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December 31, 2008

Lean and Hungry

Too much thinking 'can make you fat' - Telegraph

but the bard sayeth; "Yond' Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much : such men are dangerous."

I would tend to trust the Swan over modern researchers were it not obvious that the leading lights of our generation are the stick thin models and actors who though they are desperate to bray their opinions to an eager audience quite obviously are incapable of rubbing two thoughts together in their shrivelled craniums.

Posted by The Englishman at 11:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Biggest Ponzi Scheme Ever

Adults could be forced to take out private insurance to cover nursing home costs - Telegraph

Every adult could be forced to take out private insurance to cover the cost of their care in old age under plans being considered by the Government.

Excuse me, I think I have already paid. I'm sure my last payslip had a large deduction for NI which was sold to me as insurance for when I fell on hard times. So you want me to pay twice, I wonder why..

Posted by The Englishman at 11:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Après Blair le déluge

'Operation Credit Crunch' to round up every burglar in London - Telegraph

Sir Paul Stephenson, acting Commissioner, has ordered officers to pursue every outstanding warrant for known, wanted or suspected burglars. It has led to almost 600 arrests since mid-November.

Operation Spotlight has rounded up 593 suspects wanted on warrants for burglary in six weeks - at more than double the usual rate for that offence. Of those, 250 were charged with burglary and a further 200 face prosecution for other criminal offences.

In a further move to improve public confidence, Sir Paul ordered a police officer to be assigned to every reported burglary in the capital and a forensics team to visit the victim's home within four hours.

And why is this new, why wasn't this standard procedure, what did ex-boss Blair think was more important for the police to be doing than nabbing burglars and investigating crimes.....don't bother answering I think we all know....

Posted by The Englishman at 11:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

As a row of tents.

campcoffee1rp8.jpgcampcoffee2wj5.jpgcampcoffee3cg4.jpg

O tempora o mores!

Back from a bracing walk across frozen fields to a mug of Camp made with steaming hot milk and a large tot of Navy Rum in it. Sheer bliss. It must be the seaman in me....
Steady as she goes, Number One....

Posted by The Englishman at 3:58 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

And the forecast is chilly

WeatherAction

Media & Web Public Release 31 Dec 2008

Jan 2009: Serious winter weather for UK.
Cold with very cold and bitter spells. Major snow deluges and disruption. Some windy spells with local floods in parts. Milder end to month.

Long range forecast for World Temperatures 2009

Piers Corbyn, astrophysicist of WeatherAction long-range forecasters issued his forecast for World temperatures 2009 which directly contradicts the Met office & World Meteorological Organisation's forecasts and challenges the Met Office to a bet.
"Our researches show the recent general world cooling will continue and contrary to the claims of Global Warming and related models there will no significant El Nino or associated warming effects in 2009.
"The Met Office's recent forecast that the world in 2009 will be in the warmest 5 on record will fail, instead 2009 is
likely to be similar to or colder than 2008. All their recent climate forecasts have failed and this one will too. It is high time that politicians recognised reality so I challenge the Met Office to a bet that their forecast will fail and world temperatures 2009 will be cooler than the 'top 5'.
"It should be noted that the Met office prognoses of world temperatures have consistently failed and their long range forecasts only mislead the public and serve the political, business and taxation intentions of the
Global Warming and Climate Change Lobby.

More and H/t

Posted by The Englishman at 1:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

New Year's Eve Reflections

2008 - what a shitty year, the triumph of statism in the financial world, the unrelenting advance of the EU, the continued repression by the Carbonistas, Gordon Brown, The Messiah being elected in the US, St Tony and bloodshed in the Levant, troops in the hot sandy places for no sensible reason, Gordon Brown again, and David Cameron, the bloody Olympics, Boris being castrated so he could win, I can't think of a good word to say about the year except that we are still here in reasonable health and so are most of our friends.

Let's hope for a better 2009. Enjoy the rest of the year, and the extra second...

Posted by The Englishman at 7:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Next Year - 1984

Private firm to run communications super database - Telegraph

Plans for a private company to run a super database containing the identities and location of every person in Britain are being considered by the Government.

Under the new system, which will be outlined in the new year in a consultation paper on the interception modernisation programme, one or a number of organisations would proactively collect all communications data, including from broadband phone calls and chatrooms, instead of such information being retrieved at the behest of police or intelligence agencies.

The potential cost of such a database has been estimated to reach £12bn, but the consultation paper includes an option to put it out to private tender in a bid to cut costs.

They will be able to track my movements as I travel round the ropemakers of this isle buying up all the hempen lengths I can as I believe there will be a shortage soon.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:33 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Brown Declares Victory - Gongs All Round

Anger over knighthood given to Treasury chief, Nick Macpherson - Times Online
The Treasury’s top official, who was at the helm during the boom before the credit crunch, has been knighted for his role in dealing with Britain’s deepening financial crisis.

The move, as the pound plunged to a record low against the euro and after another slide in house prices, prompted protests that the honour was premature and self-congratulatory.

Critics said that Nick Macpherson, the Permanent Secretary at the Treasury and on an annual salary of £196,400, had been knighted while it was still too early to claim that the £500 billion banking bailout was a success. Sir Nick, 49, a close ally of the Prime Minister,...

There is also an award for Alastair Clark, a former Bank of England expert in financial stability, who was brought out of retirement to help with Northern Rock....

I note the Times Subs have placed this picture in the adjacent column, no comment needed:

Posted by The Englishman at 7:25 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Cor, What a Scorcher!

EU Referendum: We are supposed to take this seriously?

Next year in the UK is set to be one of the top-five warmest on record, according to the Met Office...Taking a quick reality break, courtesy of Steven Goddard over at Watts up with that?, we are reminded that the Met Office in April last year predicted that the 2008 summer would be "warmer than average" with "rainfall near or above average."...
Funny enough, all Met Office forecasts carry a health warning. We are told that, "Our long-range forecasts are proving useful to a range of people, such as emergency planners and the water industry, in order to help them plan ahead."

They are not, we are cautioned, "forecasts which can be used to plan a summer holiday or inform an outdoor event." But, it seems, they are good enough to predict global warming well into the next Century.

And we are supposed to take this seriously?

The global warming forecasters sound more and more like secondhand car dealers;" I know the wheels don't match, and yes the paint is scratched, and I'm sorry the seat is ripped and the inside smells a bit, but you just wait 'till you've got her out on the open road, Sir, lovely little car. Yes I know we had to jump start her, but that is only the once...."

One summer soon will be a scorcher and then it is game over for the deniers, if it isn't 2009 it may be 2010. It's what weather does. Thank goodness no one remembers 1975 or 1976 because if either of those summers happened now it would be compulsory carbon rationing under Czar Miliband for ever.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:20 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Global Warming Hoax

Global warming: Reasons why it might not actually exist - Telegraph

2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved, according to the Telegraph's Christopher Booker. Sceptics have long argued that there are other explanations for climate change other than man-made CO2 and here we look at some of the arguments put forward by those who believe that global warming is all a hoax....

A sign of the times that a newspaper is allowing a short understandable article on it but I don't like to call the global warming thesis a hoax. I think the vast majority of believers sincerely believe it, and that a lot of scientists who promote it are simply mistaken in the detail of what they think the science shows; that is the way with science. But they are not hoaxing us. But there are a handful of activists out there who don't care what the truth is, who hide behind the " consensus", to push their political agenda; they aren't hoaxing us with the data, they are simply evil liars.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:09 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 30, 2008

Why I'm a conservative

A surfeit of festive optimism combined with the kind offer of help from an expert encouraged me to try to update this blog. New content management engine, new version of movabletype, a helpful hand to guide me through. Many hours of fiddling and tweaking and bollocks. The new versions aren't as user friendly as the old. I'm sure they have lots of super new features but I don't need them, the old works pretty well and I know my way around it. I have lost too many hours to trying to understand the new, and my very helpful friend has put even more hours in. I feel ungrateful to him by turning all the new stuff off but it was either that or never blog again. So my New Year's resolution is as always; if it ain't broken don't fix it.
(And when this creaking old system finally turns up its toes well, that will be that.)

Posted by The Englishman at 7:09 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 29, 2008

Housekeeping

You may notice a very nice man is helping me update the old Castle which involves knocking a few walls about before replastering and applying fresh paint. It won't be finished for a few days. I've got a few Perdix perdix today that I need to wave a stick at so I am off out.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 28, 2008

Global Warming - We desperately need a good summer in 2009 to counteract it.

Climate change takes its toll on British countryside - Telegraph

Matthew Oates, the National Trust nature conservation adviser, said; "A cold late spring, a wet summer, with few sunny days, and the long dry autumn has shown how dependent our wildlife is on the weather," he said. "Many species closely associated with the four seasons are having to cope with higher incidents of poor weather as our climate becomes more unpredictable.

"After two very poor years in a row we desperately need a good summer in 2009. Climate change is not some future prediction of what might happen, it's happening now."

Dr Tim Sparks, a climate change specialist at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said Britain would experience warmer, drier summers and wet, mild winters...

So a dry autumn, cold spring, and wet summer are blamed on climate change which is predicted to produce wet, mild winters and warmer drier summers. No wonder I'm confused.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:00 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Do Nothing Tories Respond by Promising More Regulation

Conservatives plan to unveil tax cuts - Times Online
The Conservatives are poised to propose three new tax cuts to help recession-hit families, savers and pensioners in a bold attempt to shed their “do nothing” image.

Brown has brought Britain to the brink of bankruptcy - By David Cameron
So as we look to the future, it is not Labour's turbo‑capitalism we need, where a blind eye is turned to every corporate excess, nor the Left's unthinking anti-capitalism, but the modern Conservative Party, which believes in responsible capitalism and is not afraid to make it happen.

"Responsible Capitalism" I guess is the magic motto Dave found in his Christmas Cracker and is what he is going to beat us over the head with. How can you disagree with it, aren't you a capitalist, aren't you responsible? It actually means for all Georgie's talk of tax cuts and freedom to spend that they actually believe the man in Whitehall can regulate and direct what choices we can make when we want to buy and sell better than we can.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Swimming to the North Pole in 2009

Pen Hadow to measure retreating Arctic ice - Times Online

Pen Hadow, the explorer, is to embark on a 700-mile expedition to the North Pole to measure the thickness of the shrinking Arctic icecap.

The information will be used to refine computer models of the impact of climate change...

Hadow will set out in February from the Canadian side of the Arctic. The short days mean much of the trip will be undertaken in darkness in temperatures as low as -50C, while the break-up of the icecap means the team will have to put on immersion suits and swim. Hadow said: “Hitherto our skills and experience have been largely socially redundant, but now we have the chance to deploy them for the benefit of everyone.”

In February/ March there will be about 13 to 14 million square km of ice in the arctic, if you can't find it so you have to swim then you are worse than socially redundant. And if you think a a survey that will cover one millionth? of that area is of any use other than as a agitprop stunt then matron really should make you stick to the basket weaving.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:38 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

EU Tube (Money down the)

EU Tube The European Union’s answer to YouTube the internet video sharing phenomenon, has backfired, with audiences shunning many of the clips intended to promote pet subjects in Brussels.

Eighteen months on from the creation of EU Tube many of the videos posted on the website have attracted only a few dozen viewers.

An EU Tube video entitled Controlling the Use of Chemicals in Europe has been watched 56 times. Another film, Better Rights for Temporary Workers, has attracted 70.

EU Tube’s attempts to adopt street language have also misfired, with ventures such as a three-minute “euro-rap”, which urges young viewers “you gotta be a part of” a united Europe.

EU Tube is funded out of a €207m (£196m) communication budget from Brussels. So far the channel has attracted 7,391 subscribers.

And few of them seem to be supporters: One visitor, Opaz, writes: “It’s like Nazi Hitler Youth propaganda with aggressive music. Be a part of what? The destruction of our nations, homelands and security so that the rich can own and control us. Overlords of EU go to hell!”

Posted by The Englishman at 6:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 27, 2008

No wonder we love them so much

EU spends £2bn each year on 'vain PR exercises' - Telegraph

New research by Open Europe, a think-tank that supports EU reform, has found that so-called European "information" campaigns are one-sided and boast a budget that is bigger than Coca-Cola's total worldwide advertising account.

One publication, entitled How the European Union works, described the EU as "a remarkable success story".

Another English-language "information" pamphlet claimed the EU "is delivering a better life for everyone" and described the single market as "a winning formula."

The researchers also found a European Commission document that admitted: "Neutral factual information is needed of course, but it is not enough on its own. Genuine communication by the EU cannot be reduced to the mere provision of information."

Money well spent with children running through the streets spontaneously declaring their love for the EU and its leaders, with only a few miserable nay-sayers confined to their ghettos; all is rosy in Euroland....

Posted by The Englishman at 6:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Seeing Red

Marking in red ink banned in case it upsets schoolchildren - Telegraph
Head teacher Richard Sammonds said: "Red pen can be quite de-motivating for children.
"It has negative, old school connotations of 'See me' and 'Not good enough'.
"We are no longer producing clerks and bookkeepers. We are trying to provide an education for children coming into the workforce in the 21st century.
"We use highlighter pens in all colours of the rainbow apart from red.
"There are pinks, blues, greens and fluorescent yellows. The idea is to raise standards by taking a positive approach.
"We highlight bits that are really good in one colour and use a different colour to mark areas that could be improved."
Shirley Clarke, an associate of the Institute of Education, warned that children could soon realise that green is the new red.
She said: "In actual fact, the colour of ink used to mark is irrelevant. It would be equally damaging to keep covering a child's work in green ink, picking up on every mistake.

Don't upset them by pointing out where they are going wrong, pretend the whole world is warm and cuddly and as long as you try that's good enough. No wonder the kids like the X Factor where they can see judgement happening, where they can see a certainty that sticking to right and wrong, good and bad gives, which is missing from the wishy washy muddle of schooling.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:26 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Why State Robbery is The Liberal Position

Liberal Conspiracy » Why I am not a Libertarian
As an example, suppose that you, O Hypothetical Reader, have a pound - a whole shiny pound all to yourself. And I have nothing. Now, assuming you don’t want to just give me your money, that’s the most efficient distribution of the money possible.

But suppose that, while you don’t want to give me your money, you were forced to, and I invested the money and made ten pounds, of which I was forced to give you five. Instantly, we have *both* benefited, substantially, even though this is ‘less efficient’ in market terms.

Now, in this hypothetical situation, you would of course either just give me the money or invest it yourself. But in a real life situation involving billions of pounds in the pockets of millions of people, it can’t be guaranteed that the equivalent would happen.

Or suppose having robbed me of a pound you then spend it on Special Brew, Wind Farms or anything else equally wasteful, we then both have nothing, but you will expect me to go out and earn another pound so you can rob me again next week.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:18 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 26, 2008

Dick Face Andy Burnham And The New Administration Censorship Plans

Internet sites could be given 'cinema-style age ratings', Culture Secretary says - Telegraph
Andy Burnham says he believes that new standards of decency need to be applied to the web. He is planning to negotiate with Barack Obama’s incoming American administration to draw up new international rules for English language websites.


Mr Burnham said: “If you look back at the people who created the internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that Governments couldn’t reach. I think we are having to revisit that stuff seriously now. It’s true across the board in terms of content, harmful content, and copyright. Libel is [also] an emerging issue.

“There is content that should just not be available to be viewed. That is my view. Absolutely categorical. This is not a campaign against free speech, far from it; Mr Burnham admits that his plans may be interpreted by some as “heavy-handed” but says the new standards drive is “utterly crucial”. Mr Burnham also believes that the inauguration of Barack Obama, the President-Elect, presents an opportunity to implement the major changes necessary for the web.
“The change of administration is a big moment. We have got a real opportunity to make common cause.”

Posted by The Englishman at 10:45 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

An Englishmans Castle

There is a corner of a field of mine where there sits a bunker;

An%20Englishmans%20Castle.jpg

untroubled by Council Tax, with clear views to all sides and no neighbours. It may lack a few amenities but it is watertight and its thick concrete walls and roof would offer some protection from the elements.

It starts to look more and more attractive as 2009 approaches....

Posted by The Englishman at 7:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Nanny State

How did I survive without nanny's advice? | Hugo Rifkind - Times Online
Have you noticed how you don't really hear the phrase “nanny state” any more? It seems to have fallen out of fashion. This could be mainly due to a very deliberate shift in Tory cultural linguistics (Dave and Sam, of course, would only ever talk about au pairs) but I fear that there is something altogether more insidious going on. We don't talk about the nanny state because the nanny state has won. It has seeped in.
In years to come, I reckon, historians will look at the first decade of the new Labour government, and marvel at the extent to which petty legislation actually managed to change the national character. I doubt they meant it to happen. They just wanted to be responsible for everything. Basically, and to bring my degree in philosophy into play, they didn't think that we could be entrusted with duties. They had to turn them all into rights.

