Wednesday, 31 December 2008

2009 Predictions

As the UK Psychics were so disappointing last year, i have expanded the search to Psychics all over the world with this years predictions coming from One World Psychics, a network of Psychics from all corners of the globe.
The majority of these psychics are predicting financial doom and gloom but you don't need a crystal ball to see that one coming so we can leave those to one side and look at the no nonsense, this-is-what-is-going-to-happen ones instead.

1. There will be an assassination attempt on Barack Obama
2. Gordon Brown will be forced out of office and an early election will be called.
3. A large number of C of E bishops convert to Catholicism simultaneously.
5. A dam will burst in the Far East – maybe China.
6. Victoria Beckham will become pregnant with a daughter.
7. There will be a knife attack on a top celebrity
8. Tsunami in Asia or perhaps an earthquake possibly in Malaysia.
9. Funerals for Bill Cosby and Robbie Williams and a close call for Nicole Kidman.
10. Kate Winslett to win an Oscar for best actress
11. A serious terrorist attack in the UK and less serious attacks in Germany.
12. Obama's first year overshadowed by a scandal involving his wifes financial dealings.

Bill Cosby and Robbie Williams had better not start reading any long books then and Kate Winslett should make an Oscar shaped space on her mantelpiece if these turn out to be correct. I shall return later in the year to see how many they have got right.

Futile Israeli PR Exercise

Day 4 of the Israel action in Gaza and as the outcry rightly grows, Israel are forced into a PR exercise to counteract the images of dead Palestinian children being dragged from the rubble of their former homes. Apart from the expected softball questions from US TV News anchors conscious that America is probably the only country in the world that much cares for Israel during this period, the Israeli spokesmen have been struggling to justify their actions and repeat the mantra that Hamas is to blame and they broke the ceasefire and they are killing Israelis with their rockets and Israel is just doing what it must to defend itself and it regrets any loss of innocent life in Palestine.

I suppose that if it is repeated enough times the people will believe it but as i mentioned here back in June, Israel never actually stopped incursions into Palestine or the killing and kidnapping of Hamas members including lasts months murdering of six civilians as it launched missiles at Hamas leaders. Of course it never lifted its siege of the territory either and continued adding to the 240,000 settlers illegally living on Palestine's West Bank.

Any loss of life on either side, be it Palestinian or Israeli, is horrific and before this weekends activities, 14 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian rockets since 2000. In return, 5000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli weapons in the same time with 310 people killed and more than a thousand reported injured this weekend alone. How would the Government, and Hamas is the legally elected Government of Palestine, of any other nation reply to being illegally occupied for over 40 years with the occupier blocking essential supplies of food, medicine and moving its own people to live on your land. I am pretty certain that no country on earth would sit quietly and let the occupier go merrily about its way. If Israel can justify the use of excessive force for 14 dead Israelis while continuing its occupation of another land, what would we call what the Government of Palestine is doing for over 5000 dead Palestinians while under an apartheid system of occupation.

Israel may regret any loss of innocent life but it doesn't seem to be going out of its way to prevent it, the list of places it has bombed over the past four days include a University, a school, mosques, police stations, refugee camps and private homes. Eight students were killed while standing at a bus stop and four young children killed in one home as they lay in their beds.

Of course the main mantra repeated is that if Hamas stopped firing rockets into Israel, peace would prevail but while no rockets have been fired from the West Bank, this year 45 Palestinians have died there by Israeli hands.
During the six month truce, the West Bank saw the continuation of settler programs, incursions and kidnappings despite Mahmoud Abbas acceding to all Israel's demands.

What Israel really want is for the Palestinians to meekly remain quiet while Israel starves them, kills them and continues to violently colonise their land so it doesn't matter what weak justifications Israeli spokesmen wheel out to try and calm the tide of angry criticisms aimed at them, there is no justification. Israel and its backers are complicit in one of the greatest atrocities since the 2nd World War.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

2008 Predictions Revisited

With only a few days left of the year, i think we can revisit the psychic predictions made for 2008 and see how accurate the crystal balls and tarot cards of the folks at UK Psychics were when it came to foretelling the events of the past 12 months.
The predictions were:

Beijing Olympics cancelled.
Earthquakes in California and Greece.
A hurricane greater than Katrina striking the US.
Scientists discover something long held to be healthy is not.
India to be engaged in conflict.
Small nuclear detonation in the Middle East.
Major terrorist attack involving a missile.
Assassination of a major American politician.
Major volcanic eruption.
Riots in the UK.
Poignant space news.
White boat/ship with the name ELLE in the name making major news.

Maybe we can put it down to cloudy crystal balls but that is hopeless and a pretty disappointing return for a group of people who reckon they have a hot line to the other side. Hopefully they can give their crystal balls another wipe and do rather better with the 2009 predictions.

Commenting

I seem to be having a few problems commenting on other blogs over the last few days. I get a message saying: Sorry, you are not a member of the blog at http://www.bruisefalling.blogspot.com/

No idea what it means or how i am not a member of my own blog or even why it stops me leaving comments elsewhere while being able to still post but hopefully it is a glitch that will soon be righted and i will be able to rejoin the debates on others sites.

Still Disliking Israel

I was going to write a diatribe against Israels actions in Gaza that has left over 280 dead and injured over 1000 but then realised, what's the point?
There are 3 countries that can stomp around blowing fellow humans to pieces and avoid censure that befalls everyone else, the USA, the UK and Israel.
It seems an endless task to berate these three for their actions and disregard for human life but no matter how many bombs they drop on civilians in Iraq, Pakistan, Lebanon or Palestine, they are just allowed to carry on with impunity and wheel out weak and pathetic justifications for their actions.
Over 5000 Palestinians have now been killed by Israel since Ariel Sharon's thoughtless actions reignited the latest infatida in 2000 and bloggers like David and I have been fierce opponents of what Israel have done since but bizarrely, the likes of the USA and UK give tacit approval to the continued slaughter going on in the West Bank and Gaza.
What other country could callously kill 280 people and not be hauled over the coals with calls of boycotts and the removal of funding? Israel it seems, and that stinks and with the pro-Israel Obama and Hillary taking over the reigns of the White House, the lot of the Palestinians is not going to get any better.
It is to our eternal shame that our Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, puts out the usual pathetic message mumbling something about restraint and cool heads and not leading the calls to suspend Israel from the UN or put economic sanctions in place as he did against Russia earlier in the year.
I am the last person to want to send troops anywhere but maybe it is time for the United Nations to deploy a few thousand troops to the area to stop Hamas firing missiles over the wall into Israel and to stop Israel from continuing its genocide against the citizens of Palestine.
I have said it before and still it holds true that I find it really hard to find any likable quality about Israel.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Dinging & Donging Merrily

Christmas is a time for goodwill to all men, presents beneath the Christmas tree and bright eyed children bouncing off the walls in anticipation of what the jolly fat man will bring them this year.
In all the excitement there are many pitfalls to navigate such as the office party. If you make it through that without being sacked or finding multiple copies of your photocopied derriere plastered on the notice board you have the secret santa where someone will take the chance to anonymously get back at the person who has spent the year annoying them. A can of anti-perspirant for that woman with the personal hygiene problem or a comb for the balding colleague.
The next test is to go about your shopping and to withstand the pushchairs being flung into the back of the legs, sharp elbowed shoppers attempting to nudge in front in queues and my new favourite, elderly woman who wait until their purchase has been rung up and bagged before beginning the drawn out process of looking for her purse in her handbag.
I hope that you all get what you want this Christmas and have a gay old time as the Flintstones say but don't forget about those that are not so well off this festive period, people like the bankers, Estate Agents and city workers god bless'em who are suffering more than most.
May all your dongs ding merrily.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Burke Versus Buckley

Can't complain about Alexander Burke winning X Factor as she was head and shoulders above anyone else in the competition, but her version of Leonard Cohen's beautiful and haunting 'Hallelujah' is what they call in polite circles, a pigs ear.
Seems that i am not the only one to think that Simon Cowell has turned it into a car crash of a song because a campaign has been set up to try and get the the excellent Jeff Buckley version to eclipse Alexandra Burke's warbling for the coveted Christmas number 1 position.
Burke is almost guaranteed to get the top spot due to radio play and the publicity that X Factor gave her, but on downloads alone, last weekend the Buckley version stood at number 30 and the midweek chart has it at number 3 raising the very real prospect of the same song being at number 1 and 2 on Sunday.
As Cohen is stony broke after his former manager lost his millions on iffy business ventures, Cohen is set to make a much needed penny from the Royalties although personally i thought that his own version of the song is weak and i would have much preferred the superior and beautifully sung Kate Voegele version that quietly crept into the top 50 earlier in the year but Buckley's version has gained cult status and is widely thought of as the definitive version.
I hope that Alexander Burke goes on to have a successful career, she does have a great voice, but i would give anything to see Buckley win this battle on Sunday and for Simon Cowell to stop meddling with the classics and stick to the usual guff he hands his acts to perform.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Hypocrisy Of O Little Town Of Bethlehem

