February 29, 2012
Get The Olympic Look
This website is designed to give you ideas and guidance about how you can celebrate the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 in your area and to purchase Look items.
You have been given access to this site as a named contact for your organisation. To purchase any products shown on this site you, on behalf of your organisation, must agree to Icon's Terms and Conditions of purchase. These include an obligation to follow the London 2012 Look: Brand Protection Guidelines which include rules about where and when Look items can be displayed. Note that special rules apply if you are hosting any events in the places you propose to display Look. You should read the guidelines before selecting items to purchase to ensure the manner in which you are planning to use them will comply with the guidelines. This site also provides information about planting or mowing any London 2012 themed displays and includes some relevant guidelines and terms and conditions which you will be deemed to accept by using any of the planting and mowing templates provided on the site. Please also ensure you have read these before undertaking any London 2012 themed planting or mowing.
Golly, I must register to then be given the style book before I'm allowed to mow my grass if I want it to have the Olympic Look, and I expect I will have wear special clothes in a special way before I'm allowed to approach the mighty Olympic Organisers.
As they haven't yet sent me my password I am having to guess what the Olympic Look will look like - something like this?
Mole Valley, a community of 80,000 near London that is hosting the Olympic cycling road race. It has asked residents to plant dahlias, petunias and sunflowers in Olympic-approved shades so when the riders swish past on July 28-29, television viewers will be left seeing swishes of pink, purple and orange.
"What will people be reminded of when they pull out the T-shirt, the pin?" asked Greenwich University marketing department professor Peter Vlachos. "Will they remember London or the Olympics?"...
Mole Valley is beside itself with excitement, planning British street parties, contests for kids, welcome centers for tourists.
"The games will put Surrey on the map," said Denise Saliagopoulos of the Surrey County Council....
Olympic organizers also are working to keep out any advertisers trying to sneak in a publicity stunt. Organizers have imposed strict advertising regulations along the route to protect Olympic sponsors from unwanted competition.
The marathon route originally was supposed to go through gritty areas in east London where the Olympic Park is located. But _ mindful of television images _ organizers rerouted the race so it now passes classic London landmarks.
Civic leaders in east London, however, were outraged. After six years of living next to one of Europe's biggest construction projects, they were hoping to reap the benefits of being on the world stage.
"It just makes you feel as if they were completely ashamed of that part of London," said Andrew Boff, a Conservative politician. "It didn't fit with TV angles."
I wish I had a garden in Mole Vally - I know what I would plant, and it wouldn't be Seb Coe's approved colours....
February 28, 2012
Professor Michael Kelly Writes To The Times
Sir, Andrew Motion (report, Feb 23) is correct to castigate climate change deniers, but he is profoundly mistaken in linking all those who oppose the current climate science orthodoxy into one group. The interpretation of the observational science has been consistently over-egged to produce alarm. All real-world data over the past 20 years has shown the climate models to be exaggerating the likely impacts — if the models cannot account for the near term, why should I trust them in the long term?
I am most worried by the billions of pounds being misinvested and lost as a consequence. Look out to sea at the end of 2015 and see how many windmills are not turning and you will get my point: there are already 14,000 abandoned windmills onshore in the US. Premature technology deployment is thoroughly bad engineering, and my taxes are subsidising it against my will and professional judgment.
Professor Michael Kelly
Prince Philip Professor of Technology, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge
You need to buy The Times for more magisterial opinions.
This letter is published in full as it appeared in The Times as the author notes it has been edited from what he wrote.
If I told you that the first sentence of my letter was edited, your readers might be mollified.
Andrew Motion (report, Feb 23) is correct to castigate climate change deniers, as the climate has always been changing, but he is profoundly mistaken in linking all those who oppose the current climate science orthodoxy into one group.
February 27, 2012
Willetts - Britons Don't Cheat, They Do It As Men and The Antarctic Is Melting
David Willetts is standing between a picture of Captain Scott and a gigantic map showing the South Pole. One hundred years after the first polar expedition, the Universities and Science Minister has just returned from the Antarctic.
In sub-zero conditions, he saw penguins and seals as he flew over melting glaciers to witness the impact of global warming. “It was completely beautiful,” he says......
There is no doubt in his mind that climate change is a genuine danger. “When the pilot shows you a map of an ice shelf from 30 years ago and points out how it has changed, and a scientist says the place where he set up camp 30 years ago is now in open water, there is something real happening.”
