Wednesday, 29 July 2009

I Feel Let Down

Dear Disney,
I am very sorry to do take up your time in such a way, after all you have many important things to be getting on with such working out new ways to separate parents from their cash, but I have a complaint (please don’t sue me)
Whilst on a recent visit to your park near Paris, my significant other took this photograph of Tigger,


Now, whilst his top may be made out of rubber and he may well be fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, you can quite clearly see that his bottom is NOT, as advertised in the song, made out of springs.
As I’m sure you can imagine this came as a terrible shock to those in her party. Several of them were devastated by this discovery and your branded Disney magic drained from their souls like so much Disney branded shower gel through the Mouse’s freakishly fat fingers. You can see their disappointment here,


Look at their sad, sad faces. You did this.
All I ask is, and I don’t think that this is too hard, is that you employ someone whose bottom is made out of springs,

Yours Disappointedly,
Martyn Norris

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Diana Watch

Are there any Dignitas clinics in Canada? I only ask because my parents are going to Canada next week for a holiday and they called me round this week and told me where all important paperwork in the house is kept. They are only away for 2 and half weeks. It sounded a little strange to me.

The last British man to have fought in World War 1 has died. He was 111. We must never forget the sacrifice that this generation made. Whilst I intend no disrespect to those soldiers who have died in Iraq or Afghanistan and their sacrifice is never to be underestimated, Harry Patch was 19 when he fought in the 1917 Battle of Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, in Belgium in which an estimated 500,000 soldiers died.
The views of those who have fought should be sought when we consider war as an option. Patch did not speak about his wartime experiences until he was aged 100 and was strongly opposed to violent conflict, calling war "organised murder".
"It was not worth it, it was not worth one let alone all the millions," he said.
"It's important that we remember the war dead on both sides of the line -- the Germans suffered the same as we did."
We will remember them. We have to.

Back in a minute, just going to get a beer.

Oh that's nice.
OK, back to the typing.
On Monday the ghastly rag that is the Daily Express had a headline that was a complete and utter lie. The front page read “Now Pay £20 To See Your GP”. Well, you might think, that is very bad, the NHS is supposed to be free at the point of delivery. And so it should be but what the Express were referring to was a report from a think-tank that had realised a report that contained several suggestions on Primary care and the NHS in general and this was just one of them. It wasn't Government policy, it was just a suggestion that someone made. It's not even news, although that hasn't ever stopped them.
Whilst checking the Express's website to make sure I was quoting them correctly, I noticed the headline from Wednesday's paper. It is a classic of the genre. It combines perfect Express story elements, foreign people, the Government and Illness. The headline read “Migrants Man Swine Flu Helpline”. Nice.

