Friday, 31 October 2014

Pre-Inquiry Bad Smell

To lose one inquiry head is unfortunate but to then replace them with someone else with even closer links to those being inquired into smells of something much more rotten.
The inquiry was set up to look at how public bodies dealt with historic allegations of child sex abuse, following claims about paedophile's in powerful political positions in the 80s and 90s and establishment attempts to cover up their depraved actions.
First up was Lady Butler-Sloss who was forced to step down in July because her late brother, Lord Havers,was attorney general during the period when many of the alleged offences are said to have taken place.
The Home Office then turned to Woolf who in turn has been forced out by the victims groups after it
emerged that she was a friend and neighbour of the former Home Secretary Leon Brittan, whose role in dealing with allegations of child abuse in the 1980's is likely to come under intense scrutiny.
Before it has even began we are left with the feeling that far from a vigorous investigation into their fellow MPs, this is going to be a whitewash with very little naming and shaming and the blame put upon a few minor bad apples and the big fish slip away into the shadows with their reputations intact, a la the recent Iraq and expenses scandals.
And they wonder why nobody trust's politicians anymore.

Two Sentence Horror Stories

It's beginning to rain again. The drops are falling obliquely against the lamplight. It's probably falling all over the country. On the cities, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the graveyards, upon the crosses and headstones, upon all the living and the dead...and tonight the dead will be around to see it also because it's Halloween, when the dead visit the land of the living.
You can lock the door, stay inside and shut the horrors outside or you can come with me and step into the world where those who have left this world reign.
Take my hand, but beware because where we are going, everything can hurt you.

A girl heard her dad call her name to come downstairs. When she got onto the landing her dad grabbed her shoulder and said 'I heard that, too'.

'I feel so sleepy' my boyfriend whispered in my ear as he crawled into bed beside me last night. I woke up this morning clutching the suit that he had been buried in.

I begin tucking him into bed and he tells me, 'Mummy, check for the bogeyman in the cupboard'. I smile and look in his cupboard and see him staring back at me curled up, shivering in the corner and whispering, 'Mummy, there's somebody in my bed'.

My daughter's screaming and crying in the middle of the night is keeping me awake. I visited her grave and asked her to stop but it hasn't help.

My sister told me that Mummy drowned her. Mummy says that I don’t have a sister.

The girl in my dream screamed, 'Don't answer the door'. I awoke suddenly and when it chimed again, i realised that it was the doorbell that had woken me.

I don’t know what’s more unsettling. The fact that my TV wakes me up at night or the fact that i unplug it before i go to bed. 

The longer I wore it the more it grew on me. The neighbour's daughter really did have such pretty skin.

I have been asked to put the mirrors back up around the house. Apparently they miss watching me.

I've always been okay with my brother crawling into bed with me because he was cold. What i don't like is the graveyard dirt he leaves on the sheets.

As i explained to the Officer, i was delighted that my wife has returned to her first love of cooking after her breakdown. It wasn't until after dinner that i noticed the empty pushchair by the oven and asked her where the baby was.

Daniel sat admiring his wife's face. He then decided to set it aside for dessert.

Mummy always tells me that i shouldn't talk to strangers. My other mummy in the cupboard tells me I should kill her.

I covered my ears to try and keep out the sound of the terrible, blood chilling noise coming from downstairs. I swear the first chance i get i will hide my husbands 'Best of Country & Western' CD. 

Warmest Halloween On Record

It really shouldn't be 23C on the last day of October but i spent my lunch hour in the park surrounded by sunbathers and people in shorts.
Forecasters had predicted a continuation of the mild weather that has already seen 2014 become the hottest on record but the temperatures will fall back to an average of 13C next week after the UK mercury crept higher than that in Cannes, Athens, Crete and Rome.
To balance it all, some long range forecasters are predicting heavy and persistent snow, freezing gales and sub-zero temperatures could hit the UK from November until March.
James Madden, forecaster for Exacta Weather said significant snowfall is likely in weeks with savage frosts and thick winter fogs and the possibility of thermometers dipping below the record -27.7C recorded in 1982.
Might be best to keep that summer duvet on the bed but keep the electric blanket on standby.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Gas Bills To Fall To All Time Low Anytime Soon?

UK gas prices plunged to a record low today fuel poverty remains rife in Britain, with 2 million households, 10% of the population, unable to afford adequate heating.
Having already issued the annual, pre-Winter threat that they may not be able to 'keep the lights on' the power companies are now facing a few tough questions regarding how come our bills are not coming down with the cost 25% cheaper than this time last year especially as this is the major justification of putting them up.
Blaming 'soaring wholesale energy prices' to raise their gas prices by 35% with immediate effect, suppliers explained that 'wholesale prices are just part of the bill and, although reduced pressure on the wholesale gas market is good news in the long term, companies buy energy days, weeks, months and even years in advance to protect customers from sudden changes in costs, and will have bought gas when prices were higher'.
All that must mean that when we get the gas they purchased days, weeks, months or even a few years ago our bills will be slashed and all our gas bills will plunge to an all-time low as well.
Anything else would make us think that they have been ripping us all all along.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

70's Soviet Technology Today

Thankfully it was an unmanned rocket that exploded this week and not a manned mission but there are quite a few parts to this story that seem to be going under the radar.
Firstly, the launching of the rockets is now the responsibility of a private company called Orbital while the rockets were ex-Soviet Union Antares rockets with AJ-26 engines from the 1970's.
So to put that all into focus, NASA scrapped their space program and the private sector was bought in so they didn't have to to depend on Russian rockets to send us into space and the private sector then buys old Soviet era rockets and put together a rocket that exploded when they tried to launch it.
With previous experience of the private sector, i would assume they tried to do it on the cheap and cut a few corners to save money and therefore make a nice profit and then...kaboom. 
With a straight face, Orbital are trying to pin the blame on the Russians and with a smiling face the Russians are pointing out that they stopped using these rockets in the 90's because they proved unreliable after several launch failures.
Apparently, Orbital bought 40 of them from the Soviets so the astronauts had better not be running out of anything up there on the Space Station because it might be a while yet before they get their fresh supplies.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

DIY Ghostbusting This Halloween

Way back in 1984, Ray Parker Jnr posed the question that 'If there's somethin' strange in your neighborhood, Who ya gonna call?
As we are fast approaching the one day of the year when the veil that separates the living and the dead is at its thinnest, Ray's question is even more relevant but as the emergency services are bound to be busy dealing with the multitude of calls that 'there's somethin'  weird an' it don't look good', we should be prepared to deal with the visit from one of the living dead ourselves. Luckily, we have decades of horror films to fall back on so here's a handy guide on the best way to stay safe this Halloween night.

By far the most popular Halloween character you may encounter is a Witch. Although they may possess the power to turn you into a frog, witches were killed by the thousand back in medieval times and are basically just warty women with pointy hats and a broom so if a woman with a big nose and dressed all in black climbs through your window on Halloween, a blunt object to the head should cool her heels permanently.

Vampires are the living dead, forced to feed on the livings blood. They fear sunlight, the cross, fire and a stake through their heart. Their weakness is they always only go for the neck jugular so either sleep with a stake within handy grasp or wear a neck brace.

Come the full moon anyone can change into a ferocious werewolf which can only be killed by a silver bullet. Unless there is a full moon this halloween evening you are safe from having your intestines being used to decorate your bedroom walls. If it is a full moon then a silver bullet is your only salvation so you better start melting down that cheap jewellery.

Demons come in many shapes and forms but they all have something in common, they can be killed in many ways from fire to decapitation. They may come from hell and be super strong but they tend to be easily distracted. The old "Look out, behind you" ploy will give you more than enough time to grab a handily concealed battle axe and remove it's ugly head.

Ghosts are just rubbish. They can’t hurt you and the only thing they can do is make scary noises. This can ruin a good night’s sleep, but it can’t hurt you.

Killer Clowns
A relative newcomer to the hall of horrors but though they may look funny with their squirty flowers and big red noses make no mistake, while some will do no more than honk their horn at you, others will rip off your head and spin it on a wobbly pole for the rest of eternity.  Luckily, clowns have a liking for oversized shoes which can be easily nailed to the ground and a good shove will render them useless although beware cream-pies, over-sized hammers or buckets of confetti in their hands as you make your escape

Zombies are the walking dead but their biggest drawback is they are as dumb as a post and unless you are wearing boots, trousers and a coat made from lead, you could easily outpace the slowcoaches before they get the chance to eat your brain. Fire or a bullet in the brain will stop them in their tracks.

Mummies are just zombies wrapped up in bandages, which makes it slower and more flammable than a regular zombie. Hopeless.

Probably the least welcome thing you could find looming over you in the dead of night is a robot. Whether they are cyborgs from the future, aliens or escapees from a local tourist attraction out to kill all of mankind, robots are notoriously hard to kill. Not only are they metallic, but they are always immensely strong and impervious to fire, bullets, hitting with blunt objects or swords and have clear, logical thought which anticipates your every move.
You cannot outrun it so the only chance you have is to confuse it's circuits with some bizarre and confusing logic that will fry it's computerised brain trying to figure out. Reading out the lyrics to any REM song will work fine.

If the abomination that has made the journey into our world is anything else, then i suggest taking up Ray Jnr's advice of picking up the phone and calling Ghostbusters although to be honest, you will probably be in 17 bits spread around the living room before the first ring.
Above all avoid cemetary's, spooky looking houses and haunted forests and you should stay safe this Halloween.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Summertime Is Through

So that's it then, today is officially the last day of British Summertime and the clocks go back and the nights begin to draw in.
I often get moaned at for saying i don't like the Summer so now the table has turned and it is the time for the others to moan about the rain and snow, the cold wind and the freezing temperatures.
The advantages of the Northern Hemisphere tilting away from the Sun is that we can now see sunrises where before it was only postmen and bakers who were up and about when the Sun came over the horizon.  
Another advantage is cold weather clothes so we are not subjected to bellies overhanging shorts while wearing socks with sandals. It's big coats, sensible shoes and big chunky jumpers for the next few months.
The next few months herald Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas and New Year while the Summer sees the only dates on the calendar ringed is the appointment at the doctor to get that sting that has erupted on your forearm looked at.
Finally, while Summer brings sun, sunburn, hot sleepless sticky nights and dodging wasps, Winter brings Snow and everyone from primary school children to brain surgeons stop what they are doing and smoosh their grinning faces against the windows to take in the falling flakes. Everyone loves Snow and try to get a day off work in August because there is too much sun!
Yes miserable summery type people will moan but that just means we know what to get them for Christmas - a light box.

Why Mars And Not The Moon?

The manned mission to Mars is proving a bit more problematic then just plonking 4 humans on the red planet and leaving to it as low gravity and cosmic rays are proving a problem.
'The human ability to conceive in reduced gravity is not known, neither is there enough research on whether a foetus can grow normally under these circumstances,” the scientists behind the Mars One mission have announced which puts a spanner in any colonisation plans.'
'Although performance of the sex act during a journey to Mars may require potentially complex sexual gymnastics' American neuropsychologist Rhawn Joseph said 'the concern is the dangers and risks space conditions pose to a potential baby and his surviving abilities'.
I am disappointed that since the 60's, when we first landed on the Moon, we seem to have done nothing with it since so no space stations or terraforming of the moons surface whatsoever.
Leaping straight to colonising Mars seems a bit of overstretch, trying it out on the moon would be much safer and easier to perform a rescue mission if required with a 4 days trip rather than 9 months.
That said, it is great that we are picking up the Space Exploration bug again but Mars does seem a case of running before we can walk when we have a perfectly good solar ball of rock almost on our doorstep when we we can practise and perfect our missions before turning our gaze to other planets.

Friday, 24 October 2014

China Launches World Bank Rival

In another step to taking over the whole shebang, China has launched a new World Bank rival with a memorandum of understanding signed with 21 Asian countries in Beijing Friday.
The bank is to offer financing for infrastructure projects in Asian countries but Australia, Indonesia and South Korea were absent from the signing ceremony following pressure from Washington.
 The Australian Financial Review said US Secretary of State John Kerry had personally asked Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to 'steer clear' from joining AIIB.
"Australia has been under pressure from the US for some time to not become a founding member of the bank and it is understood Mr. Kerry put the case directly to the prime minister when the pair met in Jakarta on Monday following the inauguration of Indonesian President Joko Widodo'.     
Matthew Goodman, scholar at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC believes the Bank 'represent the first serious institutional challenge to the global economic order'.
I'm not sure what this all means but it seems America is obviously rattled by China's latest move to lift itself into the global superpower so it must damaging to its plans.
According to economists, the reserve currency is the big one, remove that from America's greasy paws and the gigs up so this must be a step in that direction which is why Washington are worried.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Canada Joins Target List

Canada has always been overshadowed by its more gobby neighbour but somehow it has always managed to avoid being too closely entangled with the country it shared the top bit of North America with as the Americans decided there was not enough war in the world and decided to spend the last 200 years rectifying it.
Now it has become a target for terrorism after the Canadian military become involved as part of the American-led coalition currently bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria.
Things will now change now and it is assumed that the Parliament will adopt the paranoid fortressing techniques that already seal the White House and the Houses of Parliament into a bubble of concrete and steel.
That could be why Canada was chosen as a target, it was always the softest and easiest target of the allies but things in Canada will change now that it has been bought into the fold which could prove a watershed moment for the Canadian politicians who, if they are like the US and UK who were never ones to waste a crisis, will bring in sweeping 'anti-terror' laws.
Canadians can expect to hear lines such as 'if you got nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear' and 'everything to keep you safe' from the mouths of the government as their rights and privacy are chipped away.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Gamergater Nerds

I did find the idea of hundreds of angry game playing nerds quite funny and now they have joined forces, called themselves Gamergaters and launched a crusade to rid the gaming world of the one thing that will always be out of their reach, females.
It all began after Zoe Quinn began trying to publish a text based game called Depression Quest which so outraged the gaming community because it isn't a real game, that they stopped fondling their joysticks long enough to harass Zoe by posting her address and home phone number and forcing her out of her home.
Not content with their work so far and spurred on by their victory, they have now set about cleaning up gaming journalism and describe themselves as a victimised demographic and have contacted advertisers on gaming websites that write less than complimentary things about gamers, they particularly dislike the description that they are angry, young, white males. 
So outraged where they that they created a female character called Vivian James as some sort of protest and in the time honoured tradition of pasty faced teenagers, the gaming boards filled up with angry, young white males at the bottom of the social pecking order fantasising about having sex with her.
The internet is one of the most widest channels to broadcast views with a degree of anonymity that has ever existed and is therefore bound to attract imbeciles of all types, it is just that this latest bunch are angry white males who are probably still living at home and who's only interaction with females is through video games and internet porn so they should be pitied because to quote someone famous, being attacked by them must be like being savaged by a dead sheep.
Probably the best way to repel them would have been for Zoe Quinn to have turned up on their doorstep, they would have ran a mile if a female actually tried to speak to the socially backward Gamergaters who's sex life seems to comprise of doing it with a cartoon they drew.

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Quo's Greatest Hits

Looking through my record collection i have a few Greatest Hits albums and i may have been tempted by the new Status Quo Greatest Hits album until they committed the ultimate music band sin that raises many peoples hackles, putting new material on the Greatest Hits.
I am sure they are proud of the new songs and spent many hours refining the lyrics and fine tuning the chord changes but is it really down to the bands themselves to tell us what are their greatest hits?
Considering they have been around since the 60s they don't have a shortage of songs they could fill a CD with and i'm sure Quo fans would much prefer a couple of the old songs to ones they don't know which should be on the next album and not shoehorned into a compilation of their very best.
Knowing how the music industry mindset works, i assume the point is to encourage fans that already own the previous albums to purchase the Greatest Hits one as well just for the new songs on it.
It seems incredibly arrogant to me to include new songs which if they really were that good would stand up on their own and make an appearance on the Status Quo Greatest Hits Vol. 2.
It's as much a rip off as the 'Live Album' idea that crops it's ugly head up every now and then but that's a moan for another day.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Why Is Nobody Screaming At Obama?

Although nobody at the Nobel Committee will admit to it, when they handed the Prize for outstanding contributions in peace to Obama in 2009 it was much more to do with him not being George W Bush than anything which he contributed to peace.
Now that he has spent the last five years either bombing or threatening to bomb assorted countries around the World, the Committee would be justified in asking for their award back but they won't because for some reason Obama is still not seen as bad as his predecessor.
The same people who marched and waved banners decrying Bush for his actions in Afghanistan and Iraq seem less keen to berate the current American President for waging the kind of wars they should instinctively oppose.   
If this was George W. Bush launching these wars the streets would be flooded with screaming pacifists but as Obama is not a right wing evangelist, the anti-war crowd are not so quick to jump on a president who is supposedly on the same side even if he turned out to be just as quick to use the military as the man he replaced.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism have just reported that the 400 drone strikes in Pakistan, a country that America is not even at war with, has killed 2,379 people of which 2,084 were not even combatants and the news didn't even make a splash.
Imagine if that kind of news came out when Bush was stomping around the globe, he was dodging shoes thrown at his head for less.     
The innocent people who die in wars are just as dead and homes are just as destroyed regardless if the Commander in Chief is a well spoken black man in a suit or a retarded cowboy in a stetson but those who screamed so loudly at the last President, seem to have lost there voice with this one.

Neck Tattoo's And Tunnel Earrings

I have nothing against tattoos, i have seen some very nice ones and some that seem to have been drawn on by a 3-year-old but there does seem to be an increasing trend of young people getting the tattoo on their necks or behind their ears.
I have colleagues with tattoo's on the arms and it isn't until you see them outside of work and in a t-shirt that you realise they are there as they are covered by shirt sleeves during the working day but short of wearing a scarf, it isn't easy to cover up a neck tattoo. 
It may look cool at 19 and you are a student but not quite such a good idea at times when you have to look professional such as at an interview or business meeting.
Same goes with the tunnel earrings which go inside the hole in the ear lobe and stretch it which is not a good look when you move out of academia and into the real world of work.
Get a tattoo by all means but get it where it can be covered up or exposed depending on the situation because getting on in work and life in general is hard enough and having a neck tattoo and huge great self-imposed holes in your earlobes is not going to make things any easier and i guarantee that when you are the other side of 30, you WILL regret it.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

400th Drone Strike In Pakistan

On October 11, the US carried out its 400th drone strike in northwest Pakistan since its strikes started there in 2004. In almost a decade, 2,379 people have been killed.  
US National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said: 'Strikes were only carried out when there was near-certainty that no civilians would be killed. The death of innocent civilians is something that the US Government seeks to avoid if at all possible'.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, as part of the Naming the Dead project which uses Pakistani government records to research those killed by American drone strikes reported that: 'Only 295 of the 2,379 dead were reported to be members of some kind of armed group'.
Obviously the White House's idea of 'near certainty' and 'avoiding the death of innocent civilians' is very much different to the rest of ours or maybe it sees a 12.5% success rate as a job going well.

Religion From 1534 In 2014

In 1534 King Henry VIII was forbid by the Catholic Church to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Ann Boleyn as they did not recognise or support divorce so he jabbed two chubby fingers at the Vatican and made up his own religion, The Church of England, took back the wedding ring from Catherine and  gave it to Ann and all lived happily ever after. Well Henry did, Ann had her head chopped off two years later but we can be thankful that the Catholic Church have moved with the times and are no longer struck it the bad old days of 480 years ago.
Now we have a Pope who is looking to modernise the Church and is speaking of acceptance of divorce but in the vote of the Catholic Church synod today, he was rebuffed by the senior clerics who want to keep the divorcee's out.
It appears Pope Francis's attempt to bring the Catholic Church closer to the 21st Century was foiled by the people who want to keep it in the 16th and another nail gets hammered into the coffin lid of religion who seems intent to make itself as irrelevant as possible to people in 2014.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Flippen Hell

Around 800,000 years ago the North was in the South and the South was in the North but the Earth's Poles flipped and caused a huge headache for compass makers of the day and they may be set to be left with boxes of stock which point the wrong way as the Earths magnetic field is preparing to flip all over again.
The Earth's magnetic field is in a weakening stage right now and will continue until it weakens sufficiently that it flips itself and the Geochronology Center at the University of California, Berkeley are saying that another flip is due soon.
'It's impossible to say whether we're just seeing the first of possibly several slight movements or a true reversal' said one geologist unhelpfully but did say that they have combed the geological time line and they do not have any evidence of catastrophes that might be related to a magnetic flip.
However, if the magnetic field weakens enough or temporarily disappears during the flip, then the Earth could be hit with dangerous amounts of solar radiation and cosmic rays which is not a good thing.
Probably not a good idea to start up a compass making business anytime soon.

Native American Headdress Ban

Glastonbury has added Native American headdresses to the list of items traders cannot sell at the festival as the wearing of them by non-Native Americans is 'disrespectful'.
Apparently this is using an ethnic minority's traditional culture as novelty clothing and is a no-no and some culture academic from the University of Kent has joined in, stating that the eagle feathers in the headdress are revered and worn for specific ceremonial occasions. 'They are not everyday wear' he warns.
As the UK has a Native American population of virtually nil and i doubt if what happens over a long weekend at a music festival in Somerset is unlikely to matter much to Native Americans in the US.
As the headdress is made of beads, cloth and feathers, does that mean all these items are banned or just if they are arranged in a certain way?
I would have thought they would be better off banning U2 and other rock stars who refuse to give up even thought their best days are 30 years behind them.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Ched Evans Return To Football

Judy Finnigan has sparked a debate on the future in football of Ched Evans, a player currently due for release in the next few days after serving his sentence for rape.
Judy's opinion was that this wasn’t a 'violent' rape, it was in a hotel room and the victim had been drinking and that Evans has 'served his time' and should be allowed to get back to his job, playing football.
Finnigan has since apologised unreservedly for these comments, saying they were badly worded and that's quite right, she seemed to be implying that because the victim had been drinking and the rape wasn't violent and happened in a hotel room, it was somehow not so bad on some sort of Finnegan sliding scale of rape ordeals.
Of course this is absurd, rape is rape a life changing traumatic ordeal whether it takes place in a comfortable hotel room or in an alley and whether violence was used or not.
Putting aside the start of her bizarre and unhelpful comments, she does have a point about someone having done a crime, served their time and when they come out they should be able to continue with their lives without being punished forever.
Yes he is a nasty, odious piece of work, but he has served his time and he does have the right to work again in his professional sphere which just happens to be football.
Whether the football fans of whatever club takes him on, if they do, or the fans of clubs he plays against will allow him is another thing and the abhorrent Ched Evans has nobody to blame but himself for that.

What Your Surname Means

The last time England was conquered was in 1066 by a Frenchman called William who took the throne and set about introducing fundamental changes, one of which was the use of surnames.
Back then you were called Elizabeth or Bill or Ted but as the country’s population grew, people found it necessary to be more specific when they were talking about somebody else so the surname was born and it was based on one of 7 types, occupation, a personal characteristic, a place, an estate, geographical feature, parents or patrons name.
There are as many as 45,000 different English surnames according to the ancestry website and it explains that if your surname is something like Carter, Cooper, Baker, Clark, Smith, Wright or Cook, your surname line began with someone in that occupation. If your surname is Walker or Fuller, you might want to hide the occupation of what a 'Walker' or 'Fuller' was back then but it involved wool, a large vat of stale urine and a pair of poor plebs feet for stomping.
Surnames such as Short, Little or Swift described your ancestors most noticeable characteristic at the time of the surname choosing and anyone with a English place name was where the ancestor lived or worked.
Some, such as Windsor or Staunton, took the name of the estate they lived or worked on or even owned and those with a geographical name descended from people who lived on, in or close to a geographical feature. Woods lived in or by the Woods, Bush in or by a particularly noticeable Bush and Bridge either next to or even under a Bridge.
Parents names were common with names ending in -son, literally meaning son of so Jackson was son of Jack, Richardson was son of Richard and daughter of incorporated the mothers Christian name so Marriot daughter of Mary.
The seventh category is the patrons name and usually ended in man so Hickman and Hoffman literally means Hick's man and Hoff's man with Hicks and Hoff being the Patron.
All very interesting unless your surname is Walker because nobody wants to find out that their family derived from people who spent the workday ankle deep in other peoples urine and face a lifetime of being called 'Pissy Feet' if everyone knew about it's origins.

Hold Tight, Another Recession Is Coming

Disclaimer: Please do not try anything you read on this post at home. I have had 3 minutes training in a wide range of financial matters and am therefore widely regarded as an expert in this field. 

The sharpest decline in European stocks since 2011 has been followed by the sharpest decline since yesterday as investors dump stocks and shares amidst warnings of global economic weaknesses.
This followed below expected date from the two largest economies, China and the United States and an IMF warning that there was a good chance that a further Eurozone recession is looming large.
The Ebola threat, conflict in the Middle East and ISIS are also being blamed for causing the jitters as well as the fear that the recent upturn was fuelled by a temporary high fuelled by central banks pumping cash into the system.
In short, the whole thing is about to come crashing down around our ears again just as the world reached the same level it was in 2008 when the whole thing came crashing down last time.
Then the Governments went on a frenzy of austerity and cutting services and six years on we are back in the same situation albeit with fewer services and longer queues at the food banks.
So what's the solution? Easy, just do the opposite of what we did last time that never worked. 
Rather than hand billions to the banks, hand it to the citizens of the nations. They will spend it which will save business's from going bust, create jobs and the money would still end up in the banks greasy paws at the end of it all anyway.
If these measures would stimulate the market i would need to ask advice from someone who works in the Government Treasury Department and has had 4 minutes training as that's far above my pay scale.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Who Not To Lend Money To

Christmas is coming and everyone is feeling the pinch but the banks are not lending and nobody with a brain cell knocking around inside their head would go to a payday loan company and now Finland is off the table also as it has its Triple A rating downgraded.
With so many countries struggling, there are are only 9 countries left that have managed to retain the prized credit status after the financial crisis and therefore safe to lend money to if they come knocking.
If you don't want to face the whining 'can i pay you double next month?' when you turn up to collect your loan, do not lend money to anyone except Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, Singapore, Sweden or Switzerland.
Anyone else and you are taking your chances that you will be left writing off the loan as a bad debt because you should trust them as far as you can throw a Ukrainian who come out the absolute worst in 'wave goodbye to your money list' and you may as well set fire to your purse with as much chance as welcoming that crisp tenner back into your piggy bank.  
Best to turn out the light and pretend nobody is in if the person at the door isn't any of those above and beware that Americans sound exactly like Canadians and New Zealanders the same as Australians so ask for birth certificates before reaching for the cheque book.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Evo Morales Again

Anyone would be overshadowed by such an immense figure as Hugo Chavez, but Evo Morales has been quietly following the same left wing trail in Chile that Chavez blazed in continental neighbour Venezuela and is today up for his third election as President.  
Opinion polls suggest that Morales remains immensely popular and with a lead of more than 40% in the latest polls, his closest rival is facing an uphill struggle to stay with the current President.
When you look at his performance in power, you can see why Morales is so successful, tripling his country's gross domestic product since he took office in 2006, according to World Bank figures.
One of his first acts was to nationalise the oil, mines, gas and communications industry and used the new found wealth to introduce social programs to reduce the 60% poverty in Chile.
The introduction of old-age pensions, controlling the price of fuel, gas and subsiding the cost of the staple foodstuffs saw poverty reduced to 45% in 2011.
Literacy programs reduced illiteracy from 16% in 2006 to UNESCO declaring Bolivia free of illiteracy.
Morales calls his Government 'Communitarian Socialism' and his country has not got the spending power that Hugo Chavez used so successfully to turn around his country after decades of neglect, but Morales has been slowly turning things around by taking the wealth that previously went to fund company directors yachts and mansions and spending it on the people that he was voted into office to represent and that is why he is a stone cold certainty to be re-elected to office today and also the reason why the defenders of the creaking Capitalism system will continue to try and discredit him and his successful version of Socialism.

Executive Committee Of The Exploiting Class

Almost consistently since i wrote it in 2008, the Marxism in A Nutshell post has been in the most viewed list.
Obviously there is a lot of interest in what the German had to say way back in the mid 19th Century and that has to be a good thing but before we celebrate the downfall of Evil Capitalism (boo) and cheer the arrival of Socialism (huzzah), there are a few more steps we need to take, mostly ridding ourselves of the parties that Marx described as 'the executive committee of the exploiting class' which translates in the 21st Century as politicians in the pocket of those with deep enough pockets to influence the political decision making process.
The bottom line is big companies don't make multi-million pound donations out of any political fervour or love of the political party, they expect something in return.
With that in mind, the Conservative Party held a fund raising Party with an invited list of about 570 of the country’s wealthiest people who paid £1,000 each to gain access to David Cameron and senior Conservative cabinet members and seated with ministers whose portfolios were relevant to the diners financial interests.
According to the seating list leaked to the Guardian newspaper, Iain Duncan Smith who is overseeing welfare cuts, was seated with directors of payday loan company CLC Finance, the housing minister, Kris Hopkins, was seated with two of London’s top property executives and Michael Fallon, the energy minister, dined with directors of a offshore renewable energy firm.
Politicians raising funds by mixing with tycoons with a vested interest in certain areas cannot be healthy, we all remember how the tobacco advertising ban was suddenly put back a couple of years following the Formula One million pound donation to Tony Blair and the Labour Party a few years ago.  
The politicians will always claim to represent the masses but will always carry on like this with  those who can afford it buying influence and you can bet your last tin of beans from the food bank that the influence they are buying will not be beneficial to anyone but themselves. 
Marx was obviously right, the few do hold influence over the many, but we can't throw off our chains just yet because Capitalism has a few more recessions to go yet before enough people realise Capitalism is no friend of the poor and the people who prop it up do not give a rats about anyone or anything except profit making and their bank balance.
I suggest digging out a copy of the Marx book so you are up to speed when the whole house of cards comes fluttering down.

So Who's On Our Side Again?

Another twist as the ISIS fight to take the Syrian City of Kobani.
Kobani is on the border of Turkey and is the home to 50,00 Kurds who are trying to escape into Turkey who have sent their own military to keep them over on their side of the border.
Turkey have long been fighting a 30 year conflict against the PKK, Kurds who are fighting to establish a homeland in the Southern portion of Turkey so the Turks won't allow more Kurds into it's territory for fear they will join up with the Kurds already there fighting the Turks.
The Turkish Government have already stated the case that the PKK as equally deplorable as the Islamic State group.
Kurds, angry at the Turkish Government for doing nothing to help the Kurds in Kobani and actively sending those who have escaped back towards ISIS, clashed with police leaving at least 31 dead and scores injured.
Turkey are also enemys of the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, so they do not want to fight ISIS as it will help the Syrian President.
And so another level is added to an already complicated conflict where the USA, UAE and Saudi Arabia are battling against the people they armed and funded to remove the Syrian President who they are now helping by batting the elements trying to remove him while also defending Iraq.
Throw in that Kobani is now being defended by the PKK aided by USA planes, but the PKK is considered a terrorist organisation by the West and you get a massive headache trying to work exactly out who is fighting who and who are we supposed to be cheering for.

Friday, 10 October 2014

British Parliament To Vote On Recognising Palestine

British MPs will vote on Monday on a motion to recognise Palestine as an independent state and with the two the largest parties, Labour and Liberal Democrats, instructing it's MPs to vote in favour, it should be a  well deserved victory for the Palestinian State and a massive snub to Israel.
A number of Conservative backbenchers have also promised to vote in favour on the motion that states: 'This House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the State of Israel.'
The vote follows Sweden’s successful vote to recognise Palestine as a state, the first EU country to do so, despite the expected opposition from the Israeli government who wish to maintain the present impasse that keeps it in control of its neighbour.
Although the the motion would not commit the UK government to officially recognise Palestine, it will put pressure on David Cameron who has always edged away from recognising Palestine as it may cause a ripple in relations with Israel and Israel's ally, the United States who has long been the fig leaf covering Israels crimes at the United Nations.   
After the latest bloody military campaign by Israel which killed over 2000 Palestinians and injured thousands more, it is time to call a halt to the horrors visited on the Palestinians.
Finally, it seems the World has waken up to what is going on there and is going to try and do something about it.
Let's hope that while it has the momentum, the Palestinians can make further moves towards their own land and if we can take a step to sanctioning Israel for 60 years worth of war crimes, then even better.

Stairway To Spirt By Taurus

Fascinating interview with Jimmy Page on BBC this afternoon.
The guitarist took us through the process of writing and compiling the excellent 1971 hit, Stairway to Heaven.
He explained how he came up with the haunting guitar solo, how he was going for a simple but fragile guitar introduction so they could add layers as the song unfolded and opened up.  
He acknowledged how tricky it was to put it all together, his guitar work, the lyrics, the implications of joining the layers through the 'journey' as he called it.
Just think how much more difficult the 'journey' would have been if Plant hadn't have swiped the tune directly from this song from 1968.
If you are going to plagarise someone else's tune at east have the brass nuggets to credit them for it when you get caught rather than continue to make up a story about how you did it. 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

ET And Religion

For centuries the domain of the church has been chipped away at. Science has challenged the events of the Bible that religion has had to adjust itself to survive and although it isn't on its last legs yet, it is very much irrelevant to many.
At some point in the future we will discover life on other planets, or it will discover us, and that may be the moment where the death knell sounds for religion. It may have rode out the Copernicus and Darwin storms but ET's could be the step too far and finally the scales fall from so many eyes for those of the opinion that God's sole intent was to create people in his image here on Earth.
With advances in telescopes, space exploration and the discovery of even more exoplanets which could sustain life, it is only a matter of time before we find evidence of life elsewhere which should prove uncomfortable for the God squad.
The likely answer would be the religious leaders would 'find' the answer written in their holy texts somewhere, much in the way that fossils and dinosaurs are clumsily dealt with but if the other life is intelligent enough to have its own theories how how and why they are there, it could get interesting.
The human way we have dealt with people of a different faith throughout history has been to try and either convert them or wipe them out so we had better hope that aliens have evolved past the theological point we find ourselves today when the contact comes because things could get very bumpy.
Science has done its best to show religion for what it is but the discovery of life in the other reaches of the Universe should be yet another body blow to religion on it's way to becoming something that future generations will look back on as a curiosity.

China May Or May Not Have Overtaken USA Economy

I'm not really sure what the implications are but China has overtaken the USA as the Worlds largest economy in terms of GDP way ahead of previous forecasts which said that it would happen but not for another couple of decades.
The IMF put China reaching $17.6 trillion GDP overtaking the United States $17.4 trillion and it is expected to widen the gap in the coming year but that does come with a warning that the figures are adjusted for Purchasing Power Parity.
Not sure how worried America should be, i will hold my hands up and admit i don't really know what Purchasing Power Parity means, but if this leads to them losing the reserve currency status they will be in a world of hurt as prices shoot up.
It is shaping up that the 21st century is going to be the the Chinese Century as it powers forward on all fronts but only time will tell if that will be a good thing.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Which Coffee Type Are You?

It is said you can tell a lot about a person by the coffee they drink but i don't know what a Latte says but it does seem to be a particular favourite of the lefty coffee supping crowd.
I have been drinking Latte or Cafe Au Lait for as long as i can remember, long before it become fashionable and we called it a coffee made with milk back then which if you left standing too long would develop a film of cold milk on top that you could lift off.
According to book, 'The You Code', you can decipher a lot about a person just by earwigging what they ask for at the counter of any cafe for example the espresso drinker tend to be moody, hard-bitten, unreliable and not very loyal.
If the order is for a black coffee the drinker has a no-frills approach and can be quiet, moody and difficult but prone to brief bursts of extroversion while the cappuccino drinkers are bubbly personalities who tend to get bored easily.
The instant coffee drinkers are cheerful but unadventurous, straight forward types and the sort who ask for a decaf are high maintenance, fussy attention seekers prone to bouts of pretentiousness.
The frappucino drinker is flighty and shallow and don't make the best partners but the worst of all are the non-coffee drinkers are scaredy cats, afraid to try new things and immature.
Which just leaves us latte drinker who are described as happy and willing to please but prone to attention seeking behaviour, can be too laid back for their own good and can come across as arrogant.
We don't know what coffee the right wing like but i would assume it is the one that most reflects them so which of the above is a bit thick and nobody likes very much?

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Why We Need The Human Rights Act

There seems to be some confusion over the Conservative plan to pull out of the European convention on Human Rights Act if they are re-elected next year.
In the aftermath of the second World War, European countries created the European convention on Human Rights to protect the continent against totalitarianism and the rise of another Nazi party which included the right not to be tortured or enslaved, forbidding degrading treatment or punishment, the right to liberty and security of the person, the right to marry, the right to a fair trial, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression, prohibits slavery and forced labour, and grants and freedom of assembly and association.
These were universal rights and everyone is equal and that is where the confusion starts because of the universal status which means it applies to everyone from the law abiding citizen to prisoners and criminals.
It was the Human Rights Act that stopped the extradition of Apsergers Sufferer Gary McKinnon to the USA for hacking Pentagon computers and allowed soldiers to sue the Government for sending them to Iraq without the correct equipment.
It protects the right for citizens to protest so we must ask why the Conservative Government are so keen to rid themselves of what is sees as shackles to it going about its business.
It proposes to scrap all the above to stop the rights of the many to hit the few who made the headlines in well publicised cases over the last few years, mostly the foreign born Islamic preachers.
To be allowed to remove the Human Rights Act would allow the Conservatives to further destroy the lives and livelihoods of millions who it is already been hitting hard.
Liberated from their human rights obligations, this Government will have a field day riding roughshod over the public it has already spent the last 4 years demonising, the low paid, ill, disabled, poor, unemployed, students and old people in our nation, and it should be shocking that it is even being discussed and viewed as a very dark day that this is being put forward as a valid policy is a very depressing show of where we are today.
There should not be any confusion because if you support scrapping it then you have obviously not understood the implications of not being protected by it anymore.

Bibleman And The Bible Adventure Team

Religious Television shows in the UK are a row of people on a Sunday night singing all things bright and beautiful for an hour on BBC2 Sunday evening.
Not in America where they have Bibleman, the show about Miles Peterson, a regular guy who turned to God and the Bible in his most desperate hour and from then on pledged to fight evil with the word of God while disguised in the full armour of God as Bibleman and fighting enemies of darkness using scripture.
Gullible and easily led children all across America watch as Bibleman and the Bible Adventure Team undertake the greatest adventure of all time, following Jesus.
Each week Bibleman turns up to help some child who is having a crisis of faith, duffs up a baddie and delivers the healthy message that BELIEVE OR YOU WILL GO TO HELL to 6 year olds.
I haven't seen Bibleman, i just saw a link for it on a website, but i would guess that as his weapons include God, faith and the ability to quote bits of the Bible, Biblemans achilles heel which renders him powerless is anyone with the ability to reason and think for themselves or is armed with fossils and a handful of dinosaur bones.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Are We Living In A Computer Game?

There is a theory that says everything we can see, including us, exist only in a fabricated world as if we are living in a huge game of Civilisation.
This isn't a new theory, the philosopher Rene Descartes pondered way back in the early 17th century if we were 'just a brain in a vat which thinks its living in the real world'?  
The director of the Centre for Evolutionary Computation and Automated Design at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory recently picked up the Descartes thread and said that the growing power of computers means it is possible that in the future humans can create their own universes and simulations, and that we in turn could be living inside a simulation right now.
So what if we were living inside a video game, the whole point of a video game is to score as many points as possible by the end so accepting the principle that this is just a massive game of Grand Theft Auto, somewhere we are racking up points or losing points for our actions and at the end of the game, or our death, we will be presented with a breakdown of the score of our 'life'.
The problem is we don't know what we do to score or lose points so we don't know how well or bad we are doing as the game goes along. Perhaps we get points for something as seemingly trivial as opening a door or lose them for clapping our hands.
If we wrote the programme we would more than likely reward good manners, honesty, kindness and generosity and penalise the attributes such as selfishness, jealousy, greed and intolerance but as we didn't write the programme and it might not be humans, it could well be another race completely which views entirely different attributes as point worthy, it may be generosity that is frowned upon and showing compassion halves your point tally.
As with all computer games, there must be glitches, easter eggs, errant code, bonus's and the unlocking of new 'levels' but my brain hasn't got enough computing power to consider all that so instead i'm going to spend the next 30 minutes opening and closing doors because you just never know.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Wonga Say Very Sorry

Wonga has long been accused of irresponsibly taking advantage of people in financial difficulties and offering them, loans at extortionate rates of interest but finally the regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, tore them off a strip for their 'controversial lending practises' of granting loans to borrowers without checking that they could afford to make the repayments and cranking up the amount to be repaid when they couldn't.
Clearly aware that the FCA had the power to shut Wonga down, the Chief Executive was quick to announce that: 'We are clearly very sorry for what’s happened to our customers and are doing everything to put that right' before announcing they will be writing off £220m of loans to 330,000 people at an estimated cost of £35m to the company.
Not sure how they can cancel £220m of loans and it only costs them £35 but it must show how much they were fleecing their customers in the first place.
Now if only the FCA can do the same with the rest of the financial system starting with the banks we may be getting somewhere.

Watching The Hong Kong Protests

As the protesters of Hong Kong continue laying in the street as they fight for democracy in their part of China, it seems it is only a matter of time before the Chinese authorities make good on their threat of 'unimaginable consequences' and crack down hard.
If they give in to the protesters they know that even more will spring up elsewhere in the country but they also know that if they come down on the demonstrators as hard as they did on the Tiannaman Square protesters in 1989, it could have a negative impact on the economic fortunes of China and damage the improving reputation they have been working on ever since that picture of the man standing up to the line of tanks that circled the globe 25 years ago. 
I am expecting the Government to conclude that stopping further protests trumps the potential fall-out of cracking a few heads and clear the streets with force soon but there has been something about the protesters that have impressed me as much as their nerve in taking on the authoritative Chinese Government.
In protests almost everywhere around the World there is looting and riots with petrol bombs and paving slabs being thrown at lines of baton wielding police but in China, it's all so civilised.
There are volunteers handing out bottles of water, towels, umbrellas and face masks and carrying plastic bags to clear up any rubbish left behind by the demonstrators. Groups armed with buckets of soapy water are cleaning chalk graffiti off the road while others carry around ladders to help people climb over the central reservation of the motorway they are demonstrating on where even the barricades offer an apologetic 'Sorry: No Entry'.
That's how protests should be, polite and well mannered but then that was exactly how it was in 1989 and that had a very ugly ending so we can only hope those scenes won't be repeated but you do fear that they will and even more ashamedly, the world won't much care because China is too big and too important to their economies to risk rocking the financial boat by criticising them.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

What Did Japan Do?

You do wonder just who Japan has upset as it is about to be battered by the 300 mile wide Super Typhoon Phanfone.
The Asian country has already borne the brunt of three typhoons this summer leaving a trail of dead and injured and 40 more were killed in landslides in August after heavy rain and a 5.6 earthquake rattled the country last month and recently the Volcanic Mount Ontake decided to join in and blow its top.
Just to make sure that Japan does not get any respite, the Typhoon Warning Centre is watching yet another mighty typhoon developing on a similar track as Phanfone which will announce it's arrival some time next weekend.
Mother nature is obviously mad at Japan for something, hopefully dumping all its radioactive water in the Pacific Ocean as it cleans up after the Fukashima incident but this is not a good time to visit Tokyo