A Church of England clergyman has banned the hymn O Little Town of Bethlehem from his Christmas services after he visited Bethlehem and decided that he can't stand the hypocrisy of singing about a sweet little village in "a deep and dreamless sleep" when what he witnessed to his horror was a depressing place under a harsh Israeli occupation.
The Rev Stephen Coulter of Dorset said he can no longer bring himself to sing the lyrics of the hymn as he believes they are too far removed from the reality of one of Christianity's holiest sites.
The Rev. has re-written the orders of service for the rest of his December services so that he and his congregation don’t have to sing it. He said he can no longer bring himself to sing the hymn because it feels wrong and he would be a hypocrite.
He said: “Bethlehem today is indeed a place of dark streets and of hopes and fears. How can the Jews who were treated so badly in World War Two now inflict the same treatment on others?”
How indeed Rev and the perfect irony is that the carol was written in the 19th Century by Rector Phillip Brooks after he was inspired after a trip to the Town.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

The Real Meaning Of Christmas

Apparently nobody bothered to tell the hordes of shoppers in the local city centre that there is a recession on, it has been just as busy as any other Christmas around here and i thought that i might be spared the jostling this year as everyone else stayed at home and explained to their children that Santa is feeling the pinch and their stocking may feel a bit lighter this year.
What i do notice as i walk around the town centres is the Santa's, snowmen and red nosed reindeer's and the lack of the very reason we do all this every year.
Now i have never bought into the whole religion thing, i place it in the make believe box alongside the Tooth Fairy, but it does seem strange that we celebrate the birth of Jesus without actually bringing any attention to Jesus himself.
We may spot the odd hastily thrown together nativity scene in a few shop windows but generally it is snow scenes with snowmen, Santa and elves in workshops making toys.
The truth is that Christmas is all about the presents and decorations and any ideals that we do it all to celebrate the birth of Jesus is ludicrous. Maybe that is the reason but it has been lost into the midst of time and it is just a give and receive present fest, i am sure that what supposedly happened 2008 years ago doesn't enter the mind of any of the ques snaking around the City Centre.
I am certain that the Church know that without the present giving ceremony and cute plastic snowmen, Christmas would be a dud and hardly anyone would care about it so they keep a low profile about what it is really all about and kid themselves that we all do it because we want to participate in the birth of the baby Jesus and celebrate the biggest day in the Christian calendar.
We know otherwise and they know otherwise so we both keep to our side of the line and play along nicely. We don't mention it is just an excuse to get presents and they don't ruin it all by bringing religion into it.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

US v GB Xmas Song Battle

Cody has been hitting the eggnog early this festive season and believes that when it comes to Christmas pop songs, us Brits can't hold a candle to the jingle bell stuff that America puts out. I say he is talking Christmas Baubles so the gloves are laced up and the gumshield is in so let's get it on.

Let's get ready to rumble. In the red, white and blue Corner, reigning champion of the Christmas song World, Great Britain. In the stars and stripes corner, the challenger, the United States of America.
Ok King Wenceslas, what are we expecting from these two?
I expect the Yankee fighter to start strongly but quickly tire and be completely overpowered by the steady stream of British Christmas hits Lucy.

Round 1 - Ok, there's the bell. Straightaway Britain lands 'A Wonderful Christmastime' and 'Pipes Of Peace' by Paul McCartney and America counters with a 'Santa Claus is coming to Town' by the Jackson 5. Sizing each other up in this opening round and a Greg Lake 'i Believe in Father Christmas' followed by Chris De Burgh 'A Spaceman Came Travelling' forces America onto the back foot just as the bell goes for the end of the first round.
What do you make of it Wenceslas?
A cautious opening round but i expect America to come out strong in the next round as it will know that the longer it goes on Britain will begin to dominate.

Round 2 - Here we go king Wenceslas and as Britain threw an Aled Jones 'Walking In The Air' it walked straight onto a 'Blue Christmas' by Elvis which sent it covering up. Britain looks shaken and is holding on as it attempts to clear its head. America on top here but Britain seems to have recovered and the American advance is halted by a Cliff Richard 'Saviours Day' and 'Mistletoe and Wine' combination. A brief flurry of 'Little Saint Nick' ends the round with America taking that one on my scorecard.

Round 3 - The third begins with Britain warming Americas jaw with a 'Lonely This Christmas' by Mud and then moving inside to jab a 'Power of Love' by Frankie Goes To Hollywood into the Americas unprotected ribs. Dean Martins 'Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow' temporarily forces Britain back but here they come again with America forced back onto the ropes by Band Aids 'Do They Know It's Christmas' and the crowd are on their feet. America trying desperately to survive the onslaught but a slamming 'Last Christmas' by Wham drops it to its knees. Dazed and bleeding, the referee gives it the mandatory 8 count and allows it to continue. Britain steams in and lands a 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' Tom Jones and Cerys Hughes before the bell ends the round. Exciting stuff Wenceslas.
The seconds are working furiously on America in that corner Lucy as the fourth round begins.

Round 4 - Looking to build on that last round Britain look to finish it with a roundhouse 'Merry Christmas Everyone' by Slade but America reply with a crisp Bing Crosby "White Christmas" and Britain looks hurt and manages to reply with a Jona Lewie 'Stop The Cavalry' before America throws a 'Please come home for Christmas' by Bon Jovi to send Britain reeling back towards the ropes.
Covering up frantically as America looks to capitalise, Britain stuns America with a 'Step Into Christmas' by Elton John and 'Christmas Time, Don't Let The Bells End' by the Darkness.
A ferocious exchange of 'All I Want For Christmas is You' by Mariah Carey is met with a 'Happy Xmas (War is Over)' by John Lennon. All America have left is a tired 'The Christmas Song' by Nat King Cole and Britain sends America to the canvas for a final time with "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everday' by Wizzard and The Pogues 'Fairytale of New York'.
7...8...9...10 and it's all over, Britain is still the undisputed Christmas Song Champion of the World.
America was game but it's songs were just too old Lucy.
Thank you Good King Wenceslas, so it's Britain victorious and America off to lick its wounds. From King Wencelas and myself, Ding Dong Merrily on High and goodnight.

Cody explains why America rules when it comes to Christmas music here.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

No Sympathy For Evicted Jewish Settlers

Usually, nobody wants to see people being tear-gassed and forcibly dragged away by riot police but the scenes of the Jewish settlers being evicted from the Palestinian city of Hebron in the West Bank today has not garnished much sympathy for the evictees.
The treatment of the Palestinians is a real hot button topic and the continued building of settlements on Palestinian land and the wall that cuts deep into Palestinian land, always negates the Israeli claim that they are not involved in a land grab.
The 200 extreme right wing Israelis evicted from the building they called the Peace House, believe that the West Bank is Jewish by divine right and were prepared to use violence in their twisted quest to take further land from the Palestinians.
The previous evening, Palestinian homes and trees in the City had been attacked by settlers and set on fire, a Palestinian graveyard was vandalised and a settler opened fire on Palestinians civilians.
Inside the building, authorities found rocks piled to be thrown at security forces, including Palestinian gravestones taken from a nearby cemetery and acid Molotov cocktails.
I have no sympathy for the settlers who were described as 'Jewish Terrorists' by the Ha'aretz newspaper and while i wish that they would give up their illegally built homes peacefully, if they won't then let them be dragged out kicking and screaming because even that is a lot gentler than the underhand and violent tactics that the Israeli soldiers used, and continue to use, to grab the land in the first place.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

And Finally...

There is an unwritten rule for news programmes that they have to end the bulletin with a feel good story, something to make the viewers forget the 26 minutes of misery they had just sat through and go 'ahh, how sweet'. Here is a great 'And Finally...' type story.

A hunter took a potshot at a large deer in Missouri and after it had collapsed to the ground, he approached the prostrate figure thinking that he had killed the beast.
As he peered down at the seemingly lifeless body, the deer promptly got to its feet, knocked its attacker over and began mauling him with its antlers.
After suffering a good old fashioned goring, the hunter managed to squeeze off two shots to kill the deer but had to be taken to hospital to have his badly bruised and battered body treated and a dozen staples stuck into his head.

Ahhh. And now over to Georgie Palmer for the weather.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Every Little Helps

I had a conversation a while back on Nogs Blog regarding the expense of keeping the military and what would happen if the leaders of the US and UK woke up one morning and just scrapped our armed forces.
I half joked that America would be invaded by lunchtime that same day and Britain before dinner if we didn't keep the big stick but what with all the belt tightening going on and Gordon landing us £100bn in debt, there is one part of our military arsenal that could quite easily be scrapped and not only wipe out our debt but have no averse effect on our military at all.
Our Trident nuclear program is estimated to cost £75bn but in these days where the biggest threat comes from men armed with hand held weapons and backpacks full of explosives, doesn't it seem a very indulgent and expensive piece of weaponry? Fact is we don't need it and the chances of us ever using it is negligible so it seems the height of indulgence to keep bankrolling Trident while everything else goes spinning down the gurgler.
The only possible excuse anyone could making for remaining a nuclear power is the deterrent factor but that argument left the building a long time ago when the Soviet Union stopped being and terrorist cells, infuriatingly unbowed by our big, shiny nuclear missiles, became the focus. Nuclear America, Britain, Israel and now India have all been victims of these cells so being the owner of a handful of silo's holding weapons that could kill millions is meaningless so why keep them apart from to make ourselves feel big on the World stage.
My guess would be that if Gordon Brown went to the country and asked if we would prefer he spend £75bn on a patently useless weapon against today's threats or to spend £75bn building hospitals or schools he would be concreting over the silos by the weekend.
Of course he won't and will spend the money on retaining our nuclear status so we can all sleep safely in our cardboard boxes under the flyover knowing that the £75bn dust collector won't keep the bad men away but Gordon will still look good at summit meetings.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Don't Give Me A Leonard Cohen Afterworld