The man nicknamed “Two Brains” is proud that it was British scientists who discovered the hole in the ozone layer, using “a few stubby pencils” rather than sophisticated computers. In his view they have the same plucky spirit as Scott, who collected research specimens on his way to the South Pole. He contrasted Scott and the Norwegian who beat him to the pole. “Roald Amundsen used huskies, which was the most effective way to travel, but Scott did the journey on foot. There was the sense that the British would do it properly. This was a test, they were going to do it as men. They were not going to cheat.”
Of course I haven't got two brains so instead of flying to Antarctica I took a whole minute to Google up the data - Sea Ice Index.
And as an Englishman I'm not going to cheat and I'm going to tell the truth about the Antarctic Ice Sea Extent....
Climate Change Demands Blood Of A Lamb
A changing climate isn't just about floods, droughts and heatwaves. It brings erupting volcanoes and catastrophic earthquakes too....
I admit it - I had to look them up.
Water, which turned to blood and killed all fish and other aquatic life (Exodus 7:14–25)
Frogs (Exodus 8:1–8:15)
Lice (Exodus 8:16–19)
Flies or wild animals (Exodus 8:20–30)
Disease on livestock (Exodus 9:1–7)
Unhealable boils (Exodus 9:8–12)
Hail and thunder (Exodus 9:13–35)
Locusts (Exodus 10:1–20)
Darkness (Exodus 10:21–29)
Death of the first-born of all Egyptian humans and animals.To be saved, the Israelites had to place the blood of a lamb on their door.(Exodus 11, Exodus 12)
Cold Homes Kill More Than Cars
Ed Matthew, of Transform UK, said: "More people die every year in the UK from living in a cold home than die on our roads. Millions more struggle to make ends meet in the face of high energy bills. This is a national scandal."
Camco reckons that if the Government's annual £4bn revenue were recycled to households to spend on energy efficiency measures, it would be enough to bring nine out of 10 households out of fuel poverty. It could also be used to create 200,000 jobs ......
So you increase the taxes on fuels to make people use less and then give the money back to people who can't afford to buy fuel so they can.....
February 26, 2012
Clegg Uses C Word On BBC to Describe The Unemployed.
Exactly 30 seconds in - "every 18 to 24 year old cunt" ....
For The Reader Who Refuses To Pay The TV Licence And Missed This
It was a close call to make a seat in the Pool Room at the King's Arms but it was worthwhile.
February 24, 2012
Friday Night is Music Night (Dead Lefties Edition)
When, in late summer, the Olympic tide at last retreats, what will be left besides an echoingly empty Velodrome and an Anish Kapoor doodle, as vapid as it is huge?
One of several answers is mountains of brainless, heartless, dispiriting junk. Amateurs of consumer tragedy can get a dramatic preview now at the online London 2012 shop. Never mind triumph in competition, here you can gawp at the shaming defeat of struggling taste. Who, looking upon this desultory collection of rubbish, would believe that London is the spiritual home of the great reforming movements in art education of the 19th century?....
Even to know that a Wenlock-branded “magnet set” exists is to feel a sense of national shame. Who approved such dross? His name should be pre-emptively forwarded to the Honours Forfeiture Committee. It is as if the assumptions of William Morris, Frank Pick and even Terence Conran that the consumer is not a drooling moron count for nothing.
The website is as artless as the terrible logo, long since a “signal passed at danger” for anyone with a sense that London has credibility as a global creative capital.
Lacking even honest vulgarity or cheerful camp, “Olympic Tat Online” looks like a poundstore in a post-industrial hell. Never mind faster, higher, stronger, here you have a dim insult. It’s a disgrace.
February 23, 2012
Easter Island Lessons
.....If people know two things about Easter Island, it is that at some point before the arrival of Europeans, in the process of making and transporting those heads, someone cut down the last tree. Whoever it was could have looked around the island, half the size of the Isle of Wight, and seen it was the last tree. They could have gazed out on an horizon unbroken on all sides, on which no ship had passed in centuries, and known there were no trees to be found elsewhere. But they cut it down anyway.
And then, the island’s ecology collapsed. Food ran out. The stone heads still in the quarry were left, unfinished. The stone heads en route to the coast were abandoned, like our moai, mid-transit. Eventually, the Rapa Nui — the indigenous Polynesian population — turned to the only food source left, and a great cannibal war transformed this island paradise into a living hell. Still to this day, their obsidian arrowheads line the ground, so numerous they crunch underfoot.
