Wednesday, 31 August 2011

All summer long

The Met Office regard today as the last day of summer and therefore my last day of scribbling on this blog and as most of what i have written about over the last 12 weeks concerned what is happening in Libya, it seems apt to end on it as well.
I never agreed with the intervention, invasion or whatever we deem to call it to try and make it sound more palatable. I agree with it even less now that the death toll has been put at 50,000 and we seem to be ending up in the exact same position as the reason we went to war against Gaddafi in the first place with a Libyan city encircled and threatening a massacre.
Only NATO won't be stepping in to stop this massacre, they are actively participating in it, bombing 134 sites in Sirte in the past six days.
Sirte, a city with a population of 100,000, who should come under the original UN resolution to protect its civilians from attack as part of the 'no fly zone' which ironically is being pounded from the air by NATO planes.
Following the deaths of tens of thousands, the destruction of infrastructure, the double standards of NATO with regard to the protection of civilians, the discrediting of the United Nations as its resolutions can be so easily perverted and the installation of a Libyan Government with no popular support and run by men with links to Al Queada, this intervention has been, and will be, a complete disaster for the Libyan people.
The West has inflicted yet another Iraq and Afghanistan because once the rebels are in control, the whole country will descend into civil war and recriminations with a Taliban style insurgency going on for years. Another country we are happy to leave in turmoil as long as get our share of Libya's resources.
Unless something happens very soon, Sirte will be stormed and many civilians killed in the crossfire and nobody will criticise us or the French or Americans because us dropping bombs on Libyans is not the same as Gaddafi doing it. Not in our blinkered eyes anyway.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Arsenal crisis

Tottenham being hammered 5-1 by Manchester City gave all the Arsenal fans a good chuckle, or at least until the final whistle went at there own match when their team was on the end of a 8-2 shalacking by Manchester United.
Not a good afternoon for the two North London clubs but i would be more worried if i was an Arsenal fan rather than a Tottenham fan.
The glaring truth is that after selling Fabregas, Nasri, Eboue and Clichy, Arsenal are a weaker team than last year, only bringing in Gervinho and a couple of teenagers who may or may not come good in a few years.
The best players gone and not being replaced, or being replaced with cheaper, less talented players, sounds dangerously like asset stripping to me.
Even when the bigger names return from injury and suspension, you can only see Vermaelen making that much of a difference.
If it is all down to Wenger not spending, then sacking him and getting in someone who will spend is a pretty quick fix. Ancelotti is currently available and would be a great replacement.
If the reasons are at board level, and the likes of Stan Kroenke, then unless they can force out the board a la the Liverpool fans with Hicks & Gillette, Arsenal fans had better get used to finding themselves in the company of Everton and Aston Villa in mid table.
Another reason could be the reluctance of Arsenal to pay the wages the top players command which is very principled but means your season will be over by January every year.
As us Pompey fans know, it is a shock when the rug is pulled away from under you (thank you Harry) and you suddenly drop from the dizzy heights and although i can't see Arsenal joining us anytime soon in the Championship, European Nights at the Emirates may be few and far between for a while after this season.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Sex with Neanderthals

Over time the religious have amended their beliefs as science has debunked their explanations of things but one idea that seems to have hung about is the creation story. God swooped up some dust, made a man and called him Adam and then took one of his ribs and made a woman and called her Eve. Throw in a talking serpent and a Tree of knowledge and that's a pretty wacky way to explain how things began but hundreds of millions believe it.
The alternative theory is that man evolved from other mammals and at one point we climbed down from the trees, lost most of our body hair and began walking on two legs.
Not much evidence for the first scenario, plenty for the second including DNA evidence that homo sapiens and other related species not only existed at the same time but interbred.
According to a report, the Neanderthals contribute up to 4% of modern genomes, while the Denisovans contributed roughly 4-6%.
This leaves the admittedly already fragile Adam & Eve story flapping in the wind unless the religious amongst us can come up with an explanation of why our DNA contains bits and pieces from another related species not created by God.
While they ponder on that, this is unmissable chance to mention that us having sex with another uglier, less intelligent Neanderthal like species is not unique to prehistoric times, the wives of Southampton supporters are still doing it today!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Best comeback ever!!

