Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dangerous dogs

Yet again we have a child being killed by a dog, this time a Rotweiler. This dog isn't covered by the dangerous dogs act so I don't know what punishment is available but the owner of a banned dog that killed a child received 8 weeks in jail.

As I have said elsewhere I don't agree with jailing people without good caus0e, norally protecting the public, and at the same time I see no point in further legislation banning dogs, it won't work as we can't ban all dogs and nor should we want to.

Perhaps the time has come for the CPS to consider manslaughter charges for the dog's owners and maybe even parents who put their children in harms way? It might, just might, make people take responsibility themselves.

Honours List

I don't generally have a problem with the Honours system, its good to acknowledge people who contributed something extra to society like, say, Professor Alexander Fred MARKHAM Lately Chief Executive, Cancer Research UK. For services to Medicine (which I picked at random. I can also accept that actors and sportsmen appear on the list, although I don't really see the need unless they do something special like Sir Ian Botham.

What is unacceptable is civil servants who get them for turning up to work but even worse are the ones who turn up for work and then prove to be totally incompetent, as Dizzy points out, in his own inimitable style:

Not only that, the Director of the Child Benefit and Tax Credit Office at HMRC has received an honour. I know, I know, you're screaming with laughter at the sheer bloody insanity that a man in charge of an office that has been a complete failure in tax credits, whilst also losing the bank details of 25 million people is given a prize for doing a good job. Like I said, beyond satire.

It must be really galling for someone who has worked hard and even gone the "extra mile" making personal sacrifices to be acknowledged alongside people like this. I am not sure I wouldn't take it as a personal insult.

Perhaps its time for life to start imitating art? There was an excellent Yes, Prime Minister, in which Jim's political secretary proposes civil servants get either an honour or their indexed linked pension. Of course this doesn't go down well but is makes a very valid point.

Friday, December 28, 2007

More empty words from Brown

According the the beeb with this breaking news:

Gordon Brown has vowed to "step up" efforts to defeat terrorism in Pakistan in the wake of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto's assassination.

And we can easily do that because we haven't really poured just about every effort etc already in to fighting terrorism
"It is clear that we must take immediate action and we will give whatever help we can," he said.

OK, so we are going to do something immediately, but only if asked

Talk about empty, meaningless words.

Plant's beard award

Who cares about this, except that it gives us a chance to indulge in some vintage Led Zep:

Thank you for all the great music



I was at this concert, which I hadn't go so pissed so I could remember it in more detail now!

Citizen's jury states the bleedin' obvious

Its taken a citizens jury to tell the NHS that hospital hygiene is a top priority. According to this report:

According to the health authority, one participant stated: "Cleanliness isn't just about infection.

"It also gives an impression to patients that they can be confident about the standard of care they are going to receive."

But I really love the response:
After the discussions, local groups of health and social care staff were set up to review services after the talks.

Fucking priceless - we have gab fest to tell the NHS something they should know and then a mini gab fest to carry out a review of what they have been told.

And some people wonder why the NHS costs so much and delivers so little.

Lost for Words

Listening to Pink Floyd as I work I was struck by how apt the final verse is given what has been happening in Pakistan and indeed wherever Islamofacists are engaged in their warped jihad:

So I open my door to my enemies
And I ask could we wipe the slate clean
But they tell me to please go fuck myself
You know you just can't win


Who knows what Pink Ployd lyrics are reall about and these are beleived to be a reference to the rift between Gilmour and Waters.

Anyway, enjoy this

Cost overruns, delays and terminations in poublic sector ICT

The European Services Strategy Unit (ESSU)has published a report detailing cost overruns, delays and terminations in 105 outsourced public sector ICT projects. This should come as no surprise to to anyone but the most myopic Government minister. Here are a few excerpts from the report:

Key findings
The Research report identifies 105 outsourced public sector ICT contracts in central
government, NHS, local authorities, public bodies and agencies with significant cost overruns, delays and terminations.
• Total value of contracts is £29.5 billion.
• Cost overruns totaled £9.0 billion.
• 57% of contracts experienced cost overruns.
• The average percentage cost overrun is 30.5%.
• 33% of contracts suffered major delays.
• 30% of contracts were terminated.
• 12.5% of Strategic Service Delivery Partnerships have failed.