Once you stop resenting nanny, you start to rely on her. If nanny tells you to stop smoking in pubs, you probably stop smoking in pubs. But, in time, you also stop thinking about whether you ought to smoke in pubs or not. And worse, if somebody else lights up next to you, you expect nanny to do something about it. It's not your business or even really his. It's just nanny's business. You've both become morons.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cheer up - there are blue skies round the corner

Cheer up - there are blue skies round the corner | Paul Simons - Times Online

Winter is about to warm up and next year should bring an end to the dismal run of wet and windy summers in Britain... the Met Office is predicting that by February winter will have melted away, possibly heralding a bumper spring. ..By springtime La Niña should finally be dead and buried, paving the way for a much calmer and much improved summer.

The Gulf Stream has also perked up. As this warm ocean current races up the Atlantic from the Gulf of Mexico, it gives us the best winter fuel allowance in the world, the equivalent of a million power stations' worth of free heat each year.

For the past few years scientists have feared that it was running out of steam and was even in terminal decline. This nightmare prospect was chillingly illustrated in the sci-fi film The Day After Tomorrow - when the Gulf Stream suddenly stops working half the northern hemisphere freezes over.

But the Gulf Stream has recovered its poise, which means no frozen apocalypse. Or at least the nightmare is delayed for the time being.

For the past year the Sun has been unnervingly spotless, its quietest sunspot episode for more than 50 years. But it has now woken up again and a new sunspot cycle spluttered into life. Some believe that this upsurge in solar activity will herald warmer and possibly drier weather.

And not a mention of Global Warming!

Posted by The Englishman at 7:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 25, 2008

The Queen's Speech

Posted by The Englishman at 4:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Happy Christmas

Now that's one you've not seen before....

Posted by The Englishman at 6:11 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 24, 2008

Brussels Sprouts and Pine Cones Make Christmas Interesting

Science News / The Mathematical Lives Of Plants

The seeds of a sunflower, the spines of a cactus, and the bracts of a pine cone all grow in whirling spiral patterns. Remarkable for their complexity and beauty, they also show consistent mathematical patterns that scientists have been striving to understand.

A surprising number of plants have spiral patterns in which each leaf, seed, or other structure follows the next at a particular angle called the golden angle. The golden angle is about 137.5. Two radii of a circle C form the golden angle if they divide the circle into two areas A and B so that A/B = B/C.

The golden angle is closely related to the golden ratio, which the ancient Greeks studied extensively and some have believed to have divine, aesthetic or mystical properties.

Plants with spiral patterns related to the golden angle also display another curious mathematical property. The seeds of a flower head form interlocking spirals in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions. The number of clockwise spirals differs from the number of counterclockwise spirals, and these two numbers are called the plant's parastichy numbers (pronounced pi-RAS-tik-ee or PEHR-us-tik-ee).

These numbers have a remarkable consistency. They are almost always two consecutive Fibonacci numbers, which are another one of nature's mathematical favorites. The Fibonacci numbers form the sequence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 . . . , in which each number is the sum of the previous two.

The Fibonacci numbers tend to crop up wherever the golden ratio appears, because the ratio between two consecutive Fibonacci numbers happens to be close to the golden ratio. The larger the two Fibonacci numbers, the closer their ratio to the golden ratio. But this relationship doesn't fully explain why parastichy numbers end up being consecutive Fibonacci numbers.
Scientists have puzzled over this pattern of plant growth for hundreds of years....

As you struggle to engage in the tedium of Christmas behold the sprout stalk or the festive pine cones and observe and wonder, let others debate Tom, Rachel and Lisa, let your mind be on higher things.

Posted by The Englishman at 8:00 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Put a tiger in your tank

Fill 'Er Up With Human Fat - Forbes.com

Liposuctioning unwanted blubber out of pampered Los Angelenos may not seem like a dream job, but it has its perks. Free fuel is one of them.

For a time, Beverly Hills doctor Craig Alan Bittner turned the fat he removed from patients into biodiesel that fueled his Ford SUV and his girlfriend's Lincoln Navigator.
Love handles can power a car? Frighteningly, yes. Fat--whether animal or vegetable--contains triglycerides that can be extracted and turned into diesel. Poultry companies such as Tyson are looking into powering their trucks on chicken schmaltz, and biofuel start-ups such as Nova Biosource are mixing beef tallow and pig lard with more palatable sources such as soybean oil. Mike Shook of Agri Process Innovations, a builder of biodiesel plants, says this year's batch of U.S. biodiesel was likely more than half animal-derived since the price of soybeans soared.

A gallon of grease will get you about a gallon of fuel, and drivers can get about the same amount of mileage from fat fuel as they do from regular diesel, according to Jenna Higgins of the National Biodiesel Board. Animal fats need to undergo an additional step to get rid of free fatty acids not present in vegetable oils, but otherwise, there's no difference, she says.

Greenies like the fact that waste, such as coffee grounds and french-fry grease, can be turned into power. "The vast majority of my patients request that I use their fat for fuel--and I have more fat than I can use," Bittner wrote on lipodiesel.com. "Not only do they get to lose their love handles or chubby belly but they get to take part in saving the Earth." Bittner's lipodiesel Web site is no longer online.

Oh the joy of all those unwitting veggie greens burning tallow in their cars! But if they start burning pork fat will the air of LA take on the aroma of bacon cooking? Now that would be unfair.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:10 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Bah Humbug Plod

Christmas spirit off limits as police halt shops' mulled wine tradition - Scotsman.com News

POLICE have used anti-social behaviour laws to stop shopkeepers handing out mulled wine to customers as part of a village's Christmas celebrations.
Traders are angry that officers from Fife Constabulary moved in to stamp out a practice that has been a tradition in Anstruther for 17 years.
Mr Dibley, who runs a pet shop in the village, said: "In a small community you know your customers, who are also your neighbours, and this was to thank them for a year's business. I found the police's action a wee bit strange, but then we live in strange politically correct times."

Posted by The Englishman at 6:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On this day a star was seen

Forty years ago today:

The Apollo 8 Flight Journal - Day 4: Lunar Orbits 4, 5 and 6

The first photograph taken of Earthrise taken by a human as he watched the event unfold. (follow the Nasa link for the photos and back story)

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Happy Birthday Earthrise
Back in 1948, the British astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle predicted that when spaceflight enabled us to see the whole Earth from space, the view would change us forever.

Hoyle would have to wait another 20 years before humans would get to see this view with their own eyes, when the crew of Apollo 8 became the first astronauts to leave Earth orbit.

The photos became the poster children of the environmental movement, the very antithesis of the space program that brought us those images.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Whose side are they on?

Probation chiefs ‘undermine plan for criminals to wear punishment jackets’ - Times Online
Plans to make criminals wear high-visibility jackets while doing community punishments face being undermined by a probation service “institutionally on the side of offenders”, the Government’s neighbourhood crime adviser said.

I thought it was only horrible reactionary Tories who said that. I would just like to see some evidence that any work is ever done. Our village has been waiting eighteen months for a bunch of scrotes to come and paint the children's play equipment; obviously there aren't any naughty boys in Wiltshire...

Posted by The Englishman at 6:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Christmas at The Castle

They are hard at work down the barn.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 23, 2008

Put your left leg in...

More Festive Hate Crime Music

h/t Tim Almond at Tim Worstall's Place - it's a Tim conspiracy!

Posted by The Englishman at 2:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Free MP3s - A Xmas Gift To You

£3 to spend on anything in the Amazon.co.uk: MP3 store on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Visit on December 25 or 26, then just add your chosen MP3s to your Shopping Basket (you need to use the Shopping Basket rather than 1-Click) and enter code FREEMP3S at the checkout--£3 will be deducted from the total. And why not spread the Christmas love? Send a link to this page http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/browse.html/ref=pe_09/?node=77197031 to friends and family members and they can get £3 off too.

(Conditions apply - only valid Dec 25th 26th etc.)

Posted by The Englishman at 8:19 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Free Choice at Christmas

Shopping on Christmas Day is sacrilege | Melanie McDonagh - Times Online

The internet is at any time of the year a way of not engaging with the people under our noses. To do it at Christmas is a kind of sacrilege.

And if I hear anyone say that it's a matter of individual choice, that no one is forcing anyone to shop online, I'll push their heads into a bowl of punch and hold it down for a very long time. If half the world is doing its online bargain chasing when they might be quarrelling with the in-laws, getting drunk, overcooking the turkey or stabbing themselves with scissors in an effort to open packaging, it has an effect on everyone.

Given the choice I know which sounds more attractive ; If anyone wants me I'll be here on Christmas Day....

Posted by The Englishman at 7:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

CO2 Data Selection

NOAA CO2 Global Data Set Readme

The retained values comprise the data set that we feel
best represents the CO2 distribution in the remote,
well-mixed global troposphere. These are the values
we use to calculate long-term trends and interannual
and seasonal variations in our studies of the global
carbon cycle. It is possible, and even likely, that
some of the values flagged as not representative of
background conditions are valid measurements, but
represent poorly mixed air masses influenced by local
or regional anthropogenic sources or strong local
biospheric sources or sinks. Users of these data
should be aware that data selection is a difficult
but necessary aspect of the analysis and interpretation
of atmospheric trace gas data sets, and the specific
data selection scheme used may be determined by the
goals of a particular investigation.

They feel the data they present is what it "should" be and is selected according to the goal of what they are looking for - is that an accurate summary?

Posted by The Englishman at 7:26 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Recession shopping benefits

`Lipstick effect' in full swing, sales of cosmetics rising economists say - Telegraph

Tie sales on the rise as men fear the sack - Telegraph

If times are tough, then let them eat cake (and crisps as well) - Scotsman.com News

Brands offering "comfort and nostalgia" are thriving at a time when purse-strings are being drawn. The likes of Walkers crisps and Mr Kipling cakes proved popular at the checkouts, while healthier products with heftier price tags, such as ready-mixed fruit smoothies, fared less well.

Everyone looking a bit smarter and proper food, it isn't all bad you know.

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PGCE Students - Free Assignment Paper on The Motivation Of Schoolchildren

It's that time of year when PGCE students are trying to cobble together a "research" paper as they study to become teachers. Of course I'm not suggesting they copy this paper I published a year or so ago; they might get sacked, but they might find it interesting, as will anyone else interested in the motivation of schoolchildren.

The paper is below the fold:

Also available to download as a single file: Download file - Motivation of Pupils in Compulsory Education aged 11 – 16 - Word Document 500k

Excel Spreadsheet of the data available here.

Motivation of Pupils in Compulsory Education aged 11 – 16


Introduction

This is a study into pupil perceptions as to their motivations during compulsory education aged 11 – 16.

C. Smith et al (2005) “A systematic review of what pupils, aged 11–16, believe impacts on their motivation to learn in the classroom” noted that “The fact that only eight studies were identified for the in-depth review suggests that there is a lack of suitably robust studies with a focus on pupil views available. While there were many studies that used questionnaires and interviews to gather pupils’ responses to pre-identified traits of motivation, only eight could be identified that concentrated on pupil voice. “

This limited study tries to fill that gap a little.

The study is based on anonymous voluntary questionnaires distributed to six different classes at a comprehensive school in Wiltshire in the autumn of 2006. If there is any perceived criticism of the school or the staff in this report please accept that it is unintentional. The whole of the staff were regularly going beyond the call of duty to promote excellence in the pupils in a caring environment. The Head provides progressive leadership which recognises many of the problems mentioned herein and has bravely championed innovative solutions.

Background

The problem of the lack of pupil motivation is widely recognised – as an example the Scottish Parliament Education Committee’s Interim Report on Pupil Motivation (2006) reported that:

“…27 per cent of kids in Scotland did not want to be in school. That is better than the OECD average, but it is still a significant number. Fifty-six per cent—marginally higher than the OECD average—said that they often felt bored at school, which is clearly a concern. Thirty-one per cent felt that they were never given interesting homework”.
“…in the past three years, about one in 12 of the secondary schools that we have inspected has had wide-ranging issues of ethos, discipline and behaviour that involved more than just one or two departments. Many schools have problems with some classes or a small group of pupils, but about one in 12 secondary schools and one in 30 primary schools had broad issues. It is clear that a small minority of primary schools have serious problems of disaffection and demotivation”

The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) (2006) data shows that the School Principals’ assessment of pupils’ morale and commitment is that English schoolchildren have above average, for the countries surveyed, levels. It is striking though the large range between the levels shown by the top and the bottom quarters of students. The student’s were not invited to assess their own morale and commitment but their rating of how much support they feel they get from their teachers in mathematics is a credit to the teachers with England again being above average, again with the same large difference.

One of the most striking deficiencies of most teacher training literature is a lack of instruction in the understanding of pupil motivation.

In business the art of motivating employees is recognised of being a primary competency of a manager, and understanding the theory and practice of it are widely taught.

Many of the management theories of motivation are widely recognised and used by school management in their relations to their staff. For instance modern management of teachers has taken on board the Douglas McGregor’s “X Y theory “ of management types in his 1960 book 'The Human Side Of Enterprise' which is ably summarised at http://www.businessballs.com/mcgregor.htm (Dec 2006) thus:

McGregor maintained that there are two fundamental approaches to managing people. Many managers tend towards theory x, and generally get poor results. Enlightened managers use theory y, which produces better performance and results, and allows people to grow and develop.

Theory x ('authoritarian management' style)
The average person dislikes work and will avoid it he/she can.
Therefore most people must be forced with the threat of punishment to work towards organisational objectives.
The average person prefers to be directed; to avoid responsibility; is relatively unambitious, and wants security above all else.

Theory y ('participative management' style)
Effort in work is as natural as work and play.
People will apply self-control and self-direction in the pursuit of organisational objectives, without external control or the threat of punishment.
Commitment to objectives is a function of rewards associated with their achievement.
People usually accept and often seek responsibility.
The capacity to use a high degree of imagination, ingenuity and creativity in solving organisational problems is widely, not narrowly, distributed in the population.
In industry the intellectual potential of the average person is only partly utilised.

Teachers expect to be treated type “Y” people but in practice, if not always in theory, subscribe to theory “X” for their charges.
Of course teachers have the choice as to where or if they go to school and so job satisfaction is important in staff motivation and retention.

Motivation of pupils is mainly considered in terms of motivation to learn – As an example Geoffrey Petty in his “practical guide“ Teaching Today (1998) devotes a whole chapter to valuable advice of achieving this but doesn’t mention a more holistic motivation to the whole experience of schooling that is needed by pupils.

Pupils are not just compelled to be at school for academic learning and to only concentrate on their motivation for learning while ignoring the totality of the school day is as incomplete as a restaurant review would be if it just mentioned the behaviour of the staff but ignored the food.

Dr Benjamin S Bloom's 'Taxonomy Of Educational Objectives' (1956) set out three educational objectives and skills “domains” that are taught at schools - Affective, Psychomotor, and Cognitive (Wikipedia - Taxonomy of Educational Objectives – revised 19:40, 28 November 2006);

Skills in the affective domain describe the way people react emotionally and their ability to feel another living thing's pain or joy. Affective objectives typically target the awareness and growth in attitudes, emotion, and feelings.

Skills in the psychomotor domain describe the ability to physically manipulate a tool or instrument like a hand or a hammer. Psychomotor objectives usually focus on change and/or development in behaviour and/or skills.

Skills in the cognitive domain revolve around knowledge, comprehension, and "thinking through" a particular topic. Traditional education tends to emphasize the skills in this domain, particularly the lower-order objectives

While this recognises the school’s role is larger than classroom academic learning I do not believe it goes far enough.

The provisional categorization of the roles of schools I have produced breaks them down into four:
Childcare and control
Schooling
Training and teaching
Educating

Childcare and control - It is a simple truth that the economic prosperity of this country and the social system depends on parents having a secure and reliable place to look after their children during working hours for much of the year. This role for schools has recently been highlighted by the government's desire to increase those numbers of hours and broadening the childcare aspects of schooling.