The football season is only a few weeks old but i have my favourite moment already and it didn't even happen on the pitch.

Benni McCarthy used to be a pretty decent striker but after he transferred to West Ham he pick up a lot of injuries and gained a lot of weight. After 11 league games and no goals in a season and a half, West Ham payed up his contract and the South African returned home to play out his career.

West Ham’s Vice Chairman, Karren Brady said his signing was a big mistake and he was more committed to filling his belly than filling the net.
An obviously narked McCarthy replied, "It makes me want to throw up. She's the devil with a pair of tits". Brady's brilliant comeback "But Benni, I'm meant to have tits, you aren't".

A classic and now one of my all time favourite comebacks along with the Australian bowler asking the Zimbabwean batsman "Why are you so fat?" and the reply "Because every time I make love to your wife, she gives me a biscuit" and another cricket zinger between Ian Botham and Rod Marsh where Marsh welcomed Botham to the crease with "How's your wife and my kids?". Botham returned "The wife's fine. The kids are retarded."

What were our motives in Libya?

Of course it is a good thing that another despot has been removed from power although there are a few causes for concern.
The first is that the rebels only stopped fighting each other to take on Gaddafi and now that he is gone, the possibility that they will go back to warring against each other as they divvy up the seats of power must be very high. Libya may well have jumped out of the Gaddafi shaped frying pan into a rebel shaped fire.
My other concern is that once again the United Nations was duped by leaders with ulterior motives.
The UN Resolution was to enforce a no-fly zone to protect civilians but it very quickly slipped into being about regime change and NATO being the air support for the rebels.
This is the second time in recent years that a UN Resolution to go to war has been sold to us as one thing only for it to be stretched way beyond its intended purpose. How can we trust anyone the next time they go to the UN wanting to launch an offensive under humanitarian grounds? We won't be able to, especially if the country concerned has oil beneath its sand as Iraq and Libya both have.
What also looks suspicious is the way Gaddafi's throne is still warm but the oil companies are already negotiating with the rebels regarding oil contracts while the French, British, Italian and American government representatives are discussing reconstruction contracts and even future arms sales. Obviously the competition to get in first is intense but it looks distastefully quick.
The third cause for concern is the way that the West have responded to the Arab Spring. With the action in Libya, the West seems to have been a guiding hand in deciding for other nations who can run their country, a complaint that has been coming from that area for years. In the past decade we have removed the ruler of Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya while doing our best to take down the rulers of Iran, Palestine and Syria. We have shored up repressive regimes in places like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Tunisia and how we continue to back Israel in its murderous repression of the Palestinians is criminal.
The Arab spring looked as though it would sweep away the oppressive Western backed leaders and replace them with democratically elected Governments who would not curtail human rights of their own citizens in order to appease the West but it seems we are again meddling and deciding which leader to back and which to help remove according to our own interests. Even the Arabs must see that we are not doing this out of some altruistic motive, we demand our pound of flesh for helping and that generally involves providing a reliable source of oil, buying our military hardware and bending over and just taking it when we demand.

Monday, 22 August 2011

World leaders qualifications

In the previous post i pondered on the qualifications of the men and women charged with making the big decisions. You would expect these people to be packing some serious qualifications so let's have a look at who from the G20 countries have the educational background to guide us through the choppy waters of yet another world wide recession.

