April 30, 2010
Latest Madness from the UEA
Wildlife documentary makers are infringing animals' rights to privacy by filming their most private and intimate moments, according to a new study.
Footage of animals giving birth in their burrows or mating crosses an ethical line that film-makers should respect, according to Brett Mills, a lecturer in film studies at the University of East Anglia.
Your taxes at work....
Save the Saviour
Being the saviour of the nation doesn't always get you re-elected as Winston found out. And I think his claim was a touch more credible.
Friday Night is Music Night (Holiday Weekend Edition)
Or in black and white if you prefer:
Will The Television Debates Affect Betting Patterns on the Outcome of the Election?
We in the UK are now well and truly in the thick of the battle for the hearts and minds of the voters. This time there is an “X Factor” in the campaigning of the parties for the General Election. Yes, I am referring to the televised debates between the leaders of the three main parties. Of course doing well in a particular debate may boost the popularity of a participant but will it ultimately help his party win the election? One should never under-estimate the power of television. Lots of political pundits have been quick to point out that the rise in popularity of Nick Clegg in the opinion polls after the first debate can only have come about as a result of the viewing public’s perception of the Liberal Democrat leader. Over 9.4 million viewers watched that first debate and it is worth noting that many people probably watched because of the novelty value of a live election debate. Many viewers would not have watched a traditional party political broadcast if it had been screened instead. For the second debate viewing figures dropped to 4 million.
But will these debates influence the betting on who will win the Election? That remains to be seen. Many online betting websites are offering odds on which party will win the most seats on the 6th May. The Conservatives are 1/5, Labour are 4/1 and the Liberal Democrats are 16/1. However if Nick Clegg continues to do well in the final broadcast debate will punters decide that a bet on the Liberal Democrats offers the best value? Polls after the second debate showed opinions mixed on who won. If either Gordon Brown or David Cameron were to be seen as the winners of the final debate would this lead to a change in the percentage of people betting on the Conservatives or Labour party to win?
With the stakes so high the leaders cannot afford to make any gaffes when they are under such close public scrutiny. You can bet that they will be under a great deal of pressure to perform well from here on in. So is it worth having a punt on the winner of the last debate? Certainly it is possible. Odds being offered on David Cameron are 6/4 while Nick Clegg is 7/4 and Gordon Brown is quoted at 2/1. Of course, unlike with the main event it is the perceived debating skills and body language of the three speakers that will determine who is considered the winner. On May 6th it will be the policies that the parties are putting forward that will be the determining factor on where the “x” is placed on the ballot paper. Nevertheless it will be interesting to see if a pattern emerges in the betting on which party will win the election and which leader will win each debate.
In some ways it is odd that election debates have not been a feature of previous elections. Certainly they have generated interest and discussion among potential voters who might otherwise not have been reached by campaigning via any other means. The same might be said for political betting. People will have bet on the outcome of the debates who would have never thought of betting on election-related issues in the past. And after putting money on your favourite in a televised debate what could be more natural than having a bet on the UK General Election outcome?
(Disclosure - this is a sponsored post)
April 29, 2010
Canvassing at The Castle
I think you can identify the various party candidates in the video, if they ever find the bodies so will the police.
See you in London later.
Special School Vouchers
Remember this? Should parents be given choice, should state schools be made to accept special need pupils, why are special schools shunned? Just give the parents of special need children the budget so they can wave the money at the headmasters. Mainstream schools get the extra dosh to accommodate them if they want to or special schools have to smarten up their act if they want to continue.
Simples, it is just the school voucher answer writ large.
One more for the road
Nursing leaders denied that such a move would disproportionately hit people in rural areas, who need to use their cars more to move around.
Amanda Callaghan, director of communications for the RCN, said: “Would it not be better to improve public transport than accept that people in rural areas should be allowed to drink and drive?”
The idea that public transport is an answer in the countryside is so bizarre that one has to wonder if she has been sniffing the hand gel.
Are there any figures for the risk people who have had a glass of wine at their rural neighbours cause?
I have always thought a rough but fairer way to would be to penalise harder drivers within built-up or 30 limited areas as they probably had the choice of public transport.
April 28, 2010
As the Captain of the Titanic said
Melting sea ice would cause sea levels to rise by 'hair's breadth' - Telegraph
Professor Andrew Shepherd, one of the authors of the study published in Geophysical Research Letters, said the tiny rise caused by melting ice was still significant.
"Over recent decades there have been dramatic reductions in the quantity of Earth's floating ice, including collapses of Antarctic ice shelves and the retreat of Arctic sea ice," he said.
Iain Dale - Wrong on Internet Politics
This was supposed to be the election when internet politics came of age, when the blogosphere and social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook had a real impact on the campaign. But it hasn't turned out like that: far from being an important player, the internet has become all but an irrelevance. So why has the web been the dog that hasn't barked?
Because T'internet has had its bite already. Iain is ignoring the bleeding corpses of politicians savaged over the last few years and of the withered husks that the parties have become as the energy of political involvement has moved on from supporting the donkey wearing the correct rosette to being actively involved.
Of course if you spend all day with your head up a donkey's arse trying to propel it to victory your view is limited...
Arctic Ice - Nothing to see. Move along now please
Arctic ice extent is normal
People counting on bad news from the Arctic to keep their agenda alive are staring at a long, (rhetorically) cold summer……
Blair Dead - Who Cares?
Next-generation Tories came of age under New Labour and are a diverse bunch – but has the party really changed? asks MARY FITZGERALD
NOT SO long ago mention of the Young Conservatives would inevitably summon images of braying Hooray Henrys mooning at the press or wearing “Hang Mandela” stickers on their lapels. To be young and Tory was to invite comparisons with all the stereotypes embodied in Harry Enfield’s Tory Boy.
But what of today’s young Conservatives? Children of the Thatcher era, they have little or no recollection of the bitter ideological battles of the 1980s, and only a hazy memory of the last Tory government.
Maybe that is why I don't understand the New Tory Party - it's an age thing.
The name Blair Peach brings to mind a long summer of being eighteen, earning decent money, beer at 30p a pint... before going to University that autumn. Of course I should be shocked and outraged that the SPG is wot did it, but are you?
Green Story of the Decade
April 27, 2010
BRÜN, KAMERUN or KLEGGI - I have never actually been inside an Ikea store but I do need a new kitchen....
Or maybe just a new jar of Marmite.
Given that each of his two appearances takes up just two hours of his time, this works out at £81,348 per hour, or £1,355 a minute, as near as damn it. Nice work if you can get it.
And of course that doesn't include his expenses including first-class air fares, five-star hotels, limousines, plus travel and accommodation for his ten-strong entourage, eight of whom are security men provided by HM government.
When Gordon Brown called the election it was widely expected the Blairs would be rolled out as Labour's secret weapon.
Wearing his other hat, as Middle East peacebroker, he had been in Israel when the planes were grounded by volcanic ash, but he had slogged out to Malaysia via Africa and Spain.
It was tempting to remark that, for £350,000, I'd have done the same. Instead I suggested that the inconvenience could hardly have come at a worse time, and that he must be keen to return to Britain and join the election fray.
Well, he replied with an impish grin that suggested the volcano had provided him with the perfect excuse, he couldn't possibly get back, could he?
'I just kept heading East,' he said with a shrug.
Cash not ash then is saving us from him, and he has already used up quite a few of his ninety days already this year....
Devizes Tories Threaten Orang-utans
The Conservative Party has accepted donations from a wealthy British family that is accused of profiting from the destruction of one of the few remaining habitats of the orang-utan.
Although the party has a policy of protecting orang-utans, it has continued to accept donations despite evidence of the family’s links to a company involved in the destruction.
A local spat to me - the Green candidate for Devizes, Martin Felcher, is in a tizzy about one of my neighbours, the Keswicks, the ex Tai-pans. The link to Orang-utans is pretty flimsy which is probably why it took TWO of Murdoch's star reporters, Ben Webster, Environment Editor and Dominic Kennedy, Investigations Editor, to regurgitate the press release.
Thank goodness Murdoch hasn't any links with far eastern trading companies.
A study of pedestrian behaviour in a busy high street has shown that shoppers are inefficient. Unlike more competent species — such as ducks and geese — which form streamlined groups to increase their velocity, humans trundle along in a way that cuts their average speed between stores by about a fifth.
Our problem is that we fall into U or V-shaped formations so we can chat with our companions, but this slows both our progress and that of people coming the other way. We are clearly more concerned with chattering than arriving at our destination
The idea that shopping is some sort of leisure activity is bizarre and incomprehensible, and when I do venture to town the gaggles on the pavement frustrating my purposeful striding from boot-maker to wine-merchant is enough to make my normal placid bonhomie evaporate.
But now it is official, they are "as geese", but stupider, and deserve to be treated as such. Is there a closed season?
If I vote Lib Dem I deprive Labour of a vote and make it more likely that Labour will come third – leading to a deal with the Tories? If I vote Labour to try to shore up their vote, an outright Tory victory is more likely.
