Sunday, 19 April 2015

Worrying For The Labour Party

Of course we all want to see the back of David Cameron and the Conservative Party, they have been awful, and for a moment back there it looked as though UKIP was going to split the right wing vote and it would be all sunshine and lollipops as Ed Miliband and his band of merry men and women strolled into Downing Street.
While we did worry about a rampant Green Party taking left-wing votes, what we didn't reckon on was the Scottish National Party doing it.
At present the Labour Party hold 41 of the 59 seats in Scotland but with the rise of the SNP, Labour could be facing a meltdown north of the border and for every seat they lose in Scotland they will have to gain in England, Wales or Northern Ireland as well as capture the extra 68 they need to reach 326 and hand the keys to Ed so if they lose 30 up there, they will have to add another 98 without losing any seats down here.  
Tough call and since Nigel Farage and his UKIPPERS seem to have imploded, the expected splicing off of the Conservative vote may not be as severe as first thought.
Worst case scenario, the Conservatives gain power as the largest party and get to carry on what they have been doing unscuppered by the pesky Lib Dems but the likely scenario appears to be a coalition but David Cameron retaining power as Prime Minister and Ed Miliband falling on his sword.
With three weeks to go it can still all change and Google Trends is still showing a healthy lead for the Labour Party but as they are starting 48 seats behind the Conservatives, it may not be enough if the Scots leave Labour en mass for the SNP.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

The Greatest Threat To Our Planet

It does amuse me, or rather it would if it wasn't so serious, that there are STILL some people out there who refuse to accept that the climate is changing and not for the better.
Predictably the hard of thinking were out in force today after President Obama's speech where he said that Climate Change was the greatest threat to our planet and that: 'The world is looking to the United States to lead'.
Actually Barack for the past few decades we have been looking at the United States and yelling 'OI YANKS, STOP POLLUTING THE PLANET' as you lot were the worst culprits but nice to see that you have caught up with us and are going to do something about it before we all disappear under the English Channel over here.
Amidst the replies on US websites condemning the 'conspiracy' and the 'myth' of climate change, my favourite response was from the Canadian who berated anyone who bought into the idea that we are committing suicide by ruining the atmosphere as ignorant of the facts and then ended his rant by claiming China was in Europe. Awkward.
Anyway, the facts are all out there if you want to go and have a look, i'm not going to link to them, i'm not your mother, go look yourself and educate yourself.      

The most reliable argument from climate change deniers is that the planet has gone through cycles of warming and cooling and this is just one of those times.
True, the planet has warmed and cooled previously but the last time it took 10,000 years for the CO2 levels to raise by 100 parts per million, we have raised it from 280 to 379 parts per million in the last 150 years.

Another common argument is changes in the Sun via Sun Spots or some other Solar activity but since 1978, a series of satellite instruments have measured the energy output of the sun directly. The satellite data show a very slight drop in the amount of energy the Sun has given off over this time period so the sun doesn't appear to be responsible for the warming trend observed over the past 30 years. Want another try?

How about the Global sea level rising? In the last century the sea level rose by 170mm, in the 15 years of this century so far it has raised by 47mm so we are in line for a 319mm rise this century.

Global temperature rise? The 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years.

The last refuge of the ignorant is a shrug and say a rise of 1 or 2C, big deal, means warmer summers which is quite right.
One or two extra degrees may sound like a small amount, but even the smallest changes in global temperature correspond to enormous changes in the environment, the average temperatures were only 5-9C less than today during the last ice age so a few degrees can make a massive difference.