SARKOZY (France) - Masters degree in Private Law
OBAMA (USA) - Degree in Political science, Degree in Law
MERKEL (GERMANY) - Masters degree in Physics
CAMERON (UK) degree in philosophy, politics & economics
HARPER (Canada) - Masters degree in economics
ZUMA (South Africa) - No formal qualifications
FELIPE CALDERON (Mexico) - Masters degree in economics
FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER (Argentina) - Degree in Law
ROUSEFF (Brazil) - Degree in Law
HU JINTAO (China) - Degree in engineering
NAOTO KAN (Japan) - Degree in Law
MANMOHAN SINGH (India) - Masters degree in Economics
SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO (Indonesia) - Military qualifications
MEDVEDEV (Russia) - Degree in law
RECEPP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (Turkey) - Degree in Business Administration
VAN ROMPUY (EU President) - Degree in philosophy, Masters degree in economics
BERLOSCONI (Italy) - Degree in law
GILLARD (Australia) - Degree in law
KING ADBULLAH BIN ABDUL AL SAUD - No formal qualifications
LEE MYUNG-BAK (S Korea) - No formal qualifications

Twenty World leaders and between them they muster 2 qualification in Politics, 5 in Economics and 8 in Law. Helpfully, 4 have no educational qualifications whatsoever.
When you see who is the majority group running things, Lawyers, it explains everything!!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Why the UK economy is failing

The markets are in turmoil apparently and the guys in the suits on the news are talking about a double dip recession so the only conclusion that we can reach is that whatever the Worlds politicians have been doing for the past 3 years, it hasn't worked.
Jobs have been slashed and services removed all for nothing. Nice one guys.
The man responsible in the UK for running the economy is George Osbourne, a proud owner of a degree in Modern History from Oxford University. Great if you want to know about the Age of Enlightenment but not so good if you are in charge of a tanking economy.
After leaving University, Boy George had a job entering the names of people who had died into a National Health Service computer and then worked for Selfridges, re-folding towels before taking up a job at Conservative Central Office.
So there we have the man who we entrusted to guide us out of the choppy waters, a History graduate with NVQ Level 1 IT skills and can fold a towel but no qualifications or experience in economics.
If i took my tax return to an accountant and he told me he didn't actually have any knowledge or experience of accounting but he would give it a go anyway, I wouldn't even open the door I would be out of there so quick so why are we willing to leave such huge decisions that affect the whole nation to such a man?
Why not appoint someone like the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable who has a PhD in Economics hanging on his wall and lectured at the University of Glasgow and the London School of Economics.
If i had to ask one of these to look through my accounts and another to fold my towels, i know which one i would be handing my receipts to and who would be directed to the airing cupboard.
It would be interesting to see how many of the people making the decisive decisions around the World have qualifications or even previous experience in Economics.

Monday, 15 August 2011

1st experience of camping

I have always managed to resist the temptation to pitch a tent and sleep in it for a couple of nights but i was finally persuaded this weekend we packed up a tent, the youngest daughter and a 24 pack of Carlsbergs and headed out into the New Forest.
Luckily the others we were going with were far more organised and what we didn't have (kettle, spare gas bottle, frying pan, lamps) we shared out between us.
Like something out of a Western film , we circled our tents, set fire to a metal dustbin lid full of dry wood, drank beer, ate burgers and realised just how dark it gets in the country away from the city lights.
Being a town dweller, there are lots of things about the country i never realised. As well as the darkness, the silence is almost eerie and when you run out of cigarettes or milk, you can't just nip down to the local 24 hour store.
When you hear the sound of rain hitting your tent it is too late to wonder if you fixed the ground sheet properly and there is no WI-FI, telephone signal or internet on your mobile which can be very frustrating when you are trying to find out the football scores or your wife is desperate to know if Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri had left yet so she can slate them without having the egg on her face if we come back Monday afternoon and they had undergone a change of heart and were both still Arsenal players.
The nighttime sky is host to more stars than i had ever seen before although i still seemed to be always looking the wrong way when the shooting ones appeared.
All in all a great weekend and i'm a converted camper, the decision to cut ourselves off completely from all other life except from those of us on the campsite was surprisingly easy and refreshing although i did notice we all make a beeline for the newspapers when we stopped at the services.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