Schooling is the most value-neutral term I can use for what for much of what schools do. Just as horses and dogs must be “schooled” to become of value, so must children be schooled to become useful citizens and pleasant human beings. There are a wide variety of initiatives that schools must follow to perform this function. Everything from instilling discipline, indoctrinating children with values of citizenship, institutionalising, or socialising, them to be happy and compliant members of society and so forth. This schooling also encompasses the encouragement of the psychological neoteny of young adults.
“(I)n which ever-more people retain for ever-longer the characteristic behaviours and attitudes of earlier developmental stages. Whereas traditional societies are characterized by initiation ceremonies marking the advent of adulthood, these have now dwindled and disappeared. In a psychological sense, some contemporary individuals never actually become adults. A child-like flexibility of attitudes, behaviours and knowledge is probably adaptive in modern society because people need repeatedly to change jobs, learn new skills, move to new places and make new friends. It seems that this adaptation is achieved by the expedient of postponing cognitive maturation – a process that could be termed psychological neoteny. (‘Neoteny’ refers to the biological phenomenon whereby development is delayed such that juvenile characteristics are retained into maturity.) Psychological neoteny is probably caused by the prolonged average duration of formal education, since students’ minds are in a significant sense ‘unfinished’. Since modern cultures favour cognitive flexibility, ‘immature’ people tend to thrive and succeed, and have set the tone of contemporary life: the greatest praise of an elderly person is to state that they retain the characteristics of youth. But the faults of youth are retained with well as its virtues: short attention span, sensation- and novelty-seeking, short cycles of arbitrary fashion and a sense of cultural shallowness.” (Bruce G. Charlton 2006)


Training has been increasingly recognised as a role that schools perform, whether it is how to write, to read, to use a computer, wire a plug or any of the other specific skills that are taught in schools. This is training. A lot of teaching also comes under the role of training, when it is designed to train pupils to perform one closely defined task such as pass a specific exam.

Teachers would like to believe they are educating their charges when they actually spend very little time doing it. Albert Jay Nock drew the distinctions between training and educating in his essay “The Disadvantages Of Being Educated”,


…while education was still spoken of as a "preparation for life," the preparation was of a kind which bore less directly on intellect and character than in former times, and more directly on proficiency. It aimed at what we used to call training rather than education; and it not only did very little with education, but seemed to assume that training was education, …. A trained mechanic, banker, dentist or man of business got all due credit for his proficiency, but his education, if he had any, lay behind that and was not confused with it. His training, in a word, bore directly upon what he could do or get, while his education bore directly on neither; it bore upon what he could become and be.

...Training is excellent, it can not be too well done, and opportunity for it can not be too cheap and abundant. Probably a glorified crèche for delayed adolescents here and there is a good thing, too; no great harm in it anyway. ….
Education is divisive, separatist; training induces the exhilarating sense that one is doing with others what others do and thinking the thoughts that others think.

Education, in a word, leads a person on to ask a great deal more from life than life, as at present organized, is willing to give him; and it begets dissatisfaction with the rewards that life holds out. Training tends to satisfy him with very moderate and simple returns. A good income, a home and family, the usual run of comforts and conveniences, diversions addressed only to the competitive or sporting spirit or else to raw sensation - training not only makes directly for getting these, but also for an inert and comfortable contentment with them. Well, these are all that our present society has to offer, so it is undeniably the best thing all round to keep people satisfied with them, which training does, and not to inject a subversive influence, like education, into this easy complacency. Politicians understand this - it is their business to understand it - and hence they hold up "a chicken in every pot and two cars in every garage" as a satisfying social ideal. But the mischief of education is its exorbitance. The educated lad may like stewed chicken and motor-cars as well as anybody, but his education has bred a liking for other things too, things that the society around him does not care for and will not countenance. It has bred tastes which society resents as culpably luxurious, and will not connive at gratifying. Paraphrasing the old saying, education sends him out to shift for himself with a champagne appetite amidst a gin-guzzling society.

Training, on the other hand, breeds no such tastes; it keeps him so well content with synthetic gin that a mention of champagne merely causes him to make a wry face. ...

The success of the education system in enabling increasing numbers of pupils to pass exams is widely celebrated and shows that effective training is widespread.

The success of schools in actually educating their charges as well is more subjective, the evident delight of some school leavers in cultural activities suggests it happens, the extent and effectiveness is beyond the scope of this modest investigation.


The Investigation

To investigate the motivation of the school children I devised a ten question Likert scale questionnaire. The questions were intended to provide a broad overview of possible motivational incentives which covered the range of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is a theory in psychology that Abraham Maslow proposed in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation”, which he subsequently extended. His theory contends that as humans meet 'basic needs', they seek to satisfy successively 'higher needs' that occupy a set hierarchy, with deficiency needs being the first that need to be satisfied. (Source – Wikipedia - Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs)


Deficiency needs

The physiological needs of the organism, eating and drinking - those enabling homeostasis, take first precedence.

When physiological needs are met, the need for safety and security will emerge. These include:

Physical security - safety from violence, delinquency, aggressions
Security of employment
Security of revenues and resources

After physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, the third layer of human needs is social. This involves emotionally-based relationships in general, such as friendship, sexual intimacy and having a supportive and communicative family. Humans generally need to feel belonging and acceptance by groups of others.

The highest level of need is “esteem”. According to Maslow, all humans have a need to be respected, to have self-respect, and to respect others. People need to engage themselves in order to gain recognition and have an activity or activities that give the person a sense of contribution and self-value. There are two levels to Esteem needs. The lower of the levels relates to elements like fame, respect, and glory. The higher level is contingent to concepts like confidence, competence, and achievement. The lower level is generally considered poor. It is dependent upon other people, or someone who needs to be reassured because of lower esteem. People with low esteem need respect from others. They may seek fame or glory, which again are dependent on others. However confidence, competence and achievement only need one person and everyone else is inconsequential to one's own success.

Growth needs

Though the deficiency needs may be seen as "basic", and can be met and neutralized (i.e. they stop being motivators in one's life), self-actualization and transcendence are "being" or "growth needs" (also termed "B-needs"), i.e. they are enduring motivations or drivers of behaviour.

Self-actualization is defined as the instinctual need of humans to make the most of their unique abilities and to strive to be the best they can be.

Maslow writes the following of self-actualizing people:

* They embrace the facts and realities of the world (including themselves) rather than denying or avoiding them.
* They are spontaneous in their ideas and actions.
* They are creative.
* They are interested in solving problems

At the top, there is self-transcendence which is also sometimes referred to as spiritual needs.


My questionnaire was given out to five classes on an anonymous and voluntary basis. The classes were chosen as ones I had built a rapport with the pupils in so they would trust my interest in their genuine views and handling of the data – over 95% were returned. The classes were among the lower achieving groups in the school. There were two small year 11 (15 year olds) classes, a year 9 and two year 8 classes. The one year 7 (11 year olds) class was of more “average” ability, according to the school.

Naively I set the questions and gathered the data before I reached any conclusions, with hindsight I would have broadened the scope of the limited questioning even further to encompass the whole school experience, especially the out of classroom time. The statements the pupils were invited to Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree or Strongly Disagree with were:

1) I enjoy learning.

2) My friends work hard at school.

3) I like to keep my test results to myself.

4) I like it when teachers praise my work in front of the whole class.

5) How well I do at school is important to my family.

6) I get rewards, such as treats or money, at home if I get good results.

7) I get punished if I don’t work hard.

8) I want to go to university and so I am working hard.

9) I think I need good exam results to get a good job.

10) I think what I learn at school will not help me as an adult.

The questions were written so that choices were expected to be across the range, any answer papers that showed a pattern, such as all “Strongly Agree”, could therefore be assumed to be non genuine. No such patterns were produced and no completed questionnaires discarded

The Results

All the results and derived graphs are available in an Excel Spreadsheet.

The most basic level of Maslow’s hierarchy is the need to avoid pain or discomfort. For thousands of years this motivator has been used; Sun Tzu (c. 400-320 B.C.) famously taught courtesans to drill to his orders by executing a couple of reluctant ones, “pour encourager les autres”, and from the Bible we get; "He who spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24) and "Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell." (Proverbs 23:13-14) – attributed to Solomon c. 1000 B.C.
Within the changed zeitgeist of the last few years the use of physical punishment is unacceptable and the results – Graph “Q.7 Punishment” – show that punishment of any type is not a major issue for these pupils.



After the physiological needs are met Maslow believes the next most pressing need is securing resources, or in the terms of this questionnaire aiming for a “good job”.

Graph “Q.9” shows that believing they need good exam results to get such a job is almost universal among the newly arrived pupils. But this belief shows a marked and consistent decrease as the pupils approach the exams and employment. This, maybe more realistic, view of the importance of exams shows that despite the best endeavours of the school this motivational incentive does not work for a large minority of the pupils it is aimed at.


Graph “Q .10” shows as the pupils get older their belief in the long term value of what they learn at school also decreases along with the belief in the value of exams results. The question was set in the negative so care must be taken in interpreting the results but it is clear that the relevance of school to “real life” is perceived as much less than its relevance to passing exams.

The general finding of relevance agrees with Pippa Lord and Megan Jones (2006) who report in their review of the national curriculum:

• The academic relevance of the curriculum is prevalent in learners’ views.
Learners see the curriculum as relevant to passing exams, getting grades and as a passport to their next steps. These perceptions emerge more strongly as pupils get older, but are also apparent at all ages when nearing assessment.

….the real-life relevance of the curriculum would seem to need enhancing
and making more visible – pupils do not always see these connections.. Recognition of aspects relevant to adult life similarly narrow to literal interpretations (such as the ability to read a map so as not to get lost with regard to geography)

Why the pupils questioned show a decrease in belief of the importance of exams as a “passport” where as the review shows the opposite is of interest. The questions asked are obviously slightly different but this may show the bias of this investigation in choosing lower ability pupils who it may be argued are the ones whose motivation is of most importance.


Graph Q.8 shows that the incentive of a place at university largely disappears in the older lower ability groups. This may be a reflection on their prospects but also is indicative of a decreasing desire to learn.



The more short term motivation by rewards is shown in Graph Q.6 “Rewards”. This shows a slight decrease in the expectation of rewards at home for good results as the pupils progress through the school. Of course there is a probability that some of the more senior students never have “good results” and so that needs to factored in. From informal discussions with pupils it seems that such rewarding is seen as juvenile and is put aside as a childish thing as they mature.



But Graph Q 5 “Family Importance” shows that how well they do at school is of importance to most of them and actually increases from the start of schooling to the older years. This suggests that Maslow’s third level of Love/Belonging Needs are of increasing importance, unlike the more basic needs that the school inculcates. There is a populist view that many low achieving school children suffer from an uncaring home environment and that their listless academic behaviour stems from their out of school feral existence. The results and informal interviews with some of the pupils contradict this view. For the vast majority of even the lowest achieving pupils in this survey parental influence is the most important motivator.

As well as a feeling of belonging within a family the influence of peers is recognised as another group pressure to conform to a norm. Graph Q2 is intended to show how pupils few the work ethic of their peers, with the implicit implication as how they view their own efforts. The results are quite striking, the younger pupils believe their friends work hard, but as they age they mostly become neutral in their belief. It appears to be strange that they do not know if their friends work hard or not, or is it that they are non-judgemental?



Graph Q3 shows how the older groups like to keep their test results to themselves which suggests their views echo Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned”.

Maslow places the needs to be respected by others and to respect others as well as pride in achievement as higher needs. These needs appear to be unfulfilled by the students in this survey.

The pupils desire to be respected by others scholastically also shows a marked decrease as they rise through the school – See Graph Q4.


The highest level of need is “self-actualisation” the desire to be creative, to problem solve, to learn. The top aim of this school, according to its curriculum and mission statement is to “encourage a love of learning”.

Graph Q1 “I Enjoy Learning” shows that less than one third of the older pupils agree with the statement. In their first year at this school two thirds do. This is a dramatic fall, especially when set against the priority of the school to promote it.

Conclusions

Smith et al “The EPPI-Centre review of student motivation” (2006) summarises that:

Six themes were identified from the studies as key to motivation. These themes are presented in the order of frequency with which they were identified by the studies in the in-depth review:
1. the role of self
2. utility
3. pedagogy
4. peer-group influences
5. learning
6. curriculum

We see that the curriculum and learning are low down on the list; it is the usefulness of the knowledge and most importantly the role of self that are most important. “The role of self” becomes the “dominant influence” when pupils have made the “decisions about school subjects as a result of a range of interconnected factors that occur over time.” These factors include family and non-school influences.

Motivation at school involves far more than motivation for learning.
More than not being bored in lessons, more than being shown the relevance of the knowledge, more than having self-esteem raised,

Pupils are subjected to disciplines, routines and lessons quite foreign to their experiences at home or outside the school gates. While it is relatively easy to see how to motivate within a set academic lesson there is very little recent research into motivation for the whole school experience.

As Slade and Trent (2000) found with regards to boys:


The theme that their experiences at school were out of date and bore no resemblance to the concerns of their lives or the environment and wider society kept re-occurring. The cause of disruption and behaviour difficulties was directly tied to resistance and feelings of frustration that they were bored, disrespected, and never listened to. Adult behaviour is almost impossible to achieve in an environment which has no basis in trust.
School presents too many contradictions: for example, it purports to prepare pupils for adult life but participation in adult activities – such as part-time work, establishing relationships, owning a car and taking part in sports, etc. – are seen as impinging on schoolwork and homework.

Boys see themselves stuck with an unsuitable learning environment that they cannot change largely because it is constituted by teachers who do not care. Although they identify the curriculum as irrelevant and unchallenging, their experience with ‘good’ teachers has shown this to be an unnecessary outcome. Furthermore, it is one that is made worse because it is dominated by making education an unpleasant experience, and creating a pre-occupying focus on getting out of school as soon as possible. Once again, their experience with ‘good’ teachers has shown them that this is also an unnecessary outcome.
Boys actually achieve a great deal in this age group: drivers’ licences, part-time jobs, physical, social and sexual maturity, and a largely optimistic attitude to the adverse conditions of schooling. Recognising these achievements, abandoning the discourse of ‘fixing boys’ and updating curriculum, teacher training, pedagogy and school organisation in light of the rapid and extraordinary changes in the wider environment would create less of a rupture between the culture of schools and the culture at large.
Boys would like an aging adult world to ‘genuinely listen’, and to ‘catch up’ to bring the culture and focus of schooling up to date so that it might be better placed to keep pace with the economic, social and cultural changes that are already making demands that cannot meet, and that in the coming decades will be as dramatic as they are inevitable.


This survey of pupils shows that parental influence is the foremost motivator of these pupils. It is of note that recently Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, was reported in The Times as saying;
“that a greater involvement of parents in the education of their children should have a dramatic impact on standards.”
“Parental involvement in education trumps every other factor in terms of whether a child is going to do well,” he said. “It is more important than ethnicity, more important than social background.”
Many parents, particularly from poorer backgrounds, do not get in touch with schools because they are intimidated by the educational establishment. “Parents are sometimes loath to trouble a school unless they feel welcome, so a strategy that encourages people to express their concerns is really sensible,” Mr Johnson said.
“When you talk about the most difficult to reach, it’s the parents who don’t feel particularly empowered, are not as pushy as they might be because they are inhibited or lack confidence.

Schools are seen as being an agent of the state and controlling the schooling of children. Whereas schools may hold themselves to be "in loco parentis" neither they nor the Government can be said to act "in loco discipulus".
The aims and purposes of schooling for the government and the professional educators do not necessarily align with those of the pupils. The holistic experience of school involves the school satisfying its governmental and staff stakeholders. Their objectives are different to those of the pupils and their parents.

As John Stuart Mill said in “On Liberty”, Chapter Five:
If the government would make up its mind to require for every child a good education, it might save itself the trouble of providing one. It might leave to parents to obtain the education where and how they pleased, and content itself with helping to pay the school fees of the poorer classes of children, and defraying the entire school expenses of those who have no one else to pay for them. The objections which are urged with reason against State education, do not apply to the enforcement of education by the State, but to the State's taking upon itself to direct that education: which is a totally different thing. That the whole or any large part of the education of the people should be in State hands, I go as far as any one in deprecating. All that has been said of the importance of individuality of character, and diversity in opinions and modes of conduct, involves, as of the same unspeakable importance, diversity of education. A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation, in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body. An education established and controlled by the State should only exist, if it exist at all, as one among many competing experiments, carried on for the purpose of example and stimulus, to keep the others up to a certain standard of excellence. Unless, indeed, when society in general is in so backward a state that it could not or would not provide for itself any proper institutions of education, unless the government undertook the task: then, indeed, the government may, as the less of two great evils, take upon itself the business of schools and universities, as it may that of joint stock companies, when private enterprise, in a shape fitted for undertaking great works of industry, does not exist in the country. But in general, if the country contains a sufficient number of persons qualified to provide education under government auspices, the same persons would be able and willing to give an equally good education on the voluntary principle, under the assurance of remuneration afforded by a law rendering education compulsory, combined with State aid to those unable to defray the expense.

The Government wants a well trained population for the benefit of society; the education system, in common with any other near monopolistic one, naturally has succumbed to a level of “producer capture” – defined as where a service is run for the benefit of the producers rather than the “customers” – and has influenced schooling for its own purposes. But as shown pupils are not motivated to be these considerations, they and their parents want them to be educated for their own reasons.