Quite an indictment. But there is more:
Cost increases are usually those directly related to payments made to the private contractor
and rarely identify the wide range of additional costs borne by the client. These could include:
• Additional client staff engaged to manage a contract;
• Additional systems and staffing for monitoring of the contract;
• Engaging technical consultants to advise the authority of contract problems;
• Carrying out audit reviews of projects;
• Lost income from delays in service delivery and overpayment of benefits/credits.
Additional procurement costs in re-negotiating contracts or retendering if a contractor
withdraws or a contract is terminated;
• Additional work required as a result of technical problems.
• Transition costs when contracts are terminated
• Additional costs, for example, an additional £318m was added to the cost of the £150m Project Connect to fund the provision of Local Area Networks within each GP practice (Hansard, 26 January 2004, col 185W).
• The loss of planned efficiency savings often results in cuts being targeted elsewhere

I have emphasised a number of the points which from my reading are nothing to do with the contractor and everything to do with sloppy governance. If you are letting a high value contract then you should budget contract management right from the start. I saw this in the mobile world a few years ago when operators thought they could rely on suppliers to build a network without any supervision. Wishful thinking at very high levels of organisations.
But here we have the real culprit (my emphasis):
“The government too must accept criticism. It was na├»ve to believe or announce that the only costs of the project were those related to its procurement. Training and implementation has cost much more than the initial procurement costs in every IT system I have ever been associated with. The timescales imposed on this project, as ever, were initially for political expediency rather than having any relationship to common sense.”
Richard Holway, Computer Weekly, 24 October 2006.

The report s 30 pages long and provides details of each and every significant problem if you are interested.

But what is really scary about this report is that it doesn't give one example of good practice, either in-sourced or outsourced, but what's the betting it will be used as a big stick to criticise outsourcing and private companies.

Monday, December 24, 2007

MP's Pay (2)

Having dashed off my post this morning before taking The Great Wise-One out to finish the Christmas shopping, I'll now expand with some of my thoughts on MP's pay and allowances, which I have had for some time. These should address the issues raised by DK and Mark in their comments to my fist post.

MP's Salary

Firstly, I understand, and have sympathy with, the argument that if so many people want the job then why pay anything? My position is that short of true anarchy* we do need to attract talented and committed MP's who have to live and raise families. So lets come up with a formula that is transparent and takes away the unedifying spectacle of them voting their own salaries.

I favour paying MP's a salary commensurate with their jobs before they become an MP because that is what they have shown to be worth in an open market and what they have become accustomed to living on. I don't want the salary to be a bar to people's aspirations to becoming an MP, nor should the job be taken on purely for financial reward. I accept that those with extraordinarily high salaries may prove an embarrassment, so maybe a cap at, say, £200k per annum.

As for those on low salaries, that is what they are used to living on so I don't see why they need more. However, if this is seen as a barrier to entry then I will accept a minimum salary of, say, the national median salary, in the interests of creating a diverse parliament.

The exceptions I make are those who have been researchers (see below) and worked in think tanks and within political parties. They will start on the national median salary.

In all cases the salary will be based on the last 2 years earnings so it can't be skewed just before they leave their last position.

MP's Work Place Running Costs

Every constituency will have an MP's office on the high street of it largest town (by population). This office will be where MP's run their surgeries and carry out their constituency duties. It will be forbidden for party literature to be displayed in the constituency office, to remind MP's they represent all their constituents and not their party. It will also be forbidden for party political work or discussions to take place on the premises.

The running costs will be paid by the state and each MP will be entitled to one secretary and one, apolitical, researcher. Both of these will be state employees and not selected by the MP, indeed they will hold their positions whenever an MP changes. The secretary will be paid the equivalent of the local rates for secretaries to a General Manager and the researcher the same as, say, a senior librarian. Neither of these will be allowed to work on party political issues.

For larger constituencies the MP can either have satellite office or a mobile office, however with today's communications video links to outlying communities should be encouraged.

This office will be designated the MP's place of work for tax and travel purposes, all expenses will be calculated from this location. Any constituency travel will be expensed from the constituency office. (Note: this is the same as for employees in private industry)

If an MP chooses not to live in the constituency he they will not be entitled to any expenses to get to the office.

Any political office with political researchers that MPs require must be paid for by their party or through private donations, which have been openly declared.

Travel to Westminster

Like anyone else, MP will have to travel on business, in this case to Westminster. MP's in and around London, say within 2 hours rail travel from the station nearest to the constituency office, will be given an annual travel card. They will get a daily allowance of, say, £5 plus dinner allowance in the House of Commons's. (That's what they would be getting if working in the private sector)

MP's further away will be entitled to stay overnight in London. A central booking agency will book them in to a 4 star hotel and they will be entitled to B&B. They can also claim any meals eaten in the House of Commons, on production of receipt. Alcohol cannot be claimed, other than 1 glass of wine with dinner.

MP's without travel cards travelling to London can claim mileage between their office and the nearest mainline station and then the rail fare to London. If the rail journey is longer than 4 hours MP's will be permitted to travel Business Class and claim for light refreshment, on production of a valid receipt.

There will be no housing or other allowances to allow MP's to live in London as I expect them to live in their constituencies and school their children there.