Of course Real Conservatives have similar concerns over tactical voting, do you vote Tory to prevent a hung Parliament, even though the Tory Party isn't conservative, or do you vote UKIP/ Independent which wlll split the conservative vote and make it more likely an even less conservative administration emerges?
April 26, 2010
Cuts Threaten Front-line Services - An Email Arrives..
Funding available for public sector staff wellbeing!!!
I have funding available to help support Public Sector Organisations to take part in a Walking challenge.
The GCC (Global Corporate Challenege)sees teams of 7 employees aiming to walk 10'000 steps a day recorded on pedometer to complete a virtual walk around the world. The challenege boots health, motivation, team spirit and productivity and contributes to less sick days in the work place. As part of a bigger Health and Wellbeing initiative workplaces across the nation and indeed the World have seen real benefits from taking part...
We have funding to support organisations entering participants living or working within Wiltshire onto the GCC. The GCC costs £343 + VAT per team of 7 participants and WASP can contribute up to £100 per team or more if a case is made. Our only condition is that as we are using public money to promote health improvement we can’t support teams full of people who are already very active. Thus we ask you to abide by the spirit of the event and enter teams where the majority are not already particularly active and therefore have much to gain from participating in this initiative....
If you are interested in enrolling some teams onto this years GCC event, please contact me at email@example.com before 5th May. I will then send you some further information on the event. You will be informed by 7th May of the panel’s decision for your Bursary Application
Wiltshire & Swindon Activity and Sports Partnership.
Tory Education Reforms - The Tory Problem
Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council, said funding parents to start their own "free schools" would threaten the budgets of other local schools.
That is a benefit, not a problem.
He said he was not against choice in education, but warned his party must guard against what he called "destructive" rather than "constructive" competition.
And he calls himself a Tory? Competition is always destructive, creative destruction is the engine of improvement...
(A) councillor who runs education services in another Conservative authority in one of England's cities, but who does not want to be named, says he "is not a fan of the free schools policy".
He points out if parents were able to set up free schools in his area - a city with a growing population - it would make strategic planning a nightmare for him.
Excellent - maybe he should get another job then, and hopefully the whole waste that is council strategic planning could wither on the vine.
Can the Tories actually deliver a badly needed radical shake-up of the education system when their own councillors are going to act as roadblocks?
April 23, 2010
I am just going outside and may be some time
Off to the Pub for a Gentlemen's St George's Day lunch; look after the place whilst I'm gone.
Friday Night is Music Night (Bringer of Jollity Edition)
Wiltshire's Misleading Speed Camera Data
Wiltshire & Swindon Safety Camera Partnership - Safety Camera Enforcement - Core Site Information
The baseline figures shown (in red) give the numbers of recorded Fatal, Serious and Slight injuries at each site and the respective numbers for each year following commencement of camera enforcement.
As an example:
A30 The Pheasant, Winterslow:
In the 3 years prior to enforcement, there were 4 serious injuries and 6 slight injuries at that location. In the 7 years and 7 months (more than twice the baseline period) since enforcement commenced, there have been a total of 3 accident collisions which resulted in 4 slight injuries.
(This is cut from http://www.safetycameraswiltshire.co.uk/uplfiles/Core%20Stats.pdf where all the data for all the camera sites is.)
But wait - So we know the red baseline figures for “The Pheasant” is for three years. The presentation misleadingly could be taken that they are an annual figure, as are all the others. The pdf doesn’t seem to say for how long the base data figures are for any other site. Are they all for three years aggregated together?
For clarity wouldn’t annual figures be better? The columns for the start year and the last year of figures are also part years and so are not comparable either.
A masterclass of misleading chartmanship..
UPDATE From The Wiltshire Safety Camera Partnership:
The PDF file which discloses the accident statistics relative to each of
our core enforcement sites is updated as often as possible and certainly
when new (monthly)information comes to hand. The red figures as noted in
the explanation on the relevant page you accessed relate to the three
year period prior to enforcement and these are the figures which were
presented to the Department for Transport for their consideration for
the authorisation to commence enforcement. This is why the figures are
presented in the way they are.
We have listed accident figures year by year to enable anyone who would
wish to aggregate any three year period that they might wish in
comparison with the base line figures. Disclosing annual figures can
also show any trend that might be occurring.
The dates shown in column 3 relate directly to the date enforcement at
the site commenced and the date of the latest statistics update - hence
the last date in all cases is currently 30 November 2009.
The text you refer to was entitled 'As an example' and used the first
site on the list and was intended to imply that the three year period
applied to all sites. However, in light of your comment, I have, this
morning changed the text to that shown below which will hopefully remove
any confusion or misunderstanding.
'The baseline figures shown (in red) give the numbers of recorded Fatal, Serious and Slight injuries at each site for the three year period prior to enforcement commencing. The numbers of injuries for each year following commencement of camera enforcement are also shown.'
Speed Cameras Useless - The Proof
BBC News - No crash rise after Swindon speed camera turn-off - 22 April 2010
The number of accidents on roads next to Swindon's shrouded speed cameras is the same now as when they were active, according to council figures.
The five fixed cameras were covered in July last year after the Conservative-run borough council withdrew funding.
Swindon's Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors said they would turn the cameras back on if they had the chance....
So the experiment has been done, the brave motorists of Swindon have risked all, the results are in. But still the command and control freaks want to ignore the science....
And on how many different subjects could I write that?
The Home Rule Question
Two thirds of voters (68%) in England believe England should have its own Parliament with similar powers to those of the Scottish Parliament, according to a new ICM poll.
“England was not mentioned once in the leaders’ debate and has not featured at all during this campaign so far. Yet we now know people want a fairer way of making decisions that affect England.
“It suddenly feels like we are on the cusp of seismic changes to the way our politics is done. But so long as the unfair system we have at the moment persists it can only play into the hands of undemocratic voices like the BNP. With all the talk of reform in the air politicians should not duck the English question, but use the opportunity of St George’s day to say where they stand.
April 22, 2010
Tories - We are just misunderstood.
The Conservative Party has policies? Other than getting elected? You can't fool me.
From the aristocratic drawl of George Sanders as Shere Khan in The Jungle Book to the clipped vowels of Peter Cushing in Star Wars, the English accent has established itself as an essential prop for Hollywood baddies.
Villains are English, not British, it is never a softly spoken Scotsman or amiable rambling Welch, it is an RP speaking Englishman. How dare Dame Helen confuse us.
Spying on the Spys
Useful mapping tool showing which administrations worldwide are asking for data on users from Google. India and Brazil are high because Google runs Orkut (a social networking site) which is very popular in those areas. And of course the USA is high because they have a lot of people using Google there, and the next nosiest Government is? Ours, of course.
True Believers Must Keep It Secret Demand All Parties
THE Scottish Catholic Church has condemned the leaders of the main political parties for banning their candidates from signing up to a declaration of Christian beliefs.
Cardinal Keith O'Brien was one of the 30 leading religious figures along with former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey to draw up the Westminster 2010 Declaration which sought to turn the Christian vote into a more unified political force.
The Westminster 2010 document was based on an American initiative last year called the Manhattan Declaration and asked candidates to support family values, oppose abortion, assisted suicide and euthanasia.
The Scotsman learnt of the edict by party leaders from one of the organisers of the declaration, who described it as "shocking interference on matters of individual conscience".
So candidates aren't allowed to declare themselves to be true believers in matters of religion, unlike climate change....
All Candidates Must Be True Believers Demands Miliband
The most heated debate, was over claims many Conservatives are sceptical that climate change is caused mostly by humans and that the government needs to urgently tackle it. In the most high-profile case, Miliband claimed Tory culture secretary Jeremy Hunt had responded to a question by saying "there are climate sceptics in all parties", implying that the shadow business secretary was one.
So this was the big debate over Climate Change and Energy Policy and the big question wasn't over keeping the lights on, justifying windmills or about going nuclear but whether all candidates have affirmed positively enough that they are true believers...
April 21, 2010
A Loyal Toast
Ash Fallout Begins
The lifting of the flight embargo followed lobbying from the aviation industry, which has accused governments across Europe of overreacting.
Adonis said the decision was not taken in response to BA's pressure but due to a change of advice from aircraft and engine manufacturers.
The government denied it was a blow to its handling of the crisis and said it had relied on advice from the CAA and Nats, the national air traffic controller. Nats spokesman Alex Bristol said the only pressure the company had been under was to understand the nature of the volcanic ash cloud. He said that information about how aero engines could cope with adverse ash conditions only became available yesterday.
EU Ref has and will have more but I think it can be summed up as an utter shambles, with the precautionary principle, computer models, governmental risk aversion and bureaucratic torpor all going to come under attack, hopefully.
Good News on Public Sector Jobs
"Warned"? "Nearly"? - "Promised hopefully" and "As a start" would be more appropriate.
Paintballing with Steph from Accounts?
