Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Dear everyone who complained to the BBC about their new CBBC presenter,

Sometimes I think that I am unshockable when it comes to the attitudes of stupid, ill-informed, nasty people but just when you think that you have a handle on it, you lot really put in the effort to keep me on my toes. You step up to the plate with such levels of ignorance that I am flabbergasted. A young lady is employed by the BBC to lull your children to sleep and educate and entertain them so that you don’t have too (and don’t give me that “oh I sit with my child as they watch the TV so it is quality time” crap because that doesn’t count) and all you can do is complain to the broadcaster that she has a bit of a stumpy arm. There are a couple of points here, 1, have you got nothing better to do with your, clearly, pointless lives then comment on the CBBC message board? Some of the comments are so offensive that the moderator has had to take them down. Comments that you must feel are ok because you put your names to them. By the way, I will be trying to get as many names as I can so that I can publish a list of shame. And 2, what do you think that you are doing? You are asking the BBC to remove a presenter because you don’t like the way she looks? Some of the comments said that children might be “scared” or “frightened” by her appearance. The interesting word there is “might”. A quick scan though your mindless ramblings seems to indicate that none of your children actually DID find her appearance anything other than mildly diverting for more than 5 seconds. “Mummy, why has that lady only got one hand?”, “Because she was born like that/had an accident/giant crab snipped it off, (delete as appropriate)”, “Fair enough Mummy, what time is In The Night Garden on and can I have some more health ruining snack food please before you serve me some prepared microwaved slop for dinner? Thank you”. (I think that is how children speak, do feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.)
If you think that the children might be frighten by something and it turns out that they weren’t because they are both curious and accepting, you have to ask yourself where does the problem lie? I think that if you look deep down inside yourselves you will find out, you deeply unpleasant people.
Let the nice lady, who has a name by the way, it’s Cerrie Burnell, and she looks like this,

Get on with looking after your children so you don’t have to bother and can spend more time swapping messages with other, equally bored, parents on a website for children’s television. You really are nasty, nasty people, please go away,
Yours with levels of disgust only usually felt for Daily Express headlines and Melanie Phillips,
Martyn (with no kisses because you don’t deserve them.)

P.s. also have a look at what other people think of you on the internet, try here for instance.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Diana Watch

The good news is that I have got my early carrots in at the allotment but I have also planted a small asparagus bed and some salad items under a cloche. I know that deep down you are interested. What was interesting yesterday was the Middle-Classifaction of the allotments. You can see it happening and it can be measured by the amount of wood being used there, mostly in the form of raised beds. They’re expansive you know. I know. Allotments have been in the news this week anyway as the National Trust, the preservation fascists, are going to give over enough land to create 1000 new allotments. This is a lovely gesture but it won’t go anyway to help to 100,000 people who are on the various waiting lists around the country for council allotments. I am also worried about the terms and conditions that the NT will place on its allotments as it is known for it’s self important stance on what should be saved and what is to be valued, will they only let people grow vegetables from a pre-approved list of “heritage” crops?
You may remember that last week we talked about the Co-op banning certain chemicals that may or may not affect bees, well this week there has been a call for more research into the decline of bees. The call was for a rather measly £6 million. It more sound like a lot but when you compare to the estimated £250 billion that bees bring to the economy then it really isn’t that much. 1/3 of all the food you eat has been pollinated by bees and would not exist if it wasn’t for them so support your bees. One of the best ways to do this is to plant a range a flowers in your garden that bloom from early spring to autumn so that they have food all year round. There is a good list here. One of the theories as to the failing of so many hives is because of the growing of single food crops, i.e. hives in orchards or near crops such as oil seed rape, which supply a massive amount of food for a very limited time so the bees gorge themselves but have a limited number of hours that they can fly in a lifetime. If they work super hard in spring collecting all the nectar that they can they will then die earlier in the season and there will be no one to feed the colony and do the fantastic and informative bee dance. There are other reasons for hive collapse which include a mite that spreads through hives that carries a virus, bubonic plague for bees if you like. In years to come bees will write nursery rhymes about it. As you can tell I love bees, especially bumble bees, but not as much as I love chickens. Significant others friend Mandy has just been told that she can keep chickens in her garden by her landlord. I am so jealous.