The Daily Mail continues its constant attack on the BBC. As they have nothing to actually complain about the new plan is to tell it's readers how many BBC staff have been sent to cover large events such as the Glastonbury festival (excellent coverage), the Open Golf (great coverage I'm told) and Wimbledon (an event they love and demand that it stays on the BBC). What they are trying to do is insinuate that the corporation is bloated and wasteful, taking far too many staff who sit around on expenses. They forget to give you any context i.e. How many staff they have taken before.
They have also tried to make an issue of a staff reshuffle at Radio1 claiming that they are ageist because Jo Whiley, 44, and Edith Bowman, 35, have been moved from their weekday shows to the weekend. They have also tacked on the BBC's decision to replace Arlene Phillips on Strictly Come Dancing with Alesha Dixon.
Radio1 is a station with an identified demographic. They are aiming at 18-25s so they think, quiet reasonably, that the presenters should more closely reflect this target group. So no story there then.
The problem with the BBC's decision about Ms Phillips is that they have replaced her with someone who is not an expert in dance, if they had it would have been easily defensible but they went with a very pretty former winner. They have also employed Darcy Bussell and she knows a little about dance. Arlene Phillips is awful on the program. She is as natural on the program as Jordan's skin colour. We should all be glad that she and her awful simile and unnecessary hyperbole have been dropped.
You will note that the Mail have avoid pointing out that on News broadcasts that have 2 anchors, one will be an older man and one will be news totty, mostly. They haven't mentioned this because it happens on ALL channels. ITV and Sky News are the worst but the BBC doesn’t escape criticism for this.
At one point this week they wheeled out Selina Scott to put the stiletto in but she failed to say was that she was let go because she was so bad and completely lacking in anything that could, even charitably, be described as personality or charisma.
She went on and on about the Strictly issue but also bought in the Radio1 reshuffle (I'm sure that was the most important thing on her mind) but she also mentioned Holly Willoughby replacing Fern Britten on this morning. Now Britten needed replacing because she left and was not fired so this isn't really fair but this paper (yes I feel that Selina may have been prompted to mention this) doesn't like Ms Willoughby because they feel that she showed to much cleavage on the successful family show Dancing on Ice. In fact they didn't like her so much and found her dresses so offensive that after every show they had a picture of her on the front of their paper in the offending frock. “see, look at that cleavage. See how offensive it is. It shouldn't be allowed. LOOK AT IT!” and then on most other days they have pictures of other middle class, fragrant ladies, usually in a revealing frock or a bikini. Now, hypocrisy is a very strong word......
But I digress, the argument is that TV is obsessed with youth. It does seem that the Media in general is obsessed with youth and beauty but that is mostly the print media. Look at the programmes on the BBC, as this is the Mail's target, and I don't think that you will see a youth obsessed broadcaster. Radio1 IS aimed at 18-25 year olds, as is BBC3, and then you have CBBC and Cbeebies but the others aren’t. I could list the programmes on the channels but that would be boring so I won't but take a look yourself, Eastenders, The One Show, Coast, Panorama, Who Do You Think You Are. These are not youth programmes, they are ratings chasers and that is very different.
If TV was obsessed with youth how do you explain all the old men on it? Perhaps there is some sexism but I think that The Daily Mail is trying to find reasons to bash the BBC because they are a rival. The BBC tries to be even-handed and balanced, it fails and has started giving time to idiots with no experience or expertise of the subject being discussed but they are asked on simply because they hold an opposite, ill-informed, opinion.
If the Mail wants to get snippy about something may I suggest the rise in TV that aims not to tax the brain. TV for the stupid is a bigger problem. I don't mean that everyone should only watch documentaries on BBC4 but perhaps less of the One Show or Jeremy Kyle, that's all I ask.

A good week for British sport so a quick list of the successes. England beat Australia in the 2nd Ashes test. Tom Daley wins gold at the World Championship on the 10m board. Jo Jackson and Rebecca Adlington won silver and bronze in the 400m freestyle at the World Swimming Championships. Bradley Wiggins has finished 4th in the Tour de France
equalling the best Tour finish by a Briton matching Robert Millar in 1984. Mark Cavendish became the first Briton to win on the Champs Elysees in Paris and this was his 6th stage win. Oh and Lewis Hamilton won the Hungarian Grand Prix, which was nice.

And so to the Award,

The Award for Moaning Irish Man of the Week,
This goes to Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair. He announced that his company would be cutting it's Winter flights from Stansted airport by 40%. He blamed the rise in Passenger Airport duty and the price of landing at the airport.
OK, let's run through these arguments, Passenger Airport Duty is only going up by £1 for those flights. The airport has to charge you something to land there otherwise they would make no money. Last year you run 28 planes during winter from that Airport this year it will be 24 so not such a massive difference from last year than. Oh and there is a recession on you fool. Oh and aren't you trying to convince European Safety authorities that it is a good idea to have passengers standing on a flight. Like they do on a bus or the tube. Oh yes, if Mr O'Leary get his way even a seat will be extra on a Ryanair flight.

The Award for Football Match That Made Me Smile of the Week,

Cristiano Ronaldo made his first appearance for Real Madrid this week and against which great world club side did this great event take place? Oh yes ladies and gentleman it was against Shamrock Rovers. They play in the League of Ireland and play at the council-owned Tallaght Stadium on the outskirts of Dublin. The final score was Shamrock Rovers 0-1 Real Madrid.

May have a little trouble on next Sunday doing Diana Watch next week as I’m going to be at my sister-in-laws wedding.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Bad Coffee

Today I have stared at my own mortality. I have had my hair cut. I sat there staring at my slightly receding hair as the hairdresser combed my hair back.
Then I smiled. Crows feet ladies and gentleman. Oh god I’m getting old.
What this dreadful experience did give me was the opportunity to bring back a very, very old thread. Oh yes, this is the glorious return of Bad Coffee.

