July 31, 2009
From The Castle Archives
Friday Night is Music Night (10 Mellow Minutes Edition)
Outstanding, get yourself comfortable with a big fat one and enjoy.
Extra linked nostalgia below the fold
News to cheer you up from the Daily Nigellagraph
Nigella Lawson starts a fashion explosion
Nigella Lawson may have been one of the first to make the switch from Domestic Goddess to Brunette Bombshell. And she is right on trend in fashion terms.
The hourglass ‘look’ that Miss Lawson has chosen for several film premieres and has bought in bulk for her summer holidays in the Hamptons is the look that is going like a bomb on the high street.
Miss Lawson, who has been chosen as the female celebrity with the figure most men and women adore, started her plunge-front, retro-look fashion escapades.......
Time for my shower.
Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now
BRITAIN could be a happier place next week, thanks to a unique psychological experiment aimed at spreading smiles around the country.
For five days, starting on Monday, thousands of people will be invited to go online and try one of four proven mood-boosting techniques.
The idea is to plant seeds of happiness, which then "infect" others, sending waves of cheerfulness across recession-hit Britain.
That's Janet and Jonathan who will lead us all to happiness - don't you feel all warm and cuddly now? On Monday random strangers will come up and smile at you and want you to smile with them. Haven't we suffered enough.
The Carbon Police Are Coming Knocking
Experts will knock on all doors in each of ten chosen areas of Scotland, to offer to carry out an audit of how efficiently energy is being used, and means tested free or discounted insulation will be offered.
Green groups warned yesterday the initiative did not go far enough.
"We are from the Government and are only here to help", yes sweetie and of course it got lost in the post and I will pull out in time. What do the Greens want, compulsory cotton wool wrapping round crofts?
ID Cards are a stupid idea Home Secretary Alan Johnson said yesterday
THE decision to introduce ID cards is a "no-brainer", Home Secretary Alan Johnson said yesterday as he unveiled the card's design.
No-brainer? No brain, no thought, no intelligence, just plain stupid; it is hard to argue with Pat on that.
Farmer arrested at harvest time for carrying harvesting tool
Farmer Tony Martin has been arrested and questioned by police in Cambridgeshire for allegedly possessing an offensive weapon.
Mr Martin, 64, was arrested when police stopped his car and found what was believed to be a farm sickle.
I always carry a hammer as well and keep them crossed and claim it is political freedom of expression.
July 30, 2009
The R word
Butt, defending himself, admitted he used the words Paki and Gestapo and accepted he used the word hooligan, and possibly the word white, but denied calling the police rednecks.
Yup, Rednecks is a word too far, us country boys get offended if lilly white doughnut bandits get called it.
Bin Bugs - The Latest Plan
Householders will earn up to £150 a year from recycling their rubbish under a scheme designed to reward those who put waste in the correct bins.
Microchips will be installed on wheelie bins, which will be scanned and weighed automatically as they are emptied into refuse lorries.
If you really have nothing better to do then down here in Wiltshire they have been kidnapping our rubbish and picking through it so we know how much glass Aspiring Singles are throwing away in each district....
Local Food for Local Barons
Peter Robert Henry Mond, 4th Baron Melchett, heir to Sir Alfred Mond's ICI fortune is choking over his branflakes this morning.
EATING organic food does not provide any significant nutritional or health benefits, finds a study published yesterday.
"The LSHTM study was focused on nutrition, but we also point out that with organic food people know where their food has come from and how it is grown. We encourage people to connect with local producers and get involved with box schemes and farmers' markets," he said.
Ahh that's nice. He's a proper gent he is. The idea that one should be properly introduced before putting anything in your mouth is the hall mark of an English Gentleman. Not for us the glory holes of commercial foods but instead we will stand back trying to avoid any eye contact until our host comes across and does the whole "Peter, you know Wensleydale don't you, His family has estates up north. Didn't you gobble his brother when you were at Eton?" thing.
(The perplexing thing is why is he referred to as Peter Melchett - his name is Peter Mond, who happens to be Baron Melchett. Jonny Porritt could be Baron Porritt if he chose to be so he wouldn't have the same problem.)
July 29, 2009
Problems with Met Office Data? - the Central England Temperature record is broken
Central England Temperatures welcome page
These daily and monthly temperatures are representative of a roughly triangular area of the United Kingdom enclosed by Bristol, Lancashire and London (view map). The monthly series, which begins in 1659, is the longest available instrumental record of temperature in the world. The daily series begins in 1772.
The Met Office have also been compiling Maximum, Minimum and Mean Daily Central England Temperatures data files since January 1878. The following stations are used by the Met Office to compile the CET data: Rothamsted, Malvern, Squires Gate and Stonyhurst and revised urban warming and bias adjustments have now been applied ....
Please note that the Met Office data sets are available for bona fide academic research only..
Luckily the data are available at Met Office Hadley Centre HadCET observations datasets
So let's look at Maximum Central England Temperature, 2009
The pale dotted line in the middle is this year (click to enlarge) - Phew what a scorcher! Look at that late June peak, way above average!
Where was it? We know this record is a blend of records from apparently three stations, and their records are also graphed on the same page:
The graphs for minimum and mean temperatures also show the same inconsistency.
I think I better ask Tim Legg what is going on, unless you have an idea.
UPDATE - And Tim kindly replies:
I can assure you that the CET software is running correctly. The graphs
you include on your blog page as "max Pershore - Gt Malvern" etc. are
there to explore any differences between the stations which comprise the
CET series. As time goes on, sometimes a station closes, for any of a
variety of reasons. One thing we wish to ensure is the continued
homogeneity of the long-standing CET series, so we are careful when
choosing a replacement station to ensure that it is representative of
the 'Central England' area, and to allow for any systematic biases
between that station and the one it replaces. Only then can we be sure
that any long-term trends in the data are real.
Volunteer or we will force you to...
Cut size of chocolate bars to fight obesity, says food watchdog - Times Online
Gill Fine, of the agency, said: “We are not telling people what to eat. We want to make it easier for people to make healthier choices — to choose foods with reduced saturated fat and sugar — or smaller portion sizes.”
The agency is hoping for voluntary action by the industry but if companies fail to respond, ministers might force their hand by threatening to legislate.
This "We want to make it easier for people to choose" has become the new mantra for the officious. I'm sure Coca Cola, Mars and Cadbury would never have thought of producing bite size products if that is what the customer wanted without this help from the Government. Who is more in touch with what people really want?
Massive - don't make me laugh
Union fury as civil service outsources jobs to India - Times Online
More than 100 jobs at the British Council are to be outsourced to India as part of a massive cost-cutting drive to save the taxpayer money
Massive? Cutting just the costs on 100 jobs in a Kinnochian Quango? You call that massive? How do you describe your button mushroom knob in the personal ads? "My only problem is my mighty donkey cock smashes the furniture every time I turn round". It is a pathetic teeny cosmetic scraping of the mould off the rotten bloated corpse of public spending. Let me lose on it and I will show you "massive cuts".
Yvette Cooper tries to buy votes
£1bn scheme to create 'soft jobs' including dance assistants, tourism ambassadors and solar panel engineers.
while the number of people employed in the private sector has fallen by 286,000 since December 2008, the number of people employed in the public sector has actually risen by 15,000.
In all, 19,000 of the new 47,000 jobs being announced are to be in Scotland and the north of England, department sources said. A further 9,900 will be created in the Midlands.
Meanwhile about 6,500 will be created in London, the South-East and the East combined, and just 700 will be created in the South-west.
Research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research released earlier this year found that in the north-east of England the state is expected to be responsible for 66.4 per cent of the economy this year.
Jobs for turkeys, Christmas can't come quick enough for me.
I wonder what criteria was used to decide that all the jobs should go to
Bob Arsehole - Defence Secretary
A government with no shame - Scotsman.com News
The cases, being heard in the High Court, were brought by Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth.....
Wiltshire town stands silent once again - Scotsman.com News
HUNDREDS of people have again turned out to pay their respects to soldiers killed in Afghanistan as their bodies were returned to British soil....
One of those who came to pay their respects was former Royal Engineer Brian Brown. The 78-year-old, from Melksham, Wiltshire, said he wanted to pay tribute to the four men, but was concerned the now frequently held repatriation ceremony was turning Wootton Bassett into "a circus".
He said: "It's sadly happening too regularly now. It's too frequent.
"When the Wootton Bassett Legion started this, they wanted it to be low key. We just want to quietly show our respect for the victims and their families."
Whether the case is justified or not Bob Ainsworth is guilty of being politically wrong in allowing to go ahead at such a time. I hope he is enjoying his holiday - I understand the poor dear needs to "recharge his batteries" after so many weeks in such a stressful job...
July 28, 2009
At two in the morning you are awoken by a disturbance outside your window. You guess it is a fox trying to break into your henhouse, which you are licensed to respond to with a firearm. How long does it take you to get from under the eiderdown to having your gun and ammo in hand? In the dark as the power has been cut. Are you sure, have you done the test run?