The findings suggest that popular workplace team building strategies, which include such activities as walking over hot coals or playing paintball, are of little or no value.
Note and reference the next time the spotty Herbert from HR suggests you waste you time indulging him on one these these pointless days.
A few beers in the pub with colleagues you actually want to talk to is far better, will he pay for those though?
April 20, 2010
RSPCA - Sod the animals, let's get policing
Cost cuts mean RSPCA shelters will turn away stray or unwanted pets - Times Online
The RSPCA will turn away stray or unwanted pets from animal shelters from next month to cut costs and focus on policing animal cruelty, according to a memo obtained by Channel 4 News.
Policing, hectoring and bullying, and shooting animals. The RSPCA has abandoned its fine history of opposing cruelty and helping and become another arm of the militant campaigners, sheathed in the goodwill from the deluded and generous public. More here and here
England, the love that dares not speak its name
Respondents were questioned on several aspects of national pride, with English people judging their overall level of patriotism to be 5.8 out of ten on average – the lowest of the nine nations.
One in four English adults said 'political correctness' had left them feeling ashamed to be English, while forty per cent said they felt England had completely lost its national identity.
Just ten per cent said they would happily fly the national flag on their house or in their garden, compared to more than a third of Dutch people, with more than a quarter saying they feared being called racist if they did so.
However, forty per cent of English people said they were happy to express their national pride in private.
I spent an hour last night trying to find a tune for this week's Friday Night is Music Night, something suitably English. I failed to find almost anything on Youtube which wasn't toe-curlingly cringeworthyly soppy, or dog-whistling racist or just crass. I think the English find all this patriotism stuff just embarrassing, we know we are best so why make a song and dance out of it?
Met Office Computer Models to be Sued
The government agency was accused of using a scientific model based on “probability” rather than fact to forecast the spread of the volcanic ash cloud that made Europe a no-fly zone and ruined the plans of more than 2.5 million travellers in and out of Britain.
A senior European official said there was no clear scientific evidence behind the model, which air traffic control services used to justify the unprecedented shutdown.
Legal experts suggested passengers and airlines may be able to sue the Government for more than £1billion in compensation.
BA said that there was a lack of accountability. “No one seems to take full responsibility,” a spokesman said. “The Civil Aviation Authority base their decision on what they are being told by the National Air Traffic Services [Nats]. Nats say they base their decision on what they are being told by the Met Office and the Met Office say they are only making a weather forecast.”
It is a good job we aren't relying on computer models from the Met Office to make any other decisions that are costing people billions of pounds, isn't it.....
April 19, 2010
The Stupid Party
So you are all fed up with politicians, you want to say "sod them all" but UKIP is a bit fruitcake. So why choose a man you have never heard of who runs a party you know nothing about except they are sort of nice and not too frightening and really reasonable in that Primary School teacher way?
The Lib Dems are the politicians' political party. Tories are Tories because they like to boss people around and want to beat people, they don't know one end of a political theory from a knitted toilet roll cover. Labour are either nutters who have wet dreams over being really radical or else old fashioned bruisers who recognise a route to power and money. If you aren't Italian or Chinese it is next best thing to being a member of the family.
But Lib Dems! You don't get to bully anyone, you don't get to be the top man, you must really believe in politics. You really care. You are the sort of people that the electorate don't want, but somehow they love you.
God save us.
The Scent of Writs in the Air?
The Dutch airline KLM had earlier carried out a test flight through the ash cloud over Dutch airspace. A spokesman for the airline said: “We have not found anything unusual and no irregularities, which indicates the atmosphere is clean and safe to fly.”
Lufthansa also flew 10 aircraft from Munich to Frankfurt on Saturday with the blessing of the safety authorities.
A spokesman said: “We found no damage to the engines, fuselage or cockpit windows. This is why we are urging the aviation authorities to run more test flights rather than relying on computer models.”
Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, the Secretary General of the Association of European Airlines, said: “Verification flights undertaken by several of our airlines have revealed no irregularities at all; this confirms our requirement that other options should be deployed to determine genuine risk”.
The blanket ban was initially imposed on Thursday by Nats, the national air traffic control service.
Keith Bill, a spokesman for the pilots union BALPA, challenged Nats to prove that they have taken advice from counterparts around the world who have greater experience of ash clouds caused by volcano eruptions.
Jo Gillespie, an aviation safety expert, said: “Without having the data to back up the decision this looks like an overreaction and is hugely damaging to the already suffering airline industry.”
I seem to hear our learned friends rumbling into gear ready to sue someone for causing losses by issuing warnings and bans that aren't properly evidence based. The Met Office has the ultimate responsibility, does it have Crown Immunity?
Silly Bunts and The Flight Ban
Willie Walsh, the airline’s chief executive, joined four crew in a three-hour test flight from London, over the Atlantic, to Cardiff.
Wales is obviously further away from London than I realised.
As is increasingly obvious this flight ban is an overreaction based on computer models produced by the Met Office.
"Our first priority is the safety of passengers" is the excuse, and it is a meaningless soundbite. If you only worry about falling out the sky you would never fly. Our priority is to balance up the risks and rewards of all the options.
Airfreighting in mange-tout from Kenya gives us flaccid green stuff to chew (that is the so-called benefit), the cost in safety is that at sometime, in the millions of miles the freighting will chalk up, a plane load of petit pois will plough back into the ground, and it is a risk we think worth taking.
What the rewards are meant to be for going to Tenerife are beyond me so any risk is unjustifiable....
Beware Skeptics at Work
One year on, the Singh case has led to the Court of Appeal issuing the most ringing defence of freedom of speech in living memory. Senior judges, who previously had not appeared to have known the difference between John Milton and Milton Keynes, quoted from "Areopagitica" as they severely limited the ability of libel lawyers to censor scientific debate. The BCA realised that it could not hope to win and dropped its case. ...
Credit for moments like this should always be widely spread. Singh deserves the most. Thousands who have confronted the possibility of a libel action have self-censored or backed down.
Singh decided to stay firm and stand by the tradition of British liberty, which has not on the whole been made in revolutions and with bills of rights but by cussed men and women who, when confronted with an injustice, refuse to bow their heads before it....
Yet the energy and novelty behind the campaign came from skeptics connected by the net. Within a day of the chiropractors giving the court their argument that they could help sick children, scientists online had taken it apart brick by brick until nothing was left but a heap of rubble.
Meanwhile, their allies tracked down the web pages of every chiropractor in Britain who was claiming they could treat asthmatic children and reported him or her to their local trading standards officer. Every court hearing and public meeting was packed by people with an unwavering belief in the importance of the scientific method and evidence-based policy. Skeptics are less interested in what people think but in how they think.
Bloody deniers refusing to believe what the bogusmongers say, what ever next?
April 18, 2010
Education vs Training - Cameron vs Brown
What will the party leaders do to improve education?
GORDON BROWN: I want to see our education improve as it has done over the last few
years. We need teachers with better qualifications. We need young
people with the aspiration to succeed, and we need to give people
the chance to start education early, that's why nursery education
starts at three and be able to go through to 18. That's what we are
saying in our manifesto, education will be part-time or full-time till
the age of 18. As far as grades and standards are concerned, I
myself believe in the highest of standards. I believe if we don't
search for the highest of standards, then we will not in the end get
the best pupils coming out of our schools. Yes, we've got to look at
the different types of exams and we will do so. But I think it's
important to realise we're in this new world where we are competing
with Asia, as well as America and Europe and our young people
have got to have the grades, the qualifications to be able to meet
the best in the world. That's what I want to achieve and I hope I can
work with you to do so.
DAVID CAMERON: I have every sympathy with what you say because education is
important, that, as well as getting good grades that actually we're
opening young people's minds to all the best things that have been
written and all the best things that have been said and to really
excite people about education....
Note the difference - Gordon is all about training up the worker drones, whereas Cameron, surprisingly or maybe not for an Etonian, recognises that education is more than that.
Will that translate into policy? I don't know but it was the most encouraging thing I have heard for while.
Iceland Isolates Europe - æpa heróp
EUROPE'S air travel chaos deepened yesterday as scientists warned that the volcanic ash cloud spewing from an Icelandic volcano is expected to hover over the continent for the next five days.
Icelandic authorities announced that the volcano was still belching out ash.
"The ash will continue to be directed towards Britain and Scandinavia," Teitur Arason, of the Icelandic Meteorological Office, said yesterday. before he excused himself and collapsed in a fit of giggles yet again.
"When will you get the message we really really don't want to join you, give up our fish and pay out the blackmail demand?"
Flights to and from America from Iceland are unaffected and on schedule.
When we say no, we mean no, and if you refuse to listen we play dirty!
Off the bone
An Australian publisher has had to pulp and reprint a cook-book after one recipe listed "salt and freshly ground black people" instead of black pepper.
Damn, It will have to be roast beef for lunch again now....