Kurt Cobain may have wished for a Leonard Cohen Afterworld on the Nirvana song Pennyroyal Tea, but i can think of plenty other singers i would prefer to share a cloud with when i pop my clogs. Cohen never really did it for me but he is responsible for one of my all time favourite songs, the magnificent biblical themed Hallelujah.
Cohen, with his monotonous style, joins a small club of singers whose songs have been improved by being covered by other singers. Who can argue that Whitney Houston didn't dance rings around Dolly Partons version of 'I Will Always Love You' and so it is with the late Jeff Buckley's take of Cohen's 'Hallelujah' and Kate Voegele's version which is about as good as it gets.
With news that this particular song has been chosen as the X-Factors winners single and considering that it is therefore guaranteed to be Christmas number 1, i am one happy camper.
A simple song with simple lyrics and arrangement, it is heavily tinged with biblical references to Samson having his hair cut and the Lord appreciating Davids secret chord but despite the religious overtures, or maybe because of them, it is a very beautiful and haunting song which seems to have become undeservedly known as that song from the Shrek movie.
Controversially, one of the favourites to win, Diana Vickers, sang the song in one of the earlier rounds which hasn't gone down particularly well with the other contestants but as none of the remaining four are going to have much of a career after this single, i want the person who can most do justice to this great song that Cohen wrote but couldn't sing, to win it and it isn't the gurning Irish lad with the strange hair or the identikit boy band that Louis Walsh is grooming into the next Westlife.
I am not really convinced that Diana or Alexandra could do it justice but at least Simon Cowell has finally picked an exceptional song to grace our Christmas top spot and not the usual dross he serves up.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Our Role In The Mumbai Attacks

The inquest into the Mumbai attacks is going ahead with the finger of blame seemingly turning to point at Pakistan, a situation that has the potential to ignite a catastrophic war between two nuclear armed countries who do not so much have relations as resentfully tolerate each other.
Many reasons have been put forward as to why a group of Pakistanis with so much hate in their hearts would want to brutally slay 172 in the Indian city of Mumbai, all of them seen as a continuation of the long running feud between India and Pakistan, but nobody here seems to want to think that we may have had a hand in it with our policy in the area.
The Kashmir conflict provides the focus and the fact that the terrorists targeted an Indian hospital reeks of revenge for the Kashmiri Hospital the Indian security forces shot up in August this year but i can see other reasons why young Pakistani men are drawn towards extremist groups and that's where we and our ill thought out Afghan tactics come in.
Using unmanned drones, NATO has been dropping bombs on the North West area of Pakistan and a glance through any newspaper over the past few months has seen a steady flow of stories telling of civilian deaths from these tactics. Anger at the West in Pakistan has understandably bloomed, and in have stepped the extremists who haven't had the hardest job of convincing many of them of the hostility of the West towards Muslims.
With the Northwest tribal areas of the country slipping out of control, political and religious extremists have been exploiting the Wests policy of taking it onto itself to attack parts of Pakistan and with its ranks swelled with angry young men, we see the results in Mumbai this week.
This, coupled with India's continued ill-treatment of the people of Kashmir, we have managed to hand to the jihadis an entire generation of angry Muslims and not those from poor families easily brainwashed by extremists but the designer clad educated class who this week went about the killing business in expensive jeans and trainers and incensed at Israel's ill-treatment of the Palestinians, the Wests strategy in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and India's treatment of the people of Kashmir.
What is needed now is some cool heads in India and Pakistan to ease the situation that has the potential to explode horribly in all sorts of directions. Pakistan has to clamp down on its extremists but India and the West have to stop making it easy for the jihadists by stoking up the hatred with its actions or we are going to see more of these tragic events unfolding and the circle of death and destruction continuing. As uncomfortable as it may be, it isn't enough to treat the symptom and let the disease merrily carry on.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

US Out Of Iraq By 2011

The Iraqi parliament has voted to accept a deal on the future presence of US troops in their country, and the result is they want the last one out by year end 2011.
The grandly titled 'Agreement on the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the Organisation of Their Activities during Their Temporary Presence in Iraq' sets out the disentanglement of the invading US forces from the devastated Iraq and though it is not the embarrassment of previous military adventures that have turned sour and resulted in airlifts off the top of US Embassy's, it is a end of the Bush regimes plans for a friendly middle east country moulded in its image.
Concessions handed over by the US include allowing Iraqi courts jurisdiction over crimes committed by American troops, veto over all US military operations, with a nod towards the recent incursion into Syria, a clause says that Iraqi land, sea and air may not be used by the US as a launch pad for attacks on other countries.
No Iraqi can be arrested by US forces except with permission from Iraqi authorities and the thousands of detainees in US custody must either be released or turned over to the Iraqis immediately. US troops may not enter or search any Iraqi house without an Iraqi judge's warrant, US contractors to lose their immunity and be subject to Iraqi law, US troops who commit any crime while off duty and off base will have to stand trial in Iraqi courts.
The death toll from the illegal, unnecessary disaster is a scandal which will be debated for years to come and people from both the pro and anti war camps are declaring this as a victory but it seems neither Iraq or the United States come out of this well. Iraq has a shattered and war scarred country to rebuild while America's reputation in the eyes of the majority of the World is in the gutter.
Of course what America does come out of it with, is its back pocket full of contracts for Iraqi oil and is there anyone still gullible enough to think that it was about WMD's or installing Democracy?
Seems that the neo-cons got there victory after all, 115bn barrels of crude oil's worth. Mission accomplished.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

The Poet Laureate Job Is Mine

It seems that reality Television can be depended upon to choose anything from the next star of a musical to Alan Sugars assistant but finally plans are afoot to choose something that i feel i would excel at, the next Poet Laureate and as since the position has been held by men since it's creation in the mid 17th Century, the feeling is that it is time for a woman to get the gig.
The present Laureate, Andrew Motion, is coming to the end of his decade long tenure and the search is on for the next person with a poetic mind and a sharp pencil so i declare my interest in the post to compose poems for state occasions and put forward this blog post as my application.

The most obvious state occasion is the recession so i title this one, 'I'm Broke'.

My job was in the building sector
My redundancy pay is in Alliance & Leicester
My business loan in Northern Rock
My shares tied up in Woolworth's stock
My pension's in an Icelandic vault
My mortgage just moved into default
My possessions tucked in my daughters rucksack
My note pinned on the fridge says i won't be back
From the rat race i have withdrew
And i earn ten pence from each copy of Big Issue.


In honour of Prince Charles 60th Birthday celebrations, i call this one 'Why?'

IF you can keep your head when all about you,
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can wait for your mum to die and not be tired by waiting,
And yet don't look too good, nor seem too wise,
If you can't think - and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
And be too ignorant to know the difference just the same,
If you can make one heap of all your winnings,
And risk other peoples money on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about their loss,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute,
Talking to plants about your distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be the next King, my son!


Plenty more where they came from so cancel the programme and email me on the address above to discuss terms and i will hand in my notice tomorrow.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

1 in 3 Australian Males

The White Ribbon Foundation has published a disturbing survey on the attitudes of the Australian teenage male's attitude to women.
The study, which reviewed data of 12-20 year olds from the past seven years, found up to 350,000 girls aged between 12 and 20 had experienced sexual assault or rape, one third of boys believe "it's not a big deal to hit a girl" and one in seven thought "it's OK to make a girl have sex with you if she was flirting".
So where do these Australian teenagers get these horrific ideas from? Let's take a peek at an Australian News message board to see what the average Australian male is saying about the dismal revelation that they are raising a generation of wife beaters and twisted sexual deviants.

'Male bashing is more prevalent than any suggested female bashing. Men suffer more physical violence but also non-physical violence such as this stupid article written by another feminist male bashing misandrothist'

'More male bashing'

'We are always putting Women up on soap boxes, why? Cant they stand on their own two feet, or do they always need men to cling too and bolster their egos'

'more women commit sexual assaults against men than men do against women'

'It's well past time women realised that they are NOT a protected species. Any woman who hits a man DESERVES to be sat on her a$$. And feminist man-haters should be executed'

'The 1st thing any man should do when he gets home from work is kick the dog and back hand the missus'

'how about in blue velvet when Isabella Rosselini actually asks the guy to hit her while they're rooting? just goes to show that often they enjoy it'

'the mark of a true man has always been to never hit a woman.' since when?'

'Can imagine when women are on the frontline then the women can shoot at the guys yet the guys aren't allowed to fireback due to some unwritten ethical rule imposed by another bunch of eunichs'

'women that hit men are scumbuckets. Don't put up with them'

'You can slap your little daughter around, give her "a good smack", but can't slap your wife around'

'Have you seen some of these smart-ass little misses around aged from about 16-21...they need a good 'slapping' by someone!'