In a consumerist world families expect choice and control over the services that they are supplied with. The present system provides little practical choice or control for the majority of families. Without the buy in of families, and of pupils themselves, then many schoolchildren will remain the recalcitrant subjects of the system; whining, with their satchels and shining morning faces, creeping like snails, unwillingly to school.

The dichotomy is either schooling is imposed for the good of society over-riding any desires of the pupil or the principle of subsidiarity is applied to education and the pupil and family take control. The latter will result in better motivation and a differently educated population. The former can only be justified if it results in a far superior system, and for that there is no evidence.

The results of this survey and the research present a sorry picture of the comprehensive system. This is not a reflection on this particular school, it seems to be endemic to the system, as Sir Eric Anderson (2007) says:

“The 40 year experiment with comprehensive schools has fallen far short of its aims. It was meant to provide, in Harold Wilson’s words, “grammar schools for all” and it was meant to lead to increased social mobility. It has done neither. It has not raised the standards of all and, as recent studies show, we now have a less mobile society than we had in the 1950s and 1960s."

Within such an apparently flawed and failing system good teachers are more important then ever to enable all pupils to flourish and achieve the best they are capable of. The pupils I worked with were lucky to have such teachers and a supportive school.

References


Anderson E. Sir (Introduction) Three Cheers for Selection: how grammar schools help the poor - Norman Blackwell – CPS London http://www.cps.org.uk/cpsfile.asp?id=667 2nd Jan 2007

Charlton B. The rise of the boy-genius: Psychological neoteny, science and modern life • Medical Hypotheses, Volume 67, Issue 4, 2006, Pages 679-681 http://intl.elsevierhealth.com//journals/MeHy/Default.cfm


Lord P. and Jones M. “Pupils' experiences and perspectives of the National Curriculum and assessment: research review” QCA – Available online at http://www.qca.org.uk/17670.html - downloaded 29th Dec 06


“douglas mcgregor's motivational theory x theory y”
http://www.businessballs.com/mcgregor.htm downloaded 18th Dec 06

Gatto J. The 7-Lesson Schoolteacher New Society Publishers, New York, 1992 Available online at www.newciv.org/whole/schoolteacher.txt 2nd Jan 07


Johnson A. The Times - 28th December 2006 London – article available at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,173-2520873,00.html
Downloaded 28th Dec. 06

Nock A.J. The Disadvantages of Being Educated – originally printed in Free Speech and Plain Language, New York 1937 Copy accessed at http://www.cooperativeindividualism.org/nock-albert-jay_on-education.html 18th Dec 2006

OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) (2006)
PISA 2003 Country Profiles http://pisacountry.acer.edu.au/ Accessed 2nd Jan 2007

Petty G. 1998 “Teaching Today” 2nd Edition, Cheltenham, Nelson Thornes

Scottish Parliament Education Committee’s Interim Report on Pupil Motivation http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/committees/education/reports-05/pmInterim.pdf downloaded 18th Dec 06


Slade M, Trent F (2000) What the boys are saying: an examination of the views of boys about declining rates of achievement and retention. International Education Journal 1: 201–229 http://ehlt.flinders.edu.au/education/iej/articles/v1n3/V1N3.PDF accessed 2nd Jan 2007

Smith C, Dakers J, Dow W, Head G, Sutherland M, Irwin R (2005) A systematic review of what pupils, aged 11–16, believe impacts on their motivation to learn in the classroom. In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. http://eppi.ioe.ac.uk/EPPIWebContent/reel/review_groups/motivation/motivation_rv1/Motivation_rv1.pdf and http://eppi.ioe.ac.uk/cms/Default.aspx?tabid=614 downloaded 18th Dec 06

The Holy Bible 1611 London


Theory into Practice, Vol. 9, No. 1, Motivation: The Desire to Learn (Feb., 1970) - http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0040-5841%28197002%299%3A1%3C%3E1.0.CO%3B2-C downloaded 18th Dec 06

Wikipedia - Taxonomy of Educational Objectives
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxonomy_of_Educational_Objectives revised 19:40, 28 November 2006 downloaded 18th Dec 06


Wikipedia - Maslow's hierarchy of needs
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs
revised 03:01, 19 December 2006 downloaded 18th Dec 06

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Not much on the Telly

BBC broadcaster Adrian Chiles is the most-seen man on television - Times Online

Adrian Chiles, the BBC broadcaster known for his blokeish demeanour and lucrative TV contracts, was the most-seen man on television this year. If I’m the most watched person, all I can say is there can’t be much else on television,” Chiles told The Times. Philip Schofield and Noel Edmonds were in second and third place. “I bet Ant and Dec are hurting now."
And the rest of the top ten are;
4 Fern Britton
5 Davina McCall
6 Dermot O’Leary
7 Ant & Dec
8 Gary Lineker
9 Holly Willoughby
10 Paul O’Grady

How many of them do you watch?, I thought so.....

Posted by The Englishman at 6:50 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 22, 2008

No Longer My Castle

Bailiffs get power to use force on debtors - Times Online
Under the regulations, bailiffs for private firms would for the first time be given permission to restrain or pin down householders. They would also be able to force their way into homes to seize property to pay off debts, such as unpaid credit card bills and loans.

The government, which wants to crack down on people who evade debts, says the new powers would be overseen by a robust industry watchdog. However, the laws are being criticised as the latest erosion of the rights of the householder in his own home.

“These laws strip away tried and tested protections that make a person’s home his castle, and which have stood for centuries,” said Paul Nicolson, chairman of the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, a London-based welfare charity. “They could clearly lead to violent confrontations and undermine fundamental liberties.”

Bailiffs have for hundreds of years been denied powers to break into homes for civil debt or to use force against debtors, except in self-defence. In a famous declaration, William Pitt the Elder, the 18th-century prime minister, said: “The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown.”

More power to bailiffs is a thugs' charter | Ross Clark - Times Online
...Envying the freedoms enjoyed by 17th-century Englishmen. .. a clause buried inside the Victims of Crime and Domestic Violence Act 2004, giving bailiffs the right to break open the doors of debtors' homes. Not satisfied with that piece of legislation, the Government now wants to give bailiffs the right to push debtors from their doorways, drag them off their televisions and ease their grip on their children's dolls houses. The proposals are just a thugs' charter. Anyone can be a bailiff, you can be finishing a jail sentence for manslaughter one day and be out battering down doors on behalf of a debt-collection agency the next.
It is extraordinary how less free citizens are in this respect than they were 400 years ago. Medieval laws against overbearing bailiffs were confirmed in a case in 1604 between one Peter Semayne and the heirs of his deceased business partner George Beriford, with whom he owned a house in Blackfriars. The court ruled that the only agent empowered to break the lock on a citizen's door was a sheriff acting on behalf of the King. Last year a petition was presented to Number 10 pointing out that the Government had succeeded in reversing an ancient law protecting us against bands of privateers. In its attempt to defend this loss of liberty, No 10 replied by arguing that the 1604 Act discriminated against the poor, who “couldn't afford locks”.

That's all right then. We now live in a country where bailiffs can batter down our doors before making off with our possessions, but at least there is no discrimination against the poor. Forget to pay a parking fine or overlook a credit card bill and we are all equally at risk of waking up to hear our front doors being splintered by a bull-necked debt-collector.

Won't be abused, overseen by watchdog, my arse. Anyone laying a hand on my best china could very easily be mistaken for a burglar and reasonable steps taken to prevent him getting away with it.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:19 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

No Surprises Here

National Grid chief Steve Holliday: blackouts will be common in 7 years - Times Online
Clue - Whirlygigs aren't the answer.

Gardai’s Semtex haul throws doubt on IRA’s arms pledge - Times Online
- And I have doubts over Santa as well

Gordon Brown: I'll create extra 100,000 jobs - Telegraph
And deliver presents to all the good little girls and boys, Ho Ho Ho.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Give us today our daily bread

Let us bend the rules, say organic farmers - Times Online
Organic certification bodies, including the Soil Association, the country's biggest campaigner for organic food and farming, asked Hilary Benn, the Rural Affairs Secretary, last week for approval to relax the rules for an indefinite period. They want their members to be able to use conventional animal feed instead of organic food concentrate, which costs double. The aim is to give farmers some leeway during the harsh economic climate.

Look out for the cat fight as the tofu munchers condemn this as breaking the principle of the thing and those farmers who are trying to earn a crust and when faced with the choice of organic farming or feeding their family chose the latter, just as the farmers in the third world should be free to do.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 21, 2008

The Climate Cultists Gain Control

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Climate experts get key US posts
US President-elect Barack Obama has nominated two leading global warming specialists for key science posts in his administration.
Harvard physicist John Holdren will be Mr Obama's scientific adviser while marine biologist Jane Lubchenco will head the US oceanic research body.

The Reference Frame: Crackpot John Holdren will become Obama's science adviser
John Holdren is the ultimate example of the pseudointellectual impurities that have recently flooded universities and academies throughout the Western world.
..despite his PhD in plasma physics. Instead, he has only written 3 very well-known texts - with at least 100 citations - and all of them are about the "catastrophic" population growth. A few additional, newer articles with 50 citations or so are about the "catastrophic" climate change.
The most famous article, by far (400+ cits), is his and Paul Ehrlich's 1971 text in Science magazine, Impact of Population Growth.The subtitle says that "complacency concerning this component of man's predicament is unjustified and counterproductive". In other words, it is an unforgivable crime not to be hysterical about the population growth. Wow. They study the "interlocking crises" in population, resources, and environment that have been the "focus of countless papers, dozens of prestigious symposia, and a growing avalanche of books".
Recall that the second author, Paul Ehrlich, predicted that 4 billions of people (90% of the 1980 total), including 65 million Americans (28% of the 1980 figure), would perish of hunger in "Great Die-Off" in the 1980s. Well, Holdren and Ehrlich may have narcissistically talked about "prestigious symposia" but it's hard to change the fact that events where people compete who is going to propose a more absurd die-off scenario are just gatherings of pompous loons.
Do I really have to argue that their forecasts have been proven remarkably wrong? Do I have to argue that all similar papers are likely to be wrong because the "arguments" in them are simply not rational? It's no science.
In the particular Ehrlich-Holdren paper, they discussed five "theorems", as they boldly call this idiotic stuff. For example, the first "theorem" says that "population growth causes a disproportionate negative impact on the environment". The last one argues that "theoretical solutions to the problem are often not operational and sometimes they are not solutions".
These are great theorems! They're so accurate, well-defined, rigorously proven, and universally valid! ;-) I am sure that in insane asylums, they would use different words than "theorems" to describe these manifestations of their anxiety disorders....
These days, his main weapon is to articulate more radical and scary forecasts about the climate than (almost) anyone else who uses a proper English grammar. ;-) And he is always careful to be called "Professor" and "big guy" by all the journalists, see for example this BBC piece where he blames President Bush for a 7-meter rise of the sea level (??) and his recent op-ed in the Boston Globe where he attacks the climate skeptics, again without a glimpse of a rational argument. There is absolutely no valuable content in anything that Holdren has ever produced. It's just plain bullshit sold in such a way that gullible people happily eat it and smack their lips.

LewRockwell.com Blog: Obama and "Political Science"
The "global warming" movement is about one thing and one thing only: controlling people.
Remember, these are people who insist that carbon dioxide is a "dangerous pollutant" (which Obama promises to declare his first day in office). Since all people exhale carbon dioxide, that means that all human beings are "dangerous polluters," which subsequently means that people themselves must be controlled.
I predict that the Obama administration, with its emphasis upon empowering labor unions and radical environmentalists, will make the Bush administration look to be benign in comparison. I fully believe that this will be the most dictatorial administration in U.S. History -- and many who criticized Bush for his abuse of power will be singing the praises of The Chosen One.

Posted by The Englishman at 3:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hokey Cokey Pokey Party

YOU put your right leg in . . . It’s a dance-floor favourite at family gatherings and a good indicator of when elderly aunts have had enough sherry.

But, as the party season gets into full swing, the Catholic church and politicians in Scotland have warned that singing the Hokey Cokey could get you arrested because it contains a sinister, sectarian message. They claim the ditty was composed by Puritans during the 18th century to mock the language and actions used by priests at Latin Mass and could be hijacked by bigots.

Politicians have urged the police to arrest anyone caught singing the song in a sectarian context under legislation on incitement to religious hatred.

SNP MSP Michael Matheson said: “It is important that the police and football clubs are aware of the sinister background to this song, and take the appropriate action...


(The single reached the #18 spot on the U.K. singles chart in 1981. The holiday spoof was performed by Frosty, Blob, Lump and Norman according to Stiff Records. Most people suspect that it was Ian Dury and The Blockheads.)

Posted by The Englishman at 3:32 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Lives of the rich and famous

A Life in the Day: Max Levchin, virtual genius - Times Online

The 33-year-old software supremo who co-founded PayPal and sold it for $1.5 billion

Monday and Wednesday I get up at 5.50 to go training, even though I might not have got to bed until 3am... At weekends I do rides of up to 80 miles north of San Francisco.

....sandwich for lunch.

I have more meetings in the afternoon. The time I finish normally depends on Nellie. She works in the financial-services industry, which is very stressful. We have a modestly regimented marriage. Thursdays, for instance, I’ll be home at 7.30pm and we try to spend quality time together. We might cook a healthy meal and eat it with a glass of wine or just enjoy a few Zen moments together. Sometimes we’ll go to the local ice-cream shop for fat-free frozen yogurt. We might watch a movie, or bond around our dog, a wheaten terrier, taking it for a long walk or a visit.

Other days I’ll be later. Tuesdays I’ll turn up between 8 and 10pm — that’s a mini-date. Monday and Wednesday I carry on until my work is done — it could be 3am.

We’re both vegetarians and obsessively healthy eaters. Given the training, I tend to pound the protein, so breakfast will be some sort of yoghurt or an egg-white omelette with asparagus, which is very popular in California right now. Croissants are an occasional treat for us, perhaps on the weekend.

Croissants are an occasional treat! You are 33, rich as Croesus and you are happy with a pastry as a treat......not a showgirl, bottle of this, line of that and baby oil on tap to be seen... what a waste.

Posted by The Englishman at 3:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 19, 2008

Friday Night is Music Night (Retro Xmas Edition)

(Now that choice will upset a few....)

Posted by The Englishman at 5:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nigella's urges have made me into white trash

On the AGA this morning white trash ham baked in coca cola - yum.
Nigella says : I simply cannot urge you to try this strongly enough.

And who am I to refuse....

Posted by The Englishman at 10:13 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Poetry in Schools

Those of us of a certain age were brought up with poems as part of our education and odd snippets resonate time and time again on our primrose path through life. But it seems not to be the case anymore as official teaching of poetry has fallen through the gap of either being presented as museum pieces or being teacher approve "relevant", the sure sign of a crap poem.

Joseph T. Thomas writes

This certainly is the case with official school poetry for children. Of course, this mode of poetry will always have a place in the classroom, where adults often have good reasons for teaching what they teach — but ..the poetry emerging from the cultures of childhood is too often overlooked... This poetry is "turned down" and "voiced over" by official school poetry and the critical conversation surrounding it, and it does in fact exist as pragmata of the child's daily life, as a body of work that children use and manipulate generally without adult intervention, "explanation," or "reassuring placement." This poetry is the poetry of the playground.

As its production is not monitored by authority figures, poetry of the playground is often vulgar, violent, and, I might add, uproariously funny: it embodies "the renegade tendencies of [. . .] the unconscious, and the child"

Tic Tac Toe
Granny on the Loo
Did a Fart
Did a Poo
It won't be YOU

as my children chant. And yet they remember not a word of officially approved poems...

Posted by The Englishman at 7:21 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Nanny's sense of humour

Shopkeeper told to stop putting jokes on adverts - Telegraph

Bob Singh, 36, has been adding jokes to his promotional leaflets for more than 10 years at his Landmark store in Port Talbot, south Wales.

But police officers turned up at his general store to offer "appropriate advice" and warned he could face prosecution for breaching public order if he did not stop.

Mr Singh has been left baffled by the police intervention as he claims the jokes contain no bad language and are not racist. He admits some were "a bit saucy".

South Wales Police sergeant Simon Merrick said: "The content of promotional material which has been distributed in the area has been brought to our attention as being potentially inflammatory and offensive.

"The distributor has been appropriately advised and instructed to withdraw the leaflets from circulation."

Some of Mr Singh's jokes include:

:: What is the technical name for three days of horrendous weather followed by bright sunshine? A Welsh Bank Holiday!

:: What do you call a sheep with no legs? A Cloud!

