Sunday, 31 March 2013

Making Money For The Meatloaf CD

It is nice to see the Meatloaf album, Bat out of Hell, is being sold again because it must have been 3 or 4 years since it was last re-released. To be fair this one does come with a 3D cover and no self-respecting Meatloaf fan would want to be seen without a 3D cover and it is being pushed as a 'collectors edition' so they have tagged on a special live recording of Meat singing 'Bat Out Of Hell' just to make if different to every other edition the collectors already have.
It does make me wonder just how low wattage some people are working on that they will keep paying out for the same thing over and over again, probably the same people who turn up to this, being paid for taking potentially lethal medicines.
Just how broke must you be to agree to take untested pills and medicines to, as the website states: 'test in order to determine whether it is safe and effective enough to be used by humans'.
If the 'safe and effective enough to be used by humans' bit isn't enough to penetrate a brain dulled by years of listening to 'Two out of three ain’t bad' then it probably won't notice the rest of the waiver either that warns: 'there is always a possibility that the outcome will differ to that which was expected' and 'the effects of a research study drug on an individual is not always easily predicted' which is why they require you to sign an informed consent form, so you can't sue them if your eyeballs explode.  
While it is true that the £120 per trial you receive would buy a lot of Meatloaf CD's, they don't just take any fan of 70's operatic/metal, at the moment they are looking for Japanese males aged between 25 and 40 and breastfeeding mums aged between 18 and 40. I did check but middle aged former headbangers who know the words to 'Paradise by the dashboard light' need not apply.
I just hope that when Meatloaf cashes that royalty cheque he thinks of all people taking a potentially lethal cocktail of drugs, dragging themselves from their clinical trial clutching his CD (with the 3D cover) and collapsing down at the bottom of a pit in the blazing sun, torn and twisted at the foot of a burning' hell, think somebody somewhere must be tolling a bell, and the last thing they see is their heart, still beating, breaking out of their bodies and flying away. Probably.

Friday, 29 March 2013

North Korea Cranking It Up

Last year, when Psy was everywhere i turned doing his Gangham Style dance i did wonder why it was North Korea that was considered the bad guy but he has thankfully disappeared again and our attention is turned back to above the 38th parallel and Kim Jong Un.
At first glance it is difficult to understand why the North Koreans are threatening not only the most advanced military in the World but also one of the most keenest to use it. If North Korea attacked America, Kim Jong Un and his country would be obliterated so why tug on the tail of the tiger at all?
Over the last few decades, North Korea has found that if it throws a tantrum, it gets aid and as North Korea is a land of not much, it needs international aid.         
North Korea now though face the problem of stamping its feet so often and so loudly that nobody is taking much notice anymore so it has to make people take notice and its thinking is to crank up the rhetoric.
Coupled with a new, young leader keen to show that he is no pushover, North Korea could become more of a problem than we give it credit for.
In 2010, under Kim Jong Il, Pyongyang sank a South Korea ship killing 46 and shelled civilian and military building on the Yeonpyeong Island killing 4 South Koreans following US and South Korean war games so it has proven that it is willing to reach for the military if it deems necessary to bring the attention back to itself.  
The concern is that with tensions so high, events could quite easily spiral out of control and an escalation could easily follow something going off by accident or a misinterpretation or even a miscalculation and these things can spiral out of control.
What is also seemingly overlooked is that although there is plenty of bluster around North Korea's nuclear weapons, there is no proof that they have the ability to deliver a nuclear warhead to the coast of America but what they do have is thousands of ballistic missiles and a vast array of chemical and biological weapons that would inflict carnage on it's neighbours in the South and Japan in an initial onslaught.
It wouldn't survive long afterwards but it would go out with one almighty bang and take large swathes of its enemies with it.

Solving The Dangerous Dogs Problem

After yet another death by dog, the debate rears it ugly head again with the argument on one side being it's all the owners fault and those on the other blaming the breed of dog.
I come down somewhere in the middle, finding the fault lies somewhere between the two, irresponsible dog owners and the breed of dog.
It is undeniable that when these attacks happen, the same dog breeds overwhelmingly come up such as the pit bulls, staffs and rottweilers. I have yet to hear of a person being mauled to death by a Yorkie, Poodle or a Chihuahua which is not to say that these dogs don't attack people, just that when they do, they obviously don't inflict such damage as a Pit bull.
Then there are the irresponsible dog owners who keep these powerful animals in their homes and don't control them or in some cases, encourage their violent streak.
The obvious solution, to me anyway, is to find a way to have less of the type of breeds of dog that if it attacked could cause death and serious injury but doesn't stop people having dogs altogether.
One often mentioned solution is the reintroduction of a dog licence which i consider a good idea, not sure why it was ever scrapped but by bringing it back, we then have the chance to bring in a workable solution to the amount of dangerous dogs in our midst.
Using the car insurance and size and power of car as a template, charge the licence per breed of dog. A small dog such as a King Charles Spaniel would be considerably less to purchase a licence for than a Rottweiler which would see less powerful dogs in our parks and on our streets.
Any irresponsible owners would then be able to have their licence withdrawn and unable to own another dog.
Seems simple to me, if you want a big dog for security, intimidation or any of the other reasons that are put forward as justification, then you will have to pay handsomely for that privilege and if you then fail to control your dog, then that privilege is removed also.
Why is that so hard for the people making the decisions to understand that making halfway decisions about muzzles for some and not for others and what breed is dangerous and which isn't is not solving anything, just treat dogs as we treat cars, guns or anything that can cause death if misused and regulate them. 

Miliband Appointment Puzzling

I thought irony hit its peak when Tony Blair was made a special envoy to the Middle East, a man who had done more than his fair share to bring death and injury to the region and was now trying to bring peace to it, but irony now has another high.
One of Blairs most loyal lieutenants behind the Labour Government policy of bringing democracy to places by bombing the hell out it, David Miliband, has been appointed as President and Chief Executive of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) a global humanitarian aid organisation that 'saves lives and protects people around the world'.   
Many people believe that when the Labour Party were looking for a successor to Gordon Brown, they chose the wrong Miliband brother but for many of us Labour voters, older brother David was tainted by his support for the atrocious Iraq War.
The irony of David Miliband heading a humanitarian organisation when he was part of the Government who created some of the worlds disasters areas has not been lost on other aid agencies such as Medicine Without Borders who have criticised the appointment of a former foreign secretary, especially one with the record of the elder Miliband, as they already have to battle accusations that western aid agencies are just another tool of nations involved militarily in conflict zones.
'Our efforts to convince warring parties that are independent from foreign political agendas has became less credible as a result of this appointment' said a spokesman for MWB and he has hit the nail on the head.
When a charity rolls up to help out, and you hear it is funded by the likes of the US Government (72% of its funding is from the US Government) Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JP Morgan Pepsi and Pfizer and have board members that include Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger and now David Miliband, you would be mad not to be suspicious of an ulterior motive as all these ex-Government members are distributing humanitarian aid to the very places and people that they did there damnedest to make sure now need it. 
Why a charity feels it needs a boardroom full of people who were part of the Governments who oversaw kidnapping, torture, illegal wars and the deaths of hundreds of thousands i will never understand, but if this motley crew turned up offering aid you couldn't blame the leader of being suspicious and as David Miliband is being paid £280,00 a year for his services, you should also wonder when we give to charity, how much is going to a board members fat salary and how much to the cause?  
Sadly, this news will mean supporters will be thinking twice about giving money to the IRC the next time they shake another collection box under our noses.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Bye Bye Amazon

The latest quarterly figures show worldwide revenue for Amazon grew 23% to £14bn in the last three months of 2012.
Marketplace traders in UK and major European markets to be hit by fee hikes of up to 70% after Easter following similar rises in US.
Commercial suicide? Hope so as there will be no shortage of firms willing to replace them and it will serve the greedy buggers right.