As i said up above, doesn't matter to me if you want to ignore the 98% of climate scientists and the mountains of evidence, most which you can see with your own eyes if you open them, but be prepared to be dismissed as ignorant cranks.
And for crying out loud buy an Atlas, it's embarrassing.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Zero Compassion For Zero Hours From Tories

Zero hour contracts have been quite rightly attacked in the election campaign with all parties attacking the practise that sees an employee receiving a text message the night before to tell them whether they have any work in the morning.
On last nights debate, Labour's Ed Miliband pledged to ban 'exploitative zero-hours contracts' and 'make sure people are given more secure contracts if they are working for an employer for three months'.
Much has been made that the number of zero-hours contracts has tripled since 2010 and as many as 2.3% of the population in employment are now subject to these contracts.
The Conservatives have received much of the flak for not cracking down on the employers but Ian Duncan Smith, the Conservative work and pensions secretary, is now on the case and he has a solution, change the name.
'Zero-hours contracts should be rebranded as flexible-hours contracts' was his suggestion before going on to explain that far from seeking to end the contracts that do not guarantee any hours of employment, 'people who do them are more satisfied with their work-life balance than those who are on fixed-hours contracts'.
Next week, IDS explains how Primark was not creating sweat shops in Asia but were merely creating the opportunity for 8-year-old Vietnamese children the opportunity to learn a new skill.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Dan Price, A Nice Guy

We all know that most businesses would sell your grandmother (not their own) if they could make a few extra quid but once in a while we hear of bosses like Dan Price who is the CEO of payment processing company Gravity Payments.
Dan has taken a pay cut to give his lower-paid staff a raise to a minimum wage of $70,000 (£47,000)
by reducing his own by 90%.
Mr Price, 30, told staff in a weekly meeting that he would be cutting his $1million salary to $70,000 too explaining that: 'The market rate for me as a CEO compared to a regular person is ridiculous, it’s absurd, adding that it was absurd that he should earn up to 100 times more than most of the rest of his staff.
Great story, we need more Dan Price's and in higher seats of power where they could do real good for everyone and end the relentless trampling of the small guy by money hungry businesses.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Mental Health Wristbands?

It is always nice when politicians make arses of themselves before we elect them so a big thank you must go to Chamali Fernando who is the Conservative Party candidate for Cambridge who has shown supreme arse-ery by coming up with the idea that mental health patients could wear colour-coded wristbands to identify their condition.
In what must be an unprecedented move, there is now a protest petition to get her to step down as a candidate even before the first vote has been cast.
Having made such a crass and stupid suggestion, the Conservative Party hopeful must be suffering from a great deal of anxiety now as she makes the headlines.
This anxiety could easily turn to depression so what colour wristband should she be wearing?
Maybe we could take it a step further and we could make politicians who are liable to be a danger to society wear a blue rosette on their clothes and carry a Conservative Party membership card just so we know who to avoid/shout at and avoid any confusion.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Losing Our Religion

When they were still decent, REM sang a song called 'Losing My Religion' which had an amazing video but nobody had a clue what the song was about but the title seemed to imply that somewhere had lost their religion.
Could have been us in the UK because we have just finished sixth in a survey of the least religious countries in the world.
53% of the UK population describe themselves as not religious but top of the list was China where 94% of people said they had no belief followed by Japan (87%), Sweden with (81%), Czech Republic (77%) and the Netherlands and Hong Kong with 74%.
The most religious countries were Thailand where only 6% dismissed the idea of a God and 7% of people in Armenia, Bangladesh, Georgia and Morocco who said they were not religious.
Luckily REM also had the 'Man On The Moon' Song which contained the lyrics 'Here's a little agit for the never-believer, Here's a little ghost for the offering, Here's a truck stop instead of Saint Peter's, Mister Andy Kaufman's gone wrestling'.
Nope, i have no idea either but then that pretty much sums up religion for me anyway, less St Peter's and more truck stops please.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Obama Shining His Legacy

America has long been a country that when the choice is between a carrot or a stick, it ignores the vegetable and goes off to find a bigger stick but in the last week we have not only seen it make friends with Iran, but now it is also on the Christmas Card list of Cuba as well.
It has also distanced itself from Israel, the most divisive country in the Atlas so it may be very late into his administration but maybe Obama is finally getting to do some of that 'Change' which he bandied about years ago when he gained the Peace Prize.
With time running out on his opportunity to actually do something, Obama does seem to be on something of a mission to leave a legacy and undo the wars and conflicts that he has undertaken whilst holding the keys to the White House which have been many.
Palestine would be the big one, if he can sort things out for the unfortunate people who have to live next door to the most warmongering nation on Earth then he might be able to leave office with a bit more credence given to his legacy as a peace prize winner, or at least a legacy not quite as tarnished as present.
Whatever he does in the dog days of his presidency, it is nice to see an American President holding a carrot and not doing what they normally do and start shooting.