Makes a person wonder why the figure is only a third when they have role models like these to guide them.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Keeping Our Peckers Up

How crazy would the World have to be before it began taking advice from any of the Jackson clan but it was Janet Jackson who told us that the best things in life are free just before her right nipple put in an appearance and her career joined her brother Michael's in the doldrums. Luckily Luther Vandross also sang us the advice but as yet he has kept his man-boobs under wraps but regardless of who said it, they were certainly right and nothing comes less expensive than a spot of bedroom gymnastics.
According to two reports released today, we are fighting the recession with a smile on our face and an argument over who is going to sleep in the wet patch.
Online grocer Ocado have reported that condom sales are up by 60%, and sales of pregnancy tests have doubled which leads me to think that a few condom manufacturers could be receiving some strongly worded letters of complaint in the very near future.
Also up are sales of aphrodisiac foods and candles but when we are not panting down the phone to Ocado, the report from the UK's largest directory inquiry service shows that while many businesses are going to the wall and requests for credit card companies and house clearance services are on the up, the industry with the sharpest increase is numbers for sex shops, lap dancing clubs and escort agencies.
The figures from January to June show an increase of 1,312% for sex shops, 469% for pole dancing establishments and a rise of 40% for escort agencies.
Good to see that the British upper lip is not the only thing being kept stiff.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

The Kids Aren't Alright

While many of the friends that i banged heads with in my earlier years have grown up and grown sensible, some of us refuse to wield to the pull of music that isn't likely to damage your brain cells and prematurely destroy your hearing. In another joint posting, my fellow blogger Cody and i disagree on the merits of the music of today.

A recent phenomenon in the college is that my students have began wearing T-shirts of bands that, when they were in their pomp, the students themselves were still just learning to walk.
Nirvana and Ramones seem the most popular but there is a fair sprinkling of the likes of Pearl Jam, Guns 'N Roses, Sex Pistols, Soundgarden and Carter USM which only confirms two of my beliefs.
One is that music peaked in the late 80's and early 90's with the likes of Nirvana and Guns N Roses and secondly that if the music being churned out today was a dog, it would be kinder to put it out of its whimpering misery.
Bland could not begin to describe the state of music today and it is telling that the most eagerly anticipated album of not only this year but of the past few years, is a band that last charted in 1994 with a cover of a Rolling Stones song.
In the UK, boy band Take That split up in 1996 and came back 9 years later to top the charts with their first two singles as if they had never been away but in truth they had very little competition from the groups that had stepped into the void they left in that decade. The charts are dominated by bands following the Simon Cowell formulae of good looking singers belting out saccharine covered ballads who are tucked up in bed by 10pm.
Gone are the days when you would have to lock up your daughters when a rock band came to town, far from an evening of whiskey and debauchery in the back of the bands trailer, it would be an evening of chaperoned scrabble and a friendly hug.
Despite the best efforts of bands like Green Day who put out arguably their best album a few years ago and the constantly excellent Kaiser Chiefs and Fratellis, the charts are just full of similar acts singing similar songs and bands like REM and the Stones that are just going through the paces to keep their bank balance topped up.
Music has a history of bursting out from a mind numbing dip with new, rebellious music to inspire the youth and get the blood flowing. Punk in the 70s, alternative rock and grunge of the late 80s and early 90s so we must be due a doozy of a new musical genre to belatedly shake us out of the slumber that has fallen across the ears of non-pubescent music lovers everywhere who can only repeat the wise lyrics of King Kurt when he said 'Here we are now, Entertain us'.

Cody at It is What It Is blog is putting forward the opposite view that when it comes to music, we have never had it so good.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

The G20 Are On It

Nice to see that the 20 richest countries are meeting up to try and guide us all through the economic gloom, i am especially looking forward to the delegates food menu that will invariably be leaked to the media and will include hand raised albino swan fillets or something obscenely extravagant.
I couldn't help but notice that list of countries that are making the economic decisions include Italy, the same Italy that has recessions like other countries have Bank Holidays. The South European nation has racked up four in the past seven years, and remember this was during a boom time, so i can only assume Mr Berlusconi has been invited along to hand out the biscuits or something because that would be like asking Donald Trump for hair styling advice.
Our very own Gordon Brown will be there, no doubt buoyed by the latest opinion polls that seem to show that he is no longer detested by most of the British public but has managed to raise himself to just being widely loathed instead which is an improvement.
He seems to have found a groove for himself as the World economic genius, handing out advice and telling other countries how they should be running there economies as if the £2 trillion debt he has piled up during his reign as Chancellor and Prime Minister never happened.
Of course, what usually happens at these high level meetings is lots of photographic opportunities and then they all sit around a big table, decide nothing and agree to meet up again in six months time.
If you are living in fear of your life collapsing around your ears don't worry, the G20 boys are on it and they will do everything they can to get us out of the mess they got us into. Just as soon as they have finished there swordfish soup and lavender honey and caramelised nuts desert.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Happy 60th Birthday Prince Charles

Many happy returns Prince Charles but i have to be honest and admit that i don't much care for any of the dysfunctional Royal family. I would shrug my shoulders nonchalantly at the news if they they had got turfed out of Buckingham Palace and were now shoehorned into a 3 bedroomed maisonette on a housing estate in Islington but until the Revolution, they live in luxury at our expense.
Prince Charles is in the unenviable position of having to wait for his mother to die before he can step up to the job that he has spent the last 60 years training for although there are persistent mutterings that he should step aside for his rapidly balding son William.
Whether Charlie, William or Hewitt's boy ends up polishing the Throne with their Royal posterior the time has probably come for the Windsors to be scaled down. Not in the French sense with guillotines and whatever passes for a Bastille in England being stormed, but a more refined British way by slashing them from the civil list.
The Queen gets handed £8m annually as well as a £25m pot available for the upkeep of her many residences but apart from waving and handing down knighthoods to undeserving celebrities every New Year, the Royals do not provide value for money.
The old argument is that they bring in the Tourists and raise more for the country than they cost but i argue that we have more than enough attractions in this country for Johnny Foreigner to throw their Euros at and if they want an old queen to stand and gawp at, we have always got Elton John, and we could pay him in mini rolls.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Father, Son & The Holy Punch Up

Somewhere in the back of the Armenian version of the Bible is a line that says 'And the Lord did look down upon his creation and ordered that all should love thy neighbour, not cover their neighbours asses and smack a few of those uppity Greeks if you get the chance'.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem resounded to the loud thunks of prayer books and candles being bounced off holy melons as Armenian monks found their path blocked by Greek Orthodox monks and decided to deal with it by asking what would Jesus do and deciding that he would have obviously started a mass brawl.
Fists and feet began flying and ceremonial candlesticks and banners were sent toppling to the ground as Israeli police tried to restore peace by dragging away holy men in headlocks.
It's the third time this year that police have broken up sparring monks in the church, on Palm Sunday dozens of Greek and Armenian clerics and worshippers exchanged blows and fighting broke out in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity when the monks started hitting each other with brooms.

The video is HERE and watch out for the flying monk in red at approx 11 seconds.
Blessed be the peacemakers indeed.

Lest We Forgot

November 11th is Armistice Day, the anniversary of the end of World War I in 1918.
All across Europe at 11 minutes past 11, all will stop and bow their heads in silent contemplation of the 15 million who died in the 'Great War' and in every war and military conflict since.
'The War to End All Wars' it was labelled at the time, not knowing that far from it being the final war, it was merely a precursor to a century of conflict around the World, the majority of them initiated by the 'victors' of the 1914-18 massacre.
Sunday saw the sickening sight of the past and present leaders of our country laying wreaths and shedding tears for dead soldiers, brave young men and women that they had only been too willing to send into battle.
Lest we forget is the phrase we hear uttered as we pin on our poppies but very little has changed since the days when old men ordered young men to charge nests of German machine guns.
Old men still send other peoples children out to be slaughtered only now the leaders have learnt that the folks back home object to their children dying by the thousands, so they have adopted a new strategy. Now they send our boys and girls out to slaughter other people's children while remaining perfectly safe themselves.
Missiles are sent from hundred of miles away, warriors sit behind television screens and send armed drones to destroy villages and planes drop their payloads from high altitudes. All methods devastatingly unreliable so we have swapped large military deaths for large civilian deaths instead. That is the only lesson that has been learnt over the past 90 years.
If the leaders were faced with the prospect of carrying out their own policies,
we would find that these men, so gung-ho with the lives of others, would quickly find that they have other options than continuously waging war.

Newspapers Decline

Many businesses are taking a pounding in these harsh times but one area that seems to be ready to collapse is the media with the print media especially looking precarious.
Rumours are abound that at least two well known British national newspapers are fighting to stave off collapse and sweating hard over the circulation figures which makes grim reading for all of the dailies.
The weakest looking newspapers are the loss making Independent, Independent on Sunday, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday who have all shed readers to a critically low level.
These two outfits are desperately trying to cling on using two very different methods, the Independent raising its cover price to compensate for falling sales and the Star going the opposite way and slashing its price in an attempt to prise away readers from other tabloids.
Although the Star & Independent are most at imminent risk, all the national newspapers are suffering, circulation dropping by over an average 6% in the past year and dwindling advertising revenues further compounding the misery. With this present trend, and if the whispers prove correct, 2009 could well see one or more well known titles go to the wall.
The finger of blame is being pointed at the Web, with all the major Newspapers having an online presence which is the cause of the problem according to the boss of local newspaper publisher Johnston Press who have just negotiated a £200m rescue package.
"The internet alternative is cheaper and people are using it in more recessive times. Online is increasing its share and will not necessarily give it up when things improve."
Things are not looking good for the print media and these could be interesting times for the future of newspapers.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