Away from my nature boy persona, although the beard is coming along nicely. There has been a couple of interesting terrorism related stories this week. The UN has been helping the Palestinians clear up Gaza after the disproportional attack by Israel and they have a very large pile of unexploded ordinance which includes some white phosphors shells. Now, as we have discussed before, it is illegal under international law to use these weapons so my question is where is the investigation? Where is the international condemnation? Where is the rest of the world? The proof is there or at least it was until Hamas stole most of the evidence from the UN. Brilliant! Way to shoot yourself in the foot with illegal weaponry there Hamas. You try and help these people with their just cause and they do stupid things like that. Do you want peace?
Dame Steela Rimington, the former head of MI5 and now novelist, has accused the government of exploiting the fear of terrorism and trying to restrict civil liberties. She made the claims in an interview with a Spanish newspaper where she also accused the US of torture. She said "It would be better that the government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism - that we live in fear and under a police state," she told the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia.
Dame Stella, who left MI5 in 1996, has previously been critical of the government's policies, including its attempts to extend pre-charge detention for terror suspects to 42 days and the controversial plan to introduce ID cards.
If former Spooks are against your plans because of there civil liberties implications then you are definitely getting it wrong. Let’s be honest MI5 and Liberty are not your usual bedfellows.
Dame Stella's comments come as a study is published by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) that accuses the US and the UK of undermining the framework of international law.
Former Irish president Mary Robinson, the president of the ICJ said: "Seven years after 9/11 it is time to take stock and to repeal abusive laws and policies enacted in recent years.
"Human rights and international humanitarian law provide a strong and flexible framework to address terrorist threats."
Let’s list those recent problems with state invasions of our privacy and civil liberty crushing again shall we,
1, Government plans for a giant database to record the times, dates and recipients of all emails and text messages sent and phone calls made in the UK.
2, The growth of Britain's DNA database - it is now the world's largest, per head of population, with samples from some 4m people.
3,The use by councils of laws designed to track criminals and terrorists to spy on ordinary citizens. In one case a family was watched to see if they were really living in a school catchment area.
4,The spread of CCTV cameras. Britain now reportedly has some 4m, the highest density in Western Europe.
5,Proposals for "secret inquests," excluding relatives, juries and the media, which the government says would prevent intelligence details leaking out.

My favourite story of the week involves Abu Qatada, Islamic scrabble must be so much easier, no U after a Q, who was once described, by a Judge I think, as Osama Bin Laden’s right hand man in Europe (bet he wishes he had copyrighted that phrase) has been told by the Law Lords that he will be deported back to Jordan following his conviction. This is not my favourite story. The bit I like was in a separate development when the European Court of Human Rights told the Government that they owed Abu Qatada £2,500 compensation for illegal detention after they locked him up in Belmarsh prison with no charge. This was declared illegal by the same Law Lords at the time. 11 others are also owed a little bit of cash. I enjoyed the story for 2 reasons, 1, the fact that it really, really angered the Daily Mail and Express. I could imagine the faces of their readers getting more and more red as they read the story over their cooked, artery hardening, breakfast. I wonder if there was a rise in hospital admissions with chest pains across middle England that morning? We can only hope. And 2, the European Court has shown that EVERYONE, this includes you and me, is entailed to fair treatment and trial at the hands of the state. Yes, this man seems to be an Evil-doer but that doesn’t mean that the State can treat him just as they want. This is not an abstract argument; it is completely relevant to you and me. Our Government felt that it could treat these men as it wished because they expressed a view contrary to that of the state and they felt that they could get away with it, still do, because these people are non-white. If nice 5 series BMW drivers were arrested and imprisoned, indefinitely, with no charge, there would be outrage, mostly from those newspapers that specialise in outrage, about it but they weren’t. They were members of this decade’s demonised group. It’s not racist to incite hatred against Muslims because some of them are white and the Government does it anyway but it is illegal for them to do it against us. It’s a special kind of level playing field.
Whilst I’m ranting about human rights, Hilary Clinton is a disgrace. She is in China at the moment to meet leaders of that countries Government and, because of its strange form of communism, their business leaders, who happen to be the same people. Whilst at a press conference she said, when asked about human rights in China or the lack if them, that she wouldn’t be talking about anything that might cause “friction” between the 2 governments. Instead she would concentrate on Trade and Global Climate Change. Whilst I approve of raising Climate Change and pollution with China, saying that trade was more important than Human Rights is inexcusable. On one hand the new US government close Guantanimo and then on the other hand, fuck the workers of China, keep their wages and conditions low so that we can buy cheap shit that we don’t really want or need but an advert tells us we do. Good to know that Capitalism isn’t dead.

Some awards to cheer us up a bit now,

The Award for Sporting Success of the Week,

This does not go to the English cricket team who seem incapable of winning despite a massive lead following their second innings declaration. No this goes to Nicola Minichiello and Gillian Cooke who have become the first British woman to win gold at the Bobsleigh World Championships.

