Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Hard Things Made Easy #1

I've never played Guitar Hero or any of those type of games but i'm all for them if they introduce guitar music to a whole new generation. Hopefully it will inspire a few more Green Days and Nirvana's and save us all from bland Simon Cowell influenced pop which bores me to tears. We went through that in the late 80s and i don't want ever want to go back to the days of Take That and Backstreet Boys dominating things.
What games like Guitar Hero don't do, is teach you how to play the chords needed to bang out a tune on a guitar. You may be able to play Sweet Child O' Mine perfectly on the X Box, but you are never going to be able to match Slash without years of practice. Frustrating i know. When i first got a guitar i wanted to turn the amp up to 10 and thrash out the riff to Holiday In Cambodia. Not so much playing ethnicky jazz to parade my snazz, more a bloody racket which had the parents shouting up the stairs to tell me to turn that noise down.
I had a very good teacher who would spend most of the time going through how to make an E Chord, then an A chord and finish off with a well known song that had those chords in and it is amazing how many songs are comprised of just a few chords. Every time you get your head around a chord, you add thousands of songs to your repertoire. I know perfectly good musicians who get by just knowing the main 5 chords E, A, G, C and D. The whole punk movement was built upon musicians who only knew these five so within a few weeks of practising, the moving between the chords is the trickiest bit, you have the tools to play along to pretty much anything by The Ramones, Clash, Sex Pistols or Green Day.
Many people are happy to stay at that level and strum along to their favourite songs, while others move on to add further chords to their arsenal.
What most people are keen to learn are the face melting guitar solo's which are the raison d'être of Guitar Hero. I don't know a quick and cheerful way to learn these apart from using sites like Ultimate Guitar Tabs to start with to find the Tabs which show you diagrams of where your fingers go and what strings to play.
My advice for anyone making the leap from Guitar Hero to a real guitar is to start with learning those 5 common chords and you will be on a par with many famous musicians who have made much of moving around within this range of chords.
Right then, hold down that E string at the 8th fret and 1..2..3..4...So you been to school for a year or two and you know you've seen it all.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Belatedly Punishing Polanski

For me the Roman Polanski arrest is outrageous. Outrageous that it has taken this long to get him. Here is a man who gave a thirteen year old girl drugs and alcohol and then went on to perform, to quote the 1977 charges, child molestation, unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, rape by use of drugs, oral copulation and sodomy before skipping the country.
How anyone could even consider leaping to the defence of this paedophile is beyond me but leap they have.
The French culture minister, Frederic Mitterrand, says he is 'dumbfounded' by Polanski's 'absolutely dreadful' detention in Switzerland, declaring that it made no sense for the director to be thrown to the lions for an ancient story. He then went on to berate America for hounding him.
Most disappointing is actress Whoopi Goldberg who has plummeted in my eyes by making the excuse that whatever he was guilty of it wasn't "rape-rape".
She said: "I know it wasn't rape-rape. It was something else but I don't believe it was rape-rape. He went to jail and and when they let him out he was like, 'You know what, this guy's going to give me a hundred years in jail. I'm not staying.' So that's why he left."
How can it even enter someones mind to make excuses for a rapist and paedophile so Whoopi has just, i would hope, struck the death knell for her own career.
Being rich and famous should be not be any defence for anyone and if there is any justice, Polanski will be belatedly punished for his crimes.
Whoopi, you are a ignorant fool.