Sodor & The Man With The Big, Black Book

The people of Sodor lived on the side of an ancient volcano and since the discovery of the yellow liquid and the expulsion of the man with the bowler hat, they had plentiful food, housing and everyone was happy.
One day a ship came into the harbour and out stepped a man carrying a big black book.
He called together all the inhabitants of Sodor and began to tell them that all they had, the land, the sea, the food they eat, the sun and sky were provided to them by an all powerful man named Hod.
The Sodor people had never questioned how they had came to be on the side of the volcano or how the sun and moon got into the sky but the man with the black book explained how Hod had made them and the volcano and they should be thankful to Hod.  
He told them that if the people of Sodor thanked Hod and lived good lives like it said in the big black book then they could go be with Hod one day but if they were not thankful to Hod and lived bad lives, Hod did not want them and they would go to a dark, cold place and Hod would be angry.
'But we don't want to go to go to the dark, cold place' cried the Sodorians, 'how can we live good lives, what must we do?'       
The man opened the book and read out 23 things that the Sodorians must do so that they can be with Hod one day and how if they built a house where they could say thank you, Hod would hear them better.
When the man got back on the boat, he left the big book with the man in the crowd who seemed the most enthusiastic and said that he would be known as the Big Hod and that they would return in one year to see how they were getting on.
The people of Sodor talked about the visit of the man and his big black book and some were scared of going to the dark, cold place so they built a house and went into it every day to tell Hod how much they loved him and to say thank you for the food and the sunshine.
Some of the other people of Sodor said 'I will not say thank you to Hod, we cannot see him or hear him or talk to him so we will just carry on as we were before the man with the big black book came'.     
The people who thanked Hod were worried that Hod would be angry with the people who never said thank you to him everyday and told them that they would not go to Hods House if they did not say thank you but still they refused.
One day the roof fell off the house where the Hoddles, as they called themselves, said Thank you to Hod and the Hoddles tried to work out how the roof had fell down.
They agreed that it must have been pushed down and it must have been done by one of the non-Hoddles as nobody from the Hoddles would do such a thing as they were nice, kind people who said Thank you everyday and the non-Hoddles where not nice as they never said Thank you to the man who made everything for them.
There was a big argument and the Hoddles said that Sodor would be a nice place if everyone said Thank you to Hod and the non-Hoddles said that Sodor would be a nice place if the Hoddles stopped trying to get everybody to say thank you to Hod.
The Hoddles had a meeting and said 'If Hod is angry with the non-Hoddles, then he will destroy our island and everybody on it and that is not fair because we say thank you to Hod every day. We must make the non-Hoddles into Hoddles and say thank you everyday.'
They took the big, black book and went into the non-Hoddles homes and workplaces and told them how Hod had made everything and they must say thank you or Hod will take it away and they will go to the cold, dark place'.
Some were so scared of going to the dark, cold place that they started going to the house to say thank you to Hod everyday but some still refused.
The leader of Sodor was worried that his people were starting to listen to the Big Hoddle more than him and had now got more power than him.
The Big Hoddle knew this also and he tested his Hoddles when the Leader said his non-Hoddle son Aaron would be next in line as leader but the Big Hoddle said he wanted Aavon who was a Hoddle and said all the Hoddles should meet in the town square to tell the leader they wanted Avon instead.
The leader was worried that if Aaron became leader there would be trouble in his peaceful land so he said Avon would be next to be leader.
One year had passed and the man with the big black black book came back to Sodor and were very happy to see so many people thanking Hod but were not happy to see that some people were still not saying thank you.
'We have tried. We have told them that they will go to the dark, cold place but they refuse' explained the Big Hoddle.
'We must make them say thank you to Hod because they will take all the Hoddles and make them into non-Hoddles again and Hod will be very angry' said the man with the big, black book.
The Big Hoddle told the Leader to build a prison and anyone who did not act nice like the big black book said should be put in the prison. Soon the non-Hoddles were being watched by the Hoddles and they would read the big black book to see if they could be put in prison.
Soon the prisons were full of non-Hoddles and the Big Hoddle would tell his fellow Hoddles that the prisons were full of non-Hoddles so they must all be bad and are therefore to blame for everything bad that happens in Sodor and all the non-Hoddles should have a large yellow circle on their backs so the Hoddles knew who to watch more closley.
As the prison got more full of non-Hoddles the Big Hoddle went to the leader and said that it has been proven that all the non-Hoddles were all bad and 'the symbol of all evil on Sodor assumes the living shape of the non-Hoddle' and that he had an idea of how to clear Sodor of such bad people.
The Leader was very sad that his once peaceful land now had prisons and his people were arguing and some wore big yellow circles on their backs and he wished that the man had never arrived that day with the big black book.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Tory Cuts Makes Heir To Throne Redundant

The surprising thing about the news that the search and rescue service is being sold off is that anyone is surprised about it, this is what the Conservatives do, if it isn't nailed down they flog it as we learned last time they had the keys to number 10.
Now an American firm has waved £1.6bn under the nose of the Government and before you can say 'cash only please' the RAF and Royal Navy have been bundled out the door and it's the private company Bristow helicopters that will be plucking us off mountains.
The privatisation of such a vital service is going to be controversial, quite how making profit and rescuing people go together will be interesting, we can only await the news of a death caused by cost cutting but a nice angle is the heir to the throne could be made redundant.
Not from his job as the next bum on the royal throne of course, but as a search and rescue pilot, his job is on the line along with all the other pilots but he need not despair, what a great opportunity to combine the Conservatives favourite pastime, selling things, and reducing the cost of the family who take us for £200m each year, let's sell off the royals.
It's a win/win because even if we don't get much for the Queen, her husband and other assorted Royals (nobody would pay for Edward or Anne but Harry should fetch a few quid), we save tens of millions in not paying out for her waving tours of the nation.
America seem to like our Royals, maybe we could get a delegation up and offer the Queen and we could throw in Andrew and Fergie to sweeten the deal.
Australia is a land in need of a monarch and i'm sure if we offered Charles and Camilla to them they would take them, especially if we throw in a crate of cold ones but to be fair we could offer them chlamydia and they would take it if it came with a six pack of Fosters.
The remaining minor Royals could be sold to a collection of Pacific islands so they can rotate when they get bored with them or Harry has drank the place dry.
We should keep William and Kate though, one because he knows how to fly a helicopter and that always comes in handy and two because Kate likes to strip off and pose for the paparazzi and we can make a few pound from the photos. Every little helps

