have not already done so. So much for regaining the agenda.
May 14, 2008
Borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
Gordon Brown pays £2.7 billion to end 10p tax crisis - Times Online...
a desperate move to end the row over the abolition of the 10p rate that has brought Labour to its knees and left Gordon Brown fighting to survive.
Excuse me if I don't join in the general jubilation that accompanied this news, I'm sure I heard someone on ITN claiming it meant there will be no losers. And I hate to quibble with the headline writer but it isn't fricking Gordon who is paying it.
Now £120 in my pocket will be very welcome, but I could have got that by running up my credit card bill. But do you know what, I chose not to do that for one very good reason. A reason that the Times has uncovered after consulting some highly paid analysts:
Analysts pointed out that the further increase in borrowing would have to be paid for eventually by higher taxes or cuts in spending.
It's got to be paid back, with interest.
Combine that with Northern Crock and the other desperate bribes labour is handing out from our money and for how long will be paying for this discredited rump of a party?
From Shakespeare's Hamlet, 1603:
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
If music be...
Scottish scientists have proved that the type of music we listen to while drinking wine influences the way we perceive its taste....
If the music was loud and dense – such as Carmina Burana, the thrusting cantata composed by Carl Orff – so the chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon used in the test were deemed more powerful and heavy.
If the soundtrack was of a more sedate, classical nature – such as Waltz of the Flowers from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker – the wine was regarded as subtle and refined.
Similar results were found in tests conducted with music considered "zingy and refreshing" – Just Can't Get Enough by Nouvelle Vague – and "mellow and soft" – Michael Brook's Slow Breakdown.
Though the songs chosen for the study were deliberately obscure – so as to minimise the likelihood that students already drew some previous association with the tracks – Mr Montes has selected music he considers the ideal accompaniment to certain wines. What his list lacks in scientific rigour it makes up for in taste; merlot, he suggests, is best consumed while listening to Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay by Otis Redding, while Jimi Hendrix's blazing cover of All Along The Watchtower is considered the perfect soundtrack to a glass of cabernet sauvignon.
Time for some scientific research this evening with a corkscrew and youtube...
The Lady is for turning
WENDY Alexander's position as leader of the Scottish Labour Party was last night described as "impossible and untenable" after she was forced into yet another U-turn by her fellow MSPs.
Well at least she will know how Gordon feels know....
Get your filthy lawyer fingers off my blog
A voluntary code of conduct for bloggers and internet commentators is supported by almost half of all internet users, a survey has claimed.
The researchers said 46 per cent of web users believe bloggers should agree to a set of guidelines which reflected the laws on defamation, intellectual property rights and incitement.
Four per cent strongly opposed the suggestion and 15 per cent had no opinion.
Put me down as one of the four per cent - I set the rules for this blog, it is my private property I will do as I like.
Telegraph online - Naughty sub editors...
Juxtapose - tr.v. -To place side by side, especially for comparison or contrast.
May 13, 2008
Envirocrime - it's tough on the streets.
A MAN accused of dropping an apple core in the street hit out at police last night after being held in a cell for 18 hours.
Plumber Keith Hirst, 54, who has a heart condition, was locked up after he refused to accept a £50 on-the-spot fine from a police community support officer.
“The way I was treated you would have thought I had robbed a bank,” he said. Mr Hirst was arrested after he refused to give his name and address. He was then taken to a police station, where he had his DNA and fingerprints taken.
Police were given the power to take DNA samples from suspects in 2003. But the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, made clear at the time that the power should be used only for serious offences.
Mr Hirst was held during a lunchtime trip to shops in Swinton, Greater Manchester. He was approached by the cycle-riding support officer, who he said was wearing a fluorescent jacket, big sunglasses and a baseball cap and carrying a wad of tickets and a pen.
Mr Hirst, who has had heart surgery and is unable to work, told the officer he was not responsible for dropping the apple core and went into a chemist to buy medication for his disabled wife.
He then claims he emerged to discover five uniformed officers had arrived to arrest him.
He was held at Swinton police station and taken to court the next day handcuffed to a security guard. He appeared before Salford magistrates charged with dropping litter and obstructing a police officer.
He denied both charges, and the obstruction charge has since been dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service. The litter charge is scheduled to go to trial before a district judge in July.
Senior officers yesterday defended the police action and said : “We obviously do not want to arrest people for dropping litter. This man had a terrible attitude and left us with no choice because he refused to give his details.”
Superintendent Ian Palmer, of Greater Manchester police, said: "We work closely with the city council and other partners and take a firm stance against all environmental crime."
"Environmental Crime" - so that makes it all acceptable; Noddy Cops in their silly clothes, banging up and DNA extraction, nothing is too much in the fight against environmental crime.
I hesitate to mention this in case it gives them ideas but how far off can it be before Environmental Thought Crime is on the books? Look at how racism has been fought, it used to just be illegal to hit a black man, then it was a crime to incite violence, then just to be unpleasant and now just to harbour inner thoughts. Surely the environment deserves the same protection.....
The Green Tithe
SCOTLAND is on the brink of a green jobs revolution with 50,000 posts expected to be created in the next decade, careers experts claim.
Wind analysts, turbine technicians and heat-pump installers will all be needed to cope with the renewable energy rush, according to Careers Scotland, which has started a new campaign to raise awareness of the growing green industry.
They say the number of jobs in fields such as recycling, conservation and renewables is set to rocket in the next ten years. Already there are an estimated 80,000 jobs in the renewable fields that did not previously exist, with another 50,000 predicted over the next decade.
How many times does it need saying:
Creating Jobs is a Cost not a Benefit
LABOUR’S new green targets will cost every family in Britain more than £3,000, a Government dossier has warned.
Greenery as a religion, now they are tithing us!
(Tithe (from Old English teogothian, “tenth”), a custom dating back to Old Testament times and adopted by the Christian church whereby lay people contributed a 10th of their income for religious purposes, often under ecclesiastical or legal obligation. )
This morning's Brownian hyperventilation
FRANK Field, the leader of Labour's 10p tax rebels, came under fierce attack yesterday after claiming that Gordon Brown would be ditched as Prime Minister before the next general election.