:: What do you get when you cross an elephant with a rhino? El-if-i-no!

:: What do you call a deer with no eyes? I have No-I-Deer.

Barbara Wilding CBE QPM CCMI writes

As the Chief Constable of South Wales Police I am interested in what you think of the service you receive from my force. I am launching a new consultation program, with the aim of gathering your views.

Your Comments Count – Click here

A survey to tell us about any ‘excellent customer service’ you have experienced from South Wales Police staff. We strive to deliver a high level of customer service and aim to achieve this through one of the force priorities, "Making Every Contact Count". Your comments can help us to reinforce quality of service through recognising and rewarding excellence.

Nothing like a bit of old fashioned policing, in fact it is nothing like a bit of old fashioned policing....

Posted by The Englishman at 7:02 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

An Okuri-okami Writes

Toujours Tingo: Weird words and bizarre phrases - Telegraph
Sjostygg: Norwegian for someone so ugly the tide refuses to come in if they stand on the shore.
Layogenic: Filipino for someone good-looking from afar but ugly up close.

Layogenic - we have all been there; there should also be a word for hags with gorgeous hair, you follow a trim figure with luxuriant flowing locks and as you pass expecting the pleasure of a fresh smiling face you are shocked by a wrinkled hook nosed witch. It quite ruins my day.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:53 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Renewable Costs

Linking offshore wind farms to grid to cost £10bn – and public will pay - Scotsman.com News
Opponents of offshore wind argue that it is too expensive to be viable. Those in favour say the cost has to be met to provide renewable energy needed to tackle climate change and provide a secure supply.

The government aims to build 25 giga- watts of offshore wind farms – requiring about 700 turbines – to help meet the target of 15 per cent of energy being generated from renewables by 2020.

Danielle Lane, development manager at the Crown Estate, said the cost was still a "relatively small" amount compared to the overall cost estimated of bringing on stream 25 gigawatts of wind power, which has been calculated at £80 billion.

Nuclear would cost about £37 Billion for 25 GW...

Posted by The Englishman at 6:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Al Gore Effect

Where was Al Gore when it SNOWED in Las Vegas and New Orleans? - Yahoo! Answers

Posted by The Englishman at 6:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 18, 2008

CO2 levels and Magnetism

Dear all,

a new paper on the influence of the magnetic field of the earth on the solubility of CO2 in seawater.

This is the link I have been looking for. Spectrum analysis of my historical CO2 data , the SST of the polar Atlantic ocean and the aa index show very similar cycles, nearly no similarity can be seen in the Mauna Loa CO2 spectrum.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year
from snow covered southern Germany
Ernst Beck

- A learned commentator explains :

This matter is important because the paper by Pazur and Winkelhofer invalidates the IPCC model for the cause of the recent increase to atmospheric CO2 concentration. And the clear advocacy of AGW in the paper by Pazur and Winkelhofer does not detract from the work they conducted.

Their paper reports that they exposed sea water to low intensity magnetic fields under laboratory conditions. And they observed that the solubility of CO2 in the water varied with the strength of the field over the range of field strengths provided by variations in the Earth's magentic field. They observed that the CO2 solubility reduces by a maximum of 0.5% for each 1% decrease in the magnetic field strength.

They postulate that the solubility of CO2 in sea water of the ocean surface layer varies with magnetic field strength in similar manner to the solubility of CO2 in the sea water they studied in their laboratory. Although this remains to be confirmed by field work (no pun intended), it is a very reasonable assumption.

Using this assumption, they calculate that a 1% change in dipole moment over a decade would increase atmospheric CO2 concentration by 1 ppmv over that decade (this is equivalent to the atmospheric burden of CO2 increasing by 0.35 PgC/year). And this increase is an order of magnitude more than volcanic subaerial CO2 emission that Kerrick (2001) estimates as being 0.03 PgC/year. They conclude that each reduction of 1% in the Earth's magnetic field strength adds 1.75 ppmv of CO2 to the atmosphere by altering the solubility of CO2 in sea water.

The National Graphic website provides an estimate that the magnetic field of the Earth has reduced by about 10% since 1845. So, using the conclusion stated above, it would seem that the effect reported by Pazur and Winkelhofer has increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by about that 17.5 ppmv since the middle of the nineteenth century.

The solubility of CO2 in sea water was also altered by the change to mean global temperature, and this could be expected to have increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by about that 8 ppmv since the middle of the nineteenth century.

So, the altered solubility of CO2 in ocean surface water has increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by ~(17.5+8) ppmv = ~24 ppmv since the middle of the nineteenth century.

Let us assume for sake of argument that there was a preindustrial level of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration that was ~290 ppmv . Then the total increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration since the middle of the nineteenth century is ~100 ppmv.

Hence, the altered solubility of CO2 in ocean surface water is responsible for ~24% of the increase to atmospheric CO2 concentration since the middle of the nineteenth century.

This still leaves the predominant cause of the increase to be from biota which is indicated by the isotope data.

But the IPCC uses a simple accountancy exercise as their model for the cause of increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration since the middle of the nineteenth century. And an error of ~24% invalidates an accountancy exercise.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MacJobs in the Public Sector

Quangos now employing more than a year ago - Scotsman.com News

The latest figures reveal that 37,300 people were employed by quasi non-governmental organisations in the third quarter of 2008, 1.2 per cent up on the same quarter last year.

The rise emerged as latest unemployment figures for Scotland showed a rise of 12,000.

The same figures also reveal that the proportion of employees working in the public sector has risen slightly since last year from 22.5 per cent to 22.6 per cent.

Plenty more swill in the public trough now the brakes are off on public spending, we no longer have to worry about paying for them because we can just print some more money! Triples all round. What could possibly go wrong?

Posted by The Englishman at 7:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Quantitative Easing - Corrupting the Nation

New economic policy: If you haven't got enough of this stuff, just print some more - Scotsman.com News

KEEP up at the back. The new big thing to save the world economy is "quantitative easing". Not an upmarket euphemism for a massage, but the latest and most desperate measure yet by central banks to stop a severe recession turning into depression. And it may soon be adopted in the UK.
Printing more money.
Magic new money: have we really walked into this Last Chance Saloon? Yes, we have.

But why has "quantitative easing" not been wheeled out until now? It carries huge risks. One is that it lets the inflation genie out of the bottle and could spark hyperinflation. It also casts central bank independence to the winds and puts enormous financial power into the hands of government with the attendant risks of "crony capitalism" and corruption.

Ah, now I see why it is so attractive to some governments and governments in waiting....

Posted by The Englishman at 6:56 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

48 Hour Slavery

BBC NEWS | Politics | UK work time opt-out under threat

If I'm not free to sell my own labour how I want to then I am a slave. Simple as that.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:46 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 17, 2008

Cooler yet warmer, Sea Ice more but less, Death and Devastation happening

Arctic ice volume lowest ever as globe warms - U.N. | World | Reuters
Ice volume around the Arctic region hit the lowest level ever recorded this year as climate extremes brought death and devastation to many parts of the world, the U.N. weather agency WMO said on Tuesday.

Although the world's average temperature in 2008 was, at 14.3 degrees Celsius (57.7 degrees Fahrenheit), by a fraction of a degree the coolest so far this century, the direction towards a warmer climate remained steady, it reported.

"What is happening in the Arctic is one of the key indicators of global warming," Michel Jarraud, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), said. "The overall trend is still upwards."

Did anyone ask him about the Antarctic or that the Global Sea Ice amount is steady?

Posted by The Englishman at 6:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

No News Day

No%20News.jpg

The Telegraph online news page is blank.

No%20News%202.jpg

And The Times is lost in hyperspace - and I'm off down to the land of Chucklehead Cider for the day (incidentally the best and almost the only cider I drink since since I worked on a cider farm nearly thirty years ago.)

Posted by The Englishman at 5:58 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 16, 2008

The Assault on Liberty: What Went Wrong with Rights - Book Launch

iea ::: institute of economic affairs
Wednesday 21st January 2009
6.30pm – 8.00pm (with brief remarks by the Author at 7.00pm)
2 Lord North Street, Westminster, SW1


Since 1997, the government has launched an unprecedented assault on our most basic rights. In so doing it has eroded the very idea of liberty developed over 800 years and which millions have died defending. From 42 days detention without charge and ID cards to mammoth government databases and local surveillance, our fundamental freedoms are being pawned off cheaply on the false pretence that it will make us safer. At the same time, a whole range of novel rights are being conjured up and handed out with scant democratic accountability, fuelling a compensation culture, undermining social responsibility and turning common sense on its head.

As a general election beckons, with all three political parties proposing major constitutional reform, The Assault on Liberty is a long overdue polemic that seeks to shed light on the state of our democracy, by answering one of the most hotly disputed questions of our times - what went wrong with rights?

One for the diary

Posted by The Englishman at 11:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

HMS QM2

Letters to The Editor - The Times
Sir, Two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers were announced by the Labour Government in mid-1998. At about that same time, Cunard announced its plans to build the Queen Mary 2. Since then, the QM2 has been delivered, on time and to budget, and now has five years’ active service behind her. The aircraft carriers have not even left the drawing board yet and have already notched up expenses equal to the entire cost of the QM2. Perhaps the Admiralty and the Ministry of Defence should engage with the Carnival Corporation (Cunard’s parent company) on how to design and construct ships to time, on budget, and without excessive cost overruns.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:29 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Damp Squid of a Climate Scare Story

Climate change takes the fight out of cannibalistic Humboldt squid - Times Online

... The range of the Humboldt squid has expanded rapidly. Previously restricted to tropical and subtropical zones they are now found as far north as Alaska. Changes in surface water chemistry because of the rise in carbon dioxide levels predicted for 2100 may restrict this range, according to the study reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ...

So they are becoming more common and spreading across the ocean but in a hundred years time they may not be. Next scare please.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Council Misuse of RIPA - No Change

Stop snooping on the public, councils told - Times Online

Local councils are to be barred from using surveillance powers to snoop on members of the public suspected of minor offences such as dog fouling, the Home Secretary is to announce today.
“While the vast majority of the investigations that are carried out under Ripa are important – like protecting the public from dodgy traders, trapping fly-tippers who dump tonnes of rubbish on an industrial scale across the countryside, or tackling the misery caused by noisy and disruptive neighbours – there are clearly cases where these powers should not be used,” she will announce..

In other words, a slap on the wrist for generating bad publicity for The Project but carry on, just more carefully.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 15, 2008

What Loss of Sea Ice?

Global Sea Ice Trend Since 1979 - surprising ォ Watts Up With That?

global-sea-ice-area-bootstrap-algorithm.jpg

The red line is positive, indicating an increase in ice level from 1978-Dec 2006. The slope of the red line is plus 6341 km^2 per year indicating that the earth in 28 years has added 177,000 sq kilometers of ice with a mean ice level of 20.42 million Km^2....

Obviously people cannot make the claim that sea ice is being lost. It isn’t. The data shows that our trend is basically flat during this time of unprecedented temperatures. It’s clear that there has been no significant change in sea ice area.

This is almost enough to make me turn in my Skeptic union card, but increased CO2 warming the earth makes some sense to me, the magnitude is in question. The fact that polar sea ice not melting is not an insignificant point. It is also important to realize that the changes are too small to fit with IPCC statements about the trend. Unlike trees, ice does make a good thermometer. I can’t say this strongly enough— This is a strong indication of substantial errors in the computer models and temperature data which needs to be addressed before we throw what’s left of our global economy to the wind. How would Earth’s total sea ice ignore such substantial warming? It’s a good question which deserves an answer.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:18 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Annual Offensive Christmas Lights Story

Woman told to remove Christmas lights to avoid offending non-Christian neighbours - Telegraph
She was astonished when an employee of South Tyneside Homes called at her house and informed her that the decorations she was displaying might be offending her neighbours.
Independent councillor Ahmed Khan, who represents Mrs Glenn's ward, condemned the employee's actions.
He said: "Every year this woman puts her Christmas lights up and I know how popular they are. It's great when people make an effort to decorate their houses.

"It's this kind of nonsense that sets race relations back 20 years.

There is some sort of rule where that if A tries to ban B from doing something that A thinks C might find offensive, without the slightest bit of evidence that C would then A is always wrong and an intolerant fascist twat.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:01 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Recessional

Major blames Brown for making 'train wreck' of the UK economy - Scotsman.com News

He said Mr Brown had "squandered" the economic growth he inherited as chancellor from the Tory government in 1997: "They have spent and spent and spent."

Sir John, who was faced with a rising tide of unemployment during the recession of the early 1990s, said: "I fear we are going to have an avalanche of job losses in the first three or four months of next year."

He said it was ironic that Mr Brown, the man who had been in charge of the nation's finances since 1997, was leading the response to the turmoil.

Sir John said: "If a burglar has ransacked your house, you don't normally invite him back to fix the security locks. The concept that Gordon Brown, who has presided over this train wreck, is the person to put right what he got wrong strikes me as being ironic to say the least."


Sir John said the government paid £262 million interest every day on the debt and commented: "It's a frightening scenario."

He said other countries were better placed to afford a fiscal stimulus package because they had stronger reserves.

"If we continue borrowing like this, the world will be coming out of recession and we will have a huge amount of borrowing that will force up interest rates. In three years' time, as the world comes out of recession, in the United Kingdom we will have higher interest rates, we will have higher National Insurance contributions because the government have already implemented that, and we will have higher taxes."

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Yvette Cooper, said she "completely disagreed" ..

The government's actions would "help us come out of this stronger and faster", she added.

I fear Mrs Balls is talking balls and the boring grey accountant knows of what he speaks. I wish I was wrong, I don't want a recession and I don't want us to be the last out of it, it is a frightening prospect.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What's the German for Inferior Person?

Germans fight rise in 'confusing' English language – by rewriting the constitution - Scotsman.com News
ALARMED at the increasing use of English in everyday life, Germans are debating whether to enshrine the national language in the country's constitution.
Last week, Germany's federal consumer advocacy and protection body held a symposium in Berlin to discuss the issue. It condemned advertisers who use English, saying it made Germans who didn't understand it "feel inferior"

Sorry, if you don't, you are. Get over it.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:42 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Debt We Owe To Turkeys


Public sector pension 'hole' soars to £915bn - Scotsman.com News

The Confederation of British Industry claims that the cost to the taxpayer of unfunded public-sector pensions has ballooned to a massive £915 billion and is now unsustainable.

The figure is more than 80 per cent of the UK's GDP and more than twice the size of the national debt.

Forget trying to save for your own old age, you have someone else's to pay for first...

Posted by The Englishman at 6:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 14, 2008

Nigel and Nigella on living in the Real World

Climate change summits like Poznan and Brussels will cost us the earth - By Nigel Lawson
It is quite clear that, short of a breakthrough in the technology of non-carbon energy – which may happen, but may not – the only cost-effective response to any feared global warming is to adapt to the consequences.

The dirty little secret is that, so far this century, there has been no recorded global warming; as the Met Office the other day pointed out, sotto voce, 2008 has been, globally, the coldest year of all. That has not stopped the flood of claims of increasing evidence of "climate change" all around us.

Of course, there may well be, as most climate scientists predict, global warming in the future. Meanwhile, welcome to the new science paradigm, in which effects precede cause. I have to confess my own limitations. Unlike Mr Al Gore, Lord Stern, and Lord Turner, I do not know what is going to happen to the planet in the next 100-200 years. But I do know nonsense when I see it.

Nigella's bear-y naughty
Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson has sparked a furore by suggesting she would be prepared to kill a bear and wear its fur.

The British author of How To Be a Domestic Goddess and star of TV cooking show Nigella Bites made the comments during an interview on the BBC's The One Show on Tuesday.

During a discussion on fur as fashion, Lawson said: "I feel going into a shop and buying a fur coat would be an act of weakness, but if I could go out into the woods and kill a bear myself, I would then wear it proudly as a trophy."

Host Adrian Chiles expressed disbelief that she would do such a thing, saying: "you're a nice lady who makes chocolate puddings".

Lawson replied: "If you're in nature and it's either you go or the bear goes ..."

Posted by The Englishman at 9:30 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Subprime Charities

Cash crisis threat to anti-bigotry charity - Scotsman.com News

A CHARITY which has led the fight against sectarianism in Scotland could fold within weeks because of a lack of Government funding.
Nil by Mouth was founded in 2000 to combat religious bigotry
For the past six years Nil by Mouth has received its core funding of £50,000 directly from the Scottish Government and its predecessor, the Scottish Executive.
In recent weeks Nil by Mouth was praised by Irish MEP Eoin Ryan, "It's impressive as it is not about wagging fingers but is about encouraging good behaviour and healthy lifestyles."
Former First Minister Jack McConnell, said: "Nil by Mouth is one of those organisations that make life difficult for politicians by telling home truths without fear or favour. But that is precisely why they should continue to be funded by Government."