Friday, 25 September 2009

On The Path To War With Iran

It's 2003. George W Bush and Tony Blair are all over the media telling us that Saddam has Weapons of Mass Destruction and must be stopped by any means necessary. Meanwhile, in North Korea, Kim Jong ill is jumping up and down shouting that he is building nuclear weapons. Saddam, WMD-less as it turned out, was turfed out and his country pillaged. Kim Jong Ill, proud owner of a gleaming new nuclear arsenal, continues to stomp around unhindered today, still making a loud noise.
The conclusion that we can safely take from this is if you have nuclear weapons, we will leave you alone.
Now concerning Iran, i come from the angle that it is the highest form of hypocrisy for us to threaten it while we look to upgrade our own hundreds of nuclear weapons.
But Iran can't be trusted goes the usual cry from those not content until there is an Iranian shaped hole in the Middle East. I think that the last decade or so has shown that when it comes to the honour stakes, we haven't covered ourselves in glory. Think of Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan.
The faint war drum grew much louder today when it was revealed Iran was building a second uranium enrichment plant.
Obama accused Iran of concealing the covert site "for years" and Gordon Brown called it a 'shocking level of deception'.
Very true, or it would be if they hadn't known about it for years and only chose to reveal it now when they are trying to get tougher sanctions. Sanctions that China will veto and Russia are not keen on which leaves us back on that path of bypassing the UN to attack which was previously taken by Bush and Blair over Iraq.
This is the US and the UK, those two again you notice, shifting into let's have a war mode.
They have began talking up the pressure in an effort to turn public opinion against Iran although they have no evidence and they are spinning and lying from the get go.
We are being talked into another situation here which will move along at pace and lead directly to us bombing yet another Middle Eastern country.
Obama promised change but it seems nothing actually has except for Bush and Blair we can now read Obama and Brown with Israel once again cheer leading.
Let's not be fooled again.

The Pope Is Coming

As i type, the bones of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is being biked around the country. I say bones, it's a bit of thigh and a few teeth but the Catholics are turning up hoping to touch the plastic covering the coffin and praying for a miracle.
Now the 4m Catholics here are rubbing their rosary beads even faster in excitement because Pope Benedict XVI has agreed to grace our land with his presence next summer.
If you happen to bump into him while he is kissing the pavement, he may be addressed as Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ or even the Primate of Italy which seems a bit harsh considering Silvio Berlusconi is still around.
I expect as well as the 4m Catholics, there will be a fare spattering of the 95% of the rest of the country who don't much care for the Pope protesting, whether it be because of his abhorrent messages on the use of condoms, the backing for choir boy molesters within his church, his anti-homosexual mutterings or because they think religion is to blame for most of the World ills and they want to shout at Gods representative.
I would just like to point out to them that if they are planning to throw things at the Italian primate, then condoms would be very apt. Used condoms will probably fly through the air even better and land with a much rewarding splat.
Whatever our feelings on him, let's make the former Nazi youth member feel welcome to our green and pleasant land and hope that he wears that same hat he has on in the picture above. It's brilliant.

Who's Your Friend Gordon?

Remember when St Tony Blair was awarded that medal by George W Bush. Remember how he was so embarrassed that he put off accepting until he was out of office and then at some low key presentation so he hoped nobody would notice.
Well, the Labour Party seem to want to keep it quiet but Gordon Brown has been honoured as world statesman of the year and was handed an award on behalf of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an interfaith organisation which campaigns for religious freedom and human rights, by the former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger.
Henry Kissinger?? To be given the award of statesman of the year by somone like Henry Kissinger is something akin to being honoured for your humanity by Pol Pot.
The foundation praised Brown's "compassionate leadership in dealing with the challenging issues facing humanity, his commitment to freedom, human dignity and the environment'.
Really? That's what he got it for? Seriously?
What is it with these yanks and our Prime Ministers? It seems the more hated they are here, the more they like them over there. Thatcher had Reagan, Blair had Bush and now Brown with Killinger, sorry, Kissinger.
All 3 involved in highly controversial wars, two of them removed from office and one about to be removed at the first time of asking although nobody voted for him in the first place.
Awarding Brown for his leadership is almost as far fetched as appointing some crazed, war-mongering barnpot like Tony Blair as responsible for bringing peace to the Middle East. They did what??

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Entrance Music For The UN Delegates

The best and brightest are all turning up at the UN General Assembly but to make it a bit more interesting, the World leaders have asked to make an entrance in the style of boxers, with music greeting them as they make their way to the podium to give their speeches.
The song list has mysteriously gone missing but i'm sure that we could pull something together in such short notice.