I'm embarrassed to having to confess to 90 seconds. With my eyes closed I didn't notice the gunslip on the floor jamming the gun case door. So another hook to hang it up has been installed and a couple of those battery powered LED cupboard lights bought so there will always be light in there.
I picked the Bennelli five shot semi-auto twelve bore and was able to grab the appropriate shells, but I was glad I don't also have a 20 gauge as when seconds count you really don't want to misload. If you do, make sure you can tell what's what and where.
I have a feeling my American reader is going to laugh at such slowness, but we aren't allowed to keep anything under the pillow...
Imperial Stout - That's the stuff.
The Aberdeenshire-based micro-brewery BrewDog yesterday unveiled Tokyo*, an oak-aged imperial stout with a staggering 18.2 per cent alcohol content.
Each 330ml bottle will contain the equivalent of six units of alcohol – twice the recommended daily limit set by health professionals.
But James Watt, 26, who formed the brewery two years ago with fellow former Peterhead Academy pupil Martin Dickie, claimed the heady beer would help to promote responsible drinking.
He said: "The beers we make at BrewDog, including Tokyo*, are providing a cure to binge beer drinking. At BrewDog, we are determined to revolutionise the UK beer scene.
"Mass-market, industrially brewed lagers are so bland and tasteless that you are seduced into drinking a lot of them. Our hardcore beers are loaded with flavour, bite and body, so consequently you drink less of them."
But health professionals and politicians were united in condemning the brewery's latest creation.....
But they are right, completely and utterly correct. It is the same with food such as cheese, a small lump of really nutty handmade cheddar satisfies far better than a quire of Kraft slices.
Bring it on, I would love to try it.
Olympics More Fascist Than Fascism
High-speed Olympic 'Javelin' train service launched
Tessa Jowell, the Olympics Minister, was triumphant. “We can run trains ahead of schedule,” she said.
Pathetic old Benito could only make them run on time, we can do much better under Dear Leader.
July 27, 2009
Why is it all such an utter cock-up?
The problem is that many of us no longer trust the Government to do anything right because there is such a lot of evidence that something is deeply and systemically wrong with administration in this country. Too much public policy either fails to achieve its stated objectives; or it does so at exorbitant cost; or it makes bad situations worse; or it has undesirable and unforeseen consequences.
A Civil Service once the envy of the world has had its reputation tarnished by years of politicisation and impossible demands placed upon it; laws are introduced almost weekly that merely serve to inconvenience people and drive them to distraction, not help them; bad decisions are routinely arrived at; and public projects that are simply unnecessary are introduced vastly over-budget and those that are needed are incompetently delivered, or are not delivered at all.
Why does modern British government make so many mistakes and such big and costly ones at that? This question is vexing two of the country’s leading political academics – Anthony King, professor of government at Essex University, and Sir Ivor Crewe, Master of University College, Oxford – who have embarked on a research project to see if they can find the answer.
I've got some ideas, and some solutions; the main one of which is neatly coiled hanging on the back of the barn door.
Blues Show Red Light To Greens
The five-day festival was due to open on Wednesday but the organisers surrendered their licence yesterday after concerns, including issues involving road and fire safety, could not be resolved with police and the local council.
An inspector at Avon and Somerset Police refused to say what exactly their concerns were.
Avon and Somerset Police would only say: “It has been cancelled. The reasons are on our website.”
"Avon and Somerset Police worked with the event organisers as well as our multi agent partners, and subsequently went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure this event took place. However to due a number of issues including road and fire safety that could not be resolved the event organisers surrendered their licence."
The organisers will go bust and ticketholders and stallholders uncompensated, and that waffle is the only reason given. It's not the sort of festival that appeals to me, paying £125 to sit in the mud with eco beardies, but if that is what they want to do let them take a risk of a bong conflagration and a crash on the incoming ley lines.
Watersport Fans to be Punished
Unpowered craft including sailboards and bodyboards are to be reclassified as ships to bring their users within regulations for merchant shipping... Anyone out on the water would be liable to a random breath test. But the Department for Transport has infuriated many of Britain’s four million water sports enthusiasts.
What a shower, they must be taking the piss if they have to twist meanings of words so far just to impose their discipline. "It is already an offence to behave in such a way as to endanger a ship or an individual." But that isn't enough, we must regulate all behaviour not just the dangerous.
July 25, 2009
You're a better man than I am
Paul Flynn calls David Miliband a Liar
Paul Flynn (Labour MP) praises David Milliband as "an engaging convincing speaker..(who).. is too intelligent to believe all the stuff that he is obliged to say."
Claiming to believe things you don't and using your skills to try and persuade others to believe in the the things you don't aren't commendable characteristics from where I come from, it may be different in Wales.
Air Con - Book Review
Iain Dale tonight bigs up pretty boy wannabe journalist Joshua Chambers.
Josh has some advice for us all for our summer reading, don't readHeaven And Earth: Global Warming - The Missing Science because an Australian Astronomer wrote a damning review of it in a newspaper, so it is "discredited" - read the IPCC report instead and for “further suggestions, eg suggestions that are more / less technical.” ask him.
I haven't read the book he damns but I am reading Air Con: The Seriously Inconvenient Truth About Global Warming which is a very readable, wide ranging and worthwhile book. I think you can guess from the title the stance it reaches but it is fastidious in examining and referencing numurous sources and giving them all a fair crack of the whip. Even floppy haired blonds with their eborian degrees in History and Politics would understand and learn from it. Make sure there is a copy packed in the family suitcase for this summer so as you shelter from the rain wondering what happened to the Met Office's BBQ summer you have something to read.
And here's the promo..
July 24, 2009
If they have nothing to hide....
Watts Up With That? requests:
For all of our UK readers, now is the time for all good citizens to come to the aid of their country (and science). The Met Office refuses to release data and methodology for their HadCRUT global temperature dataset after being asked repeatedly. Without the data and procedures there is no possibility of replication, and without replication the Hadley climate data is not scientifically valid. This isn’t just a skeptic issue, mind you, others have just a keen an interest in proving the data.
My advice to UK readers, start sending an FOI request every week and complain loudly to your UK representatives and write letters to the editor.
Submit a Freedom of Information request to Phil Jones’ employer:
The FOI officers are: Met Office marion.archer [at] metoffice.gov.uk and CRU david.palmer [at] ues.ac.uk
Sample FOI request to david.palmer at uea.ac.uk:
Dear Mr Palmer,
I hereby make a EIR/FOI request in respect to any confidentiality agreements)restricting transmission of CRUTEM data to non-academics involing the following countries: [insert 5 or so countries that are different from ones already requested]
1. the date of any applicable confidentiality agreements;
2. the parties to such confidentiality agreement, including the full name of any organization;
3. a copy of the section of the confidentiality agreement that "prevents further transmission to non-academics".
4. a copy of the entire confidentiality agreement,
I am requesting this information for the purposes of academic research.
Thank you for your attention.
If you do so, please post up a copy of your letter at Climate Audit so that we can keep track of requested countries.
And just for UK citizens.
A petition asking for CRU source code.
An aquarium in Devon has taken down two wind turbines after seagulls were killed when they collided with the blades.
The 15m (50ft) high 6kW turbines at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth were installed in 2006 for a £3.6m sustainable energies project.
But the Hoe-based attraction has taken them down after several birds died, it said.
The aquarium also said they had not produced as much electricity as hoped.
But but but Mr Miliband says we need two new ones every day, so have they built four today to make up for these?
National Theatre Spamming
firstname.lastname@example.org is busy spamming this round blog comments; (as webmasters wake up they will be deleted.) "A gripping new play set in West Africa." The Observer and the NT, how more right on and worthy can you get? I know by copying Tamiflu conmen!
Oxford Green Proselytists Worries
Comment: Why people don't act on climate change - opinion - 23 July 2009 - New Scientist
George Marshall founder of the Climate Outreach Information Network in Oxford, UK
Scarcely 10 per cent of Britons regard climate change as a major problem.
I do not accept that this continuing rejection of the science is a reflection of media distortion or scientific illiteracy. Rather, I see it as proof of our society's failure to construct a shared belief in climate change....
Most regard climate change as an unsettled technical issue still hotly debated by eggheads...or they suspect the issue is a Trojan horse built by hair-shirted environmentalists who want to spoil their fun....
How, then, should we go about generating a shared belief in the reality of climate change? What should change about the way we present the evidence for climate change?
In the past years I have been delighted to observe a growing partnership between scientists and the creative arts, such as retreats for scientists, artists and writers.
It is clear that the cautious language of science is now inadequate to inspire concerted change, even among scientists. We need a fundamentally different approach. Only then will scientists be in a position to throw down the ultimate challenge to the public: "We've done the work, we believe the results, now when the hell will you wake up?"
Not the Creative Arts Retreat, no more improv street theatre please, haven't we suffered enough? Poor old George really believes we haven't been preached to enough (and his little outfit is there ready to help), I wonder if in the depths of the night he ever wonders if the reason we are deniers is because we have looked, listened and inwardly digested his message and then ignored it because it doesn't convince us, not because we haven't heard it enough.