Cherie Blair: enough to make you weep | Libby Purves - Times Online
Snipe, snarl, snigger: Lord Levy says Tony doesn't think Gordon can win, and insinuates that the Blairs were in it for money and fame (“Look at what they've done since he's stopped being Prime Minister and answer the question yourself”). Cherie says Levy “knows nothing” and that weird Gordon could win, provided genius Tony advises him. She also lets it be leaked that she toned down her criticisms of Mr Brown so that, whenever she does stick the knife in, we know to add 30 per cent. Meanwhile, John Prescott brags that he called Tony “a little shit” and urged him to sack Gordon,...And the memoirs must be served quick and hot, before poor Mr Brown implodes and everyone's baying for pictures of little Milibands.
Given the speed and nature of current events, there is a real danger that we in the press start to hyperventilate, declaring the Brown government doomed before breakfast every day. But the piece by Neal Lawson, the chair of Compass, in The Independent calling on Brown to return to the Treasury for the good of the movement does seem like a seismic moment.
May 12, 2008
Michael Stone planned to slit the throats of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness inside the Northern Ireland Assembly Chamber when he stormed it in November 2006.
For a moment there I thought I was reading a medal citation rather than the prosecution case against him, and in the interest of balance I note: "Stone has denied the charges, claiming his attack was "performance art". And I bet he didn't apply for an Arts Council grant....
BA 777 crash - don't know what caused it but it wasn't Gordon, really it wasn't...
Cold weather over Russia could explain a British Airways Boeing 777 crash landed at Heathrow in January, flight investigators have said.
In its latest report the Air Accidents Investigation Branch has focused on the “region of particularly cold air” between the Urals and Eastern Scandinavia.
It found that temperatures plummeted to -76C, far lower than would have been expected.
They have established that the fuel used on the aircraft was of high quality.
While the average freezing temperature of aviation fuel is -47C, tests on what was on this flight showed that it did not turn to ice until -57C.
Tests also found that the fuel temperature throughout the flight never dropped below -34C.
“There might have been an issue with viscosity – with the fuel becoming thicker and flowing less well,” said David Learmount, operations and safety editor at Flight International. “This report takes us absolutely nowhere, I think they still have no idea.”
Its experts have also discounted electromagnetic interference from jamming devices which were claimed to have been used to protect the Gordon Brown’s motorcade as he arrived at Heathrow.
So one plane, and one plane only, whose fuel didn't get very cold, crashes at Heathrow because it is a bit chilly in the Urals, yes of course, couldn't possibly be anything to do with flying too close to the one eyed Jonah... (click for more details)
The Duke, The Prince and The Paupers
The Duke of Edinburgh has publicly challenged the benefits of organic farming, one of the Prince of Wales's greatest passions.
In a television interview with Sir Trevor McDonald on a tour of the Queen's Sandringham estate, the Duke talks openly about conservation, animal welfare and soaring food prices.
"The food prices are going up – everyone thinks it's to do with not enough food, but it's really that demand is too great, too many people,'' he said.
The two-part documentary is to be screened on Monday at 9pm on ITV1. and concludes at the same time on Tuesday.
The old boy speaks a lot of sense, it's a pity we don't hear more of it.
Caring for the wounded
Despite assurances from ministers and hospital managers that the care for servicemen at Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, was now excellent, Capt Martin Hewitt said the "truth" about the continued poor care for troops had to be exposed as it was "unacceptable".
I think I tend to believe him rather than the ministers.....
Wendy Blames Gordon's Dithering
Allies of Alexander's are blunt. "Gordon can't make a decision and people have just got so fed up with it. This was just another decision he wasn't willing to make. She basically decided, well f*** you, I've got to do something,"
A sentiment that a lot of cabinet members were thinking this weekend.....
In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king
Lord Levy said the Cabinet was devoid of talent to take over from Mr Brown following his years of tension with Mr Blair.
"There is no one who I look at and say 'wow, they are really outstanding; wow, if they took over from Gordon Brown they could really make that big difference'. I don't see it. Others may but I don't see it."
I'm sure Diddy David Miliband is stamping his feet at that, but it is true the whole bunch of them are political pygmies. Too many years of the two top jobs being done by a pair of preening peacocks has not allowed any talent to flourish.
May 11, 2008
Take two tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate and what do you get?
A green and verdant field of wheat ready to feed the world!
And in other news Eeny, Meeny, Miny and Moe arrived today ready to be fattened up...
Looks like I'm going to be alright for the winter!
A Quite Interesting proposal for education
Think about that list of great men who barely went to school: Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, William Cobbett, John Stuart Mill, Bertrand Russell. Our most independent thinkers were more or less self-educated. You will also find that the best schools – for example, Eton and Westminster – have the shortest terms and do the least teaching, a paradox that would suggest we need less formal education all round.
In the QI edition of The Idler, Lloyd and Mitchinson present a five-point manifesto for educational reform.
“There would be no work, for a start,” said Lloyd. “It would all be play. Plato said that education should be a form of amusement. That way you will be much better able to discover the child’s natural bent.”
This approach is in direct contrast, of course, to the largely Gradgrindian approach common to most schools. As Mitchinson points out, it is actually a method of containment: “There’s that great line: you’re taught for the first five years of your life how to walk and talk; and for the next 10, you’re told to shut up and sit down.”
For Mitchinson, schools have turned into wage-slave production farms rather than places of learning....
You just knew it was coming: At the request of the Swiss government, an ethics panel has weighed in on the "dignity" of plants and opined that the arbitrary killing of flora is morally wrong. This is no hoax. The concept of what could be called "plant rights" is being seriously debated....
A "clear majority" of the panel adopted what it called a "biocentric" moral view, meaning that "living organisms should be considered morally for their own sake because they are alive." Thus, the panel determined that we cannot claim "absolute ownership" over plants and, moreover, that "individual plants have an inherent worth." This means that "we may not use them just as we please, even if the plant community is not in danger, or if our actions do not endanger the species, or if we are not acting arbitrarily."...