The Award for Surprise of the Week,

This is slightly uncomfortable for me as I find myself agreeing with Harrods owner Mohammad al-Fayed, that’s the surprise by the way. He was accused of sexual assault despite the fact that he could be seen on Sky Sports 1 at a Fulham game at the time of the alleged incident. The investigation was dropped this week, for obvious reasons, and in an interview he wondered if it would be possible for the accused of such a crime could have the same rights to anonymity as the accuser. He claims that he only found out about the claim when he read about it on the front of a newspaper. Does this strike you as fair?

The Award for Hypocritical Bastard of the Week (well any week to be honest),

There is a runner up for this award and it is Bono. He and the rest of U2 have moved their money to Holland so that they pay less tax on it than they would if it was in Ireland where they would have to pay a massive 12.5%. And he feels that he can lecture us. The winner, however, is Bob Geldolf. It turns out that he is a non-dom. He pays no taxes in this country. He has registered his first 2 homes in the British Virgin Islands (a tax haven), yet he still feels that he can tell our Government how to spend its tax revenues. That’s our money that we have paid in taxes.

I watched the film Cloverfield last night. My god, that was dull. Who would have thought that a film with so many explosions and running about and shouting could be so boring? 30 seconds of monster and then it eats the bloke with the camera. The only thing I wanted to know was which make of video camera was being used by the characters to film the running and shouting because the battery life was very good. It seemed to last about 24hrs without needing to be recharged. Remarkable. Hope you all have a good week.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Burn The Witch

Dear Andy Murray,
Well done on your recent victory but I was wondering something. Are you evil? I only ask because you beat an injured Rafael Nadal in the final. You also beat Gicquel in the quarter final who retired injured. Oh and I believe you had a by in the Australian Open due to an injured player. Are you using the power of your mind to injure these players? I’m just asking,

Yours a bit scared now,
Martyn xx

Sunday, 15 February 2009

“The last time I used your toilet I hurt my neck.” “Then you are defiantly doing it wrong.”

As I was finishing last weeks aimless rant (I have noticed that other blogs have a specific theme but that does strike me as a little dull and limiting, anyway back to the news) a story popped up on the BBC website that seemed to be ignored by most. I think this may have been because Australia caught fire and it was white, English speaking people being affected so this story was ignored. It was reported that your Government, you remember them, elected by you to govern for you not to govern you, wants to construct another massive database and this time it will contain details about your travel plans. Mostly about flight information i.e. too where you flew and how long you were there and, yet again, it will save us from terrorism and illegal immigrants. It is amazing how many things will save from these twin terrors but yet they still exist. Oooooh, spooky. It has become a stock excuse for all invasions of your privacy. “It’s for your own good; it will save you from terrorism and stop illegal immigration. No, honest, it will.” And it’s absolute rot, it will only tell the Government where you are and what you are doing, who you are seeing and what you are viewing. And we think that North Korea is oppressive.
This is just one of 3 bye bye to your civil liberties stories this week because you could also have a Dutch politician not being allowed into Britain because he made a film that was rude about Islam or a man having trouble getting a pub licence because he doesn’t want to put CCTV inside his pub. The CCTV in the pub story is quite simple so let’s do that first. Nick Gibson from Islington in London has been told by the Metropolitan police that in order from him to get a licence to serve alcohol he will have to put CCTV cameras in his pub and hand over any film of his customers on request. He spoke to his local MP who said “my priority is the safety of local residents and if a camera at the pub helps, then I think it should be supported.” She asked for no evidence from the police that a camera or 2 INSIDE the pub would make the slightest difference to crime or public safety. She just thinks CCTV is a good idea everywhere. That is why your civil liberties are vanishing, those who are paid to care don’t. As a lot of crime happens in the home does she also think that cameras in the home are a good idea as well? It would protect people from domestic violence and break-ins. You may think that this is an extreme vision but if I can’t go for a quiet beer with out being filmed whilst drinking inside the pub can it be to long before someone suggests it?
The second story was that the Dutch politician Geert Wilders was banned from entering Britain this week. He was coming here to show his film, which is critical of Islam, to various peers. They had invited him to the House of Lords to discuss his film and the views expressed within but the Home Office refused him entry because he posed a threat to our society. Our we not grown up enough to protect our selves from some body else’s opinion? A wide range of people were upset be this decision including many moderate Muslim groups who wanted the chance to debate this man and to challenge his views and his interpretation of their religion. Now as you now I not a fan of religion for many reasons but I was impressed with the sensible approach of these people. To quote some one more succinct than I, I may not agree with what you say but I will defend, to the death, your right to say it. So it seems that we don’t have free speech any more. You can not offend a religion but it is alright for the religion to offend you and have illegal employment practises (women in the priesthood but not being allowed to be bishops. Similar in Islam), views and sermons given that are offensive about homosexuality and incite violence against them, which is illegal but ok if you have faith.