Offices in Westminster

Whilst in Westminster MP's will share a pooled resource of secretarial services. With modern communications they can be easily in contact with their constituency offices and if letters need signing and posting this can be done through the pool of secretaries.

Political researches, advisers and party apparatchiks will only be allowed to use Westminster facilities if they pay a rent for the office space based on open market rates.

Ministers and PM

They will receive pay rises to cover the extra responsibility. Lets say today's salary structure isn't too far out for ministers because its based on Civil Servant's pay scales, although I do think these are somewhat generous.

We also need to reduce the number of ministers, but that's another issue to be dealt with separately.

As always the devil will be in the detail, but with these principles, and private industry practices as a guideline, the details that should take too long to address.

*a theory that regards the absence of all direct or coercive government as a political ideal and that proposes the cooperative and voluntary association of individuals and groups as the principal mode of organized society.

MP's Pay

MP's pay is once again raising its ugly head. Tim Worstall, the Devil and others set out good cases why MP's shouldn't be paid or at east should have their pay limited. Whilst sympathetic with these claims, especially the libertarian one set out by the Devil, I think we do need some formula to reward MP's so we at least attract a diversity of talent.

My plan would be to pay them a salary commensurate with their earning prior to entering Parliament. So a university lecturer would be paid whatever university lecturers are paid, complete with pension package and other perks. The only exception I would make is for MP's researchers and those from think tanks or other parliamentary related jobs. Because there is an in built incentive to skew the wages of these roles priory to them entering parliament I would set their salaries to the median (not average) salary of MP's.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

More lost data

Son now its the NHS fessing up to losing data. And the response:

The Department of Health says patients have been told and there is no evidence data has fallen into the wrong hands.

They just don't get it, do they?

If I lose my credit cards I declare it straight away so they can be cancelled. It doesn't matter if I don't think they've fallen in to the wrong hands, I have to assume they might do. Imagine what would happen if, after 12 months, they get used by criminals. What will the Credit Companies say - tough shit mate, you didn't tell us so we couldn't cancel them.

The fact that it has needed a security review to find out that the data is missing is even more worryin, it shows that there is a sloppy culture developing where nobody understands the importance of what they are dealing with or is willing to take responsibility.

I have asked this before and I ask again: How much data is being sent around the world and why?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The unacceptable face of mono-culturalism

The beeb is reporting British Hindus divided by caste and if it has got to the beeb then it must be serious.

A leading British Asian organisation is warning that men, women and children are being abused, attacked and spat at, because they are low caste Hindus regarded as impure and untouchable.

They are the victims of the 2,000-year-old Indian caste system which activists say is flourishing on the streets of Britain, even though it is banned in India.


I am quite happy for people to live in their own communities in a way which suites them as long as it is within the confines of British law, which this certainly isn't. Imagine the furore if this had been indigenous whites attacking Indians, of any Caste; we would have had the organs of the state down on them in pretty quick time, and quite right too.

So, where are the Trevor Phillip's, Ken Livingston's, et al? No mention of them or their their comments in this article or on the Equality and Human Rights Commission web site.

I wait with baited breath for them to condem this practice.

Moving House Conundrum

As I blogged recently we are looking to move house and we are now being set quite a conundrum.

We found a house earlier this month that really meets our needs and we feel that we could stay until death us do part, or at least until we need to go in to care. We made a few offers and gradually moved up to something an offer the estate agents recommend the sellers accept.

It was then we found out that the sellers aren't in a hurry to move because the house they want isn't on the market and won't be coming on for a few months because it is in probate. If the sellers don't get this house then then they won't move and will take their house off the market. Fair enough, it is a free market and whilst we are still looking round, we are under no pressure to move and can wait.

Now comes the conundrum - as every one who takes even the merest passing interest in the economy will know house prices are now under pressure with lost of talk of house prices falling. Now, we are moving up to a house which is valued at 30% more than ours. So, if there is a house price correction the the difference in prices moves in our favour, great. But what if someone else offers before we are ready to offer? We aren't in a chain as we don't need to sell first so its no problem to us when we offer but how long should we wait? If we wait too long the house the sellers are looking to buy may sold to someone else?

However, if we do offer early we may be buying an asset that is losing value, but over the long term house values rise over the longer term, but what is the longer term? But as we may be happy to live there in to our old age it shouldn't matter really as it is probably only our son who loses out in his inheritance, or is it? Whilst we have saved in pension funds if we live a long time we may need the capital for health care or even to move in to sheltered accommodation?

How I hate growing old and having to face what were once hypothetical questions in the cold light of reality.