The [Swiss] committee has . . . come up with few concrete examples of what type of experiment might be considered an unacceptable insult to plant dignity. The committee does not consider that genetic engineering of plants automatically falls into this category, but its majority view holds that it would if the genetic modification caused plants to "lose their independence"--for example by interfering with their capacity to reproduce.
Beck's back bashing the AGW theory
PIK Climate Change Knowledge in a Nutshell; of the PIK Potsdam and its Contradiction
Dipl. Biol. Ernst-Georg Beck
Cameron - lackwit
I was going to comment on a speech by Cameron;
"I don’t want to leave the European Union and I'll tell you why. This is a trading nation..."
But Timmy has already shown how Cameron is making the classic mercantilist mistake. and for a stronger comment we have:
Thank heavens for Jeff Randall. In all the coverage of last week's devastating Government report on the collapse of our postal services, nowhere was there any mention of the key part played in the disaster by the EU - until Mr Randall broke media silence in Friday's Daily Telegraph.
Yet the report itself made no secret of the fact that the trouble has been our dutiful compliance with EU postal directives,... Other EU countries, as it says, have not been idiotic enough to comply.
But in another glaring instance of that familiar "elephant in the room" syndrome, the EU's part in this awful story was wholly ignored - until Mr Randall delivered his blast on Friday. Still one wonders how any journalist who had actually read the report - just 36 pages long - could have missed it.
Global Warming Causes Stronger Wine
GLOBAL warming may be the latest threat to the wine industry. Higher temperatures result in grapes containing more sugar and thus more alcohol...
And the problem is what?
ὕβρις and Gorgon's ατή
I told Tony Blair to sack Gordon Brown, says John Prescott but the former prime minister was “scared” of his chancellor.
Stephen Byers damns Gordon Brown as 'distant and uncaring' - Times Online and manipulating the tax system for “tactical advantage”.
The fact that you already have several holes in your head doesn't mean you want another one. Imagine being Gordon Brown this weekend. You are still reeling from disastrous local election results and the loss of London to Boris Johnson. You trail a record 26 points behind David Cameron in the polls. Rebellion surges through your party's ranks: in Westminster, over the abolition of the 10p tax rate; in Scotland, over the proposed referendum on independence.
Senior Labour figures say that there will be trouble - meaning a leadership challenge - if the party does not make serious progress by its conference in September. And then - what do you know? - up pops the unmistakable grin of your Scouse nemesis. Yes, Gordon: Cherie Blair is publishing her memoirs.
I lament my lack of knowledge of Greek and Shakespearean tragedies because I am sure an educated man would be able to recognise this morality tale of hubris...
Hubris (sometomes spelled hybris; Greek: ὕβρις) is a term meaning excessive pride, self-confidence or arrogance, often resulting in fatal retribution. In Ancient Greece, "hubris" referred to actions taken in order to shame and humiliate the victim, thereby making oneself seem superior. It was most evident when looking at those in charge and how they used hubris when making decisions in their justice system and personal lives. The word came about when describing people who considered themselves more important than the Greek gods themselves. Because of this origin, hubris was considered a crime in classical Athens. It was considered the greatest sin of the ancient Greek world. The act of hubris was considered so because it not only required self-confidence and pride, but it usually erupted into violent acts by or to those involved. The category of acts constituting hubris for the ancient Greeks apparently broadened from the original specific reference to molestation of a corpse, or a humiliation of a defeated foe, to molestation, or irreverent, "outrageous treatment", in general. The meaning was eventually further generalized in its modern English usage to apply to any outrageous act or exhibition of pride or disregard for basic moral laws. Such an act may be referred to as an "act of hubris", or the person committing the act may be said to be hubristic. Ate, Greek ατή for 'ruin, folly, delusion', is the action performed by the hero, usually because of his/her hubris, or great pride, that leads to his/her death or downfall.
He said: "It is something you love to hate. It's something to laugh at. It's something continental. It's a scam. It's ridiculous. The British like to distance themselves from it."
Yes, that sums up Europe for us - and Eurovision...
May 9, 2008
Friday Night is Music Night (Not an Ode to Billy Joe Edition)
Giving Blair an ASBO
One of Labour’s main policies to tackle yobbish disorder is facing a slow death after figures published yesterday showed a sharp drop in antisocial behaviour orders.
As they declined, the number of people breaching the terms of their orders rose to almost a half. Among juveniles the rate is 61 per cent and among adults it is 43 per cent, according to the Home Office figures. The overall breach rate is now 49 per cent.
ASBOs were a key initiative of Tony Blair to help to improve the lives of people affected by yobbish behaviour on estates and in town centres.
The Respect Task Force, which led the antisocial behaviour drive, was disbanded and the Respect Commissioner, Louise Casey, was given a new job as head of a Cabinet Office review of crime and communities.
All those announcements, all those initiatives, all that money - just so much flim-flam. Politicians have too much time on their hands and waste it, and everybody else's, with their never ending "calls for action". They should be getting down to the boring work of actually managing the out of control state institutions we already have, but that is too hard and doesn't make the evening news.
If you go down to the woods tonight.
A police force has admitted it is powerless to break up illegal raves - because it is too dark when they are in full swing.
Chief Supt Ellis told the meeting: "We will wait until daylight hours for reasons of health and safety before making interventions."
Scary going into the woods at night, can't do that; not with motorists to catch, we can do that as we munch donuts sitting in our nice warm cars....
Wendy - Gordon's Fletcher Christian
Losing his grip on Scotland - Scotsman.com News
THE rift between Gordon Brown and the Scottish Labour Party deepened last night, as Wendy Alexander openly defied his orders by pushing ahead with her plans for an independence vote.
The Prime Minister has long regarded Scotland as his personal power base, but he appeared to be losing his grip on Scottish Labour as Ms Alexander ploughed on with calls for the SNP to bring forward its referendum bill to next week.
Her move means Mr Brown no longer seems to have control over what happens north of the Border, leading Tory leader David Cameron to say: "He's lost his authority."
