January 30, 2009
Gordon's Message to The Country
Gordon Brown has issued a passionate appeal to the British people for optimism in the face of the economic downturn, insisting that confidence will see the country through the deepening recession.
A Hero for our Times
It was with great sadness back last year that we learned of the death of George MacDonald Fraser and that no more Flashman Papers would come to light. I read them all over the summer and thought I had closed the door on ever reading of such a hero again. So it is with great excitment and pleasure, and thanks to a reader for pointing it out to me, that I learn that the exploits of a modern hero are being discussed on the Internet -
The Baron of Castleshort - ARRSEpedia, James Shortt, Major Lucien Ott, The Baron Castleshort, IBA, International Bodyguard Association, Protection, Close Protection, Walter Mitty, Knight of St Gregory, McCarthy Mor, Royal Galloglas Guard, SAS, Parachute Regiment, Royal Marine, Commando, Legion of Frontiersmen, Minders, Security, Training, Bodyguard, BodyGuards, training, Security training, Escort, Protective driving, Communication, Improved Explosive Devices, Persoonsbeveiliging, IED, Close Quarter Battle, CQB, Paramedicine, Baltic, Riga, AGS, AGS Groep, Remy de Jong, FWE, FreightWatch, AGS-Freightwatch, Cargo Security, Freight, Security, Gargo, Surveilance, ESMC, E.S.M.C., Tracking, Tracing, Controlroom, Meldkamer, GPS, FWE, FWG, group, Freightwatch group, Investigation, europain security management centre, the cargo security company, audit, training, education, Havenbeveiliging, Alarm, Centrale, Vlaardingen, Meldkamer, Service centrale, PAC, Particuliere AlarmCentrale, Callcenter, Eurowatch, TAPA, Lockpick, slotenmakers, sleutelservice, Meldkamer Vlaardingen
Friday Night is Music Night (Guess the Bass Player Edition)
On this day in Westminster
Unfortunately we remember today the grievous murder of St Charles the Martyr by the snivelling puritanical parliamentarians. Maybe this day next year we can celebrate around a scaffold outside The Banqueting House as our present day snivelling puritanical parliamentarians are lead out of the first floor window to their just reward.
One of my readers spotted on Google Streetview
Baseball cap, Harley-Davidson sweatshirt, jeans and cowboy boots and walks the mean streets of the Land of the Free with a hunting rifle while swigging from a bottle of hard liquor. H/t The Register
Helping you out
I'm off out today to be fiscally stimulated by the Taxpayer, free lunch provided. I only do these things because my country needs me. I hope it is as much fun as it sounds.
January 29, 2009
IPCC forecasts useless according to forecasting expert
A quick summary of a summary....
Today yet another scientist has come forward with a press release saying that not only did their audit of IPCC forecasting procedures and found that they “violated 72 scientific principles of forecasting”, but that “The models were not intended as forecasting models and they have not been validated for that purpose.”.....
Dr Armstrong provides the following eight reasons as to why the current IPCC computer models lack a scientific basis:
1. No scientific forecasts of the changes in the Earth’s climate.
2. Improper peer review process.
3. Complexity and uncertainty of climate render expert opinions invalid for forecasting.
4. Forecasts are needed for the effects of climate change.
5. Forecasts are needed of the costs and benefits of alternative actions that might be taken to combat climate change.
6. To justify using a climate forecasting model, one would need to test it against a relevant naïve model.
7. The climate system is stable.
8. Be conservative and avoid the precautionary principle.
How Alcohol Policy is Made
All children should be guaranteed an alcohol-free childhood, parents will be told by the Government today....
In his guidance, Sir Liam will say that an alcohol-free upbringing is best for a child's brain development.
The guidance is to be turned into a leaflet offering advice and information. However, mindful of accusations the Government is acting as a "nanny state", and would be unable to enforce the recommendation, ministers will consult on the proposal beforehand. Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrats' health spokesman, said: "The danger with the Chief Medical Officer's guidelines is that they fly so much in the face of reality that one questions whether they will be taken seriously"
Couldn't say it better myself: Reading on I looked for the evidence behind this move. The only learned opinion The Independent comes up with is this;
Meanwhile, others argue that the UK should adopt the policy of some European countries where children are introduced to diluted wine or small amounts of alcohol to demystify its appeal. Margaret Morrissey, the spokeswoman for the Parents Outloud pressure group, said she was behind the Government's aim. "I feel they shouldn't be drinking until that age," she said.
"The dilemma is that – unless you introduce them slowly to drinking – when they do start at 15 or 16 they go absolutely ballistic – so maybe there is something to be said for what happens in France where you can get diluted wine for youngsters.
"However, if the Government is really serious about it, it should ban alcohol from supermarkets and go back to just having it available from off-licences which can be more regulated."
But then it seems the Indy just copied that of Ms Morrissey's blog from last month. And her blog seems to be the only sign of existence of this pressure group. I can' find any sign of meetings, how to join or any other members, strange that....
Scottish Prudence Doesn't Work
Scottish recession is steepest in UK … and UK recession is worst in world - Scotsman.com News
SCOTLAND'S economy is now falling faster than the rest of the UK, according to statistics published yesterday.
The gloomy news from the latest gross domestic product figures came as the world's leading economic organisation, the International Monetary Fund, warned the UK would suffer the worst slump of all industrial nations, in the deepest recession "since the Second World War".
And only a month ago we were being lectured on how our economy should be run...
SNP focus on Scotland's economy | SNP - Scottish National Party 2008-11-12
Indeed, it is this Scottish Government’s firm view that public expenditure should also increase at this time to ease the hardship on Scottish households and Scottish businesses. This balance of lower and fairer tax, matched by increased in investment in frontline public services is our social democratic contract with the people of Scotland – it is a model the UK government would do well to adopt.
I will leave it to others to casually mention how Gordon continues to live in La-La land by insisting the UK as a whole is better run than the rest of the world.
Lord Barnett says Barnett Formula "dangerous and unfair".
Barnett formula could split UK, says the man himself - Scotsman.com News
THE man behind the financial formula that results in Scotland getting £1,600 more per head than England yesterday warned it could result in the break-up of the UK.
Lord Barnett told a new investigation into his 30-year-old formula for distributing government expenditure that it was dangerous and unfair.
He said the system had created a situation where an "astute politician" at Holyrood could use Scotland's extra cash to adopt policies such as scrapping prescription charges or student fees – which the SNP has done – and create jealousy and resentment among English voters.
Lord Barnett is the only politician astute and brave enough to point out the deliberate English baiting by the SNP.
January 28, 2009
The Wisdom of Solomon
Contrary to popular opinion, halting carbon emissions will not see temperatures reduce before the year 3000, according to the US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Earth System Research Laboratory.
Nevertheless, Susan Solomon, who led the research, said cutting emissions remained important. ...Ms Solomon said: "Climate change is slow, but it is unstoppable - all the more reason to act quickly, so the long-term situation does not get even worse."
Logic Failure at Line 3, Terminal Error.
You're not from round here are you?
SCOTS language teaching should be boosted in primary and secondary schools, a government-commissioned study says.
Why not hobble a future generation. Let's be honest, Scots isn't a language, it's not like Welsh or Gaelic it is just a badly spelt mispronounced English. We have the same down in the West Country, but we don't demand Taxpayer cash to preserve it. We enjoy it as our heritage but realise that it limits our kids by stereotyping them.
English Views on Sctoland - The Figures
ALMOST a third of people in England think Scotland receives more than its fair share of government cash, a survey revealed today.
The 25th British Social Attitudes report also found 61 per cent of people in England thought Scottish MPs should not be able to vote on English legislation – the so-called West Lothian Question.
A total of 19 per cent of people in England wanted Scotland out of the UK, compared with 21 per cent in 1999.
Meanwhile, 57 per cent of people in England think the country should continue to be governed by Westminster, rather than by an English parliament.
And 55 per cent of people in England said the establishment of the Scottish Parliament had made no difference to how well Britain was governed, with 50 per cent stating they trusted the UK government to look after England's interests "just about always" or "most of the time".
I'm not sure I can make sense of those figures, but then I'm one of the people they interview. They bung me a few quid for answering after supper once a year, I always ensure I'm outside a decent amount of claret and then tick the boxes at random....
January 27, 2009
Brown's Dead Cat Bounce is Over
Only six weeks ago Gordon Brown was portrayed as an international hero single-handedly defeating the evil spectre of recession. Feted by presidents and Nobel prizewinners, he basked in glory as Labour climbed in the polls. ...Now, as the hedge fund managers shout “sell Britain”, the voters are whispering to the pollsters “dump Brown”. And what worries Labour strategists most is that it is the crucial swing voters - skilled workers in the C2, D and E categories - who have turned in greatest numbers to the Conservatives. They have most to fear from the recession. There are growing calls at a senior level in the Government to rethink how the Prime Minister is handling the economy.
Job losses mount as downturn steepens - Times Online
In one of the darkest days since the credit crunch started, more than 4,000 posts in Britain were axed, with Corus, the UK’s largest steelmaker, alone cutting 2,500 staff....The cuts edged the economy closer to forecasts that unemployment will reach three million by Christmas. Jonathan Loynes, chief European economist at Capital Economics, said: “If you’re getting this number of job losses in one day, that gives us some indication of the scale of the problem we could be facing over the course of the coming months. Unemployment lags behind the economy – it will peak after the economy starts to improve.” ....
Every evening Dave and Georgie must kneel by their beds and thank their lucky stars that they aren't in control. Because whilst Darling Brown are making it worse the Tories wouldn't have made it much better, and if they had got in last year then this recession would have been the end of the Tory party for a generation. Let us hope when they do get handed the reins of power that they are lucky and the global economy is improving and secondly that they have found a clue as to what to do, and it isn't the managerialist's wet dream they have come up with, which is the kind of thing you would expect to be dreamt up by a wet-behind-the-ears Tory boy with no experience of the real world beyond his gilded cage.
The BBC is right for once
Stars attack BBC for refusing to broadcast Gaza appeal but Sky won't show it either | Mail Online
Actress Samantha Morton led a string of celebrities who criticised the BBC’s decision...