I couldn't resist a little dabble on the fall of confidence in the Tories (the confusingly yellow line) - I'm sure confidence will return there will be an opportunity for a bit of trading
April 16, 2010
Friday Night is Music Night (Just Like Eddie Edition)
Edward Ray Cochran (October 3, 1938 – April 17, 1960)
On Saturday, April 16, 1960, at about 11:50 p.m , while on tour in the United Kingdom, 21-year-old Cochran, died in a traffic accident in a taxi (a Ford Consul, not, as widely quoted, a London Hackney carriage) traveling through Chippenham, Wiltshire, on the A4. The taxi crashed into a lamp post on Rowden Hill, where a plaque now commemorates the event (no other car was involved). Cochran was thrown through the windscreen, suffered severe head injuries, and was taken to St. Martin's Hospital, Bath, but died at 4:10 p.m. the following day. Songwriter Sharon Sheeley and singer Gene Vincent survived the crash, Vincent sustaining injuries that would shorten his career and affected him for the rest of his life.
Blues Ditch Green To Beat Reds
Only 7 per cent of the Tory candidates agreed strongly with the statement “expansion of onshore wind [farms] is essential if the UK is to deliver on its renewable energy targets”. The statement was strongly supported by 44 per cent of Labour candidates and 71 per cent of Liberal Democrat candidates. A total of 54 per cent of Conservative hopefuls, but no Labour candidates, disagreed with the statement. Among Liberal Democrats, 14 per cent disagreed.
When it comes to winning Tories on the ground know what will win them votes, and it isn't signing up to EU Renewable Commitments or Hugging Huskies, it is protecting the locals from useless wind powered Bird Mincers and other daft schemes.
Whether this sense will survive after they are elected is another matter.
Related - Below the fold for more on the costs of Wind Turbines.
Could We Be In For A Blue Moon Result?
The most literal meaning of blue moon is when the moon (not necessarily a full moon) appears to a casual observer to be unusually bluish, which is a rare event. The effect can be caused by the Tyndall effect (in turn, caused by smoke or dust particles in the atmosphere), as has happened after the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, which caused the moon to appear blue for nearly two years.
The key to a blue moon is having lots of particles slightly wider than the wavelength of red light (0.7 micron)--and no other sizes present. This is rare, but volcanoes sometimes produce such clouds, as do forest fires. Ash and dust clouds thrown into the atmosphere by fires and storms usually contain a mixture of particles with a wide range of sizes, with most smaller than 1 micron, and they tend to scatter blue light. This kind of cloud makes the moon turn red; thus red moons are far more common than blue moons.
Row, row, row your boat, all the way to the Pole...
Scottish explorer Jock Wishart, pictured, is intent on leading a five-strong crew through some of the harshest conditions on Earth as they navigate 450 miles of Arctic waters on a route only now accessible due to global warming.
The challenge will take place in July and August next year and is being promoted as of global significance, being both a pioneering maritime adventure and an environmental expedition.
They will also have to haul the boat overland to complete the gruelling journey.
The expedition is being sponsored by Old Pulteney whisky, a brand with a maritime heritage and history of supporting sailing and seafaring adventure.
The accompanying map reveals it is to the Magnetic Pole they will paddle. That global warming must be devastating the Arctic ice...
The Leaders Debate - Who Really Won?
Nice Nicey Cleggy won on the night with his oh so sincere talking to the camera, Gordon did very well in controlling himself and managing to look human. He can do it and the training is paying off.
Cameron was scared rigid by the instructions he had to remember - hands to the side, no fidgeting, look at the questioner, furrow brow, mention x, use phrase y and so on.
The morning after I think the enthusiasm the instant results showed for Clegg will wear off as the enthusiasm for Barcadi Breezers does, they don't seem such a good idea in the cold light of dawn.
Brown will be recalled as a dog's walking on his hinder legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all. But Cameron's personable, knowledgeable but quite aloof performance will stick in the mind as the most statesmanlike.
Room for improvement next time but Dave was the winner, and anyway, so what if the cute puppy with the yellow rosette was the favourite in show, he isn't going to win, or hold the balance of power.
April 15, 2010
Quiet Halcyon Day - Enjoy it whilst you can
As I await my Pompeian end the sun shines and for the second time in a decade I can enjoy the clean blue skies of Wiltshire without contrails and the noise of aircraft. A rare opportunity, and unlike the last time not spoilt by knowing the cause.
But as BoM says: One day we know there will be a terrible reckoning.
But out in the bright Spring sunshine, it all seems so far away.
So here we are with our phoney election. Producing in all probability a phoney result. A result that will not provide a mandate for the kind of drastic action needed, and which leads straight down that old primrose path to a full-blown financial crisis, and huge emergency cuts to meet IMF conditions.
We are not confronting the real issue facing us, and it is nobody's fault but our own.
Hey ho. Time for a walk in that sunshine.
At least they were wearing Hi-viz jackets....
Who says our soldiers don't get enough compensation?
A single mother who sued the Army after alleging that she had received inadequate assistance with childcare is seeking £1.14 million pounds in damages, it emerged yesterday.
The Army was found to have made “disproportionate” demands on Ms DeBique, who was recruited from the Caribbean island of St Vincent in 2001. She argued successfully that she was expected to be ready to deploy at all times but immigration rules prevented her relatives from helping her with childcare.
Tilern DeBique, 28, says she was forced to leave the Army because she was expected to be available for duty around the clock.
She was formally disciplined when she failed to appear on parade because she had to look after her daughter.
She was told the Army was a 'war-fighting machine' and 'unsuitable for a single mother who couldn't sort out her childcare arrangements'.
For £1.14 million she could have a level 2 injury, say "Loss of both legs above knee", a level 3 and a 4 injury, say "Loss of both arms below elbow", and a level 5, 6, 7, 8 ,9. and 10. Plus a couple of 11s - say "Severe facial scarring which produces a poor cosmetic result despite camouflage." and a "High velocity gun shot wound, deep shrapnel fragmentation or one or more puncture wounds (or all or any combination of these injuries) to the head and neck, chest, back, abdomen or limb, with damage to one or more vital structures causing permanent significant functional limitation and restriction."
And there would still be the loose change to pay for a level 12, 13, 14 and 15 injury...
Keeping the Lippy on a PitBull
Bendy straws! Ha Ha!.
I may not know much about personal grooming but even I know that once the lipstick is on for a big occasion sensible girls use a straw to drink their water through. Do none of the sneerers know that? Maybe the men aren't used to being around immaculate ladies but surely even Democrats girls sometimes try and present themselves....
....an independent report into those now-infamous emails between its practitioners at East Anglia found that their output was not tainted at all.
Has the editorial writer at The Guardian actually read all five pages of the report? Or are they simply unable to understand the carefully calculated sneering litotes of an upper class Englishman?
Read between the lines and it says that they couldn't see any dishonesty, and it was jolly good of the scientists to try but really they were a bit bungling, not very clever with their figures and there are all sorts of ways they could be wrong. But decent enough chaps and one wouldn't want to embarrass them, but they will get the message.
Whether you would want to bet a couple of trillion based on their results is another question and not considered.
Peter Aspinall, 64, had been asked to prune a sycamore tree in the grounds of a hotel, but instead of leaning his ladder against the trunk he placed it against the branch he was hacking down.
Now Mr Aspinall, who had worked at the Egerton House Hotel near Bolton, Lancashire, for just two weeks, is suing them for compensation.
He took the action after health and safety inspectors concluded the hotel failed to carry out a risk assessment on the dangers of pruning.
They also said that his employer should have given him training on where to place the ladder.
The hotel owners have now been fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 council costs and a £15 victim surcharge by magistrates in Bolton after pleading guilty to health and safety breaches.
How did he reach the age of 64? Did he have to fill out his compensation claim in a crayon, as I certainly wouldn't trust him with anything as sharp as a pencil....
Work - The Curse of the Blogging Classes
Understandable, but sad.
Onwards and upwards.....
April 14, 2010
Claire Perry - Devizes Tory Candidate - "obsessed with climate change"
Hello all. We are a household of 5 nr. Salisbury plus a satellite in London. We are trying to become much more aware of our impact/footprint. Claire Perry is now obsessed with climate change and hopefully will shortly start work in policy making in this area.
Is this the same Claire Perry who "lives in a small village near Salisbury with my husband and our three children ages 13, 10 and 7." and wants to be the next MP for Devizes?
I fear so....
No malpractice' by climate unit
There was no scientific malpractice at the research unit at the centre of the "Climategate" affair, an independent panel has concluded.
The panel said it might be helpful if researchers worked more closely with professional statisticians.
Lord Oxburgh insists the panel did not have a pre-conceived view.
Your views may differ
The People's Choice of Election Music
Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg go into tomorrow’s historic televised debate facing a wall of public antipathy amid a tightening race.
A new Populus poll for The Times reveals deep disenchantment with the campaign so far and high levels of scepticism about manifesto pledges and the parties’ honesty.
More voters are now hoping for a hung Parliament than either a Tory or a Labour outright victory.