First up is Libya's Colonel Gadaffi. Patsy Cline's 'Crazy' should do it.
Palestine's Mahmoud Abbas is up next so it's got to be Guns 'n' Roses, 'Right next door to hell'.
Can't quite see that little guy walking up so its got to be a small child or Nicolas Sarkozy. Considering his recent heart problems, Fergal Sharkeys 'A good heart is hard to find' should go down quite well.
As Robert Mugabe recently celebrated his 85th birthday, i wonder if he will understand the message behind Billy Joel's 'Only the good die young' as he takes his place at the podium.
Here comes the Belgium leader so 'Being Boring' by the Pet Shop Boys should make him think of home and we can use it for the Canadian PM when it's his turn.
Hugo Chavez, so it can only be 'Your the best thing' by the Style Council and i'll get 'Bring Your Own Bomb' teed up for Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai.
To close the day its the President of the United States, Barack Obama and looking at his ratings recently, 'Every day i love you less and less' by the Kaiser Chiefs will hit the spot.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Where Did Switzerland Go?

There are some countries in the World that could just disappear over night and nobody else would notice.
Who would notice, apart from the residents, if Mongolia just ceased to be one day or Peru. Nothing against these places, I'm sure they are very nice, it's just that they don't really make much of an impression so if you woke up tomorrow and Peru was missing from all the atlas's then you would probably not even notice.
With this in mind, our new favourite world leader, cuddly Colonel Gadaffi, is hoping to rub out Switzerland under a bizarre motion he is ready to table at the UN tomorrow.
Following up from his fantastically mad rant against the land of cuckoo clocks at the G8 summit earlier this year, the completely sane Libyan leader is now proposing to share the Alpine nation’s land out amongst France, Italy and Germany.
So what has sleepy Switzerland done to get Gadaffi's back up so much? It could be something to do with the arrest of his son who was jailed for two days after assaulting his domestic staff while staying at a hotel in Geneva.
Swiss MP Christa Markwalder has been telling anyone who will listen that: “Libya has requested that it be discussed at the UN General Assembly that Swiss territory be divided and distributed to neighbouring countries. We are concerned that Libya will attempt to use its year-long presidency of the UN General Assembly to damage Switzerland's reputation.”
Gadaffi has already suspended the issuing of visas for Swiss nationals and forced Libyan branches of Swiss companies, including Nestlé, to close.
I expect that if he wafts a few barrels of oil under Britain's nose, it will get our full support but otherwise it is all going to be brushed aside for the more serious business of rubbing out Iran instead.
Just in case though, i can thoroughly recommend the Michel Thomas Learn to Speak French course to any Swiss residents with a need to learn French very quickly. Bonne chance.

My Solution To The Debt Problem

Lots of talk recently about how the Government is going to set about clawing back the £1.3 trillion we owe.
I'm no economist but to my mind there are only three ways to go about it. You can either get more money, spend less out or mix it up and do a bit of both.
The problem with the first option is that it means a rise on taxes which nobody likes and will leave the Government open to allegations of openly penalising everyone for the misdeeds of a few. Not a vote winner.
Option two is less obvious and the choice of Government because of it but means cutting public services and how to decide which services to cut?
Whatever one gets its budget slashed, it is going to have an negative effect again on the public who will show their displeasure at the ballot box.
The third choice is the worst of both worlds where people see their taxes go up while their services go down. Guaranteed to see a collective kicking on election day.
So once again it is up to me to come up with a solution and this is my idea.
Scrap things like the ID cards idea, the national database and renewing Trident. These three alone would shave tens of billions off the debt and that's before i get to the clever bit.
Rather than large swinging cuts in certain departments that will disable certain parts while others are left untouched, lop 1% off every departments budget for the next fiscal year, leaving nothing ring-fenced.
It would be easier to adjust to a small, 1% deficit in expected income in each department rather than some juggling a large, 10% one. It would mean less job cuts and the continuation of services with only the slightest reduction in quantity or quality.
The combination of the savings from large scale, non-vital projects, the 1% cut and the repayment of the billions owed to the Government from the banks, would not wipe out the debt in one fell swoop but would massively reduce it to a manageable level without major disruption or people taking to the streets in protest at the reduction of their pay packets.
Whatever they decide, and it looks as though they will go down the deep cuts and the raising of tax route, we are going to be stung so lets make it as painless as possible by taking a little from everywhere. Makes sense to me.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Creation: The Darwin Story