Environmentalists have a name for what happened here: ecocide. A process that was the subject of Collapse, a 2005 book by the bestselling author Jared Diamond, its message is inescapable — and has been reiterated at environmental conferences the world over. Like us, the Easter Islanders became obsessed with producing ornaments and fripperies. Like us, they used scarce resources to make them. Like us, they knew they were causing irreparable environmental damage. But they did it anyway — and then died.
It is a dark parable for our times. And it makes archaeologists angry. ....
Colin Richards, an ordinarily placid professor of archaeology, looks angry. “All this talk of catastrophe is nonsense,” he says. “We’ve had this one assumption, and built upon it and built upon it. That’s the history of work on Easter Island.” He rises to a satisfying crescendo. Behind him a South Pacific storm builds to its own crescendo. “It is falseness and idiocy upon idiocy.” He gesticulates, sadly not quite in time with the distant thunder....
...But if we still insist on turning a single event on a complicated island into a simplistic parable, then this new parable of Easter Island becomes one less conducive to the environmental movement. In Hamilton’s interpretation it is, instead, a story of human ingenuity overcoming apparently insurmountable ecological challenges. If applied to the current climate-change debate, it might well be better used by those who oppose the environmentalists, who argue we shouldn’t worry about emissions, that we should trust in humanity’s ability to adapt.
Global-warming deniers are crackpots as bad as those who thought the Earth was flat, according to Sir Andrew Motion, the new president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
Sir Andrew said: “I understand there are people who are global warming deniers. I think they’re modern-day crackpots, they’re flat-earthers. I think they’re wrong but their point of view has to be acknowledged and become part of the conversation. Perhaps you have to do the same about people who think the world was made in a week — deny it.” He added that the only thing to be said for climate change deniers was that they kept scientists on their toes.
The CPRE campaigns on issues such as farming, housing, climate change and litter. Sir Andrew said: “Fighting for these kinds of things has never felt so important before. It’s very important, as you fight it, that everyone feels they can belong.”
Yes, calling climate change sceptics "deniers" really makes them feel that they can belong, not.
Flushing Lavatories A Luxury Too Far
Now that drought is upon us and we must all do our bit to save water...Cameron Diaz is out and proud about adhering to the “If it’s yellow let it mellow. If it’s brown send it down” mantra....“Urine stinks so I flush. End of,” says a colleague. But our forefathers coped with chamber pots quietly humming beneath the bed.
Perhaps, if only temporarily, we should forgo the luxury of being so fastidious about our toilette and let it stew awhile. It’s a grim thought for the summer, granted, but we’ll no doubt live....
....hopefully somewhere downwind of me.
February 21, 2012
The Dehumanising of Rights
No, No, and No again. Forget lovable Flipper for a moment, as soon as we link intelligence to having human rights we are slipping down the ugly route of eugenics where idiots, the insane and the Untermenschen no longer have rights and can be disposed of.
Humans have human rights because they are humans.
Wales and dolphins shouldn't be treated cruelly because it offends our notions of fairness and charity, not because they have our rights and obligations.
Criminal Windfarm Money Laundering
ORGANISED criminal gangs in Scotland are eyeing the renewables industry, including windfarms, as a potential way of laundering money, police have said.
No names, though I could think of a few.
Guardian on Gleick - "He is the hero and Heartland remains the villain."
Gleick's admission was seen by some as crossing a new line in the increasingly vitriolic debate between scientists, campaigners, businesses and politicians who want action on climate change and a small but well-funded group of those who deny the existence of man-made climate change.
Some were dismayed the revelations. Others suggested that Heartland had got what it deserved – given its support for efforts to discredit science.
"Heartland has been subverting well-understood science for years," wrote Scott Mandia, co-founder of the climate science rapid response team. "They also subvert the education of our school children by trying to ;'teach the controversy' where none exists."
He went on: "Peter Gleick, a scientist who is also a journalist just used the same tricks that any investigative reporter uses to uncover the truth. He is the hero and Heartland remains the villain. He will have many people lining up to support him."
Does that defence remind anyone else of that other fearless investigative reporter Johann Hari?
February 20, 2012
Every Breath You Take, Every Move You Make
Every e-mail, phone call and website visit is to be recorded and stored for a year under legislation planned for the next session of Parliament.
The security services will also have access to who has been contacting each other on social network sites under a revised version of plans originally proposed by the last Labour government.
The revised plan, signalled in October 2010 in the Strategic Defence and Security Review, comes despite a promise by the Government to “end the storage of internet and e-mail records without good reason”.
And nobody notices...
Smart Meters - Just Say No
Burglars may no longer need to lurk outside a home to know when to break in but could instead be able to monitor owners’ movements by spying on their electricity and gas usage.