The 31-year-old Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee said she would never work for the BBC again if the corporation failed to show a charity appeal for money for aid for Gaza.
I apologise for not having heard of her before, and I won't spoil your breakfast by showing her picture so I googled her:
The curious case of Samantha Morton's stroke | Mail Online
Miss Morton, who starred opposite Cruise in the blockbuster Minority Report, told a music magazine she had been "close to death" following the stroke, which she suffered after part of the ceiling at her London home collapsed on her.
She said she was nursed back to health by friends, who helped her through her rehabilitation as she struggled to walk again. She had hidden her condition from the world, she revealed, because she feared it could jeopardise her movie career...
All of which is dramatic and, given that she kept such a devastating illness hidden from her many fans, suggests levels of discretion not normally associated with this outspoken young star.
Strangely enough, even those who count themselves among her friends have been somewhat taken aback by her claims.
Last night, one associate of the actress said: "I was gobsmacked when I read what she said. Look, no one is accusing Sam of making it up. It's just that she can get a bit carried away sometimes."
..By February 2007, less than two months after she says she was struck down and faced with the agonising task of relearning how to walk, Miss Morton was to be seen firmly back on the party circuit....So what is going on in the sometimes bizarre world of the troubled Miss Morton? Once again, it seems, she has been left in a bit of a tangle by her often wayward tongue.
It is a character trait that has regularly landed her in hot water. Witness her habit of falling out with co- stars and the Hollywood studios, who are said to shun her because of her reputation for being "difficult".
After being invited to attend a reception at Buckingham Palace, Samantha raised eyebrows by arriving in flip-flops and later ungraciously described the Queen as a "right stuffy cow".
....the actress's spokesman, Karon Maskill, insisted her recuperation from the stroke had taken six months.
"It was just something Sam talked about without thinking it was a big deal. She doesn't want to discuss it any further."
Which, given the excitable Miss Morton's reputation for letting her mouth run away with her, might be a wise - if belated - policy.
I really ought to read the Daily Mail more often! I can't find out who else promised never to work for the BBC ever again but I think I won't miss Ms Morton.
And the BBC should stick its decision; the appeal is, and has become more, political and biased.
Climate Alarmism - Follow the Money
firstname.lastname@example.org — Climate Resistance: Challenging Climate Orthodoxy
...we would be less interested in such dodgy dealings if it weren’t for the mainstream media’s tendency to decry Exxon funding as corrupting of the scientific method while deeming Munich Re’s pronouncements - let alone the pronouncements of those they sponsor - as above scrutiny. It’s also worth re-stating at this point that fear is to the insurance industry what oil is to Exxon.
Any Excuse II
It concluded that those men who drank a moderate amount of alcohol reported 30 per cent fewer problems than tee-totallers.
Those who were low risk drinkers - consuming up to four drinks a day for up to five days a week - were found to have a "favourable association" with positive erectile function.
Weekend drinkers and binge drinkers had lower rates of erectile dysfunction than those who drank one day a week or less, according to the research.
Those at greatest risk of poor performance in bed were heavy drinkers who had stopped drinking,..
Well don't stop then, just don't spill the tinny on the bedcover.
January 26, 2009
BBC NEWS | Education | 390,000 to access child database
A child protection database containing the contact details for all under 18-year-olds in England will be accessible to 390,000 staff, say ministers.
Children's Minister in the House of Commons, Beverley Hughes, said the database would allow people working with children to "put their particular piece of the jigsaw into the whole picture". Among those who will be able to see the information will be local authorities, police, health services and children's charities.
The latest stage of the project is that 17 local authorities will begin training staff in how to use the database, which will hold the name, address, parents' contact details, date of birth, school and doctor of every child in England.
Children's Minister Baroness Morgan said parents would not be allowed to remove their children from the list.
Each child will also have a unique identifying number.
Why not just tattoo the bloody thing on their arms? It would be safer and more honest than creating this database which will leak like Beverley Hughes knickers at whiff of power.
How easy do they want to make it for the perverts to impersonate a child's guardian, how easy to steal the ID of an eighteen year old? Hey hang on to that CD of the database for a couple of years and cash in on a twenty year old. Utter bloody morons.
Go Clause Four
Back to basics with Clause Four | Analysis: Alice Miles - Times Online
13 years after its demise, Clause Four is back. It was a defining moment in the creation of new Labour – Tony Blair ditched the party’s traditional pledge.
Written by Sidney Webb in 1917 and printed on every Labour membership card, it promised “to secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service”.
Even back then, few in the Labour Party thought that it meant nationalising the banks....
And a small prize for noticing the first mention of Labour Lords Laws for Cash on either....
At the risk of getting my backside blasted with a twelve-bore, I feel like falling to my knees at the gates of my local nob's house and saying sorry.
I was one of those who cheered on Tony Blair when he embarked on his mission to rid the House of Lords of hereditary peers....How dare these old buffoons, who are only in Parliament because some distant ancestor slept with Edward II, try to throw their weight around in a democracy, I thought...I now realise, though, that they were staunch upholders of civility and decency compared with the mercenary toadies that have replaced them. Somehow I can't imagine the late Duke of Devonshire trying to squeeze £120,000 out of a lobbyist to help to gain an exception on business rates - not even if the roof at Chatsworth had fallen in and he had worn through the leather patches on his elbows.
The appalling thing about the current House of Lords is that it has become a receptacle for all manner of wannabe politicians who would fail if they put themselves up before the electorate: MPs who have lost their seats, party donors with little popular appeal, and retired, often disgraced, Cabinet ministers who use the place like a free gentlemen's club....
Maybe there is something, after all, to be said for an upper parliamentary chamber made up entirely of hereditary peers, whose hands are unsullied by trade and who - in some cases, at least - have had a notion of public duty drummed into them from an early age...
Ross Clark then spoils his argument by suggesting driectly elected Lords, as though adding more bad apples to the barrel will make it better.
The advantage of hereditary peers was that they didn't have to seek short term approval or reward. They could afford to take a long term view informed by a sense of history, and by their position of influence being inheritable they were incented to ensure stability continued so they could pass it on to their heirs.
No other system is as good, though the old Greek habit of choosing some legislators by lot comes close. What we don't want is a House of Commons 2.0
SCOTS scientists are to use data from new carbon-hunting satellites to map levels of greenhouse gases around the world for the first time....
Scientists have calculated that nature produces about 330 billion tonnes of carbon every year from natural sources such as breathing animals, decaying plants, forest fires and volcanic eruptions.
Human activities, such as driving cars, burning coal and farming, produce about eight billion tonnes into the atmosphere – a tiny sum in comparison but enough, say researchers, to imbalance the system and raise the surface temperature of Earth.
The Earth is thought to be absorbing about 50 per cent of the carbon dioxide we put out – but little is known about exactly where it is soaked up.
You don't often see those figures or uncertainty displayed; It will be interesting to see what the satellite shows.
The War on Fat
Early 2008, an RSPCA inspector called at Miss Davidson's home in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, after an anonymous phone call about the animals.
The official carried out an assessment of the dogs, Rocky and Chubby, and said they were overweight. The inspector gave advice on how their weight could be reduced.
Miss Davidson, who works for Hertfordshire social services and who has owned dogs for more than 20 years, followed the instructions and managed to bring down their weight.
Miss Davidson is registered disabled. Although she can walk, she cannot take the dogs on long walks.
However, she had to cancel three vets appointments to have her pets weighed, after her mother fell ill and she had to care for her.
After the missed appointments, an RSPCA inspector returned to her house in October while Miss Davidson was at work. The inspector asked her partner, Terry Shadbolt, for permission to take the animals to the vets.
"The inspector just asked if she could take them to get them weighed, and he said yes," said Miss Davidson. "When I got home, I rang the vets, and the RSPCA inspector said that under the guidance of the vet, the dogs were not coming home.
"Three days later, the inspector came to interview me. But since then, I haven't been able to find out anything about the dogs.
Tam Fry, a member of the National Obesity Forum's board, will tell a conference that youngsters who are over-fed by their parents should be treated as victims of abuse, as happens with malnourished children.
He will argue that authorities should take obese children from their families and into care, and that those whose health is at risk should then undergo stomach-stapling operations.
Children across the country, from Tower Hamlets in London to Lincolnshire, have already been placed on "at risk" registers or taken into care because of their weight. Last year Cumbria county council removed an obese eight-year-old girl from her family.
January 25, 2009
BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Troubles victims' payment planned
The government is to be asked to pay £12,000 to the families of all those killed during the Troubles - including members of paramilitary groups.
The families of paramilitary victims, members of the security forces and civilians who were killed will all be entitled to the same amount.
The Consultative Group on the Past..., co-chaired by Lord Eames and Denis Bradley, is expected to say there should be no hierarchy of victims and that everyone should be treated in the same way.
That would mean the family of the IRA Shankill bomber Thomas Begley would receive the same for his death as those of the families of the nine civilians he killed.
Likewise, the families of two UVF members killed while they planted a bomb that also killed three members of the Miami Showband in 1975 will be entitled to the same payment as those of the victims.
Devil's Kitchen has a word for Lord Eames and Denis Bradley. Let me concur with him.
Susan Watts - In Trouble With Her Bush Facts
Cut and Paste Journalism — Climate Resistance: Challenging Climate Orthodoxy
BBC bosses today tried to make excuses for the cut-and-paste job by BBC science journalist, Susan Watts
For once lets leave aside the Global Warming stuff, the level of spending on science etc which this article shows she got wrong and cut to something else she said:
Religion, or at least the religious vote, informed Bush policy. ...Creationism has grown stronger, to the point that more Americans now believe in the biblical story of creation than evolution.
Where did Watts get the idea that adherence to Biblical interpretations of life on Earth increased under Bush? Not from Gallup, which has data going back to 1982:
Look at that bottom line - Godless Darwinism increases from 9 to 14% during the Bush years (It seems to have decreased during the Clinton years). If you add in those who think God may have nudged evolution along a bit then it changes from 49/47 to 50/44 (evolution/creation) so she isn't even correct in saying that "more Americans now believe in the biblical story of creation than evolution".
What is the point of a science correspondent that can't get simple facts right and allows her Obamamania to write her stories?