It's not a bloody charity, it's a subprime arm of the ruling elite, it's not about making politician's lives difficult it is about ensuring that the views of the political elite are promoted by other means rather than through being expressed via the people's choices. Real charities, real causes that reflect the real concerns of the people are supported directly by the people and are reflected by who they vote for. And I'm not picking on this "charity" for a particular reason only that it's leeching is representative of many thousands more.

Subprime lending was for those who couldn't get funding anywhere else, ditto subprime charities. We need to foreclose on them.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Landfill Madness in the USA

Crash in trash creates mountains of unwanted recyclables in US - Telegraph

Householders have long been able to feel virtuous about their impact on the environment by sorting out their rubbish each week. But now the great trash market crash has even raised the environmentally alarming spectre that some waste intended for recycling may end up in landfills.

Residents in West Virginia's Kanawha county, which includes the state capital Charleston, have been told to stockpile plastics and metals, the materials worst hit by the crash, as they will no longer be collected.

Bruce Parker, president of the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) believes that the market may not bounce back until late 2010 - and by then the mountains of unwanted rubbish would have turned into major mountain ranges. The NSWMA argues that to handle the crisis, the US will have to step up investment in its own recycling mills to fill the gap left by Asia and that contractors may have to impose recycling surcharges.

"It may cost communities more in the meantime but from an environmental point of views, the savings in terms of reducing greenhouse emissions and other benefits are still much greater," he said.

You don't suppose Mr Parker's members want the American taxpayer to pay them to carry on sorting out rubbish rather than stick it in landfill do you?

Posted by The Englishman at 6:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 13, 2008

I've got a little list Of society offenders

Eco starlet - Times Online
It’s a 23-year-old called Tamsin Omond, protesting against the expansion at Heathrow by climbing the Palace of Westminster....Young, aristocratic (she’s the granddaughter of a baronet), clever (Cambridge-educated) and very pretty...right now, a well-known “quite cool” fashion label is trying to sign her up to be its “face”... She’s wearing an anorak and red and white stripy cotton shorts with bare legs. She has a mop of curly blonde hair, and her eyes are caked in eyeliner. She’s sort of mad-looking, but also sort of cool, too...She’s in black trousers, Converse trainers and a brown, tweedy army coat with the collar half up, and she sketches out her story for me. A privileged upbringing in Hampstead, an education at Westminster School, and on to Cambridge. The future involved an important job with a multinational, a nice big house, kids. Then came a calling to the priesthood (“To put something at the centre of my life that wasn’t me”), then a revelation. Alone in her house one day, she fell upon some climate science information...She is absolutely a child of our time, a perfect icon in the age of Obama. Not only because she also understands the power of image, but because she knows that you are nothing without something to say...In early September, the ethical outdoor clothing brand Howies ran a lecture and party weekend called the Do lectures (dolectures.co.uk), attended by everyone from Gavin Pretor-Pinney, author of The Cloudspotter’s Guide, to Yun Hider, Gordon Ramsay’s foraging expert.
And last month, Rory Spowers, a mate of Zac Goldsmith and founder of the charity 999itstime.com, hosted a gathering of eco-activists at his home in Surrey. Among them were George Barker, one of the names behind the 1990s Flying Rhino parties; David de Rothschild, who runs the charity Adventure Ecology, and his girlfriend, who he met at this year’s Burning Man festival; and that well-known bon viveur Bruce Parry, whose Ibiza parties are fast becoming the stuff of legend.
For two full days and nights, starting after breakfast, the group sat around a large table thrashing out ideas about how to harness their skills, contacts and ideas to help save the planet.

As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
I've got a little list--I've got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed--who never would be missed!...
CHORUS. He's got 'em on the list--he's got 'em on the list;
And they'll none of 'em be missed--they'll none of
'em be missed.
...The task of filling up the blanks I'd rather leave to you.
But it really doesn't matter whom you put upon the list,
For they'd none of 'em be missed--they'd none of 'em be
missed!
CHORUS. You may put 'em on the list--you may put 'em on the list;
And they'll none of 'em be missed--they'll none of
'em be missed!

-- W. S. Gilbert

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December 12, 2008

Friday Night is Music Night (Compare and Contrast Edition)


Can you get them both playing in sync?

Posted by The Englishman at 6:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Dave Miliband Believes in Santa

BBC NEWS | Politics | Miliband: Germany backs UK policy
Germany backs Labour's decision to borrow billions to fund tax cuts in a bid to boost the UK economy, Foreign Secretary David Miliband has insisted.

It comes after a second German politician attacked the policy.

Steffan Kampeter, of Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party, said moves to raise debt "were a failure of Labour policy".

Finance minister Peer Steinbruck earlier branded UK policy "crass"

It's nice to know that Gordon will no longer be lonely in the imaginary world he inhabits now that Dave has joined him. And with his brother "Dick" Ed away with the green fairies there is a danger that the cloud may be getting crowded.

Posted by The Englishman at 10:54 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Historic CO2 Levels - A Sceptical Roundup

Pre-industrial CO2 levels were about the same as today. How and why we are told otherwise?

How many failed predictions, discredited assumptions and evidence of incorrect data are required before an idea loses credibility?

Proponents of human induced warming and climate change told us that an increase in CO2 precedes and causes temperature increases. They were wrong. They told us the late 20th century was the warmest on record. They were wrong. They told us, using the infamous “hockey stick” graph, the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) did not exist. They were wrong. They told us global temperatures would increase through 2008 as CO2 increased. They were wrong. They told us Arctic ice would continue to decrease in area through 2008. They were wrong. They told us October 2008 was the second warmest on record. They were wrong. They told us 1998 was the warmest year on record in the US. They were wrong it was 1934. They told us current atmospheric levels of CO2 are the highest on record. They are wrong. They told us pre-industrial atmospheric levels of CO2 were approximately 100 parts per million (ppm) lower than the present 385 ppm. They are wrong. This last is critical because the claim is basic to the argument that humans are causing warming and climate change by increasing the levels of atmospheric CO2 and have throughout the Industrial era. In fact, pre-industrial CO2 levels were about the same as today, but how did they conclude they were lower?....

Posted by The Englishman at 10:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

And it's no, nay, never, No nay never no more...

FREE MARKET FAIRY TALES: When ‘no’ is simply not an option
Hell hath no fury like a politician scorned & absolutely nothing, not even radical Islam hath fury like a Euro-politician scorned. This morning dear readers, please pity poor poor Ireland. A few months back, the Paddies had the temerity to tell Brussels to stuff their constitution treaty. Failed. Wrong answer. How predictable was it that they would be forced to sit the exam again.

Time for another chorus:

Posted by The Englishman at 7:22 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Army Pays For Folly

Armed Services take first big hit in public spending - Times Online

The Armed Forces yesterday became the first significant victims of government attempts to reduce spending in the face of the advancing recession...sparked anger and accusations that the cuts went against the Prime Minister’s promise to help Britain to spend its way out of the downturn...The Government is pouring hundreds of billions of pounds into a possibly vain endeavour to solve the financial and banking crisis but at the same time cutting back on the nation’s defence and security. This is folly.”

You already knew that this is where the cuts would come didn't you. But there seems to be an exciting new way to deal with our enemies - Danegeld..

Taleban tax: allied supply convoys pay their enemies for safe passage - Times Online ... a system of payoffs to Taleban commanders who charge protection money to allow convoys of military supplies to reach Nato bases in the south of the country.

And I can't resist Kipling on the matter:

Dane-Geld A.D. 980-1016

It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
To call upon a neighbour and to say: --
"We invaded you last night--we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld
And then you'll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: --
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say: --

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!"

Posted by The Englishman at 7:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fat Pork Barrel

Change4Life shock adverts to reduce child obesity - Times Online

National Child Measurement Programme, which last year measured the weight and height of almost a million children in the first and last years of primary school... a £375 million campaign called Change4Life. But campaigners say that more radical tactics are needed ...The advertising company M&C Saatchi has been testing messages...Tam Fry, a spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said...Tim Straughan, the Information Centre's chief executive, said...Josh Bayly, of the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said...Dawn Primarolo, the Minister for Public Health, said....

Getting fat at the taxpayer's trough

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Councils Spin To The Public

Councils spending £1million on publicity and spin doctors - Telegraph

On average, each council spent £965,986 - although six had a bill of more than £5 million.
The figures were obtained by pressure group the Taxpayers' Alliance using freedom of information laws.

Spending other people's money on yourself....

From Milton and Rose Friedman's book Free To Choose, as paraphrased by P. J. O'Rourke in "Eat The Rich.

Here's the actual O'Rourke quote, from pages 238-239 of the trade paperback edition:


There is another difficulty with political control of the economy which keeps even the best-behaved governments from using resources well. This problem was explained by the economists Milton and Rose Friedman in their book, Free to Choose. The Friedmans argued that there are only four ways to spend money:
1. Spend your money on yourself.
2. Spend your money on other people.
3. Spend other people's money on yourself.
4. Spend other people's money on other people.

If you spend your money on yourself, you look for the best value at the best price -- knockoff Pings on sale at Golf-ForeLess. If you spend your money on other people, you still worry about price, but you may not know -- or care -- what other people want. So your brother-in-law gets a Deepak Chopra book for Christmas. If you spend other people's money on yourself, it's hard to resist coming home real Pings, a new leather bag, orange pants with little niblicks on them and a pair of Foot-Joy spikes. And if you spend other people's money on other people, any damn thing will do and the hell with what it costs. Almost all government spending falls into category four. This is how the grateful residents of Ukraine got Chernobyl.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Council Scared Of Public Opinion

Metric Martyr wins battle over pounds and ounces market stall - Telegraph

Janet Devers, 64, who runs a family stall, has learned that Hackney council will no longer pursue four criminal charges against her for using imperial measurements.
Mrs Devers had elected for a jury trial, due to start on January 12 at Snaresbrook crown court, because she wanted to be "judged by my peers".

Posted by The Englishman at 6:36 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 11, 2008

Darling Should Worry as Pound Free Falls

Value of pound falls to 28-year low - Telegraph
Bank of England figures, which measure sterling against a basket of international currencies, recorded the pound at its weakest level since records began in 1980.

The pound has fallen amid growing fears over rapidly increasing levels of Government borrowing. Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, recently conceded that public borrowing will reach more than £1 trillion over the next few years.

Sterling is also not seen to be as strong as "global" currencies such as the dollar and euro during the economic downturn. The Conservatives have released figures showing that British Government debt is now considerably less creditworthy than that issued by the McDonalds chain of fast-food restaurants.

Peter Spencer, chief economic adviser to the Ernst & Young ITEM club, said: "You need a strong economy for a strong currency and there's no strength in the UK economy.

And so spoke the markets, people who actually bet on the future say the UK is a basket case. And because the pound is falling relative to other currencies it means it is judged to be have worse prospects than other currencies. So much for Gordon's "saving the world" or leading it out of trouble, the smart money is all jumping into other lifeboats rather than trust the Great Helmsman.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:48 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Don't Worry Darling Anatole Says It Is All Great

Borrow, spend... then recoup it in energy taxes | Anatole Kaletsky - Times Online
Where will the money come from?...
www.moneyfactory.gov.
There is nothing wrong with printing money - and plenty of it - in a period when prices are falling, property and stockmarket values are collapsing, banks are paralysed and the only assets that savers are willing to invest in are pieces of paper issued by the government.
Printing money and spending it on public works or on tax cuts, far from being profligate or imprudent in such conditions, is the only responsible thing for politicians to do. This is what Keynes demonstrated in 1936 in his General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money...
The Tories are plain wrong to attack the increase in borrowing planned by the Government for next year....
There is one type of tax crying out to be raised in the present environment because it would actually strengthen the economy. This is a tax on energy, carbon or fossil fuels....
If President-elect Obama wants to save the auto industry, revive US manufacturing, control government borrowing and restore US geopolitical independence, now is the time to announce a long-term increase in energy taxes.
Never again will the stars be so favourably aligned.

And so spoke "one of the country's leading commentators on economics, formerly Economics Editor and now an Associate Editor of The Times."

Posted by The Englishman at 6:42 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Doctors Kill 40,000 a Year

The hidden death toll from errors by NHS staff - Times Online
The National Health Service is still struggling to ensure safe, personalised healthcare for patients, despite years of a record level of funding, a watchdog has reported.

While dramatic improvements have been made on waiting times and infection rates in the past five years, doctors and managers are “only just out of the starting blocks” in making sure that treatment is as safe as it could be, the Healthcare Commission said.

Health analysts estimate that mistakes by hospital staff could result in as many as 40,000 deaths a year. But there is still a crucial lack of data on medical errors and the harm that they cause.

Smoking ban prevents 40,000 deaths
over the next ten years.

Professor Robert West, Cancer Research UK's director of tobacco studies at University College London's Health Behaviour Research Centre said: 'I never expected such a dramatic impact.'

So if the Health Service just got its act together a little bit and prevented just ten per cent of it deadly errors it would save as many deaths as the smoking ban is claimed to.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Albatross

Veggie mouse with a taste for albatross threatens island bird - Times Online

A killer mouse that has turned from a shy vegetarian into a rapacious, predatory carnivore...

Posted by The Englishman at 6:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 10, 2008

Britannia RIP

Cumberland2.jpg

This ship looks like a ship of the Royal Navy. It bears the title HMS Cumberland, so you would think it was a British ship. Until recently, it had been undertaking NATO led counter-piracy missions off Somalia, when it was most definitely a British ship.

But that was before Monday. As of then – and currently – it is an EU ship, under EU political control, leading the European Union's first naval task force. EU Referendum

E'en the good patient man whom reason rules,
Roused by bold insult, and injurious rage,
With sharp and sudden check the astonished sons
Of violence confounds ; firm as his cause,
His bolder heart, in awful justice clad ;
His eyes effulging a peculiar fire ;
And as he charges through the prostrate war,
His keen arm teaches faithless men no more
To dare the sacred vengeance of the just.

And what, my thoughtless sons, should fire you more
Than when your well-earned empire of the deep
The least beginning injury receives?
What better cause can call your lightning forth?
Your thunder wake ? your dearest life demand ?
What better cause, than when your country sees
The sly destruction at her vitals aimed ?
For oh ! it much imports you, 'tis your all,
To keep your trade entire, entire the force
And honor of your fleets ; o'er that to watch,
E'en with a hand severe, and jealous eye.
In intercourse be gentle, generous, just,
By wisdom polished, and of manners fair ;
But on the sea be terrible, untamed.
Unconquerable still : let none escape,
Who shall but aim to touch your glory there.
Is there the man into the lion's den
Who dares intrude, to snatch his young away ?
And is a Briton seized ? and seized beneath
The slumbering terrors of a British fleet ?
Then ardent rise ! Oh, great in vengeance rise I
O'erturn the proud, teach rapine to restore.
And as you ride sublimely round the world,
Make every vessel stoop, make every state
At once their welfare and their duly know.
This is your glory ; this your wisdom ; this
The native power for which you were designed
By fate, when fate designed the firmest state
That e'er was seated on the subject sea ;
A state, alone, where Liberty should live.

James Thomson - Britannia

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The Green Jackboot of Control

Ed Miliband seeks more power for State in UK energy industry - Times Online

Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, appeared to be on a collision course with Britain's big power companies last night as he called for sweeping reforms to the industry, including greater state control and a retreat from the free market orthodoxy of the past two decades.
He said that the Government needed to take a more interventionist approach in the setting of higher carbon prices to “overcome market failures” that were inhibiting the adoption of renewable energy technologies.
He added that he would unveil a road map next summer identifying how Britain can cut carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

And that is why the Statists love Global Warming, it's an excuse for more control. And I think he may be on the right lines for achieving an 80 per cent reduction because if we continue with the policies he and his chums are proposing everyone will either have left or be living in a cave by then

Posted by The Englishman at 6:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Feck Effect

What the feck! Ad gets the all-clear - Scotsman.com News

IT IS just a letter away from one of the strongest swear words in the English language. But watchdogs today decided the word "feck" can be included in an advertising campaign.
The ASA said that the use of the word would not offend adults and was not unsuitable to be seen by children either.

THE word "feck" dates back the 1500s, when it was used in Scotland to mean "effect" – the opposite of the modern day word "feckless", meaning weak.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Guns and Girls Don't Mix

Husband shot at semi-naked wife for target practice - Telegraph

Vedran Ribaric, 26, forced wife Mirna to strip to her knickers and run round her garden while he took pot shots at the terrified woman.
He even persuaded the frightened 23-year-old to pose provocatively while he took aim.
A neighbour said: "Shooting at a beautiful woman like her is crazy. Couldn't he have practised on a wild pig like everyone else?'