We Need Axl Rose Back

Almost 15 years to the day since their last Album, Guns N' Roses are finally unveiling Chinese Democracy at the end of the month.
It is shamefully ironic that while all the cool kids were trying to work out who was singing the vocals on 'New Rose' after 'The Spaghetti Incident?' was released on 23rd November 1993, the latest in the type of performer that would fill the intervening years was celebrating her first birthday.
Now i have nothing against Miley Cyrus, (her dad on the other hand should have been cattle prodded into unconsciousness by the first person he played Achy Breaky Heart to) but she is synonymous of everything that is wrong with musicians today, they are just so boringly pleasant.
What Guns N' Roses and bands of that ilk gave us was wild, hard drinking and unpredictable musicians who would soak their cornflakes in Jack Daniels, knock seven bells out of each other while smoking 120 Benson & Hedges and still manage to knock out a guitar riff so sharp it threatened eyeballs when it came on the radio.
I want my rock stars drunk, unkempt and being photographed coming out of nightclubs at 4am, puking over the paparazzi and appearing in the morning newspapers waving two fingers and slurring rude things about Prince William. I want to read about Oasis front men having to have new front teeth fitted after their own are knocked out of their head by an irate German bouncer or John Lydon chasing his scared witless assistant around a hotel because his room didn't have a dividing door.
What we have got is a chart full of Simon Cowell's manufactured dross and the Jonas Brothers with their purity rings. Party on Dudes.
Axl may be the only remaining member of the original Guns N' Roses but we need him back ruffling feathers and inspiring a generation of musicians who rebel and smell faintly of their own vomit.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Watching The US Election

Some questions that I had milling around my brain as i watched the aftermath of the American elections.

Why were people queueing up for hours to vote? Why are there just not more polling stations?

I seem to remember pondering this last time, but why is it when viewing the map of how the individual states voted, the left and right flank of America is almost always blue with a thick red stripe of Republic voting states running straight down the middle? My initial thought is that the states in the centre have less population, therefore less social interaction outside of their own and therefore no rubbing along with other people and different cultures and perspectives that happens in the more densely populated side states. A version of the single child syndrome if you like. Only a guess, nobody seems to have a definitive answer.

Has it been noticed by anyone else that in the past few years the diabolical Saddam regime has been removed from Iraq, the oppressive Taliban has been removed from power in Afghanistan but it is the change of regime in America that has prompted the greatest celebrations globally out of the three?

Isn't it a bad idea to leave the outgoing men in power for 77 days after an election, knowing that their party is not in office for the next 4 years and therefore free to cause mischief and generally lay booby traps for the incoming administration?

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Goodbye Mr Bush

What with all the attention on the two men waiting for the keys to the White House, it is easy to overlook the man who has been sat in the big chair for the past eight years, George Walker Bush.
The McCain team have sidelined the Republican President rather than risk him denting McCain's chances by dragging the Texan on stage with him but was he all that bad?
Actually yes, he was an unmitigated catastrophe for the entire World but if you put to one side the way the megalomaniac is leaving the Globe in a more dangerous state than it was when he came into the Presidency eight years ago, he was actually responsible for one of the greatest lines ever to tumble from a world leaders mouth.
There are plenty of examples to fill a Bush collections of gaffes including the declaration that "more and more of our imports come from overseas", and after being asked by a child in Britain what the White House was like, replied helpfully "It's White".
All great but there is one quote that sums up everything about the Texan and his time as the leader of the USA.
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful — and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people — and neither do we."
It just doesn't get better than that so as the celebrations for the newly elected President get under way tonight, spare a thought for the outgoing George W Bush who at long last is about to make the World a safer and better place by becoming the former-President George W Bush.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Pin Up President

The French are not renown for their sense of humour although Gérard Depardieu's acting skills always made me chuckle, so it is no surprise that the diminutive Français President, Nicolas Sarkozy, is stomping his tiny feet over a doll that has gone on sale in France.
A French court rejected President Nicolas Sarkozy's demand for a ban on a Sarkozy voodoo doll ruling that it was "within authorized boundaries of freedom of expression".
The Nicolas Sarkozy Voodoo doll comes with a set of 12 pins and a manual explaining how to put a curse on him and contains some of his best-known quotes such as the kind words he mumbled to a farmer who refused to shake his hands, telling him to "Get lost, you poor jerk."
Sarkozy is notoriously litigious when it comes to his image and this is the sixth time that he has taken a company to court over perceived slights against his name, recently being lifted down from his booster seat to go after two T-shirt producers who had made fun of his last name.
In Britain, with our highly developed sense of humour, we mock the 5'5" President for being an uppity short arse and being French and with the court ruling on these dolls bound to increase sales, he will now also be feeling a little prick. No change there then.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Spiral Of Silence: The Bradley Effect

Psychologists have a political theory they have titled the Spiral of Silence which is a phenomenon where voters tell pollsters that they are likely to vote for one candidate, and yet, on election day, vote for his or her opponent.
The theory became known as the Shy Tory Factor in the UK during the 1990s when Opinion polls put the unpopular Conservatives behind Labour in the 1992 election only for the Tories to trounce Labour by 8%.
The explanation was that a person is less likely to voice an true opinion if he feels that it is in the minority for fear of reprisals from the majority.
In America this is known as the Bradley effect, named after Tom Bradley who ran as the Democratic Party's candidate for Governor of California in 1982 and despite most polls showing Bradley with a significant as they went into the election, he inexplicably lost to his white challenger.
With the US election only days away, the possibility of the phenomenon raising its head is being considered by nervous Obama supporters and with reason when the results of the Democratic Primary elections are scrutinised.
In the New Hampshire, polls predicted a large Obama win over Hillary Clinton however, Clinton defeated Obama by three points.
Also up for consideration is the possibility of the reverse Bradley effect where those who have said that they won't vote for a black candidate then do so when in the privacy of the voting booth.
Obama still seems to be maintaining a healthy lead in the opinion polls i have looked at but if this Spiral of silence effect kicks in, the margin of error is suddenly much larger than anticipated.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

US Plans In Czech Rep Wobbling

The push by the Czech Republic to replace Britain as Americas fawning poodle in Europe has suffered a setback as the ruling parties got their bottoms smacked in the Czech Senate Elections by the less US orientated Social Democrat Party who are opposed to the planned stationing of the US radar base on Czech soil.
The good people of the Czech Republic have overwhelming rejected the plan for their country to become part of the George Bush missile defence system which has so angered Russia with good reason.
The US plan, which would also see interceptor missiles placed in Poland, is to protect Europe and America from future attacks from rogue nations such as Iran and is certainly not aimed at Russia according to the smirking bods in Washington despite it being placed directly on Russia's doorstep.
The Governing coalition now face the danger of imploding and facing an early election which would see them turfed out by the electorate and the plans for America siting missiles in Europe suffering a blow.
Poland's leaders are also coming under pressure to resist the US plan with Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski under threat of being unseated by an electorate where the majority are against Poland hosting the American missiles.
Maybe we will be adding two more leaders to the George W Bush effect that has already seen Tony Blair, José María Aznar and John Howard removed by the electorate or their own Party largely due to their associations with the toxic Texan.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Economics The Third Reich Way

There is a new phrase being bandied about in financial circles, Keynesian Economics.
Apparently the theory put forward by John Maynard Keynes in the 1930's is just what we need to pull us out of the present recession and by all accounts the last time it was practised, it proved a resounding success although it seems that the advocates of the British economist are a bit reluctant to say too loudly exactly who the past Keynesian was.
Everyone was suffering in the Great Depression of the 1930's but the first country to pull itself out of the financial mire was Germany under a Nazi regime implementing John Milton-Keynes ideas of beating the downturn by Government spending on massive and expensive projects.
Obviously impressed, Hitler set about building thousands of miles of autobahns, created extensive factory's to build cheap family cars and generally dreamt up grandiose plans for rebuilding German cities.
It worked but of course the unswerving drive out of the depression led directly to the German Government financing the military machine that would later stomp across Europe but the point is, Keynes ideas worked so maybe the key to reviving our fortunes is to spend extravagantly on building projects instead of cutting back.
John Maynard-Keynes, the economist Fuhrers choose.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

US Widening Middle East Conflict

It is not easy to defend American foreign policy whoever it is under. Obama said a while back that he would go into Pakistan to hunt the Taliban whether the Pakistan Government gave him permission or not. Predictably a backlash against America pursued and intensified when innocent civilians were killed earlier this month in missile attacks on the Pakistan side of the border.
It is this arrogance emanating from the American leadership that it can just ride roughshod over any Government they wish that fans the flames of negativity and extremism.
Now four US military helicopters have struck an area of farms and factories five miles inside Syria's border, killing four adults and four children.
The White House and CIA declined to comment on reports of the attack but an Iraqi security source in Baghdad confirmed that eight people had been killed.
One has to ask are the Americans deliberately trying to widen the conflict or are they just being so arrogant that they believe they can just cross into any border and drop their deadly payloads?
The Pakistan Government recently passed a resolution proclaiming that: "the nation stands united against any American incursions and invasions of the homeland, and calls upon the government to deal with it effectively".
Pakistani ground troops have already opened fire at US helicopters, prompting American forces to fire back as we witness the frightening scenario of more countries being sucked into the conflict.
America recently condemned Russia for going into Georgia after Georgia attacked Russian civilians and yet it is happy to send its military into Syria and Pakistan, inflaming passions in an area where they are already running high.
The excuse already put forward is that foreign fighters were coming from Syria to attack American troops in Iraq but according to the Los Angeles Times, almost half of the foreign militants involved in attacks on US troops are from Saudi Arabia, embarrassingly an ally of the US.
The America military has to be strongly condemned for its actions in Pakistan and Syria because it is fast becoming the best recruitment Sargent that Al Queada ever had and deepens the hatred with unlawful tactics that shamefully, both men who are vying for the seat in the White House, have already said they would continue.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Other People's Elections