Refilling the Gravy Train
£35 billion black hole in council pensions - Telegraph
Householders are paying up to £140 a year in council tax to help fill a £35 billion black hole in town hall pension funds.
An investigation by this newspaper raised renewed criticism of the “final salary” pensions offered to council employees. Such pensions have been almost eradicated in the private sector.
The final salary schemes used by councils offer workers guaranteed pensions based on their salary when they retire.
They include clauses allowing workers to retire early on full pensions.
The slump in share prices caused by the recession has hit pension fund investments hard and added to the scale of the problem.
Council chiefs admit that the situation was made worse when some local authorities took “pension holidays”, withholding contributions to their funds when the markets were strong.
I note that every household in Wiltshire owes £1,149 to the County's Pension blackhole (I'm excluding Swindon) If we exclude those households who are funded by the public sector then the figure rises towards £2000. £2000 we owe to a scheme we have already paid for, one that won't benefit us one iota. They taxed us once to fill the pot, the pot sprung a leak so they will tax us a gain to fill it again. £2000 would come in very handy to fill my leaking pension pot, can I go back to my past employers and ask them to pay me again?
4 out 5 Labour Peers Offer Laws For Cash
Revealed: Labour lords change laws for cash - Times Online
LABOUR peers are prepared to accept fees of up to £120,000 a year to amend laws in the House of Lords on behalf of business clients, a Sunday Times investigation has found.
Four peers — including two former ministers — offered to help undercover reporters posing as lobbyists obtain an amendment in return for cash....
Our reporters posed as lobbyists acting for a foreign client who was setting up a chain of shops in the UK and wanted to secure an exemption from the Business Rates Supplements Bill. We selected 10 Lords who already had a number of paid consultancies. The three Conservative peers did not return our calls and a Liberal Democrat and an Ulster Unionist both declined to help after meeting the undercover reporters.
However, four of the five Labour peers were willing to help to amend the bill in return for retainers.
Excellent scoop by The Sunday Times - Read and follow up.
Interestingly "Lord Truscott, the former energy minister, said he had helped to ensure the Energy Bill was favourable to a client selling “smart” electricity meters." I have been trying to untangle the web behind smart meters in the past because my nose smells something but I couldn't put my finger on it....
January 23, 2009
Friday Night is Music Night (Readers Request Edition)
Fred Lincoln "Link" Wray Jr (May 2, 1929 – November 5, 2005) was an American rock and roll guitarist, songwriter and occasional singer.
Wray was noted for pioneering a new sound for electric guitars, as exemplified in his hit 1958 instrumental "Rumble", by Link Wray and his Ray Men, which pioneered an overdriven, distorted electric guitar sound, and also for having, "invented the power chord, the major modus operandi of modern rock guitarist," "and in doing so fathering," or making possible, "punk and heavy rock".
The menacing sound of "Rumble" (and its title) led to a ban on several radio stations, a rare feat for a song with no lyrics, on the grounds that it glorified juvenile delinquency. Nevertheless it became a huge hit, not only in the United States, but also Great Britain,...
An Apology to India in a Picture
Omigod, he's got photos of the 'real India' | Hugo Rifkind - Times Online
Bob Marshall-Andrews once called David Miliband a “pillock on his gap year”. Bearing this in mind, I think it was rather brave of the Foreign Secretary to spend a night last week in a thatched hut in rural Amethi, experiencing what his host, Rahul Gandhi, called “the real India”.
Within a few days, however, he was telling Indians that they didn't understand Kashmir and that he did, and behaving so condescendingly towards a venerable septuagenarian Foreign Minister that it's a wonder he didn't actually pat him on the head. Despite such a promising start, his trip to India was by all accounts a raging disaster. If he had any sense, he'd go back in a few months and say sorry. Like Jade Goody.
Any excuse to republish this picture of the prat, that he represents Her Brittanic Majesty and us is an utter disgrace. I'm embarrassed for my country and hope India understands.
Welcome to ToyTown, the ToyTown from Hell
To American eyes Britain has never seemed more like toytown - Times Online
There is real doubt in President Obama’s team – as there was in George W. Bush’s Administration – that Britain has any significant help left to give.
Good luck, Gordon Brown, in trying to portray yourself as the economic wise man who can offer avuncular advice to the novice. It won’t make up for Britain’s reluctance to offer many more troops in Afghanistan – and the US suspicion that even if Brown wanted to, he couldn’t.
To Washington eyes never has Britain seemed more like toytown than in the heady first 48 hours of the Obama White House. But even if the attention that Obama’s military advisers pay to British affairs is slight, it takes only a second to register the hard numbers.
They can see at a glance the cuts in military spending, the shrinking of the Army and the national debt. It doesn’t take much to work out that this means cutbacks, and mysterious delays in expensive new kit.
With regard to our decline a kindly Septic is coming over to tell us about it - here's a chance to hear him.
Yo, Brits - Maggie's FarmHeads up, cousins. Jonah is coming! (The author of Liberal Fascism - if they still permit you to read such radical and subversive books.)
Of course, the Brits are already experts on liberal fascism. They live it.
The fragrant Wendy Alexander
A total of £2,555.44 was spent by MSPs on toilet paper and other hygiene products....
Much of the detail of this was hidden, but parliamentary sources said that most of the extra claims were down to support costs for former Labour leader Wendy Alexander and ex-Liberal Democrat leader Nicol Stephen.
Lipstick costs you know.
Unable to escape, the tank filled up with water and she was completely under for around 25 seconds.
A whole 25 seconds! Oh My God how close to death was that? How close to real journalism is this PR puff? Was The Telegraph a real paper once that employed real journalists?
Nanny Stats Yet Again
More than 7 million middle-class drinkers are putting their health at risk by enjoying evenings at home with a bottle of wine, Government statisticians claimed yesterday.
According to the researchers, many middle class drinkers insist they know what the safe level of alcohol consumption is.
This suggests they do not believe they are drinking too much and that simply having a large glass or two of wine each evening is an acceptable way to unwind after a stressful day at work....
The study, by the Office for National Statistics, also claims that middle class drinkers are more likely to indulge in "heavy" drinking - This is equivalent to a man having three pints of strong lager or a woman drinking two large glasses of wine.
So where's the evidence that they are "putting their health at risk"? Where is the evidence that they are "drinking too much" and that unwinding with a glass or two of wine is not "acceptable"?
Nowhere, I wonder if these bean jugglers actually know what it is like to live outside the cosy world of the Gov Stats Office?
January 22, 2009
I think I have the very thing for them, and note it was produced by private enterprise...
The actual design and production of Tallboy was done without a contract on the initiative of a single official within the Ministry. As such the RAF were using bombs they had not bought and which were actually still the property of the manufacturers; Vickers. This situation was regularized once their capabilities were recognised.
When dropped from 20,000 ft (6,100 m) it made a crater 80 feet deep (24 m) and 100 feet (30 m) across and could go through 16 feet (5 m) of concrete. It was capable of displacing a million cubic feet (29,000 m³) of earth and made a crater which it would have taken 5,000 tons of earth to fill. It was ballistically perfect and in consequence had a very high terminal velocity, variously estimated at 3,600 and 3,700 feet (1,100 m) per second (1,100–1,130 m/s or about 2,500 mph / 4,000 km/h), which was, of course, a good deal faster than sound so that the noise of its fall would be heard after that of the explosion.
Headline of the Year
That's going to take something to beat, give the dog a bone!
An Object Lesson
Dorling Kindersley are producing a phenomenal book of wonders that will feature a vast array of astonishing items that add something to the world we live in. ...We're giving you the opportunity to be a part of this incredible project. We want you to tell us about your object and why its story or what it represents is so extraordinary and makes life worth living.
To enter you need to email us at AllThisBook@uk.dk.com with an image of your object and a maximum of 100 words on what makes it so worthy of a place in this fantastic new book. The competition closes at midnight, Wednesday 28th January. T&Cs Apply
Here's my entry:
A telephone handset. Wonderful as they are for keeping us in touch with our family, friends and timeshare salesmen that is not why I have chosen it. It is no ordinary handset. It is an American one, it came from the command bunker of Greenham Common. It is through this handset that the coded orders would have passed that would have unleashed nuclear war. A few words listened to on it would have meant the end of civilisation as we knew it. We still face threats to our security but the black cloud of the Cold War hotting up which hung over a generation is now history. And that this telephone handset is no longer ready for use is something that makes life a lot better.
Newsnight Editing Obama to Make A Warmist Dream
An update on An Englishman's Castle: Watts Up With Obama where I discuss Newsnight's Susan Watts's reporting on Obama's speech. All was not as it seemed, it seems...
BBC Newsnight - Warming up President Obama’s inaugural speech?
What should the BBC do if the new US President’s references to global warming in his inaugural speech don’t quite come up to expectations?
....It would seem that someone at the BBC had taken the trouble to splice the tape so that half a sentence from paragraph 16 of the inauguration speech was joined on to half a sentence from paragraph 22, and this apparently continuous sound bite was completed by returning to paragraph 16 again to lift another complete sentence.
Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan
GORDON Brown was yesterday accused of a "humiliating climbdown" after the government abandoned attempts to exempt MPs from having to fully disclose their parliamentary expenses.
Or was it the Internets what won it?
This is a huge victory not just for transparency, it’s a bellweather for a change in the way politics works. There’s no such thing as a good day to bury bad news any more, the Internet has seen to that.
Make no mistake. This is new, and it reflects the fact that the Internet generation expects information to be made available, and they expect to be able to make up their own minds, not be spoon fed the views of others. This campaign was always about more than receipts, it was about changing the direction of travel, away from secrecy and towards openness.
I have a feeling the Tories were wrongfooted as well but turned a stumble into a well executed goal score, there saw what a PR disaster was awaiting to happen; so congratulations to the whole campaigning web and especially the organisers.
January 21, 2009
Ready, Aim, Fiddle about with a bloody touchscreen and then fire...
Diana Krall Sings Obama's Speech
ONLY a man who shines with hope could deliver such a difficult message and have it received with the awed rapture that fell upon the masses in Washington DC....
A gifted and inspirational speaker, he raised the hopes of millions as he promised even before taking office to emphasise diplomacy, seek global solutions to climate change, reject torture and shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison....
"Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America," he said.
Is that it? Is that it all? The whole "difficult" message....
Gordo Wants to Keep a Secret
Gordon Brown has imposed a three-line whip to force a move to block full publication of MPs' expenses through the Commons, The Times has learnt.
As they say of ID Cards, CCTV and the DNA Database only the guilty have anything to fear.
January 20, 2009
Watts Up With Obama
BBC NEWS | NEWSNIGHT | Susan Watts's blog
They were the words that scientists everywhere wanted to hear and President Obama couldn't have been clearer, promising to "restore science to its rightful place"...
They'll welcome too his pledge to "roll back the spectre of a warming planet".
Quite a change in tone from the past eight years.
During the Bush presidency, the world saw the Arctic ice cap shrink to a record summer low, the relentless rise of greenhouse gas emissions, and warnings from scientists shift from urgent to panicky.
Pity no one told the globe it was meant to be warming, if you look at the graph I think it is quite obvious that Bush did a great job at "rolling back the spectre of a warming planet". In fact there are many shivering people in America who think the rolling back has gone far enough.
But our little damp panted BBC poppette continues;
"...the coincidence of the recession and Obama coming to power could truly prove to be the world's last, best chance to solve the energy and climate security equation in a way that avoids destructive changes in global temperatures. He inherits a unique opportunity."
See the destruction of the global economy is a good thing and together with the coming of Obama is swoonfully wonderful.
Not Hunting 2009 - The Pictures
Not everything has gone to rack and ruin today, parts of old England continue to survive. Horse and Hound Magazine were here taking photos and will be writing the hunt up in a couple of weeks time. For those of us who like this sort of thing there are more photos below the fold.
Not Hunting Yet Again
The scene from my lawn this morning - I know some readers who will be pleased to see that yet again we aren't hunting at The Castle.
Last year's post when we didn't hunt here either....Two year's ago post when we didn't hunt here either. ...
You may wish to compare this morning's photos of a Not Hunt meet with a meet of the Hunt at The Castle from when hunting was legal.
Look Away Dixie Land
Mike Newbury - the writer
The Big Day
The national glossy magazine photographer is arriving at 10:15 to take photos in the garden, the crowds will be here shortly after expecting food and drink so all is hectic here at The Castle this morning. More later.
January 19, 2009
Are you euphoric yet?
I don't think I can take any more excitement, the BBC sounds more like Debbie Does Dallas with its deep sighing and moans than a serious news organisation.
But I will give thanks to The Chosen One for one improvement in my life already, I noted he is partial to salted chocolate; so I dipped some Ecuadorian 70% into the salt pig and it is fantastic.
Clarke Returns, The Dry Spell is Over
Slug is a common non-scientific word, which is often applied to any gastropod mollusk whatsoever that has a very reduced shell, a small internal shell, or no shell at all.
Evolutionarily speaking, the loss or reduction of the shell in gastropods is a derived characteristic; the same basic body design has independently evolved many times, making slugs a strikingly polyphyletic group. In other words, the shell-less condition has arisen many times in the evolutionary past, and because of this, the various different taxonomic families of slugs, even just of land slugs, are not closely related to one another, despite a superficial similarity in the overall form of the body.
The soft, slimy bodies of slugs are prone to desiccation, so land-living slugs are confined to moist environments and are forced to retreat to damp hiding places when the weather is dry.
Slugs produce two types of mucus: one which is thin and watery, and another which is thick and sticky. Some species of slug secrete slime cords to lower themselves onto the ground, or to suspend a pair of slugs during copulation.
Brown's volkstümlich slogans
Nazi parties turn popular resentment into votes
The fascists are trying to exploit this by whipping up nationalist feeling and outright racism with demands for "German jobs for German workers".
Foreign advert ban puts British workers first - Times Online
Employers will be prevented from advertising jobs overseas under plans being drawn up to ensure that British workers fill vacancies during the recession.
This is the first significant step towards fulfilling Gordon Brown's controversial promise made in 2007 to keep “British jobs for British workers”.
THE NAZI National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), has made a major electoral breakthrough in Saxony...with such slogans as "German money for German interests"...
Gordon Brown will vent his fury at bankers today over the discovery that up to 80 per cent of the loans by British banks are to foreign companies and individuals.
January 18, 2009
What can we give instead of what can we take....
Barack Obama to echo JFK with call for self-sacrifice - Telegraph
Aides said the President-Elect's first words as president would hark back to John F Kennedy's plea to "ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country".
A couple of days ago I suggested a form of words he might be comfortable with:
"We count it a privilege to live in an age when our country demands that great things shall be done, a privilege to be of the generation which learns to say what can we give instead of what can we take. For thus our generation learns there are greater things than slothful ease; greater things than safety; more terrible things than death."
But I have a feeling he won't given the author.....
Another bit of my childhood dies
He first appeared on Saturday Special as an illustrator before fronting his own shows such as Vision On, Take Hart and Hartbeat.
The artist served as an officer in the 1st Gurkha Rifles in World War II, before joining a course at Maidstone College of Art.
Always read the small print
THE GOVERNMENT has quietly adopted powers enabling it to introduce national pay-as-you-throw rubbish taxes of up to £100 without a vote in parliament.
The Tories discovered the bin tax measure in a little-noticed clause of the Climate Change Act.
“New taxes are being imposed by arrogant and out-of-touch rulers, showing contempt for the democratic process. The imposition of extra-parliamentary taxation is a constitutional outrage,” said Eric Pickles, shadow communities and local government secretary.
Would that be the Climate Change Act that the Tories supported, obviously not having read the small print...?
(www.publicwhip.org.uk seems to be down this morning so I can't check on voting records)
Going out this morning?
George refuses to leave his bed this morning, I can't say I blame him, especially as I already have the log fire blazing away whilst others lay asleep.
What will happen when Germany wakes up?
Monetary union has left half of Europe trapped in depression - Telegraph
Events are moving fast in Europe. The worst riots since the fall of Communism have swept the Baltics and the south Balkans. An incipient crisis is taking shape in the Club Med bond markets. S&P has cut Greek debt to near junk. Spanish, Portuguese, and Irish bonds are on negative watch.
A great ring of EU states stretching from Eastern Europe down across Mare Nostrum to the Celtic fringe are either in a 1930s depression already or soon will be. Greece's social fabric is unravelling before the pain begins, which bodes ill.
Each is a victim of ill-judged economic policies foisted upon them by elites in thrall to Europe's monetary project – either in EMU or preparing to join – and each is trapped....
Fixed exchange systems – and EMU is just a glorified version – rupture suddenly. Things can seem eerily calm for a long time. Politicians swear by the parity. Remember John Major's "soft-option" defiance days before the ERM blew apart in 1992? Or Philip Snowden's defence of sterling before a Royal Navy mutiny forced Britain off the Gold Standard in 1931.
Don't expect tremors before an earthquake – and there is no fault line of greater historic violence than the crunching plates where Latin Europe meets Teutonia.
Greece no longer dares sell long bonds to fund its debt. It sold €2.5bn last week at short rates, mostly 3-months and 6-months. This is a dangerous game. It stores up "roll-over risk" for later in the year. Hedge funds are circling.
Traders suspect that investors are dumping their Club Med and Irish debt immediately on the European Central Bank in "repo" actions.
In other words, the ECB is already providing a stealth bail-out for Europe's governments – though secrecy veils all.
An EU debt union is being created, in breach of EU law. Liabilities are being shifted quietly on to German taxpayers. What happens when Germany's hard-working citizens find out?
This could get very, very ugly very quickly. Batten down the hatches, withdraw and make secure are the sensible orders of the day.
Is that a bank roll in your pocket or are just pleased to see me?
Wealthy men give women more orgasms - Times Online
Scientists have found that the pleasure women get from making love is directly linked to the size of their partner’s bank balance.
They found that the wealthier a man is, the more frequently his partner has orgasms.
As Mrs Merton famously asked Debbie McGee, "So, what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?"
In other research today:
No, sorry, that is Mathematicians making excuses for why they never pull....
The Seer's Revelation
Barack Obama has only four years to save the world. That is the stark assessment of Nasa scientist and leading climate expert Jim Hansen who last week warned only urgent action by the new president could halt the devastating climate change that now threatens Earth. Crucially, that action will have to be taken within Obama's first administration, he added.
Soaring carbon emissions are already causing ice-cap melting and threaten to trigger global flooding, widespread species loss and major disruptions of weather patterns in the near future....
The throne is surrounded by twenty-four elders. In the right hand of God is a scroll sealed with seven seals. In the midst of the Cherubim and the elders the Seer beholds a lamb, "agnus tamquam occisus",... The Seer weeps because no one either in heaven or on earth can break the seals. He is comforted on hearing that the lamb was worthy to do so because of the redemption it had wrought by its blood. ...
At the opening of four seals, four horses appear. Their colour is white, black, red, and sallow, or green (chloros, piebald). They signify conquest, slaughter, dearth and death. At the opening of the fifth seal the Seer beholds the martyrs that were slain and hears their prayers for the final triumph. At the opening of the sixth seal the predestined to glory are numbered and marked. The Seer beholds them divided into two classes.
After the interval of about half an hour, the seventh seal is broken; seven angels issue forth, each one holding a trumpet. The sounding of the first four trumpets causes a partial destruction of the elements of nature. One-third of the earth is burned, as also one-third of the trees and all the grass. One-third of the sea becomes blood. One-third of the rivers is turned into water of wormwood. One-third of the sun, moon, and stars is obscured, causing one-third of the day to be dark. At the sounding of the fifth trumpet locusts ascend from the abyss. Their work is to torment men for five months, They are specially charged not to touch the grass. At the sound of the sixth trumpet the four angels chained at the Euphrates are let loose. They lead forth an army of horsemen. By the fire which the horses spit out and by their tails which are like serpents, one-third of mankind is killed. The seventh trumpet is now sounded, the nations are judged and the kingdom of Christ is established.
January 17, 2009
Gathering Winter Fuel
Time to chop up some of the big trunks for firewood, so get a man with a 60 inch chainsaw bar in. Now that is what you call a big boys toy.
