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.

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