2011/12 Season Predictions

The Premier League starts this weekend and every man and his dog are making predictions but although each season throws up a few surprises, it doesn't take a footballing genius to have a good idea of where the winners and losers will be coming from.
The champions will only come from a shortlist of three, Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City.
The clubs relegated come May will be perm 3 from Swansea, Norwich, West Brom, Newcastle, QPR, Wolves or Wigan.
Of the teams left, they even break down into teams who will challenge for the 4th Euro spot (Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool), those who will finish just outside the UEFA Cup places (Everton, Sunderland) and the rest who will stay safely in the middle not threatening the top or the bottom (Fulham, Aston Villa, Blackburn, Bolton, Stoke).
My hunch is for Manchester United to take the crown again due to their boring efficiency although if Manchester City click and they don't implode as they always seem on the verge of doing, they could be serious challengers.
Arsenal, if anything, are weaker than last season and if Fabregas and Nasri both leave as looks likely, it will be optimistic to think they will finish in the top 4.
Hard to look past Swansea, Norwich and Wolves to be relegated and join my team in the Championship next year. If we are not relegated by then.

I predict:

Man Utd (C)
Man City



Aston Villa

West Brom

Wolves (R)
Norwich (R)
Swansea (R)

Monday, 8 August 2011

Reserve currency explained for idiots like me

The more I learn about the economy the more I don't understand so I asked someone who understands these things to explain it in the most basic of basic terms and here is their reply.

- -
In very basic terms being the holder of the reserve currency allows you to buy things cheaper than anyone else as they have they added cost of changing their money into your currency first.

For example, if a 42 gallon barrel of oil costs $6, America gets it for $6. For that same barrel, the UK has to pay $6 and $1 to change the pound into dollars first.
So America can sell that barrel of oil to the Americans for $14.28 per gallon. The UK has to sell it at the equivalent of $16.66.

So cheaper petrol costs means it is cheaper to deliver something 10 miles in America ($142) than in the UK ($166) so the item being delivered, once delivery costs are factored in, is always going to be cheaper in the US. (Taxes, inflation etc must also be considered but ignore those for this purpose)

Now imagine the pound became the reserve currency and it got its 42 gallons for £6 while America had to pay £6 plus £1 to convert its dollar into pounds first. Petrol prices should fall in the UK while prices would definitely rise in America and the cost of delivering the items by ship, plane, car van etc would rise due to the added cost of the fuel.

So basically, the reserve currency allows you to be cheaper than anyone else in the World so prices are kept down. Take that away and prices go up, budgets get squeezed, jobs are lost, unemployment rises and Government raises less revenue and basically it all unravels.
- -

It's easy when someone explains it to you without all the blinding economic talk.

Panic on the streets of London

The circumstances surrounding the spark that kicked off the rioting in Tottenham at the weekend is still rather cloudy but the facts as we know them are that a young man, Mark Duggan, shot at armed police who then returned fire and killed him.
That was on Thursday, and on Saturday, the family of the man held a protest outside the local Police station as the Police were not communicating with them, they had to read of his death in the local newspaper.
As the protest went on, more people turned up and someone set fire to a police car and then things escalated and shops, vehicles and homes were looted and left burning.
That is the jist of events, a load of idiots looting and trashing their neighbourhood because one of their hoody mates got wasted when he shot at armed police.
This is not brain surgery, everybody knows the consequences of walking around town with a gun, armed police turn up to disarm you. If you then shoot at the police, you don't get a chance to take another shot.
Some reports have tried to make this about poverty or injustice or Government policy but that's nonsense and just being apologists for a mob of thugs who think that it's OK to smash shop windows and loot them and to think that it's OK to set fire to buildings and destroy people’s lives and possessions.
It is ridiculous for anyone to think they are being victimised if police shoot back after they have shot at police, i hope anyone who shoots at anyone else would be met with force, fatal force if necessary.
Riots are never justified but happen because people, like those in Greece or Syria, because they have no job, no education, are poor, downtrodden and generally screwed over.
They do not manifest just because some tosspot got what was coming to him so the blame will be shared around but the reality is the killing was an excuse for a riot rather than a reason.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Communists berating the Capitalists