To this day, the reasons for the mutiny are a subject of considerable debate. Some believe that Bligh was a cruel tyrant whose abuse of the crew led members of the crew to feel that they had no choice but to take the ship from Bligh. Others believe that the crew, inexperienced and unused to the rigours of the sea and, after having been exposed to freedom and sexual excess on the island of Tahiti, refused to return to the "Jack Tars" existence of a seaman. They were "led" by a weak Fletcher Christian and were only too happy to be free from Bligh's acid tongue. They believe that the crew took the ship from Bligh so that they could return to a life of comfort and pleasure on Tahiti.
Wendy is busy positioning herself for a life after Brown, he's a done force especially in Scotland so it is no longer politic to be hiding under his coat tails now that the police have gone away. Expect to see more Brownies declaring their independence but carefully not challenging Brown. His one use now to the party is to lead the party into the next election and take the blame for the defeat.
Oh wad some power the giftie gie us To see oursel's as others see us!
"Of the two hundred-plus destinations across the world that Rough Guide covers, there is none so fascinating, beautiful and culturally diverse, yet as insular, self-important and irritating, as England," says the guide, which was written by four British travel writers....a "querulous, quarrelsome country"... all have views on issues such as politics, crime and immigration, but are also voracious consumers of "celebrity chit-chat".
The guide says: "As a glance at the tabloid newspapers will confirm, England is a nation of overweight, binge-drinking reality TV addicts.
"But it's also a country of animal-loving, tea-drinking, charity donors, where queuing remains a national pastime and bastions of civilisation, such as Radio 4, are jealously protected. It's a nation that prides itself on its patriotism – yet has a Scottish prime minister, an Italian football coach and a Greek royal consort.
"Ask any English person to comment on all of this and you'll get an entertaining range of views. Try to make sense of these, and the resulting picture might suggest something akin to a national identity crisis."
No more Frtizl
Ting! Godwin's Law - that's it finished, end of discussion.
May 8, 2008
Chris Parry, the new chief executive of the Independent Schools Council (ISC), said standards were "offensive" to parents who pay their taxes and forced hundreds of thousands to go private.
Speaking a week after taking up his post, Mr Parry also criticised the ideological opposition to fee-paying schools that was perpetuated by teachers in the state system.
The system is rotten to the core, it is beyond gentle reform with barrow loads of cash, it needs the pressure of real parental choice, it needs school vouchers.
Amazing Discovery! (For pre-internet times...)
..A recent discovery shows that the men of the 1800s were just as worried about looking good.
The Young Man's Own Book, published in London in 1832, was a must-have for those wanting to impress the girls and look their best.
The book warned against dressing in "absurd finery" and cautioned that some men "may paint or powder themselves so much and dress so finically to suppose they are women in boys' clothes".
As for the age-old art of wooing the opposite sex, the 300-page pocket-sized book covered everything from how to trim one's fingernails to how long to spend lazing in bed.
"A foul mouth and unclean hands are certain marks of vulgarity," it said.
Readers were also warned: "Beware of treating ladies as mere playthings."
The book will be auctioned this month after being found at a house in Burton upon Trent, Staffs.
No more beef in cattle class
British Airways has ditched beef for economy class passengers this summer in an attempt to appeal to a more international passenger base.
A spokesman for the airline told The Times: “We were looking for something with broad appeal. Research trends have shown us that fish pie is very popular in supermarkets so we decided to go with that and chicken and tarragon for the summer.
“We can only serve two options and beef and pork obviously have religious restrictions,” the spokesman added. BA's second-biggest long-haul market, after transatlantic routes, is to India.
But note that business and first class passengers will still be offered beef, why that is almost discriminatory....
Blame the Press
Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man who fathered seven children with his daughter while keeping her imprisoned in his cellar, has complained of receiving a bad press and not being given credit for keeping his dungeon family alive for more than two decades.
In other news:
Gordon Brown, the Scottish man who imposed many tax increases on his taxpayers while keeping them imprisoned in their country, has complained of receiving a bad press and not being given credit for keeping his dungeon economy alive for more than two decades.
Koala, the new poster bears of the greens
Global warming will threaten the survival of koalas by making the eucalyptus leaves on which they feed toxic, scientists warned on Wednesday.
Australia's most endearing marsupial is already under threat from a severe drought and loss of habitat as housing encroaches on woodland.
But higher temperatures and increased carbon dioxide could shut down their food supply, leaving them to starve to death.
New research shows that the level of toxicity in the leaves of eucalyptus saplings rises, and their nutrient content falls, when they are exposed to higher levels of carbon dioxide.
Just when I have stopped worrying about the Polar Bears, now it is cuddly Koalas....
Brown Figures, Majority say go, and doubting Prudence.
IF THINGS weren't bad enough for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, overnight they got a whole lot worse: more than half the nation — 55% to be exact — believe his resignation may be the only way that New Labour may survive.
With less than two years to go before a general election, Labour's vote — and Mr Brown's personal rating — is eerily similar to that recorded by Conservative prime minister John Major two years before he was trounced by Tony Blair.
The first major poll since the devastating council elections that catapulted Tory show pony Boris Johnson into London's City Hall has revealed not only a further drop in Labour's support but a record low in Mr Brown's personal ratings.
Taken for The Times, the survey of more than 1500 people also revealed that the number who trust Mr Brown and his Chancellor, Alistair Darling, most to deal with a faltering economy has fallen to 30%, down from 43% in March and 61% last September.
That last one is going to hurt - the myth of Gordon's prudence and ability in handling the economy has been the figleaf that Labour has used to cover his total unsuitability for the job, and the public has now seen past it, and not liked what it has seen.
May 7, 2008
David Davis - Complete Dope
If Jacquiiiii Smith had just said: "I was a dopehead, what more evidence do you need about the harm it does?" it would have been hard to argue with her, but her waffling about how she knows better than the experts as she twisted the figures gave the Tories a golden opportunity that David "Dave" Davis missed.
He was too busy wetting himself as he indulged in a bout of secretive banstubation as his long held fantasies about the dangers of dope and the power to punish users came back.
What he should have done is ask, what is the frigging point of Gordon putting everything out to review?; the where to do bears shit review, the religion of the Pope review, the does Dolly Parton sleep on her back review, if the government is going to ignore the scientific advice it gets. It was a great opportunity to remind us of the pathetic power mad control freak who is too scared to actually make decisions so he hides behind reviews but only listens to them if they confirm his closed little mindset.