Normally of course big chainsaws like that are only seen in virgin rainforests but here we are being all green and cuddly producing carbon neutral fuel. Do you think I will get a green award?
Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee...
BBC NEWS Obama begins historic rail trip
Mr Obama and his family will board a train for the 137-mile (220 km) journey to the US capital.
Train? I thought he was riding in on an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
Middle East War Quiz
...And we were casting them by thousands into the fire to the worst of deaths, not to win the war but that the corn and rice and oil of Mesopotamia might be ours. ...
For my work on the Arab front I had determined to accept nothing. The Cabinet raised the Arabs to fight for us by definite promises of self government afterwards. Arabs believe in persons, not in institutions. They saw in me a free agent of the British Government, and demanded from me an endorsement of its written promises. So I had to join the conspiracy, and, for what my word was worth, assured the men of their reward. In our two years' partnership under fire they grew accustomed to believing me and to think my Government, like myself, sincere. In this hope they performed some fine things, but, of course, instead of being proud of what we did together, I was continually and bitterly ashamed.
It was evident from the beginning that if we won the war these promises would be dead paper, and had I been an honest adviser of the Arabs I would have advised then to go home and not risk their lives fighting for such stuff: but I salved myself with the hope that, by leading these Arabs madly in the final victory I would establish them, with arms in their hands, in a position so assured (if not dominant) that expediency would counsel to the Great Powers a fair settlement of their claims.
I risked the fraud, on my conviction that Arab help was necessary to our cheap and speedy victory in the East, and that better we win and break our word than lose.
Without Google, who wrote that? Which book was it removed from before it would be published? And who would say it now?
"We count it a privilege to live in an age when our country demands that great things shall be done, a privilege to be of the generation which learns to say what can we give instead of what can we take. For thus our generation learns there are greater things than slothful ease; greater things than safety; more terrible things than death."
Who said that? And who would say it now?
January 16, 2009
Friday Night is Music Night (グロリア Edition)
Testing the EU's freedom of expression
The legends and mystique surrounding the Czech art controversy just will not go away. The latest story has it that lego bricks were added to the Denmark exhibit to remove an incendiary resemblance to the Prophet Mohammed.
David Černý, the artist behind the whole thing, spoke about the EU's (or should it be the EUSSR) sense of humour failure.
"If we are not able to look at ourselves with fun or taking ourselves so seriously then we going back to the past of the Iron Curtain again, not being able to speak or have freedom. During Communism the only thing that was really forbidden by the state, bureaucracy and government was humour. If we unable to have fun about ourselves, you could say Europe is going back to that."
Complaints about the installation were discussed on Wednesday afternoon by Coreper - the EU's powerful and secretive committee of national "permanent representatives".
Milena Vicenová, the Czech Permanent Representative, told Coreper that the issue was one of principle.
"Having spent 50 years behind the Iron Curtain we appreciate freedom of expression," she said (roughly).
Is that a rough translation or does it mean she told them robustly? I hope the latter because it is about time someone dropped a few Fs on them.
Flight 1549 Map
USAir Flight 1549 Flight Data Mapped and Google Maps Mania has produced a simulation of the crash for the Google Earth Browser. (Two versions of the simulation, one with the New York 3D buildings turned off and one with the buildings turned on. The 3D version can seriously lag on slower computers.)
That's cool - shows what a silly idea it is to have a major airport next door to a major city, no one would suggest building one like that now would they? Because if there hadn't been a bit of open water a skilled pilot found to land on what would have happen?
Doubts on the "Veracity of what is said in this chamber"
Labour has been working on a "Pinocchio file" and the Liberal Democrats have been keeping a record of "mistruths".
Good to know someone worries about Ministers misleading a Parliament, even if it is only the Scotch one. But with Labour pointing the finger up there, motes and beams in eyes and stones and living in glass houses comes to mind down here...
January 15, 2009
Sometime the old ways were the best ways
Data sharing ‘is step towards Big Brother’ - Times Online
Personal data gathered by one government department will be available to other areas of Whitehall, local government and agencies under proposed legislation published yesterday.
This will open the way for the bulk sharing of information across government, and reverses existing policy, in which data can only be used for the purpose for which it was gathered. Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, defended the proposal, saying that it was intended to improve public services and help to fight crime.
Jack Straw and The Peasants Revolt of 1381
The British politician John Whitaker Straw (born 1946) adopted the name Jack Straw after the rebel leader....Jack Straw turned on his associates under torture and betrayed many of them to the executioner - though it did not save him. Jack Straw was executed and his head displayed on London Bridge.
Miliband "saying terrorists are evil is a mistake".
BBC NEWS | Politics | Miliband regrets 'war on terror'
The idea of a "war on terror" is a "mistake", putting too much emphasis on military force, Foreign Secretary David Miliband has said.
Writing in the Guardian,...that it was not a "simple binary struggle between moderates and extremists, or good and evil" and treating them as such was a mistake. ....I suppose he suggests we reach out and show our love for them, "We love you but we are a bit disappointed in your behaviour, maybe you are playing a bit roughly so why don't we all have a group hug in the teepee, otherwise you may have to sit on the naughty step for five minutes...."
In other news: "We have been learning, slowly circling them and moving closer in. We have them trapped now so we can’t stop." Reporters embedded with Israeli forces in Gaza have described them as “moving slowly but shooting readily”.
Looks like this time the Israelis decided, a while back, to finish it. No matter how much the EUnuchs and terrorist sympathizers here whine and scream.
Scotch Pol Fuels Stereotype
So who would claim a £1 donation on expenses? - Scotsman.com News
A POLITICIAN has had an expense claim rejected by the Scottish Parliament – after trying to claw back a £1 charity donation.
Bill Butler, the Labour MSP for Glasgow Anniesland and a former candidate for deputy leader, listed the £1 claim as a "carer fund donation".
January 14, 2009
Harsh winds create tiny draught in cosy council offices
Forty councils approached by The Times yesterday were planning a total of 7,000 redundancies, and unions fear that few of the 442 local authorities across England, Scotland and Wales will escape the cutbacks.
The Local Government Association said on Monday that one in seven of the 388 councils in England planned to make redundancies.
Council officials admit that the scale of the cuts is much higher than any measures taken over the past decade. They blame a series of factors, in particular the collapse of the housing market. Fees from property developers have fallen dramatically. Fees from land searches and domestic planning applications have also dried up.
If the fees have dried up it means the work has dried up as well! And if the work has dried up then in the real world it wouldn't be a surprise that job losses follow, but in council land it is. Of course they will cut the rubbish collections first as that is the only real service councils deliver and the only cut anyone really notices, leaving all the non-jobs safe.
UPDAET : More from John Redwood MP ｻ Class war and the two Britains
Taxpayer to 30.48cm the bill for metric stupidity
'Metric martyr' Janet Devers will not pay legal fees towards her failed prosecution by Hackney Council for selling fruit and veg in pounds and ounces on her market stall.
Yesterday at a formal hearing at Snaresbrook Crown Court, Ms Devers was told the taxpayer would foot the bill for her costs incurred by Hackney Council's aborted case.
She was also formally found not guilty of four charges under the Weights and Measures Act, as the authority failed to present any evidence against her.
Excellent news, shows that standing up to the Metric bullies pays off, but the campaign continues..
(h/t commentator on newspaper for headline)
Nationalising the economy
The Financial Times said the Government would underwrite 50% of up to £20 billion of "relatively low risk" credit to all but the 150 biggest UK firms - with the banks promising to up corporate lending.
It said a higher-risk taxpayer-backed 75% loan guarantee would also be made available to viable small firms in sectors considered vital to economic recovery and that there would be a multimillion-pound fund to provide share capital in debt-laden small firms with promising futures.
So there will be local committees to judge which firms are "promising", which ones are "vital"... and they had better check that the firms don't discriminate against anyone, employ the right number of graduates, recognise the right union, contribute to party funds....
Maybe I won't bother to dust of the business plan again...
January 13, 2009
Watt's Up with That - Best Science Blog
A worthy winner, can you hear the screeching from the losers as to how devalued an award it is as it went to a "denier" ...
The award site is unreachable so I don't know the rest of the results.
Digestives which do not kill us make us stronger
Spiked - It’s a Digestive, Jim, but not as we know it -Anti-fat Whitehall functionaries have managed to ruin the British biscuit that even Hitler failed to crush.
McVities Digestive are quite indigestible now, the dark chocolate ones bland and mucky beyond belief. Luckily there is an answer, Mssrs Lidl, purveyors of groceries to 4x4 driving terrier owners, produces a fine own brand alternative, full of whatever gives it a flavour.
Even better the Times Ecoworrier says: but think twice before heading to Lidl, the discount retailer. It came bottom in a report by Ethical Consumer magazine on the social and environmental records of supermarkets... My sort of store!
Though even I'm a little sceptical about stocking up on this...
I'm not worthy
ASBO defeats freeborn Englishman's rights to badger sheep.
Sheep owners fight to retain ancient right of grazing | UK news | The Guardian
Sandwiched between the rivers Severn and Wye, the Forest of Dean has always been known as an insular place with strange ways.
This ancient Gloucestershire forest has its own dialect and traditions,...The right to run sheep through the forest has been contentious for years, but allegations of harassment and intimidation have brought the issue to a head and the Forest of Dean council is investigating how it can use antisocial behaviour orders to bring some of the foresters and their unruly livestock to heel.
Known as commoners, the sheep owners enjoy the right to graze their sheep freely in the 11,300-hectare (28,000-acre) forest and they want to keep it that way. Nicknamed sheep badgers, a term derived, they think, from the verb to badger, they argue that running sheep is what makes their forest and way of life unique and it should be maintained.
It has now blown up into a row which would have given locally born playwright Dennis Potter , who used the forest as a backdrop for tales of incest and corruption, a rich plotline.
Commoning, he says, was a means of alleviating the poverty endemic in the forest area, but "the Forest of Dean is no longer a poor man's paradise, it's a rich man's fantasy area".
"We accept people coming in to the Forest of Dean, we are not prejudiced. If you want to sell your house in London for £500,000 and buy next door for £150,000, you can come and be our neighbour and we will treat you as a neighbour, but you must treat us the same way."