Kinda funny that Capitalism beat Communism back in the 80s but today it is a Communist country telling the Capitalists to sort their houses out. Ooo the irony.
China has called America short-sighted & demanded the United States address its structural debt problems. Things must be in a bad way when the US is now being lectured by China, arguably one of the most corrupt countries on the planet. Seems to me that the Chinese have played a blinder over the past decade or so, keeping quiet while the Westsern Governments, bankers and financial houses have led us down the path of its own decline.
It even, quite sneakily, helped by lending the US the money to do it so American citizens were up to their eyeballs in debt and waited for the whole thing to implode, as it has.
Now they move in and suggest a new reserve currency.
China may yet overthrow the US and do it without a shot being fired. It just gave America enough rope and it did the rest itself. It obviously already runs the World economy now and it isn't America who, bankrupt and careering downhill fast, are today's USSR of the late 80's early 90's.
You had from 1989 to 2011 when you were the unchallenged World leaders, but the worst aspect of Capitalism, greed, has bled you dry.
Now it looks as though China will usurp America but before those who will inevitably be cheering Americas decline, do they really think China will be any better? They will be just as two faced with their friendly dictators, just as ready to fight amoral wars and just as quick to build up their friends and demonise their enemies as America.
The World could be a very different place in a decades time and the side that lost in the 80s and early 90's, could become the eventual winners. Sneaky guys those Commies.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Happy to be Church of England

I'm not religious but if i was forced to choose a religion, there are a few i would discount immediately.
Any of the ones where you have to donate money from your wage packet are out straight away as are the silly ones like Scientology and Mormonism.
Judaism is no good, all that removing foreskins and not eating bacon while Islam is a no-no because of Ramadan.
My Muslim friend tells me the exact date of Ramadan moves around so they must hate it when it falls in summer like this year and they can't eat or drink during daylight. It must be much easier to handle in winter when the refraining from eating and drinking only lasts from 9am-3pm rather than the 6am-9pm like it is now.
My choice of religion would be one where i don't have to do anything, it doesn't cost me anything and i can live the sort of life i choose and sin left, right and centre but as long as i repent before i take my last breath, i'm in heaven.
Actually, that's the Church of England which is what i am. That's handy so why Muslims are fasting for 15 hours a day and Jews are turning up their noses at bacon sandwiches and Catholics are sweating on the rhythm method, i'm stuffing my face all day long with all manners of pork, carving images of other Gods on a Sunday while blaspheming like a trooper and covering my neighbours donkey, but as long as i have the split second to repent before i die, i'm going to end up in the same place as all Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs and all the rest of them.
Doesn't seem fair really but i'm not complaining because the Church of England is perfect for me because it's a complete blag. Cya up there guys, i'll be the one smelling faintly of gammon steak.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Don't care anymore

Yes i know it is important but i just can't seem to muster the required energy to care anymore about the global economy. I'm fagged out hearing about markets and GDP and growth because that's all we have heard about for the past 3 years.
So Greece is skint and America is struggling to pay it's bills and Ireland and Iceland and Spain and Portugal are on the verge of going belly up and everyone is worried about the markets. I...DON'T....CARE...ANYMORE.
God its so tedious and to make things worse, it's the poor slobs at the bottom of the pile of the broke nations getting the hardest hammering.
Rather than bail out banks, we should just let them fail. What's the worst that can happen? The markets will jump around a bit for a while but they will balance out and it hasn't cost us billions that we can't afford and will have to pay through less police and shutting all the libraries.
If we had just watched as Northern Rock burned down in 2008, it would all have been sorted by now and things couldn't have been worse than they have been and we wouldn't be so far in debt.
Let the PIIGS countries topple over now because at some point we won't have any money left to lend to them and we are going to have to just let them go anyway, may as well do it now rather than hundreds of billions of euros later.
America is now $16 trillion in debt having just done the equivalent of hiking up its overdraft so it can pay it's bills and you just know that it is going to have to do some serious taxing and cutting to pull that back or have to raise it again.
The whole thing is a shambles so maybe it would be best if the entire system just collapsed and we could start again and do it properly this time.
What's the worst that could happen?