What is the point of the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs? They have published 2 pieces of advice recently and both of them were about the down grading of some drugs, cannabis and ecstasy, and both of them were critised and ignored by the government because to Daily Mail and Express wouldn’t publish a positive headline. No science, whether it biological or social, was harmed in the making of this decision. Their argument wasn’t helped by a really bad use of statistics by Prof. David Nutt, the chairman of the ACMD. He said that ecstasy was no more dangerous than horse riding. His evidence for this was that 30 people die for ecstasy (although this disputed by many because most deaths involve ecstasy but most have traces of other drugs in them or on them) and 100 people die in horse riding accidents. Conclusive proof then. Sigh, where to start. Just because less people die from something really doesn’t mean that it is safer than another thing. There are so many different variables to take into consideration, such as the number of people taking part in the activity. If a person invented a new extreme sport and was the only person to do it and was killed doing it you could say that only one person had died doing the sport so it was clearly safe but you would be wrong because 100% of people doing the activity were killed. Oh statistics, what fun we can have.
Whilst we on the subject, sort of, one event is proof of nothing. One cold week is not proof that global climate change is nonsense, one hot summer is not proof that the climate is changing and one 13 year old boy fathering a child is not proof of “broken Britain” David Cameron.
Yes, yes, he is very young and it is very bad. He was 12 when he impregnated the young lady in question. What we should be focusing on is why he wasn’t doing something else instead. Why wasn’t he playing in his local park or at a youth club? Oh yes, the last Tory government sold the park and withdraw the funding for the club, I remember now. Do you want to know why children have sex David Cameron? It’s because there is nothing else for them to do. Sex is free and it feels good. They live in a sexualised world but are not aloud to have proper sex education at a young enough age because you and your supporters think that it is a bad idea but have no problem with massive corporations advertising at them. And what sells Mr Cameron? Yes, that’s right, sex sells. Our culture is saturated with sex but we withhold the knowledge on how to deal with it from our children.
I do have one question though for the young lady involved here. What on earth possessed you to boink a boy who looks about 8? He does not look old for his age; in fact he looks very, very young for his age.


Really, leave the children alone little girl. Oh and in the News of the World today 2 other boys claim to be the father and want a DNA test. It’s like Jeremy Kyle for the CBBC set. Dear The Parents, find your children something else to do, please.

In environmental news this week I have learnt that an area 3 times the size of Britain in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is covered in our plastic rubbish. Because of the way the currents flow and the fact that it does not rot a lot of the rubbish that is dumped into the sea seems to ends up floating altogether in the middle of the ocean. The planet is doomed.
The Co-op has banned up to 11 pesticides and other farming chemicals that some think are involved in the massive slump in honey bee numbers in the UK. Now, some people aren’t too concerned about the honey bee but without them there would be no food. Bees pollinate your plants so that they produce what you eat. The Co-op have said that they will stop using the chemicals until proper studies have been carried out into the effects of these chemicals and if they are shown to be safe then they will start using them again. What a very sensible approach and as they are Britain’s biggest farmer, they have 70000 hectares under cultivation; let us hope they have some influence over other farmers. They have also announced that they are going to leave strips around their fields unploughed so the flowers can grow there to help support the bees.
A French aircraft carrier has arrived in Sunderland were it is to be broken up. The ship contains an upsetting amount of asbestos and its arrival has caused many environmental groups to splutter on their morning fennel and aniseed tea (it’s good for their digestion). “Why should it bring its toxic cargo here?” they ask. Well if it comes here we have strict rules for the safe disposal of the problem materials and if it didn’t it would probably end up on some Indian beach being taken apart by hand without any thoughts for the safety of the workers or the environment.


There are 110 categories in the Grammy’s. 2 things, 1 how come I still haven’t got one? I know I write this every year but it’s funny. And, 2, my god, that ceremony must take hours. Rarely do I admire the famous but, bloody hell, these people have staying power.

A man called Terry Spencer has died. No I hadn’t heard of him either but he led an incredible life. As a youth he faked a letter from a senior RAF official so which said that he was a great bloke and he should be allowed to join. He then had a distinguished career as a fighter pilot. He then went on to develop a technique for bringing down the Germen “doodlebug” in flight. Google it if you don’t know what it is. He would fly along side it, match its speed in his Spitfire and then sort of nudge it with his wing so that it was pushed off course. This man is my hero but he is was not finished. He also holds the world record for the worlds lowest ever, successful, parachute jump.
On leaving the RAF he then went on to have a career as a world renowned photographer, touring with the Beatles and joining the CIA during the failed invasion of the Bay of Pigs. He dies within 24 hours of his wife.