According to the philosophy, yin and yang are complementary opposites within a greater whole. If you have the good, then you have to put up with the bad which is why, i presume, we have to suffer Celine Dion.
This philosophy is particularly true in cinema where there have been an equal amount of great films balanced by some that stank out the place.
It seems that one movie we are about to have foisted upon us is Creation, the life of Charles Darwin, a film which the blurb describes as being about a man who loses his faith in God.
The film has been sold to distributors in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia however US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which they think will prove hugely divisive and have declined to show it.
I say good for them because as much as Darwin wrote probably the most influential and ground breaking book ever, the film sounds a turkey.
There isn't much you can do with a man whose highlights involved spending five years on a boat, watching some wildlife and then spending the rest of his life writing up his findings and hiding from the ire of the Church.
Even Hollywood, who have no qualms about rewriting history to satisfy its audience, would be hard pushed to make the life of Darwin watchable.
Possibly they could throw in a few scrapes with sharks (Jaws), killer whales (Orca) and whirlpools (Jason and the Argonauts) in the sailing portion of the film and have him chased by spear throwing natives on the islands (Indiana Jones) and run out of town by torch bearing religionists (Frankenstein) when he gets back home.
Alternatively, it could be 90 minutes of a man being sick over the side of a boat, a few shots of him looking at plants and then sitting at a desk writing.
Gripping and it's not even going to annoy the nutty religio's because they won't be able to see it.
If the Yin Yang thing is still working, we must be due a brilliant film soon after.

Friday, 18 September 2009

East European Missile Defence System Scrapped

Another one of George W Bush's mistakes during his time in charge has been laid to rest with the cancellation of the proposed missile defence system in eastern Europe.
Billed as a defensive measure aimed at stopping any Iranian intercontinental missiles which it doesn't have, it was always really a political maneuver concerned with America parking its missiles on Russia's doorstep in a move of brinkmanship.
The only supporters for the missiles in Europe were the leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic who made no secret that they saw it as a way to provide a boost to their economies and gain leverage in European politics even though it wasn't even popular with there own citizens, 70% of Czechs said they didn't want it in their nation. They obviously didn't like the idea of a big red target being painted across their country.
I expect Obama will be hauled across the coals for this decision which could well be economical rather than out of any sense of a sane policy, but i say if America is that worried about Iranian missiles raining down on their heads, then they could build a thousand of these sites up and down their own country and leave us to worry about missiles coming over from Tehran.

Jimmy Carter, The Left's Top Dingbat

The left and right in America has always been a bit more pronounced than here in the UK. A right leaning American would probably follow the same track as a right winger here but there they have guns and God thrown into the mix, two things that are of no consequence here but seem to spark off all the biggest bun fights there.
The two ideological opposites do seem to go at it with an amazing, and sometimes frightening, amount of gusto as we have seen with the reactions to George W Bush and now Obama. The added ingredient now though is that Obama happens to be black so race is also thrown into the bubbling cauldron.
Maybe i missed something but when Republican Joe Wilson shouted out that Obama was a liar, it was because he strongly disagreed with what Obama was saying about Health Care. Unprofessional and rude certainly, but racist?
It seems that this is the way the left are going to play this game, a game that involves branding as a racist anyone who criticizes Obama in much the same way the pro-Israel brigade throw out the anti-Semite barb at anyone who doesn't toe their line.
Now ex-President Jimmy Carter has stepped into the fray and kicked the whole thing up a notch, saying that the outburst by Wilson was an act 'based on racism' and rooted in fears of a black president.
I can only watch on in disbelief that a subject such as Health care can stir the emotions so much that the right turn out with posters depicting Obama as Hitler and a Communist while the left turn the whole thing into a race row.
Debate is good and its okay to disagree but this doesn't bode well for the rest of Obama's administration which will get bogged down in this nonsense with every decision it tries to make, to the detriment of America.
It was the American right that was widely thought to be full of dingbats but it seems that the left also have more than their fair share as well with Mr Carter, who really should know better, the top dingbat.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

