Thursday, 31 May 2012

Another U Turn

The Treasury has announced the cap on tax relief for charitable donations proposed by George Osborne in the Budget is to be dropped which means since the budget in March, this is the third policy that the Government has backtracked on.
The tax on caravans has fallen by the wayside, as has the proposed 'pasty tax' on hot food and the Government are spinning it as 'having listened to the public' which shows that they are on our side and anyway, it is a sign of a strong government that it is willing to rethink its policies and not just plough on regardless.
The other train of thought is that obviously the policies were not very well thought out to start with if they have to keep going back to drop them because of the public outcry.
My own feeling is that they are happy to lose a few little battles so they can win the wars on the big changes they most want, are ideologically programmed to employ, such as privatising the NHS.
Look, we listened they can say, and we are always willing to withdraw policies that are not in the best interest of you, the public, but this privatisation is a good thing so trust us because we are only doing it for you.
Most worrying is that despite 3m unemployed and leading us back into recession, the same people who made such a hash of the budget, are convinced that what they know how to lead us through these dark economic times. Scary.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Are The Free Syrian Army Just Today's KLA?

The conflict in Syria has been rumbling on for 15 months now and I have always had the feeling that the usual suspects, US, Britain and Israel have been itching to get involved to force that old favourite, regime change.
The Syrian President, Bashar Assad, is undoubtedly a nasty piece of work but the Free Syrian Army are little better, shelling pro-Government towns and cities and using suicide bombers and car bombs to kill Assad supporters as they did in Homs, bombing a demonstration that killed 7 including a French journalist.
Now the television news is reporting the massacre of 92 civilians in Houla for which the Free Syrian Army are blaming on the Syrian Government who in turn accused the killings on 'armed terrorist groups'.
President Assad has always maintained that he is fighting terrorists, a view shared by many especially after the Al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, gave his explicit support for the Syrian uprising just before the twin car bombings near a military building in Damascene which killed 55 and wounded hundreds.
The Free Syrian Army are calling for the West to intervene, calling for a Libyan style no-fly zone to attack Assad's troops, and stating: 'The inaction of the international community helps the Syrian authorities to perpetrate these massacres on a large scale'.
British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has called for a 'strong international response' and said Britain was consulting the UN on what that response should be.
While it is horrific to hear what is happening there, the British and American response should be to stay out of it.
The regime has been touting such attacks as evidence of Al-Qaida at work, while the Free Syria Army has insisted that the regime itself has been concocting the attacks to reinforce its terrorist narrative.
We have been here before, in Kosovo especially, where the first commander of U.N. troops in Bosnia, Canadian Gen. Lewis MacKenzie, confessed after the war that "We bombed the wrong side. The Kosovo-Albanians have played us like a Stradivarius'.
Now i don't know if the Free Syrian Army are playing us. They could well be the the victims of a massacre or they could well be perpetrating the massacres and blaming it on the regime forces to drag in the West but the US, Britain and Israel have no business there and will only escalate things.
Before we go stomping into yet another Middle East country with all guns blazing as it seems we are just waiting for an opportunity to do, think about who we are helping into power and whether the Free Syrian Army are just today's KLA making mugs of us and playing us like a Stradivarius.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Blog Musings