A mere 4 per cent think that the parties are being completely honest with voters about their tax plans and only 6 per cent about their approaches to cutting the deficit.
43 per cent were unconvinced by any party.
Going Green With Clegg
I have a simple proposal - there is no way they are ever going to win an election for as long as I have a hole in my arse - why bother campaigning, speeding all over the place thrusting leaflets into babies faces, putting signs up outside suburban semis - they might as well write "an idiot lives here"-, using up our planet's precious resources on a vanity trip for people who don't want to be real politicians?
Why not sit at home with a nice cup of herbal tea, don't annoy the rest of us and do your bit for the environment?
Why We Don't Care About The Election Part 137
Why We Don't Care About The Election Part 72
The reality, of course, is that whoever they vote for, Britons face the most substantial stretch of austerity government since the days of ration books. That is the hard economic consequence of having borrowed so much.
But much as we understand this logic, we don’t much like to be reminded of it, which partly explains the fall in Tory poll ratings after George Osborne attempted to launch the party’s campaign on a platform of pain and austerity.
You might have thought we would have tired of fantasy and delusion, but the election tacticians think not. Plus, they add, look at Margaret Thatcher’s 1979 manifesto, which hardly hinted at the radical reforms to come.
But this misses the point. Times have moved on since the 1970s: if nothing else, the expenses scandal should have reminded politicians we are now more discerning, less credulous and unwilling to put blind faith in politicians.
This election is not merely about the economy, but about renewing trust. Leaving the most important numbers out of both the manifestos seems a funny way to make a start.
April 13, 2010
The Two Nation Labour Manifesto
In Birmingham, Gordon Brown published a document he insisted would secure Britain's recovery with a group of policies designed to win votes in middle England.
In Motherwell, on the site of the former Ravenscraig steel works, Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy revealed the party's Scottish manifesto, stuffed with pledges on devolved issues that Labour cannot deliver even in the event of a general election victory.
23 of the pledges made in the Scottish manifesto could not be delivered by a UK government, including education promises such as small group tuition for struggling school pupils, and policies on crime such as the introduction of mandatory jail sentences for anyone caught carrying a knife – a policy not included in the UK-wide document.
And many of the party's commitments in the rest of the UK were absent from the Scottish manifesto, including the establishment of registered supporters' trusts to buy football clubs, and protection for rural pubs.
Plans to increase democratic accountability for local government services will not be part of the party's Scottish campaign, neither will plans to allow parents to change the leadership of schools that do not meet standards.
The different versions of one part of the manifesto.
You will notice they speak slower and louder and with a cute regional accent to the Scotties, how sweet!
The Full Scotch One is below the fold for those with a strong constitution:
Postcode Lottery Cant
Whenever you hear a politician complaining about a 'postcode lottery' you can be sure they're speaking in code, and what they mean is 'loss of State control'.
Slap to forehead, of course. Any talk of "localism" or "giving stakeholders power" is utter cant when they deploy this phrase as well.
PoliticsHome | The Poll Centre projection of the election result leads to Tory majority of 16, for first time since projection began in March
Tories will win election, but little enthusiasm for race, ICM poll finds | Politics | The Guardian
Tories will win election, but little enthusiasm for race, ICM poll finds
David Cameron's slick start not reflected in bigger lead after first week of campaign that fails to grip voters
That's enough polls for a while I think
Vote to reduce the debt
At publicservice.co.uk (Public Sector & Government News), they're running a weekly poll in which the question is:
Should public sector workers have to pay more to maintain the value of their pensions?Can we round up enough 'Yes' votes to make them think pubic sector workers are all in favour of paying higher pension contributions? It would save the rest of us money, after all. The poll is on the home page, in the right-hand sidebar.
April 12, 2010
The Debt Clock
To highlight the crushing size of the national debt, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) is launching a 1,300 mile tour of Britain – featuring a 7 metre long, lorry-mounted digital Debt Clock, ticking up as the Government borrows more and more money. The campaign has a simple but direct message for the nation’s politicians: “Wake up to the National Debt!”
Jo Nova Sums Up ClimateGate
So what it boils down to is that the world is thinking of developing a two trillion dollar market to dramatically change your choices (and those of everyone you know). It will affect the food you buy, the holidays you take, the way you heat your house, the cost of your clothes… and their core reason for this is that climate models run by guys like Jones predict things will get warmer. Right now, we don’t even know if the temperature record fed into those models was accurate, and they’re asking us to go all the way with them, based on “trust” of guys who are essentially untrustworthy.
We’re supposed to “trust” that guys who wish harm on their opponents, who are hell-bent on finding support for their personal favourite hypothesis, who fear and thwart any effort to audit them, we’re supposed to believe these guys care about getting the research right?
If they were directors of a small publicly listed company that refused to give up “receipts” they would have been issued with a summons. But when the global economy hangs on their pronouncements, they don’t have to provide the data, we’ll forgive them, and they get to keep their jobs too. I say, put them in front of a jury. You don’t need to be a scientist to spot rampantly suspicious behaviour. The public is not fooled, and that’s why the Big Scare Campaign is running aground, and why pre-ordained whitewash committee reports won’t change anyone’s mind.
Health News This Morning
Pole dancers and wads of cash good for your health! Can I get them on the NHS?
April 11, 2010
Probably the best birthday in the world
Jeremy Clarkson is 50 today;
Yes Massah. Please don' hits me Massah. I gonna be good from naw on.
The US State Department is denying climate change assistance to countries opposing the Copenhagen accord, it emerged today.
The new policy, first reported by The Washington Post, suggests the Obama administration is ready to play hardball....
Or as Al Fin says "Welcome to Chicago politics"....Poor countries dependence on outside money is a form of enslavement...
Tory Donor Supports Conservative Views - Shock Horror!
Embarrassment for the Tories as Swiss-born supporter is found to have given money to a group that wants Britain to leave the EU
Henry Angest has funnelled almost £7m to the Tories in loans and donations over the past nine years, according to an Observer investigation.
But he also backs lesser-known political groups that question scientific claims for climate change, campaign for the UK's withdrawal from the EU and seek to further the country's ties with the US radical right. Reportedly worth £45m, the 69-year-old is a trenchant critic of attempts to impose greater regulation on the City. He is equally scathing about the UK's "punitive tax system", including the recent levy on bankers' bonuses.
Apart from the fact the amounts he has given to these groups is chickenfeed what exactly is unConservative with those beliefs?
Plods Antipodean Antisocial Proposal
Police in a town once branded Scotland's "toughest" are to build a cabin-style "modular custody suite" in its car park to deal with a surplus of offenders at weekends.
I have been advocating for some time that Plod uses shipping containers for drunks. Cut a few holes for ventilation, add some bars to split up the inside, drop them off in the Market Place for Saturday night and when the trouble makers have sobered up in the morning just rinse it out. Simple, cheap and effective, but it seems my plan would fall foul of Human Rights and so instead of my couple of thousand pound idea they are going to spend £750,000 for a ten cell block. £75,000 a berth!
A video of a prototype is here.
April 9, 2010
Friday Night is Music Night (Hesitation Edition)
Fashion and Food for a night out clubbing
As Canadian anger over the recent EU seal product ban grows, potentially putting an EU-Canada trade pact in danger, Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian hunters who legally cull seal but have to bury or burn the cadavers consider the ban to be a waste of a good resource.
Between the years 2000 and 2007, coastal regions in the three Nordic states received money from Brussels to come up with new techniques to make use of the seal carcasses which are culled every year in order to protect the local fishing industry.
The project, named "Seal: A common resource," received over €300,000 from the EU Interreg Programme (for inter-regional co-operation), and included, among other things, workshops on how to treat seal skin after culling and DVDs on hunting techniques.
Manuals on seal skin use for clothing, bags and furniture were printed and colleges in Finland and Sweden introduced seal skin design into their student curricula.
Students from the Finnish region of Ostrobothnia even created the collection "SEALS - Sensational Exclusive Accessories Luxurious Seductive," featuring garments made of seal fur mixed with silk and crystals. The clothes were paraded at a leather fair in Paris.
The jewel of the EU project was the cookbook "Säl Hylje Sel," named after the three words for "seal" in Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian, respectively, including recipies from 12 renowned chefs to create a "modern, trendy seal cuisine."
Recipies in the book include "seal Wellington," a version of the famous "beef Wellington" dish: a tender seal fillet coated with pate and mushroom duxelles, wrapped in puff pastry and baked.
For the more globalised palette, the chefs suggest a simple seal wok with jasmine rice and sweet and sour sauce.
Seal Wellington - yum. I can't find a copy of the book on Amazon, so if anyone has a spare copy...
Council Parking Fine Mess
Islington Council (Case number 2070232277) heard by the Traffic Appeals Service between June and September 2007.
In this case Islington Council had not only issued a parking ticket to itself, but then pursued itself at the Parking Adjudicator and then asked for costs against itself! (To ask for costs the council must believe that it acted wholly unreasonably or vexatiously against itself!)