Detailed information about residents’ lifestyles collected by energy smart meters is vulnerable to being hacked and exploited by criminals, an official report has warned.
February 19, 2012
Fish Slicers Appeal
Britain's dream of leading the world in harnessing the power of the sea is in danger of being sunk by risk-averse, under-ambitious policymakers who are letting foreign rivals dominate a multibillion-pound industry. An influential Commons committee warns that without a "more visionary" approach from ministers and officials, the development of wave and tidal technology will stall and other countries will steal a march on British firms.
Translation, Britain's firms are losing their world beating status of subsidy slurping and unless more dosh is chucked at them then those beastly foreigners will spend all their own money on developing the technology which we could then cheaply use in the future.
Drunken Britons typically cause nearly £500 of damage to their homes after mishaps.
Middle-class professionals in the 35-54 age group with homes worth an average of £242,673 were the worst offenders.
£500 - you call that a mishap? That is a mere scratch in the rosewood, a chip off the vase, to the damage a decent evening with a couple of chums at home costs. Have you tried to get a mounted set of boars tusks out of the door of a SMEG fridge, I knew the steel was flimsy enough for them to penetrate it if one took a decent run up...
David Mitchell - Why?
The web is full of opinions, but without knowing the authors' motives for posting them why should we pay them any attention?
I agree, I have never worked out what David Mitchell's motives are, I presume it is some sort of writing therapy for retired comics, so I will continue to ignore him.
February 17, 2012
Watermelons by Delingpole - I haven't enjoyed anything as much since my granny caught her tit in the mangle.
Watermelons: How the Environmentalists are Killing the Planet, Destroying the Economy and Stealing Your Children's Future - James Delingpole
You know Dellers - the hyper writer on the Telegraph blogs who launches like a pitbull with Deep Heat on its ring at the warmists and their fellow travellers. You know his book is going to be funny and fearless. What you may not know is how seriously he comprehensively builds his argument. How clearly he marshals the facts, the dates and the players to explain the battles. I probably have been reading and commentating on this for as long as any UK blogger but even so it is a fascinating book as it ties the bigger picture together.
Our global response to the threat of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming - CAGW is the biggest story out there. It is our Cold War. Dellers says our enemy's missiles are made of toilet rolls and sticky backed plastic, gearing our whole economy to fight the threat is not just wrong, it is dangerous. And that whilst their weapons maybe be bumf the enemy is seriously dangerous.
You may think he is wrong, you may think he overstates the case, you may think he is right on the button, whatever, this book is essential reading in understanding this great debate. It is also great fun.
You must get a copy!
February 16, 2012
Richard Black Shocked
One thing that's clear from the documents is that the Heartland Institute is largely behind the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), a project that purports to mirror the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by producing reports downplaying the extent of global warming as well as the involvement of greenhouse gas emissions in producing it.
Gosh Richard, you don't mean to say that the NIPPC which openly boasts of being supported by the Heartland Institute is supported by the Heartland Institute. A journalistic scoop if ever I saw one.
(I haven't spotted any other shocking revelation though others may differ.)
Comments Are Back
Sorry technical problems for the last few days - now sorted hopefully. Please tell me if you encounter any.
Tweet Truth Shocker
Despite the tragic nature of the incident, the official Twitter account told customer to “Go to the pub - things will be rubbish for at least the next hour."
And when another commuter enquired if the victim had survived, the firm responded "nope" before saying "Can't stop someone jumping off a platform in front of a train I'm afraid."
Go to the pub - is there any better advice in the circumstances? That's the problem and the value in using social media for companies - real people say real things rather than PR speak days later. Of course the twit will now be disciplined and another chink of reality closed.
Actors In Glass Houses
His continued occupation of Malibu is an unacceptable mockery of national self-determination. The Mexicans owned that stretch of real estate well into the early 19th century and it was stolen by the Americans in a naked act of imperialist aggression. America’s claim over Malibu is tenuous and rooted in patriarchy. Sean Penn’s house is a mocking reminder of that brute chauvinism, with its high white walls and spacious interiors. Its swimming pool is an insult to the honour of the Mexican people.
I'm not quite sure who Sean Penn is, I think he is famous for giving Madonna a seeing to or was that someone else? But I gather he is pronouncing on the Falklands and our rights to them.
February 14, 2012
British society is under threat from the rising tide of “militant secularisation” reminiscent of “totalitarian regimes”, a Cabinet minister will warn on Tuesday.