Public Not As Green As They Are Cabbage Looking
BBC NEWS | Politics | Drivers 'distrust' road tax spend
Motoring taxes have been handled so badly that drivers no longer trust what ministers say the charges pay for, an MPs' report says.
Inconsistency over justification for green taxes "tarnished their image", according to the transport committee.
No? Really? Next they will discover we are not completely convinced that MPs are disinterested public servants only interested in our welfare...
Green, the new Red
Blunt warning about greens under the bed | Antonia Senior - Times Online
Anthony Blunt talked of “the religious quality” of the enthusiasm for the Left among the students of Cambridge. There is only one ideology in today’s developed world that exercises a similar grip. If Blunt were young today, he would not be red; he would be green.
His band of angry young men would find Gore where once they found Marx. Blunt evokes a febrile atmosphere in which each student felt his own decision had the power to shape the future. Where once they raged about the fleecing of the proletariat and quaked at the march of fascism, Blunt and his circle, transposed to today’s college bar, would rage about the fleecing of the planet and quake at its imminent destruction. If you squint, red and green look disarmingly similar....Both the green and red positions are infused with overpowering religiosity. Dissenters from the consensus are shunned apostates....
We are at the early stage of the green movement. A time akin to pre-Bolshevik socialism, when all believed in the destruction of the capitalist system, but were still relatively moderate about the means of getting there. We are at the stage of naive dreamers and fantasists. Russia was home to the late 19th-century Narodnik movement, in which rich sons of the aristocracy headed into the countryside to tell the peasants it was their moral imperative to become a revolutionary class. They retreated, baffled, to their riches when the patronised peasants didn’t want to revolt. Zac Goldsmith and Prince Charles look like modern Narodniks, talking glib green from the safety of their gilded lives.
Indulge me in some historical determinism. We, the peasants, are failing to rise up and embrace the need to change. We will not choose to give up modern life, with all its polluting seductions. Our intransigent refusal to choose green will be met by a new militancy from those who believe we must be saved from ourselves. Ultra-green states cannot arise without some form of forced switch to autocracy; the dictatorship of the environmentalists.
July 23, 2009
Local Policing for Local Folk
Muslims, Jewish and Hindu crime victims could be given the right to request a police officer of their own religion under a scheme being trialled in the Sikh community. Black people and homosexuals may also be entitled to ask for an officer of the same ethnicity or sexuality.
Excellent, if we could have old PC "Blackthorn" Stick back here in the village we would have a lot less trouble. He understood our local "cultural issues deemed important to solving crimes." I doubt we would ever see a Pikey, Hunt Sab or Crop Circlist again....
Concrete them over - part 78
I love going on the chuff-chuff when on holiday, steam trains and tunnels hits all the right spots but railways are a nineteenth century technology. Ever since someone invented the steering wheel they have been obsolete. Coaches can carry more people on the same track width, quicker, using less fuel and with the flexibility to drive round problems. Let's grow up and concrete them over and save us all some dosh.
V'ish asher yishkav et zachar mishk'vei ishah to'evah asu shneihem mot yumatu d'meihem bam.
A publicly funded exhibition is encouraging people to deface the Bible in the name of art — and visitors have responded with abuse and obscenity.
The show includes a video of a woman ripping pages from the Bible and stuffing them into her bra, knickers and mouth.
The open Bible is a central part of Made in God’s Image, an exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art (Goma) in Glasgow. By the book is a container of pens and a notice saying: “If you feel you have been excluded from the Bible, please write your way back into it.”
The exhibit, Untitled 2009, was proposed by the Metropolitan Community Church...The exhibition has been created by the artists Anthony Schrag and David Malone, in association with organisations representing gay Christians and Muslims. Mr Schrag, the gallery’s artist in residence, said that he did not believe in God, but that his research for the £7,000 show had underlined his respect for people of faith.
Faith in that "there's a taxpayer sucker born every minute" probably. I'm pleased to note it was both Christians and Muslims behind the show though I wonder why there was only one book open to be defaced...
Crocs..the company's stock now hovers around $3 after a peak of $75.21. The CEO is toast. The company is looking at going bust.
100 million pairs sold at ten times the price that rip-off Johnny Chinaman can sell them for and they are reported to be running out of money? Cry me a river, will the beach at Polzeath ever be the same again?
July 22, 2009
Iain Dale's Comedy Program of The Year
Earlier today Radio 4 broadcast a half hour programme on the MP expenses scandal. It is a close look at the effect the scandal had on MPs and their families. ..I suspect that many people will have an adverse reaction to the programme and accuse the MPs of shedding crocodile tears and think they deserved all they got. Many did. But several of the MPs featured in this programme were clearly driven to the edge of reason by what happened.
Listen to the programme HERE.
It must be a spoof, tears ran down my face as I laughed. I didn't think Iain had such a wicked sense of humour.
We're all going on a summer holiday.
Gordon Brown had hoped that he could leave for his final summer holiday before the general election, having made good his pledge to clean up Parliament and start bringing the economy out of recession.
These were the reasons that he gave for staying in post when the failed attempt to remove him took place just seven weeks ago...
For the story of the response to the expenses scandal is one of retreat after retreat, climbdown after climbdown, from the proposals originally tabled by Mr Brown.
On the economy, the record is not much better. The Government borrowed another £13 billion last month, the highest for June, taking debt to a record 56 per cent of national income.
A further setback awaits tomorrow. Labour seems certain to lose the first “expenses by-election” at Norwich North, caused by the decision of the veteran Labour MP Ian Gibson to resign after a disciplinary panel ruled against him standing again.
We're all going on a summer holiday.
No more working for a week or two.
Fun and laughter on a summer holiday.
No more worries for me and you.
For a week or two.
There will be laughter and chuckles as the Brown and Balls Charabancs head off to the sun or Scotland. The delicate question of whether Harriet Harman or Lord Mandelson will take charge of Britain when Gordon Brown takes his summer holidays has been resolved in comradely style. They will take turns. Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, and Jack Straw, the Lord Chancellor, will each take a turn at holding the reins, too.
Hard Choices for the NHS Budget
Which would you choose to spend taxpayers’ scarce healthcare money on: medical care for critically-ill babies or free vacations and produce? The choice might be clear to us, but we’re not from the government.
MoD surrenders to Green Army
THE Ministry of Defence – one of the key objectors to wind farms – has changed its stance, in a move that experts say will remove a major barrier to the development of green energy.
The MoD said it had made "significant advances" in resolving problems over the impact of wind farms and formed a "memorandum of understanding" with the energy industry.
The MoD and other aviation groups have in the past lodged objections to vast numbers of wind farms, because of fears over turbines interfering with radar used to detect potential enemy aircraft or monitor air traffic...
A spokeswoman for the MoD said: "We are fully committed to sustainable energy and wind-farm developments, but defence of the UK is a very serious business."
And what do you think the "technical solutions" are that mean the radar shadow formed by the windmills no longer matters? Nothing to do with the Mod budget and being promised some shiny new toys if they fall in line surely, compared to not being able to spot "incoming" which is more important?
July 21, 2009
School Vouchers Campaign
With both Labour and Conservatives pussyfooting around School Vouchers with talk of parental choice and top-up vouchers for various sub sections of schoolchildren it surely is time for a proper School Voucher campaign.
Is there one already running?
If not the blogosphere ought to start one - anyone volunteer to help? All I can do is swear at the Statist Conscription and point out it has failed, failed and failed again. And if anyone wants to borrow, or improve, these graphics please feel free to do so.
If you don't want to copy then to your own server, the preferred option, the HTML is:
<img alt="school%20vouchers%2016.gif" src="http://www.anenglishmanscastle.com/school%20vouchers%2016.gif" width="187" height="237" />
<img alt="School%20Vouchers%20Small.jpg" src="http://www.anenglishmanscastle.com/School%20Vouchers%20Small.jpg" width="100" height="87" />
(coding thanks to http://centricle.com/tools/html-entities/)
Republished from May 2007
Milburn on School Vouchers
The evidence from countries such as Denmark, Sweden and the US is that it is not schools selecting pupils, but parents being able to choose schools that raises standards generally and helps the disadvantaged particularly....And we could give parents who do not at present have access to a good school the power to get it. I have proposed that parents be given a new right of redress to choose a better school for their child if they live in an area where the schools are consistently performing badly. Parents could be given an education credit worth 150 per cent of the cost of the child’s schooling for a state school of their choice. The extra funding would give good schools an incentive to expand pupil numbers and broaden their social intake.
Nearly there - give all parents an "education credit" (School Vouchers are obviously the verboten name now), give the schools to the governing bodies and watch the market work its magic.
Appalling lack of knife culture in the young
Debenhams said that four years ago it sold equal numbers of knives and forks, but in the last few months it has sold about two forks for every knife.
Experts said they feared the trend could result in knives becoming an implement used only on special occasions.
Ed Watson, spokesman for Debenhams, said: "Our research indicates that the trend toward fast food is the biggest culprit for abandoning traditional etiquette. The popularity of eating food in front of the TV may also be having an impact."
20 per cent of those asked sat down to eat together just once a week or less. The poll also found children often had meals alone in their bedrooms while watching TV or playing computer games.