Looks like I need to dig out a few books on game theory.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Somebody needs to tell Antarctica its supposed to be getting warmer

According to this article Antarctica is refusing to play the AGW game and steadfastly refuses to get warmer, despite more CO2

What it means
The data in the figure above clearly indicate a post-1958 warming of Antarctica and much of the surrounding Southern Ocean. From approximately 1970 to the end of the record, however, temperatures of the region simply fluctuated around an anomaly mean of about 0.12°C, neither warming nor cooling over the final 32 years of the record.

This latter observation is truly amazing in light of the fact that the region of study includes the Antarctic Peninsula, which experienced phenomenal warming during this period. Nevertheless, the mean surface air temperature of the entire region changed not at all, over a period of time that saw the air's CO2 concentration rise by approximately 47 ppm (about 15% of its 1970 value, as per the Mauna Loa CO2 record).

Clearly, the entire continent of Antarctica, together with much of the Southern Ocean that surrounds it, has been completely oblivious to the supposedly "unprecedented" radiative impetus for warming produced by anthropogenic emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases over the last three decades of the 20th century ... and even a bit beyond.


What a bummer, eh? And just after esteemed UN Secretary General spewed is own CO2 over the place and gave us this crap:

The Antarctic Peninsula has warmed faster than anywhere else on Earth in the last 50 years, making the continent a fitting destination for Ban, who has made climate change a priority since he took office earlier this year.

"I need a political answer. This is an emergency and for emergency situations we need emergency action," he [Ban Ki-moon] said during a visit to three scientific bases on the barren continent, where temperatures are their highest in about 1,800 years.


Still, it got him and the rest of his cronies more news headlines which leads to more of our taxes.

H/T Climate Science who sardonically bets it won't reach the MSM.

If there is one good thing that came out of Bali its the agreement not to do anything for 2 years. Hopefully in that time some sense will start to prevail and then we can have a grown up debate on climate change.

Global Warming Idiocy

Via Climate Skeptic and Tom Nelson, through my Outlook RSS feeds, I have been alerted to this article which highlights some of the more idiotic pronouncements from the GW fascists, here is the top 10:

1. Get rid of humans.

Greenpeace co-founder Paul Watson insists we "reduce human populations to fewer than one billion".

2. Put a carbon tax on babies.

Prof Barry Walters, of the University of Western Australia, says families with more than, say, two children should be charged a carbon tax on their little gas emitters.

3. Cull babies.

Toni Vernelli, of green group PETA, says she killed her unborn child because of its potential emissions: "It would have been immoral to give birth to a child that I felt strongly would only be a burden to the world."

4. Sterilise us all.

Dr John Reid, a former Swinburne University academic, gave a lecture on ABC radio recommending we "put something in the water, a virus that would be specific to the human reproductive system, and would make a substantial proportion of the population infertile".

5. Ban second children.

Says Melbourne University population guru Prof Short: "We need to develop a one-child family policy because we are the global warmers."

6. Feed babies rats' milk.

PETA campaigner Heather Mills, ex-wife of Paul McCartney, says cows' burps are heating up the world and we should use milk from other animals: "Why don't we try drinking rats' milk and dogs' milk?"

7. Eat kangaroo, not beef.

Greenpeace says kangaroos don't belch like cows, so are greener and should be eaten first.

8. Shut industries.

Greens leader Bob Brown says we must scrap all coal-fired power stations and our $23 billion export trade in coal.

9. Wash less.

Says actor Cate Blanchett: "I have little races with myself, thinking: 'Oh no, I'm not washing my hair, I only need a two-minute shower'."

10. Sweat more.

The green-crusading editor of the (airconditioned) Age says we should turn off airconditioners in summer: "Our consumer society has long abandoned the fan or the cold bath as the way to keep summer at bay."


#3 is still a classic and she deserves a Darwin Award. Perhaps she could really help the planet by sterilising the rest of the lunatics who come up with these ideas.

Distractions

I spent a couple of hours the other night setting up my outlook to take the RSS feeds from my favourite blogs. Its fantastic, I now have all the posts within one hour of them going on the web. What a fantastic feature.

The only problem is I'm getting sod all work done because I just have to see what the latest post from x says and I just have to get a pretty tricky network/financial model update which requires a bit of concentration!

Next thing to crack is why it isn't syncing with my phone through Microsoft Exchange and then I'll be distracted wherever I go - which will drive The Great Wise-one insane.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Nowrich Union Cover Up

Despite the fine, this is fucking scandalous:

The watchdog also uncovered that on discovering the frauds in 2006, Norwich Union Life informed and then protected present and former directors of its business and its owner Aviva but did not "inform and protect the policyholders who were not connected with the business".

The FSA really has to find a way of punishing the Directors who allowed this to happen because it just sets a bad example to those perfidious wankers in Westminster who've never done a day's real work and will think this is a norm and use it justify their own actions.