I’m sure most of you don’t remember the list of really bad cups of coffee that I have ever had but it only had 2 entries and they were;

1) TGI’s really awful coffee. Honest the worst thing I have ever had in my mouth.

2) Wetherspoons’ super cheap coffee. Very little taste.

And now we have 2 new entries.

The mocha that I had at Toni and Guy was really quite poor, although it wasn’t helped by the fact that I had some of my hair in it. Why do we do it? “Would you like a tea or coffee?” they ask. The answer from the rational part of your brain is, “No thank you because it will end up with hair it before I have finished it.” But oh no. What actually come out is, “oh, yes please.” Why? Is it because it is free or at least included it the price?
I think that that means they have an entry at number 4 in my list. Number 3 goes to a service station that we used on our way to the Lake District a few weeks ago. Now that was an odd beverage.
It was, of course, served in a bucket because size is the most important thing but what was very strange was the taste or lack of it. The fluid was on your tongue but it had no flavour. That was until you swallowed it, and then there was a very slight taste. All very strange.
So the list stands thus,

3)Service Station I can’t remember the name of
4)Toni and Guy Dorchester

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

They Don't Look Right

Today I come before you with sad, sad news. I am not the baking genius that I thought I was.
Today I decided to make amoretti biscuits. Usually they look like this,


Mine, however, didn’t. They looked like this,


They taste lovely, which I suppose is the point of baking but it is so disappointing. Pity me my cyber-buddies.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Bruno's Bottom

When we went to see Harry Potter on Wednesday we noticed this,


Oh yes, Dorchester censors Bruno’s bottom.
It should look like this,


When questioned Chris MacDonald, cinema manager said: " You just have to be a little careful, it doesn't bother me personally but some people in the town might find it offensive. I've just done it so people don't complain and I don't want to give them the chance. You've got a predominantly retired population here who may take offence from it, and the last thing I want is someone coming in and complaining about it."

He went on to say: "If the poster wasn't suitable to put up [the film company] wouldn't have published it. But you can't please everyone, you never can."

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Diana Watch

To be honest I'm not sure what to write about this week. Has anything interesting happened? I haven't really been concentrating but I did make some rather lovely cakes.
It was my parent’s ruby (40th) wedding anniversary last weekend and this weekend they had a tea party and so we made some cakes. My brother made a very nice orange and lemon drizzle cake and I made a lavender pound cake and a very nice chilli and chocolate torte with a cinnamon cream topping. As you can imagine it was a very healthy cake, 550 calories per slice. This is cake that could kill you but it was very tasty indeed. Did run 6 miles though this morning to try and get rid of some of the damage.

It's Sunday afternoon as I write/type this and England are in a very strong position in the Cricket. Australia are 151-5 and are aiming to bat out 2 days for a draw or score 522 to win. Oh yes! This is fair more satisfying than last weeks, frankly, embarrassing draw following some unoriginal time wasting by England. The physio came on to the pitch a couple of times, the 12th man was on and off like a thing that goes on and off a lot. Couldn't think of anything there, sorry.
If you are going to try and waste time, at least do it in an interesting way.

There was a little news this week.

A public enquiry started this week into the death of an Iraqi national whilst being detained by British troops in 2003. Baha Mousa was a 26 year old hotel receptionist who was arrested and taken to a British army base. He was then found dead 2 days later with at least 93 separate injuries.
So far only one man has been convicted of any offence. He was jailed for 1 year and was discharged from the Army. At the trail the judge complained about the Army closing ranks and falling silent.
On the first day of the enquiry several videos of British Soldiers using detention techniques that had been banned in the 70's such as hooding of the prisoner and the use of stress positioning.
Now I am not a member of the British Army or from an Army family but I'm pretty sure of this. There is a chain of command. Someone tells the lower ranks to do something and they do it. The likelihood of soldiers all doing the same illegal things and coming to this decision independently is really rather small and that is what this enquiry is all about. Let us hope that they are allowed to reach well informed conclusions in order to help maintain the standing of the British Army. We need to win hearts and minds and the only way to do this is to behave impeccably all the time, as, of course, a very large percentage of them do but there are, clearly, some that don’t and they must be found out and removed from our Army.

Some good financial news this week. Well it's good if your name is Rick Wagoner and you are the former director of General Motors.
Despite helping to destroy his company and send it into administration with debts of $172 billion, he has got himself a nice little pension. It is reported to be worth $8.6 million, which is rather a lot of money to take from a company has taken quite so much from the American Government but there don't seem to be any rules about this sort of thing.