Why Francis Cobain Is Right

Hard to believe that it has been 21 years since Kurt Cobain committed suicide but with a new documentary on Kurt about to be released, his daughter Frances Bean Cobain has admitted that she doesn't actually like the music her dad performed back in the 90s.
This has got right up the nose of the people of my generation who seemed to have hoisted Kurt and his band onto a pedestal as some sort of musical genius.
Before i launch into it, i was a massive Nirvana fan also back then but it was never just about the music, it was the whole grunge thing at the time and Kurt had an incredibly 'cool' image.
What Nirvana also had was an amazing album in 'Nevermind', an album that stacks up as not only one of the best collection of songs of the 90's but arguably of all time, what they never had was a decent back catalogue.
The pre-Nevermind Album, Bleach, was less than average and i don't know what they tried to do with the post-Nevermind effort, In Utero, but it missed. Incesticide was full of demo's, b-sides and songs which were not considered good enough previously and stank of 'cashing in' on the Nirvana while they still could.
The Unplugged in New York CD was tepid at best so it all comes down to Nevermind and the singles from the album which were perfect for that time but that time was 1991 and everything wrapped up in that period.
To stand up for Francis Cobain, she's 22 so her liking music from the early 90s would be like us in the early 90s liking the stuff from the early 70's or to put it another way, the stuff our parents listened to.
Yes all you moaning Nirvana fans, you have turned into your parents!!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Nigel's Vote UKIP But It's Lib Dems For Tim's

Four weeks left and the political parties busy targeting potential supporters but according to the latest poll from YouGov, they be paying more attention to the first names of voters.
YouGov analysed the voting intentions of 50,000 individuals with the 130 most common first names and found that people called Nigel, Jill or Terry are approximately twice as likely to vote for UKIP as the general population.
The poll shows that the most likely Conservative voters where called Charlotte, Fiona, Pauline while Sharon, Samantha and Clare wouldn't touch David Cameron with somebody else's barge poll as these were least likely to put a cross next to David Cameron's team. 
Labour can depend upon anyone called Michelle, June and Andy while the Lib Dem's should be looking towards Tim, Kathryn and Samantha for support.
I will let people with pens in their top pockets argue other the role of nominative determinism in influencing human behaviour and political preferences but personally if your spouse is called Nigel, Jill or Terry i wouldn't send them to the Chinese takeaway anytime soon, hate to think what additional extra you would get with your sweet and sour chicken once they have finished their Benny Hill style 'Mr Chow Mein' performance while ordering it.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The Climate Change Minister And The Climate Sceptic Group

It has been revealed that the Conservative energy and climate change minister, Matthew Hancock, has taken almost £20,000 in donations from from a key backer of the UK’s leading climate sceptic lobby group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
According to official records, Hancock has accepted five donations over the years from City currency manager Neil Record, who is on the board of the anti-climate change Foundation.
In all Neil Record has donated more than £300,000 to the Conservative party but the energy and climate change minister is the only individual MP that he has backed.
As our elected representative it is only fair that we don;t jump to conclusions that man responsible for combating climate change isn't being influenced by the financial inducements being thrown his way.
Just because he was one of 100 Tory MPs who signed an open letter opposed subsides for onshore wind farms in England and has been a vocal critic of wind farms in his constituency and a supporter of fracking doesn't mean he has whored himself out to the highest bidder.
It may just be a huge coincidence that he hates wind farms, loves fracking while accepting large sums of cash from a climate sceptic group.