HMRC to be fined £50Bn over lost CD's?

Norwich Union was fined £1.2m for putting 632 of its customers at risk of fraud according to Timesonline. I reckon that works out, pro rata at about £50Bn for the 2 lost CD's. I know it would be pointless fining them because its only tax payers money going round.

But wouldn't it concentrate a few minds if all, or at least some, was deducted from HMRC's Senior Managers' bonuses or index linked pensions? Better still if some of it was paid by their political masters as well, now that would set an interesting precedent and make them apply some oversight.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Golden Compass, an allegory

The Great Wise-one dragged me out to see The Golden Compass this evening and I was very taken with the story line. Basically, a parallel word is controlled by the Magistirium who are taking great steps to subject the will of the people, including kidnapping children to learn how to kill their free spirit. This is all in the interests of the people themselves, you understand.

All the way I couldn't help thinking that was an allegory for these:



or is it these



Probably both

Milliband: I've changed my mind

In this post I said that Miliband could speak for me because, although I don't like him or what he stands for, there is a legitimate process that put him in the position of Foreign Secretary.

Having now read about the way he is treating Iraqi translators at Dan Hardie's, via Mr E, and various other places, I withdraw what I said and replace it with this:

You don't even have the moral authority to breath let alone speak for us. You should travel to Iraq, on your knees, and personally apologise to the family of each and every translator who has been murdered. I would say you should also present the surviving translators with gold plated UK passports, but that will be too long and they need to be sent in advance.

Once you have done that you should crawl in to a hole, never to be seen again.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Do think tanks think?

I was taken by this piece in Wednesday's Telegraph which claims the Fabian Society is advocating:

Putting VAT on private school fees could finance an opportunity fund to tackle educational disadvantage,"
I haven't been able to find any detail on the web or at the Fabian Society* so can't vouch for its veracity, but lets assume that as the Telegraph is a reasonably accurate source we can take the statement at face value.

Anyway, when I read the piece something just didn't stack up so I thought I would do a bit of research to see what it really means.

Firstly, how much would be raised? The Independent Schools Council reckons there are 509,093 children in ISC schools so based on the Fabian's estimated £2,500 in VAT per pupil this would raise £1.27bn.

Now, my first though on this one is that the VAT would probably push the price beyond a number of parents so lets apply the well know 80/20 rule and assume that they only raise 80%, that would be just over £1bn.

However looking at the ICS figures for the number of children we find that there are 67,335 boarders @ an average of £6,712 for boarding per term and £3,715 for tuition per term, this leaves 441,758 pupils @ £2702 per term in tuition fees. Using my trusty excel spreadsheet I calculate that would raise £995m and applying the 80/20 rule would be £796m. You would think the big brains in a think tank could have done that calculation as well, wouldn't you? Still for the sake of analysis lets stick to their predictions for now.

Next, looking at the Department for Education and Skills, Departmental Report 2007 (H/T Mark Wadsworth for providing this link in his Statistics (UK) and Stuff section)we can get some stats for England.

The education for school children (excl. higher education and adults) budget for this year 2006/2007 is £40.75Bn (p98 (pp102/176))spread over 7.44m pupils (p57 (pp 61/176)) which works out at, using my trusty spreadsheet, £5,477 per pupil. Now that is the budget for England but the ICS numbers for UK so lets assume that 80% of the money raised in VAT is spent on schools in England (I reckon that's a bit generous, but its a number). This means there will be an extra £814.5m or £109 per pupil.

But if we assume that those parents who are forced to take their children out of schools put them in to state schools then the numbers are slightly lower than that, but I think you get the picture.

Now, what troubled this humble blogger was:

If we can't educate our children on £5,400 per pupil how the fuck do they expect to make a difference by spending an extra £109 (£80 by my reckoning) per pupil?

These think tanks really lose credibility when they come out with crap like this, because it isn't about raising the money, its about shafting parents who have the temerity to make sacrifices and instead of pissing their money away on holiday in Torremolinos, or wherever chav's go on holiday, want to spend it on educating their children, because the state can't.

After thought: I am sure I read somewhere that a % of all VAT has to go to the EU, but I haven't been able to track it down so if anyone can help on this score then I will amend these numbers.

Update 15 12 07

* As a result of this post I have been contacted by the Fabian Society to say that I could have received a copy of the speech if I had contacted them. They also dispute the figures that I use. The full text of their objection can be found in the comments section. I still maintain that beggaring parents who send their kids to private schools is now way to improve social mobility, other than down.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Another CO2 Debunking

Yet another report debunks CO2 as the cause of global warming:

Three Stages of Knowledge and the IPCC

Our scientific understanding of global warming has gone through three stages:

1985–2003
Old ice core data led us to strongly suspect that CO2 causes global warming.