I have joined my local Credit Union. Local savings and loans for local people. I’m not sure why Credit Unions are not more popular in England as 30% in Ireland are members and 50% in America. Having trouble with payroll at work though as they don’t seem able to sort out payroll giving. How hard can it be? Might have to do some sort of standing ordering from my bank account, which was what I was trying to avoid, poop.

Ok, awards now. If has taken a little while to get here so I hope it’s worth it.

The Award For Hardest Job of the Week,

This goes to the new Zimbabwean finance minister. A new unity government has been sworn-in in Zimbabwe and one of the jobs given to the MDC was that of the finance department in a country with inflation of about 2.5million%. And you thought that Alistair I-can’t-answer-a-straight-forward-question-with-a- straight-forward-answer Darling had a hard job.

The Award For Story Most Likely to Make You Go Ugh of the Week,

The woman with the longest finger nails in the world has had them all broken in a car crash. One of the nails was 2ft 8inches which is just unpleasant.

The Award For British Sporting Success of the Week

I said last week that England were playing Italy midweek in the football. I was wrong, sorry. They were losing to Spain instead. The sporting success award goes to the British Woman’s Skeleton Bobsleigh Team who are now top of the world championships.

The Award For Surprise Information of the Week,

Last week I was talking about tax avoidance and this week I learnt from the Mark Thomas podcasts that HM Customs and Revenue rent the buildings that they work from from a company that doesn’t pay tax in the UK, oh the irony. The same seems to be true for train companies who rent their trains from a company who doesn’t pay tax in the UK. Oh and the 2 blokes who now run RBS are non-doms and don’t pay taw here. Makes you proud to be British.

For those of you wondering, bamboo socks are lovely. Really soft and comfortable. I encourage you to buy them; you can get them form Ebay.
I’m going to try and make my own T-shirts but I think that may be a little harder than I think so watch this space. Well not literally, that would be silly. Have a lovely week, I’m going to try and get some early carrots in at the allotment.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Depression (Repost)

A report came out yesterday about mental health and employer’s attitude towards it. It was in 2 parts. The first part was a look at historical figures that had mental health problems such as the hottie from history Florence Nightingale and Winston Churchill, the famous alcoholic, German beater and black dog owner and it discusses whether or not these people would have succeeded today. The second part is that most worrying part. The researchers carried out a survey of attitudes toward mental health and found that 60% of employers wouldn’t employ someone with a problem. In this day and age this is shocking and unnecessary but it does give me the opportunity to republish on old blog I wrote about depression, I know it’s a little lazy but you don’t have to read it if you don’t won’t too.


I think we need a new word for depression, whether the feeling a bit sad version or the actual mental illness. A large number of people simply do not understand the difference between the two as they share a name. People go to their GP's claiming to be depressed and expecting treatment because they are feeling a bit sad. Feeling a bit sad is not the same as depression, it's just feeling a bit sad and it is not a mental health problem so let's give it a new name to make it easier to understand. Say, ummm............. feeling a bit sad, yes that should cover it. What? I'm not Shakespeare, I'm not going to start inventing words, try thinking of your own, the mental workout may cheer you up a bit. If you are depressed you may suffer from some of the following symptoms, you may feel miserable and sad. You feel exhausted a lot of the time with no energy. You feel as if even the smallest tasks are sometimes impossible. You seldom enjoy things you used to enjoy. You may be off sex or food or may "comfort eat" to excess. You feel very anxious sometimes. You don't want to see people or are scared to be left alone. Social activity may feel hard or impossible. You find it difficult to think clearly. You feel like a failure and/or feel guilty a lot of the time. You feel like a burden to others. You sometimes feel that life isn't worth living. You can see no future. There is a loss of hope. You feel all you've ever done is make mistakes and that's all you will ever do. You feel irritable or angry more than usual. You feel you have no confidence. You spend a lot of time thinking about what has gone wrong, what will go wrong or what is wrong with you as a person. You may also feel guilty sometimes about being critical of others (or even thinking critically about them). You feel life is unfair. You have difficulty sleeping or wake up early in the morning and can't sleep again. You seem to dream all night long and sometimes have disturbing dreams. You feel like life has/is "passing you by". You may have aches and pains which appear to have no physical cause, such as back pain, I could go on but you get the point, not feeling a bit sad.
The problem with one word describing both things is that when people are diagnosed with depression they will be greeted with the same reaction from many members of their friends and family, "What have they got to be depressed about?" IT'S NOT THE SAME THING. The same word issue serves to undervalue the suffering of those who are clinically depressed and therefore goes on to add to their suffering and that doesn't strike me as fair, simply because the language is one word short.
If you do suffer from more than one of the symptoms, please do go to your GP and get yourself checked out. Also thank you to the various websites I got the list of symptoms from

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Diana Watch

How can you score 5 tries and still be rubbish? Who knows but England have managed it. Is this really the team that won the world cup and were then runners up?
I’m not entirely sure that there has been any news this week that hasn’t been snow related in Britain. The first word of pretty much every news bulletin has been “SNOW!” The only time that the news got interesting was when the BBC accidentally played a clip from Christian Bale’s rant without the appropriate beep at 6:55 in the morning.