Shepherd allowed sheep to intimidate neighbours - Telegraph
Jeremy Awdry, 59, was deprived of his ancient right to graze sheep in Bream, in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, after they were reported straying into gardens and damaging fences.
The 500-strong flock were in fact part of the "intimidation of people living in the area", prosecutor Brendon Moorhouse told Gloucester Crown Court on Monday.
Awdry is a 'sheep badger' - someone who has the right by birth to graze sheep anywhere in the Forest.
Or rather did have the right, nasty inconvenient right because of where he was born; nasty natural rights not nice caring sharing ASBO behaving chocolate box no shit on the road pretty pretty fantasy forest living rights.
Watchful eyes over you
Let's face it, soon Big Brother will have no trouble recognising you | David Rowan - Times Online
This is the year when automated face-recognition finally goes mainstream, and it's about time we considered its social and political implications. Over the past few days, at trade fairs from Las Vegas to Seoul, a constant theme has been the unstoppable advance of “FRT”, the benign abbreviation favoured by industry insiders. ...
The strongest face-recognition algorithms are now considered more accurate than most humans - and already the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers have held discussions about the possibility of linking such systems with automatic car-numberplate recognition and public-transport databases. Join everything together via the internet, and voilà - the nation's population, down to the individual Times reader, can be conveniently and automatically monitored in real time.
Just listen to senior law-enforcement executives to understand their brave new intentions. Three months ago, Mark Branchflower, Interpol's database chief, declared facial recognition a desirable means of alerting local forces about the movements of internationally wanted suspects, “a step we could go to quite quickly”. And in evidence to MPs last March, Peter Neyroud, head of the National Policing Improvement Agency, raised the prospect of “automated face recognition” to identify suspects, as well as “behaviourial matching” software that uses CCTV images to predict potential troublemakers.
So let's understand this: governments and police are planning to implement increasingly accurate surveillance technologies that are unnoticeable, cheap, pervasive, ubiquitous, and searchable in real time. And private businesses, from bars to workplaces, will also operate such systems, whose data trail may well be sold on or leaked to third parties - let's say, insurance companies that have an interest in knowing about your unhealthy lifestyle, or your ex-spouse who wants evidence that you can afford higher maintenance payments.
Rather than jump up and down with rage - you never know who is watching through the window - you have a duty now, as a citizen, to question this stealthy rush towards permanent individual surveillance. A Government already obsessed with pursuing an unworkable and unnecessary identity-card database must be held to account.
I think I need one of those hijabs to wear.....
January 12, 2009
The Nations of Europe
Britain 'disappears from map of Europe' in a controversial European Union sculpture to be unveiled on Monday in Brussels.
Conservative Roman Catholic Poland is depicted by a sculpture of priests raising the rainbow flag of the gay movement, subverting the iconic image of the American soldiers planting the Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima.
France is represented by a map of France covered with the inscription "Strike!".
The Netherlands is shown as having sunk beneath the sea in the aftermath of climate change and all that appears above the waves are the minarets of mosques,...
EU officials have expressed concern... why?
Barnett on Barnett
‘I only meant the Barnett formula to last a year, not 30’ - Times Online
Lord Barnett says the settlement that bears his name is unfair, divisive and has to be scrapped
..unfair to the regions of England....Successive governments have failed to deal with the issue for fear of upsetting the Scots. When David Cameron made his first trip to Scotland as Tory leader he assured the Scots that he would keep the formula.
That strikes me as absolutely stupid because Margaret Thatcher and John Major kept it going for 18 years and turned it into a formal formula only to lose every single seat that they had held in Scotland.
Alex Salmond is a very astute politician and has used the extra money his government received under the formula to almost exacerbate the problem, by spending the funds not necessarily where they are most needed, but in a populist way where they will make the English demand separation for Scotland, which exactly meets his objective.
The Green Agenda
Fighting effects of climate change ‘will help poor’ - Times Online
Tackling climate change will reduce poverty by cutting heating bills and providing jobs, a report by Oxfam and the New Economics Foundation, base their findings on work by organisations including Friends of the Earth, concludes....the poor are likely to be worst affected by rising temperatures...and have less money to adapt to higher prices of fuel and food.
So exactly how preventing "rising temperatures" help cut heating bills, and how does taxing fuel and (by consequence) food help the poor?
Andrew Simms, the New Economics Foundation’s policy director, explains: “A well-designed programme of national environmental transformation that creates jobs, makes better homes as well as healthier food and better transport systems, provides a historic opportunity to solve longstanding and deeply entrenched problems of poverty and social injustice.”
So nothing to do with the environment at all really then.
January 11, 2009
Old and Cold - No more
RSPCA: Keep wildlife and pets warm through the big freeze - politics.co.uk
Dogs with thin or sparse coats, who are very young or old may benefit from a coat when out exercising.
The RSPCA has warned that if people consistently allow their dogs to get too hot when wearing clothing they could face prosecution.
Helen Briggs, a spokeswoman from the RSPCA, added: "Under the Animal Welfare Act, you are obliged to provide appropriate conditions and environments for your dog... If people are worried that their dog might be cold, it is worth getting some advice from their vet.
Confused? George is getting old and grumpy so I bought him a coat yesterday - I didn't realise I faced prosecution and should have consulted a vet, the RSPCA, his Animal Rights Lawyers etc first.
Your daily waste of 0.02g of CO2
...a typical search generates about 7g of CO2 Boiling a kettle generates about 15g. said Alex Wissner-Gross, a Harvard University physicist whose research on the environmental impact of computing is due out soon.
A separate estimate from John Buckley, managing director of carbonfootprint.com, a British environmental consultancy, puts the CO2 emissions of a Google search at between 1g and 10g...
...viewing a simple web page generates about 0.02g of CO2 per second. This rises tenfold to about 0.2g of CO2 a second when viewing a website with complex images, animations or videos.
So no more watching pointless videos with a clear conscience..
John Blundell, IEA; "Adam Smith must be rolling in his grave."
WELCOME to McCuba. Scotland is set to become the third most state-dependent country in the world. Soon Havana and Baghdad will be the only capitals that rely more on public spending than Edinburgh, according to economic forecasters.
They say the uneven flow of government funds to north of the border is putting an “unfair burden” on English taxpayers. They predict that public spending will soon rise to the equivalent of almost 70% of Scotland’s gross domestic product.
The CEBR paper, commissioned by The Sunday Times, shows that the annual public sector wage bill in Scotland has risen by 55% to £12 billion since the Scottish parliament was established in 1999, with nearly one in four working for the state. A further £2.3 billion is spent annually on pensions for public sector workers, whose ranks have grown by nearly 50,000 in the past 10 years.
The report will renew concerns among English taxpayers about the preferential treatment enjoyed by the Scots, who benefit from free personal care for the elderly, no tuition fees and free school meals.
The extra level of funding per head that Scotland receives has grown from £828 in 1999 to £1,644. In 1999 the state spent £4,993 per head in Scotland and £4,165 in England. Now Scotland receives £9,179 and England gets £7,535.
If Cameron was to look for anywhere to cut the tax burden for English voters I have an idea where he might start, but I don't think he is really interested in doing so....
Ginger Bullet Magnet Targetted
So the 'Ranga' (orang-utan) is being castigated for opening his carroty mouth and using a word that might cause offence because it is based on a person's colour - something none of his critics have ever done about the Tango Top, have they?
The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
David Nicholson, the head of the NHS, claims an annual £37,600 allowance for working away from home - yet he was already working and living in London when he took the job three years ago, so did not have to relocate. Nicholson was head of NHS London, and had a flat in the centre of the city, when he was moved to his highly paid London-based post in charge of the National Health Service in 2006.
According to the Department of Health resource accounts for 2007-8, he received the second-home perk on top of his £215,000 salary.
Nicholson, who was a member of the Communist party in his early years as a health official, has told parliament that he intends to “squeeze the pay bill in the NHS”.
I hope he doesn't slip on an icy pavement anytime soon and have to be treated by a nurse who was awarded a 1.5% pay increase....
The Brown Bashing LoserList.org
I don't know whether to laugh or vomit....
Interesting that Dolly Draper leads with this quote:
This downturn was a product of a particular way of running the financial system and that has to change dramatically and fundamentally.
I can't find the quote anywhere else on t'net so I'm not sure what context it was said in but as I think we all know who has been running the British financial system for the past decade I think we can take this as an accurate bit of Brown bashing.
January 10, 2009
Great Blogging Location
And it is even better inside with a roaring wood fire...
January 9, 2009
Friday Night is Music Night (Punk Beginnings Edition)
And that's how it all started, amazing what a few years of practice does....
January 8, 2009
Sneezing to be outlawed
An official UK Government report has revealed that sneezing in the street could become a criminal offence under emergency laws now being prepared for dealing with a flu pandemic.
"A National Framework For Responding To An Influenza Pandemic" reveals that sneezing in the street could become a criminal offence under shock laws to halt the flu.
"Powers in an emergency lie with local authorities and include the powers... that a person be examined, removed and detained …and [the creation of] criminal offences where people expose others to risk of infection ...powers to require the provision of information to help control the spread of disease. " Page 12
Obama - Whiter than White
BBC NEWS | NEWSNIGHT | Peter Marshall's blog
Somehow Obama has emerged from Illinois without blemish. There's no suggestion he knew anything of Blago's alledged attempts to sell his Senate seat...And Obama's closest political aides, Valerie Jarrett, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod - all veterans of the Chicago school of politics - will, if he is found guilty, have missed Blago's apparently brazen hustling. In those circumstances the question will surely be asked how did these, the sharpest political brains in the country, fail to see what was happening in their home town? It's a big question and a potentially embarrassing one for all concerned.
So either stupid or corrupt, or both?
Not just because their lips are moving
Danny on the Button
Danny Finkelstein has written a truly wonderful article on the Israel issue. Do read it...
OK Iain I suppose I must, though I think my search at The Times shows up the wrong article:
...helpful advice on etiquette should you ever be with Ronson and Lohan or other lesbians:
The correct thing to do is to go pop on both of them. You shouldn't show partiality in a threesome.
This was needlessly offensive, crude and misogynistic. I don't think the BBC should have aired it.