I moved to Blogger in January 2007 and this is the 1,249th time that i have hit the little 'new post' button and sent my words out onto the Internet for anyone with a connection to agree or disagree with.
As i said to EJ the other day, ideas from blog posts mostly come from what i have seen or heard that day and things going on that i agree or disagree with which on the whole means that if nothing else, my mumblings are topical.
I do regret never having inserted labels to my posts as i would like to see which subject has cropped up the most but politics would be the overwhelming choice, i do tend to get most bothered about that subject because that affects everything we do and we have very little say in it. Democracy is not as great as the people who benefit from it would have us believe but i digress from the point of this posting which is to ponder just what can us bloggers do so we don't get stuck in the same routine.
I blog about everything here from music to sport to astronomy which keeps the post count ticking over nicely but it does seem to have a 'samey' feeling about it as the same topics keeps cropping up again and again, us humans don't tend to change much as we start wars, squabble over money and worry about things we have no control over.
I have wondered many times what i can do to lead this blog forward onto other things and the answer always seems to be a team blog with a group of bloggers, each with knowledge in a particular field, and although it appeals, i wouldn't want to try and co-ordinate and then run it. Far too time consuming and I wouldn't want to be chasing people who are volunteering their time for posts when they may well have more important things going on in their life.
Another idea could be co-blogging with another blogger but it would be almost impossible to get someone who shares the same ideas and ideology as me and although Hanz has stepped in a few times, and as we are married we obviously have much in common, i was always worried that what he was posting would be so far away from my own thoughts that it would change the dynamics of the blog. I also noted that he was far more inclined to escalate an argument to a level that I would not, i'm quite happy that i have managed to go all this time without becoming embroiled in a nasty war of words with other bloggers and have kept a certain level of civility with even those strongly opposed to my views.
The other idea is to break up the blog into smaller blogs, each with it's own theme so one blog would have all the music posts, another would house all the sport type posts and another where all the astronomy and space stuff would go. My thinking here is that when anybody lands there, they know what to expect rather than coming here and not knowing what you would be reading, it could be a rant about the evils of Capitalism or just as likely be about aliens or REM.
Although i quite like the idea of a few smaller, more focused blogs, i think the team blog idea would be the best so if anyone if considering setting one up and needs a left wing, football loving, punk band listening, horror film loving, book reading, pacifist, British blogger, then my email address is on the profile page and we will get my people to speak to your people.
Failing that, i will just keep with the present hotch potch method and lumping it all here.

Eurovision 2012

As the continent gears up for the flamboyant Eurovision Song Contest final this Saturday evening, Spain's contestant, Pastora Soler, has said that some of the TV executives have been half joking with her that she should try not to win, because Spain couldn't afford to host the show next year.
It is hard to say if the same goes for other countries in the competition, at the best of times it looks as though most of them are deliberately trying to not win.
The Eurovision Song Contest rules state that the public broadcaster of the winning country must hold the contest the following year although there are those who argue that the Spanish TV executives were being a bit optimistic anyway and Spain was never going to bother the top end of the score board.
Italy are the current favourites which must be worrying Rome while the Greek entry is fancied as a dark horse in the contest. The other bankrupt country, Ireland, has entered Jedward again so they should safely be out of the running.
Clearly there are a number of European countries there who aren't exactly rolling in cash and the cost of hosting the show has set Azerbaijan back over £175 million but they did build a brand new concert hall for it. Norway was said to have spent £23 million in 2010 so it is a fair wedge for the winners.
Russia is by no means on it's uppers but you could be forgiven for thinking that by sending six 70 year old great grandmothers to sing their song they are not taking it very seriously.
The UK entry is being sang by pensioner Englebert Humperdink and we have spent all our money on this summers Olympics so we don't really want to win it but the chances and with the lacklustre song Engy is singing, it is pretty slim that we will win it but being a patriotic Brit i will be willing 'The Hump' to hand out a firm spanking to all the other Europeans and prove why the British have consistently been among the best singers and songwriters since Beethoven's cirrhotic liver gave way.
Come on Dingleburt Humpaduck or whatever your name is, with so many countries not wanting to win this may be our best chance to win the thing although it may have to be staged in a church hall in 2013 if we do.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Star Trekking

Neil Denny of Little Atoms Road Trip has began his 6000 mile road trip across America to look at science and skepticism in America and his first port of call is the SETI project in California.
At some point in everybody's life, they have looked up at the night sky and wondered if there is anybody else up there or are we alone?
The odds are pretty slim that life has not evolved elsewhere and it is just us funny looking humans kicking around in the whole Universe but if there are other lifeforms out there, they are not letting on just yet.
More and more countries are setting up a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) projects, scanning the heavens for a sign that ET is not only there but is saying hello to us.
Unfortunately, there has been no discovery yet but what if one day there was a clear sign that there was intelligent life on one of the planets circling the billions of billions of stars up there?
If it was announced that we have received a signal from intelligent aliens 5000 light years away then i think we could expect a significant impact and a rethinking by the more religious amongst us but if the announcement was we have found intelligent life and they're coming for a visit then i think we could expect wide spread panic, remember Orson Welles 'War of the Worlds' radio broadcast, that didn't show us in the best light.
So the SETI guys would inform the President or Prime Minister of whichever country they were in that ET was calling and they would bear in mind what a bunch of reactionaries we are and promptly issue a blanket ban on releasing it to the public.
Then again how could they keep quiet a fleet of blinking spaceships descending on the planet ready to meet us which would cause even more panic which puts the SETI scientists and World leaders in the predicament of whether to announce it.
The part i worry about is the very real likelihood that contact with aliens would be a disaster for one of us because history has shown time and time again that when it comes to us humans, we are not the friendliest when it comes to meeting different cultures.