The decision of Mr. Adjudicator Gerald Styles on 13th September 2007 clearly points out that the council cannot sue itself but the fact that he clearly did not collapse laughing and managed to dictate his decision is a tribute to his professionalism.
The Royal Borough of Kingston (Case 2020054621) issued a parking ticket against a vehicle it had hired and not only pursued itself at the Parking Adjudicator but won its case and had to pay itself the parking ticket!
Tto take a case against itself to the Parking Adjudicator the council has to follow 14 separate steps to get to that stage and another 4 steps to ask for costs!!
1. Issue the parking ticket to itself.
2. Appealed to themselves.
3. Considered and refused the appeal.
4. Notified themselves that the appeal is refused.
5. Issued a Notice to Owner to itself.
6. Appealed against the Notice to Owner to itself
7. Considered and refused the appeal against the Notice to Owner
8. Refused the appeal and notified themselves that the appeal against the Notice to Owner is refused
9. Appealed to the parking adjudicator against their own refusal to cancel the parking ticket!
10. As appellants received notification from the parking adjudicator of the date and time of the hearing of the appeal.
11. As defendants received notification from the parking adjudicator of the date and time of the hearing of the appeal.
12. As defendants submitted any evidence to the parking adjudicator.
13. As appellants received decision of the parking adjudicator
14. As defendants received decision of the parking adjudicator.
15. As appellants applied for costs against itself to the parking adjudicator
16. As defendants received details of costs application by itself from parking adjudicator
17. As appellants received costs decision of the parking adjudicator
18. As defendants received costs received decision of the parking adjudicator.
A Stiffy Arrives - So I'll Make the Most of It
On Thursday, 29th April, we will be holding our annual Bloggers' Bash. Details are as follows:
Paul Staines – Guido Fawkes' blog
Tim Worstall – It is all obvious or trivial except…
Perry de Havilland – Samizdata.net
29th April 2010, 6.30pm to 8.30pm
Plentiful beers & lagers will be served
23 Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BL
Feel free to extend this invitation to any friendly bloggers that I might have missed, and if you feel inclined, it would be great to see it promoted on your blog.
See you there.
April 8, 2010
The Referendum We Need
As my old history tutor at Oriel used to say, the differences between Tory and Whig are nowadays so minor that they can be deferred to beyond the grave.
Tories and Whigs agree, for example, about the EU. The Tory sees in Brussels a Jacobin assault on old and trusted institutions, a levelling scheme that turns the Queen into an EU citizen, a destroyer of local particularisms. The Whig sees a plot against personal freedom, a menace to parliamentary supremacy, a shift in power from elected representatives to appointed placemen. Both feel in their bones that they are dealing with something un-British.
By all means have a referendum on the Lords. Have a referendum on the voting system. Have referendums on devolution, on tax levels, on antidisestablishmentarianism. Plebiscites are always and everywhere a good thing, serving to remind politicians that they work for everyone else. But let’s start with the most important issue: whether we want to live in an independent nation.
Smaller and better means large savings
Should the State raise its revenues to match its profligate lifestyle or make efficiency savings to get its expenditure back in line with its revenue? Do we want a big, expensive and inefficient State or a smaller, less intrusive, more efficient one?
Everyone knows there are huge opportunities to save money in the public sector. Not least because so much of the waste has been created by Whitehall requirements, rules and restrictions. The appalling public sector productivity figures say it all. In a period during which the private sector has increased productivity by 20 per cent, the public sector has moved backwards. There is something fundamentally wrong with the way that government does business.
So if their productivity was raised by 20% and the amount government "did" was dropped by 25%, not unreasonable, then that would be a 40% saving.
Who is proposing that?
The 5.78703704 × 10-5 hertz Fallacy
This well-conducted study collected data from a large population across 10 different countries and specifically assessed the effect of fruit and vegetable intake on overall risk of cancer. The authors say that the relationship between diet and incidence of total cancers is less frequently studied than that between diet and individual cancers, and that results in this area have been inconsistent. This particular study found only a borderline reduction in risk of cancer with increased consumption of fruit, vegetables and total fruit and vegetables.
A commendable article from the NHS on the survey, you can almost hear their teeth gnashing as they admit that the five-a-day bossy campaign is almost a waste of time, and they point out there may be other benefits and problems with the survey. But the big point is that this was claimed to be a certainty, and it ain't
Google Search - five a day
= 5.78703704 × 10-5 hertz is the top result - geeks rule!
April 7, 2010
Rolling back the State - Not.
Mr Darling has let the cat out of the bag. He believes the economy is the state and that the state knows best how to spend our money. The private sector, which will actually power the recovery, does not seem to figure in their thinking. This is unreconstructed Big Government, red in tooth and claw. It is as if the Blair revolution had never happened.
This is a fundamental ideological divide that plays direct to the Tories’ strengths. David Cameron’s landmark speech last week on the Big Society envisages a revolutionary change in the relationship between citizen and state. The Conservative leader wants people to become more self-reliant, more responsible for their own actions, more active in their communities, more involved in the running of their public services. And he wants government to get off their backs. It is an exciting vision that can only be realised if the state divests itself of many of the powers – not least over the spending of our money – that it has accrued in recent decades.
Spot on about Darling, but do you believe the Tories will really roll back the State? Especially when all they will become is a branch manager for the EU superstate? A state with powers they seem not to want to roll back.
Moonbat misses the point about everyday scientists
The MPs were kind to Professor Phil Jones. During its hearings, the Commons science and technology committee didn't even ask the man at the centre of the hacked climate emails crisis about the central charge he faces: that he urged other scientists to delete material subject to a freedom of information request. Last week the committee published its report, and blamed his university for the "culture of non-disclosure" over which Jones presided.
Perhaps the MPs were swayed by the disastrous performance of his boss at the hearings. Edward Acton, the vice-chancellor of the University of East Anglia, came across as flamboyant, slippery and insincere. Jones, on the other hand, seemed both deathly dull and painfully honest. How could this decent, nerdy man have messed up so badly?
Well said George. But he continues...
science happens to be the closed world with one of the most effective forms of self-regulation: the peer review process. It is also intensely competitive, and the competition consists of seeking to knock each other down. The greatest scientific triumph is to falsify a dominant theory. It happens very rarely, as only those theories which have withstood constant battery still stand. If anyone succeeded in overturning the canon of climate science, they would soon become as celebrated as Newton or Einstein. There are no rewards for agreeing with your colleagues, tremendous incentives to prove them wrong. These are the last circumstances in which a genuine conspiracy could be hatched.
Yes if you want to be celebrated in history spend your time falsifying climate science, but if you want to pay the mortgage, get tenure, go to exotic places for conferences and be one of the group in the staff room, then shut up and play along with "the consensus".
Tory Tax Cuts
Cider drinkers won a reprieve last night after the Conservatives forced the Government to scrap its supertax on their favourite drink. Alistair Darling put up taxes on cider by 10 per cent above inflation in the Budget.
The tax rise, which took place five days after the Budget, will now be scrapped and prices will be reduced on June 30. The Conservatives forced the reversal of the measure during “wash-up”, the process at the end of Parliament where only outstanding measures that have cross-party agreement can reach the statute books.
The Conservatives also prevented two other tax rises: a tax on phones and the proposal to scrap tax relief for furnished holiday letters, which should have come into force yesterday. The tax on phones would have meant 50p a month plus VAT duty on each fixed line from October 1, while the Chancellor wanted to treat furnished holiday lettings as an investment business from this tax year.
The telephone tax was meant to fund universal broadband so the cider drinkers could download Wurzel videos, so a double win then...
April 6, 2010
The Choice is Between a Turd and a Fart
Oh goody I'm obviously young and cool as I find it increasingly difficult to "connect" to the fiercely contested election campaign.
A plague on them all as they refuse to "connect" to the real issues, Europe, Climate Change Politics, State intrusion and the loss of traditional liberties, and freeing up schools to take four from my worry list.
The idea of Brown continuing is abhorrent, Cameron unattractive and the rest are a waste of time.
Real Conservatives might wish for Dave to squeak in with a worrying loss of support to UKIP to sharpen him up.
But I'm too young, cool and unconnected to care!
At the Chalkface
Teachers join civil servants in strike threat against spending cuts - Times Online
Delegates at the NUT conference chanted “the workers, united, will never be defeated”, fists raised, during a standing ovation for the call by Mark Serwotka, the left-wing general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, for co-ordinated action across the public sector.
And would any of them be missed, if the next Ed Sec had any balls and took them on?
Free up the schools!
Reports show more than 1,000 Scottish teachers have signed up to work in England over the last four years....official statistics revealed record numbers of Scots teachers are now unemployed...
"Given the severe financial constraints on local authorities, we need far more emphasis on removing the rigidities within the labour market for teachers, most especially the geographical immobility which reduces the numbers of teachers willing to work outside the main cities and Central Belt area, and the inflexibilities which headteachers face when they want to advertise for new jobs."