International Criminal Court Beckons For Israel

Anyone who knows me, knows also that i don't think much of Israel. Not the country but the people who run it and the way they conduct their affairs. To some with no real argument, that makes me an anti-Semite, that handy, overly used catch-all phrase bandied about with abandon to try and dampen any criticism of Israel.
Of course that's a woefully weak argument but it doesn't stop it being thrown around. So be it, when a country acts badly, whoever it is, it should be condemned. When a country continually acts badly, it should be continually condemned and the International Community should act with the United Nations leading the way.
At long last, they have held up Israel for what it is, a country run by bullying, murderous leaders willfully conducting war crimes against its neighbour.
A damning UN inquiry into January's war in Gaza has found evidence that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed by both Israel and Hamas but the most scathing remarks were reserved for the Israeli Government.
The inquiry looked not only at the war but at the months before and after the conflict and accuses Israel of many violations of international law. It says Israel is guilty of a crime against humanity in its policies towards the Palestinian people.
It has invited the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute individuals responsible for human rights and war crimes violations and urged countries to prosecute those responsible on both sides if they set foot in any country signed up to the Geneva conventions.
It recommended that the UN security council should require Israel to investigate the allegations raised, including the use of Palestinians as human shields, deliberate bombing of civilian houses and UN buildings and targeting innocent civilians and if it failed to do so within six months the case passed to the prosecutor of the international criminal court. Each country that is a signatory of the Geneva conventions had a duty to prosecute those responsible, it said.
The inquiry rejected Israel's argument that the war was a response to Palestinian rocket fire and therefore an act of self-defence. Instead, it found the war was "a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorise a civilian population". Israeli actions depriving Gazans of means of subsistence, employment, housing and water, and denying their freedom of movement "could lead a competent court to find that crimes against humanity, had been committed", it said.
The inquiry also condemned Hamas, saying that Palestinian rocket attacks did not distinguish between civilian and military targets, caused terror among Israeli civilians and "would constitute war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity".
Israel refused to cooperate in the inquiry and responded to the accusations by issuing a statement that read: "The mandate was biased from the beginning and it would have been a mistake to give credibility to a mission that has more in common with a kangaroo court than it does with a serious investigation".
The UN have presented the evidence and found Israel to be on a par with Hamas in its behaviour.
The same Hamas that are widely condemned, shunned and boycotted. A fate that would befall any country with such a scathing UN report against its name and hopefully, now that Israel have been called out as run by war criminals and human right abusers, the World will wake up to and treat them the same as it does to the war criminals and human right abusers that run Gaza.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

US Open Mens Final 2009

Switzerland isn't known for much apart from Cuckoo Clocks, yodelling and chocolate. You would be hard pushed to make a list of famous Swiss people without resorting to using the fictional characters William Tell and Heidi.
What Switzerland has got going for it is Roger Federer who is arguably the greatest tennis player ever to throw his balls up in the air.
Usually when one player dominates in any sport, it gets a bit tedious but there seems to be something about Roger that people like. When Sampras was dominating, everyone seemed to be willing him to lose but it is difficult to find anyone with a bad word to say about Federer. He isn't particularly charismatic like an Agassi or funny like Nastase but nobody seems to mind that he wins with robotic regularity.
Here in the UK we have the World number 2 Andy Murray and even we don't like him and he is not in danger of wining anything anytime soon but here is Federer in yet another final, this time battling against the Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro, who is tipped to challenge the Fed for supremacy in the future but is looking out on his feet on the television behind me as Federer marches towards yet another title.
I don't know why everyone seems to take him to their heart but one tennis player whose popularity has taken a huge slump is Serena Williams.
Her and her sister have always had a bit of a feisty side to their nature but after the younger Williams sisters outrageous outburst at the line judge yesterday, she is going to be handed a well deserved slapping down.
Ungracious, nasty and uncalled for, she can expect to see that clip replayed for the rest of her career which hopefully will be much shorter now.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