"Why should we care who America votes in" said a colleague as she quickly flipped through the pages of the newspaper dedicated to the US election, "doesn't have any affect on us".
What my co-worker and others who are complaining about the amount of coverage given to the White House race don't seem to understand is that in this time of globalisation, what happens in the major nations DOES have an affect on all of us.
Whoever is running the Government in the likes of America, Russia, China, Iran or Pakistan has direct consequences far outside of its own borders so we should be taking an interest of the make-up of the people making the decisions in these countries.
Whether Obama or McCain find themselves in the White House would mean little to us if their decision making was restricted to just matters inside America but they are not, they make decisions that have direct consequences for other countries through conflict, diplomatic efforts, financial support or the withdrawal of support.
The present fiasco in the World financial markets shows just what happens when American money markets turn bad which has hit everyone, not just Americans, and is proof that we all have a stake on whose hand is on the American rudder.
Who is guiding the massive Russian arsenal is as important as who is guiding our own if Moscow decides to flex its recently rediscovered muscles, as is staying on the good side of emerging superpower China who is rapidly gaining the ability to shape a new World order.
Our own British Government has had a direct affect on the citizens in Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Ireland in recent years regardless of who these citizens had ruling them at the time.
For better or worse, we are all networked together and while it is true we don't have a voice in the elections of other countries, to think that they don't affect us while we sit in our homes moaning about the BBC banging on yet again about an election thousands of miles away, is completely wrong.

Friday, 24 October 2008

X-Factor Post Ruined

A radical Muslim cleric has issued a fatwa against the X-Factor because it is releasing a charity single for injured British troops in Afghanistan. Only he hasn't, the Sun newspaper did what it usually does and made it all up.
"I'm not familiar with the show and definitely didn't issue a fatwa against it" said Omar Bakri, the radical Muslim cleric in question which blows a big hole in the post i was shaping in my mind.
So i can't make jokes about how UK Muslims have responding by rounding every copy of 2007 winner Leon Jackson's debut effort for a mass CD burning session and police revealing that 4 men have been arrested for damaging 23 CD's.
Also out the window has gone the posts central idea of negotiating with our enemies and inviting a few of the top Al Qeauda boys to grab the mic and have a go on X-Factor, maybe giving them a special where they can communicate their views through song and then have them voted on by the nation.
That would have been followed by images of Bin Laden crooning 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door' and Ayman al-Zawahiri giving us his rendition of 'Stairway to Heaven' and a duet with Paul McCartney on (Tali)band on the run.
All gone. I'll have to think of something else to write about now.

What Other Election?

It may have slipped by un-noticed but halfway around the globe there is an election going on.
While the voters bring an end to the marathon that is the US elections in 11 days, the New Zealand election still has fifteen days to run but it is not as straight forward as a party being voted in and another booted out.
New Zealand hasn't been run by a single party with a majority for over 50 years and the mainstream Labour Party and National Party have to cobble together a Government from other parties to take office.
This election is between the centre left Labour Party and the Centre Right National Party but why should we care about an election in a country that has more sheep than voters?
In 2008 the New Zealand Government set about renationalising assets it had previously sold off in a Thatcher style rush to privatise everything. A decision that turned sour with the Government admitting that: "Selling of our public rail system has been a painful lesson for New Zealand".
It has bought back the Air National New Zealand and sea ferry operations after they were run into the ground financially by private owners and was one of the few countries to keep control of it's financial system and out of the hands of private companies.
New Zealand may sounds like a Socialist's paradise but it may well be developing the blueprint to show the rest the way to go as the capitalist system comes crashing down around our ears and we set about buying back all the services and amenities our Governments recklessly sold off to the highest bidder in the Thatcher years.
Nationals John Key is presently holding a narrow lead in the polls over Labours Helen Clark but the decider is which of the large parties the likes of NZ First, the Green Party and the Maori Party join forces with. It's all very complicated.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

God Not Taking The Bus

Whatever our religious leanings, i think we can all agree that whoever writes the slogans for the Church has been working with the incense in an unventilated area although i did think the 'CH CH...WHATS MISSING?...U R" was clever before slogans such as 'Thinking of suicide? Let the church help' returned to amuse us.
In reply to the countless religious posters and bus advertising that surround us, the British Humanist Association has launched an atheist advertising campaign bearing the slogan 'There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."
Launching around Christmas time, the campaign will see buses replace the current Alpha Courses advertisements with their anti religious message and featuring the addresses of atheist websites where readers can find out more about atheism.
One of the financial backers of the scheme, Professor Richard Dawkins, said: "Religion is accustomed to getting a free ride - automatic tax breaks, unearned respect and the right not to be offended, the right to brainwash children. This campaign to put out alternative slogans will make people think - and thinking is anathema to religion."
However the religio's seem to be quite happy about the no-god message being handed down from the BHA and number 603 from Muswell Hill with the Methodist church welcoming the "continued interest" in God, encouraging people to think about the issue. The Church of England said it would defend the right of any group representing a philosophical position to promote that view so we have to turn to the fundamentally crackers Christian Voice for a wacky quote.
"Bendy-buses, like atheism, are a danger to the public at large" they said in a disappointingly bland statement.
So there you go, there’s probably no God so stop worrying and enjoy your life. Don't spend time worrying about things that you have no power over, like getting hit by a bus.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Hunting Ban Not Working

2004 should have been a good year for those of us who like to see our countryside animals alive and well rather than being torn apart by dogs but the Hunting Act which we hoped would put an end to the barbaric blood sports, seems to have had the opposite effect.
Despite the ban, hunting is more popular than it was before it was introduced. Apparently the tossers that get a kick from killing the wildlife for fun just found other ways to continue being tossers, devising ways of circumventing the ban. Some shoot the fox after the hounds have chased it to exhaustion before the hounds tear into it. Others use birds of prey to kill it and the hunters know that the police have difficulty in keeping up with the hunt to enforce the law and rely on videotape evidence from hunt saboteurs who continue the battle to stop those who take pleasure in killing innocent animals.
The Conservative Party have hinted that they will repeal the legislation if they get into power which is yet another reason to keep the Cameron right wing far away from power. The current legislation needs to be tightened up with the loopholes being exploited by the hunters closed and a blanket ban that states clearly, hunting animals for sport is against the law and anyone who participates in it will be dealt with by the law. No ambiguity or back doors left open, blood sports need to be stamped out.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Colin Powell's Judgment & Courage

Colin Powell is in the news it seems and on the receiving end of the plaudits for his judgment and courage in backing Obama. Ironically it is these same two characteristics that he lost so spectacularly in the UN in 2003.
Widely regarded as a dove in an administration of warmongering hawks at the time, Powell did all he could that February afternoon in 2003 to drive the UN to war in Iraq with his presentation that 'proved' Saddam had stockpiles of WMD's and was ready to launch Armageddon with them.
"We know from sources that missile brigades were disbursing warheads containing biological warfare agents" he said showing us satellite photographs of WMD facilities, chemical plants and quoting 'sources' tying Saddam to Al Queada and stating how he could "trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided WMD training to Al Queada" and that "We have no indication that Saddam Hussein has ever abandoned his nuclear weapons program".
All fabrication, all lies but Powell urged his colleagues in the UN to join America and Britain in invading Iraq. The UN rightly dismissed Powell's words and refused to back an invasion, leaving the US and the UK without the fig leaf of legitimacy they craved.
Two years on, a regretful Powell told ABC news: "I'm the one who presented it to the world, and it will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It is painful now," and described himself as a reluctant warrior.
In July 2007 Powell revealed that he spent two and a half hours trying to persuade George W. Bush not to invade Iraq, stating, "I tried to avoid this war."
Sorry Colin, you were an active supporter of war, cheerleading at the United Nations for a war that you admit you did not agree with and had doubts about but lacked the courage and judgment to speak out. You are as dishonorable as your colleagues and you must share the responsibility for everything disastrous that has happened in that country since and joining the Obama bandwagon should not cleanse you of your previous abhorrent indiscretions.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Fat Lady Singing McCain's Tune

Beth Ditto may be gargling and practising her scales but for one bookmaker she may as well start belting out the losers song for John McCain because it has closed the book on the American election and declared Barack Obama the victor.
Irish bookies Paddy Power is so sure that the Democrat will win the election that it has paid off all £778,000 worth of bets that backed him with three weeks still to run.
"We declare this race well and truly over and congratulate all those who backed Mr Obama - your winnings await you," the company said in a statement although if McCain does somehow get himself back in the race, it wouldn't be the first time that Paddy Power has been hilariously stung.
In 2003, they coughed up a double payout on the English Premiership after paying out early on Arsenal winning the league only for the Londoners to crash and let in Manchester United to win the title forcing the bookmaker to lose a fortune by paying out on both sides of the bet.
If Paddy Power have got it wrong about the US Election the same thing will happen. Those who voted for Mr Obama will get to keep their winnings while Mr McCain's backers will also cash in.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Canada. Wherever That Is