Monday, 21 May 2012

2012 Paralympics

Controversial maybe, but I have always viewed the Paralympics as a bit of a B event, a sideshow to the main Olympics and that has always bothered me.
Why not run the Olympic and Paralympic events alongside each other, on the same day and in front of the same crowd i wondered and i am obviously not alone because a Scope Poll showed that almost two-thirds of disabled people think the same thing and want to see the Paralympics merged with the Olympics.
More than half of all Britons polled without disabilities, thought that combining the Olympics and Paralympics would help disabled athletes to be taken more seriously and improve society's views about disabled people.
There, that's sorted then, Britain's Olympic legacy should have been we were the first to combine the two and dispel the myth that disabled athletes are inferior to their able bodied colleagues.
Then i heard the view of Britain's two-time Paralympic champion swimmer Nyree Kindred who argued that 'We have our own identity and we are proud to be Paralympians.'
Another argument against is that with all those extra events, it would become so long, bloated and unwieldy that some events would have to be dropped and it wouldn't be the able bodied events that are swept away.
Both very persuasive arguments but i'm still left with this nagging feeling that the Paralympians get a rough deal when it comes to air time and media headlines and general public support.
Channel 4 has won the rights to broadcast the 2012 Paralympics games and as it has a 200 hour summer gap to fill with the demise of Big Brother, it has promised 150 hours of TV coverage over the 9 days and stated: 'The London Paralympic games will be the main event, not a sideshow to the Olympics.
The games will take over Channel 4 for their duration' so at last, it'll get the coverage it and the paralympians richly deserves.

Magic Roundabout Swindon

I travelled up to Swindon this weekend. Nice place with plenty of green open spaces and very clean but inside Swindon there lurks a deep, dark secret so cunningly devilish that only an evil mind could have thought it up.
Anyone who has ever driven through Swindon will have come across the Magic Roundabout, a monster of a roundabout that consists of five smaller roundabouts that somehow uttering 'what the f...' doesn't really do it justice as you approach it.
Cars are going in all directions, most of them round in circles as they try to get off one of the mini-roundabouts they have been orbiting
like a moon for the past 10 minutes.
Incredibly, i found out later that the Magic Roundabout was introduced there as it was the most dangerous junction in Swindon at the time and this was supposed to make it safer. Safer!!
I had the advantage of knowing about this traffic nightmare before, having heard sinister tales of it from colleagues who had travelled through the Wiltshire Town previously so when i saw the approaching sign it was with some apprehension.
As my husband calmly advised me to keep a close eye on the traffic approaching from the right and to turn slowly onto the first roundabout, i saw a gap and sped out, turned right, headed for the second roundabout and turned off to the nearest road to be greeted by the satnav telling me to make a u-turn when possible. B******s!!
So on my second attempt i sat at the entrance to the roundabout, calmly plotting my course weaving through the highway version of Hell and waited for a gap. Then the sign for Cirencester, which is where i was trying for first time, caught my eye and any carefully plotted courses weaving elegantly through the mini-roundabouts went out the window and I just gunned it straight across the middle.
When my husband got up from the fetal position in the footwell and i opened my eyes, we were on the road leading away from the Magic Roundabout.
Later on neither of us could work out if we actually drove the correct way aross the roundabout or risked leaving a trail of carnage in our wake but all i know is that the road planners in Swindon are either evil or mad.
If anyone stumbles across this post who are facing a trip to Swindon, my advice would be to carefully survey the traffic, work out which way it is going and when you see a gap, just slam your foot down, head for the middle and pray.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Nato Chicago