2003–2007
New ice core data eliminated previous reason for suspecting CO2. No evidence to suspect or exonerate CO2.

From Aug 2007
Know for sure that greenhouse is not causing global warming. CO2 no longer a suspect.

The IPCC 2007 report (the latest and greatest from the IPCC) is based on all scientific literature up to mid 2006. The Bali Conference is the bureaucratic response to that report. Too bad that the data has changed since then

Given that those attending the boondoggle in Bali knew this before they went can we charge them for fraud and get our money back?

Somehow I don't think anything will change because of the gravy train. As the author points out:

Gratuitous advice for those whose jobs depend on the idea that carbon emissions cause global warming: Find another job to pay your mortgage and feed your kids!)

Foreign affairs spokesman

So now that the EU has a constitution yet another incomprehensible treaty and its own foreign affairs spokesman, confusion is likely to reign. So just to be clear:

You:


can speak for me because of our democratic process, but be warned I don't like you or what you stand for.

But you:




Don't ever, ever, ever think you can speak for me. Nothing personal, well not much, but as far has I am concerned you have no democratic mandate and represent all that is bad in politics.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Musings on police pay

I have a great deal of sympathy with the police, having been shafted by politicians in simialr circumstances when serving in the Army, but I don't intend ranting on that point. What does interest me about this one is:

The fact that Scotland's police have been given the full rise has caused a bit of a stir and quite rightly. On purchasing power they are already better off than most of their counterparts in England. Indeed, why do the police need a national pay scheme? They are a regional force who only serve in that area and don't need to be compensated as if they serve in central London.

The same goes for teachers, doctors and nurses. When my wife was teaching we couldn't have bought a house on her pay here in Bucks, but we could have at one of our holiday location at the time, Cromer.

As part of their protests the police are threatening to work to rule, which is expected to cause disruption. Those of us of a certain age remember how working to rule caused as much, if not more, disruption than strikes in the 70's and 80's. The unions loved them because their members still got paid so they could last longer than all out strikes.

As one wag said at the time: if working to rule cause so much disruption, lets sack the twat who drew up the rules.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Rip off Britain

The Sunday Telegraph is beside itself with indignation today because there is a discrepancy of pricing between regions.

You would have thought that the Telegraph, of all papers, would have understood the nature of free markets?

Army pay cock up, deja vu

The Times reports today that Army pay has been cocked up following the introduction of a new computer system.

I was a victim of a similar intoduction of a new computer system in the 80's. We don't learn anything from history do we?

Right man, right job

There is an excellent letter in today's Sunday Telegraph, which I can't find on line:

Now send a boy for the toy

The success of the two peers is securing the release of Gillian Gibbon from her prison cell in Sudan shows the value of using the right people with the right level of skill to get a job done. Gordon Brown should now send David Miliband to rescue the poor teddy bear


'nuff said

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Maggie

If you want to get a good left Vs right debate going all you have to do is invoke Maggie and you're off and running.

Neil Harding has ascribed all our current ills to her in this post and has started off a bit of a ding dong in the comments section. It appears that the only thing he hasn't put down to Maggie are the bubonic plague and fire of London. No doubt he'll get round to fixing that soon.

Meanwhile Prodicus has a post here on why the left hate her: its because of her popularity.

It is true that the left hate her but I don't think its just because of popularity (mind you Blair was popular and they hated him as well). The root cause of that popularity was because she gave people what they wanted. Now to the left this is the worst crime any politician can commit because, as we all know, the people can't be trusted to know what is good for them; the only people who know what is good for the people is the left.

What made Maggie's crime even worse is that she was, by and large, right. Her restructuring has been left a lone and led, directly to the one of the longest periods of growth for some time. Yes I know it was painful for some and whilst that is to be regretted it be set beside the fact they we would have all been been a dammed sight worse if she hadn't set about the changes.

Of course the left dress it all up as helping the poor, sick and dispossessed, which are worthy causes, but what they really want is to control every aspect of our lives. They can't bear the thought that people can be successful without the state's help so they tax us in to submission and supplication. Meanwhile those taxes are squandered and instead of helping those they claim to be helping go to fund a bureaucratic and controlling state machine. And their response when it fails, as it inevitable does - its all Maggie's fault and we need to raise taxes even higher and implement even more controls on people.

EU and Mugabe (2)

I didn't post on this subject last night, as threatened, because I was getting pissed and experience has shown that I am really hopeless at putting anything cogent together when pissed, which is really embarrassing the next morning. (Some would argue I'm just as bad when sober).

I spent 6 months in Zimbabwe, arriving 3 days after independence - Mugabe's election. I was part of a British Army Training Team working to integrate the 3 sets of armed forces. My role was to teach electronics to a mixed class of apprentice communications technicians at the School of Signals in Bulawayo. The reason we were needed was the that Army was still predominantly white at senior levels and it was felt that "neutral" forces would help team building.