Of those who did eat together, TV was the preferred dinner guest, with 75 per cent eating while watching it.
Of course it is better to eat without a knife than wield one like an American. If you can't use cutlery properly you might as well eat out of a bowl on the floor.
I like a bit of fun, I do, but....
The sculpture was towed by tractor 150 yards out into Weymouth Bay at low tide and unhitched in the dead of night. When the tide fell in the morning the creature appeared to be emerging from the waves.
Brendan Webster, a member of the Weymouth and Portland council, said that it had no choice but to remove the dinosaur on health and safety grounds. “It arrived unannounced and without permission,” he said. “We had to remove it as soon as possible because of the potential health and safety hazard to swimmers and beach users. We are not averse to a bit of fun in Weymouth — it just needs to be done safely.”
Weymouth, holiday list, crossed off.
Good Day To Bury Bad News
WHITEHALL auditors have refused to sign off part of the Treasury's accounts over its exposure to potential bank losses.
The National Audit Office (NAO) has not passed the accounts in full as insurance granted to troubled banks Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland was not approved by parliament. It is thought to be the first time that the Treasury's accounts have been qualified. It will publish its annual report and accounts this afternoon – as MPs prepare to depart Westminster today for their summer recess.
However, a Treasury spokesman said: "They have not expressed concern about the figures for the costs of interventions … which are consistent with the range of £20 billion to £50bn set out in the Budget."
Four other government departments – HM Revenue and Customs, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office – are also expected to disclose that their accounts have been qualified by the NAO.
So would you invest in a company whose accounts were not accepted by the auditors and the MD and senior staff all went off for a three month holiday the same day?
UPDATE - The Times has more:
A mountain of bad news was buried by the Government as it rushed out reports and 26 ministerial statements the day before MPs go on holiday. Whitehall sources said that many of the reports were ready to be published weeks ago, and would normally be released in stages, but ministers had insisted they all be delayed till yesterday.
The dangerous state of the public finances was laid bare by the reports, which showed that the Government’s tax take plummeted by £32 billion last year. Figures from HM Revenue & Customs showed income tax, national insurance, VAT, stamp duty and corporation tax fell by £21 billion, while other debts and legal liabilities had cut income by a further £10 billion.
The figures were disclosed as the National Audit Office (NAO) refused to sign off six sets of Whitehall accounts because of fraud, error, overpayments and IT problems. The accounts, covering billions of pounds, included the Ministry of Defence, the Treasury, the Revenue, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Home Office and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. The Government also slipped out reports criticising its training programmes and announced delays in several policy areas.
Impotent Rage Against The Machine
Councillor Mike Raeburn, convener of Grampian Fire and Rescue Joint Board, has accused programme makers of being "totally irresponsible" and is asking Scotland's transport minister, Stewart Stevenson, to intervene.
The councillor has demanded details of its safety management structure, but claims the BBC has refused to release it to him.
A Scottish Government spokesman said it was determined to reduce accidents on Scotland's roads
No worries, with Scotland's insane energy policy no one will be able to watch moving pictures north of the border in a year or so.
July 20, 2009
Monday Morning Motoring Snippets
Signs could tell drivers to take the train - Telegraph
The Government's determination to promote a low carbon economy is expected to form part of the biggest overhaul of the country's road signs in 40 years
Cost of ministerial car fleet increases - Telegraph
One in seven Labour MPs now have access to an official car, according to figures released by the Government.
According to the Department for Transport there are now 93 ministers who are also provided with a driver as part of their duties.
This is six more than this time last year and the bill for the Government car service has risen from £6 million last year to £6.3 million in 2008-9.
"The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, 'This isn't fair dealing,' my son, leave the Saxon alone.
July 19, 2009
Offering Depressed MPs a Helping Hand
A goverment whips meeting this week discussed profound concerns about MPs' wellbeing.
In particular they talked about worries that depressed Labour MPs leaving the mutual support group of fellow MPs as they go off for the summer could be at risk of depression... or worse..'.
Appalling the idea that MPs might fall prey to the temptation to self-harm themselves and have no one to turn to for help. Being the public spirited chap I am let me announce I have set up a 24/7 service to help. At the first hint that an MP needs help and doesn't know where to turn they can call me and I will speed deliver them a length of rope, some blades and some rat poison. It's the least I can do.
And the farming forecast is...
A report by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), suggests there could be unexpected benefits to climate change with exotic fruits and vegetables thriving.
Rice, usually imported from Thailand, China and the Philippines could become a staple crop for British farmers while the south coast could even support olive and apricot trees.
The change could also help tackle the growing obesity problem in Britain. A Mediterranean diet is renowned for its health benefits and longevity.
But native species, such as potatoes could suffers as average temperatures rise by around 2C by 2030.
Potatoes - native species? About sums the scientific accuracy up. I think I will leave flooding the lower forty to turn it into a paddy field until I'm a bit more convinced.
July 17, 2009
Friday Night is Music Night (Fever Edition)
More Ann Marget here I try to keep my reader happy.
Swine Flu - Pig PR Disaster
Pigs 'have nothing to do with swine flu' according to the WorldAnimal Health Organisation (OIE).
Pigs were not responsible for the start or spead of swine flu, and culling herds would not help protect the public or livestock from the virus, it said.
Moving to allay fears that intensive pig farming was responsible for the global pandemic, the OIE said there was little scientific reason to maintain restrictions placed on pigs and pork products.
You think you have got the message through and then Cheri Blair gets it....
Olympic Gold Goes To......
CLM, cost controllers for London Olympics, paid £151 million last year including a £60 million bonus, it was revealed yesterday.
The size of the fee emerged as Olympic chiefs awarded themselves generous pay rises, with three years to go until the start of the Games in 2012. Staff at the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) shared £30 million, including £2 million of bonuses,..By 2012, the estimated total paid to consultants will have reached nearly £680 million.
However, taxpayers may baulk at the cost, after they came to the rescue of two of the biggest venues on the Olympic Park. In May, the Government approved a further injection of £324 million into the £1 billion Village, which will house 17,500 athletes and officials during the Games, bringing public investment in the project to £650 million. The £355 million media centre had already been nationalised after private financing failed to materialise.
The latest accounts revealed that the ODA wrote off £7.5 million in design and professional fees for work on the media centre. It also bore the cost of £2.5 million in legal fees incurred on behalf of Lend Lease, the property developer that pulled out of the Village financing deal.
A further £1.1 million in design fees were written off when the site of the canoeing venue was changed.
Windmills - The Economic (Basket)Case
The Government has announced today
the details of the proposed feed-in tariff for microgeneration from systems like small wind turbines and solar photovoltaics. The new tariff will pay for all energy generated by your system, irrespective of if you use it yourself or sell it back to the grid. The amounts paid are in addition to any saving you will make by purchasing less electricity from your supplier and any income you earn from selling your surplus power to your electricty supplier.
The key points of the announcement are:
- 36.5p/kWh for small solar photovoltaic systems up to 4kW and 28p/kWh for systems up to 10kW.
- 23.0p/kWh for small wind turbines between 1.5kW and 15kW.
Am I understanding this right? If I put up a windmill in my garden as well as any grants I get for doing so I get to use the electricity it produces and I'm paid for it as well. And people wonder if this is a sane energy policy!
Telling Noah Miliband it's only a fable
I'm almost getting overwhelmed by these now but this is an excellent free pdf you can download and wave at Miliband's diminishing rent-a-crowd.
July 16, 2009
Gorey Goo in Arctic Ocean
Hunters from the Alaskan coastal town of Wainwright first noticed the dark, shiny substance floating for miles in the icy Arctic waters of the Chukchi sea, according to reports in the Anchorage Daily News.
The odorous substance, which has been described variously as "goey", "gunky" and "hairy"
It's Al Gore's beard, I wondered where it had gone...
Mandy's Green Jobs Claim Cobblers
Lord Mandelson’s claims of 880,000 ‘green jobs’ in UK a sham
Government claims that Britain already supports nearly one million “green-collar” jobs have been exposed as a sham after the figures were found to include North Sea gas industry workers as well as some petrol station attendants and skylight manufacturers.
The list also includes manufacturers of a bizarre array of products — from skylights to wooden pallets and noise insulation materials, on the basis that they use recycled materials.
Figures supplied by Innovas showed that the total included 207 jobs in the supply and manufacture of animal bedding, 90 providing equestrian surfaces and 164 in the recycling of footwear, “slippers and other carpet wear”.
Is there anything about "green jobs" claimed that is the truth?
Mr Pullman, who stressed he had a "non-existent" criminal record, said he was prepared to give up speaking in schools to make a stand against Britain's creeping surveillance culture.
He said: "It is insulting and I think unnecessary, and I refuse to be complicit in any scheme that assumes my guilt."
He, and the other authors supporting him, can afford it financially and reputionwise unlike the thousands of others who help in schools. His stand is on their behalf and very welcome.
July 15, 2009
Telegraph Wrong on Crop Circle Story
Any idea that the Telegraph is a paper of record or trustworthy is destroyed when one reads a story that you personally know about. Their publishing of a pathetically inaccurate agency copy about my local crop circle incident confirms this. At least the Daily Mirror employs proper journalists who ring up to check out stories first.