Amanda Knox Retrial

I don't know if Amanda Knox killed Meredith Kercher that day in 2007, but i'm quite happy that the Italian courts overturned their previous acquittal of Knox and her ex-boyfriend and ordered a retrial.
Many people are under the misguided notion that she was cleared or found innocent in the 2011 trial but she wasn't, the ruling was that the case against her killing Kercher was unproven which means while there was not enough evidence to convict her, there was enough evidence that she could not be deemed innocent either. Another misconception was that she wrongly served 4 years in an Italian prison for a crime that she was not convicted of but that is also incorrect.
Her time in prison was for slandering her employer who she said was the murderer of Meredith and who was only saved by the number of customers in his bar that evening that gave him a watertight alibi. A crime that she was convicted and served 3 years for.
If the new court case find her innocent then i wish her all the best but there seems to be a weight of evidence that so far points to her escaping justice.
The change of alibi halfway through the case, from being in the other room blocking her ears to shut out the sound of the dying Kercher's screams to suddenly remembering that actually she stayed at her co-accused boyfriends house that evening working on his computer despite police saying tests on his PC show his computer had not been accessed that evening.
There is the Knox DNA evidence on the knife and the bloody footprints of Knox found near the murder scene and in Knox's bedroom which makes the earlier not proven verdict all the more surprising.
Knox always seemed an arrogant woman, a view supported by the Police testimony that she was performing cartwheels, doing the splits and giggling with her ex-boyfriend when she was brought in for interview but the largest problem now seems getting Knox to the Italian court.
America, while always keen for other countries to extradite their citizens for trial in the US, are not so quick to send their own people to foreign courts and as Knox is currently in the US preparing for a woefully tasteless book tour of her book about that night, the chance that she will be tried in absentia is strong.
Knox's lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova said the 25-year-old student was upset but "willing to fight" and had not yet decided whether she would turn up for the trial in person or not.
I guess not because if the Italian prosecution gets its act together, she should be looking at the inside of an Italian prison cell for the next 30 years.

Monday, 25 March 2013

UK Running Out Of Gas

When we are told that the country only has enough gas supply left for 15 days and then the MET Office tell us that the cold weather is going to be with until the end of April, something has to give.
Forecasts suggest that gas supplies in the UK could theoretically be exhausted by 8 April because Britain only ever holds about 15 days of gas in reserve because of lack of storage facilities.
That we only have enough storage for 15 days worth of such an important fuel is a sticking point because the Government refuses to pay for the storage containers and so do the gas companies.
The situation was further complicated by the failure of a key pipeline from Belgium on Friday.
I wonder, would these gas supplying companies lie about our supply as an excuse to raise prices for a necessary service only they can provide?
Nah, perish the thought.

On an unrelated matter completely, there was an interesting article i read about the 'The Western U.S. Energy Crisis' of 2000 and 2001 were California had a shortage of electricity caused by the illegal shutdowns of pipelines in peak times which decreased supply and led to a 800% increase in wholesale prices in the winter of 2000.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Greens Blamed For Detroit

I don't much about Detroit apart from that was were the Spinners came from and it made cars and that bit of information was gleaned from Top Gear quite recently but it was on the news today because it is on the verge of bankruptcy, being more than $14bn (£9.3bn) in debt. 
Unemployment is twice the national average and a quarter of a million people have left the city in the last ten years, halving its population and those left face living in a city with the highest crime rate in the US.
Exaclt how Detroit got into such a bad way wasn't really explained but the loss of the motor industry seemed to be blamed for most of it and the reason the motor industry went down the pan was because of the green lobby.
Apparently, according to the mop headed lunatic they had in the TV studio, the greens and the onslaught of green  propaganda that the big petrol guzzling cars like the Cadillacs, Chevy's and Lincolns were destroying the ozone layer led to Americans importing European compact cars which were kinder to the environment and dealt the death knell to the American auto industry and the death of Detroit.
I don't know anything about cars but i would guess that the reason the automotive reason sank in America was because the price of the big cars was too much for the car buying owners pockets and the bosses of the car firms were looking at the balance sheet too much to drop the price which is why the potential customers looked to Europe for the smaller, more economical car and what was coming out the exhaust pipe was way their list of priorities and if anyone is to blame it is the bosses selling their cars for too much.
Only a guess though.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Global Bank Account

Whenever something breaks, my friends calls it an opportunity to buy a new one so when her television went out with a bang last weekend, she didn't see it as an expensive item to replace, she saw it as a chance to get a nice, new modern television.
Great perspective i agree (she is one of those annoyingly cheerful people who sing in the morning while the rest of us just sit comatosed until the strong coffee kicks in) and not something i can go along with, if something breaks i just see the daunting opportunity to spend hours trudging around countless shops having to deal with pushy salespeople to try and replace it.
Taking a leaf from my friends book, looking around the globe, there does seem an opportunity to implement something new because things have become very broken indeed.
Things seem to have become very skewered, obesity deaths on one side while on the other a child dies of hunger every five seconds somewhere in the world, the Worlds top 100 richest people earning enough money in one year to end world poverty four times over while 22,000 children die each day due to that same poverty.
According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the money that the world designates to military spending for eleven days would feed and heal all the sick and starving children on the planet.
Something had gone horribly wrong somewhere because we obviously have enough for all to go around, it just isn't going around, resulting in extreme inequality.
Communism didn't work, they had to build a 50ft high wall and line it with armed guards to implement it and Capitalism isn't working because all around the World the citizens are rioting and protesting against it.
Although well meaning, aid programs have handed over tens of billions but poverty is growing worse and people still die in their droves from treatable diseases and lack of food so that isn't working.
I don't know how we can achieve it but what is called for is an unconditional redistribution of everything from money to natural resources and a regular redistribution to keep things on an even keel so we don't end up in this situation again.
Not sure how we can achieve it, a non-profit World Bank Account that each country pays a percentage of its GDP into accordingly and is given, not loaned with conditions, would be my suggestion but we have to do something because what we have is horribly broken and the fact that we spend more on ways to kill each other than we do on keeping each other alive should shame us.