Advice to Directors
Gordon Brown risks a corporate exodus because of the high tax regime in Britain, a leading business organisation has warned.
Martin Temple, the chairman of the manufacturers group EEF, told the Financial Times: "There is a point whereby if you lose confidence in the system and it starts to become expensive, you start thinking about this [and] it becomes a boardroom agenda item ... We are absolutely on the edge of that."
Mr Temple added: “We are getting examples now of quite small companies that are moving to Ireland. I wouldn't say it's a major trend yet, but if we don't watch it, we'll get this (exodus). It is very dangerous territory.”
Last week the Treasury moved to try and head off concerns by launching a review into the tax system in the UK, but that may be too little too late, according to Mr Temple.
He said: “The question is will it be effective but fast enough to stop the thought processes that, frankly, started just after the pre Budget report?”
Companies Act 2006 - Even with the new wishy washy "enlightened shareholder value"clause Directors still have a duty to maximise success of the company by exercising independent judgment with skill, care and diligence otherwise they can be personally be liable.
Now if they are not aware that there are tax advantages available by shifting the boardroom and they don't consider them then they are in breech. Of course some directors may conclude continuing to based at the office is better than a monthly couple of days away in Dublin, but they must decide that at a board meeting. And if it annoys the rapacious bastards in charge here, good.
Slowdown in the HIP market
...the Department of Communities and Local Government – faced with estate agents closing at a rate of 150 a week – has got cold feet once again. It now intends to delay the final roll-out until the end of the year.
Hopefully by then the whole idea can be blamed as one of ex-premier Brown's weirder ideas that will be dropped by the new look Labour party preparing for an election.
Do your bit for Greenland - drive your 4x4 around.
...when Greenland makes the final break it will rank as one of the most politically incorrect states in the international community.
Whalemeat figures large in its traditional cooking and its hunters enthusiastically track down some of the cuddliest animals on the planet, including polar bears, seals and walruses. Even the seats of the lounge at Nuuk airport are covered in seal skin.
As for global warming, Greenlanders cannot get enough of it. “Climate change will be very beneficial to society there,” Jesper Madsen, of the DMU environmental research institute in Roskilde, in mainland Denmark, said. “It will improve fishing and above all make it easier to drill for oil and gas. The US geological survey calculates that the greatest unused oil reserves on Earth are in the Greenland waters – and they are in the east, where the ice is melting fastest.”
Sounds great, of course, it depends on it actually warming which seems to have stalled for the last ten years...
Big Brother's Utter Fiasco
BRITAIN'S network of CCTV cameras has been branded "an utter fiasco" for failing to cut crime, despite billions of pounds being spent on it.
Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville, who is in charge of closed-circuit television for the Metropolitan Police Force, claimed only 3 per cent of the capital's street robberies are solved using security camera footage and criminals are not afraid of being caught on film.
The UK has the highest level of camera surveillance in the world, according to civil liberty groups and security experts, with an estimated 4.2 million CCTV cameras on buildings, shops, roads and stations.
Are they about catching the criminals or criminalizing the majority, cowing the populace in a surveillance society? It is a bit like the 42 day detention, the police don't want it but the politicians do, it is all about control, not about problem solving. That's why i don't expect to see the cameras disappear any time soon.
A Chance to Vote Gordon Out
When Gordon Brown took over from Tony Blair last year, for the first time in a 150 year history, Madame Tussauds took the decision not to immediately create a figure of the current Prime Minister.
Instead we chose to wait for a General Election to confirm Gordon Brown’s status. Ten months later there is still no sign that Mr Brown intends to go to the polls – so Madame Tussauds is holding its own election to let YOU decide the question: Gordon Brown – in or out?
May 6, 2008
The Pussification of the English Male
Does Britain need more manly men? - Telegraph
“Manly men… have been hunted to extinction in the British Isles,” claims Mr Oliver, who regrets the decline of the “stiff upper lip” among today’s boys.
He has written a book , Amazing Tales for Making Men Out of Boys, which revives historic acts of bravery from the Battle of Thermopylae to Robert F Scott's expedition to the South Pole.
Wee Dougie's Sister Upsets Gordon's Applecart
Wendy Alexander, the Scottish Labour leader, announced her backing for a "Yes or No" vote on independence.
The U-turn was a further blow to the authority of the embattled Prime Minister who was not informed of Ms Alexander's announcement.
It also caused ruptures in Labour north and south of the Border with Westminster sources aghast at her move.
One Labour MP asked if Ms Alexander "was off her head", adding: "What is she thinking?"
Trying to lance the boil of the "neverendum" as has happened in Quebec in Canada. There, constant failures for the region to vote for independence have led independence parties to keep bringing the question back, and with Gordon's clunking fist relaxed for a moment she was able to slip out from under it and blather as she wanted toinstead of having to mouth his "British" platitudes.
Our Green and Pleasant Land
The population of England will increase by a third over the next 50 years as it becomes the most crowded major nation in Europe, official forecasts suggest.
England's population is now 50 million, but by 2056 it will be 68 million – or 1,349 for every square mile. At present there are 1,010 per square mile. The population density in England is almost double the level in Germany.
In London, the population density will jump from 12,377 people per square mile to 13,910 over 20 years.
The total area of England is 130,410 sq km (50,352 sq mi). This total is approximately the size of the state of North Carolina.
Two people per acre! Quite a stocking density, whatever will become of our gardens? Especially bearing in mind the dictum laid down by one of the Rothschilds - "However small your garden is, one should have at least quarter of an acre of native woodland in it"
That's the view out back, with the beech trees just coming out it is magical on a bright spring morning such as this.
May 5, 2008
Eurocrats and theocrats want our abasement
The Gods Squad, various clerics, imams, vicars, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, Grand Muftis (is there a collective noun for them?) and rabbis, all trooped into the European Commission’s Berlaymont HQ on Monday to fight the good fight against us “greedy” consumers and our nasty CO2 emissions.
It is perhaps fitting that an out of touch, unpopular and referendum-phobic EU should look for divine help. After all both the eurocrats and theocrats have plenty in common. Both are a pretty preachy bunch and like nothing more than to lay on the guilt trips. Most importantly, both derive their authority from a higher source than the public.