It made me laugh.

The cockpit tapes from the flight that ended up in the Hudson last month have been realised and they tell us 2 things. 1, it was a bird strike that bought the plane down and 2, the pilot, Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III, is the calmest man in all the world. His plane has no thrust and he’s gliding over New York but there is not the slightest note of panic in his voice. It is incredible to listen to. Even as he is about to attempt to land his enormous aircraft on a river, nothing. Not a thing. Just a calm, “We may end up in the Hudson “. Remarkable.

There are 2 things I forgot to mention last week. Bob Dylan did a Pepsi advert for the Super Bowl. I know I have complained about people selling out for adverts but Bob Dylan? Oh for fucks sake, make it stop. I know he did an ipod ad but I’m not sure that that really counts because it was sort of an advert for his album at the time but Pepsi? With Will i am from the Black Eyed Peas. It makes me very sad.
The other thing was that Iceland now seems to have the worlds first openly gay Head of State and it’s a woman. 2 underrepresented groups in one. Good work Iceland. It’s another milestone for the world and it means the Daily Mail readers will avoid your beautiful country. I’m on my way.

Do any Americans pay tax? I only ask because it seems that most of the people that President Obama knows seem to have a little trouble with it. Tom Daschle, who was going to be Health and Human Services Secretary, failed to pay $100,000 in taxes for donated limos and has now withdrawn his nomination. I’m assuming that that is a lot of donated limo travel. The new Treasury Secretary, Tim Goithner, hastily had to pay a tax bill of $42, 000 which also included penalties for late payment. These and several other cases involving Obama nominees are a microcosm of a bigger problem in this globalised, corporate world. Tax avoidance is a growing industry and big money can be made by accountants who know how to work it. It is estimated by some economists that, world wide, companies avoid paying some £280 billion. This is, of course, all perfectly legal via an exciting web of loopholes and front companies, all set up with the explicit point of not paying any tax. Governments seem powerless to close the loopholes because if they try the companies threaten to leave the country and take what little tax they do pay and the jobs they create with them to which every country they decided to relocate too. At the moment there is nothing that any singular country can do because it is competing against other countries for that company. If something is to be done then it will have to be a world wide effort and I don’t think that anyone has the appetite for that fight with all the other problems that they are trying to sort out. There does seem to be a bit a flight towards protectionism from a number of countries in the past few weeks, one of these being America. Most economists, even the ones I mentioned last week, will tell you that protectionism, whilst always playing well on the domestic market, just asking some striking power plant workers, was one of the main reasons for the length of the great Depression in the 30’s. It is a very poor idea.
One of the better plans to come out of the Whitehouse recently, on the economic front anyway, was an announcement that top bankers, a term that was not defined, whose bank had taken government bailout money would be limited to a salary of $500,000 per year, with a limit on bonuses. There has been some moaning about this from various banking groups but, as President Obama pointed out, the leader of the free world only gets paid $475,000, so do you think that you are worth more then him?
My favourite counter argument to this limit on pay was made by a very long faced banker who said “you need to pay these bonuses in order to attract the best people. If you don’t pay them the best people will go and work for other people.” I’m sorry? What now? The best people? The best people, as you call them, HAVE COMPLETELY FUCKED WORLD! Sorry about that but he annoyed me.

I’m breathing deeply now and counting to 10 and as I calm down, shall we do some awards?

The Award for Correct Use of Words, Of The Week,

This goes to the composer Howard Goodall who, whilst on radio 4’s The Today program discussing music teaching in Primary schools, used the word “children” all the time. It was so nice to hear the correct word being used and not the rather horrid “kids”, which I hate.

The Award for Thing That Annoyed Me in a Bookshop of the Week,

The book that the film Slumdog Squarepants was based on, which used to be called “question and answer” I think, is now called Slumdog Millionaire. I know it is only a little thing but the author is a bit of a sell-out.