Canada is one of those countries that everyone knows although it doesn't really seem to do much.
It just seems to sit there quietly above its more gregarious neighbour and not bother anyone except when it starts whacking seals for a few weeks each year.
It's the second largest country, has a great looking flag, dress their police force in a blindingly bright red uniform, share a Queen with us Brits and play ice-hockey but otherwise it's mostly known for not being very well known.
Most of us over here think of the average Canadian as an American without the gun fetish but one thing Canada does seem to have taken a liking to is elections with the country just concluding their third in four years. This election was won by Stephen Harper of the Conservatives, the same outcome as in 2006 although it received virtually no coverage in the UK except for the briefest of mentions on the BBC news tagged onto the end of a 5 minute report on this evenings debate between Obama and that old guy who keeps hanging about.
So why is Canada not a force in the affairs of the World as its size suggests it should be? Winston Churchill said over 60 years ago that: "There are no limits to the majestic future which lies before the mighty expanse of Canada with its virile, aspiring, cultured, and generous-hearted people" but little seems to be shaking up there in the top half of the North American continent.
The again, if i was responsible for inflicting Celine Dion on the World, i would keep my head down also.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Not Spending Our Rainy Day Fund

Over the last few days, with the Iceland bank adventure and Gordon Brown flinging around taxpayers money with abandon, a few questions have been brought to the fore that don't seem to be being asked, although they certainly should be.
Firstly, where did the Government suddenly magic the £81 billion it used to buy out banks from?
All we have heard these last couple of years is how we can't have this hospital or that school because of belt tightening with pay rises in the public sector pegged at 2%, half of the inflation rate, while all the time Gordon Brown had £81 billion set aside for a rainy day. If he had that much just idly sitting around why are the hospitals understaffed, prisons at breaking point and overcrowded schools having to make do with children sharing text books because they haven't got enough to go around?
Secondly, when the Iceland banks fell over, they took with them £858m of council money which works out at approximately £7m per council.
Did your council tax bill get hiked by a crazy amount this year? The average person's council tax bill soared by 5% this year, taking it past £1300 per household, but still council services are being cut, libraries and community centres closed and projects cancelled. The reason cited on every occasion is lack of finances but now we find out that amongst others, Kent Council had £50m stashed away, Nottingham £42m and Haringey £37m. All squirrelled away in a high interest account in an Icelandic bank while the pensioners meals-on-wheels were cut back, adults sent to prison for failure to pay their council tax bill, parks sold off and fortnightly rubbish collections introduced as ways to save money.
If the Government and councils have this kind of money just slopping around, why are we constantly being squeezed for more rather than spending what they have on facilities and services that we are crying out for?
Obviously saving bankers necks and having a healthy surplus to show off at the next Council meeting is more important than spending our money on some of the things that would make our lives that little bit more pleasant.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Happy Birthday Mr Vanunu

Israel have hired a British PR firm to brush up its image around a World which doesn't place Israel that high on it's list of favourite nations. The story of Mordechai Vanunu, 58 today, doesn't help present Israel in a good light.
Depending on your viewpoint, Vanunu is either a hero or a traitor for blowing the whistle on his country's covert atomic weapons programme.
Vanunu starting to suffer a crisis of conscience while working at the secret Dimona plant which was clandestinely producing nuclear weapons and during a trip to London, divulged to a journalist Israel's deadly secret. Targeted by a Mossad honey-trap, he was drugged, gagged, bound and returned to Israel, tried in secret and convicted of treason and espionage and sentenced to 18 years imprisonment, twelve of them served in solitary confinement.
As his story emerged, he become a symbol for the international peace movement, was nominated for a Nobel peace prize and was finally released in 1994, re-arrested months later, then again in 2007 and is currently banned from travelling beyond Israel's borders
After being heckled by a hostile crowd of CND and Vanunu supporters in London in 1997, Israeli President Ezer Weizman said at a press conference: "He was a spy who gave away secrets, and the fact that he did so for conviction rather than for money makes no difference. He was a traitor to his country."
On his release a defiant Vanunu said: "I was right to reveal the madness of the Israeli nuclear secrets. I am not a spy, but a man who helped all the world to end the madness of the nuclear race."

Blair Lied Shock

It was 1997 and the dreaded Conservatives were out on their ear and in came a fresh faced Tony Blair to brush away the stench of sleaze left lingering by 18 years of Maggie Thatcher and John Major.
Because it came in his honeymoon period, the Formula 1 business that has come back to bite Blair with such relish, went swiftly by and we all bought the 'i'm a straight kind of guy' speech that he made. Little did we know that later we would discover that he was as straight as a circle when it came to telling the truth.
The Government were about to bring in a ban on tobacco advertising but Formula 1 were granted an exemption, suspiciously just after Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone had met the Prime Minister and donated £1m to the Labour Party.
At the time, Mr Blair insisted that the meeting, and donation, had nothing to do with the decision and gave a emotional plea on television that he was innocent of anything shady or suspect. Handed the benefit of the doubt, Blair was 'let off the hook' and allowed to merrily go on his way to bigger, better and more murderous lies later on down the line.
Now the Formula 1 scandal has resurfaced from documents released under the Freedom of Information Act that show Blair personally ordered Ministers to exempt Formula 1 from a tobacco advertising ban just hours after meeting the motorsport's boss.
Blair lied shock?
Don't act so surprised. The guy's lies are directly responsible for over a million deaths in Iraq, he isn't going to think twice about lying over his party's immoral funding.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Burning Down The Stjórnarráðið

This latest recession is America's doing. It 'got drunk' as someone said and the chill is being felt everywhere else with the UK taking a battering but of course Gordy Brown can't wag his finger at his good pals across the Atlantic. Too big and too powerful so he has to make sympathetic cooing noises and help his pals dig themselves out of a multi-billion pound hole of their own making.
The British solution to American's playing up used to be sending over a British force to burn down the White House but as that option is off the table, what we could do with is a small, weak nation to kick about instead. Hello Iceland.
The tiny island's banking sector has collapsed and taken with it a billion of local councils cash as well as billions more from small investors which Iceland is saying it hasn't got the funds to pay back even a percentage of our loses.
Step forward fearless Gordon to puff out his chest and show that nation of ice bound fisherman that they can't cost us Brits money and not feel our wrath. America can, and have, but we are bigger than Iceland so it's sleeves up and someone fetch Gordon his best arse kicking shoes.
The Icelandic banks froze our accounts and the British government retaliated by using anti-terror laws to seize Icelandic assets, adding Iceland to the axis of evil on our changable terrorist countries list.
Mr Brown says Iceland has acted 'illegally' his Icelandic counterpart Geir Haarde accuses Britain of 'an unfriendly act' and an awkward stalemate has been reached. They have our dough and we have them by their assets. Treasury officials have travelled to Iceland for crisis talks before we send Her Majesty's Royal Navy steaming northwards intent on crushing plucky little Iceland and its 301,931 inhabitants.
Unbelievable we would do such a thing? We did it in the 1970s over fish and NATO had to step in to negotiate the end of the 'Cod Wars' so we have precedence of not taking any nonsense from tiny countries we could safely slap around a bit.
Iceland, and anyone else smaller and weaker than us, you have been warned. Don't mess with us.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Why Nuclear?

BP's Statistical Review of World Energy appears to show that the world still has enough oil reserves to provide 40 more years of consumption at current rates.
With this resource rapidly depleting, the move is away from fossil fuels with nuclear energy being hailed as the saviour but as the worlds resources are finite, how much Uranium is there for us to mine? The World Nuclear Association put the amount, at current usage levels, at 80 years worth of Uranium but with countries planning to build multiple new Nuclear reactors at huge expense all over the globe, that 80 years will quickly fall. Within two or three generations at the most, we will be back in the same position searching for new forms of energy only this time we will have to contend with millions of tonnes of spent nuclear fuel that poses a serious health threat for the next 10,000 years.
Seems we can use nuclear fuel to stop polluting the atmosphere but the kicker is that we have to poison the ground and make large swathes of our planet uninhabitable for 10 millenniums to achieve it.
A 2003 Spanish report by the Guadalajara University Hospital into the cancer risk to citizens living around the Trillo nuclear power plant concluded: 'There is an association between proximity of residence to Trillo and cancer risk'. A German report into childhood leukaemia found that there was a 'statistically significant odds ratio for residential proximity compared to residence outside this area'. Still want one of these things in your neighbourhood?
Australia (23%), Kazakhstan (15%) and Russia (10%) hold almost half of the Worlds Uranium supplies so they would be the main beneficiaries from a nuclear era as the Middle East was from the last oil century and would face the same consequences as the supply begins to falter.
The question is why, with a limited supply and the massive financial cost of building and disposing of the fuel not to mention the environmental and safety risks involved, is Nuclear the answer when there are other cheaper, safer and never-ending resources available?
Approximately 71% of the Earths surface is covered by Oceans and as long as the Earth continues to turn, there will be waves that could be used to generate power. As long as we have a Sun heating the planet, we will have wind. Wave and wind power used in tandem would create an endless and safe supply of energy so why are we focusing on Nuclear and not plowing our money into these renewable sources instead?