I very happy a Muslim woman can represent a Protestant country to a Catholic ruler. I hope all their imaginary friends get on very well. And while I love the heritage of the Church of England and the richness of it has given our society I prefer truth to beauty. I prefer a society which is sceptical of priests and of politicians. And only when Richard Dawkins starts to send his young disciples to kill and die in the name of The Selfish Gene will I worry about militant atheism.
A Little Windy Omission
LAST year was a strong one for the wind sector, with significant industry activity. According to the latest figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), in the third quarter of 2011, 9 per cent of UK electricity demand was met by renewables, up by a percentage point on the same quarter of 2010.
Rick Eggleston is managing director of REpower UK
It took me a moment to spot the pea, the MD of a wind turbine company claims wind power has had a strong year by quoting the figure for renewables - yes all renewables, not wind. I wonder why that would be.
February 13, 2012
Taxman To Tax The Pink In My Gin
The relief exempts from excise duty the importation of Angostura Bitters into the UK. ...
Legislation will be introduced in Finance Bill 2012 to repeal sections 1(7) and 6 of ALDA to take effect on and after 1 April 2013. Angostura Bitters will then become subject to duty under section 1 of ALDA
This measure is expected to have a negligible impact on the Exchequer.
This measure has no significant economic impact.
There will be a small negative impact on individuals and households who consume Angostura Bitters. If changes to the duty treatment of Angostura Bitters were passed on in the price of the product, then a 200ml bottle may increase in price by between £2-£3, although the product is typically consumed as a ‘dash’ (a few drops only) at a time.
Equalities impacts: Potential impacts have been considered and no different impact has been identified on people with protected characteristics.
Old sea dogs obviously aren't a protected race.
My advice is to take advantage of this relief whilst it lasts to buy a lifetime's supply of duty free Angostura Bitters - one bottle.
February 12, 2012
The cassette in the car of her provided the soundtrack to many a great night for my generation.
Another bit of my youth dies, wasted by drugs.
February 10, 2012
Friday Night is Music Night (Tommy Gun Edition)
Police negotiators attend scene after man reported to be acting suspiciously
I presume he asked for a salad...
White Man's Bad Fire Water
An American-Indian tribe in South Dakota has sued some of the world's biggest beer firms over severe alcohol-related issues in the community.
The lawsuit also names the nearby town of Whiteclay, Nebraska, which has four beer shops that sold nearly five million beer cans in 2010 despite having only about a dozen residents.
Alcohol is outlawed on the reservation....
Nebraska State Senator LeRoy Louden has said that after struggling with the problem for years, the state has introduced legislation that would impose restrictions - on the types of alcohol that can be sold and business hours.
So alcohol is banned already and the solution is further restrictions?
How about someone manning up and taking responsibility for their own actions instead of playing the victim card?
Wavey Davey On Offshore Wind
Mr Davey, who replaced Lib Dem colleague Chris Huhne, admitted that the cost of offshore wind at the moment is high but insisted it will come down with the right support, just as North Sea oil became cheaper as the industry developed.
In the long run he said that offshore wind will provide a low cost form of energy in comparison to fossil fuels as well as providing jobs and perhaps even an export market for the UK.
“This is an industry at an early stage. It is not surprising costs are high,” he said. “But if we can help development and support this industry at an early stage that will help the costs to come down.”
I have got this bridge for sale, I wonder if he would be interested.
The State, The Citizen And Booze
The UK Government and the Scottish Government are both concerned about the amount of alcohol that is consumed in these isles. It is not clear that they should be. The policies which they have adopted and which they propose are inappropriate. They do not cohere well with any plausible notion of what a proper relationship between a state and its citizens should be. They appear arbitrary, whimsical and paternalistic.
Governments have a legitimate role in passing laws regarding the production, sale and consumption of alcohol. However, governments in general often pass very bad laws regarding alcohol. Such laws often have unintended consequences. The instance of prohibition in the US is one of the best examples of a policy that had disastrous consequences.
David Cameron, Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond are united in supporting the dubious policy of minimum pricing with regard to alcohol. It might or might not turn out that such a policy would have good effects and no bad ones. However, public policies cannot always be justified merely in terms of their outcomes. It matters why things come about. It matters what is done, why it is done and how it is done.
The state ought to treat citizens impartially as autonomous, rational adults. It should not treat them as children or as mere means to their political ends. The actual and proposed policies regarding alcohol consumption are misconceived.