And where is the Youtube link?

Posted by The Englishman at 6:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 9, 2008

Mr FM in Texas

Mr Free Market spent last week as guests of the du Toits, and I have a photo...

Mr%20FM%20in%20Texas.jpg


Posted by The Englishman at 10:19 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

What set Nanny off

BBC NEWS | The Reporters | Mark Easton's UK
Where does Britain figure in a league table of nanny states? Well, according to boffins in the prime minister's Strategy Unit in 2004, about two thirds of the way down. Some will argue we have moved rapidly up the league since them...
The document surmised that "people in Britain appear fairly comfortable with the balance that UK policy has generally struck between state and individual responsibility."...
The British public doesn't seem too exercised either way and so, the strategists argued, the UK could afford to tilt more towards a state intervention model....
The white paper railed at the "sterile national debate... between those proposing a heavy handed nanny state on one hand, and those supporting inactivity bordering on neglect in the name of individual freedom on the other."
Suddenly Whitehall was awash with initiatives to change behaviour - on health, welfare, the environment and crime....

Posted by The Englishman at 10:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Blog Job Offer

I note I'm way behind with updates to the software that runs this blog and also the template is maybe a bit tired. I don't have the time or knowhow to update either, is there any reader who would care to help for a small recompense?

Posted by The Englishman at 7:44 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Tilly and chums play at protesting

Designer demo brings Stansted airport to a halt - Times Online
They came, under cover of darkness, to save the planet by shutting down Stansted. There was the grandson of a peer who served in Wilson’s Cabinet, a film animator and a hat designer, not to mention the undergraduates and postgraduate research students.

This was, in the words of one campaigner, “designer direct action” designed to stop poor people travelling - don't they know their place anymore? And it had to be this week because next week we are all going out to Mumsy's place in Les Gets for the Christmas skiing...

I keep feeling the answer lies on this page...

Posted by The Englishman at 7:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 8, 2008

Outing my language

Words associated with Christianity and British history taken out of children's dictionary - Telegraph

Oxford University Press has removed words from its Junior Dictionary and replaced them with words like "blog", "broadband" and "celebrity".
The publisher claims the changes have been made to reflect the fact that Britain is a modern, multicultural, multifaith society.

Words taken out:

Carol, cracker, holly, ivy, mistletoe
Dwarf, elf, goblin
Abbey, aisle, altar, bishop, chapel, christen, disciple, minister, monastery, monk, nun, nunnery, parish, pew, psalm, pulpit, saint, sin, devil, vicar
Coronation, duchess, duke, emperor, empire, monarch, decade
adder, ass, beaver, boar, budgerigar, bullock, cheetah, colt, corgi, cygnet, doe, drake, ferret, gerbil, goldfish, guinea pig, hamster, heron, herring, kingfisher, lark, leopard, lobster, magpie, minnow, mussel, newt, otter, ox, oyster, panther, pelican, piglet, plaice, poodle, porcupine, porpoise, raven, spaniel, starling, stoat, stork, terrapin, thrush, weasel, wren.
Acorn, allotment, almond, apricot, ash, bacon, beech, beetroot, blackberry, blacksmith, bloom, bluebell, bramble, bran, bray, bridle, brook, buttercup, canary, canter, carnation, catkin, cauliflower, chestnut, clover, conker, county, cowslip, crocus, dandelion, diesel, fern, fungus, gooseberry, gorse, hazel, hazelnut, heather, holly, horse chestnut, ivy, lavender, leek, liquorice, manger, marzipan, melon, minnow, mint, nectar, nectarine, oats, pansy, parsnip, pasture, poppy, porridge, poultry, primrose, prune, radish, rhubarb, sheaf, spinach, sycamore, tulip, turnip, vine, violet, walnut, willow

Words put in:

Blog, broadband, MP3 player, voicemail, attachment, database, export, chatroom, bullet point, cut and paste, analogue
Celebrity, tolerant, vandalism, negotiate, interdependent, creep, citizenship, childhood, conflict, common sense, debate, EU, drought, brainy, boisterous, cautionary tale, bilingual, bungee jumping, committee, compulsory, cope, democratic, allergic, biodegradable, emotion, dyslexic, donate, endangered, Euro
Apparatus, food chain, incisor, square number, trapezium, alliteration, colloquial, idiom, curriculum, classify, chronological, block graph

I'm with the outed words everytime.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:32 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Thrashing Gordon

The day Gordon Brown tried to skip class to watch the footy... and got the headmaster's belt | Mail Online

Gordon Brown has revealed that he was beaten with a forked leather belt as young boy at a strict Scottish boys' school.
The Prime Minister said he was punished with the fearsome-looking 'Lochgelly Tawse' for wanting to sneak away from school to watch Scotland play football.
The Lochgelly Tawse is a two or three-forked leather belt that was traditionally made in the town of Lochgelly near the Browns' home in Fife.
Until the 1980s it was widely used as a tool for corporal punishment.
Though its use in schools has now died out, it is still popular with sadomasochists.

Never did him any harm did it... if anyone isn't sure what to give Gordon for Xmas I note that Tawses are available here

I note he was punished for thinking about committing a crime in the future, is that where he got his legislative ideas from?

Posted by The Englishman at 6:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Branding Mandy

'Bullying, stupid, ignorant' – Lord Mandelson accused over HBOS deal - Scotsman.com News
LORD Mandelson, the Business Secretary, was yesterday branded "stupid and ignorant"

Bagsy me with the hot iron....

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He Should Blog Instead

Man fined for swearing at TV - Telegraph

Plumber Martin Solomon, 62, was heard by neighbours as he shouted 'foul and offensive language' at his TV, magistrates in Stroud, Glos, heard.
His ranting put him in breach of an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) which had been imposed at an earlier hearing to try to stop him shouting and swearing at the television whenever he disagreed with a programme.
Simon James, defending at Stroud Magistrates' Court, said: "Mr Solomon often drinks more than is good for him.
"He will have a drink and will return home.
"Then he will put on the television and if someone on the TV says something that upsets him, he will swear at the TV.

Well that is me done for then....

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December 7, 2008

Life is too short to listen to rubbish

The 100 best records of 2008 - Times Online

Nope, not one, not a single one of them do I want to buy, a couple I wouldn't turn off if they came on the wireless, but the rest are an insult to my intelligence. Am I getting old?

Posted by The Englishman at 6:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Passing Water

Men under threat from 'gender bending' chemicals - Telegraph

Men are at risk of being "feminised" by thousands of "gender bending" chemicals that are changing the behaviour of humans and animals, according to a report. ...

Some male roaches have changed sex completely after exposure to oestrogen from the Contraceptive pill pouring out of sewage works.

Good news! Firstly we are starting to get back to environmental scares that don't mention climate change. Real problems caused by real pollutants, how refreshing after the garbage we are being force fed daily on CO2.

Secondly I live at the watershed, all my water is pure from the sky, what I and the girls in the village piss away is carried downstream. First port of call is Mr FM's place (and he is looking a bit strange these days) and then after a cycle thorgh his kidneys it is on to the good people of Salisbury, and after they have fortified it with thier excretions it passes to the villagers of Hampshire - which explains a lot.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

If customers don't like it, they don't have to buy.

Man told to follow EU rules when selling vegetable leftovers from his garden stall - Telegraph

Mr Cookson said he decided to set up the small stall at the end of his drive so the fresh vegetables from his garden did not go to waste, labelling bags of them with prices, and relying on the honesty of passers-by to leave cash in a piggy bank.

He said: "It is not a business, just a way of offering vegetables to others and preventing them going to waste. The vegetables are bought by people going to and from the local pub. If customers don't like it, they don't have to buy."

Last weekend he received the letter from Northumberland County Council informing him that a trading standards officer had visited the stall, and informing him that "most fruit and vegetables are required to be sold by weight". It was accompanied by four pages of guidance on the rules governing weights and measures, setting out the European Union requirements.

Is it legal to sell hempen rope by the yard, or must it be in metres?

Posted by The Englishman at 11:55 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Johnson Family Harmony

Rachel Johnson - Times Online
But nativity plays, carol services, making and eating mince pies, decorating the tree, spending time with the annoying uncle – all the best things about the traditional Yule – are all heartwarming, festive, almost free . . . and I commend them to the house.

Rachel's children's annoying uncle would be, no, not Boris surely?

Posted by The Englishman at 11:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 6, 2008

Political Plod

Damian Green arrest shows police is loyal to their political masters - Telegraph

Why, if there are more officers than ever, do we feel we hardly ever see them on the streets? Why are police stations too far away, closed at night or shut down altogether? Why, when the police tell householders not to tackle burglars, but to dial 999 and await the officers' arrival, are they are greeted with a hollow laugh?

An institution that a few years ago was held in public esteem is now derided, even feared. There is a feeling that the police are not on our side. And this is largely the fault of some of the country's most prominent senior officers. ...

Police chiefs have supported every encroachment on civil liberties: the expansion of the DNA database to include innocent people, ruled unlawful this week by the European Court of Human Rights; the increase of detention without charge to 90 days and then, when that was rejected, to 42 days, despite clear parliamentary opposition; the extension of summary powers to arrest and fine on the spot; bans on happy hours, ID cards and many more...

In a lecture last year, Sir Ian Blair claimed the country had to be clear about what it wants from the police - to fight crime, or fight its causes; to help build stronger communities, or to undertake zero tolerance?

"The silence can no longer continue," he said. "The citizens of Britain now have to articulate what kind of police service they want." For once, he was right.

Posted by The Englishman at 8:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 5, 2008

Stupidity is preventable

Op-Ed Columnist - Raising the World’s I.Q. - NYTimes.com
Occasionally in my travels I’ve been unnerved by coming across entire villages staggering about, unable to speak coherently...

Oh you've been to Dorset then..


Joking apart go and read the rest of the article about the single most cost effective way to raise the standard of living for millions of people.

Posted by The Englishman at 11:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Friday Night is Music Night (Not Mama Edition)

Posted by The Englishman at 6:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Name Fits

The Atlas of True Names - Telegraph

Etymologists and wordsmiths will take particular interest in a new set of maps going on sale in time for Christmas.
The Atlas of True Names replaces the traditional names of the world's cities, countries, rivers and mountains with new ones to reflect their origins and literal meaning.

Down here in Wiltshire I don't think I will be buying a copy - I live in a cup shaped hollow between two long outstretched limbs of hills, and it's name begins C*n. Nearby there is the "Swallowhead" spring; in fact the whole Kennet district is alive to the C*nt phoneme - (I often pronounce "Kennet", as in Kennet District Council without the second e...)

I reproduce part of a scholarly article below the fold - naughty language alert:

Cunt: Etymology [matthewhunt.com]

Case Study: Topographical And Hydrographical Metaphors

We have seen how the Celtic 'cwm' was influenced by the feminine prefix 'cu', a topographical vagina metaphor comparing the shape and fertility of valleys and vaginas. Other water-related terms also have similarly vaginal connotations, such as 'cundy' ('underground water channel'), which is a hydrographical vaginal metaphor derived from 'cunnus'. Similarly, 'cuniculus', also from 'cunnus', means 'passageway', and was applied to Roman drainage systems. 'Konnos', the Greek for 'vagina', is derived from 'cunnus' and the Sanskrit 'cushi'/'kunthi', meaning 'ditch', as both vaginas and ditches are channels for water. The Spanish 'chocha' ('lagoon') is another vaginal metaphor. The Russian 'kunka' describes two hands cupped together carrying water. 'Cut', a further term meaning 'water channel', is a recognised euphemism for 'cunt', though is not etymologically related to it.

The vaginal water channel allusion is replicated by the River Kennet in Wiltshire, as Kennet was originally Cunnit: "At Silbury Hill [the river] joins the Swallowhead or true fountain of the Kennet, which the country people call by the old name of Cunnit and it is not a little famous amongst them" (William Stukeley, 1743). Adjacent to the river is the Roman settlement Cunetio, also spelt Cunetione, Cunetzone, Cunetzione, and Cunetiu (though now known as Mildenhall). "The name ['Cunetio'] must be left unresolved", insist ALF Rivet and Colin Smith (1979), though its origin, like Kennet's, is the Celtic 'kuno'.

The rivers Kent (formerly Kenet) and Cynwyd share Kennet's etymology, and, as Michael Dames explains, Kennet's link to 'cunt' is readily apparent: "we may yet rediscover the Kennet as Cunnit, and the Swallowhead as Cunt. The name of that orifice is carried downstream in the name of the river. Cunnit is Cunnt with an extra i. As late as 1740, the peasants of the district had not abandoned the name [...] The antiquity of the form is clearly shown by the Roman riverside settlement called Cunetio - their principal town in the entire Kennet valley" (1976).

Posted by The Englishman at 7:55 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

50 Years ago today

Hello, is that Edinburgh? It's your Queen calling – and one dialled all by one's self - Scotsman.com News
WHEN she picked up the receiver on this day half-a-century ago, the Queen changed the way the people of the UK communicated with each other.
Sat beside Prince Philip in Bristol's central telephone exchange, surrounded by dignitaries and their wives, with great ceremony she dialled an Edinburgh number and uttered the words: "This is the Queen speaking from Bristol. Good afternoon, my lord provost."

It was the first long-distance phone call in the UK made without the help of an operator.

It almost makes me feel old, even though I'm not fifty I can remember tapping the phone rest and asking the operator for a number, kids today they wouldn't believe it....

Posted by The Englishman at 7:01 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Funniest Adverts Ever

Kung-fu bear fights way to top of advert charts - Scotsman.com News

AN ADVERT filmed in 2000 on the River Dee featuring a kung-fu fight between a hungry bear and a determined fisherman has been voted the funniest of all time.
The advert also saw the Aberdeen and Grampian Tourist Board receive hundreds of inquiries from big-game hunters about visiting Deeside – chosen because it resembles Alaska.

In second place was an advert for Blackcurrant Tango, made in 1996, in which the brand's fictional spokesman, Ray Gardner, leads a march of hundreds to Dover's white cliffs. There he strips to purple shorts and stands in a boxing ring challenging France and the rest of the world after being criticised by a French exchange student.

Third place went to the 1989 Hamlet cigar advert starring Gregor Fisher,..

I didn't know that the salmon advert was filmed in Scotland, maybe Sarah Palin is actually from Inverness.

But the dear old Scotsman still hasn't got the new media because where are the links to the adverts? Don't worry I have done it for you below the fold (even the naughty tobacco one).

Posted by The Englishman at 6:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Engineers Propose Engines to Solve Problem

Recycling shipped to China to be burnt as cheap fuel - Telegraph

The Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) said the Government's policy of recycling as much as possible is failing to help the environment because materials are being dumped in landfill or shipped to developing countries.
Ian Arbon, author of the report, said local authorities have no duty to track where recycling goes once it is sold onto waste contractors. Therefore a "colossal amount" is ending up in China where there are few environmental restrictions to stop it being burnt as cheap fuel.

"People would be very angry if they knew the recycling they have carefully sorted was going to China," he said.

Mr Arbon said the UK would do far better to process waste locally because it would not only cut down on the carbon emissions used to transport waste but generate electricity from a renewable source. He said the modern generation of incinerators do not pollute the environment and pointed out they are already in use across the Continent.

Download the report here.

Might as well burn the plastic bottles here as pay the Chinese to, in fact those of us with a large "woodburning" stove already have our own local Energy from Waste plant. The problem as ever is people complaining about possible nasties coming out of the chimneys to which are spanner monkey friends reply: In fact, the pollution caused by an EfW plant is as likely to be as damaging as throwing a sugar lump into Loch Ness!

Posted by The Englishman at 6:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 4, 2008

Gosh a business wants to make more money, we can't have that.

Marlborough takeway's extra hours bid criticised (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
On Monday the town council planning committee discussed a proposal by the Charcoal Grill kebab and burger takeaway at the back of Hughenden Yard to open until 3.30am on Fridays and Saturday nights.

Councillors came up with several reasons for objecting.

Coun Marian Hannaford Dobson said she was surprised to see one of the reasons stated in the application for the longer hours was “making more money”.

And she is a "Conservative", I'm not sure Councillors have quite got the hang of why people want to fry burgers at all hours of the night...


(As an aside I used to have an office next door to this kebab shop, to save queuing they would actually bring the programmers their burgers to their desks, and as it was a smoking office the code jockeys had no reason to ever leave their keyboards....)