The Award for Ill-Informed Pedant of the Week,

This goes to anyone who criticised Gordon Brown for accidentally using the term “Depression” instead of “Recession” during Prime Minister’s Questions this week. My problem with this, quick distract people from the fact that we have no ideas, fuss is the fact that neither of the words actually mean anything. A recession is defined as 2 successive quarters of negative growth but this definition was made up in about 5 minutes before a press conference some time in the 50’s or 60’s (can’t find out exactly when). It really has no meaning economics wise.

The Award for Most Incredible Thing I’ve Heard All Week,

A 56-year-old American athlete has become the first woman on record to swim the Atlantic. Yes, that’s right, she swam the Atlantic. It took Jennifer Figge 24 days to swim from the Cape Verde islands off Africa to Trinidad. Good lord. I have trouble doing a length of a swimming pool.

Shorter this week, which I think is a good thing, but still too much economics, sorry. Umm, I’ve bought so eco-pants and some bamboo socks this week. When they arrive I’ll review them for you. Significant other is reading the new novel “Wetlands” at the moment and I’m assured that it is filth and more then a little unpleasant. I’ll read it and tell you.
England’s rugby players were substandard, the cricket have just been bowled out for 51, their 3rd ever lowest score, so it all rest upon the football team, who play Italy on Wednesday, to restore national pride.
At the moment I can’t find Clarkson’s column on the Time website so I can’t tell you if my prediction about him using the snow to bash “Global Warming” was right or not. Will keep looking though. Hope you have a good week.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Clarkson Quiz

And now for a quiz. How predictable do you think Jeremy Clarkson is? Do you think that this week in his column in The Times he will use the snowy weather, a singular event in about 20 years, to claim that Climate Change, or global warming as he will call it, does not exist? I think he will as he is a man who mistakes his own opinion for fact.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Apparently It Snowed

Well in my Dorchiocentric world the “Snow Event” has ended. My Brother built a massive snowman, as did significant other, both of about 6 inches tall. Monstrous erections they were too but now they have all melted. Is there a sadder sight then that of a mostly melted snow person? It was estimated that 6 million Englishman didn’t go to work on Monday and it cost the economy £1.3 billion. 6000 schools were shut. Good. Get outside and have some fun. It’s good for you. Embrace your inner child and throw a snowball. As the news kept telling us, it was the worst snow for 18 years. It rarely happens so make the most of it. Ignore the spoilsports and joy spoilers who only ever measure things in their financial impact and start measuring things in how much fun they are.


This was Significant Other's

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Diana Watch

Ah, how quickly complex international financial problems and banking crises get boiled down to “Blame the foreigners! They are stealing our jobs!” Do we want to run a book on how it takes someone to blame the Jews?
There are very few bad days that start with coming down stairs to be greeted by a headline on the Sunday Times that if Jack Straw’s new plan come to fruition Jeffery Archer could lose his seat in the House of Lords. Ah, it gives you a warm feeling inside. Who would have thought that some of our Lords were corrupt? The problem is not that they are corrupt, although some might see that as a problem, but there is no sanction against them as they are life peers, that’s life peers! For life. No matter what. One of the most significant betrayals of this Labour Government, if you don’t count the introduction of tuition fees, is their half-arsed, half carried out reform of that place. They promised all sorts of things such as a fully or partially elected upper chamber, but only managed to get rid of the Hereditary peers and replace them with people that they liked and wanted to get into the Cabinet and couldn’t wait to get them elected, although as one of them was Peter Mandelson it was unlikely to happen, again.
Whilst we talking about the Lords, a quick mention of my new favourite Lord. He is Lord West of Spithead, surely a made up name, who is the Security and Counter Terrorism Minister. He has said this week “We never used to accept that our foreign policy ever had any effect on terrorism” he then added, “well, that was bollocks.” I’m sorry? What was that? He added “they [the Blair Administration] were very unwilling to have any debate about how our foreign policy impacted on radicalism” oh my, sense is being spoken at last. He also described terrorists as “Bastards”. Oh, good man.

You may remember from last week, although you probably don’t, I had to look it up, that I said that now racism was over, what with the election of Barack Obama and everything, we should now concentrate on sexism. Well this week President Obama signed an equal pay act. Oh yes, I can change the world. Who would have thought that I have the ear of the Leader of the free world? Anything else that anyone wants? I’m sure that we can give it a go.
Now it seems that electing a black man in American politics, it’s gone on in Africa for a while, was such a good idea that now even Republicans (if this was a Simpsons script there would be the Imperial March from Star Wars now) are doing it. Michael Steele has been voted chairman of the Republican Committee. It was said that he was the most moderate of the 5 candidates but as the other 4 were middle aged white Republicans that really isn’t saying very much. He has said that he will “rebrand” the party. Not change it policies. Not shift it’s slightly unpleasant values so that people might consider voting of them again, oh no, rebrand. Make it look all shiny and new without changing the actual content. A rose by any other name would still stink of homophobia, big business interests over that of the individual and the distinct whiff of gun powder that can only come from a recently fired hand gun.
On his web-site he claims that Democrats “are posed to implement increased taxes, excessive spending and” and this is my favourite bit, “fleece our personal freedoms.” I’m sorry? This from the party that bought you the Patriot Act, water boarding and illegal government phone tapping. Oh and increased taxes? I’m pretty sure that the stimulus package that none of your party voted for this week contained quite a few tax cuts for middle and working class families not just the incredibly, and therefore most likely to vote Republican, wealthy.