Though with there being two Palestinian territories maybe Danny is making a political point as well...
Go to the mattresses
Punish savers and make them spend money | Anatole Kaletsky - Times Online
I believe, in line with the vast majority of non-socialist economists, that Mr Cameron's campaign for savings is completely wrong; that “borrowing our way out of debt”, paradoxical as it sounds, is exactly the right prescription for our present problems.
The next logical step, although it may be politically controversial, would be to do the opposite of what the Tories suggest. Instead of reducing taxes on interest payments, the Government could tax all bank deposits and other risk-free savings. This would create a negative risk-free interest rate, encouraging savers either to invest in property, shares and other productive assets - or simply to save less and consume more.
But what I think is of little importance, especially as I have been wrong about so many aspects of this crisis
So the State is a better judge of what we do with our own money than we are, why not go the whole hog and confiscate all savings. The first sign of my very modest savings being taxed and I'm going to the mattresses.
Warren Buffett emailed this note to the directors of his company, Berkshire Hathaway:
“This should be bullish for Berkshire. With great foresight, I long ago entered the mattress business in a big way through our furniture operation. Now mattresses have become fully competitive as a place to put your money, and sales will soon take off.”
January 7, 2009
Sun, Sea, Sand and Tory Greenery
But the biggest threat to global security was the melting Arctic ice caps....Climate change has already been linked to the escalating fight for the world's natural resources, including an increasingly precious commodity – dry land.
In November, the newly elected president of the Maldives, Mr Nasheed, known locally as Anni, announced his country would begin to set aside a portion of its billion-dollar annual tourist revenue to buy a new homeland...
The Tories played a key role in Mr Nasheed's victory. Anni, who graduated from John Moore University, Liverpool, is known to be a good friend of the shadow foreign secretary, William Hague.
His own long political journey to the presidency began at Dauntsey's, the public school in rural Wiltshire where he attended sixth form.
A delegation of senior Tories flew to the Maldives on Tuesday...The visit will also be used to make a plea for British climate change scientists to visit the Maldives to study the effect of rising sea levels.
A funded trip to the Maldives to save humanity, who could be against it. Of course you could just be boring and stay at home and read what a real scientist discovered...
Charles Darwin, writing in his Autobiography towards the end of his life, looked back to some of his earliest scientific work associated with the voyage of the Beagle, and was able to "reflect with high satisfaction" on "solving the problem of coral-islands."...
Spliffing idea for energy recycling
How incineration could generate electricity | Ross Clark - Times Online
Councils are paying to store the resulting mountains of paper because sending it to landfill sites would incur stiff taxes and because Britain lacks the capacity to incinerate the waste.
The most shocking thing is that the Government knows incinerating paper is better for the environment than recycling it and yet still has persisted with its recycling policy. It knows because the 2006 study it funded into the matter, Carbon Balances and Energy Impacts of the Management of UK Wastes, said so.
Recycling sounds worthy. The trouble is that when you compare the energy needed to transport and recycle waste paper with the energy that could be produced by burning it in power stations, it becomes clear we could cut carbon emissions by abandoning recycling and instead building incineration plants.
We persist with recycling for two reasons. First, the environmental lobby has scared the public about incineration plants - it has only to mention the word “dioxin” to cause mass fright, when in fact a well-run incinerator at high temperatures emits fewer dioxins than a typical bonfire.
Second, sorting out material for recycling has become a quasi-religious observation that the green lobby likes us to undertake in order to atone for our environmental sins - and which, as councils have discovered all too quickly, provides an ideal excuse to squeeze us with fines.
My papers no longer go to be recycled, I'm burning them at home to keep warm. No carbon footprint of transport for them, just ash to go on the fruit tree patch.
I only recently worked out how to make newspaper logs at home. I had seen those presses where you mash them all up, squeeze them and then try and dry them out. Obviously too much work and you end up with mouldy damp lumps. It is much easier to take the outside sheet off your paper, position it slightly at a skew and then roll the rest of the paper up inside it. As the outer sheet was skewed it now has triangular ends poking out beyond the cylinder. Poke these ends into the hollow centre of the cylinder and it will stay together and burn gently like a log. (If you misjudge the hole you can always just twist the ends to make a huge spliff like log.)
Tory Trainspotter Terrorist Threat
...the two officers insisted on searching him after they told him they thought he was taking photos of East Croydon train station.
They searched his bag, but after finding nothing of interest they sent the MP on his way.
Mr Pelling said: "It is pleasing to see just how vigilant our police is at these times of heightened international political tension and the risk of terrorism here at home.
"I am glad my stop and search account as a white, middle-aged male shows that anyone can be suspected of, and questioned about, terrorism, regardless of race, creed or colour.
A police spokeswoman said: "An officer stopped and searched a man's bag in Cherry Orchard Road on December 30, under section 44 of the Terrorism Act.
"The officer conducted a stop-and-search, taking into account the current terror threat, as he was taking pictures in the vicinity of a major transport hub."
Whoops, the logging system at Control will notice I have just done a East Croydon train station - Google Image Search. I better prepare for the Marigolds.....
"All political power comes from the barrel of a gun"
Bailiffs were used in 1.2 million cases to recover council tax arrears last year, and 2.5 million households received courts summonses. Of 19,156 bankruptcy petitions, one in five was lodged by local authorities. In 1992-93 the proportion was one in a hundred.
Only a couple of weeks ago we learnt; "bailiffs 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,...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.”...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....
Increasingly the State is turning violent against its own citizens as it tries to gobble up their possessions and freedom.
January 6, 2009
The Goths are at the Gates, the End of Civilisation is Nigh.
BBC NEWS | Education | University fears over Tory plans
Professor Ebdon, vice chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire, is warning that Conservative plans to restrict public spending would mean cutting the number of places available to students.
University of Bedfordshire was created by the merger of the University of Luton and the Bedford campus of De Montfort University on 1 August 2006.... The institution was founded as the Modern School in the 1890s. It became Luton College of Higher Education with the merger of Luton College of Technology and Putteridge Bury College of Education in the mid-seventies.
Bedfordshire was ranked 84th of 113 British universities in The Times Good University Guide league table,..The Guardian's national league tables for 2008 rates the University of Bedfordshire third in the country for Media-related courses with a score of 96.90 out of 100 and 13th for Sport. However the same rankings list the university as 106 out of 110 in Computer Science and IT....The Bedford Campus of the University has been selected as an official training site for the London 2012 Olympics. The campus is hoping to attract a major national team to train there for the event.
Notable alumni (Complete List)
* Becky Jago - Presenter of BBC's Newsround - Media Performance.
* Gemma Hunt - Presenter of CBBC - Media Performance.
* Rickie Haywood Williams - Presenter of Kiss 100's breakfast show, Presenter on MTV News.
* Charlie George - Presenter on MAX TV - Media Performance.
* Matt Fisher - Station Sound Imaging Producer BBC Radio 1 - Media Performance with Radio.
* Debbie Randle - Senior Broadcast Journalist BBC Radio 1 - Modern English Studies.
* Marie Kemp - Presenter on BBC Radio Berkshire - Media Performance and Radio.
* Paul Woloszyn - BBC Digital Text - Modern English Studies.
* Abdul Ahad - Author, astronomer
* Leah O'Mahoney - Chelsea TV - Media Performance.
Shocking! How could the Tories think of crippling this country by slightly restricting the cash flowing to an institution that has nurtured such talent....
Washed in The Blood of the Lamb
Vicar orders removal of 'unsuitable' crucifix from church - Telegraph
Rev Souter, formerly a cell biologist, said: "The crucifix expressed suffering, torment, pain and anguish. It was a scary image, particularly for children.
"It wasn't a suitable image for the outside of a church wanting to welcome worshippers. In fact, it was a real put-off.
"We're all about hope, encouragement and the joy of the Christian faith. We want to communicate good news, not bad news, so we need a more uplifting and inspiring symbol than execution on a cross."
Any bets that the Thursday Evening Growth Groups feature guitars and happy clapping? Weedy infantile all-things-bright-and beautiful content free religion, pah! Religion is about trying to make sense of death, pain and suffering or it is nothing at all.
Capitalism is Dead Says God
Cardinal says credit crisis has killed capitalism - Telegraph
Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, 76, made the astonishing claim at a lavish fund-raising dinner at Claridges which secured pledges of hundreds of thousands of pounds for the catholic church.
The Cardinal, dressed in his full clerical regalia, said in a speech at the black tie dinner that he had worried whether the dinner should go ahead because of the troubled economic times.
The four course dinner, with a champagne reception, had been provided free of charge by Derek Quinlan, the property developer, who owns Claridges who is worth an estimated £60 million.
Sir Rocco Forte, the hotelier and prominent Roman Catholic, was in charge of the decoration. He decked out the ballroom in red flowers and red lights to match the Cardinal's clerical outfit.
But The Cardinal went on to say that in 1989, with the collapse of the Berlin wall, that "communism had died". In 2008, he said, " capitalism had died".
It seems to me that if he believes capitalism is dead he was enjoying a pretty good evening feasting on its rotting corpse like a vulture. Maybe picturing him entering a house with a red light over its door would be more edifying than that.
Ever since it was sent new to my Mum this 1953 calendar, featuring the church where she was baptised and married, has hung from the key to her bureau, even though she has been dead for a few years it still hangs there. I'm pleased to note it is correct this year proving yet again that if you hang on long enough to something it comes in useful in the end.
Best Medical/Health Issues Blog - The 2008 Weblog Awards Vote for Junkfood Science - once a day for a week from now.
Best Science Blog - The 2008 Weblog Awards Vote for Watts Up with That or Climate Audit - hard choice, I think as the new comer and to avoid splitting the vote the former probably.
Couldn't even run a knocking shop
For more than 100 years, the state has maintained a mighty herd of top-quality bulls in the Highlands...There are 119 bulls still there now, on two farms in Inverness-shire.....Crofters usually form small groups to hire bulls. It costs £500, plus travel expenses, for each bull hire, which works out at an average of £1,100 per hire.
According to the Scottish Government, it costs £3,000 per hire to maintain the bulls – a loss of between £1,900 and £2,500 per bull hire. No-one was willing to say exactly what the government's losses are on the scheme, but, with just 120 bull hires last year, the subsidy to the crofters was about £250,000...