Climate change has become the new orthodoxy for our times.
Truly it is a religion, be afraid, very afraid.
Nenana - don't bet on it.
It is that time of year again when we look at the Nenana Ice Classic The Tanana River is still frozen from bank to bank with no open water showing. The Tripod is still standing firmly in place.
The date the ice breaks makes lucky betters a lot of money and global warming watchers all excited whether it is earlier or later than whenever...
One point I hadn't realized before is that the frozen river is down stream of Fairbanks, Alaska's second largest city, with an urban population of 51,926. So it isn't a crystal clear wilderness stream but one that is subject to urban influences. I have no idea how they keep the streets of Fairbanks ice free but any run off from that would be one small factor for instance...
It has been an article of faith amongst pundits commenting on the "global food crisis" that one of the factors contributing to the food shortage has been growing prosperity in developing nations, particularly in China and India. There, it is held, that the move from vegetable to meat diets has had a significant effect on supplies, as grain is fed to more "inefficient" animals.
Not so says the Indian Business Standard citing recent FAO figures...the Indian market is projected to have grown 2.17 percent from 193.1 million tons in 2006-07 to 197.3 million in 2007-08, while that in China has risen a mere 1.8 percent from 382.2 million tons to 389.1 million.
Thus, it transpires, the real villain of the piece, it seems – according to FAO data – is unequivocally the United States. In the same period, its consumption of cereals has been projected to have grown 11.81 percent from 277.6 million tons to 310.4 million.... To the surprise of very few, a large part of this spike is directly the result of biofuel made from corn, with the US having used 30 million tons of corn for that purpose.
Meanwhile down here on the farm...
the wheat field is barely up the dog's nose:
but if we cut the plants open:
there it is:
The ear of wheat, already formed, ready to fill out and feed us. And maybe this year, for the first time for many years we are realising how important that little scrap of green is.
How not to sell books
The booksfromscotland.com site was launched in December 2005 with £100,000 from the Scottish Arts Council. It was billed as a "one-stop shop" for Scottish writing.
And this week its owner, Publishing Scotland, saw its SAC annual grant increased from about £200,000 to £260,000 for "further development" of the site.
But The Scotsman has learned that despite its reported target to sell 15,000 books annually, the site has sold books at only a fifth of that rate.
£260,000 to sell 3,000 books? Marketing costs of £87 per book? And this is only for the website! Haven't they heard of Amazon north of the border - or even Borders north of the border? A cynic might suggest that this shows the difference between private enterprise and suckling on the public teat.
Hate the world competetiton
I've come up with a poll asking which jobs, or rather work sectors, are the least earth-friendly.
For a glimpse under the hood of the crazed green mind may I recommend the comments to this, such as:
People who work in pharmacology laboratories experimenting on animals and claim that it is for the good of human health. Adverse reactions to drugs are the 4th biggest human killer in the Western world and probably the second biggest murderer of animal life.
The industry encourages the consumption of animal produce which is the sector releasing the most green house gases. Do your bit and go vegan.
Pharmaceutical companies have ruined the balance between humans and our environment, what makes humans sick also poisons the planet, but with the help of animal tested drugs we can continue to rape and murder every life form without feeling the effects on humanity. For those who get depressed with society, there's always a magic pill to ensure you stop caring and keep working.
Human medication goes through us and pollutes the waterways, changing the gender of aquatic life and poisoning the seas.
Pharmaceutical companies prevent the worlds poorest from accessing medication which would reduce suffering, preferring to focus their attention on animal research into medications to help people suffering from diseases of affluence and laziness. ...
Nemo tenetur seipsum accusare
HUSBANDS and wives will no longer be able to refuse to give evidence against each other in court, under a planned change to the law announced by Kenny MacAskill.
The justice secretary said he intends to repeal the legislation on so-called "spousal compellability" in a move that is intended to address fears that couples are exploiting the legal loophole to avoid jail sentences....
A quick glance and it seems like an outmoded loophole needing to be changed. The reason they are not allowed to give evidence for, or against, each other is: "partly because it is impossible their testimony should be indifferent, but principally because of the union of person; and therefore, if they were admitted to be witness for each other, they would contradict one maxim of law, "nemo in propria causa testis esse debet"; and if against each other, they would contradict another maxim, "nemo tenetur seipsum accusare." No one should be forced to give evidence against themselves." Of course we have lost that right now, having to hand over encryption keys, names of drivers etc. And as we see a further assault on this ancient protection yet again it is worth looking across the pond to the last great hope of freedom.
"The maxim nemo tenetur seipsum accusare had its origin in a protest against the inquisitorial and manifestly unjust methods of interrogating accused persons, which [have] long obtained in the continental system, and, until the expulsion of the Stuarts from the British throne in 1688 and the erection of additional barriers for the protection of the people against the exercise of arbitrary power, [were] not uncommon even in England. While the admissions or confessions of the prisoner, when voluntarily and freely made, have always ranked high in the scale of incriminating evidence, if an accused person be asked to explain his apparent connection with a crime under investigation, the ease with which the [384 U.S. 443] questions put to him may assume an inquisitorial character, the temptation to press the witness unduly, to browbeat him if he be timid or reluctant, to push him into a corner, and to entrap him into fatal contradictions, which is so painfully evident in many of the earlier state trials, notably in those of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton and Udal, the Puritan minister, made the system so odious as to give rise to a demand for its total abolition. The change in the English criminal procedure in that particular seems to be founded upon no statute and no judicial opinion, but upon a general and silent acquiescence of the courts in a popular demand. But, however adopted, it has become firmly embedded in English as well as in American jurisprudence. So deeply did the iniquities of the ancient system impress themselves upon the minds of the American colonists that the States, with one accord, made a denial of the right to question an accused person a part of their fundamental law, so that a maxim, which in England was a mere rule of evidence, became clothed in this country with the impregnability of a constitutional enactment." Brown v. Walker, 161 U.S. 591, 596-597 (1896)
So the wheel turns and we return to the "inquisitorial and manifestly unjust methods of interrogating accused persons, which [have] long obtained in the continental system..."