The 25 Interesting (and Odd) Chicago Facts website advises us that Chicago takes it name from a native American word for onion field which covered the land where the Windy City would later be built.
All those onions must have been quite eye watering and there could be a few more tears this weekend as the city that 'Married with Children' was set in hosts the NATO summit.
The city has spent $65m to host the summit and have spent another $1m in riot-control equipment including long range acoustic weapons and upgrading police riot shields as they also welcome tens of thousands of demonstrators who are expected to flood the city.
The G8 summit which is also taking place this weekend was initially scheduled to be held in Chicago, but security concerns saw it was moved to the Presidential compound, Camp David, which is easier to defend against placard waving nurses.
These types of events always attract mass protests and regrettably they often escalate into violence so the heavy security is probably warranted because there are a lot of angry people around as NATO and the leaders of the G8 countries have both been acting pretty shoddy of late.
There will be people protesting about NATO's involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya as well as the 99% who have been diced and spliced by the West's leaders.
Local police have arrangements in place to shut down mobile phone services to prevent protesters from coordinating their movements through social networks and the Red Cross have a large number of shelters on standby in the event of riot related injuries.
All the ingredients are there for a stormy weekend in Chicago, angry protesters and hyped up police officers armed with sparkly new riot shields, but i never understand why these events are held in major cities.
America is a big place and there are many empty spaces in it so if it has to be held there, build a special place away from the heavily populated areas that is awkward for protesters to get to and harass the leaders.
Another alternative would be to host the meetings on a ship anchored in the middle of one of the great lakes or mid-Atlantic or an even better would be for NATO and the G8 countries to not go around bombing oil rich countries and generally hacking so many people off that they feel they need to protest against them in the first place.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

An Offer Greece Shouldn't Refuse

Dear Greece,

I keep hearing on the television that you have no money left so I am writing to you to inquire about the possibility of buying your country for £100m.
I have always fancied the idea of owning my own country and I am currently in a position to buy one, having recently received winning notification from Euro - Afro Asian Sweepstake International that I have won exactly that amount in their latest draw.
I have been assured that the £100m will be deposited in my bank account just as soon as I send them my bank details and the £1,000 they need to process my claim.
Speaking of which, I was wondering if, as a gesture of goodwill ahead of my imminent purchase of your country, that you might be able to lend me £1,000, as my own savings are currently tied up helping the wife of the late head of state of Nigeria, who recently emailed me to inquire if i might assist her in getting the $100m misappropriated by her late husband out of Nigeria.
Once I have received my share I will obviously repay your £1,000 in full, with a bit on top for your co-operation.
While I am aware that you are looking for as much as possible for your country, I was wondering if perhaps you'd be willing to knock a bit off as there are certain parts of it that I don't actually want: your army as it looks a bit girly with those pom poms on their shoes, Rhodes, those weird shaped guitars, your banks, the fat, hairy blokes who SHOUT ALL THE TIME, any of your football teams, Nana Mouskouri, all the statues of naked men with their junk hanging out and your olives.