All About Rebecca Grant

I got given some advice on how to attract more people to my blog after mentioning to one of the tech guys that my visitor numbers had dropped considerably recently.
Being far to polite to just say that it was purely down to the rubbish posts that i put up, he beckoned me closer and whispered in my ear that the secret was repeating keywords.
Obviously he noticed my blank look and explained that everything came down to the 'zeitgeist' and matching up what people write into search engines with words in the post.
Another blank look later and i was directed to the Google trend page.
The top words written into Google at that time were 'rebecca grant', so it was patiently explained that if i were to write a post about rebecca grant, and use the words rebecca grant as many times in the post as was possible, i would find myself towards the top of Google searches and as people don't delve deeper than a few pages, my blog would be visited more often.
Apparently this is how the more well known bloggers get such big numbers and it was a well known secret that i obviously had missed or just ignored because i tend to glaze over when the tech people start up.
The only problem is that unless you know anything about rebecca grant, which i don't, then the blogger is stuffed. Checking it now, the top words are nfl field pass which means nothing and would mean a 3 word post if i followed this method.
This does leave the dilemma of writing what you want on your blog and let whoever stumbles across it do so, or writing things according to a top 10 list which would attract readers but meant writing things to order as it were, which you cared nothing about.
I promised that i would give it a go and see what happens. Oh and before i forget, whatever you did rebecca grant to make yourself so popular, well done/boo you (delete as applicable).

The Christian Party

While googling for the British Christian Party, i came across this doozy of the same name.
It's main concern is the 19th Amendment to the American Constitution, or to everyone else, the bit where it says 'The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.'
Apparently, this particular Christian Party are campaigning to get it repealed and quote God himself saying that he would 'greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children' as proof that even the big man upstairs thinks women are a bit on the dodgy side.
It then goes to dedicate the movement to every woman who voted to send men to Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, and Iraq, exercising authority over a man in violation of God's Law'.
Apparently it all comes down to men having three and a half billion more brain cells than a woman.
So because of this lack of grey matter, it is dangerous to give American women the vote because they constitute 11% more of the voters than men, so are directly responsible for who gets elected and as us women are such dumb asses, proves that 'the American woman can't be trusted as a responsible citizen, much less as an educated voter'.
To push the point that men are superior, the site offers such facts as:

Women are perpetrators of up to 60% of "domestic violence"
Less than 0.1% of Americans follow women's soccer.
A mother's involvement in her child's education reduces academic skills by 28-32%.
Granting women legal rights precipitated a fifty fold increase in the US divorce rate.
The increased divorce rate led directly to a ten fold increase in the murder rate.
American men commit suicide at a rate five times higher than American women

Can't argue with those stats, mostly because i just don't have the mental capacity to, being a woman and all and my mother helped me with my homework a few times. The site has to be an attempt at satire. Doesn't it?

Friday, 11 September 2009

International Mystery

Secret trips and hush-hush meetings, there seems to be something very strange going on between Russia and Israel recently.
The Israeli prime minister left his office in Jerusalem on Monday, telling only a handful of aides where he was going. In public, staff said he was visiting a "security installation" in Israel, but on Wednesday night the prime minister's bureau issued an update saying he had been engaged in secret activity.
It now appears that Netanyahu flew to Moscow with his national security adviser and rather than taking an Israeli air force jet, they hired a private aircraft.
Last month the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, travelled to Russia and met with the Russian President just after a Russian cargo ship had been kidnapped.
Curious indeed and speculation abounds that it is tied to the Russian ship and it's cargo which is rumoured to have been surface to air missiles destined for Iran and not sliced up trees at all.
Of course Israel is worried that Iran would use the weapons to protect itself against any military strike, the rotters, but i love a good old international mystery.
It may be completely innocent and Netanyahu was just up to his old tricks. Last time he was in office he was doing to his public relations consultant exactly what he was doing to the Palestinians at the time, only they didn't get flowers afterwards.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Recession Over