May 4, 2008
What Gordon Sees When He Closes His Eyes
CABINET ministers are privately plotting to replace Gordon Brown as Labour leader, according to a senior Labour MP who has slammed the troubled Premier as a "moody, disloyal personality..It's his personality and his policies, which have been a bit bizarre over the last eight to nine months."
I'm down with man flu so I will leave you with this picture of Max the Boar helping me mend his water trough yesterday.
And to remind you that tomorrow there is an:
Open Wood Fire Hog Roast
King’s Arms, All Cannings - 5th May 2008
Free Range Hog roast in a bun, apple sauce and crackling
Mr Angus Beef cooked Argentinean style (£3.50 supplement)
Ensalada de espinacas con nueces
Papas a la pobre
Arroz con leche
£12.95 per person (With dessert £14.95 per person)
Bookings taken on 01380 860 328 or turn up from midday. Food finishes at 4pm
(I haven't told Max yet, but don't worry he can carry on smiling as he is quite safe, this year... )
May 3, 2008
The rise of anti-politic politics
Telegraph round up of over zealous officials
Disabled woman fined for permit slip-up
A traffic warden issued a £35 ticket to an 82-year-old sufferer of Parkinson's disease, who was asleep in a car, because her disabled parking badge was upside down.
Headmaster faces ban over fishing licence
Petite pensioner deemed a violent patient
Archbishop's aide charged over 20p mistake
One of the factors that contributed to Brown's disaster, and in Wales the collapse of the Labour vote and the Independents charging through the Valleys and seizing the reins is because there is an “anti-politician mood”. We are fed up of being ordered about. And Boris is a shrewd anti-politician politician. We don't want the Great Helmsman Brown "steering" us, we just want them all to just bugger off.
Not so much warming as cooking...
But how will we know whether the earth is warming or cooling? Today, it all depends on the data source.
Two authorities provide us with analysis of long-term surface temperature trends. Both agree on the global temperature trend until 1998, at which time a sharp divergence occurred. The UK Meteorological Office's Hadley Center for Climate Studies Had-Crut data shows worldwide temperatures declining since 1998. According to Hadley's data, the earth is not much warmer now than it was than it was in 1878 or 1941.
By contrast, NASA data shows worldwide temperatures increasing at a record pace - and nearly a full degree warmer than 1880.
Confusing? How can scientists who report measurements of the earth's temperature within one one-hundredth of a degree be unable to concur if the temperature is going up or down over a ten year period? Something appears to be inconsistent with the NASA data - but what is it?
One clue we can see is that NASA has been reworking recent temperatures upwards and older temperatures downwards - which creates a greater slope and the appearance of warming......
If you did this with company accounts or your income tax returns there is a word for it, and a place you go for doing it....
There is only one Boris Johnson...
"Let's get cracking tomorrow, but let's have a drink tonight".
Possibly the greatest quote in politics since "We'll fight on the beaches".
Done, as ordered.
May 2, 2008
Friday Night is Music Night (The performance of a lifetime edition)
Blair reacts to the election results.
Tony Blair's Statement (wav file)
Save the Game
For many fans and players the 'trial' of the ELVs next season is a betrayal of the game they hold dear. Some of the of more contentious changes have been dropped, but the new laws fundamentally change the game we have played and watched from childhood. The reason is TV money...
I propose that a mass demonstration to the ELV is staged on September 13th, 2008...
Why global warming is increasing but the temperature isn't explained and why we need to panic even more....
Oh, heck. I knew this would happen. Sometimes we journalists get into trouble by using words that ordinary people use to grab people's attention when scientists use those same words differently. Maybe we shouldn't, but how else do you communicate complicated but interesting facts?
What ordinary people understand by global warming is the world getting hotter - average temperatures rising. And, according to the initial results of one new computer model, published in Nature this week, average global temperatures do not look like rising, let alone breaking records again until after 2015....What scientists mean by global warming, though, is the sun's radiation being trapped near the Earth's surface by greenhouse gases. This has been going on for millions of years and is now happening at a faster rate thanks to rising emissions of fossil fuels. Clearly what scientists call global warming will continue through this decade....
What the scientists from the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences in Kiel, Germany, are simply saying is that for the next decade or so the cooling caused by natural variability will hold warmer temperatures in check...The IPCC had said that we would get 0.3ºC of warming this decade instead of nothing at all..
Where the sceptics, such as Lord Lawson, may feel this research bears out their views is that this paper does prove that the great consensus enshrined in the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is not always right. .. But is this a victory for Lord Lawson's view that we should ignore the worst predictions about climate change and get on with our lives? I think not.
The Met Office's Hadley Centre also modelled sea temperatures last year. .. Hadley concluded that there would be a lull lasting a decade but it said this could be followed by record warm years towards the end of the next decade.
In other words, the warming trend has not gone away and it looks likely that warmer temperatures will boomerang back.
All the same, the political task of negotiating a meaningful new climate treaty in Copenhagen next year now looks more difficult because it will not take place against a backdrop of droughts and soaring temperatures of the kind that got climate concern under way in 1988.
A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point. But man's resourcefulness goes beyond simply protecting a belief. Suppose an individual believes something with his whole heart; suppose further that he has a commitment to this belief, that he has taken irrevocable actions because of it; finally, suppose that he is presented with evidence, unequivocal and undeniable evidence, that his belief is wrong: what will happen? The individual will frequently emerge, not only unshaken, but even more convinced of the truth of his beliefs than ever before. Indeed, he may even show a new fervor about convincing and converting other people to his view.
--Leon Festinger, When Prophecy Fails, 1956
The bottom line is that recent lack of warming, coupled with likely phase shifts usually associated with cooling, have forced an admission that anthropogenic forcing has not completely taken over from natural variability...
So how much warming is estimated to have occurred since 1977? Going by HadCRUT3, perhaps +0.4 K.
Now, it isn’t all that radical to subtract one from the other to "remove natural variability" to find possible anthropogenic (and other) effect and we’re left with 0.1 K over 3 decades, part of which is acknowleged as solar, part due to black carbon, part from changing land use… when you spread 1/3rd of one degree per century over so many drivers there really isn’t much effect left for increasing greenhouse gas, is there?