Allowing headteachers to offer greater pay for teachers in hard-to-fill jobs such as those in rural areas and deprived communities could encourage teachers to take up jobs in Scotland rather than move to cities in England.
Det Insp Fred Karno in Charge
Graham Taylor, 50, chased the two offenders from his newsagents after they stole two bottles of spirits before spotting the officer in a marked patrol car.
Mr Taylor said he then called 999 and was assured patrols had been sent out.
But it was claimed the officers in question missed the radio call as they were celebrating a colleague's retirement inside the station.
Mr Taylor said he went to the station and was met with a car adorned with pink balloons and shouts and cheers coming from within the building.
A Humberside Police spokeswomen said: "It is disappointing to hear that Mr Taylor feels he was given a poor service from Humberside Police.
"feels he was given", it is all about hurt feelings, a bit of counselling and all will be well.....
April 4, 2010
A range of Government initiatives have been rolled out to address the problem, including the highly controversial practice of "alternate weekly collections'' for domestic waste – collecting food refuse and recyclable waste one week and unrecyclable rubbish the next.
Other ideas include a 'pay-as-you-throw' charge to penalise those who throw out the most unrecycled rubbish.
Supermarkets could also be banned from promoting 'buy-one-get-one free' offers because they encourage waste, under Government proposals.
Guilty- I have just thrown out two pounds of carrots I bought on Thursday from a horny handed son of the soil at his farm shop. I peeled them, seasoned them , par boiled and roasted them and they were just unpleasant, woody and so far past their best I would have been embarrassed to feed them to swine. Luckily I had a bag of Herr Lidl's finest in the freezer to replace them with at the last minute.
It isn't the supermarkets they should be worrying about but the wasteful unprofessional small scale retailers.
If the carrots hadn't been floppy as well as woody, I sympathise, then I know where I should be returning them.
Apart from that the lunch was fine.....
It's Eco Show Trial Time
For reading with the first cup of steaming coffee as the world comes slowly into focus.
Turned away from the inn
In a recording of the meeting of the Centre for Policy Studies, obtained by the Observer, Grayling makes clear he has always believed that those who run B&Bs should be free to turn away guests.
Iain Dale believes that his views, as expressed, will be damaging and are wrong.This is not about property rights. If you open your house to paying guests, it is no longer just your house. You are running a business, just the same as anyone else, and you should be subject to the same laws as anyone else.
The Devil profoundly disagrees on a philosophical and profane level.
Let me disagree with Iain on a practical level, whatever the law says B&Bs and people who have lodgers are inviting strangers into their own homes, they have to feel happy with them and trust them. Intuition, whims and prejudices all play a part. Anyone who runs such a business is terrified of being sued now for turning away the wrong sort of person who will sue. A dog-whistle from the Tories on this is reassuring to their voters.
Oh and The Devil is right on a the philosophical level as well.
April 3, 2010
I might have mentioned it once but I think I got away with it.
My German Relatives are arriving later to stay for a few days so no slouching in front of the box watching The Dambusters on a wet holiday afternoon for me. Luckily I know some jokes, and some more jokes to keep the conversation going.
Wish me luck...
UK - Dairy UK have announced a new £7.5m campaign for liquid milk.
The "Make Mine Milk" campaign will promote liquid milk to families with a focus on young people aged 15-24 years old. Work is being driven by the dairy industry's Milk Marketing Forum supported by Dairy UK. The European Commission have awarded a promotional grant of €3m to the project.
302 views after three days and a full page advert in the Farmers Weekly...
Arctic Sea Ice - Absolutely Normal
An hour or so after this post goes up the official graph of Arctic Sea Ice will be released here.
I expect it to show the area is right on the (limited) historic average, and I predict it will exceed it for a week or so going forward.
What will the Polar Bears do?
Shedding The Blood of The Lamb Forgiven
A headteacher who resigned amid controversy over a decision to send a lamb reared by her pupils to slaughter has been reinstated.
Andrea Charman stepped down from her post at Lydd Primary School in Romney Marsh, Kent, in February for “personal reasons”, Kent County Council said.
She is returning after being shown overwhelming support from the local community, the council said today.
Excellent news, and vindicates a belief in parents whose children actually go to a school having a say.
April 2, 2010
Good Friday Night is Music Night (God Edition)
Remain Your Obedient Servant, please.
In the article the yet-another-forty-something-Tim, Tim Loughton, Tory former banker now in charge of the Kiddie Portfolio, says this as well;
– we want public sector workers to have a much greater say over what they do and how they do it.
No we bloody well don't, we want public sector workers to do what the public, the people who pay them, want them to do. Not whatever empty headed idea has floated to the front of their minds that week.
Is there no end to Tory stupidity?
The Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon is running along my moat at the bottom of the Lower Forty, hundreds of people hanging off the bridges, cars parked everywhere and brave idiots trying to paddle 125 miles, some non-stop.
A bracing walk past them, a cheery wave and then home for a hot cup of "optional cocoa" or kye.
One of the Navy’s best kept secrets, the recipe for Kye (AKA Kai).
This recipe is enough for two people (in most cases).
1. Break a small bar of plain dark chocolate into pieces.
2. Place pieces in a saucepan with one mug of hot water.
3. Heat up until the chocolate has melted.
4. Add one tin of condensed milk.
5. Bring to the boil and serve in mugs.
6. Add copious amounts of sugar to taste.
When out at sea, on look-out watch,
The hours pass slowly by,
But maybe someone brings to me
A mug of steaming kye
That Libel Case
Jack of Kent has the details.
It is a stunning judgment, quoting Milton and expressly adopting a US legal maxim that: "Scientific controversies must be settled by the methods of science rather than by the methods of litigation".
"...the material words, however one represents or paraphrases their meaning, are in our judgment expressions of opinion. The opinion may be mistaken, but to allow the party which has been denounced on the basis of it to compel its author to prove in court what he has asserted by way of argument is to invite the court to become an Orwellian ministry of truth. Milton, recalling in the Areopagitica his visit to Italy in 1638-9, wrote:
""I have sat among their learned men, for that honour I had, and been counted happy to be born in such a place of philosophic freedom, as they supposed England was, while themselves did nothing but bemoan the servile condition into which learning among them was brought; …. that nothing had been there written now these many years but flattery and fustian. There it was that I found and visited the famous Galileo, grown old a prisoner of the Inquisition, for thinking in astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican licensers thought."
"That is a pass to which we ought not to come again."
There is no scope for cuts in the budget.....
Lecturer in Sport Fixed Term Maternity Cover
Location : Salisbury
Salary : £20,000 - £32,000
Closing date : midday 15 April 2010
Qualifications : You will have energy and enthusiasm and be prepared to meet the challenges of the changing curriculum. The minimum requirements are three years experience working in the FE sector teaching sports programmes.
Hours : 18.5 hours
In brief :
Based within the programme area of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Public Services at Wiltshire College Salisbury, you will mainly be involved in the delivery of a range of sports programmes.
Full job description below the fold, if you can wade through it and agree that our local Council tax rise was necessary to purely protect the vulnerable and essential services then I have a bridge to sell you.
Job Description : 97/09S Lecturer in Sport Fixed Term Maternity Cover
Job Title: 0.5 FTE Lecturer in Sport (Ref 97/09S)
Responsible to: Assistant Programme Area Manager
All employees of Wiltshire College are required to understand and contribute to the College’s Key Objectives and Core Values.
The College’s Key Objectives support the College’s road map, they are referred to as ‘TEN OUT OF TEN’ and are essential for the continued success for the College and you and form part of your role with the College.
The key objectives are set out as follows:
• To drive up quality: becoming one of the top FE institutions in the South West.
• To create a flexible, innovative and inspiring environment for future learning.
• To continue to grow and develop our learning pathways to promote steps to
success for all our customers.
• Develop vocational excellence by creating National Skills Academies and Centres
of Excellence in arts, media, manufacturing and motor sport.
• Promote value for money through benchmarking and best practice, developing our
workforce and maximising business efficiency.
• Become the first choice for workforce training, promoting bespoke training, new
opportunities for adults and employers and responding rapidly to the current
• Promote and embed equality and diversity.
• Champion sustainability and integrate our policy across all sites.
• Develop stakeholder partnerships with universities, schools, private sector providers and other
organisations to allow more student choice and success.
• Promote the high reputation of the College at all times.
Wiltshire College Core Values
Our Core Values underpin the standards by which the College operates.
Put the learner first
We believe that our learners should achieve, enjoy and benefit from their experience at Wiltshire College and that their success leads to the success of the college.
Deliver outstanding quality and innovation
We believe in improving the quality of learning and the student and customer experience.
Celebrate and respect diversity
We believe in promoting positive attitudes to diversity whilst respecting the rights and beliefs of each other, regardless of gender, marital status, age, disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, or position within the college.
Empower staff to maximise their potential
We believe that everyone who works in the college contributes to the goals of the college. We will support their development and value and celebrate their achievements and successes.