It was also a good week for the investment bank Goldman Sachs. Only a short while ago they took $10 billion to stop them sinking into a giant hole of seem induced bad investment but now they have started to make money again.
They have paid back the small amount that they borrowed and now they have made $3.43 billion for April to June. 3 months! They made that in 3 months. They also seem to have set aside $6.65 billion for bonuses.
Proof, if it was ever needed, that if super large companies make a loss then it is all of our problem but the profits are private.

UKFI, the body set up by the UK Government to manage our massive investment in RBS and Lloyds, has announced that they sitting on paper losses of £10 billion. There has been great criticism of UKFI because they are not taking on active enough role in the running of the banks that they have invested £3000 for ever person in Britain in but let's give them some time.
The share prices of these banks will rise and we will reap these rewards, hopefully, so be nice.

Our currant Labour Government can't really get a break at the moment. This week they have announced a pretty good new set of environment policies that have been welcomed by most “green” groups and the National Trust (if you have them you have Middle England). They have legally binding targets on carbon emissions and proposed planning changes in order to make it easier to build wind turbines. 30% of our power will be from renewables by 2020.
Now this is a bit of an ambitious target but the Government will take back of control of the National Grid so that renewable electricity generators will get priority onto the grind.
There does seem to be a bit of an obsession with wind turbines in this country but in a country surrounded by sea and that light falls upon, let us not forget tidal/wave power and solar energy. We do need a range of ways of generating.
When you mention solar power in Britain many people will point out that it isn't very sunny here but these are stupid people who really don't understand how it works. “Can you see? Yes? Well then, light photons are making it to the planets surface.” “Are those plants photosynthesising? Yes? Well then, light photons are making it to the planets surface.” If there is any form of light a photovoltaic cell will generate electricity. Cover everyone's roof with solar panels, insulate everything that can be insulated and replace all the bulbs with low energy ones and ignore the Mail and Express. This will help so much.
There are those who don't believe in global climate change and don't think that carbon emissions are a problem, I'm looking at you Jeremy Clarkson, but you can't argue with these people but you can reason with them.
Oil will run out, it is finite, so we need to preserve our oil supplies. Petrol for you big cars is made from oil. If we use it all up you will have no more petrol. If we save oil by not using it for producing power or making plastic bottles and bags (usage down by 49% by the way) we will have petrol for longer.

There were also some excellent crime figures but you would never believe it if you read our lovely papers. Yes, burglary was up by 1%, which is a shame but we are in a recession and property crime usually rises during them and the predictions were for a 5% rise so that is actually quite good, but violent crime was down again.
In 1995 the risk of being a victim of any form of crime was 40%, it is now 23%. The murder rate has fallen by 17%, making it the lowest in 20 years. Yet the fear of crime grows.
But where were the Labour MP's and ministers correcting the awful reporting of these figures that only focused on the negatives? They were nowhere to be seen. Is there no fight left in Labour? I do hope not because there are many things that they are doing OK on.
As I mentioned the fear of crime is still rising and you only have to look at our press to understand why. Every paper, every day is filled with stories of crime and general fear-mongering. The effect is that people are scared and they don't know why.
If, however you ask them about their own experiences of crime you get a different reading of the situation and many people have not experienced crime (75% in fact) and aren't too concerned about walking their streets. There, are of course, exceptions because crime is high in some places but “broken Britain” as David Cameron would like us to believe is all around us, simply isn't. He is, again, fear-mongering. It is lowest common denominator politics. Although Labour isn't free from the tag of fear-mongers. Since they have come to power we have some 3000 new laws, many of which invented new crimes and they doubled the prison population.
The same phenomenon exists with the NHS. In surveys people say that the NHS is rubbish but if you ask them about their own experiences of the survey and most people have had a good experience. Again, there are exceptions but one person’s bad experience does not mean that the whole Health Service is no good.

Let’s do some awards because it's all been a little serious and boring this week, so thank you if you are still reading,

The Award For Blatant Steal of the Week,

It's not the first time that an advert has stolen/been inspired by a music video but the new Mazda 2 advert,

is a direct lift from the White Stripes' Seven Nation Army video,

Blatant I think you will agree.