• Hugh McLachlan is professor of applied philosophy in the Glasgow School for Business and Society at Glasgow Caledonian University
February 9, 2012
Economics Made Simple
Stanislaw Ulam once challenged Paul Samuelson to name one theory in all of the social sciences which is both true and nontrivial. Several years later, Samuelson responded with David Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage:
That it is logically true need not be argued before a mathematician; that is not trivial is attested by the thousands of important and intelligent men who have never been able to grasp the doctrine for themselves or to believe it after it was explained to them
Economics Made Simple: How money, trade and markets really work by Dr Madsen Pirie is an excellent primer on the whole field of economics that all those important men should have read.
He combines his story telling craft with his deep understanding of economic basics to produce a very readable and enjoyable short book on a subject most people would run screaming from. It's brevity and simplicity might annoy the expert, and the purveyors of economic insights who are paid by the word and maintain their mystique with obscurity, but that is its real value.
I wish for instance that Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage was dealt with a bit more deeply as everyday we see politicians ans campaigners clamouring for some protectionist measure without anyone pointing a finger at them and laughing at their ignorance.
He has released a series of videos http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL06A6035D1EAF3D0E which are based on chapters of the book. Watch them and share them and then I recommend you buy the book.
Put aside any preconceived thoughts you have on the subject and enjoy the helicopter view of the whole subject. It may just surprise and educate you, it certainly will be enjoyable. And for anyone who is starting any course at any level on economics this is the key book they must have. It provides a backbone onto which deeper analysis can be hung, and if they don't fit onto it maybe they are better being discarded.
Essential enjoyable comprehensive simple guide.
February 8, 2012
Himalayan Ice Station Zero
The world's greatest snow-capped peaks, which run in a chain from the Himalayas to Tian Shan on the border of China and Kyrgyzstan, have lost no ice over the last decade, new research shows.
The discovery has stunned scientists, who had believed that around 50bn tonnes of meltwater were being shed each year and not being replaced by new snowfall.
What's 50bn tonnes between friends..
However, the scientist who led the new work is clear that while greater uncertainty has been discovered in Asia's highest mountains, the melting of ice caps and glaciers around the world remains a serious concern.
"Our results and those of everyone else show we are losing a huge amount of water into the oceans every year," said Prof John Wahr of the University of Colorado. "People should be just as worried about the melting of the world's ice as they were before."
His team's study, published in the journal Nature, concludes that between 443-629bn tonnes of meltwater overall are added to the world's oceans each year. This is raising sea level by about 1.5mm a year, the team reports, in addition to the 2mm a year caused by expansion of the warming ocean.
The scientists are careful to point out that lower-altitude glaciers in the Asian mountain ranges – sometimes dubbed the "third pole" – are definitely melting. Satellite images and reports confirm this. But over the study period from 2003-10 enough ice was added to the peaks to compensate.
It really, really is melting, just it is also snowing, but it is melting so keep sending the cheques, please.
The Very Fat Man Who Waters the Worker's Beer
Alcoholic drinks should be made weaker under in Britain under Government plans to tackle the "deadly problem” of binge-drinking, a health minister has said.
(Great version - do listen to the video, just ignore the pictures)
I am the man, the very fat man,
That waters the workers' beer
I am the man, the very fat man,
That waters the workers' beer
And what do I care if it makes them ill,
If it makes them terribly queer
I've a car, a yacht, and an aeroplane,
And I waters the workers' beer
Now when I waters the workers' beer,
I puts in strychnine
Some methylated spirits,
And a can of kerosine
Ah, but such a brew so terribly strong,
It would make them terribly queer
So I reaches my hand for the watering-can
And I waters the workers' beer
Now a drop of good beer is good for a man
When he's tired, thirsty and 'ot
And I sometimes have a drop myself,
From a very special pot
For a strong and healthy working class
Is the thing that I most fear
So I reaches my hand for the watering-can
And I waters the workers' beer
Now ladies fair, beyond compare,
Be you maiden or wife
Spare a thought for such a man
Who leads such a lonely life
For the water rates are terribly high,
And the meths is terribly dear
And there isn't the profit there used to be
In watering the workers' beer
February 7, 2012
Scotland Suffering From Trade
HUNDREDS of millions of pounds are “leaking out” of the Scottish economy, with contracts for major building and infrastructure projects being handed to firms outside Scotland, a new report has claimed.
The stark warning is made today in the first report from the Jimmy Reid Foundation – a think-tank launched in memory of the former trade union leader.