Trust The Brits To Make It Worse

I never understand why other countries pay a blind bit of notice to Britain sometimes, we could quite easily be told to bugger off and mind our own business when we stick our nose in but for whatever reason people tend to pay attention to us.
So when the UK economy has bypassed the length of recession than even the 1930's and our Banking sector is being fined billions for corruption and misselling, we send our banking 'experts' to advise Cyprus on how to reform its banking system. 
Seems a bit like appointing Henry VIII as a marriage guidance counsellor but rather than the Cypriot banks pointing out that Britain is the last place they should be taking advice from when it comes to banking, they are thanking us for our 'technical assistance'. The mugs.
Judging by the job they have done here i expect the advice will consist of miselling banking products, fix the LIBOR rates, charge the customers an extortionate amount just for sending them a letter andcontinually try and push credit cards upon them, that should sort it out.
We seem to already be having an effect as the idea of taking 10% of the bank accounts over 100,000 euros
has been scrapped. Now the figure is a 25% levy.
That's how you can tell when the British bankers are involved, it takes a bad situation and makes it a whole lot worse.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Budget Day & Flying Coffee Mugs

I do try and listen to the budget every year but i find it hard work, mainly because they wrap it all up in undecipherable politician speak and partly because it just makes me want to throw my mug at the television.
Last years budget with the pasty and caravan tax turned out to be a complete dogs ear with most of what Gideon said he would bring in being picked apart over the later months and pretty much all of it being scrapped.
Because it is put across in such a way, it isn't until a few days later that the experts have got to look at it and unravel it and then come onto the media and explain why it is such a dogs dinner and that is exactly what has happened with Gideons home loans plans which was put across as helping new buyers into the housing market only for it to turn into a great way for people to buy second homes which of course, doesn't help anyone who is trying to buy a home.
I will leave them to squabble over that but i do notice that anything the Chancellor hands out, the raise in personal allowance for example or the extra money for roads and the cut in corporation tax do not come into effect for another 18 or 24 months.
I understand that the 18 to 24 months gap will mean they will come in just before the next election so it is politically timed and they can still spend the next year and a half saying what they have done without actually having done it yet but because everyone is arguing over the home loan thing, nobody is catching on to the last bit of the speech about our debt after 3 years of austerity.
He explained that he is going to borrow £121bn this year, the same as last year and debt as a share of GDP to increase from 75.9% this year to 85.6% in 2016-17.
Whatever he is doing, it isn't working if the debt is going up after cutting and slashing at everything within sight and the answer he seems to conclude is to cut and slash harder and deeper.
If something isn't working, the answer can't be to carry on doing it even more but that's the point when the coffee hits the TV screen.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Is That Raspberry Flavoured?

I found out something a bit disturbing today, especially as i was eating a raspberry sweet at the time which is how the conversation got around to a Beavers anus a bit quicker than it normally takes.  
The use of the dead Cochineal beetle to colour our food red is well known and we accept that we may find the odd Cochineal leg or crushed shell on the red Smartie's but if you are eating anything flavoured raspberry you may want to stop reading now or at least stop eating it for a second.
Being the simple soul that i am, i always assumed that raspberry flavoured products were given their distinct flavour by people picking raspberries then handing them to other people who squeezed the raspberries who then gave it to yet more people who do the magic bit of making our ice cream and sweets and jelly raspberry flavoured.
Turns out that raspberries are not raspberry enough for our refined taste buds so they have to use something else that tastes more like raspberry than raspberries.
That something is beaver, or more precisely, beaver’s anus.
Of course beaver arse flavoured ice-cream would not be flying off the shelves at Iceland or Sainsbury's so its official name is 'Castoreum' which comes under 'natural ingredients' on the label.
I'm not sure what the person who discovered this was thinking when they were coming up with ideas for new flavours. Apple? No. Lime? No? Beavers tush? Hmmm...
With a fridge with some raspberry flavoured yoghurts in it and half a container of raspberry flavoured ice cream in the freezer i won't tell the kids just yet, just as i might not mention it just yet to the woman who drinks the stinky fruit flavoured tea at work, or at least wait until she has drank half of it anyway.
And to think that people were moaning that they were sneaking a bit of horse flesh into their burgers!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Sodor & The Man In The Hat

The people of Sodor lived on the side of an ancient volcano and were very poor but very happy. They would spend their days fishing, hunting and the children would sit under the large oak tree in the morning and learn how to read from the one book they had and then spend the afternoon playing in the sun.
One day there was a loud, cracking sound and out of the volcano came a strange, yellow liquid. The people of Sodor did not know what this funny looking liquid was but they soon found that they could mould it into any shape and when it got wet it set into a hard substance which they could make their buildings from.
Soon the news got around that Sodor had this miracle new liquid that they could make waterproof houses from and people would turn up in Sodor begging to buy the great new liquid so they could build their houses.
It wasn't long until Sodor was running out of this liquid so the leaders rounded up a group of young men to dig into the side of the volcano and take out more so they could sell it for lots of gold coins and each man was given 3 gold coins every week for all the digging.
With the all gold coins the leaders received they built a new school so the children didn't get wet when it rained and lots of books so the children could have one book each. They also built a hospital so when anyone got sick they could get well again.
One day a man with a bowler hat came to Sodor and said to the leader 'we have more strong men than you so we can dig a lot more of the yellow liquid from the volcano and you can sell even more and we will both make lots of gold coins but as we are digging, we want more of the gold coins we make but we will still both be very rich indeed.'
So the leaders told the men to stop digging and the men who came with the man with the bowler hat picked up the shovels and they started digging out the yellow liquid and the man with the bowler hat took away the yellow liquid to sell and come back on Sunday in a big boat and gave the leader 20 gold coins.
'But we made 100 gold coins from the liquid you took, why have you only given me 20 coins?' said the leader to the man with the bowler hat.
'We are digging' said the man with the bowler hat 'and I am selling it so it is fair that i get more than you'.
That night a big hurricane ripped through Sodor and the roof blew off the school but the leader did not have enough coins left to fix the roof so he told the children to go home until they could fix the roof. The next day another big gust of wind blew down a wall of the hospital and the leader asked the man with the bowler hat when he came if he could fix their school and hospital with the yellow liquid and the man with the bowler hat said they would if the leader paid them 100 gold coins for the liquid they would need to use.
'But we have very few gold coins left' said the leader and the bowler hatted man said he would lend them the 100 coins if they would pay him back 125 gold coins but they could pay a little bit every Sunday.
The leader said the school and hospital had to be fixed and as he did not have enough gold coins, he would have to borrow the coins from the man with the bowler hat so the hospital and school were fixed and every Sunday the leader would meet the man with the bowler hat and pay him 10 gold coins.
One day the teachers came to the leader and said that they needed new books for the children as the books were old and worn and they had run out of chalk and the rainy season was coming and the roof was leaking again and the school was now too small to fit in all the children of Sodor.
The leader counted his coins and told the teachers that they could not pay for all the things that they wanted and the teachers would have to make the children share the good books they had left, would have to use charcoal instead of chalk and move the desks and chairs to a dry part of the school building and some children would have to go to school in the morning and the other children in the afternoon.
'But we have all this yellow liquid that everybody is buying' protested the teachers 'why can we not buy more chalk or build a new school with all the gold coins the people who buy the yellow liquid give us?'                  
'Because the men who came with the man with the bowler hat dig it up and he sells it and takes 80 of the 100 gold coins we make' said the leader.
'So why don't our men dig it out and you sell it and keep the coins to build a new school' said the teachers and that is what they did.
The man with the bowler hat was not very happy and he took his men away on his big boat and the men of Sodor were glad to get the 3 gold coins again for digging out the yellow liquid and the leader sold the liquid to all the people who came to Sodor to buy it.
Soon the leaders had enough gold coins to not only fix the school but to build another school so all the children in Sodor could now go to school.
They even had enough coins left after selling the yellow liquid that they built a library and filled it with new books and built a factory where the men and women of Sodor went to work and the leaders gave them coins each week which they spent in the new shop.
In no time they had built three more schools and another hospital and more houses for the people of Sodor to live in and bought lots and lots of chalk for the teachers.
The man with the bowler hat returned three months later and told the leader that they could dig out more yellow liquid and sell more than them and they would both be very rich but the leaders told him that it was not fair that he got all the gold coins and bought a big boat and they got so few coins for their yellow liquid so they could not buy chalk or fix their school and he should go and never come back again.
The people of Sodor are now very happy and the children love their new school and anybody who eats too much birthday cake and feels sick has a nice hospital to get better in. 
Most importantly, the man with the bowler hat was never seen again and everybody in Sodor lived happily ever after.