UPDATE one hour later - The Telegraph have stealth edited the story and it now is not quite so inaccurate - The Daily Mail is running the same copy but with some improvement, they borrow some quotes from this blog! They both still have the ridiculous £600,000 of damage caused by a crop circle in there - my guess is that the average crop circle causes about £600 of damage.
July 14, 2009
John Holdren - by his words you shall know him
The Reference Frame: Obama's science czar's plans for mass genocide
The man in charge of the U.S. science policy is John Holdren. In the book "Ecoscience" co-authored by Holdren and two Ehrlichs, eugenics is subtly combined with some far-left ideas...
Toward a Planetary Regime
Perhaps those agencies, combined with UNEP and the United Nations population agencies, might eventually be developed into a Planetary Regime—sort of an international superagency for population, resources, and environment. Such a comprehensive Planetary Regime could control the development, administration, conservation, and distribution of all natural resources, renewable or nonrenewable, at least insofar as international implications exist. Thus the Regime could have the power to control pollution not only in the atmosphere and oceans, but also in such freshwater bodies as rivers and lakes that cross international boundaries or that discharge into the oceans. The Regime might also be a logical central agency for regulating all international trade, perhaps including assistance from DCs to LDCs, and including all food on the international market.
The Planetary Regime might be given responsibility for determining the optimum population for the world and for each region and for arbitrating various countries' shares within their regional limits. Control of population size might remain the responsibility of each government, but the Regime would have some power to enforce the agreed limits.
If this could be accomplished, security might be provided by an armed international organization, a global analogue of a police force. Many people have recognized this as a goal, but the way to reach it remains obscure in a world where factionalism seems, if anything, to be increasing. The first step necessarily involves partial surrender of sovereignty to an international organization.
Humanity cannot afford to muddle through the rest of the twentieth century; the risks are too great, and the stakes are too high. This may be the last opportunity to choose our own and our descendants' destiny. Failing to choose or making the wrong choices may lead to catastrophe. But it must never be forgotten that the right choices could lead to a much better world.
The last quote gives it away - this is what he co-authored last century when over-population was the global problem, now of course it is global warming and he has the ear of the President of The United States. Worried? You ought to be.
In a front-page editorial Il Giornale attacked Britain’s political management and handling of the economic crisis. It went on to compare British industry, crime rates, immigration, fashion, tourism and the media unfavourably with Italy’s.
I gather that the guappo are good at the girly round ball game, they are welcome to it as they mince about in their shiny suits. Us tweedy rugger buggers will always instinctively call out when we see Silvio; "Two vanilla cornets please, and don't forget the flakes this time."
'My gun could have saved my husband' - From the BBC
Little Ray of Sunshine
Sunshine is not the main cause of the most dangerous form of skin cancer, according to researchers, who say some warnings about the perils of sunbathing are scaring people unnecessarily.
If only someone would tell all the yummy mummies at every "nice" school where at the first hint of a ray of light the little darlings are coated in more oil than a cormorant on the Torrey Canyon and dressed in the Boden Burqa of pretty printed gingham. Combine that with faddy diets it is no wonder rickets is returning.
Book Review A Useful Fiction by Patrick Hannan
Subtitled "Adventures in British Democracy" this is a personal ramble around the subject. "Adventures" might be overselling it a bit, "anecdotes" would be more accurate. Hannan keeps presenting new and interesting views of how this whole nationhood and union fit together, he has a suitably vinegarish tongue for most subjects, except for Peter Hain where his familiarity with the oil stain shows through. But that is one of the charms of the book, it is one mans view and as a guide he is excellent in revealing different vistas.
If how the nations of these islands work together interest you I can recommend it as paperback to pack with the sunscreen, the sort of book you can read a bit and come back to on another day for another aperçu to stimulate the brain.
July 13, 2009
Police Act on Crop Circle Nuisance
At long last I have seen some Police out in force over our local crop circles; in fact Her Maj's finest armed response team came bounding over my farm, with helicopter hovering, to find me.
All because of this:
Once I persuaded the nice Mr Policeman that I wasn't a threat I was able to point out that it wasn't on my land, and as for reports that someone is "employed to keep people off it with a shotgun" I didn't know anything but thought it more likely he was there to keep the rooks off the corn (they love to start stripping a field from the damaged edges of a circle) because no one would be silly enough to try and keep vandals off their land with a shotgun, would they?
Rara Avis Rings
Bird conservation hit by decline in public help to record the rings
The practice is dependent on the public posting rings found on dead birds, providing the date and location where the bird was found.
The drastic fall has been put down to people not spending as much time in the countryside or on remote beaches, an increasing reluctance to post letters, and simply being more squeamish than they were 50 years ago. “People are terrified of touching something that’s dead. And now bird flu has made it even worse,”
In the US a study suggested financial incentives helped to increase return rates. When a reward of $75 (£45) was promised, the return rate rose dramatically. However, this was not only expensive, but birds were shot for the rings.
Incentives matter... I suppose they don't want the pile of rings Mr FM "collected" last winter then..
Blowing in the wind
Number of wind turbines to quadruple under Renewable Energy Strategy
The Government’s plans are likely to include more than 4,000 additional onshore turbines by 2020, many built at beauty spots and on high ground which would make them visible across miles of open countryside.
Another 3,000 turbines would be installed at sea..
Two a day, everyday, for ten years....
Ministers will claim on Wednesday that 250,000 “green” jobs could be created as Britain increases renewable energy from 2 per cent to 15 per cent by 2020. Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said: “We can lead in the green jobs of the future, making wind turbines, making parts for nuclear power stations.”
However, Britain’s only wind turbine factory, in Newport on the Isle of Wight, is due to close this month with the loss of 600 jobs. Any new turbines are likely to be made abroad.
At least that make them cheaper and us richer as "jobs are a cost not a benefit".
Swine Flu - The State vs Individuals
THE entire UK population is to be vaccinated against swine flu following the death of the first healthy British patient.
The NHS will receive the new vaccine in the next few weeks and is expected to fast-track the drug through regulatory approval within five days...stressed the reason public vaccination was taking place was not because the virus was perceived as a killer but that society could not cope with a high percentage of the population off work ill.
The strain itself killed one person and hospitalized 13. However, side-effects from the vaccine caused 25 deaths.
Alarmed public-health officials decided that action must be taken to head off another major pandemic, and they urged President Gerald Ford that every person in the U.S. be vaccinated for the disease. The vaccination program was plagued by delays and public relations problems, but about 24% of the population had been vaccinated by the time the program was canceled. Only one person, the Fort Dix army recruit, died from the flu.
There were reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a paralyzing neuromuscular disorder, affecting some people who had received swine flu immunizations. This syndrome is a rare side-effect of modern influenza vaccines, with an incidence of about one case per million vaccinations. As a result, Di Justo writes that "the public refused to trust a government-operated health program that killed old people and crippled young people." In total, less than 33 percent of the population had been immunized by the end of 1976. The National Influenza Immunization Program was effectively halted on December 16.
Overall, about 500 cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), resulting in death from severe pulmonary complications for 25 people, were probably caused by an immunopathological reaction to the 1976 vaccine.
Far easier for the NHS to deal with the few people the vaccination will make ill and kill, than the many the flu will make snuffly...
July 12, 2009
The Twelfth - A Glorious Day to Celebrate Freedom
The Glorious Revolution is arguably the most significant single advance in the provision of good government that the world has ever seen. This has been overshadowed by concentrating on its quite peripheral impact on the divisions among Christians. But the Calvinist Prince of Orange who became William III was driven by his fear of absolutist French hegemony over Europe, not by worries about Catholicism whose leader, the Pope, was his temporal ally.
The point is that the freedoms ensured and the benefits gained from the Glorious Revolution far exceed anything gained from any other single event , including the mistakenly more celebrated French Revolution.
The Reign of Terror in the French Revolution was bad enough; but the loss of life from the resulting years of war which ended only in 1815 compares with the First World War, and that with a smaller population. The other great so called Revolution, the Russian, was more a coup d’état by the Bolsheviks, with equally disastrous imitations in Europe and Asia which led to the death of about 100 million.
The American Revolution was derivative and confirmatory of the Glorious Revolution.
The Glorious Revolution was in many ways England’s great gift to the world. It established those fundamental principles of good governance which best allow man to achieve and to exercise his fundamental rights.
It is of particular significance not only in the constitutional development of Britain and the Commonwealth, but also the United States.....
...since the Glorious Revolution, the Anglo-Americans have been on the winning side in every major international conflict. .
This indicates some advantage in the Anglo-Saxon system of governance. There is no evidence that this has anything to with race but rather, it is to do with the endorsement of what we may call political culture. Mead makes the point that not only is the United States a nation of immigrants, but so was England even at the time of the Glorious Revolution. This augurs well for the current massive immigration into the Anglo-Saxon countries. Good sense will make most realise that the system they have come to works and works well – the great majority will have little inclination to change it.