That's it then. Recession over and all done and dusted in a little under 2 years.
I know it may not feel like it if you are living under a bridge because you lost your job and your house got repossessed but the National Institute for Economic and Social Research have spoken, and they say it's technically at an end. Phew.
A word of warning though before you get your hopes up and cancel that appointment with the shady doctor who was offering £500 for one of your kidneys, they say it is going to be a slow recovery with unemployment and repossessions continuing to rise for the next couple of years which sounds like the opposite of a recovery to me but then the inability to see such things is probably why i failed so gloriously on the economics exam.
Apparently manufacturing output rose by 0.9% in July and GDP increased by 0.2% in the three months to August with the NIESR expecting the UK economy to experience modest growth in the third quarter of this year,signalling happy days are here again. Well, sometime in 2011 anyway.
We know who to thank for getting us into the mess, but who's hand do we shake for getting us out of it again?
I expect Gordon Brown will break off from hugging Colonel Gaddafi long enough to claim a slice of the praise through stuffing billions into the bankers pockets and shaving pennies off shelf prices with a 2.5% VAT cut.
If only there was a question on that economics exam to explain how to save the economy. I know now that it's by us, aka the Innocent victims, getting to save 2p off a tin of chicken and mushroom soup while the bankers, aka the perpetrators, get pockets full of used notes and a healthy bonus.
Anyway, break out the super saver wine, splash out on a new cardboard box and let's celebrate the return of estate agents, big cars and banks treating us like dirt.
Raise a glass to your health and the next recession which should be coming around in a decade or so.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story

Darkness fell upon the room and the chatter subsided to a low whisper. The curtains stirred and then slowly drew back to reveal a large, hairy figure stood before us. A distant memory flickered fleetingly in the depths of my mind. Slowly, the realisation dawned that a vision from our past had finally returned, searching for new victims to devour as the thing before us stepped out of the half-shadow and prepared to launch yet another onslaught onto its unsuspecting prey.
Well, this was only a trailer but those three minutes gave a wonderful taster of what to expect.
Armed with his trademark megaphone, cap and large belly, Michael Moore is back and the chubby champion of the left is aiming his fire this time at those that tread the path of Capitalism and who brought the entire system to the very edge of ruin last year.
As much as i admire Mr Moore, i would be the first to admit that he isn't the best of this type of film maker out there and his style is crude and confrontational but he does have a wonderful knack of getting beneath the skin and hitting the right buttons of those he sets out to demonise.
As my views are pretty much in line with Michael Moore's, i am very happy to see him making the top banana's uncomfortable even though i would like to see him adopt a more considered style that sees him pose some difficult questions to his victims rather than just be bundled out the door and then heckle them from the pavement outside.
The right wing will set out to belittle him and whatever proof he holds up of a corrupt capitalist system because they see the danger in his ability to reach a large global audience, and they hate that because it gets people talking and shines a light on things that they would prefer were kept hidden.
The one strand of the film that i think will make an impact is the little reported story of the privatised youth detention centre, run with the help of a local judge who was found guilty of wrongly convicting 6500 children for minor transgressions, for a cut of the profits.
We need people like Michael Moore inflicting pain with shocking stories like this and i say long may he continue brandishing his megaphone in anger at the deserving.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

My Kind Of First Lady

It can't be easy being a first lady. You have to find the right balance between appearing the supportive wife and keeping enough distance from the political side of things. As Cherie Blair discovered when she mentioned that she believed in the power of crystals, you will get pilloried mercilessly as a flake if you say or do anything deemed unworthy of the wife of the elected representative.
Not so in Japan where the new first lady, Miyuki Hatoyama, announced that she was abducted by aliens as she slept one night and was whisked off in a triangular shaped UFO to Venus.
As a follow up to that bombshell she then passed on her breakfast-time habit of eating the centre piece of our Solar System, demonstrating how she tears pieces off an imaginary sun saying 'Yum, yum, yum. It gives me enormous energy. My husband has recently started doing that too."
She also makes her own clothes from hemp coffee bags and as demonstrated during the election campaign, can also do a very passable Moonwalk and claims to have known Tom Cruise in a previous life.
Yes, she is obviously a raving loonie but how much fun would she be to have around at the next meeting of World leaders which has lacked a seriously mad personality since Boris Yeltsin departed.
They can wheel out all plans to save the global economy that they want, all we want to hear about is what Mrs Hatoyama has been up to since the last time she updated us.
It's what we need, powerful world leaders with embarrassing spouses. I hope you are paying attention Sarah Brown, the bar has been set and we expect you to at least do some break dancing at the upcoming Labour Party Conference.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

How About A Maximum Wage?