Now you know why even complete cessation of human emissions of carbon dioxide can not hope to control global climate or planetary temperature.
Can we please start looking at real problems now?
In defence of Shallow Salesmen
A senior judge is to rule on whether a millionaire businessman should be allowed to seek court orders to force a referendum on the EU Reform Treaty (the Lisbon Treaty).
Stuart Wheeler, a major Conservative Party donor, claimed recently at London's High Court that he had "a legitimate expectation" that Gordon Brown would hold a vote....
Philip Sales QC, appearing for the Office of the Prime Minister, said Mr Wheeler's case was "not properly arguable".
He said Mr Brown and Foreign Secretary David Miliband denied that any representation had been made amounting to a promise that a referendum would be held.
No wonder Mr Brown tried to dismiss the Tory leader as "a shallow salesman"...How revealing of Mr Brown to treat the term "a shallow salesman" as an insult.
Mr Brown was brought up to regard salesmanship as a vulgar and commercial art to which serious people like himself should not be expected to stoop.
Even the shallowest of salesmen makes a contribution to keeping the wheels of commerce running, and paying for "the serious people" who wouldn't stoop to dirty their hands with real work. And even the shallowest of salesmen wouldn't stoop to the outright lies and deception of Brown and Miliband of the EU treaty. Salesmen should celebrate they are a class apart from that odious pair.
Collapse of Stout Party?
Gordon Brown heads on into the teeth of the gale. The ship plunges towards the surf where waves can be seen breaking on the rocks, the passengers huddle in terrified groups near the lifeboats, but on the bridge is the stubborn figure of Mr Brown.
David Cameron invited Mr Brown to change course yesterday by making "major concessions" on the plan to lock terrorist suspects up for 42 days without charge. But the Prime Minister, his jaw working furiously, replied in a grim tone: "We are going ahead."
.... But as things stand, the Prime Minister looks likely, as Mr Cameron pointed out, to be defeated by those MPs on his own side who will not stand for 42 days: "Another rebellion, another backdown, another U-turn, and the collapse of stout party."
And with the collapse of the Labour vote and Gordon Brown depending on Ken Livingstone to spare him from personal political humiliation, the panicking Labour backbenchers are sharpening their knives. Whether out of that bunch of obsequious cowards there will any brave enough to mount a coup only time will tell.
St Boris Day?
May 2 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Holidays and observances
May 1, 2008
Cool Words on Global Warming
The Reference Frame: Nature: AMO will stop warming until 2020
Their conclusion? The predictions for a foreseeable future change dramatically. The MOC will weaken to its long-term mean. The Atlantic Ocean, Europe, and America will cool down slightly in the next decade while the Pacific Ocean won't change. In plain English, the AGW hoax may take timeout till 2018.
Their choice of words is a testimony of the political correctness.....
And there might be many other such terms; note that no paper so far has even properly combined the effects of ENSO, PDO, and AMO. Scientists might be ultimately allowed to study these sinful, mostly irrelevant (!!!) terms but they are not allowed to touch the greatness of the holy anthropomorphic God of global warming who is and who must be forever above all of them. ;-)
I failed to join in last month's stat wars so let me get mine in first this time.....
Hockey Stick Lost in Central England
trevoole.co.uk Historic Central England Temperature. - more number crunching of the figures, but he can't find the hockey stick!
What he does find is large difference in how different months warm.
The winters aren't so cold and June hasn't warmed at all, so we aren't going to fry and we aren't going to die from freezing. Result all round!
No voting here today, but some of you have the chance to give Gordon a headache.
For Londoners, back Boris - the long boring video;
or for the short version.
What a man!
More Soixante-huitards please
They say that if you can remember the 1960s you weren't there, but everyone seems to remember 1968. At any rate, you will find plenty of decrepit old soixante-huitards gathering round this May Day, wheezing and arthritic, to recall the days of our hot youth. For some of my contemporaries, that year remains what the Spanish civil war was said to have been for an earlier generation, the emotional experience of their lifetime. Even for those of us who sat on the touchline watching the political turmoils of that summer with ironic detachment, 1968 is still a sharp memory, and there's no doubt that it had profound and lasting legacies....
Just as 1968 foreshadowed the political and economic victory of the right in the form of Margaret Thatcher (not to mention Tony Blair), Ronald Reagan and the implosion of Communism, it also foreshadowed the cultural - or emotional or sexual - victory of the left. The only serious legacy of the Wilson government may have been the libertarian reforms of the laws on homosexuality, divorce and abortion; and the dramatic changes in society since, for good or bad, really did stem from those times.
Sounds like success all round then, moving towards libertarian ideals both in politics and social mores - of course poor old Geoffrey who can only see in old left/right stereotypes is grumpy about it all.
Let's not squabble over money for the Olympics pleads Olympic fat cat.
LORD Sebastian Coe, the London 2012 chairman, yesterday said the organisers of the Commonwealth and Olympic Games should rise above squabbling over funding and work together to create a great sporting legacy.
"The argument over the money is a matter for the two governments to resolve," he said.
"But I don't think we would have this argument if it was a hospital or an art gallery. For some reason, people see sports as an added-on extra....
Strange that isn't it.
We are a group of academics writing in support of Brighton and Hove city council's decision to introduce a new system for schools admissions, which combines fixed catchment areas with a lottery for oversubscribed schools. Together with new government rules on admissions policies, this decision indicates a welcome shift towards an educational system based on equal opportunities for all, rather than the privileged few.
For anybody involved in the education system in contemporary Britain, the starting point has to be fairness. As academics, we all too often meet students who, for reasons of social deprivation and class prejudice, have not had the same opportunities as their peers.....
Steve Don, 43, threw himself under a train after telling his wife that if Brighton and Hove education authority would not listen to him while he was alive, “perhaps they will if I was dead”.
The inquest in Brighton heard that Mr Don, a surveyor, believed his inability to get his daughter into the chosen school made him an “unfit” parent. The school where she had originally been allocated a place was five miles from the family home in Brighton and two bus rides away.