In my class I had a mix of whites who had fought, whites who hadn't, blacks who had fought for the whites, blacks who hadn't fought for any side and of course blacks who had been guerrilla/freedom fighters/terrorists, and even a white South African girl who had come north because she wanted to get away from racist regimes.

The general mood was one of reconciliation and there was a general desire to put the past behind and work for a new beginning. One friendship that formed sums up this mood. One of my academically weaker students had been in the Rhodesian Light Infantry, a feared special forces unit and one of my brightest was a black who had been trained in Russia and had a degree in maths and electronics (he was better qualified then me). It transpired that these 2 had been in a fierce firefight against each other in one of the regional battles but despite this they formed a strong friendship with the black helping the white.

This was also the general mood in the civilian population. Despite what happened blacks and whites mixed well and generally wanted to make a go of things. Yes, there were problems with some of the older whites and some younger hot heads, but by and large they kept themselves to themselves. Having said that I was involved in a scary incident when a white guy who had latched on to us one weekend suddenly pulled a gun out in a hotel bar and started threatening the blacks, but he was the exception.

It didn't take long for Mugabe to destroy this mood and drive a wedge between blacks and whites, forcing out a lot of the whites. Why did this matter? Most of the experience in governing and maintaining the country rested with the whites. They were not only the farmers but the engineers, doctors and administrators. Those that I met wanted to stay and help with the transition but eventually, fearing for their lives, they left before anyone could be trained to take their place. This, and the kleptocracy that evolved, is why the economy is such a basket case and Mugabe cannot be forgiven.

This is why I get so wound up when I see the EU giving Mugabe and his regime legitimacy by meeting them on the international stage. He should be ostracised and if his fellow African leaders don't like it, tough. We don't have to give them aid and if they are so stupid they want to cut off their faces that's their problem.

But what about the poor, we have to help them don't we? Yes, and the best we can do is to shorten the life of Mugabe's evil regime and implement democracy, then we can really help through a Marshall plan.

Friday, December 07, 2007

EU and Mugabe

I'm building up to a real rant on this one, but sdaly have meeting for most of the day so it will have to wait. Suffice to say its a fucking scandal that the EU is allowing him anywhere near us let alone talking to the fascist bastard.

And I won't be lectured by the EU about talking to fascists:

EU President Jose Manuel Barroso has criticised Mr Brown's decision, saying that leaders sometimes have to meet people they disapprove of.


No we don't, we tried that in '39 and it didn't work.

Its an insurance scam FFS

Everywhere you turn its stories about John Darwin and his wife. Its an insurance scam, the sort that goes on day in, day out without anyone noticing or caring so can we please get a sense of proportion when it comes to the news and papers?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Terror-limit bingo

14, 28, 90, 56, 57, 42

Anyone got a line yet?

Does this Govt have a clue what it wants or is it going to keep throwing random numbers around until they bore everybody stupid and get the change through.

EU funding lobby groups

I first became aware of the story of the EU funding lobby groups so that they could then lobby it to implement the policies the EU wanted from Tim Worstall. It is quite nerdy so I assumed would pass the world by as these EU stories often do. However as Tim points out in this post the beeb are picking up the story.

Mr Eugenides has a great reference to the practice here, with his usual incise commentry, which has been picked up by the Economist's Brussels blog.

In short, the EU wants us all to be able to use any EU country's High Commissions and Embassies when travelling outside the EU. Member countries have objected for a number of technical reasons. Not to be deterred, the EU funded some of its pet lobby groups to lobby it saying what a great idea. Based on this the EU is now looking to implement the plan.

As the Economist blog concludes:

In other words, we are in the grand tradition of the EU funding bodies that then lobby the EU to overrule the objections of mere member states and impose grand schemes on them (which must be paid for by those nations). Makes you proud.


If you haven't read the beeb story yet you probably won't be surprised to learn that the EU doesn't know its arse from its elbow:

Siim Kallas, a vice president of the Commission in charge of the EU's anti-fraud operations, told Radio 4's The Investigation he had been assured this funding was not taking place.

He said: "The European Commission is not financing anybody to lobby ourselves - nobody is supported just for being there."

But the EC Environment Directorate has said it does give money to environmental groups to lobby.


As I will never tire of pointing out: the EU's defining principle of Ever Closer Union means that EU Bureaucrats feel they can ride roughshod over the rest of us, and the democratic process, with impunity.