The report – Using Our Buying Power to Benefit Scotland – by leading economists Jim and Margaret Cuthbert, said that “too much” of the £9 billion spent each year on procurement projects was allowed to leave the Scottish economy, with a “harmful” effect on jobs and business north of the Border.
I wonder what that other Scottish economist Adam Smith would have said about it. Dr Madsen Pirie probably has an idea...
Monbiot's One Dimensional Dimness
...we have been too polite to mention the Canadian study published last month in the journal Psychological Science, which revealed that people with conservative beliefs are likely to be of low intelligence.
The paper proposes that right-wing ideologies, which are socially conservative and authoritarian, represent a mechanism through which cognitive ability is linked with prejudice.
So surprise, surprise, social conservatives who don't like darkies, queers, and foreign food and only make love with the lights out are a bit less adventurous and free thinking than social progressives.
Monboit makes the mistake of still believing in the old one-dimensional categories of 'right' and 'left', established for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789. He needs to update his views a little and move to a multi-dimensional view of the world.
The underlying theory of the Political Compass is that political views may be better measured along two separate and independent axes. The Economic (Left-Right) axis measures one's opinion of how the economy should be run: "left" is defined as the view that the economy should be run by a cooperative collective agency (which can mean the state, but can also mean a network of communes), while "right" is defined as the view that the economy should be left to the devices of competing individuals and organisations. The other axis (Authoritarian-Libertarian) measures one's political opinions in a social sense, regarding a view of the appropriate amount of personal freedom: "libertarianism" is defined as the belief that personal freedom should be maximised, while "authoritarianism" is defined as the belief that authority and tradition should be obeyed.
February 6, 2012
6th February - The Diamond Jubilee - God Bless Her
The Queen released a statement today to mark her accession to the throne on February 6th 1952.
Today, as I mark 60 years as your Queen, I am writing to thank you for the wonderful support and encouragement that you have given to me and Prince Philip over these years and to tell you how deeply moved we have been to receive so many kind messages about the Diamond Jubilee.
In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighbourliness, examples of which I have been fortunate to see throughout my reign and which my family and I look forward to seeing in many forms as we travel throughout the United Kingdom and the wider Commonwealth.
I hope also that this Jubilee year will be a time to give thanks for the great advances that have been made since 1952 and to look forward to the future with clear head and warm heart as we join together in our celebrations.
I send my sincere good wishes to you all.
(Today) is National Sickie Day, the point in every year where the country's enthusiasm for putting in a hard day's graft reaches rock bottom and 375,000 workers stay at home at a cost of around £30 million to the economy.
Some will, of course, be genuinely ill. Colds and flu are rampant at the moment. But many more will be exploiting the sickness epidemic, and their bossesâ gullibility, to gain an extra day off.
According to the CBI, the UK economy lost 190 million working days to absence last year, with each employee taking an average of 6.5 days off sick. The total cost to employers was £17 billion, including more than £2.7bn from 30.4 million days of feigned illness.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, British workers take more sick days than workers in the US or Japan, and public sector workers more sick days than their private sector counterparts.
A poll of 3,000 employees suggested younger workers were more likely to need time off than their battle-hardened elders, with 72 per cent of under-30s saying they had taken at least one sick day in the previous year compared with 46 per cent of over-55s.
The distribution of sick days amongst employees is never a normal distribution bell curve. The vast majority take none or only one or two, and at the other end you will have those who take two a month. You may have your own thoughts as to the causes and solutions to the problem.
February 5, 2012
Grassed Up By Your Car Keys
Insurance investigators and police have revealed they are using data stored on car keys in criminal investigations. Smart ignition keys record the distance travelled by the vehicle on its last journey as well as total mileage. They are being issued by a growing number of car companies — a fact that is not advertised and that most motorists are likely to be unaware of.
If an owner maintains that a car involved in an accident had been stolen from them, for example, police or insurers can retrieve the key from the owner and compare the mileage with the odometer to check whether the claim is true. If a driver claims he has no key, insurers may be unwilling to pay out, arguing the alleged theft was down to the owner’s negligence.
All this smart technology at work, but who for?
Jonathan Leake Oddly Asks Why It Isn't Warming Much
... Is it really true that global temperatures have not risen since 1997?...
A third and very different data set is overseen by John Christy, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He gathers figures from three satellites that orbit the Earth 14 times a day. They measure the average temperature of the air from ground level to a height of 35,000ft, a method completely different from those of the Met Office and NCDC. Oddly, given his reputation as a climate sceptic, he found the biggest rise of all.