The Award for Worst Mortgage Offer of the Week,

At the height of the easy credit boom that helped to precipitate the current financial crisis several building societies and banks were offering 125% mortgages and they were roundly criticised but now the Nationwide Building Society has brought them back. There are 1 or 2 boxes that you need to tick though. This offer is for people who are in negative equity and want to move house. Which, I believe that most financial advisers would agree with me here, is the prefect time to move, when your existing loan is larger than the value of your house. Brilliant. You will need a 5% deposit though and than they will lend you 95% of the value of your new home and up to 25% again to cover the negative equity of the old loan. Clear your debts by getting deeper into debt. I think we have discovered why our banks crashed.
I have a solution to negative equity if you are unfortunate enough to be suffering from it, live in the house. The price will go up again and then you won't have a problem. If you have to move for some reason than I am sorry but you are going to loose money, it's a risk you take when buying a house. But the rest of you should stop reading the papers and stop worrying about a problem that only exists on paper.

Hope you all have a nice week; I'm off to try and encourage England to take those last 5 wickets that they seem to be having trouble with. Bye.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Diana Watch

“In a lot of ways, terrible to say this I suppose, but apart from the fact that Hitler got taken away and persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do or not, he was in the way that he could command a lot of people, able to get things done.
“In the end he got lost, so he wasn’t a very good dictator because either he had all these things and knew what was going on and insisted, or he just went along with it . . . so either way he wasn’t a dictator.” He also rounded on democracy, claiming that “it hasn’t done a lot of good for many countries — including this one [Britain]”.

I give you the words of Bernie Ecclestone last week in an interview with The Times last weekend. The weekend before the German Grand Prix. How stupid is this man?
So, we have the son of a fascist running the governing body of the sport and a man who admires Hitler is the other most powerful man in F1. Oh dear. What else can you say? The good news is he said sorry. So that's ok then.
Why now do we allow people to do and say the most ridiculous things and then just say “sorry”? No punishment, nothing. Racists are saints in death.

I want to start by saying, I told you so. A survey out this week from the Equality and Human Rights commission has shown that immigrants do not get priority for social housing. The report found that only 1.8 per cent of social tenants had moved to Britain within the past five years.
Some 87.8 per cent were British-born and 10 per cent of foreigners who had been living in Britain for more than five years.
Does this put the issue to bed? I wouldn't have thought so. Facts seem to get ignored by people who views or agenda differ from the point proved by cold statistics. We seem to believe things that our friend told us over the research of Noble prize winners. Why is this? It is the sort of behaviour that keeps the Daily Mail's and Express' “health” sections going. If you want to make yourself really angry (although I can't imagine why you would want to do that) have a look at their “health” sections on-line. It is a science free zone. A place where the single anecdote is considered as more reliable than a double blind experiment or the meta-analysis of 200 different papers.

David Cameron, a man who knows a political opportunity when he sees one, has decided that he wants to get rid of some QUANGOs. For those of you who don't know QUANGOs (quasi antonymous non-governmental organisations) are groups set up by the Government to over see the running of things like the communication industry or the utilities, groups such as OFCOM and OFWAT.
He wants a full review of what they do and how much they spend. He would also like to make them more accountable. You will note several political buzzwords or buzz-themes in the last 2 sentences. Cost and accountability. QUANGOs are easy targets because most people don't know what they are or do so don't think that they are important and they can easily be portrayed as such.
Many of them play very important roles and they keep politicians out of the direct running of things that they really shouldn't be interfering with. One of Mr Cameron's ideas is that some of the people running these organisations should be elected. Oh god, why? We can't even get the populace motivated enough to vote for who runs the country let alone who runs the British Potato Council. There is also the problem with electing people that you politicize groups or roles that really don't need to be politicized. This happens in America where they have to elect nearly everyone with even the slightest amount of power and this leads to political patronage and cronyism.
They have to elect Judges and chiefs of police. Politics in the judiciary is the best way to avoid dull things like fair trials and even handed enforcement of the law. He also seems unaware of the fact that a number of QUANGOs are directly accountable to Parliament or, at least, a committee.
What David Cameron seems to have, conveniently, forgotten is that ever Government since the 80's has said that it wants to reduce the number of QUANGOs but has ended up creating more and more. A cynical person of a certain age might be reminded of Yes Minister/Prime Minister (a program that tells you as much about British politics as The West Wing ever did about U.S. politics) when there was a review of the Civil Service with a view to shedding jobs. Following the review they discovered that they need more civil servants.