As DK would say at this point: can we leave now?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Westminster farm (1)

Having made a quip on the beeb's R5L message board about donorgate being like animal farm:


All animals shall obey the law - except animals in power


I thought it might be fun to think of some more examples from anaimal farm

All citizens are equal - except politicians are more equal than others


To jog memories the seven commandments are:

Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
No animal shall wear clothes.
No animal shall sleep in a bed.
No animal shall drink alcohol.
No animal shall kill any other animal.
All animals are equal.

Did any Labour politicians read their election funding law?

Just a thought but it does seem that some of our senior Labour politicians are pig ignorant of the laws they passed. As the beeb points out in this piece:

Labour officials have been holding talks with the commission over how the money should be re-paid.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has promised to return the donations.

but:
But Electoral Commission sources now say the money is likely to be forfeited by Mr Abrahams and paid into government reserves.

Under electoral law donations have to be given back to the donor within 30 days - after which the money is paid into the Treasury's Consolidated Fund


So not only were they stupid enough to break the laws they enacted they didn't have the commons sense to read the law when they were found out!

That in itself is pretty fucking stupid, but when you consider this:

Commission sources said the Conservative Party had been forced to forfeit £25,000 it had wrongly accepted in July this year from Gareth Lake.


That's right, their worst enemies were found guilty of the same crime and they didn't have the gumption to think the same rules would apply to them.

Is there one person in the Labour Party with an ounce of common sense?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Panaroma "misleading" on WiFi

I suppose I should own up to being in the radio telecoms business so do have a vested interest in this story, not least because I am working on a major WiFi and WiMAX project. Anyway, confession over.

As reported on The Reg today

The BBC has admitted that the infamous Panorama programme in which Beeb investigators boosted public hysteria regarding health dangers around Wi-Fi in schools was "misleading".


Adding insult to injury, the WiFi-is-probably-OK-actually savant, Professor Michael Repacholi, "was presented in a context which suggested to viewers that his scientific independence was in question, whereas the other scientists were presented uncritically. This reinforced the misleading impression, and was unfair."


Does this remind you of any other topical subject? Global Warming, perhaps?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Donorgate: It will end in tears

Well, I've had great fun this past week or so laughing at Labour's contortions to justify their corrupt practices. Some blogs have been fantastic and I'm sure there is more to come.

However, I predict it will end in tears for those of us who want to see an end to these inept and corrupt bastards and there will be one phrase that will do it: Not in the public interest.

Labour home - cloud cuckoo land

Over at Labourhome they really don't get what's been going on and have a piece called: If we had state funding for political parties, we wouldn't be in this mess.

No you numpties, if you didn't have corrupt, selfish, leaders you wouldn't be in this mess. Its not compulsory to spend vast fortunes on adverts, leaflets, television ads and all the rest of the paraphernalia. Yes it would be nice, just like I would find it very nice to have a yacht, but I can't afford it.

There's more, one poster even thinks it would be possible to set up a system that would exclude the BNP if the got in to power. Now, I despise the BNP as much as the next man, but as long as they are a legal party shenanigans like this just show the real reason they want state funding - to pull up the ladder and leave us stuck with the same old parties.

Then another poster proposes we all get £3 to spend and can indicate who we want it to go to at a general election. Hang on a minute, what about independents? Oh, I get it, they might take votes from you so you don't want them getting any near state funding.

If these lot are typical of the membership of the Labour party there's no wonder there is such a bunch of corrupt bastards at the top.

I look forward to the first Chav standing up in court and saying - I wouldn't have nicked that Rolls, m'lud, if the state had given me enough to buy one.

Only tools you'll ever need

Heard on Rick's Place on Planet rock yesterday. You only ever need 2 tools:

WD40: for things that don't move, but should
Gaffer tape: For things that move, but shouldn't

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Gillian Gibbons

Whilst I feel sorry for her I cannot bring myself to the levels of outrageous indignation I see in others, some of which I suspect is a bit of a put on.

She chose to go to this country which isn't exactly known as a peaceful and tolerant place. It was known to be run by a bunch of psychopaths who are pandering to another bunch of psychopaths who have hijacked a religion and extracted the worst parts of it to justify their intolerance and perverted need to subjugate women.

Given all that, she appears to have got off lightly and it would probably be in the best interests of those still working in this country if she was allowed to quietly serve her sentence and get the hell out of there.

What I want to know is why those who she was working with didn't give her a full briefing on the does and dont's of living in an intolerant society? Surely not offending local sensibilities of muslim nutcases must be pretty high on the list of breifing notes for a woman?

Whilst I think she was at best misguided to go to this place to help the less fortunate I do admire people who have such good intentions. However if they want to satisfy this desire there are plenty of places that need these skills and they will be appreciated.

Wrong solution to party funding, PM

The beeb tell us that Gordon wants to change the rules on party funding. We don't need any more rules on party funding, we want politicians and their acolytes who's sense of integrity doesn't even require rules.