Provide an outstanding and responsive service to customers, employers and the community
We believe that the college should be the provider of choice for the customers, employers and communities we serve whilst actively promoting sustainability for the future.
Key Purpose (2008/2009)(5 key purposes to be completed annually)
To work to achieve excellence in learning, teaching and tutoring, delivering teaching duties for 828 hours (you may be required to work up to 846 hours to meet organisational needs) per annum on a range of programmes delivered by the College. This work will take place on college premises, electronically, in the workplace and other external venues where appropriate
To support and live the core value of putting the learner at the centre of everything that we do, specifically by ensuring that recruitment, retention and success are maximised and that the students receive an excellent learning experience through all stages of their learning journey through the College from enrolment to progression from their programme
To actively participate in the development of learning programmes that meet the needs of all of our learners in the community, including work based, commercial and developing links with employers. This includes the development of effectively multiple and diverse learning and teaching strategies which allow our learners to access the full range of resources and assessment opportunities
To take ownership of and maintain the data for the learners on programmes in your agreed curriculum area, including the data relating to individual learners records and targets such as ILPs, enrolments, withdrawals, retention, achievement, success rates, progression and destinations
To enhance the learning experience of your learners through the effective implementation and monitoring of support programmes including personal tutorials, induction, welfare reviews, value added programmes and enrichment activities
Main Duties and Responsibilities
1. Along with the Programme Area Manager and Assistant Programme Area Manager, promote the core value of ‘putting the learners first’ and to provide an outstanding learning experience for all students on your programme(s) of learning
2. To co-ordinate a full/part time programme or to have responsibility for the coordination of a group of programmes
To develop the learning and teaching in the agreed area of the curriculum to ensure an effective, high quality, learner focused and cost efficient delivery of the curriculum through learning and teaching which meets the needs of all learners and provides a challenging and stimulating learning experience. Where appropriate, this includes taking part in initial assessment and guidance, diagnostic testing and setting smart targets through ILPs to promote personalised learning.
Actively support the implementation of the College ILT strategy and the development of on-line learning materials and activities within the designated area to support the efficient and flexible delivery of the curriculum. Identify and share best practice across the curriculum area and through discussion with PAM/APAM to visit external organisations
To develop appropriate schemes of work, lesson plans and assessment plans for the programme and any other relevant programme documentation.
To set and mark assignments and examinations and conduct assessments both for internal progress monitoring and external certification. As well as assessing students’ work in accordance with awarding body requirements, to internally verify students’ work, and to liaise with awarding bodies as required
To support all aspects of the learner journey for the agreed full/part time programme(s) such as recruitment, attendance, student discipline, progression. Through the curriculum team, provide high quality reports to parents/employers concerning students’ performance
Where appropriate to integrate Key/Functional Skills into the main programme aim, ensuring opportunities for evidence collection are maximised and timely online testing.
9. To undertake developments of the curriculum to support the programme area and the curriculum management team eg PAM and to work closely with the cross college support staff such as the Strategic Directors (HE, 14-19, ILT), Advanced Practitioners and Senior Tutors to improve learning experience across the curriculum area.
To take part in the quality and efficiency improvement activities including course reviews, external quality assurance, self assessment and programme development activities, including attendance and work with colleagues to improve and help to develop the programmes at appropriate levels for our learners, including work based, commercial and links with employers.
To undergo direct observation of classroom practice and give a commitment to self development
To take part in open days, marketing and recruitment activities, and to interview and enrol students.
To attend internal and external meetings as and when required
To work with Line Manager to identify training needs and actively seek out relevant training and development opportunities in liaison with the Training and Development Manager.
To fully participate in College programmes of staff appraisal and continuing professional development and to undertake professional development as and when required and record with the Institute for Learning
With the Programme Area Manager, identify annual curriculum targets for the designated curriculum area and monitor progress towards the achievement of the targets. Support the development of new partnership arrangements where appropriate eg schools, local authorities, consortia, and Higher Education institutions.
To comply with and promote College Health and Safety policies and take appropriate responsibility to ensure the health and safety of self and others in the programme area.
To understand, comply with and promote the colleges Safeguarding policy and procedures.
To understand, comply with and promote the colleges Diversity policies procedures.
To engage in professional development and networking for the purpose of continuous professional development.
Travelling and working away from normal base as may be required from time to time.
To undertake such other reasonable duties as may be required from time to time and review this Job Description at least annually with the Programme Area Manager and Assistant Programme Area Manager through the College performance management scheme.
Luvvie Cuts - Why Not?
The Anish Kapoor-designed, ArcelorMittal Orbital will soar above the London Olympic Park, dividing opinions, enraging taxi drivers and garnering nicknames. Personally, I love 84 per cent of it — the bit that was paid for by ArcelorMittal, the company owned by the steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, which is spending up to £16 million on it. I am substantially less enamoured of the £3.1 million bit that we are paying for. Could it just be a few feet shorter with the company picking up all the bill?
We are deep in an era of big public works of art and expensive subsidies. The four arts councils for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland receive £521 million of taxpayers’ cash and £168 million from the lottery....
The DCMS announced yesterday a £50,000 grant for a charity called Culture24 to develop smartphone apps that allow people to find the nearest art. In the event that you must know, without delay, the whereabouts of the nearest Picasso, this is for you; £50,000 may be a tiny sum, but if there’s a market for this app, it will be made. If not, why is the Government supplying this middle-class toy?
So if we start with this ridiculous app and move on to scrap all government spending on art, what will happen? Will cultural Armageddon follow? Defenders of subsidy argue that it would mean the end of “innovative” art. But too often “innovative” is a euphemism for “rubbish”.
Excellence would survive. The Mountaintop, the surprise winner of Best New Play at this year’s Olivier Awards, received no subsidies. It succeeded because it was good.
The argument that the creative industries require subsidies because they contribute to the economy is a circular one. Taxpayers fund art that generates profit that pays tax to fund art. Eh? Besides, out of every £1 given by taxpayers to fund the arts 10p goes on administration. How many of the much cited economic powerhouses in the sector are subsidised and how many the product of unaided cultural entrepreneurs?
American art and culture thrive despite the lack of subsidy....
I can understand why people are passionate about this, and why special interest groups are so vocal. I would like to argue the case for some cash to be thrown at really important art — ie, the stuff I like. But that would mean funding opera, young writers and free museums but allowing ballet and most installation art to face the wolves of unfettered market forces — and that makes no sense at all. In the arts debate, head must rule heart and fiscal ruthlessness must prevail.
Somewhere over the rainbow
At a time when Scotland faces spending cuts of up to £3 billion in its budget, the parliament will today send four MSPs and two officials on a trip to New York, Boston and Washington DC.
The business-class transatlantic flights are costing in excess of £10,000, while accommodation has been booked in some of the best hotels.
The trip – described last night as an unnecessary, taxpayer-funded "jolly" – has been arranged as part of Tartan Week, even though the Scottish Government is already sending three ministers to take part in the celebrations in New York.
Critics said the decision to proceed showed bad judgment at a time when elected members should be setting an example on spending restraint.
The Holyrood delegation is led by Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson and includes Labour's Pauline McNeil, Jamie McGrigor of the Tories and the SNP's Gil Paterson. Each of the BA flights for the four MSPs and two officials cost £1,691.
During the trip, the MSPs will focus on the "three key areas" of "climate change, sustainable transport and opportunities around the green economy".
Opportunities around the green economy - the troughers certainly seem to have grasped that idea.
April 1, 2010
Winning the battles, losing the war
Britain brandishes olive branch to restart global climate change talks | Environment | The Guardian
Ed the Horse rolls over to have tummy tickled by greenmailing third world
As I was saying:
An Englishman's Castle: January 24, 2010
Pachauri will still be in charge in six months time
An Englishman's Castle: January 30, 2010
It is going to take a lot more than the potshots we have seen so far to sink the vessel (The AGW scare), “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” is still the command we are hearing from the great and good.<
EU Referendum points out:
The danger – the very great danger – is that the sceptics who believe they are winning, and the many who believe that this is about science, and even global warming, are failing to understand what is going on, right under their noses. So far, we haven't laid a glove on them.
And that is depressing.
Soccer Mumsy Boy
Cautious rejoicing replaces Rooney Anxiety, with injury almost good news - Times Online
The future of the world depends on his recovery....
I have a vague knowledge of who this Rooney is, Liverpudlian round ball chaser, I have no idea where or what he was playing in or why it is important.
Does that make me ignorant?
Interestingly of all the blogs I read I can't think of a single heterosexual blogger who seems to be interested either, so I think I'm probably in good company.
Boris' Foolish Erection
Olympic Park to get tower 'to rival Eiffel' at the behest of Boris Johnson, the mayor of London.
A twisted lump of metal that looks like a scrapped ride from Alton Towers - chosen by a man who couldn't have a hard-on without categorising it as Doric, Ionic or Corinthian, I don't think so.
You don't fool me, no one is that stupid to suggest such a waste, are they......