The End

Iraq War Remembered

It's the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War and every blog and its dog will be putting there opinion forward today. Most, i suspect, will be explaining why it was wrong but some will come down on the idea that the ends justified the means and the removal of Saddam was worth it.
I'm not so brave about willing other peoples children to die in a futile war but what cannot be denied is that we were lied to from the word go, the Bush administration were looking tom go after Saddam no matter what and Blair, for some unfathomable reason, was happy to go along with it and it ended up costing him his job and his reputation, the Bush's poodle taunt will haunt him to his grave.
What the last ten years has revealed are numerous reports and investigations and books that lay out the path from 9/11 to the outbreak of Operation Iraqi Freedom began that proves the WMD justification was a fig leaf.
Let's begin on the day of 9/11, as the towers were still crumbling:   

11/09/2001: Best info fast. Judge whether good enough to hit S.H. at same time. Not only UBL? Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not - Donald Rumsfeld

12/09/2001: See if Saddam did this. See if he's linked in any way. See if Saddam was involved. Just look - GWB

20/09/2001: I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq - GWB to Tony Blair.  

08/02/2002: Iraq has also provided al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training - GWB

14/03/2002: Bush has yet to find the answers to the big questions: How to persuade international opinion that military action against Iraq is necessary and justified. - Foreign Policy Advisor David Manning memo to TB

15/03/2002: There is no intelligence on any biological warfare agent production facilities. - British intelligence report

22/03/2002: US scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and Al Qaida is so far frankly unconvincing. To get public and Parliamentary support for military operations, we have to be convincing that:  the threat is so serious/imminent that it is worth sending our troops to die for; it is qualitatively different from the threat posed by other proliferators who are closer to achieving nuclear capability.But we are still left with a problem of bringing public opinion to accept the imminence of a threat from Iraq. This is something the Prime Minister and President need to have a frank discussion about. Regime change does not stack up. - Political director Peter Ricketts to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw

24/03/2002: Saddam is a man of great evil, as the president said. And he is actively pursuing nuclear weapons at this time. - Dick Cheney

25/03/2002: At present no majority inside the Labor Party for any military action against Iraq. Colleagues know that Saddam and the Iraqi regime are bad. Making that case is easy. But we have a long way to go to convince them as to the scale of the threat from Iraq and why this has got worse recently: what distinguishes the Iraqi threat from that of e.g. Iran and North Korea so as to justify military action; the justification for any military action in terms of international law. A lot of work will now be needed to show why military action against Iraq is so much more justified than against Iran and North Korea. - Jack Straw memo to Tony Blair

25/07/2002: C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force. - Downing Street cabinet memo

26/08/2002: Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. - Dick Cheney

07/09/2002: An IAEA report says Iraq is six months from developing a nuclear weapon - GWB

08/09/2002: We do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs to build a nuclear weapon. - Dick Cheney

16/09/2002: The President hasn't made a decision with respect to Iraq. - Donald Rumsfeld

19/09/2002: Saddam has amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of biological weapons, including Anthrax, botulism, toxins, and possibly Smallpox. He's amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX, Sarin and mustard gas. His regime has an active program to acquire nuclear weapons. - Donald Rumsfeld

20/09/2002: We now have irrefutable evidence that Saddam has once again set up and reconstituted his program to take uranium, to enrich it to sufficiently high grade, so that it will function as the base material as a nuclear weapon. And there's no doubt about the fact that the level of effort has escalated in recent months. - Dick Cheney

24/09/2002: Iraq can launch a chemical or biological attack within 45 minutes. Saddam has sought to acquire significant quantities of uranium from Africa. - Tony Blair

28/09/2002: The danger to our country is grave and it is growing. The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons and is rebuilding the facilities to make more. The regime has long-standing and continuing ties to terrorist groups, and there are al Qaeda terrorists inside Iraq. This regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material could build one within a year. - GWB

01/10/2002: Of course, I haven't made up my mind we're going to war with Iraq. - GWB

08/10/2002: A growing number of military officers, intelligence professionals and diplomats in Bush's own government privately have deep misgivings about the administration's double-time march toward war. The intelligence analysts are under intense pressure to produce reports supporting the White House's argument that Saddam poses such an immediate threat to the United States that pre-emptive military action is necessary. - Warren P. Strobel

16/10/2002: I have not ordered the use of force. I hope the use of force will not become necessary. - GWB

21/12/2002: Nice try, but that isn't gonna sell Joe Public  This is the best we've got? - GWB to CIA

09/01/2003: Inspectors have found no smoking guns in Iraq after two months' work. - Hans Blix

27/01/2003: Inspections have turned up no evidence of nuclear weapons programs in Iraq. It appears that the aluminum tubes would be consistent with the purpose stated by Iraq and, unless modified, would not be suitable for manufacturing centrifuges. - Mohamed ElBaradei

27/01/2003: It would appear that Iraq had decided in principle to provide cooperation on substance in order to complete the disarmament task through inspection. - UN

27/01/2003: No evidence that Iraq had revived its nuclear weapons programme. - UN report

28/01/2002: Saddam has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Iraq has mobile biological weapons labs designed to produce germ warfare agents. - GWB

29/01/2002: Saddam's regime has the design for a nuclear weapon; it was working on several different methods of enriching uranium, and recently was discovered seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa. The regime plays host to terrorists, including al Qaeda. - Donald Rumsfeld

31/01/2002: Bush and Blair were aware that no WMDs had been found and that it was possible that they never would be, but Bush, determined to invade, spent the meeting discussing ways in which the two could justify the invasion. - memo of Blair & Bush meeting in Oval Office

05/02/2002:  Iraq's mobile labs can brew enough weapons-grade microbes in a single month to kill thousands upon thousands of people. - Colin Powell to UN

06/02/2002: Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction, possesses at least seven mobile factories for germ warfare, and harbors terrorist networks. Iraq has developed spray devices for chemical and biological weapons that could be attached to unmanned aerial vehicles. A UAV launched from a vessel off the American coast could reach hundreds of miles inland. - GWB

14/02/2003: Inspectors have enjoyed uninhibited access to 300 sites over a period of 11 weeks. Everything is in accordance with the Iraqi weapons declaration, and no weapons of mass destruction have been found. - Hans Blix

07/03/2003: Searches have found no evidence of mobile biological production facilities in Iraq. - Hans Blix

07/03/2003: After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapon program in Iraq. The Niger uranium documents are not authentic. - Mohamed ElBaradei

08/09/2002: We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq. - GWB

16/03/2003: Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong. And I think if you look at the track record of the International Atomic Energy Agency and this kind of issue, especially where Iraq's concerned, they have consistently underestimated or missed what it was Saddam Hussein was doing. We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. - Dick Cheney

17/03/2003: The American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war.- GWB

19/03/2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom begins.