I look forward to hearing from you



Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Myth Of Palestine

When you consider the hardship that the Palestinians have had to go through since 1948, it is no wonder that they have plenty of protests about their conditions but today is a special day for demonstrations because it is "Nakba Day", when they commemorate the displacement of 800,000 Arabs when Israel was created.
The demonstrations are held annually in Palestine and this years march is joined by Nakba protests in Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.
Of course the Israelis don't like any criticism of their actions, past or present, and even attempted to draft a law that would ban the commemoration of Nakba day in Israel and a three-year prison sentence for any Arabs who broke the law. It was only dropped after a wave of horror from the Israeli media pointing out that it would be yet another public relations disaster for Israel.
Undeniably, Israel's actions towards its non-Jewish citizens, occupied peoples and neighbours cause insurmountable difficulties for all but if Israel had been created in another part of the globe, would the World today be a more peaceful place?
The Middle East is a hotbed of terrorism and the vast majority of that regions terrorists use the Palestinians cause in their justifications of their actions. The countries surrounding the Jewish state are not on friendly terms with it and indeed the majority of countries around the World are critical of its actions so what if Israel had popped up somewhere else?
I can almost hear the Israel supporters gasping that Palestine is their spiritual home and where they should be but that wasn't what the fathers of Israel were considering when they were gaining support for a land for the Jews, they wanted to place Israel in Argentina amongst other places.
"Shall we choose Palestine or Argentina? We shall take what is given to us" said Theodor Herzl, the founder of the movement to establish a Jewish homeland which he thought would be Argentina because it was 'one of the most fertile countries in the world, extends over a vast area, has a sparse population and a mild climate'.
Another one of the countries he was pushing for to establish Israel was Uganda and then Kenya, only for the Herzl expedition to be put off by the wildlife and the large number of Masai who made it clear that they did not welcome a large influx of Europeans to their country.
Cyprus and Egypt were even considered by the Herzl committee who died before any firm decision was made.
Palestine may be where Israel ended up but only after looking elsewhere first but it was so close to being Argentina which would have changed the course of history not only for the Palestinians and the whole Middle East, but for the world.
It also makes a bit of a sham of the often quoted myth from Israeli supporters who argue that being where it is today is due to religious reasons because if it wasn't for a few lions spooking the exploration committee, there was every chance that Israel would very well be neighbouring Nairobi or Kampala although the plains of Argentina, not the land of the Arabs, was the first choice.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Goal-line Technology

Much debate about goal-line-technology and what system football should turn to. Choice seems to be between the Hawkeye system similar to that used at Wimbledon or the GoalRef technology that sees a microchip inside the ball.
The present problem seems to be that the action happens so quick that the human eye of the referee cannot see with 100% accuracy whether the ball has crossed the line or not. We have seen many examples of the referee deciding he saw one thing only for them to be proved wrong later when the boys in the studio look at it from every angle.
Personally, i enjoy the human error part of it, my team have scored goals that should never have been as i have seen goals scored against us which should never have counted and my worry is that it will quickly creep from the game being paused while the referee looks at whether the ball crossed the goal-line to whether it was a penalty or a red card and we will be stopping and starting all game long.
Now, as a few people have pointed out but have been ignored, the large majority of these incidents seem to occur when the ball comes down off the crossbar and the crossbar is round. Would a ball come down like that if it was bouncing off a flat surface, such as a square crossbar?
I'm no expert in geometry but wouldn't it be almost impossible for a football to hit the bottom of a square bar and come straight down as it does when hitting the underside of a round bar? It would just skim off and carry on or hit the edge and come out. If i'm wrong then how about a triangle with the point at the bottom so it has very little surface area that won't force the ball into the goal or away from it? Even a hexagon shape would work.
So instead of spending millions installing technology to tell us whether it was a goal or not and force games to stop and start, why not just go the low-tech and much cheaper option of just changing the shape of the crossbar?

Friday, 11 May 2012

Drinking Tea The British Way

In my previous post i used the fact that Americans drink cold tea as an attempted humorous entry point to how they are now becoming more aware about Global Warming.
I long thought that Iced Tea was one of those things that just happened to sound like it was made from cold tea, like Dr Pepper isn't actually made by doctors or contain peppers, until it was confirmed to me by my Canadian colleague that actually, it really is just cold tea.
Apparently it is made the same way as us Brits but instead of pouring it into a cup with milk and sugar and drinking it hot with a biscuit or scone, they put it into a glass full of ice and drink it cold.
I then realised that with an expected 4.6 million international visitors coming to our green and pleasant land this summer for the Olympics, that there is going to be mayhem in cafes and restaurants around the capital with our national beverage.
We faced a choice of trying to be helpful to our guests and accommodating them in their drink choices by learning the difference between our tea and your tea but we decided nah, stuff 'em, they can have our tea and as more foreign nationals are in UK prisons for tea violations than any other charge, i think i should arrogantly point out how tea should be approached and not the wrong way the rest of you are doing it.
You will face 4 choices when asking for a tea. Leaves/Bag, mug/cup, black/white and with/without.
Your first option when deciding you want to chance a cup of tea is if you want it made from tea leaves or tea bags. The former version comes with a strainer to remove the leaves, the latter with a tea bag which is dunked until the correct tea colour is reached. Too pale and we are legally entitled to shout 'Piss drinker' at you while too dark and you will be ostracised from the local community. It is like breaking wind in a lift, not illegal but just not done.
Your second choice is cup or mug. A cup will be china and come with a saucer, teaspoon and a teapot while a mug is just an over sized cup with a teaspoon stuck in it.
The third choice is where most people get into trouble. If you choose the leaves and cup, you will then be presented with a small container full of milk. It is absolutely vital that you put the milk into the cup before pouring the tea.
Most arrests occur by people putting the water in first. This can crack the china due to the sudden heat of the boiling water hitting the delicate china which shatters the cup and sees you in front of a wig wearing judge for criminal damage and GBH charges if anyone is scalded by the steaming water.
Always, always, always put the milk in first to stop heat shock and a year sharing a cell with someone called Big Larry. If you are unsure, choose the mug option as the milk and water will already be added.
If you have opted for sugar then this is put in last and then the whole thing is stirred. Over stirring should be resisted as it does nothing to the flavour of the tea but the constant chinking of the spoon against the cup annoys everyone else around you.
I hope that in some small way i may have helped you how tea should be drank so we avoid any confusion on your visit here.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Welcome Aboard Americans