Posted by The Englishman at 7:07 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Jacqui Smith in Contempt of Court

BBC NEWS | UK | DNA database 'breach of rights'
Two British men should not have had their DNA and fingerprints retained by police, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.
The men's information was held by South Yorkshire Police, although neither was convicted of any offence.
Under present laws, the DNA profiles of everyone arrested for a recordable offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are kept on the database, regardless of whether they are charged or convicted.
The court found that the police's actions were in violation of Article 8 - the right to respect for private and family life - of the European Convention on Human Rights.
It also said it was "struck by the blanket and indiscriminate nature of the power of retention in England and Wales".
The judges ruled the retention of the men's DNA "failed to strike a fair balance between the competing public and private interests," and that the UK government "had overstepped any acceptable margin of appreciation in this regard".
The court also ruled "the retention in question constituted a disproportionate interference with the applicants' right to respect for private life and could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society".
Shami Chakrabarti said: "This is one of the most strongly worded judgements that Liberty has ever seen from the Court of Human Rights.
"That court has used human rights principles and common sense to deliver the privacy protection of innocent people that the British government has shamefully failed to deliver."

"The existing law will remain in place while we carefully consider the judgement" -
Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary

Listen Jacqui Stasi Smith - you lost, lost big time, get over it, get on with implementing the ruling.

Posted by The Englishman at 5:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Virgin Exploitation Film Slammed

Burger King under fire for Whopper Virgins taste test challenge - Telegraph

In teaser adverts promoting its "Whopper Virgins" challenge, the fast food chain describes how it sought out farmers in rural Romania, Thai villagers and residents of Greenland's icy tundra to compare its signature burger with arch rival McDonalds'. The "undeniable" results of the chain's "unbiased" global research – which involved "13 planes, two dog sleds and one helicopter" – will be unveiled in a documentary next week, according to the website Burger King Whoppervirgins.com

But critics have slammed the campaign as insulting and exploitative.

"It's outrageous," Sharon Akabas of the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University, told the New York Daily News. "What's next? Are we going to start taking guns out to some of these remote places and ask them which one they like better?"

Marilyn Borchardt, development director for Food First, called the campaign insensitive. ...

"It doesn't get much more offensive than this," noted The Inquisitor blog. "If visiting poor people in remote locations, some who would be at best surviving on below poverty levels and throwing a burger in their faces isn't bad enough, it gets better, because they also ask the Whopper Virgins to compare the taste of the Whopper to a McDonalds Big Mac as well.

"It's hard to place exactly where this begins on the level of wrongness."

So if I'm a poor peasant living on dried goat dung and lichen and someone offers me not one but two burgers what am I going to feel? Not hungry for the first time in ages I expect. The hysterical anti-burger campaigners, I'm loving it. Does eating tofu give you a sense of humour bypass?

Posted by The Englishman at 7:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Speaker Michael Martin - Update

World's oldest living animal discovered after he is pictured in 1900 photograph - Telegraph
Despite his old age, locals say he still has the energy to regularly mate with the three younger females.
A spokesman said: "He is the sole survivor of three tortoises that arrived in 1882.
"He was already mature when he arrived and was at least 50-years-old.
"He lives in the grounds of Plantation House which is the governor's residence with five other tortoises who are much younger than him.
"Apparently he remained nameless until he was named by Governor Sir Spencer Davis in the 1930s.
"He feeds on the grass of the main paddock.
"He is still very active despite his age and adores attention, he is a real poser.
"He seems to be sightless in one eye, but does not let that slow him down."

Posted by The Englishman at 7:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Clear Felling to Tackle Climate Change

Money will grow on trees but is renting out our forests a good idea? - Scotsman.com News

Plans by the Scottish Government to lease a quarter of the forests it owns to private firms have sparked huge concern.
The proposals have prompted fears that international investment companies could use the Forestry Commission land for commercial forestry, with little concern for protecting wildlife, ensuring public access, or promoting the use of the woodlands for tourism.
This has led to accusations that the SNP government, which has in the past opposed measures that hint at privatisation, would be essentially putting the land under private management and "selling off the family silver".
The proposals, outlined in a consultation paper, would be aimed at generating millions from the forests to spend on initiatives to tackle climate change.

Is there any measure a government takes now to raise a bit of cash that isn't excused by "tackling climate change"?

Posted by The Englishman at 6:54 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Cheap money isn't the answer.

The mechanism’s broken, rate cuts won’t fix it - Times Online
The Bank of England is certain to slash interest rates again today. It is less certain how effective the cut will be in reviving the patient. Martin Weale, a member of The Times’s interest rate panel, says that a cut of one percentage point would have more impact than “sacrificing a goat”, but it is difficult to have any real conviction it will do much good. After all, last month’s 1.5point cut has done little to improve financial conditions.

The root cause of the economic downturn is the credit crunch, which has choked off the supply of credit for mortgage borrowers and businesses.Cutting official interest rates is not going to increase the quantity of credit available. The mechanism that turns official interest rate cuts into a boost for the economy is broken.

There are countless distressing examples of small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat for want of a bit of cash, but in many cases, including some highlighted by the media, what they need is new equity investment or a change of business model, not a bigger overdraft. It is no good expecting banks to lend companies money they are unlikely to get back.

There is much more of a problem of unmet demand for credit among homebuyers and large companies, because nonbank sources of funding have evaporated....

The Government believes it is business as usual, tweak the rates and allow the great ship of state to proceed on its course. Businesses are retracting back into their shells as quickly as they can, they can see hard times ahead. And those who can't see a survival mode are best advised to go broke as quickly as they can. The problem now is the imbalance between the State's demands both financially and regulatory and the private sector's ability to service those demands. Allowing people and businesses to borrow money more cheaply to pay their taxes isn't the answer.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Contempt for politicians caused by contemptable politicians

As the Queen opens Parliament, the chasm between politics and people widens - Telegraph

The truth is that the deepest divide in British politics today is not between Labour and the Tories; or between Speaker Michael Martin and irate backbench MPs; or between members of Gordon Brown's Cabinet and each other. It is between Britain's whole political class and the great majority of the British people. On the far side of a chasm stand politicians of all parties and their hangers-on. On the near side is almost everyone else.

...According to the latest survey by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, three quarters of adults - roughly 34million people - do not trust MPs and ministers to tell the truth.

Britons have always been sceptical about politics and politicians. Now their scepticism has morphed into cynicism, even contempt. At dinner parties, it is now rare to meet an admirer of more than two or three prominent politicians. It is the few oddballs, the one-offs - Vince Cable, Ken Clarke, Frank Field - who fare best. The issues that excite intense interest in political circles seldom rate a mention anywhere else....

The answer is not that "democracy is under threat". Democracy is secure; most people want more of it, not less. The answer is that misgovernment is bad in itself and that cynicism of politicians on the present scale corrodes people's respect for the law generally and undermines the ability of governments of all parties to persuade ordinary people to act in a disinterested, civic-minded way. If our politicians are such a shabby lot, why should we be any better? It would be sad if this country's public life came to resemble that of Greece or Italy.

Blogs have revived some interest in politicians some bloggers are so inside the political mutual jerk that they are part of the problem, others stand a respectable distance from it and reveal the grossness of those involved whilst a few of us having taken a peek inside, slam the door on them all and wish for a cleansing storm.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 3, 2008

Do we need another Earth Summit?

BBC NEWS | The Reporters | Richard Black
The series of major summits on the human environment, or on environment and development, or on sustainable development, that have marked the last decades.

The question being asked now is: do we need another one?

And I'm not talking about something like the UN climate conference currently going on in Poland, or the Convention on Migratory Species meeting in Rome; but something huge, all-encompassing, potentially epoch-making, which Stockholm and Rio, if not Nairobi and Johannesburg, arguably were.

The reasons why another summit is needed are not hard to see. As the UN Environment Programme reported last year, virtually every indicator of the world's environmental health is pointing downhill.

In a nutshell, these past summits have not brought the sea-changes needed to put societies on a sustainable path.

So what do you think? Is it worth it? If it is, what should the priorities be?

I can't promise that your thoughts will travel further than this blog; but you never know.

Do we need another one? Short answer, "No". Long answer, "No, of course not." Your views may differ.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:04 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

An Appeal

Justgiving - Matt Trigg - Amalfi Trek Challenge - a little fat pink person wants to get roasted and exhausted in a good cause and he wants your help.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Can't be unlawful

Jean Charles De Menezes coroner rules out unlawful killing verdict - Times Online

Sir Michael Wright, QC, ruled yesterday that jurors would not be allowed to consider a verdict of unlawful killing.

Sir Michael, a retired High Court judge, told the eleven jurors that they could only consider two outcomes: either that Mr de Menezes was lawfully killed or an open verdict.

That is reassuring, next time you are faced with bunch of hyped up plod about to blow your innocent head off remember it will either be lawful or just one of those things that no one can be blamed for.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:49 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

There is grandeur in this view of life.

Darwin at the Natural History Museum: the original of the species - Times Online

The Natural History Museum is one of London's and the world's great buildings, and, in the place of honour, looking down across the great Central Hall, Darwin offers his mild gaze in stone across to the prancing dinosaur Diplodocus. On Friday the museum is opening an exhibition on Darwin that will take in his 200th birthday, February 12, and end on the 127th anniversary of his death. Next year is also the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin, the book that shook the world - and is still shaking it.

It is a marvellous exhibition, not least in that it is full of marvels. ...

This exhibition is a vivid experience for anyone who has an interest in life. You can gaze on stuffed specimens of the animals that were part of the subtle and cumulative process of reaching his eureka. You can see demonstrations of its unquestionable validity in, for example, the bones of a human hand and arm, the wing of a fruit bat and the foot of a Komodo dragon: all showing their staggering similarities, their incontrovertible kinship.

The man - his life, his thoughts, the long process that led to his revelation - are presented for us to wonder at. The real implication of his work is something we have to work out for ourselves.

The only question is will one visit be enough.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Embarrassed by our cultural inheritance

Rue Britannia: How icons are vanishing for ever - Scotsman.com News
BRITAIN'S identity is being lost as traditional icons like red telephone boxes, lollipop ladies and milkmen gradually disappear from its streets, research has found.

William Palin, the secretary of Save Britain's Heritage, blamed local authorities for the demise in traditional services. He said: "Local governments feel embarrassed by our cultural inheritance and are glad to see the back of those things, such as post offices and telephone boxes, which anchor us in our communities and the places we live.

That must have been the multiculturism that celebrated every culture except the native one then...

Posted by The Englishman at 6:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Job News

Millions of parents to be able to request family-friendly flexible working - Telegraph

Queen's Speech will give workers will get the right to ask their boss to alter their contractual hours to fit in with their lifestyle, following Cabinet battle led by Yvette Cooper.

BBC NEWS | Business | UK job market weakening rapidly
The UK job market weakened rapidly in November as permanent placements declined at a record rate, a new survey from Markit Economics suggests.

No Comment from me needed

Posted by The Englishman at 6:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 2, 2008

Don't let Schooling Interfere With Your Education

Google generation has no need for rote learning - Times Online
Memorising facts and figures is a waste of time for most schoolchildren because such information is readily available a mere mouse click away, a leading commentator has said.

A far better approach would be to teach children to think creatively so that they could learn to interpret and apply the knowledge available online. “Teachers are no longer the fountain of knowledge; the internet is,” Tapscott said. “Kids should learn about history to understand the world and why things are the way they are. But they don’t need to know all the dates. It is enough that they know about the Battle of Hastings, without having to memorise that it was in 1066. They can look that up and position it in history with a click on Google,” he said.

Tapscott denies that his approach is anti-learning. He argues that the ability to learn new things is more important than ever “in a world where you have to process new information at lightning speed”. He said: “Children are going to have to reinvent their knowledge base multiple times. So for them memorising facts and figures is a waste of time.”

Expect the horror storm from those dull witted fact regurgitating company cogs who make up the educational establishment. Information isn't knowledge, memorised facts are unreliable, imagination, conjecture, and just bloody thinking are much more important, and far harder to test and are dangerous to the complacency and obedience that schools prefer.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:48 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Haringey - The Secret Report

Why focus on meeting targets did not save Baby P | Camilla Cavendish: Commentary - Times Online

There are 191 children with child protection plans in Haringey. There are 121 social worker posts.

Mr Balls is refusing to publish the serious case review (SCR) into the handling of the Baby P case because he says that lessons cannot be learnt if people are put off contributing to reviews. But it is clear that the SCRs and the regulators have failed. We need public scrutiny of this uniquely unaccountable public service.

Of Haringey’s 121 social workers, 51 are temporary agency staff. It is not fear of scrutiny that puts good social workers off going to Haringey. It is lack of leadership, shockingly poor management and cover-ups. If the public were privy to all the details, they might conclude that doing more to “embed the London protocol for interagency working to improve outcomes for children and young people”, as yesterday’s report advised, may not be the answer. What is needed is not more jargon but for staff to take responsibility.

The report needs to be published, No more cover ups. No more box ticking. We won't stand for it.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Olympic's Inconvenient Truth

Olympics good for having a party but not much else, secret report warned ministers - Times Online

Ministers ignored evidence from their own experts who found scant social or economic justification for bidding for the 2012 Olympics, The Times has learnt.
A 250-page strategy document, signed off in December 2002 by Tony Blair as Prime Minister but selectively distributed, found little support for the claim that the Games would produce significant economic returns or more people playing sport. ....
Researched for nearly a year by ten experts, Game Plan was intended as a framework for sports policy for the next decade – in particular, whether Britain should bid for events such as the Olympics and the World Cup.

Instead it was quietly forgotten when it did not present a strong case for a bid. Civil servants watered down the findings but the final draft was still unhelpful to bid champions within the Government, an unnamed source told The Times.

“This was a robust report that showed why we should not bid for the Olympics but it was an inconvenient truth. Almost the moment the ink was dry, there was a volte-face,” said Stefan Szymanski, a professor at Cass Business School.

“The justification for bidding should have been based on evidence placed in the public domain. Instead key evidence was suppressed or ignored.”

Which is exactly why we need patriotic civil servants to leak this type of dicument.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 1, 2008

BT Privacy Bollocks

BT.com Privacy policy

We are serious about guarding the security of your personal information and the details of any transactions made. We take appropriate organisational and technical security measures to protect your data against unauthorised disclosure or processing. We use a secure server to store the information you give us when you register or make an order (including your credit card details and your password). Any personal data you send us on-line is securely encrypted.
Please note that your billing account number is a sensitive piece of information, which can be used with your telephone number to find out information about your use of BT's services....

I'm on BT Braodband here and over the weekend responded to an email about renewing. I get an email back today in plain text with the following footer - the XXXXX are what I have put in as in the email they are unencrypted for anyone to see. Advice as to what I should do please...

Original Message Follows:
------------------------
/*******************************
* BT_EmailTitle: {null};
* BT_Subject: {Broadband resigns};
* BT_Message: {null};
* BT_Title: {};
* BT_Firstname: {XXX};
* BT_Surname: {XXXXX};
* BT_ContactPreference: {null};
* BT_EmailAddress: {XXXXXXX};
* BT_AccountNumber: {null};
* BT_TelNumber: {null};
* BT_UserName: {null};
* BT_ContactTelNumber1: {XXXXXXX};
* BT_ContactTelNumber2: {null};
* BT_OriginatingForm: {null};
* BT_Browser: {null};
* BT_CustomerPreviousPages: {null};
* BT_DestinationEmail: {null};
* BT_Customer_Classification: {null};
* BT_Customer_Category: {null};
* BT_VIPType: {null};
* BT_Reference Number: {null};
* BT_xxmessagetag: {null};
* BT_zzsource: {null};
*******************************/

Renew or upgrade your BT Business Total Broadband
Contact information:
Customer name: XXXXX
Contact number: XXXXX
Contact email: XXXXX
Broadband number you want to renew or upgrade: XXXXXX
Broadband account username: XXXXX@btconnect.com
Security question: What was your mother's maiden name?
Answer: XXXXX
Mobile Broadband account password: XXXXX
Confirm Mobile Broadband account password: XXXXX

Posted by The Englishman at 3:18 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Two Britain Labour

John Redwood MP サ Two Britains and public sector inflation

We certainly have two Britains. The government has split the country into the hard working compliance ridden tax paying private sector, shivering without cash and awaiting the call of the well heeled state Inspector, and the overbearing, camera wielding, humourless, play by the increasing number of rules politically correct Inspector state where any amount of borrowed money can be channelled into more nonsense. This is why the state can afford to prosecute us for parking in the wrong place, for offering a client a glass of wine or for using the wrong words to describe people, festivals or religious observance with no sense of proportion.

There is a growing sense of injustice amongst all those who run businesses and try to make a contribution through the private sector, and growing sense of unfairness between the towns and districts where people mainly work in the private sector, and the ones where a majority now draw their income from tax and public borrowing.

Quite - on the money as always.

Posted by The Englishman at 8:16 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack