Tony's sudden pang's of guilt over the way he attacked the Tories over sleaze as reported in today's Telegraph have had me puzzling this question most of the day. No matter how I look at it there can only be one answer and that is the cynical one that first sprang to mind. Its this bit that does it for me:
"It was too easy to do, in a way," he said in the interview to be shown on Sunday. "It's like falling over in the penalty box when you know the referee's going to give a penalty.
"It's quite hard to resist doing it when each side's desperate to score a goal. But no, I don't feel good about all that because I think in the end it conditioned a view of us too when we came in that was not sensible."
So the message is this: We made a mistake, but that was then and we all know it was a mistake. But look at those nasty Tories it's obvious they are still the divers, trying to fool the ref (you and me folks), aren't they the pits.
I wouldn't be surprised to find Mandalson's fingerprints on this one.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tony's sudden pang's of guilt over the way he attacked the Tories over sleaze as reported in today's Telegraph have had me puzzling this question most of the day. No matter how I look at it there can only be one answer and that is the cynical one that first sprang to mind. Its this bit that does it for me:
There are many reasons why political parties shouldn't be funded by the state and most of them revolve around incompetence and that they can't be trusted with our money. However the main reason is that it creates a barrier to entry and entrenches the current parties in the system.
As disillusionment with the current parties grows they claim they need even more money to tell us how god they, which pisses us off even more. But with state funding how can anyone start a new, fresh, party and hope to compete with the incumbents? Its already bad enough that sitting MP's get a specific communication budget.
If they can't convince us that they are good enough we need some creative destruction to allow new parties to flourish.
Posted by Simon Fawthrop at Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
To me this isn't about the money, its about a deep seated malaise in our political structure. Lets look at how we got to this.
In opposition, Labour cried blue murder about rich individuals donating to the Tory party and they had a point as it was large sums of money. This screaming was all part of the cut and thrust of politics and played a small part in Labour's '97 victory.
Labour comes to power and true to its word changes the rules on party funding, in a blaze of righteousness as they point their fingers at the soon to be impoverished Tories. Fair enough, its politics.
Labour then appoints an obviously clever man to be Party Chairman. One of the main roles of the Party Chairman, from what I can gather, is fund raising. If this is the case you would expect the Party Chairman to know the rules and at least ask someone for guidance if he wasn't sure. So to read this on the beebs news page:
After that emerged, following a Mail on Sunday report, Mr Watt resigned, telling Labour's National Executive Committee he knew about the arrangement, but had believed he had complied with reporting obligations.
mind boggling ignorance by a man in a senior position, which also calls in to question the competence of those who appointed him, or
an equally mind boggling arrogance to believe that they could get away with it. If this is the case it also shows they having nothing but contempt for the laws of this country, democracy or the people they are meant to be serving.
As reported on PM last night: Demonstrators chanted "death to Tryl" (the president of the Oxford Union Debating Society), as they protested against a debate on free speech. And they say Americans don't do irony!
The beeb web site reports Martin Mcluskey, from the Oxford University Students' Union, "It is as if we are saying that we agree with what they are saying and that we think it is valid."
Well, as you wouldn't listen to what he had to say on free speech how the fuck do you know whether what he wanted too say was valid or not?
It really worrying that idiots like this are being groomed as our future leaders.
Monday, November 26, 2007
I had never heard of this woman until she refused a position in the Government Of All Talents.
However, having read The Devil's Kitchen fisk of her 10 point manifesto I have only only 2 comments:
1. If she is an example of "talent" worthy of being brought in to Government we are in for a pretty rough time over the next 3 years as Government continuous its descent from incompetent to gross incompetence at an ever increasing pace
2. With ill thought out crap like that I never want to hear from her again. We get better from Beeb phone-in's for the hard of thinking.
PS Go and have a vote on Mark's poll about what GOAT really stands for.
Posted by Simon Fawthrop at Monday, November 26, 2007
An Englishman is reporting that there may be ten discs missing.
Assuming that they have a better than 0% success rate is sending data to other institutions, just how much data is the HMRC sending out in the post and, more importantly, why?
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Does all the talk about golbal warming and carbon foot prints put yu flying to your ideal holiday destination? Do you think about changing you behavious to "save the planet" because all those serious people tell you to?
Hat tip to Climate Skeptic for pointing out this story in The Razor et al
You may be aware that a lot of the claims about climate change and its consequences are driven by the UN and it is sponsoring a 2 week conference on the subject of Climate Change from Dec 3rd to 14th the Bali Convention Centre Check it out; it’s a fairly impressive place. By now you might be thinking this is a long way to go and after a little more thought you might also start idly wondering about the carbon footprint of this gig. After all that’s what is quoted to make us feel that we have to change our ways, especially if those ways include flying off on our holidays.
The Razor gives an interesting perspective on the Climate Change conference and its carbon footprint - to save you some time I will paraphrase the findings.
The UN is based in New York and the conference is being held in Bali, which means that the delegates are going to have to fly there. How many delegates will that be you might wonder? Well, obviously an important conference such as this requires a lot of very earnest people to discuss ways of save us and I’m sure all 10,000 will have a very important role. (No, that’s not a typo it really is Ten Thousand). Now you can see why the need such a big resort as Bali as it has a huge convention centre.
The Razor makes a few guestimations of where these people will be travelling from as, obviously, they aren’t all flying from New York and comes up with this assumption which I use later in the post:
• 4,000 participants from New York - that’s where UN headquarters is.
• 1,000 from Los Angeles - for press, Hollywood UN groupies, and UN personnel stationed at west coast consulates.
• 3,000 from Rome - for European NGO, UN and official contingents
• 1,000 from Hong Kong - that will cover participants and press from Japan, China and SE Asia
• 1,000 from Delhi - which will cover South Asia, the Middle East and Africa
Applying these assumptions he the uses this wonderful site to calculate the carbon footprint of the delegates’ flights. If you want to check out his numbers don’t forget all these important delegates get to fly business class so they can arrive fresh and ready to sort out this important subject. But to save you time I will give you another, simpler, overview:
I am going to make some broad assumptions to illustrate a point - the distance between NY and Bali is about 16,500 km, and assuming the delegates fly by jumbo jet with 100% occupancy, a return flight for one person results in:
• c.1,400kg of fuel being burned, which causes
• c.4,400 kg of CO2 to be produced, with a warming affect of
• c.13,200 kg of CO2 Equivalent
Or put even simpler, the return flight of one delegate from New York to is the equivalent of burning 36 x 60W bulbs continuously for 1 year. For all the delegates and using the assumptions above the carbon foot print comes out at an equivalent of c.378,000 x 60W light bulbs burning continuously for 1 year.
Now, let’s say an English family of 4 go on holiday to Cyprus, about mid way between European and International holiday destinations, on our same inefficient Jumbo. They will have the equivalent carbon footprint of 70 x 60W light bulbs glowing for a year. This means our family of four could have about 5,400 family holidays on Cyprus for the same carbon footprint as the UN climate change delegates.
As this lady says ( ): “I'll believe it's a crisis when the people who say it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis.” Although she is a lot politer and restrained than me.
You might also want to check out what this lady has to say on the subject as well.
And don’t forget we haven’t considered the carbon footprint from all the air conditioning, flying in the extra food and cars being used to transport the delegate round the sites.
What a waste of effort this thing turned out to be. I had a copy of the HIPs report but didn't really have time, or the inclination, to read it as we walked round the bungalow. We weren't even allowed to take it away as it belongs to the owners and is held by the Estate Agent. If I want to read it in detail I have to pay for a copy or sit in their office.
I thought they would be an expensive waste of time when they were proposed. Now I'm convinced.
And I have the pleasure of paying for a HIPs on my house when the time comes, I can't wait!
Chatting to the estate agent when we were looking at the bungalow we are interested in, it turns out that there is another woman (Woman A) interested. Anyway, it turns out that Woman A is so keen she has made a decision to put her house on the market as she hopes to buy this bungalow. The bit that interested me is that she is putting it on the market with the same Estate Agents.
This got me thinking about conflicts of interest and who the estate agent is really working for if Woman A makes an offer to buy the bungalow: the buyer or the seller of the bungalow?
Furthermore, when I do come to sell I won't use the same agent. And what happens if I make an offer: will the estate agent think he might lose the opportunity to sell Woman A's house fearing she might take it off the market? If he does will he put my offer forward with any vigour?
I can see I am going to be in for a fraught time on this one and will have to keep my eye on this Estate Agent. Fortunately it turns out we know the owner of the bungalow through a mutual friend so will get wind of any shenanigans.
We have been looking around to see if there is anything on the market that meets our requirements. We don't want to move as we know it is a stressful experience and not cheap. However we are getting older and my wife needs a studio on ground level.
Anyway, yesterday we saw a house and are seriously contemplating making an offer so this is the start of what I expect to be a series of blogs (rants) on the trials and tribulations of buying, selling and moving.
Posted by Simon Fawthrop at Sunday, November 25, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
The Remittance Man has an interesting piece, AND TALKING OF INCOMPETENCE, in which he argues that Government is so big there just isn't enough talent to fill all the key roles such as Chancellor, Home Secretary and heads of Civil Service etc. Therefore we should reduce the size of Government. This is a well made case in a good cause, but it doesn't go far enough as it only considers one half of the equation.
I cannot argue with the need for talented people in those key jobs and that the numbers should be reduced to an absolute minimum but my argument is that this is because while they are consuming wealth they are not creating it. Surely we want our most talented people in industry creating wealth for the country?
This wealth creation argument is also the drive behind Lawson's dictum that taxes should be simple and universal. We don't want our best talent trying to minimise a Company's ever more difficult tax liability; we want them generating higher profits for their companies. On a personal level I resent having to pay an accountant to fill in my annual tax return even tough he generally save me money. He should be doing something more productive.
Consider the case of tax credits, probably the most fiendishly difficult tax relief system ever devised. In order to make it work we have some of our best computer programmers writing programmes and scripts so that people in call centres can deal with the ever growing problems. Surely raising the tax threshold would be the simplest way to give poor people a tax break? And then these creative programmers could be developing products that can be used to create wealth?
Friday, November 23, 2007
Following the concerted attack on the Government in general and the PM in particular by 5 former chiefs of the defence staff, the Government complains it was a planned attack. Fucking hell, these were some of the best military strategists of the past 20 years or so, what the fuck did they expect when they continually ignored warnings that the Armed Forces were close to breaking point?
Instead of whingeing, perhaps the incompetent bunch of wankers that claim to be Governing us should be asking the form CDS's to teach them how to implement policy in an effective and competent way, then we might not get as many fuck ups like the HMRC debacle.
Two years ago England sacked its most successful manager for the simple reason that he was a foreigner. I say England because there was a general campaign in the media and amongst fans to get rid of Sven. All sorts of crap was written and the final straw was getting knocked out in the quarter finals, by Potugal, of the 2006 World Cup.
We were told that only an Englishman could manage the England team and extracxt the true talents and the search was on. Whether you agree with the selection or Maclaren or not we managed to exclude Johnny Foreigner. We even got a bogof with the appointment of that great cockney lad Terry Venables. Oh how we were going to show Johnny Foreigner how the beautiful game should be played. With all those megastars we have in England shirts how could we fail to conquer all before us, we would even show the world how to shop properly by sending all those wags out as well.
So here we are 2 years later, the England manager sacked, his assistant sacked and England looking for a new manager. So who will it be to lead us to our deserved land of milk, honey and World Cups? Another Englishman? Despite all the same guys being around from 2 years ago the cry is now for another foreigner - Martin O'Neil (Irish) Jose (The Chosen One) Mourinho (Portuguese (the irony seems to escape those making thise claim)) and a host of others.
Anyone taking bets on what the cry will be when we don't win the World Cup in 2010?
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Until today I had a modicum of sympathy for the Badger, he seemed a reasonably decent sort of guy, for a politician, and he was taking over a shit job with the last incumbernt his new boss. However listening to him on Today was the end of that sympathy.
When challenged on the cock-up that was the integration of the HMRC he said words to the affect that as the opposition parties supported the policy they are in no position to criticise. WTF
Which fucking planet is this guy on? Its obviously not the same planet as the rest of us if doesn't understand the difference between policy and implementation. It may have been a good policy, but it was obviously fucked up in implementation. The only thing the Opposition may have been guilty of is not screaming loud enough that this bunch of wankers can't organise a piss-up in a brewery so how the fuck did they expect to merge 2 huge government departments?
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I would like to thank my MP, David Liddington, for the very quick response this afternoon when I emailed him asking why the data was being sent to the NAO. He sent back the following from Hansard, within the hour:
I attach the Hansard report of today's question to the Prime Minister from Edward Leigh MP, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, to which the NAO reports.
Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): Is the Prime Minister aware that when the Department for Work and Pensions ran child benefit, it did a full audit on 20,000 names? When it was passed to the Inland Revenue, that was cut to 2,000 names, which is why the National Audit Office had to check its figures. Is he further aware that those protocols were agreed at a high level in March between the NAO and the Inland Revenue, and when the NAO asked for narrow details-not people's personal bank accounts-the Revenue said that to disaggregate that information would be too burdensome for the organisation? Those decisions were, therefore, taken at a high level. Is that not the image of a department that has had too much work loaded on it at the same time as it is cutting staff?
As you can see, the NAO has a duty to audit the payment of Child benefit, as any other benefit, but asked HMRC for a narrower range of information than they insisted on providing. During the exchanges following the Chancellor's statement yesterday, Mr Leigh said that the NAO had asked for a list of national insurance numbers so that they could create a sample on which to carry out the audit. The NAO's general practice is to examine a sample of benefit payment records for audit purposes. The NAO specifically asked for personal details, other than NI numbers, to be excluded.
I also heard on the radio that the underlying reason was that HMRC would have had to make a payment to their IT contractor.
Jesus, Mary and fucking Joseph, for the sake of a few fucking quid they send 25m personal records in the post. Presumably the NAO would have had to pay for the data to be extracted as well, so no saving to us, just some wankers' budget. For fucks sake, haven't they got a brain cell between them! And these were meant to be senior managers, it makes you wonder about the mental capabilities of the junior civil service.
If somebody cannot be tried for a wilful breach of the Data Protection Act then the wankers who drew up the act should be shot as well.
And to make it worse England have just conceded 2 goals while I type this!
The fact that this data was being sent anywhere is a matter of concern but I learn from The Daily Brute that they were being sent to the National Audit Office. Why?
The NAO's own web site states its job is "Helping the nation spend wisely" and goes on:
The National Audit Office scrutinises public spending on behalf of Parliament. We are totally independent of Government. The NAO is headed by the Comptroller and Auditor General, Sir John Bourn.
We audit the accounts of all central government departments and agencies, as well as a wide range of other public bodies, and report to Parliament on the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which they have used public money. Our work saves the taxpayer millions of pounds every year.
Why on earth do they need the details of 25 m people? If it is for fraud then that is a bloody big sample to be trawling through. If it was to test the Revenue's processes then they have proved a point, but did it need 25m entries to be sent as some sort of test.
I am genuinely perplexed and would welcome any thoughts on this issue.
Posted by Simon Fawthrop at Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I have just been catching up on Radio 4's excellent programme More or Less: Behind the statistics and this week one of their listeners raised this curious point:
If a hospital procedure is carried out on everyone in exactly 10 weeks, what is the average waiting time? I was particularly taken with this piece because I have been very wary of "averages" for a long time and never accept them in a business context unless I have seen the raw data. The reason for this is the average, and even above average, person is clueless as to what an "average" really tells us, especially with small data sets. (Pun intended)
Anyway, the answer to this question took me by surprise: 5 weeks.
It seems that we are really being told average waiting times of those in the queue and they get this by asking each person in the queue how long they have been there. So if the sample is large enough it is reasonable to assume that some will have been there for 1 day, others for 2 days etc all the way to 69 days. The average of these wait times is indeed 35 days.
To be fair the programme does go on to say that the Government is moving towards total treatment times, but not before misleading us as to waiting waiting times.
This whole episode nails the lie that the data underpinning ID cards will be safe and that we have nothing to worry about.
Yes I know 25m people are going to be inconvenienced and some may even lose money, which I am sure the banks and Govt will repay. I'll even bet that some of that will be a scam by some people "defrauding" themselves in the hope of making more money. But thats a small price to pay for the greater good.
We are told that it was a lack of procedures that caused the problem, so what, it happened. No doubt the ID card proponents will tell us that the procedures will be tighter and that they have learnt from this episode. This just shows how ignorant they are about procedures, which are written by humans to be carried out be humans. Furthermore, they are designed to capture the 99% of events that people envisage, they do not, and cannot, cover every eventually or for people's in built laziness and stupidity.
So give that person a medal and perhaps NO2ID could make this some sort of annual award along the lines of the Darwin Awards?
Ian Smith's policies were a nasty piece of work, no matter how principled he was. His belief's that blacks should never be allowed to run the country were self serving and ultimately destructive.
Having said that its a bit rich for the current regime to be criticisizing him. The beeb reported Mr Mugabe's deputy information minister, Bright Matonga, as saying that Ian Smith brought untold suffering to millions of Zimbabweans. They don't say whether this was reported with a straight face or not, but in the Humpty Dumpty world of African politics I presume it was.
It would be an interesting experiment to find out if Zimbabweans would be willing to give up their new found freedoms and democracy in return for the food and security provided by Smith's regime.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Whilst its good to see someone taking ultimate responsibility and resigning, beeb article, I can't help a feeling of schadenfreude.
The way they treated a good friend and fellow company director was absolutely appalling. Having cocked up analysing our VAT returns they turned up at his house unannounced with an order to take his goods. Fortunately he wasn't in. It took our accountant 5 minutes to point their mistake out to them and not once did they think to apologise.
So, if this woman is anything to go by the fucking lot of them should resign.
The whole Northern Rock debacle gets curiouser and curiouser.
The Remittance Man makes this excellent observation:
What I am sure about is if this were a Tory government and it was The Rich Bastard Bank that was failing, the Grown Ups an other usual suspects would be driving themselves into a frenzy of righteous indignation, calling for police investigations, judicial inquiries and everything else. Yet beyond the odd report, usually tucked away on the business pages, they are surprisingly silent
And now Guido points out that not only was the CEO (why isn't he the "disgraced CEO"?)was sold his own shares before the problems started:
His confidence in his bank's business model long term is demonstrated by his selling of £1.5 m of shares in two days. (25 Jan 2006 sold 52,253 at 957p for £500,061.21 and the next day he sold another 111,426 at 957p for £1,066,346.82).
His faith in the business was shown by his purchase last April of just 262 shares worth a little under £3,000. Not a lot of faith in the business from the boss was there?
And then Guido also points out:
Northern Rock gave half-a-million to Labour's favourite think-tank, the IPPR. It also employed Gordon's personal pollster, Deborah Mattinson, as an adviser. Of all the pollsters to seek advice from, why her? Why give money to that think-tank? Nowadays it is very rare for publicly quoted companies to make politically partisan donations
Now I don't think that the Northern Rock crash is anywhere near the scale of the Enron crash, but that doesn't mean that any sniff of corruption doesn't needed to be investigated, very thoroughly, as Remittance Man points out.
Going back to my post yesterday on the value of NR and its share dealings: Why hasn't its stock exchange listing been suspended? The company looks like its insolvent and is being kept afloat by the Government, doesn't that sort of skew any share pricing?
Posted by Simon Fawthrop at Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
It appears that the offers for Northern Rock are too low according to this beeb article
Northern Rock has said the proposals received so far from potential investors were "materially below" the stricken bank's current share price.
Well what do they expect, for fucks sake. The share price is artificially high because everyone expects the Govt to bail them out, so why sell now? Especially if you bought at the peak of £12, you may as well hang and see what happens. A quick look at share trading this morning shows volumes of 40,00 shares have traded, that's out of approximately 500,000,000 (I had to do some quick assumptions to get to this figure) or less that 0.08% of the shares so it is hardly a true indicator of what the company is worth.
This all goes down to the old adage of something is only worth what somebody is prepared to pay for it, which is how we got in to this mess in the first place with the overvalued load books.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Yes folks, our esteemed Foreign Secretary has it all figured out judging by his latest pronouncement
Foreign Secretary David Miliband has said the Middle East peace process must get "back on track", after meeting his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni.
Doesn't this numpty or his advisers realise that if you have a track then it must lead to a destination? Perhaps he would like to share this destination with us, after all some great statesmen in the past 6o years or so have failed to sort it out. It doesn't seem to concern him that its still a hot bed after 1000's of years of strife and failed peace making.
This reminds me of those idiots who used to tell us in the '80's that the Euro train was leaving and we were missing it - they didn't once tell us where it was going, just that we had to be on it.
Oh how these vacuous idiots piss me off with their belief that all they need to do is use a meaningless slogan and all will be well and we will folllow like gillible idiots.
Still, if you send a boy to do a man's job ...
According to this article
Well lets hope so but somehow I doubt it.
Mind you it does show that Blair was even more gung-ho with our forces than previously reported.
PS I have to own up to being a bit biased on this subject. I spent 6 months in Zimbabwe straight after independence teaching in their School of Signals in Bulawayo. I had a mixed class of "freedom fighters" and former Rhodesian armed forces. furthermore it was a mixed class of blacks and whites who'd fought on both sides all of whom were keen on reconciliation and peace. However at the time it was obvious that ebagum was going to be a brutal dictator, only the left couldn't see it.
I have read and heard some real bollocks this weekend. Two particular pieces spring to mind:
This morning in an interview on the radio I heard a Labour MP (unfortunately I didn't catch his name as I was driving) say that the Government's priority was to protect jobs. No, no, no and no again. Haven't you fucking idiots learnt anything from the history books, you fucking dimwits? Its only as recent as the 1960's and 70's that Governments poured good money after bad in the pursuit of "protecting jobs" and look where that got us!
I know its harsh and nobody likes seeing people lose their jobs but this institution is well and truly fucked and the Government has one priority and one priority only: to get our tax payers money back as quickly as possible, preferably with the interest paid, but I'll settle for capital only at this stage.
Which brings me to my next point, what the fuck is the Government doing worrying about shareholders, as reported in this article:
"If he (the Chancellor) is prepared to leave the financial prop in place for three years - subject to not falling foul of EU state-aid rules - existing shareholders might recoup some of the losses they've incurred," said Robert Peston, the BBC's business editor.
No, no and thrice no. The shareholders were laughing all the way to the bank when the share price was £12 and good luck to them. But if they were so fucking greedy that they allowed the management to continue with its obviously flawed plan thinking they would make even more money then that's there fault and not mine.
I find myself hoping the EU steps in and forces the Goverment's hand under Competition rules - how desperate is that FFS!
I wasted a good part of the morning in my local John Lewis (High Wycombe_ and it was absolutely packed. When we left the queue to get in to the car park was back to the M40. Most of the people I saw were looking at and buying things like large, HD ready, TV's, music centres and computers.
Maybe its a "final fling" before things get tight, maybe the great unwashed don't believe that that there s a looming crises or maybe there are still lots of people with cash to burn but whatever the reason it doesn't loo like a looming credit crunch or recession.
On the off chance that you are interested, I was after a new DAB clock radio for my Birthday, but didn't buy one because the numpties, sorry, Partners, couldn't plug them in so I could see what the display was like.
Once again our Defence Ministry shows it is fucking clueless when it comes to the moral of our armed forces. General Dannatt has written a report which The Telegraph claims to have seen and what they are reporting is frightening:
The head of the Army has warned that years of Government under-funding and overstretch have left troops feeling "devalued, angry and suffering from Iraq fatigue", The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.
Having spent 18 years in the army I am well aware that squaddies like to have a good moan, furthermore they have always been short of kit and a lot of the time supplied their own personal items, but this is getting ridiculous.
When we were sat in Germany preparing for WW3, this didn't matter as we were only expected to hold the Soviets for a few weeks at most. We also had time for training and by and large the right equipment. Now NuLab seems to think it has the solution to world peace and is sending our forces in to hot wars all round the place. Most of these places require specialist equipment so the can deploy properly and be effective. Furthermore it requires different training. if we are going to be effective takes time and money.
What is really scary is the attitude of the MoD, reported on the beeb web site:
The Ministry of Defence said he was referring to individuals who were not necessarily widely representative.
What the fuck are they on about? The Army's most senior officer writes a report like this and it is not representative? Listen, you fuckwits, get you heads out of your arses and start doing your jobs because the armed forces can't carry on like this, unless we aim to fill it up with immigrants or pull out soon.
This is one of the subjects at which everyone appears to be an expert* and listening to the debate over the Tories latest pronouncement that children should be able to the read by the age of six some of the armchair experts don't half talk drivel.
Well, I don't profess to being an expert but I am reasonably well informed. The Great Wiseone spent 25 years as a specialist reading teacher in this country and abroad in military schools. Furthermore we have good friends whose children went in to the German schooling system and, finally, we have brought up a son who eventually had a reading age higher than his chronological age, despite being a late starter and us telling his school not to worry.
So, after all the years of failed attempts to teach younger and younger children to read, how about a different approach and not bother until they are 7? This works very well in Germany and Hungary and I am sure other places. Up to that age concentrate on teaching them social and cognitive skills and take the pressure of the little darlings. How can we expect 3 and 4 year olds to sit still and learn at that age? They should be having fun anyway.
I suspect this would never happen as middle class parents seem to have this believe that teaching kids to read at some unnatural age when they aren't ready is somehow good for them.
*As an old friend was fond of saying: "x" is the unknown quantity and a "spurt" is a drip under pressure
Posted by Simon Fawthrop at Sunday, November 18, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Imagine the apoplectic rage if a Tory of any description, let alone a PM, had come out with the "British workers for the British jobs " statement? The Labour Party and especially Broon would have been beside themselves with rage. The Nazi accusations would have been flying around like confetti at a chav wedding. Doesn't the hypocrisy make you despair about the lot of them?
Posted by Simon Fawthrop at Saturday, November 17, 2007
Despite the churlishness of the Anybody but England brigades, I wish them luck in today's match against Italy. What they have achived so far deserves qualification for the Euro finals.
Updte: Oh well, it wasn't to be. I supose the churlish ones will now be supporting Croatia and hoping England doesn't get through.
Posted by Simon Fawthrop at Saturday, November 17, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Ther is something sinister about this phrase, especially coming from the left and they way they have treated dicussions on immigration in the past. Not one screech from the left of the beeb about racisim, why? Is it because its NuLab making the coment and not the Tories?
I don't have a problem with immigration, indeed I work in an office which is fairly cosmopolitan and enjoy diversity. All I ask is that our leaders plan for the influx and tell us the truth, but thats another story. What I am pissed off about is the way the left reacted on immigration in the past.
Remeber the way that Hague and Howard were villified because they dared question immigration? The left were put up
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Hat tip to An Englishman's Castle for alerting me to this one (note to self: must add to list of frequently read blogs) in The Times.
It appears the Nanny State is dead and we are going to be coerced by stewards:
The authors, a group of doctors, lawyers, philosophers and other experts, argue that the much-maligned “nanny state” should be replaced by a new, more sensitive idea of “stewardship”.
The central concept of stewardship differed from the nanny state by being “more sensitive to the balances between public good and individual freedom,” he said. The report concludes: “The stewardship model provides justification for the UK Government to introduce measures that are more coercive than those which currently feature in the National Alcohol Strategy.”
For fucks sake, leave me alone; I work hard and pay my taxes and if I want to get pissed in the evening in my own home that my business, you nosey twats.
Anyway, what's with trying to keep people alive longer so they can draw pensions and be a drain on other resources? As Sir Humphrey pointed out in Yes, Minister, we want people to die at the end of their productive lives.
Posted by Simon Fawthrop at Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I was brought up on the belief that it was better that 10 guilty men go free rather than one innocent man is convicted. I have not seen one jot of evidence that we need to change this concept in our judicial system.
Hard cases make bad laws.
Posted by Simon Fawthrop at Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
I am of the certain age referred to in this letter in The Thunderer and agree that we need a campaign to restore the shirt breast pocket. I have been replacing shirts recently and was disappointed at the lack of choice.
One angle that could be used in the campaign is the role of the shirt pocket in IT history. I understand that the 3.5" disc was designed to fit in to the shirt pocket.
The beeb is reporting that a Blackpool landlord is about to be prosecuted for flouting the smoking ban. Furthermore he plans to carry on allowing smoking in his pubs. Good on him.
As a non-smoker I have been against this crazy law from the start. A pub is not a "public place", it is a business licensed to sell alcohol to the public for consumption on the premises. Indeed, there are many pubs I won't go in because of the smoke, but that's my choice and the landlord's loss.
I hope this guy keeps fighting and finds an enterprising lawyer who can find some angle in the Human Rights Act.
Posted by Simon Fawthrop at Monday, November 12, 2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Dr Bari, head of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), isn't happy:
Britain must, he warns, beware of becoming like Nazi Germany.he tells us in today's Telegraph
Why is it every time someone isn't happy with policy they accuse us of becoming Nazis? In this case he is talking utter bollocks and showing a complete disregard for history. Just a few comparisons: No lebensraum, no "Hitler youth", no laws saying Muslims have to clearly identify themselves in some way, no leaders blaming all our ills on Muslims to name but a few comparisons. But more importantly we have the institutions that protect us from these policies ever being implemented.
Perhaps we should look at the problem:
"There is a disproportionate amount of discussion surrounding us," he says. "The air is thick with suspicion and unease. It is not good for the Muslim community, it is not good for society."I agree, its not good for a society, but perhaps we should ask why many intelligent people feel that way. Could it be statements like this:
There is, in his view, no such thing as Islamic terrorism.
Maybe in his blinkered view there isn't, but I can assure him that those who see the video's of suicide bombers praising Allah and claiming to be carrying out their actions in His name don't see it that way. Then there are the Islamic preachers who delight in referring to the non Muslim population as Kaffirs, a term just as offensive as the N word, they don't exactly inspire confidence in the Muslim community.
"I think it [Johnathon Evans' speech] is creating a scare in the community and wider society. It probably helps some people who try to recruit the young to terrorism. Muslim young people are as vulnerable as any others. Under this climate of fear they will begin to feel victimised."
Chicken and egg situation here. When Muslim immigrants started arriving in large numbers in the 60's and '70's they were generally allowed to get on with their lives. We even tolerated the religion to the extent that London started to to pick up the nickname "Londinistan" because we were so tolerant. And what happened? Events like 9/11 and other attacks carried out in the name of Islam. And you blame us for now getting a bit suspicious about all those people and there followers who preach hatred?
Sir Salman Rushdie should never have been knighted, he says. "He caused a huge amount of distress and discordance with his book, it should have been pulped."
You really don't get get liberal democracy, do you? We tolerate all sorts of crap in the desire to be left alone to get on with our lives because we know that sometimes our actions offend others. Salman Rushdie is an unpleasant ego maniac who wrote a you don't like and by all accounts even non-Muslims thought it was crap. But that's not the point, this is a society that has evolved to a point where we don't need or want laws that call for such drastic actions. You, by the way, are quite at liberty to go out and burn the books yourself, just like people did after the Beatles were misquoted about their comparisons to God.
Dr Bari insists he is simply trying to unite disparate communities. "On the one hand we are accused of not engaging, being insular, and on the other hand of being too political. We can't win."
You can be insular if you want and you can engage if you want, I don't care. But its up to you to engage with us, the liberal host society, on our terms, not yours, for example:
Abortion should also be made more difficult. "By the time a foetus is 12 weeks old our religion says that the child has got a spirit." Homosexuality is "unacceptable from the religious point of view".
Maybe they are, but both are legal in this country and your campaigning against them is offensive to others, but that doesn't seem to worry you, does it?
Here's something for you to ask yourself: Why aren't the Chinese community banging on about there kids being victimised, about their religion being misunderstood, about needing us to integrate them? If your get stuck you will find the answer in the nearest mirror.
Fortunately there are 1000's of Muslims who don' ascribe to Dr Bari and his aims, who do integrate and make themselves part of society without needing any changes. They are a pleasure to work and live with and Dr Bari should also consider those when he considers the Chinese question, above.
Posted by Simon Fawthrop at Saturday, November 10, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
You have to hand it to Steve Jobs, he certainly knows how to get free publicity. As far as I am aware he has had a free advert on BBC's Radio5 Wake Up to Money, 3 free adverts on the Radio 4 Today programme and at least 1 slot on Radio 5's Drive programme.
How much would that cost on the open market?
Posted by Simon Fawthrop at Friday, November 09, 2007
As well as the usual arguments against ID cards, which I won't go in to here, reading this article it struck me that we could have a new kind of gerrymandering. The Government is now planning to spend £5.5bn over the next 10 years on the IT systems behind ID cards. Even if we accept that these costs won't rise above inflation this is a lot of money. This money will be pumped in to the IT industry, probably in this country, and promises to provide a gravy train for those working on the project.
The Tories have said they would scrap ID cards and, for the sake of this argument, lets take them at their word and assume it will be in their next manifesto.
Given the pace of these projects the taxpayers money tap will be really flowing by the time we get to the next general election which will give those working on the ID card projects a dilemma: vote for Labour (or other ID supporting party) or vote to lose your job? Not many turkeys vote for Christmas.
Anyone prepared to bet against the ID card contracts being awarded to companies that just happen to be based in or near Labour marginals?
Not strictly gerrymandering, I know, but the same effect.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
An interesting idea from The Sage King on how to get a referendum. The basic idea is to tell your MP you won't vote for them at the next General Election unless they vote for a Referendum on the EU Constitution. If the idea gets critical mass it will certainly scare the living daylights out a few MP's and it will be interesting to see how they react..
I don't tend to favour referendums but I make an exception in this case because NuLab is playing fast and loose with a manifesto commitment. I'd also like to see this idea take off, if only to see if it works.
I wrote this on the Radio 5 news forum last week:
In the "fog of war" organisations have to rely on clear leadership from the top. Confusion and miscommunication are rife and individuals on the front line are totally confused and can't see the "bigger picture". This is why we have training and repeated exercises, so senior officers can understand how command and control works, they can act out scenarios with various "cock ups" built in.
Whilst I have a lot of sympathy for the police, especially those on the front line who pulled the trigger, I find it very difficult to have sympathy for Sir Ian. He is at the top of an organisation that whilst stretched does appear to have been under prepared and badly led in this time of crisis. Furthermore, I find it hard to believe that he has the confidence of his staff officers to correct the obvious mistakes that were made or that he is capable of handling a similar situation, and I don't just mean the shooting.
Therefore, I conclude he must go, and the sooner the better so a new leader can start to build the public and organsiational confidence that is needed to deal with similar attacks.
But it is now simpler than that, he has become the story and he will be hounded about this whenever he is interviewed.
Posted by Simon Fawthrop at Thursday, November 08, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Catching up on Today interviews through podcasts in the gym this morning, I listened to the Chancellor's interview on Northern Rock from 5th November and couldn't believe the evasiveness of the Chancellor to avoid admitting he was bailing out NR with our money.
The interview went along the lines of John Humphrey asking why the Government was bailing them out with tax payers money and the Chancellor referring to it as BoE money, Humpy got quite exasperated and quite right, too. Isn't is a pity he couldn't say what most of us were problem thinking - you fucking ignoramus, it our money and the sooner you acknowledge that the sooner we might start to trust you again, wanker.
I now refer you to point 1 of my bricking list, below.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
The “brick-in-the-face” game that is going round is quite amusing, so I thought I would give it a go:
1. Every politicians being interviewed on Today/Newsnight who doesn’t give a forthright answer.
Answer the fucking question you arseholes. We don’t listen in to these programmes to hear you wittering, lying and evading difficult questions, we want some answers, which is why you are there, you moron. If you aren’t going to answer the questions resign your seat and we’ll get someone in who will.
2. Anthea Turner
As a representative of our celebocracy. Fucking witless beings that are famous for being famous, but are just a waste of good oxygen. There aren’t enough bricks on the planet for this lot
3. Eamonn Holmes
Because he costs me a fortune in radios. Every time I turn the radio on and hear his babble I throw the thing through the window. Which morons in the beeb hired this egomaniac, they should be bricked as well. Holmes makes the ginger twat look like a beacon of modesty.
4. Ebagum –
Or Mugabe to the rest of you. I worked in Zimbabwe straight after independence and this excuse for a human being has taken all the hopes and aspirations of a nascent country an slowly snuffed them out. And while I’m doing it I’ll also round up those who fawned on him in the ‘70’s and 80’s telling us what a great man he was going to be – fucking left wing idiots
5. The Goblin King
There’s umpteen reason for this one but I have 2 that really make me spit: I don’t want to be dependent on the state when I grow old, I want to work hard and save for my retirement and what does he do?Ssteal from my hard earned pension fund and piss it up against the wall in a vain attempt to improve our social services. Secondly, for fucking up the one thing that did appear to have been a good move – BoE independence. We now know that that was a typical NuLab PR stunt where nobody looked at the detail and thought about how it would work in a time of crises.
6. Tony Blair
For driving the final nail in the coffin of public trust in our leaders. How I detest this man. This one really is personal, I trusted him over security issues and he treated me like a gullible fool. Boy, would I enjoy this one.
7. Al Gore
I didn’t like him as VP and I like him even less following an Inconvenient Charade. This man is more dangerous now than when he had the potential to blow up the world, at least then if Clinton was incapacitated there were some Generals around to offer wise council. Now he is surrounded by sycophants who pander his over bloated ego he has the ability to cripple the world economy with his reckless claims of the consequences of global warming and what he thinks we need to do to correct it i.e. impoverish ourselves. Wanker of the first order.
8. Michael Moore
Do I need to justify this one?
9. Anyone who goes on a radio phone-in and justifies their obnoxious position by saying “it stands to reason”, “its only common sense” or any other empty phrase that replces debate and argument.
All this shows is that they haven’t got the mental capacity to think an original thought or understand an argument. Oh, and while I’m doing them I’ll also have a go at radio presenters and producers who let them on in the first place
10. Peter Ridsdale and the rest of his Board
For fucking up a once great club.
Posted by Simon Fawthrop at Tuesday, November 06, 2007
I have been interested and intrigued by the speech of Jonathan Evans, the new boss of MI5, as reported in The Telegraph and other MSM. I used to be a trusting (gullible?) sort of person who believed that when it came to security Governments put party politics aside and did whats best. However, since we were so badly raped over Iraq by Blair (more on that later) I have been somewhat cynical and so started to look round to find out why he is raising these scare stories now.
Well I didn't need to look too far, did I? The old raising of detention without trial limits is being raised again as part of the Queen's speech. Being even more cynical I believe the BBC isn't trailing this without having had at least a nod and a wink from someone on high. So here we go again with the "scaring the children" tactics so that the hard of thinking public will be ever more thankful that our great saviours in Westminster can take away even more freedoms without any proof or even a sunset clause.
Maybe I'll be proved wrong and I we will be back on here tonight apologising for being so cynical and mistrusting of our wonderful Government and praising them for being true libertarians? Bets now being taken with proceeds of my winnings to my favourite cancer charities that I won't be.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
If there is one thing that really winds me up it is the blind way in which our politicians have jumped on the "Climate Change" bandwagon. No matter what crap and utter bullshit comes out of the mouths Climate Change lobby our fawning politicians are there lapping it up, haven't they go a mind of their own! What's worse is that they keep stuffing money at the enviro-fascists so they can go and collect some more self serving half truths and distortions.
It is very difficult to get anything resembling a decent debate and hear other arguments. Anyone who is brave enough to put their head above the parapet is dismissed as mad, bad and a RWN. Because of this the skeptic argument tends to be dry and kept in the academic world with people like Bjørn Lomborg fighting the good fight, so I would like to thank The Devil's Kitchen for introducing me to the Climate Skeptic, one of the best skeptic sites I have come across. He writes in an easy, non-scientific way that is easy to follow and I commend the site to everyone who is genuinely interested in the subject.
I won't steal his thunder by repeating it all hear but this article on US temperature over the last century or so is fascinating. To provide you with a teaser, though, let me ask this question:
Scientists have been collecting temperature data from a site for a hundred years and in that time the site had become "urbanised". To account for this change should scientists:
a) Leave the raw data alone or
b) increase the value of the raw data to account for the urbanisation or
c) decrease the value of the raw data to account for the urbanisation?
Have a guess before reading the full article here. And when you have finished that makes ure you go to this article if you didn't pick it up in the article, the sloppiness of the whole process will blow your mind
Posted by Simon Fawthrop at Saturday, November 03, 2007
Charlemagne has a very thoughtful piece in this weeks Economist (Nov 3rd to 9th) that should be read by Europhile and skeptic alike. The gist of the piece is that Britain is turning its back on the EU by ignoring the need for sending our best bureaucrats. Indeed, some bureaucrats fear it will hinder their career to spend time there.
The piece concludes:
This may be bad for Britain, but should anybody else care? One answer is
that British influence has often been useful to others, and especially to
newcomers. Seasoned British officials may slow the rush to regulate, for
example, and they are usually keen on enlargement. The British can be awkward,
selfish and devious players of the EU game. But plenty of people would miss them
if they wandered off and forgot that Europe exists.
It is also dismissive of Gordon's approach to the EU
But Gordon Brown is said to regard the EU as, at best, another multilateral organisation (like the G8 or the World Bank) and, at worst, as irrelevant.
I would say it more important than that. We need to put a spoke in the move to "Ever closer union" which is the driving force behind all these bloody summits and treaties.
Like it or not, Gordon, the EU isn't irrelevant, they are taking ever more control of our daily lives so get you fucking arse in gear and either get us out, NOW, or engage our best bureaucrats to get stuck in and start fucking up the whole shebang whilst getting us the best deals available.