What about those crazy American eh? They drink their tea cold, call petrol gas and named a town Dicktown in New Jersey. Yep, mad as a bag of frogs but i think we can overlook their beverage drinking mishaps and mad town names considering they gave us some of the best TV and music during my lifetime.
Of course being the worlds greatest polluters until very recently should not be forgiven, nor the people who attempt to shrug off the damage to the climate which unfortunately is quite a few of the cold tea drinking Yankees.
Or so we thought because a survey from Yale and the George Mason University, have discovered that a large majority of Americans believe that the swathe of weather disasters to hit America these last few years were probably made worse by global warming.
'Most people in the country are looking at everything that’s happened; it just seems to be one disaster after another after another' said Anthony A. Leiserowitz of Yale University. 'People are starting to connect the dots.'
The poll suggests that a large majority of the public, 69%, feels that global warming is real and affecting the weather in the United States although the most striking statistic is that over a third of the public reported being affected by extreme weather in the past year.
Finally and all it took was fatal tornadoes, hurricanes and heatwaves in their own backyard.
It is a well placed blow to all those who deny the climate is changing, the American public are believing their eyes over your words.
Welcome aboard, it's always better to be late than never.
Now, about that cold tea...

Monday, 7 May 2012

Halal and Kosher Meat

Evolution has made us the top predator and as human beings, living in a food rich civilisation, we have the great privilege of choosing what we eat and what we leave on the supermarket shelves.
Personally, i leave meat on the shelf and have since i was a teenager although i am not a militant vegetarian, if you choose to eat meat than that doesn't concern me, or rather it does but i'm not your conscience.
Whether you would feel the same if you ever made a trip to a slaughterhouse and watched the first act in the journey that leads a 10 week old lamb from the field to your plate is debatable, at the very least it should make you think the next time you are served a chop.
Over 40 million cattle, calves, sheep, pigs and around 900 million poultry are killed every year in the United Kingdom for meat and the vast majority of these were stunned into unconsciousness before being slaughtered. The RSPCA state that stunning causes an animal to lose consciousness, so that it can’t feel any pain until it is dead and the law states that all animals must be stunned before being killed, with a few exemptions. Halal and Kosher meat.
Animals killed that are acceptable to the religious faiths of Judaism and Islam are not stunned, they are restrained and their throat cuts and the animal dies slowly as the blood drains away.
Animal rights groups, the RSPCA and the Government advisory board, the Farm Animal Welfare Council all say that the suffering caused by this form of slaughter is severe. The FAWC report went as far as to say that 'slaughter without pre-stunning is unacceptable and the government should repeal the current exemption for religious slaughter'.
The Government are not going that far bur are considering labelling meat that has been killed according to Kosher or Halal methods so the public have a choice which isn't perfect but should make slaughterhouses think twice if demand falls, especially as at the moment they can send out any excess Kosher and Halal meat to supermarkets for the unprepared public to eat. If they are left with tonnes of un-stunned dead animals literally hanging around the place, they should reduce the amount of animals unnecessarily slaughtered.
In defense of the Kosher method, Shechita UK, a group set up to promote awareness of Jewish methods of slaughter, insist that cutting an animal's throat in a single swipe is less cruel than stunning it first. Behalal, whose mission statement is to 'educate and inform those wishing to follow the halal diet' say that Halal is actually more humane than conventional slaughter and produces less pre-stress for the animal'.
If the choices are between the RSPCA and the Government advisory board or a couple of organisations whose purpose is to promote the religious slaughter of animals, i know whose side most right thinking people should come down on.
People will always eat meat and most people don't consider the trip from the field to the fork but when the labels go on to show which animal was killed humanely and which was subject to severe suffering, your conscience should tell you, if you really have to eat meat, which to put in your basket.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Viva La Socialism