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

My Idea Of Revolution

We have been talking Revolution over at David's blog and I'm always up for a bit of usurping but who to usurp and what system of Government will be imposed instead? Rather than a large scale revolution with tanks on the streets and guillotines, i propose a bastardised version of what we have now and laughably call Democracy.
The debate over the $700b to the financial markets is as good as an example as there will ever be of what's wrong with the system we have. We elect a person to represent us and they go off to do our business, or at least that's the idea.
What actually happens is they do what they want until approximately six months before they are up for nomination again and then they pay attention, don't want to upset the plebs that put him in that privileged position.
The House of Representatives that initially turned down the billion dollar hand-out
did it apparently because they had been receiving communications from their electorate telling them that they were against the idea. Very thoughtful although they wouldn't have given a second thought to their electorate a year ago.
And there is the nub of my revolution, to keep the people who we elect to do what's best for us in that perpetual state of having to do our bidding in order to stay in power. The simple answer is referendums and plenty of them coupled with a maximum of two years between elections.
We have a situation in the US and in the UK with two leaders with the lowest ratings in our lifetimes, a simple system where ratings below 35% would trigger an election would keep our leaders mind focused.
So there we have my back-of-a-cigarette-packet idea for a system of Government. Two year terms, referendums on the big decisions and a mechanism to remove unpopular leaders to stop them clinging to power at the detriment of the country they are charged with representing.
All i need now is to get elected so i can implement it.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

The Lefty The Right Revere

I'm not sure why but it seems that most religious folk, especially the Evangelists, are right leaning.
A Reverend was on TV this morning urging his followers to vote Republican in the upcoming US election and the general consensus seems to be that they will. As America has a very high proportion of those that believe in a creator, the church seems to speak to a large base but why has the Church grabbed Jesus as one of their own when the writings of the Bible seem to point that he represented the polar opposite of what the right believe?
With the help of a good friend with a wide knowledge of all things biblical, we have come to the conclusion that actually, if the son of God was knocking about today, he would be be on the left side of politics.
The most obvious example in the bible is the line: 'It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God' which clearly states the financial views of the creator.
His Leftist position is further enhanced by tales of Jesus running a Commune where 'There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need'. He even told his followers: "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor".
Seems obvious enough to me, God doesn't much care for home ownership, what stocks and shares you possess or how big your pension is.
Without doubt Jesus was a hippy, the long hair, the beard and the sandals give that away and his anti-war slogan 'Do not murder, anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.' and his catchy 'Blessed are the peacemakers' show his unerring slant towards pacifism.
So we have the evidence that God is anti-war, anti-capitalist and strongly believes in the equal distribution of wealth.
Of course the left widely poo-poo the idea of God so we wouldn't want him anyway but just nice to know that the man the right revere with such passion was probably the Worlds first Socialist.
Amen Comrade.

Differing With The Left Over Iraq & Afghanistan

Much to my own surprise, my feelings on Iraq are much more in alignment with the Bush and McCain regimes rather than Obama's and most of the lefts. While the left are demonstrating and making loud noises about pulling the troops out of Iraq, my view is that we took a country that, albeit run by a murderous dictator, was a working model and smashed it to smithereens. Five years on and although there have been small advances, nobody can honestly say that if we go now we would be leaving Iraq in a better position than how we found it. I maintain the view that we broke it, we have a moral and ethical duty to stay until such a time that it IS a better place than when we shock and awed it in 2003. To just up an leave would expose the Iraq civilians to the terrorists that we filled the country with and sadly, if the choice is between an innocent Iraqi being blown apart as they go about their everyday business or the UK/US military bearing the brunt, the unprotected civilian should come top every time.
Strangely, the reverse is true in Afghanistan where the left seem to be advocating a surge of troops to combat a resurgent Al-Qeada & Taliban combination. With NATO now seemingly intent on spreading the conflict to Pakistan with its cross border incursions, resulting in gunfire exchanges between NATO and Pakistan troops, we have to rethink our whole strategy in the country.
Rather than picking up an even bigger stick to hit with, we have to swallow our pride and sit down with our enemies. The truth is we are not going to win a military victory in either country, all we can do is arrange to leave both countries with a manageable level of insurgency that can be managed by the relative countries armies as Britain's most senior military commander in the country is proposing.
Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith said: "If the insurgents were prepared to sit on the other side of the table and talk about a political settlement, then that's precisely the sort of progress that concludes insurgencies like this."
We shouldn't be in either country but the situation is that we are and to continue along the same path that we have been following since the invasions is folly and will only mean more deaths and a widening arena of conflict.
Certainly we should be working towards pulling the troops out but not until we have made sure that both countries are secure and our leaders learn the painful lesson from our very recent history which is don't be so eager to start wars in the first place because nobody has ever died through sitting around a table talking.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Nailin' Paylin

It isn't unusual for American Presidents to have a movie made about them. Oliver Stone has made just such a film about the present man in the big seat but I don't recall a film ever being made about a Vice President and certainly not before they have their buttocks in the chair but then Sarah Palin's film isn't going to be some big budget blockbuster.
Larry Flynt, owner of Hustler and purveyor of 'men's material', has been busily producing a hard core skin flick about the Alaskan presidential candidate, self-proclaimed lipstick wearing pitbull and mother of five.
Titled 'Nailin' Paylin', it stars 36-year-old porn actress Lisa Ann in the title role who is a certified dental assistant but gave it all up for, well, another kind of filling altogether in fims such as Big Rack Attack 2 and You've Got a Mother Thing Cumming 2.
As yet nobody is making a film about the Democrats so that's one in the eye for Obama, or possibly for the actress playing Palin if she isn't concentrating.

What Did I MIss?

Blimey, dip out of things for a week and everything changes. The top Policeman, the odious Ian Blair, has been ordered to pack up his truncheon and sod off by the equally odious Boris Johnson while Peter Mandelson is once again back in the Cabinet for a third time after twice previously being sacked for abusing his position.
The obscene law that stopped Gurkha's from moving to the UK has finally been overturned and there are protests over a bunch of students dressing up in Nazi style uniforms and making another group of drunk students walk about with carrier bags over there heads in an initiation ceremony. TK Maxx are doing there bit for knife crime by selling jackets with knives attached and Bradford & Bingley are the latest bank to feel the cold chill of the mismanaged financial markets.
Internationally, American taxpayers were finally stiffed good and proper over the $700b handout to the financial markets and Biden failed to knock Palin out of the running despite having enough material to kick her backside so hard she would literally have been talking out of her arse.
A hard right political party have picked up the reins in Austria and North Korea have started building their Nuclear weapons again.
Tottenham are still super-glued to the bottom of the league so somethings haven't changed.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Dealing With The Credit Crisis - Scientifically

As usual, when times get tough we look towards that long haired man tied to a cross for inspiration.
"Some things in life are bad" sang Eric Idle, "They can really make you mad, Other things just make you swear and curse, When you're chewing on life's gristle, Don't grumble, Give a whistle, And this'll help things turn out for the best."
Yes, we are being measured up for a large enough handcart to fit us all in for that trip to Beelzebub's place but there are some things you can do to cheer yourself up. And all scientifically proven although admittedly they could result in premature death if indulged to excess.

If you feel down about your shares dropping like a banker from the 7th floor of the Lloyd's building, have a cigarette. Scientists have found that smoking helps prevent the onset of various forms of dementia. It also suppresses appetite so you will keep your marbles longer and stay slimmer. Probably not the best way to avoid obesity, but it's certainly easier than doing laps at the local pool.

Want to take your mind off the rising cost of a loaf? Clamp your mobile to your ear and have a bash at that hard Sudoku in the Times. Studies at the Bristol Oncology Center have found that people exposed to mobile-phone radiation were 4% faster at certain mental tasks than others.

Fed up watching the gloomy faced anchorman explaining short selling yet again? Don't do anything drastic like go to bed early, channel surf. Researchers at Vandebilt University in Nashville found that you'll use up 20% more energy watching television than lying in bed. Find a channel showing an old Seinfeld episode and you will use up even more energy trying to throw the remote through the TV.

Hacked off because you can't sell anymore bodily organs to fill your car with Petrol? Slam your favourite CD into the CD player and turn the volume up to 10 because researchers at the University of Manchester have discovered that loud music activates a primitive acoustic sense in the ear which stimulates the same areas of our brains that makes us think we might be about to get some bedroom gymnastics. Of course it will make you go deaf and annoy the neighbours but you will get that twinkle in your eye. I would avoid James Blunt Cd's though, the only thing twinkling will be your CD player as it bounces off the pavement below.

Trust the findings from the Institute for Preventive Medicine in Copenhagen to help when you watch your car being towed away by the repo department. Danish researchers have found that drinking alcohol reduces the tendency of blockages to form in blood vessels, helps protect against dementia, increase bone mineral density in women and even lowers blood pressure.

Finding it tougher to make the housekeeping stretch with each trip to the Supermarket? Empty your trolley of all those low fat yoghurt's and take a detour down the chocolate aisle because researchers from Holland's National Institute of Public Health and Environment, have found that chocolate contains a chemical that could prevent cancer and heart disease. Boiled potatoes or a heart disease preventing Mars bar, hmmm, tough one.

Tired of trying to understand what the red squiggles on the charts of the Dow Jones or FTSE index means? Reach for the Java because Dr Jonathan Geiger of the University of North Dakota has found that the Caffeine in Coffee lowers the risk of Alzheimer's and strokes.

So if anyone asks, you are not laying on the sofa with a cigarette in the ashtray, coffee in one hand, Bacardi breezer in the other whilst listening to System Of A Down at full volume and stuffing Snickers into your mouth. You are following a Scientifically proven method to deal with the credit crisis.