10/04/2003: Saddam gave us no choice but to act. - Tony Blair

06/05/2003: I'm not surprised if we begin to uncover the weapons program of Saddam Hussein because he had a weapons program. - GWB

06/10/2006: The group found no evidence that Iraq under Saddam Hussein had produced and stockpiled any weapons of mass destruction since 1991, when UN sanctions were imposed. - Iraq Survey Group

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Right Wing Always Wrong

There are some days when i think it must be terrible to be a right winger but it must be especially tough these days as the British right wing ideology crumbles around them.
First there was the right wing press, exposed as comprising some of the most vile journalists to ever pick up a pen and run by one of the most vilified men in history, Rupert Murdoch.
They not only lost their flagship newspaper, The News of The World, but regulation is about to be forced through that will regulate them to the hilt therefore making it open season for legal action to be taken against them if they continue with their current low standards of journalism.
Then there is the Conservative Party who are not only making such a historic mess of things and leaking votes to UKIP, they are heavily tipped to be booted out at the first chance in favour of the weakest Labour leader in living memory.     
Then there is the Capitalist system of they are so beloved, crashing down around their ears as countries are forced to go cap in hand to such evil places like the IMF and World Bank and give up the sovereignty for a few pieces of silver to stave off bankruptcy.
They can't even find refuge in their faith, the Church is beset with stories of paedophile priests and other wrongdoing as the Sunday congregations get smaller and smaller.
More and more it is quite nice to wake up as a Guardian reading Labour voting Socialist Atheist and have it confirmed what we knew all along, that the Right wing was, is, and will always be, just plain wrong and that gives me a nice warm glow inside.

Cyprus And The IMF

Quite rightly, the decision to take 9.9% from accounts held in Cypriots banks with more than €100,000 in them and 6.75% from everyone else has been met with outrage in Cyprus.
This is a condition set upon the 10bn euro loan to save the country from bankruptcy by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) along with shrinking its banking sector and increasing taxes.
In a horrifying new twist, bank depositors are facing a raid on their savings and have been rushing to the nations banks and cashpoint machines to withdraw their savings only to be met with closed doors and 'technical difficutles' in out of order ATM's.
Resentment and anger quickly set in directed at the Cypriot Government who have accepted the take the IMF deal of implementing the savings levy or they you won't get the loan but the Government of Cyprus is not the real villan here, as usual it is the IMF.
Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, said: 'I welcome the agreement reached today to address Cyprus’ economic challenges' but she would, the IMF has a long history of loaning out money but extracting much more than it's pound of flesh in return.
A critic of the IMF described its practises as 'enforcing budgetary belt tightening to countries who are much too poor to own belts' as it extend loans only if countries agree to accept 'structural adjustment programs' which are conditions such as the bank savings levy the Cypriots have now had foisted upon them and other demands such as the recipient governments privatising public assets, cutting state funding on social services like health care, education, childcare, and pensions so they can make the repayments.  
Quite apart from dictating democratically elected Government policies, the loan repayments create a huge debt trap, the overwhelming debt repayments leading to the allocation of enormous portions of their national incomes towards paying interest. The developing world owes a total of £2.5 trillion in international debt, a stunning nine times more in debt repayment than they receive in aid from Western countries.
After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, an IMF loan receipient,  the IMF blocked the government plan of raising the minimum wage to stimulate the economy and instead demanded the privatisation of public companies and the cutting of government services by 50%.
The IMF is a loan of last resort and the Cypriot Government must know this but the Cypriot people should realise that they can punish the Government by removing them from office but the loan will still be there and whoever you elect is not controlling your economic policy anymore, the banks and bank rollers of the IMF are and they don't give a fig about social consequences, they just want their money back with extortionate interest and if that means taking a percentage of your savings, they will and there is nothing you or any Government you choose to replace this one with can do about it because turning a profit is all they care about.
Capitalism, don't you just love it.

Birther Movement For Boris

With the Conservative Party doing a great job here, it is with some surprise that the Party members are jockeying for position to replace David Cameron when he is removed from his job at the next election.
Home Secretary, Theresa May, has been the first to break ranks and has been slapped down by her fellow Tories and made to sit at the side in the commons which is not a bad thing, there are enough scary things to look at on the Conservative front bench already without her grinning face peering out from behind David Cameron's shoulder as he defends yet another cut in public spending.
In reality, when Cameron goes, Theresa May was never going to be in the running for the top job as Boris Johnson seems to have that place sewn up.
Or does he because although there are very few legal restraints on who can be Prime Minister, the three musts are they MUST be an elected Member of Parliament, they MUST be at least 18 years old and they MUST be a citizen of the UK, Republic of Ireland or one of the 52 other Commonwealth member countries.
Last time i looked America was not in the Commonwealth and as Boris was born in New York, he should be ruled out of being PM on account of being American.
I don't deny that as a sideshow, Boris is great fun and very amusing, but then so was George W Bush who played the same game of appearing as dumb as a post which had the effect of  deflecting some of the attention from his awful policies.
Boris and Cameron are cut from the same cloth, both old Etonians, both ex-members of the Bullingdon Club and both with an unhealthy friendship with the Murdoch press who joined forces recently to berate the EU for suggesting that banker's bonuses should be capped.
I like Boris on a personal level, he is extremely charming, funny and likable but that is precisely what makes him so dangerous because while he is appearing as host on TV game shows he isn't doing any harm, but in a real position of power, the consequences would be a train wreck.
As an American, let him try his luck there, as the country that gave us Dubya, there may be enough Republican voters left that hanker after another dunderheaded right wing politician.
Meanwhile, maybe we should borrow another leaf from the American election process and introduce our own birther movement, show us your Birth Certfiicate Boris!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Euro Defence Plan Quietly Shelved

Considering that it has caused much heated debate over the past few years, the fact that America is abandoning the Eastern European missile defence plan hasn't made many headlines here.
Secretary of Defence, Chuck Hagel, announced that due to development problems and lack of funding, plans to scrap interceptor missiles in Poland and Romania have been shelved and the focus will be shifted to adding 14 new interceptors to the 26 existing ones in Alaska designed to counter perceived threats from North Korea.
Washington claimed that its decision was prompted by the recent belligerence emanating from North
Korea's the Asian countries quicker than expected progress in nuclear weapons development. The changes to the program will free up the money to do so, Hagel said.
Explaining the rationale behind the shift, Hagel said, 'The time line for deploying this program had been delayed to at least 2022 due to cuts in Congressional funding'.
The Kremlin has long argued that the American system was aimed at countering Russian missiles and undermining its nuclear deterrent and the missile shield faced strong opposition in Poland and Romania.
I have never really understood why we needed a missile defence system in Europe, especially from Iran who was often mentioned, when Iran isn't threatening anyone and doesn't have any missiles that can attack us and isn't building any either but Hagel stressed that Washington's commitment in Europe 'remains ironclad'.
Cheers Chucky but you can keep your defence systems over there, we will take our chances thanks but it is nice to see that despite despite the budget cuts there, you are not using the $1 bn savings from not going through with the Eastern Europe defence missiles to build any more schools or hospitals there but are instead handing it to the Defence department to build missiles anyway.
Those budget cuts to the Defence department won't last long i suspect.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Super, Smashing, Great