“From 1997-2011 our data show a global temperature rise of 0.15C,” he said. “What’s more, our satellites have been taking this data since 1979, and over that period [the] global temperature has risen 0.46C, so the world has been getting warmer.”
Oddly, given his reputation as a climate sceptic, he found the biggest rise of all.
Why "oddly"? Does Jonathan Leake expect sceptics not to present what they find if it is inconvenient?
February 4, 2012
Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts
Born in Athens Vasiliki Courmouzis, 1952,married an LSE academic with the surname of Pryce, whom she divorced in 1981, having had two daughters together.
Pryce is now separated from Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat MP for Eastleigh and former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change; the couple are in the process of divorcing. They married in 1984, and had three children together.
How will she plead is the question. Could Huhne survive a guilty plea from her, could he portray that as just the fury of a woman scorned? I haven't heard any public declaration of innocence from her, though that doesn't mean she isn't and won't plea that way.
February 3, 2012
Friday Night is Music Night (Happy Days Edition)
No politics on this blog, but a bottle of high carbon footprint fizz is being opened.
Not Climate News
With record snowfalls, icy winds, and thousands of people trapped in remote villages, much of Central and Eastern Europe is in the grip of a cold snap that has caused more than 100 deaths. Temperatures in parts of Ukraine and other Eastern European countries are hovering around -30C (-22F).
It's just weather.
European & Socialist Reject
Suzanne Goldenberg - @suzyji
Guardian's US Environment Correspondent, reports:
Because bike paths are European & socialist MT @thehill GOP rejects bike paths, sidewalks in $260B transport bill
The linked article says:
GOP rejects Dem push for bike paths, sidewalks in $260B transportation bill - The Hill's Transportation Report
Republicans on the committee argued that the money should not be used on so-called “transportation enhancements." They said they were not against enhancement projects, but they preferred to leave decisions about them to local communities.
“That’s for community to decide, not for our federal government to sit up here in Washington and decide,” Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said. “Not everybody uses a bike path. This is fundamental to the reforms that we are trying to include in this bill.”
Now the fact that bike paths are nasty European socialist innovations might be a factor but that isn't what her source says.
Rabbits, Toads and Pachyderms
Elephants and rhinoceros should be introduced to the Australian outback to control the impact of damaging wild grasses, according to an Australian professor of environmental change biology
I believe it was a distant ancestor of mine who won the gold prize for successfully transporting a pair of breeding rabbits to Australia, that worked out well....
Preventable Death Toll Rises
Dr Christopher Murray and colleagues have systematically collected data on deaths from all over the world over a 30-year period, from 1980 to 2010, using new methodologies and inventive ways of measuring mortality in countries where deaths are not conventionally recorded.
"inventive ways of measuring" sets my sensors twitching, but whatever, recognising malaria is still a major problem is important. A problem we could have solved if it hadn't been for one woman and a hysterical campaign.
February 2, 2012
Economics is Fun, Part 3: Specialization
The Sceptical Compass
Excellent idea, all we need now is the quiz to go with it which pinpoints your position.
February 1, 2012
Questions In The Guardian We Can Answer Yes To
Tell us if you deliberately read articles you know you'll dislike, just so you can take issue with them
Boris Backs Down On Olympic Zil Lanes
The public will be able to drive along a 31-mile road network that was to be reserved for Olympic traffic in the capital this summer.
The “Games Lanes” were expected to be blocked off for exclusive use by athletes, officials, sponsors and others involved with the event. But Transport for London and Olympic Games organisers have decided to turn the traffic restrictions on and off depending on demand.
At off-peak times any car, including London taxis, will be able to use the lanes. The move will please those concerned about the congestion that the lanes would cause in the capital during the Olympics and Paralympics.
“London will ensure that athletes, officials and others can move around the city as they need to during these Games,” said Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London. “But I’m also determined to ensure that the Olympic route network does not cause any more disruption than is absolutely necessary.
“It is vital that small businesses can operate effectively and that the people of London can get on with their lives. We will not block the traffic on any junction or at any point in time other than when that is unavoidable for the success of the Games,” he said.
How very kind of him, I hope no one will think that caltrops are still justified.
Life's Not Fair - Live With It
We seem to be going through one of those collective fits of public morality where "It's not fair, something must be done about it" is the rallying call. Whether it is executive pay, or baubles, or bonuses or whatever envy stalks the land. A banker is no different to a collectable thimble on Ebay - it is worth what someone will pay for it, no more, no less. There is no "fair" price or pay.
When we act on irrational prejudices the supremely rational market notices and reacts back. And in the long term we suffer.