It is important to stress that the great advantages of the Glorious Revolution were not the result of some philosopher sitting down and designing them. That was what directed the French and Bolshevik Revolutions, near crazed men designing schemes to save the world that came close to ruining it. The style of the Anglo-Saxon is pragmatic; the style of the major continental powers has hitherto been more theoretical.
The wisdom of the Anglo Saxons has been in allowing institutions to evolve gradually over time and through trial and error. By way of contrast to continental thought, I would refer to the story of the French énarque who when the benefits of something we are familiar with were shown to him said: “Yes, it may well work in practice, but does it work in theory?” .....
Click here for more to digest over your bacon and eggs - The Glorious Revolution: Three Centuries of Freedom David Flint
(Now there's some music to whistle along to that you won't hear on the BBC)
July 11, 2009
£200 pa The Green Con Cost
Low-carbon strategy will raise household energy bills by £200 a year - Times Online
Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, admitted to The Times that energy bills would rise, “The costs of not acting on climate change far outweigh than the costs of acting.”
Luckily hempen rope is fully recyclable and carbon neutral, so as not to upset him I will even try to find an organic supplier of it as I have a bulk order in mind.
Go to work on an egg
Pre-boiled eggs? Whatever next - pre-buttered toast? - Times Online
Just when you thought you had seen every daft time-saving food concept, along comes a new one
And do you slice your own ham, do you boil your own ham, in fact do you feed your own pigs and slaughter them and make your own ham? No? Well shut up then you pretentious snob. Pace Worstall but civilisation has been built on you not doing the boring and mundane and doing more productive things with your time, which even includes writing silly "why, oh why" articles.
Torchwood - TV Review - The Best 2nd Amendment Advert Ever
Torchwood swaps silliness for gravity - Times Online
It was your classic “aliens are coming to steal our children” scenario. Aliens make contact, demanding 10 per cent of the Earth’s children, or they will wipe out the human race.
And to prevent the world’s destruction, the Government was willing to turn dealer to the 456. In a plot-move that will surely see exam results rise perpendicularly among young Torchwood fans, the Government chose the sacrificial 10 per cent on the basis of schools Sats results — “the ones who are going to spend a lifetime on benefits anyway” — and sent in the Army to round them up.
What you going to do when the State breaks down your door to take your children away?
Obama Caption Contest Round Two
OK, so you have all seen Round one on Friday Caption Contest (O-bum-er Edition) - Guy Fawkes' blog
And you may have caught Obama's apologists claiming he was only checking the step.
Now have a go at this one.
July 10, 2009
Friday Night is Music Night (Popular Edition)
Friday Night is Music Night (21 Years Ago Edition)
Twenty one years ago this night I turned on the car radio as I drove home from the hospital having just become a father for the first time and this was playing. Whatever uses this music is put to that glorious moment is what it reminds me of.
Happy Birthday Son.
Where's my Moonbat Cash?
Climate denial 'astroturfers' should stop hiding behind pseudonyms |Environment | guardian.co.uk
To stop oil, coal and electricity companies inserting their views into the media by stealth, we need to make blog commenters accountable
there is a large and well-funded campaign by oil, coal and electricity companies to insert their views into the media.
They have two main modes of operating: paying people to masquerade as independent experts, and paying people to masquerade as members of the public. These fake "concerned citizens" claim to be worried about a conspiracy by governments and scientists to raise taxes and restrict their freedoms in the name of tackling a non-existent issue.
So where's my money? I haven't had a bean, why am I missing out on Exxon's millions? Or is the money that George believes is being splashed about as illusory as the global warming evidence he sees everywhere?
It maybe your idea of fun but...
NHS Teams will be patrolling the sprawling site at Balado, near Kinross, offering hand gel and to help ensure public areas are kept hygienic and to offer advice to anyone worried. : "Festival-goers are encouraged to practise good hygiene by washing their hands or using anti-bacterial hand gels regularly and covering their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing."
An "eye in the sky" blimp, equipped with specialist night-vision CCTV cameras, will be deployed by the Police force. A spokesman said: "Tayside Police will not tolerate illegal drug use. Drug amnesty bins will be placed at the entrance to the campsites, where people can dispose of any illegal substances without being excluded from the event or prosecuted.
Wow, Doesn't that sound fun! A couple of days stuck in a tent in a muddy field in Scotland, being hounded by NHS busybodies and spied on by Plod and not even the chance of a camberwell carrot to take you mind of it all.
The young people of today don't know what they are missing...
The Public Trough
In the real world, the public sector must pay
Private sector workers are tired of footing the bill for bloated, inefficient services and the fat cats who run them
The mild-mannered head of the Audit Commission has lit the blue touchpaper and not retired — making him extremely rare among officials who usually save inconvenient truths for their valedictory speeches.
The outraged reaction to Steve Bundred’s suggestion that a year’s pay freeze for public sector workers could help to save Britain from bankruptcy shows a fascinating disconnection from reality. I am reliably told that civil servants are quietly planning for possible 20 per cent cuts in public expenditure, and that some local authorities are discussing cuts of up to 30 per cent at awaydays. But the public sector unions noisily protest that their workers “should not be punished for private sector greed”.
The unions have been abetted by sage commentators who have remarked, variously, that retiring on a full pension at 55 is a “right”, that average public sector pay is greater than average private sector pay because public sector workers are more “skilled”, and that Mr Bundred is a “fat cat” whose own quango should be abolished.
The outrage rather misses the point. There is no money. The private sector pays the public sector’s wages, and you can only stiff the private sector for so much.....
Read on as she tells a few more home truths that too many are trying to ignore.
More Ice in it?
Ilulissat - (Danish: Jakobshavn from founder Jakob Severin) a UNESCO-listed glacier, is shedding ice into the sea faster than ever before, according to one of Denmark's top experts on glaciology.
Andreas Peter Ahlstroem, a researcher with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland institute, said the glacier has receded by more than 10 miles (15 km) since 2001. "We should aim to at least reduce CO2 emissions and limit the damage done," he said.
The ice front itself is some 40km inside Ilulissat glacierl is the most productive glacier in the Northern Hemisphere pushing out some 16 cubic km of ice annually at a speed of 20 to 30 meters per day. The ice starts its journey with a thundering crash as it falls into the fiord, before moving more sedately out to sea.
All dramatic stuff, no wonder it is a tourist attraction. And yes the glacier is retreating, just as it has been since before Henry Ford invented Global Warming...
July 9, 2009
News of the World Mobile Phone Cash
The publisher of the News of the World paid £1m in court costs after its journalists were accused of involvement in mobile phone tapping, it has been claimed.
In other news if you have an old mobile lying around the News of the World will buy it off you for cash, or CASH! as they put it. Up to you but I think I will give it a pass.
One over the eight
Alcohol-related deaths up by 40% in ten years
The Conservatives blamed the increase on the relaxation of drinking laws in November 2005.
The Stupid Party trying to think again. A cursory glance at how the statistics are collected and what is and was defined as "alcohol related" would show that it is bollocks. But the demonisation of alcohol is a cross-party consensus to increase control...
The Department of Health said that alcohol “is one of the most challenging public health issues we face. For every pound spent on alcohol intervention, five pounds are saved by the public purse — so this is money well spent.”
Resucitating the patient to kill him slower
At the Group of Eight summit in L'Aquila, Italy, leaders also managed to strike a historic deal to limit the rise of world temperatures to 2C or below and slash emissions of greenhouses gases by 80 per cent by the middle of this century.
Recovery while holding a pillow over the face of the patient with their stupid "carbon cuts" agenda. Morons.
I could name two without trying, the IOC and the British Government, why not start your investigations there Inspector?
Breeding Will Out
Nanny always used to say that Manners Maketh Man, maybe she got it the wrong way round. Maybe some humanoids are incapable of good manners, and why are they always out shopping when I am?
July 7, 2009
Carbon Cops Forecast
LONDON (Reuters) - First there were the thought police, then the surveillance society, now Britons fear the carbon cops are coming to ensure compliance with climate change legislation, a survey showed on Wednesday Jun 25, 2008.
And with warnings of global catastrophe ringing in their ears some people fear that failure to cut personal carbon emissions will eventually result in enforced carbon behaviour re-education, the Energy Saving Trust said.
It said 41 percent of Britons think the country will need its own Carbon Police Force by mid-century and one quarter believe repeat offenders will have to go into carbon rehab and take carbon addiction classes.
"The UK's perception is that by 2050 we could have the sort of draconian infringements on our civil liberties that have been highlighted in our research. This need not be the case," said EST chief Philip Sellwood said.
No, they arrived today , a mere year later, so much for your forecast.
Norfolk Plod - "incorrect and inappropriate"
Insp Dave Buckley, of Norfolk Police's Hunstanton and Burnham neighbourhood policing team, said in a statement: "We gave permission for the organisers to create a scarecrow of a police officer - but the owner of the scarecrow used a plastic drinks bottle to symbolise a speed radar gun.
"As a result an officer removed the scarecrow as it portrayed an incorrect and inappropriate message to passing motorists. We appreciate the spirit of the family-oriented festival but our priority is the safety of motorists.
"Speed radars are used to prevent casualties on our roads and to address the irresponsible actions of motorists. They should not be re-created by the roadside in jest."