While it is nice to know that my advice is listened to inside the Vatican, i don't think they quite understand my point in my previous post when i told them to choose an old, white male famous person because the man who got the call from the Cardinals was obviously Jim Bowen. 
While i am sure that Jim would do a great job when it come to Ecumenical matters, everytime i see him i just hear him in my head him saying 'super, smashing, great' and telling people what they could have won which was usually a speedboat.
I'm not sure what the Catholic Church needs most at this moment in time is a Northern Comedian but he's catchphrase 'Nothing in this game for two in a bed' would be handy for dealing with some of those less than celibate Catholic priests.
I would   

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Choosing The Next Pope

The Catholics are rubbing their rosary beads in excitement as all eyes are on the Vatican's chimney waiting for the white smoke to show that yet another old, white guy has been chosen to be the voice of God on Earth but i can't help think that the Catholics have missed an opportunity here. 
From what i can see, the only criteria to be the Pope is being old, male, Catholic and be able to cope with the heavy workload of walking to a balcony and waving a lot but instead of choosing someone nobody has ever heard of, the World is teeming with old male Catholics that would bring a bit of glamour to the role of the head primate. 
If the Cardinals had bothered to look at the big list of Catholics they could have offered the job to Dan Aykroyd, Alan Alda, any of the Baldwin, Nicholas Cage, Bono, Sean Connery, Bill Murray, Tom Hanks, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Arnold Schwarzenegger or had a choice from the Sheen family although i might have had to have fitted an extra strength lock to the nuns quarters if Charlie accepted.
Mel Gibson is a Catholic as is David Hasselhoff although their communal wine bill would have probably bankrupt the Church but other options are Bruce Springsteen, Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Banderas, Billy Connolly, Johnny Rotton, Bob Geldof, Colin Farrell, Dave Grohl, David Boreanaz, Elvis Costello, Eminem, Engelbert Humperdinck, Fidel Castro, Harrison Ford, the Gallagher brothers, Liam Neeson, Michael Caine, Michael Flately, Mick Jagger, Nick Nolte and Sting.
Personally, i think there are two Catholics that the Vatican should be offering the funny hat to, George Clooney or Robert De Niro.
George because he would look damn cute and Robert De Niro because he made a fine Catholic priest in Sleepers and he would have lots of quotes from him movies to fall back on like 'You're a fu***ing criminal and you deserve to go where you're going and I'm gonna take you there and if I hear anymore s**t outta you. I'm gonna fu***ing bust your head and I'm gonna put you back in that fu***ing hole and I'm gonna stick your head in that fu***ing toilet bowl, and I'm gonna make it stay there'.
That would put the Archbishop of Canterbury off his steamed vegetables at the World Religions Summit.

Turning Japanese or Canadian or Swedish or...

The votes are in and the people of the Falklands Islands have overwhelmingly chosen to be British.
Good for them but I didn't even know we had a choice of nationality but as our Government is offering out nationalities i will have a Canadian one please because everyone likes Canadians.
Well, i would but then i would have to castigate myself over the way us Canadians barbarically murder tens of thousands of baby seals each year so they can keep that Canadian passport and i will take an Australian one instead.
Or rather i would but i can't drink that much and the English would be making bad cricket jokes at me all day so sorry Bruce it's going to have to be an American one but then everyone would just think i was Canadian anyway and castigate me over killing tens of thousands of baby seals each year.
I could become French but that would mean having to be French so that's out the window but i have narrowed it down to either becoming Japanese, Swedish, a New Zealander or staying British.
I have often heard that the Japanese are most like the British but i would be expected to learn Japanese and that language gives me a headache just looking at it.
Everyone likes Sweden and nobody seems to have a bad word to say about the New Zealanders but i always associate New Zealand with the legs of lamb in the butchers window so thank you Mr Cameron but you can stick your country and please forward me the details of where to send my passport and who i have to call in Stockholm.
Failing that i will stay British and arrogantly tell everyone else what to do, i'm easy either way.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Bye Hugo

My dad has a simple equation to judge how well anyone in any position of power has done, are we better off for having them in that position.
If it is the head of his Bowling Club or the manager of the local football team, if the people who use the facilities are in a better position now than when they took over, he is a success.
When it comes to politicians he applies the same criteria, are the citizens of the country better off for having this particular person running things, if so then he can be deemed a success.
This brings me to the passing of Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela who died last week.
Between the time of his election in 1998 and his death in 2013, has the lot of the people he ruled over improved?       
Under Chavez, Venezuelans’ quality of life improved according to the UN Index and the poverty rate fell from 54% when he took office to 29% in 2011 according to the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America.
Using income derived from oil, minimum wages were increased sharply and Chavas created 'missions',
dedicated to improving access to health, education, social security, food and farming land for the poorest sectors of his society. Over 1 million Venezuelans now participate in free adult literacy classes, leading to Venezuela eradicating illiteracy by UN standards. Malnutrition related deaths fell by 50% during the Chavas Presidency but it wasn't just his own country that benefited from Chavas taking control of his own countries resources, he set up deals with his neighbours under a bartering scheme called Petrocaribe where cheap oil was provided in exchange for free medical care and subsidised food for the poor. Cuba received 90,000 barrels of oil a day in exchange for 40,000 Cuban medics and teachers.
Don't expect those who ignore what Chavez achieved during his time in power to applaud these impressive achievements but the rest of us can agree that he set about solving the problems of the most vulnerable in his society.
In 14 years he brought hope to millions of those who, without him, would have had nothing but more of the grinding poverty and despair of the previous Governments so at the end of his time, apllying my fathers crietria, was the lot of the people he ruled over improved?
I wonder just how willfully ignorant or ignorantly blind you have to be to claim  it was anything but improved.
Well done Hugo, a life well lived.