If you want private progeny you can always go the delightfully named Semen World website and order a straw of the stuff...
January 5, 2009
Official Go Back to Work After Christmas Day
Gordon Brown's Version:
Mine as I'm off out into the dark with snow on the ground...
January 4, 2009
EU Hacking Your PC
THE Home Office has quietly adopted a new plan to allow police across Britain routinely to hack into people’s personal computers without a warrant.
Under the Brussels edict, police across the EU have been given the green light to expand the implementation of a rarely used power involving warrantless intrusive surveillance of private property. The strategy will allow French, German and other EU forces to ask British officers to hack into someone’s UK computer and pass over any material gleaned.
The authorities could break into a suspect’s home or office and insert a “key-logging” device into an individual’s computer. This would collect and, if necessary, transmit details of all the suspect’s keystrokes. Police might also send an e-mail to a suspect’s computer. The message would include an attachment that contained a virus or “malware”. If the attachment was opened, the remote search facility would be covertly activated. Alternatively, police could park outside a suspect’s home and hack into his or her hard drive using the wireless network.
Carbon Offset Company - Not Delivering on Promises - Official
EU denounces socialite’s carbon offset project - Times Online
A PIONEERING climate change project in Africa run by Robin Birley, the socialite stepbrother of Zac Goldsmith, has been accused by the European commission, its main donor, of making unsubstantiated claims about its environmental impact.
The project has received more than £1m in public grants and money from celebrities in the music and film business. They include Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones and Brad Pitt, the actor.
The project attempts to offset an individual’s carbon footprint by paying poor farmers in Mozambique to plant trees...
The commission’s criticism comes amid increased concern about the worth of these fashionable but largely unregulated carbon offset schemes. Critics say it is almost impossible to guarantee that the trees will survive the length of time needed to offset any significant carbon emissions. ...The commission also warned that the money flowing into the Gorongosa area had attracted hundreds of poor farmers who were now cutting down trees,...[Envirotrade] are selling products that are not delivering what was promised and the public needs to know.”
Labour Money Laundering through Sub-Prime Charity
A CHARITY that has had more than £840,000 of loans quietly written off by a government fund has made two unlawful donations to the Labour party.
Catz Club, which runs after-school clubs for children, paid £30,000 to attend two Labour fundraising events at Wembley stadium. Charity law bans the use of charitable funds to bank-roll political parties.
“Taxpayers’ money has been recycled into the coffers of the Labour party through a children’s charity,” said Nick Hurd, shadow charities minister.
Change4Life - Junk Food Science
Junkfood Science: The new word for 2009: bansturbation - as ever an excellent and essential read.
(One minor inaccuracy Sandy kindly credits me with coining the word bansturbation - I think it was Worstall, but I may be wrong ...)
January 3, 2009
Ban food from being tasty
THE woman given the job of promoting McDonald's has revealed the secret of the fast-food chain's success – salt and fat.
...fat and salt makes food taste good. There is no point taking all the fat and salt out of your food because people won't like it and they will eat with someone else.
Fife-based nutritionist Carina Norris said : "Ideally, we would like people to start weaning themselves off these tastes and on to healthier options."
"But failing that, it would be great if restaurants and manufacturers did their own bit by taking salt and fat out of foods."
Ms Norris added: "The problem from a business point of view is that no-one wants to be the first one to take fat and salt out of their foods and make them less tasty. People would go somewhere else."
Tam Fry, chairman of the Child Growth Foundation, said: "It is true that humans do require some level of fat, salt and sugar in their diet....
...but we don't want you to enjoy your food, or anyone to profit from selling you food you want to eat, eat lettuce, damn you, eat only lettuce....
January 2, 2009
The Department of Health's Change4Life campaign includes £75m of government marketing over three years and a pledge of £200m in services and marketing support from a 33-strong coalition of companies.
It aims to prevent the forecast that by 2050 up to 90% of today's children will be overweight or obese.
"Change4Life has a critical ambition. We are trying to create a lifestyle revolution on a huge scale, something which no government has attempted before," said public health minister Prawn Dimarolo.
I'm glad to see they have got the logo sorted out....
Ban Ban Ban....
Ben Bradshaw, the Health Minister, promised that the Government would not shy away from bringing in new rules to force food companies to play a part in changing the country's eating habits. Limits could be imposed on the amount of fat and salt in certain products.
He said: "We have already made progress on things like labelling and fat and salt content working with the industry. But ... if this three-year campaign does not succeed, we don't rule out regulating in future."
Tam Fry, a National Obesity Forum board member, told the BBC that greater regulation of the food industry was needed to tackle rising obesity.
He said: "What we fear is that the industry is very willing to give £200 million to the campaign as a way of deflecting the Government's interest in regulation.
He actually doesn't want the voluntary measures to work, he is all excited by the prospect of some mutual bansturbation with Ben Bradshaw....
I think Mr Remittance Man has been at the vodka judging by this comment just left here....
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Don't ask me what it means, I'm not a suspension excavator master....
Friday Night is Music Night (God's God Edition)
As Clapton says:
"The blues played a crucial role in the birth of rock and roll. It had a particularly dramatic effect in post-war England, as merchant seaman returned home with this exotic music from the United States. Like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and countless other British rock musicians, Eric Clapton was enthralled with the American blues records that he heard on the BBC. In the grooves of the vinyl discs, he recognized kindred spirits. These artists expressed the same sense of heartache and loss which Eric often felt in his own life. Although he listened to a wide variety of blues records, it was Johnson who made the strongest impression on him. Clapton once declared; "Robert Johnson to me is the most important blues musician who ever lived." Judging by this unabashed admiration, it is therefore hardly surprising that Clapton chose to record "Crossroads", as well as several other songs by Johnson. Despite the obvious differences between these two individuals, they seem to be cut from the same ragged cloth. So decades after the bluesman's death, Clapton still carries on his legacy. His own music now exudes the same raw passion and commitment which once flowed out from Johnson's haunting guitar."
Scholar vs. Spin
Restore trust by ending privileged access to official data, says statistics watchdog - Times Online
Britain’s statistics watchdog has called for an end to the culture of spin.
Trust in government data would be restored only by letting ministers have it at the same time that it was released to Parliament, the media and the public, Sir Michael Scholar, the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, said.
Having broken bread with Sir Michael and enjoyed his hospitality on a couple of occasions (as an alumni of the college he runs)I am confident his formidable intelligence and strength of character will prevail in this battle of wills. It also helps he has right on his side.
UPDATE - what make this blog so rewarding to me are your comments and the fact that my mistake in Latin has been noted is wonderful and appreciated (My first draft was about being "one of the alumni..." and as I always try to trim as much verbiage as possible I decided that "one of the" was unnecessary and could be replaced with "an", but I failed to change alumni to the singular.) Mr Chalk will be setting a detention for me later.
Palestinians to Sell First Fair Trade Product
The glimmers of an economic revival for Palestinians will grow early next year with the launch of their first fair trade product. Fair trade olive oil will hit the shops in 2009
With the help of dedicated volunteers from around Pembrokeshire, Wales has become the world’s first Fairtrade nation.
Parminder Bahra has written a couple of Fairtrade articles in the Times this morning, which seem to have been and gone from The Times website, maybe just a technical hitch (I'll check later) or it maybe because he rips into the charity for living of its margin and fees and that some workers have yet to see any benefit...
Tea workers still waiting to reap Fairtrade benefits - Times Online
Supermarkets seeking to promote their ethical buying policies proclaim that their produce is Fairtrade, and customers buy such goods in the belief that they are doing their bit for workers in the developing world.
However, an investigation by The Times suggests that workers on plantations that supply Fairtrade tea are not seeing their lives improve as they should. ...
Some workers suspect that the scheme is being used to make estates appear socially responsible as demand increases in the West for Fairtrade-labelled goods. ...Fairtrade estates can also supplement their output by buying from noncertified plantations, although they cannot then sell such produce as Fairtrade. For example, Eastern Produce Kenya, a Fairtrade-certified trader, regularly buys noncertified tea from the Kaprachoge estate, where conditions are far from those stipulated for certification.
Fairtrade inspections are announced in advance. “The estate owners can tell the workers not to be critical. It is a harsh system – [the workers] are deeply afraid of the owners because they can lose their job.”
The Fairtrade Foundation ...was unhappy with inspections being conducted by independent organisations and it tried to influence the outcomes of these inspections, Paola Ghillani, ..a former board member said.
“The Fairtrade Foundation at that time, and maybe now, has got too much at stake. They were living from funding, but also from licence fees [they received] each time they gave the label to a licensee. The inspection and certification system is not independent enough.”
You may remember that the The ASI revealed "a number of inconvenient truths about Fairtrade" sometime ago.
Improving choice by bans
Clyde Loakes, (Lab), Leader, Waltham Forest Council, said: “We have too many fast-food outlets in this borough and we've had enough. We don't want to tell people how to live their lives - but at the moment residents simply don't have enough choice because of the amount of fast-food takeaways.”
January 1, 2009
234,100 Absolute Unique Visitors
According to Google analytics - and why this number is wrong...
And which of my pithy insights into the madness of modern politics, the unfolding story of the real science of climate change or the customs and mores of Englishmen was the most popular post....?
Reasons to be Cheerful
Welcome to 2009 - Darwin Year
2009 sees the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his seminal work, ‘On the Origin of Species’
Contemplate a tangled bank,
clothed with many plants of many kinds,
with birds singing on the bushes,
with various insects flitting about,
with worms crawling through the damp earth:
these elaborately constructed forms
have all been produced by laws
acting around us.
Thus, the war of nature,
from famine and death,
the production of higher animals
There is grandeur in this view of life:
whilst the planet has gone
cycling on according to
the fixed law of gravity,
from so simple a beginning
endless forms most beautiful and
most wonderful have been
and are being
- Charles Darwin
Of course Darwin wasn't the only important liberator born on 12th February 1809, there was some American Illinois Lawyer who we will also be bored of by the years end, but he is the most important because he freed our minds from medieval superstition which still has its deadly hold over vast swarths of humanity.