And exactly which law was broken?
The Green Staatspolizei - The Carbon Cops - Have Arrived
The boys in green are coming as the Environment Agency sets up a squad to police companies generating excessive CO2 emissions.
The agency is creating a unit of about 50 auditors and inspectors, complete with warrant cards and the power to search company premises to enforce the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), which comes into effect next year.
Decked out in green jackets, the enforcers will be able to demand access to company property, view power meters, call up electricity and gas bills and examine carbon-trading records for an estimated 6,000 British businesses. Ed Mitchell, head of business performance and regulation at the Environment Agency, said the squad would help to bring emissions under control. “Climate change and CO2 are the world’s biggest issues right now. The Carbon Reduction Commitment is one of the ways in which Britain is responding.”
The formation of the green police overcomes a psychological hurdle in the battle against climate change. Ministers have long recognised the need to have new categories of taxes and criminal offences for CO2 emissions, but fear a repetition of the fuel tax protests in 2000 when lorry drivers blockaded refineries.
The central unit, based in Warrington, Cheshire, can call on the agency’s national network of hundreds of pollution inspectors, many of whom will soon be trained in CO2 monitoring.
It will also be able to demand energy bills from utilities without the companies under investigation knowing they are being watched....
You just knew it was coming but it is still a shock when it actually arrives.
My Chilli Cook-Off Recipe
Many cultures across the world rely on the pig for protein, Colombians included. One of the most delectable dishes is Chicharron (fried pork skins). This is nothing like the fried pork rinds that you buy in the store in the Atkins Low Carb Section. This is not made with the salt pork you can find in the meat isle. This is made from fresh pork belly and a cut that doesnt include much meat (the meat doesnt really hold up well to the process, its the fat that counts here).
I flavoured some up with Chilli (though I should have made them hotter), a sprinkle of flaked sea salt and a squeeze of lime and they went down very well.
More recipe ideas here...
Pork rind - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Like a Puppet on a String
You can barely see the wires, on either of them...
Waiting for The State to take Care of Us.
Mr Holmes, one of the most dedicated anti-smoking campaigners of the past quarter of a century, said he usually protests outside London's High Court.
He said: "I've stood outside the High Court for 14 weeks.
"Everybody totally ignores this message.
"All you have to do is to ban tobacco and stop actors smoking in films... the biggest threat to children is tobacco addiction... we employ Government to take care of us."
Sometimes the cliché, "Get a life" is the only apposite response
The Dangers of Waiting for The State to take Care of Us
Man died of heart attack while paramedic conducted risk assessment - Times Online
Mr Adams, a chauffeur for the Metropolitan Police, dialled 999 complaining of breathing problems and chest pains just after midnight on June 29. He was told by the operator to leave his front door open so an ambulance crew could get to him quickly.
However, a paramedic who arrived six minutes later and saw the door open feared that the property was being burgled. He stayed on the doorstep carrying out a “risk assessment exercise” before calling police for support. When he entered the property, 16 minutes after arriving, he found Mr Adams in the front room of his home in Morden, South London. Mr Adams was not breathing and was dead when he reached hospital.
Hi Ho Hi Ho The Smile Police At Work
More than 500 staff at Keihin Electric Express Railway are expected to be subjected to daily face scans by "smile police" bosses.
The "smile scan" software, developed by the Japanese company Omron, produces a sweeping analysis of a smile based on facial characteristics, from lip curves and eye movements to wrinkles.
For those with a below-par grin, one of an array of smile-boosting messages will op up on the computer screen ranging from "you still look too serious" to "lift up your mouth corners", according to the Mainichi Daily News.
A growing number of service industries are reportedly using the new Omron Smile Scan system for "smile training" among its staff.
I fear that the machine would receive a message back from me if I arrived for work expected to beam, something along the lines of a lump hammer into its lens and "see if you are smiling now".
July 6, 2009
Harrow Council Education Fraud
Council drops school fraud case against mother | Education - guardian.co.uk
Harrow council had been attempting to prosecute Mrinal Patel for using false address to get son place at popular state school
Why isn't Harrow Council being prosecuted for fraud for purporting to run an education system, when it is quite obvious from this case it is failing to do so?
Maldives - Latin for Ill Gotten Gains?
Maldives president Mohammed Nasheed demands
large amounts of our cash action on climate change
“We feel that climate change is not an environmental issue, it’s a security issue, it’s a human rights issue,” the country’s first democratically elected leader said at the launch of The Times World Forum on Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford.
“If you thought that defending Poland was important, defending the Maldives is important. If you can’t save the Maldives today you can’t save yourself tomorrow.”
So start sending me the money so I can bribe my voters now!
mala, feminine of malo, bad (from Latin malus): dives, rich, opulent, wealthy
News from the sharp end
Sometimes I think I agree that there are whole swathes of the population who shouldn't be trusted with anything sharper than a crayon, but then at least they seem to be doing their best not to breed...
Hazel Blears "Why haven't you been sacked?"
No not an MP or Minister, don't be silly, just some poor pen pusher who anonymously opined that of Miss Blears: "How dare you wave a cheque about on national TV, saying that you are sorry.
"You are only sorry that you have been caught. You are a disgrace (including all the other honourable members). Why haven't you been sacked?"
July 5, 2009
There are at least 15 different licences, legal agreements, forms and certificates for which fete organisers can ultimately be responsible, research by this newspaper has established.
The person in charge of an event which breaks the terms of its licence may face a £20,000 fine or six months in prison, while failure to meet stringent insurance requirements could see village committee members sued in the event of an accident.
It is a good job no one organised the Chilli Cook-off yesterday, it was a spontaneous gathering with no paperwork...
The Master at Work - Hotter than The Devil's Brew! and to prove that Jack Russels are fearless...
Blair - the nu Al Gore?
Tomorrow he will launch Technology for a Low Carbon Future, a report put together with the Climate Group, setting out his arguments.
n Blair’s brave new world there will also be dozens of nuclear power stations, probably including fast-breeder reactors — the type that produce not only power but also lots of nuclear material suitable for fuelling more such plants.
There will be massive investment in research into biofuels, along with the replacement of all petrol and diesel vehicles with others powered by electricity or hydrogen.
“What we are talking about is a revolution in the way we produce and consume energy, travel and design and manage our urban and rural environments,” says Blair, eyes gleaming.
Blair’s faith in science to achieve such changes seems unbounded, which is odd, given that he has no formal scientific training and used to speak out vigorously against the expansion of nuclear power when Labour was in opposition.
He does, however, have a history of investing huge faith in whatever people, issues or causes he chooses to adopt — sometimes in the face of all evidence to the contrary.
Blair’s vision, is that developed nations can be persuaded to invest hundreds of billions of pounds in technologies such as carbon sequestration and new nuclear. On developing such systems they will — or so the rhetoric goes — promptly hand over the technology, plus money to build it, to countries such as India and China.
For Blair the logic is obvious. “If we do not involve those poorer countries, they are not going to be able to implement these measures and their emissions will expand, wiping out any cuts we make,” he says. “They need help and it’s in our interests that they get that help.”
Voters may not see it that way. Instead they will see vast sums of western money — Blair’s own report puts it at up to £98 billion annually, starting next year — being sent to fast-growing rival economies in the East. And, credit-crunched as they are, they may not like it.
How will western voters be persuaded? Another brief silence — then a certainty that his critics will recognise all too well: “We will just have to find a way.”
I bet you will...
July 4, 2009
There are the Fires of Hades to be stoked and Scotch Bonnets to be prepared, see you later.
July 3, 2009
Friday Night is Music Night (Red Hot Edition)
How those Wind Turbines keep turning
Large wind turbines require a large amount of energy to operate. Other electricity plants generally use their own electricity, and the difference between the amount they generate and the amount delivered to the grid is readily determined. Wind plants, however, use electricity from the grid, which does not appear to be accounted for in their output figures.
Among the wind turbine functions that use electricity are the following:...
....magnetizing the stator -- the induction generators used in most large grid-connected turbines require a "large" amount of continuous electricity from the grid to actively power the magnetic coils around the asynchronous "cage rotor" that encloses the generator shaft; at the rated wind speeds, it helps keep the rotor speed constant, and as the wind starts blowing it helps start the rotor turning (see next item); in the rated wind speeds, the stator may use power equal to 10% of the turbine's rated capacity, in slower winds possibly much more
...using the generator as a motor (to help the blades start to turn when the wind speed is low or, as many suspect, to maintain the illusion that the facility is producing electricity when it is not, particularly during important site tours) -- it seems possible that the grid-magnetized stator must work to help keep the 40-ton blade assembly spinning, along with the gears that increase the blade rpm some 50 times for the generator, not just at cut-in (or for show in even less wind) but at least some of the way up towards the full rated wind speed; it may also be spinning the blades and rotor shaft to prevent warping when there is no wind.
Hat tip to an anonymous commentator who noticed the turbines by the motorway turning on a windless halcyon day.
Scotland, Green in Tooth and Claw
BIRDS of prey have been brought in to scare away pigeons that have plagued the Scottish Parliament.