Note To Self: Back Up Files

I think it was Monday when i heard what had happened but the full implication didn't hit me until a bit later when i considered what had gone. That's the problem with computers, they eventually give up the ghost and unless you are one of the sensible people who back things up, which i am not, you lose everything.
I seem to be remembering things almost hourly and cursing that i can't get at them again, not ultra-important things but things i have put effort into over the past five years since the last computer when belly-up.  
Then there was the hassle of choosing a new one and the wide range of choice on offer and the salesman trying to sell one of a number of maintenance packages or extended warranties or virus protection or trying to tell me that this one with the extra RAM would run my applications much faster and it is only an extra £50 and a much better piece of equipment despite me telling him a million times this was the one i wanted as recommended by someone who has probably forgotten more about computers than i have ever known.
On top of that there is the problem of going from Windows Vista to Windows 8, the latest Operating System moving on so far from the systems i have used before that it doesn't even have a start button anymore!
Firefox doesn't have any of my bookmarks anymore so i will have to spend hours going back around sites and bookmarking them again and as i always use the 'remember me' box, heaven knows what the passwords are which i am going to have to dig out again.
The moral of the story for me is to back up my files onto a DVD but i know i won't and in four or five years time i will be moaning about how I wish i had backed up all my files onto a DVD.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Stuff The Poor, We Need More Bombs

The Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, has said that will resist further cuts to the armed forces and any more cuts should come from the welfare budget to protect the armed forces. Hammond said the first priority for any government should be defending the country.
I'm sure all the bleeding hearts liberals and tree huggers will be up in arms, bleating about how it is wrong to spend more money on bombs and less for people who already can't afford to heat their homes or feed their families but they will be completely, and utterly wrong because as Dwight D. Eisenhower almost said, 'every hungry person that is fed, every cold person that is clothed signifies, in the final sense, a theft from every fighter-bomber without a munition to drop, every destroyer without a Cruise missile to aim'.
What these pacifists and anti-war demonstrators don't understand is that maintaining the capability to go into another country and tell them how to do things while dividing up their natural resources is what the British do best, it's how we had an empire that the sun never set on. Afghanistan wedding parties don't just blow themselves up you know.
When we give the unemployed money to feed themselves they take ammunition off a tired and weary British serviceman.
Without our brave boys going halfway around the World to remove leaders we don't like and create havoc and shoot them down on their own streets, those tyrants will be here on our shores to slaughter us all in our beds.
The do-gooders will point out that since the 1940s the British defence has been more attack and aggression but remember the Nazis was only 70 short years ago, it could happen again anytime so we have to be ready to defend what makes Britain great and if that means a few thousand pensioners die because their fuel allowance has been cut, then it is a price that we should all be willing to pay to make sure that we have a nuclear deterrent.
Going back to Dwight and his Chance for Peace speech, this world in welfare is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of the infantrymen, the genius of its drone fliers , the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern brick school is this: a heavy- bomber capable of destroying a city. It is two aircraft carriers, each serving 30 jet fighters. It is two fine, fully equipped green zones in an oil filled country. It is some fifty 18-year-old boys with no other prospects. We pay for a single hospital with a half-million rounds of ammunition. We pay for a single disabled centre with air conditioning units for more than 8,000 troops in the desert. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of an imminent invasion of our country, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
Don't despair poor and hungry people, this will only continue on this round of austerity until we run out of countries with the natural resources we require or the economy picks up, whichever comes first.
Oh, and vote for your Conservative member of Parliament in 2015, we are all in this together remember.

NB...Just in case some right wing war monger who agrees with the above and has been bravely urging Britain get's involved in more wars from the safety of their sofa stumbles across this post, your an idiot.

I should also apologise to Eisenhower who actually said: 'Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. . . . This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron'.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

A Plea From Mr. Krabs

My brother is a keen fisherman and not the nice kind who does it for fun or relaxation and throws the fish back in the river again when he has finished.
He brings them home, guts them and sticks them in a frying pan, which has led to a few discussions between us about the cruelty of dragging a living thing out of its natural environment and then bashing its head against the side of the boat until it is dead.
He patiently explains to me that fish don't feel pain, that they don't have the necessary parts of the brain to process it to which I reply if they don't, then they do a pretty good impression of something in pain as they contort and frantically flip around in the bottom of the boat.
The same argument has been made of crabs and lobsters which are dropped alive into a pot of boiling water before putting in an appearance on a dinner plate. Apparently, the scream I heard coming from the pot in my grandad's kitchen when I was a kid was the air escaping from the shell, not a scream because crabs don't feel pain and it wasn't frantically rattling around trying to get out, it was just the movement of the boiling water.
I have never bought my brother's explanation about fish or my grandad's on crabs and science may be proving that I was right to because a study by the Queen's University Belfast may have solved the question. Crabs do indeed feel pain.
In the experiment, 90 crabs were placed in a brightly lit area and were given the option of scuttling to one of two dark shelters. Once they'd made their choice, the crabs in one of the shelters were given an electric shock. The crabs were then returned to the lit area and allowed to scuttle off again and once again, an electric shock was given to the crabs in the same dark area as before.
When they were placed back into the lit area for a third time, the majority of the shocked crabs instead went to the alternative dark shelter, avoiding the one where they had received the shocks.
The professor in charge of the experiment concluded: "Having experienced two rounds of shocks, the crabs learned to avoid the shelter where they received the shock. They were willing to give up their hideaway in order to avoid the source of their probable pain."
Not being able to ask the crustaceans if that was actually the reason, because they realised if they went one way it hurt so they went the other way instead, we cannot be certain but it sounds more plausible then them not possessing the necessary bit of brain that detects pain.
Of course, another explanation could be that they worked out that both times they ran to the dark place on the left, a massive hand would come down and put them back into the brightly lit part so they ran to the alternative dark area instead. But until Queen's University straps some more electrodes to a bunch of crabs and let them run free we won't know. Until then I will be secretly hoping that all the crabs and lobsters that get dropped into boiling water get to have one last nip at the chef's fingers on their final trip into the pot. 

Friday, 1 March 2013

The UKIP Manifesto

Well done to the United Kingdom Independent Party for a great result in the Eastleigh by-election last night, finishing above the Tories in second place is quite an achievement but of course with success comes a spotlight on exactly what you stand for.
Obviously a right wing party, UKIP have had their share of problems with the UKIP councillor saying it was dangerous to allow those who do not work to vote and the 'eggnog for nig-nogs' joke that was 'taken out of context' of course.
We also know about their leader, the very smiley Nigel Farage, being vice-president of the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) which includes far-right groups such as the Danish People’s Party, the True Finns Party, the Dutch SGP and Lega Nord.
As their profile grows, i'm sure UKIP will get around to updating their website where the current manifesto resides, so let's take a look at what UKIP stand for.

First up on their list is is gay marriage and UKIP are opposed to it, just as they are burquas which they would ban along with Working Tax Credits and obviously the European Union which they would withdraw from even before the removal men have finished moving in the sofa.
Maternity and sick pay would be removed, replaced with a weekly parental allowance of £64 per week and employees who have been at the job for less than two years would lose the right to challenge unfair dismissal or discrimination. 
The higher rate of income tax would be scrapped and Income tax and National Insurance would be rolled into one basic rate tax of 31% for everyone and there would be a spending rise of 40% on the countries armed forces as well as maintaining Britain’s nuclear deterrent. 
They would introduce an American style ‘three strikes’ sentencing policy and embark upon a 25-year programme of building nuclear power stations while opposing wind farms and call  a halt to funding the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change and reduce the public service by another 2 million jobs.
Vivisection would be banned on medical and ethical grounds, as would inhumane slaughter of animals on religious grounds and they would introduce proportional representation in national and local elections along with a right of recall whereby electors can force a by-election.

Thanks Nigel, while i find myself nodding in agreement with the last four items in your manifesto, i scowled at the rest so i think i will put my X elsewhere the next time i am in an election booth.