Slightly sad local news now. A family that was involved in a nasty road accident, which I believe killed several members of the family, have been burgled whilst they recovered in hospital. Now this is awful, don’t get me wrong, and their upset faces were all over the front of the Dorset Echo, our local rag, following the burglary. My question is this; did this same newspaper print their address following the crash? Exactly as it did when my dad was involved in a crash. We opened the paper to find that, without our permission, they had printed our whole address. A local paper in Kent did exactly the same to my Parents-in-law when they inherited some money. Not really a helpful activity I think you’ll find. It puts those in the story at risk of, umm…. oh yes, burglary. But the paper does get 2 stories for the price of 1 I suppose.

I read an interesting Social Attitudes survey in the Guardian this week. The part that really caught my attention was the section on Commitment to work. It grabbed me because it compared the work ethics of countries with high levels of benefits to those with low. The results were very interesting because they found that in countries with high benefits, such as Norway and Sweden, there is a really strong work ethic but countries with low benefits, such as New Zealand, Australia and GREAT BRITAIN, have a very low commitment to work. So not only are we not really committed to work and if you’ve ever been served in a British shop or restaurant you’ll know that to be true, but we are considered to have low levels of benefits. I’m assuming that this survey did not appear in most British tabloids who all seem to think that the worlds repressed come here because we are giving away the nations wealth to anyone who wants it.
I suppose that, in a way, we are but you have to be a bank to qualify. Nice link don’t you think. I don’t really won’t to criticise Gordon Brown’s handling of the economy because these thing do take time but it does seem that he is using the plan of trickle down economics, by only giving money to the banks, as put forward by such people as Milton Freidman. The plan is you help a few at the top get really, really, offensively rich and then they will spend etc and their wealth will trickle down through the economy until it comes to rest at the bottom. The problem is that he is trying it 20 years after it has been shown that it doesn’t work. The money goes to the top, say, 5 to 10% and they spend it. But the companies with which they spend are owned by them and their friends. The money just goes round and round. The money doesn’t trickle down because workers wages are keep as low as possible to make more money for share holders, who are mostly banks, pension funds and really, really wealthy people.
One of the problems that Gordon Brown has that the people he asks for advice are economists and economists are one of those groups of people who all think differently and have their own brilliant solutions to the problem if only we would implement theirs. Sit 10 economists in a room and ask them all the same question and you will get 15 different answers and that will only be from 6 of them. 2 of them will be hedging their ideas and betting against the others and themselves and the other 2 will be trying to work out how to divide up the opinions of the others into tiny bits in order to sell them to banks, pension funds and each other. All at a massive profit. Until someone defaults on their opinion and it all comes crashing down around them. It still won’t be their fault though.

And so to the weekly fun that is the Awards. I’m told that we are in “awards season”; I’m not really sure what that means. Is it like grouse season? Can I go out and shoot wild awards? Anyway,

The Award for Fantastically Descriptive Acronym of the Week,

This goes to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons or BAAPS. Enough said I think.

The Award for Best Made Up Medical Condition of the Week,

Ladies and Gentleman, pray silence for Cello Scrotum. It has come out this week that a letter to the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 1974 about a condition called cello scrotum was a hoax. The person who wrote the letter, who was a GP at the time, now sits in the House of Lords, Baroness someone or other, did so in response to another letter, which she was convinced was also a hoax, about Guitar player’s nipple. The condition was said to only affect man who played the cello, although you probably could have worked that out from its name. It seems, however, that some did take it seriously as it has been referenced in several articles since. Good work I say.

The Award for Tossers of the Week,

The Naturalist (not naturist, that’s a very different thing), all-round lovely bloke and most people’s fantasy Granddad, David Attenborough has revealed this week that he gets hate mail form people because he fails to credit god in his programs. He said “they tell me to burn in hell and good riddance.” It’s a god of love that they believe in is it?

Well I’m off to watch Mr Attenborough’s new program on Darwin and Evolution at 9 o’clock on BBC 1, have a good week.