There was another exciting G8 meeting this week where world leaders met and discussed how terrible things are in the world and what they can do about them, which is usually realise a pre-prepared statement about how bad things are and offer to give them some more money and then not give it, hey Italy!
To be honest the meeting didn't achieve very much except to show President Obama in a very good light again. We may have decided to change the way we give money to Africa, concentrating on development agriculture, as they did in India, rather than just giving money and food.
The most exciting moment of the conference was, however, when former terrorist (but he said sorry so it's ok now) Colonel Gaddafi turned up. If you count out all the killing he sponsored (yes it is a bit like a fun run, “I'll give $2000 for every killing you do”), which our leaders seem to do, he is a deeply entertaining human being. He insists on living in a tent and has a personal security force entirely made up of beautiful young woman. His reasoning is that they are less likely to try and kill him. I don't buy this logic myself but I do have a feeling that, having now seen the guards, convicted criminal Silvio Berlusconi will be seriously looking into the idea for himself.

Airlines and Unions yesterday (Saturday) released a joint statement, and got their faces all over the 24hour news channels, complaining about air passenger duty. This was a tax introduced by the Government to try and put people off flying a bit because it is fantastically polluting. The complaint for the airlines is that the tax is going up in November. It will be about £20 for a short-haul flight and up to £80 for a long-haul flight. I my opinion the only mistake that was made in introducing this tax was that it was not ring fenced by the Government to be used for only “Green” projects. That would have made it bullet proof. As it stands the Airlines can argue against it in 2 ways. Firstly they used the “Won't somebody please think of the children!” argument. “Think of a family going to see relatives in far away lands. It will cost them so much more”. Oh well. Perhaps you could absorb the price rise into your ticket prices rather than just passing it straight on to the customer. It's not going to happen though is it as you already charge us extra for pretty much everything including putting fuel in the plane. And then they used the “we are an industry on the edge” argument. Again, oh well. Not really our fault that you had massive over capacity is it.
There was also a nice bit of Tory-type exaggeration. They described this well advertised extra cost as a “stealth tax”. It's not really is it? And to be honest I wouldn't care if it was. As an industry you are untaxed. You don't pay tax on the fuel that you charge us extra for. You don't have to pay tax on the tickets you sell. My advice would be to shut up and keep your heads down. You get a great deal at the moment. Good tax breaks. Not being included in carbon trading so that you can pollute for free. If you make to much fuss someone might notice how good it is for you and change a few things.
Oh and answer my e-mails to you about what percentage of you flights are business and not holiday ones so that I argue against you properly.

Lets do some awards now as I have a busy day, out for lunch, then a party in the afternoon and then out for dinner,

The Award for Losing Faith So Very Quickly,

This goes to nearly all England cricket fans and sports writers who, after only 3 days of the first Ashes test, started praying for rain and writing off this Ashes series. Yes it does seem that we are going to loose the first test but it is the first of 5. Cheer up.

The Award for Finally Getting Around It,

If you generate your own electricity you will now be able to sell it to the National grid. Micro generators will now get a fixed price for any excess power that they generate and divert to the national grid, just like in 19 other European countries! I bet you can’t even name other European countries can you? I don’t think I can. Way to keep up with Eastern Europe there Gordon Brown.

That will do I think. Off for another week of allotment and bread making, which is nice. Hope you all have a good week. Oh and thank you to those who have helped push past the 6000 mark for views of my Myspace blog xx

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Diana Watch

Terrorism threat, severe. Pandemic threat 6. Global Recession. Daily heatwave alerts. And Sarah Palin quits as Governor of Alaska perhaps for a run at the 2012 Presidency. I don't know about you but I've had a good week. The sun has been out and I've had not that much to do.