The £44,000 contract will see seven birds tackle the problem in a two-pronged attack – but under a "no kill policy".
Hawks will first flush out the pigeons from the various hidden corners of the Holyrood building in Edinburgh.
Falcons flying overhead should then finish the job by frightening them away.
Appropriate for the Scottish Parliament; unnatural, toothless, expensive and bloody useless.
Climate Change Causes Conehead Bushcrickets' Wings To Grow
Climate change isn’t something for the future: it is already happening. The longer it goes on the easier it will be to notice these changes without having a specialist to measure it. In virtually every population that has been studied in detail, evolutionary changes have been observed.
There has been a morphological change, for example, in the long-winged conehead bushcricket. Previously they could only fly for short distances, to escape predators.
But because it has been getting warmer in the South of England, where they were confined, they have expanded their wings and can now fly for several hours at a time to cooler areas in the North.
It would once have taken them a week to cross a field, now they can fly for several hours at a time.
Shrinking sheep and now longer wings on the coneheads, what more evidence do you need to ditch your SUV.
Though I must admit reading the Science article about the Coneheads it seems that the Coneheads mainly have two morphological forms, short wings and long wings. The shortarses breed faster and are more competitive but can't move around so tend to dominate established populations. The wingers thrive at the edge of populations because whilst they can't compete well with the fatties barging them out of the way in the food aisles they can fly over the horizon to new food sources. So you will always see more long winged ones on the advancing edge of a population regardless of the weather.
Grind them exceeding small
Maybe columnists don’t bang on about these little miseries enough. We always worry about the big things; the fiddled expenses, the bomb plots, Jordan’s boobs, the lies that lead to wars. It’s the little things, however, that pollute our lives so much more. The receptionist at A&E, your electricity bill, the new wheelie bin, the traffic jam, the cancelled flight, the delivery that never arrives.
It’s the powerlessness, always, against these shapeless systems that seem to hate us, and leave us no option but to hate them back. It’s awful. What a way to live. What a place. What bastards.
Its the little things that will cause an explosion one day, not the massive incomprensible debt, the loss of freedoms etc, it will be a little old lady being victimised that will get people on the streets.
July 2, 2009
The Unforseen Consequence of Climate Change
A complete list of things caused by global warming should have a cracker of a new entry...
Now that is one I didn't know about, I'm converted to the cause...
At the Sign of the Barber's Pole
Deep joy - I have at long last found a decent Barber's shop in Wiltshire. For years I have put up with an ever changing rota of feral youths in my local establishments who having passed an NVQ in holding sharp scissors in their pudgy white tattooed paws believe they are doing you a favour in randomly snipping bits of hair off. Unless you want a bleached cockatoo for a hairstyle you end up looking like Nick Griffen.
But tucked away on Winchester Street, Salisbury, I found a proper Turkish barber. Not only did he cut my hair properly in silence, I had the pleasure of him scraping round my neck with a cut throat razor, (maybe that is why Nick Griffen doesn't use a Turkish Barber), and the old flaming wand was produced to singe off the hairs in and on my ears and nose. If you have never had a Turk gently blowing a flame into your ear, and balming it with unguents of the orient, you have never been properly prepared to face the rigours of the day.
The Manifesto Club, a libertarian campaign group that compiled the book from pictures sent in by members, says in many cases the signs do not warn of real dangers.
And with their loud colours and hectoring tones, the book says, the notices disfigure buildings and public spaces.
The Manifesto Club getting attention again, they are obviously catching the mood.
I seem to remember when I walked down to the pub to see in the New Millennium that there was a strident safety notice disfiguring the countryside by the canal bridge, and when I walked back refreshed a couple of hours later it was no longer there. An excellent start to the new age I thought, but it has all been downhill since then.
ID Cards - The Sham U Turn
The Government is still pressing ahead with the national identity register, to which will be added the details of everyone who applies for a passport. Anyone on the register will be obliged subsequently to inform the authorities of a change of address, under pain of a £1,000 fine. In other words, if you don’t want to carry a card, that’s your choice. But we are still going to take your fingerprints, and if you don’t have a card we can march you down to the station to have you checked.
If there was ever a solution in search of a problem, it is ID cards and the identity register. You know what will happen: the authorities will spend thousands of hours pursuing forgetful, peripatetic students. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda sleepers diligently settling down to lives as teaching assistants as they prepare suicide attacks will be careful to conform to all pettifogging bureaucracy. Like the Tube bombers before them, it isn’t their identities they wish to conceal, only their ambitions.
ID cards voluntary? Don’t you believe it
July 1, 2009
ID database to continue to grow
THE government was accused of being "in chaos" last night after it all but abandoned its flagship identity card scheme.
Not so fast - PR reports
And yet Johnson is resolutely refusing to simply scrap the scheme, claiming that it would save little money to do so. That implies to me that the Identity Database, with the details of every UK resident, will still be operational and (one presumes) compulsary - although instead of relying on ‘applications for ID cards’ it will rely on consolidating data from passport applications, CRB checks and other sources. The Database will still come into being, and will still need to be populated with information about every citizen if it is to be any use at all.
Given that this aspect, rather than the plastic cards themselves, was the original concern of civil liberties campaigners, the announcement that the expensive cards themselves will not be compulsory could quickly appear to be spectacularly hollow.
"Today, international action on climate change is urgent and essential. Indeed, there can no longer be any debate about the need to act, because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), of which I am chairman, has established climate change as an unequivocal reality beyond scientific doubt."
Rajendra Pachauri, today in The Guardian.
Watts Up With That? reminds us that:
... the statement that the following climate metrics “are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago” ;
1. “rising sea levels”
NOT TRUE; e.g. see the University of Colorado at Boulder Sea Level Change analysis.
Sea level has actually flattened since 2006.
2. “the increase of heat stored in the ocean”
NOT TRUE; see
Update On A Comparison Of Upper Ocean Heat Content Changes With The GISS Model Predictions.
Their has been no statistically significant warming of the upper ocean since 2003.
3. “shrinking Arctic sea ice”
NOT TRUE; see the Northern Hemisphere Sea Ice Anomaly from the University of Illinois Cyrosphere Today website. Since 2008, the anomalies have actually decreased.
Ballsing up the Education System
To keep the licence, teachers have to demonstrate that they have "up-to-date skills and learning to be effective in the classroom".
Mr Balls said: "This is not a problem we are addressing, although it may be that we will discover some teachers who do not make the grade and some who aren't relicensed."
He said the licence will put teachers on a par with high-status professions including doctors and solicitors.
So he is claiming he is introducing a system to cure a problem that doesn't exist - I gather he doesn't like being called a liar so I'm at a loss to explain his statement. And all it means is that teachers will join the thousands of other professionals collecting CPD points from seminars, podcasts and signing in for lunch at a crappy hotel just off junction 16 of the M4.
...parents will have the right to clear information about their child's schooling, closer involvement with their child's progress through a designated personal tutor and more influence over the school.
Mr Balls said he believed legal action would be a last resort.
He said the first port of call for concerns would be the school's governing body followed by appeals to outside agencies.
"If a parent feels that the school's governing body, the local government Ombudsmen and the Secretary of State is not delivering, then in the end there is legal redress."
Is that how Mr Balls addresses the problem of poor delivery of his fruit and veg? No, he takes his money elsewhere and starts shopping down the road. Immediate, effective and simple. Cut the bloody bureaucracyand just give the parents vouchers, problem solved and billions off the budget.
Hot Air Madness
Wind Observation Map - Britain shows that locally the wind speed is 2mph, and that is measured at a hilltop aerodrome (Lynham), and it is similar across the whole country. That is a feature of very hot and very cold weather, the wind doesn't blow. So none of the expensive power generating whirlygigs will be working as a million fans and air conditioning units turn on this morning.
So I'm pleased to note the BBC is reporting:
Wind has the power to revolutionise the UK's electricity industry, according to a study published on Wednesday.
Research from analysts Poyry says that the UK can massively expand wind power by 2030 without suffering power cuts or a melt-down of the National Grid.
The cost of electricity would then be determined not by consumer demand, but by how hard the wind is blowing.
When it is windy power will be so cheap that other forms of generation will be unable to compete, the report says.
If the wind were to drop everywhere round the UK (as happened during the January high pressure cold snap), other generators would make their money by switching on back-up fossil fuel power stations for a very short time, charging extremely high prices, it predicts.
The study bases its assumptions on current levels of subsidy. It concludes that thanks to the wind subsidy through the "Renewable Obligations Certificates" issued by regulator Ofgem, electricity prices would be negative if the wind were blowing hard.
The study amplifies a recent paper from National Grid itself stating that a move towards wind power would not necessitate widespread investment in expensive back-up power plants fuelled by gas or coal.
This is a key finding which helps remove one of the main barriers to the advance of wind (although some will remain sceptical).
But it comes with a warning. Dr Hare said: "It will cost more. There is no such thing as cheap green power - that is a myth."
The authors of a report from the Royal Society this week made the same point. But politicians are still reluctant to pass on this message to the public.
Madness, sheer bloody madness. I need to invest in a diesel generator.