It wasn't much of a surprise that the French Presidency has changed hands and it now Francois Hollande cartwheeling around The Elysee Palace in place of Sarkozy who conceded defeat just 20 minutes after the polling closed.
Bye bye Sarkozy, don't let the doorknob hit the back of your head on your way out.
Hollande has said all along that austerity is not the only way to get France out of the Economic mess which has not gone down well in Germany with Angela Merkal and won't sit very well with our own Conservative Government who have long argued that austerity is the only way.
"I'm sure in a lot of European countries there is relief, hope that at last austerity is no longer inevitable" said Hollande at his victory speech which must be a boost for left wing parties everywhere.
Hopefully, we will now see a wave of right wing Governments removed and a sea of Socialist Parties being elected into power.
This could be the start of a momentous time where right wing policies and unregulated Capitalism have their chips cashed in and fairness, equality and a more equal redistribution of wealth is ushered in.
The trickle down theory has failed, there are far more poor people than rich ones in every developed country so anyone advocating policies that are in the clear self-interest of this majority, raising wages, reducing prices, create jobs, will be voted into office.
Voters are coming to the conclusion that since most people in the world are either poor or live below the average income in their countries, it is in their own interests to vote for politicians promising to redistribute wealth from the top of the economy down to them.
South American countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile and Ecuador reached this conclusion a while ago and turned to the left and now one of the great powers in Europe has gone the same way.
Maybe, just possibly, the penny has dropped and we will see modern Socialism replace the tired and corrupt ways of the right.
A lot will depend on how Hollande's policies fare but Karl would be proud tonight.

Friday, 4 May 2012

May The 4th Be With You

In the film 'Revenge of The Nerds', the brainiacs end up stealing the girl off the jock, winning the talent competition and inspiring the school to raise up in the cause of nerds everywhere.
Outside of the film world, all nerds get are atomic wedges and largely avoided but for one day of the year the geeks, dorks and nerds stop grumbling about how Jean-Luc Picard should speak with a French accent, turn off the Sci-Fi channel and come together to celebrate Star Wars Day.
I'm fine with that, can't stand the film myself, but each to their own. I imagine there are some people who don't like the things that i like and that is fine also. Very weird but fine.
The IT nerds at work are very helpful. Yes you have to listen to them moan about how the inadequate air conditioning affects the server but that is a small price to pay for them fixing your mobile after you spilt coffee all over it or retrieving that important file after you accidentally formatted the hardrive.
Star Wars day is different though because every nerd i came within speaking distance of today said 'May The 4th Be With You'.
Every. Single. One. All. Day.
Yes, very funny, now please fix my monitor in perfect silence or you will be removing it from your Wookie.

Tories Hammered

It's been quite a good week for lovers of schadenfreude. It began with Rupert Murdoch being declared unfit to run an International company, then the FA blew a huge raspberry at Harry Redknapp for the England job and then last night the Conservatives were handed a bloody nose and couple of black eyes by the British voting public.
Yes it was only local elections but they are a flavour of public feeling and what the public are feeling are that the coalition Government is not to their taste.
The Conservatives lost 400 seats and the Lib Dems 300 while Labour gained 700, a result which forced David Cameron to apologise to all his fellow Tories that were kicked out of the Councils up and down the country.
One minister, Gerald Howarth, blamed Cameron's decision to back gay marriage as the reason for the Tory collapse which is an interesting argument although it slightly overlooks the NHS privatisation, pay freezes, the extortionate cost of petrol, double dip recession, tax cut for the rich, the £11Bn Olympics, the Leverson enquiry, internet snooping, petrol shortage, savage cuts, redundancies in the public service, 3m unemployed, granny tax and student fees which many may argue are more on peoples minds at the moment than allowing a gay couple to get married.
This kind of drubbing should make the Conservatives and Lib Dems think twice about how they have been doing things so far although that's not the sense coming from David Cameron who said: 'These are difficult times and we need to make tough decisions and we'll go on making those decisions because we've got to do the right thing for our country."
Nothing like the arrogance of ignoring the people who voted you into power although that may soon be remedied as the array of political analysts on the TV pointed out that if the result was extrapolated for the general election, Labour would win a majority in Parliament in 2015.
Dave, Nick, the people have spoken boys and what they are saying is you suck.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Tony Blair Redux