We hear much about the minimum wage and how it has been used to drag up the wages of the poorest workers. It was one of the few things Tony Blair deserves a slap on the back for.
What we also hear and screech about is the sky high wages paid to the bosses of these poorest workers, men and women earning tens of millions a year.
So if the Government can impose a minimum wage which says what the least a firm can pay its employees, why can we not have a maximum wage that does the same?
Why pussyfoot around, just slap down a £1m per annum maximum. Nobody could moan about not being able to live on a million a year. The extra goes back into the pot to lower prices or for improvements.
Another idea is to have a pay range that dictates that there must not be more than a x10 discrepancy between the firms top earner and lower earner. That would have the benefit of if the top guys demand an obscene amount in their pay packet, then the little guy also benefits by his wages rising to keep within the range.
The talk seems to be that we are finally coming out the other side of the recession and it seems that nothing has changed whatsoever.
The financial sector is back to paying themselves astronomical bonuses and company bosses are watching their bank balances rise by several noughts. Those who bore the brunt of the recession have lost jobs, homes and in some cases their families, but they still face exactly the same set of circumstances as before only they will have to pay for the misdeeds of others in the way of cuts in services and higher prices.
I say it is unfair that those who can least afford it have to suffer while those who caused all the mess in the first place go back to their previous practises and as it is the mighty pound they seek the most, that's where we should hit them.
If the Government is not prepared to bring about equality by upping the minimum wages, let's do it from the top and have a maximum wage and if the top earners don't like it, let them go stick their noses in someone else's trough and get in people who will.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Nirvana v Beatles

In my mind, music peaked in the early 90s with the whole grunge thing. For my parents, it was the 60s with the Beatles and the Stones so its especially exciting that The Beatles are being pitted against Nirvana in the latest round of guitar games.
Activision have announced that Nirvana feature as a playable character in Guitar Hero 5 in direct competition with MTV's The Beatles: Rock Band which is released at the same time.
Of course those of us wearing the ripped jeans in 1991 would prefer Kurt's gang over George Harrison's, just as i can assume anyone who was sporting a mop-top in 1964 would take Lennon over Dave Grohl. That's as expected but to compare the two, and to pose the question who was best, is just silly.
Given the choice, i would take Nirvana's music over the Beatles every time but in almost every aspect, the Beatles knock Nirvana into a crocked hat.
If you compare their influence, longevity and record sales, Nirvana are not even in the same country, let alone the ball park. I would take Kurt over Paul McCartney, 'Nevermind' over any Beatles album and 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' over any Beatles single but then anyone of my parents age would do the opposite and that's how it should be. The Beatles were of their time and Nirvana were mine, both had decent songs and both have stinkers.
Asking 'Who was best' is completely subjective and depends on the age group of the person being asked. I imagine if we asked today's kids they would say someone like Coldplay, so let's not ask them. They're obviously idiots.
If you are after the band with the greatest impact then i would suggest the next game is made up of Sex Pistols songs. They kick-started the whole punk movement that influenced most of the guitar bands on the video games today which leads us back to Nirvana who were arguably the best thing in the 90s in terms of music and impact, but best ever is stretching it.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Defense Industry Council, DIC's For Short

I would say with almost certainty that when you watched the World news today, one of the items was a conflict somewhere in the World. There is also a very good chance that us good old Brits supplied the weapons to help out but those lovable defence industry bosses have launched a campaign urging whichever party wins the next election to boost spending on equipment to export to other armed forces.
Not for their own selfish reasons of course, but to help Britain out of recession.
The Defence Industries Council warned whoever forms the next government that future prosperity could be jeopardised unless spending on weapons increase.
When a reporter asked why arms spending deserved not only to avoid the impending cuts in public spending but have its budget increased, taking cash from programmes like health and education the reply was 'We are a special case. We create the wealth that funds these public services'.
In 2006 we exported arms to 19 of the 20 countries identified as "countries of concern" for abusing human rights including Saudi Arabia, Israel, Colombia, China, Russia, Pakistan, Jordan and Turkey.
We can be proud that the next time we watch the news and see a shell explode into a block of flats or a group of demonstrators cut down by a spray of bullets, that's another step out of recession for us thanks to the Defence Industries Council not having a decent bone in their deplorable body.