The good news this week was that the Government decided to scrap the compulsion element from the National ID card for British Nationals. Well that is fantastic news. Obviously foreigns will still have to have them because they are scary and weird but for the rest of us we can have one if we want to.
What a sensible decision but when you look a little closer all is not so good. Whilst the physical card will disappear you will still have to provide all the biometric data for your passport renewal and it will be stored on there instead.
There is a difference then in the way this will effect your lives because, with a card, there would be a compulsion to carry it and produce it on demand but this probably won't happen with a passport. A small victory then but it is only very small.
Interestingly enough those within Government who support ID cards seem to have stopped with the made up reasons why ID are vital for National Security. So is it possible that they have learnt that linking everything to terrorism is no longer believed. Not that, I think, we every really did but perhaps possibly they have. The U.S. government has dropped the phrase “War on Terror” because it wasn't helpful. Have they all learnt that it isn't helpful to scare your population? We won't hold our breaths though because otherwise we'll all turn blue and look like Smurfs.

Clearly Gordon Brown is rattled by the BNP issue. Last year he used the phrase “British jobs for British workers” which came back to bite him on his bum. This week he gave a speech in which he used the exciting phrase “local homes for local people”. Oh for goodness sake. How long until he starts using phrases like “coming over here, stealing our jobs.” It is a unhelpful turn of phrase because it implys that there is a problem when there is no evidence to show that there is.
When the BNP were elected to a local council in London on a ticket that was very similar to to GB's rhetoric, a study was carried out to find out what percentage of council homes had gone to local people. Of the 12069 homes that have been allocated by the council, 12068 went to long term local residents. 99.9% of council housing went to local people and not immigrants. Proper engagement with people on issues raised by the BNP proved that the BNP are liars. This is how Gordon Brown should deal with them, not shift towards their position because it is easier. If you spend time with people, dealing with their problems in a sensible and grown up way, arguing your point, showing were they are wrong and they will come round to your way of thinking. Oh and build some more council houses as we haven't really built any for 30 years.
One of the problems that we have is the level of political debate that we have at the moment. If circumstances change within an organisation or government and a new approach or policy is needed instead of allowing this change or discussing your ideas all we hear is “well, your first policy must have been wrong and this is an embarrassing climb down.” Which it clearly isn't but this is the level of debate that we have descended to. I will give you an example.
Last Sunday of Government Minister was on Radio 4 announcing a new policy (didn't the new Speaker ask you to stop doing that?) on NHS targets. When they came to power New Labour introduced top down targets for all health trusts so that they would all be bought up to a basic level of competence and efficiency. Following years of Tory under-investment the NHS was in a bit of a state.
When these targets had been reached, thanks, in part, to massive investment from this Government, they were tweaked and changed in order to keep standards rising.
Now it is felt within the Department of Health that this top down targets have done as much as they can and a new approach is needed to keep the upward trend in standards. Now they want to give the power back to the Trusts and PCTs with some sort of legal framework to ensure a minimum service. A perfectly reasonable argument I think you will agree. Not so his Tory shadow who used the argument structure as set out before. “So your policies didn't work then?”, “yes they did but things have changed because we made it better with our first set of policies.”, “so your policies didn't work then and the fact that you changing them proves that.” It's like hitting your head on a brick wall. Repeatedly. And then deciding to flog a dead horse. Repeatedly.
Really it has to stop. We have some serious problems that need sensible discussions and debate but what do we get? Childish arguments that serve only to prove who is the smelliest.

Some awards now Ladies and Gentleman,

The Award for Moving Sporting Moment of the Week,

And this has to go to the end of the Men's Final at Wimbledon. A small tear was shed for Andy Roddick. He looked sad. After all that work he still couldn't beat the best tennis player in the world. Ever. The mighty Rodger Federer has retaken his Wimbledon title and the world no.1 spot. He has won his 15 major title, beating Pete Sampras' record of 14 (seeing Sampras on TV this afternoon I am considering the possibility that he is dead inside).

The Award for Very Funny Expenses Claim of the Week,

This week saw the release the expenses of top BBC executives. One of the claims stood head and shoulders above the rest. When the Brand/Ross affair broke, thanks to the Daily Mail, Mark Thompson was on holiday. When it started to get really bad he decided to end
his holiday early and fly home. He bought his family with him. And then claimed about £2000 on expenses for the fight. Good work if you ask me. And the best bit? The story was broken by the Daily Mail. Can you imagine the anger within that paper? They hate the BBC, they hate people who aren't them claiming expenses and it was to do with the Ross/Brand thing. That is anger to the power of 3. You could power a city with that sort of anger.

I went to Marwell Zoo today and had a really good time. Hope you all have a good week. Might try and get myself some work this week because at the moment I'm not getting paid but the house and allotment are really tidy. Have fun.