The bubonic plague, smallpox, deely boppers and those cup and ball games. There are many things that you hope once gone will stay away forever but nobody seems to have told Tony Blair who is keen to return to UK politics.
His first step in the long road back to not being egged every time he steps outside the front door is to hire a spin doctor as part of an attempt to drag his profile up from the sewer. Good luck to whichever firm gets the gig of rebranding him. Are there many more chalices more poisoned?
Maybe it was all part of the Blair master plan after it all went awry. Let Gordon Brown take the heat over his wars and lose the next election and wait for the Tories to get in and do what the Tories always do and hack off everybody while he swans off on an international magical mystery tour of expensive hotels, while making millions with his dreadful wife and come back five years later and see if people have forgiven and forgotten what a monster he was.
Seems we haven't.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Thanks MOD

There are many things that Hamas and the Taliban are rightly castigated for and placing their military hardware in public areas is one of them.
We hear so many stories of Hamas lobbing rockets over the wall into Israel and Israel replying by blowing up a UN warehouse or a block of flats and killing scores of innocent people.
Britain rightly condemns fighting in civilian areas although that argument is looking slightly weaker with the news that during the Olympics, missile batteries are going to be placed on top of high rise flats in London.
Now i'm not sure how i would feel if the Army decided to plant a batch of surface to air missiles on the roof of where i live. Actually, i know how i would feel, i would tell them exactly where they could plant their missiles which is what many of the residents have done which is why they were not asked.
My first concern would be having high velocity missiles sat right above my head while i'm trying to listen to which athlete is having their medal taken back for failing a drug test. London is full of empty buildings, what's up with one of those roofs?
Secondly just by having them there my home would become an instant terrorist target, thank you for that MOD.
Thirdly, every news channel has now told every wannabe terrorist in the World exactly where tonnes of military hardware is sat.
Just because they are surface to air missiles, it doesn't mean that the surface has to be directly on top of 700 residents in East London.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

How Did We Get Here?

I often wondered just how humans managed to evolve to become the globes top creature. We have no real weapons in our arsenal. No claws or pincers or razor sharp teeth. We are not particularly fast runners, swimmers or great climbers. Our sense of smell and sight are weak compared to most other animals and we can't fly and don't possess a poisonous sting or bite so what stopped all the other animals armed with all these things picking us off the second we came down from the tree tops?
Whatever the reason, we are where we are and stomping around the place like we own it, which we do really. Tough luck dolphins, you had your chance.
Anyway, we developed tools and made wheels and found out how to control fire and moved out of damp, cold caves and into houses with carpets and central heating.
Probably our greatest weapon was our brains once we realised that sharp things do a lot of damage to anything wanting to make a meal out of us. So we continued to evolve and our brains got bigger and we got cleverer and it was thought that we had advanced as far as we could, that we were in a post-evolutionary state but a scientific report in the National Academy of Sciences have found that we are still evolving and growing bigger and stronger.
We haven't done bad for a glorified ape with no real weapons or visible means of protection but i might be minded to amend the 'humans are still evolving' headline to 'some humans are evolving' because i have met some who may well be devolving if there is such a word.
That's right, and you know who you are.
So what about the other creatures? Why are they content to stay in their allotted place in the scheme of things? Why are none of them developing along the same lines as we did? Will it take a global disaster that wipes us out before the mole or the badger makes the giant leap forward?
I don't know but i suggest we keep a close eye on those meerkats.