Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Gordon is a Duffus

Oh dear, poor Gordon Brown. I know that me feeling sorry for him is probably not what he wants but that’s how it is.
He did something stupid but we have all done it. We have all met someone, whether in a pub or at work, who, shortly after they’ve gone, we’ve turned to a friend and said “What a twat!”
The difference here is that he had a live microphone on his lapel; still it could have been worse,

All I would say to any other politician that tries to get any mileage out of this, there by the grace of Twosh goes you.
Be very careful all politicians and perspective politicians who are being interviewed, every Radio and TV producer in the land will be living those mics live for as long as is feasibly possible.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

What Are They Trying To Do

I have a new pet theory and it may be pushing the realms of reality a little. It may also be rationalising the behaviour of one of our worst and most hateful newspapers.
Let's start with some history. Starting sometime in the 70's (I think) the Black community of America seemed to make a collective decision, well some didn't like it but they failed to shout as loudly as the others, and decided to try and take back a word from the white man. That word was the worst word that we had to describe them. That word was “Nigger”.
Not being an expert in the Civil rights movement or Afro-American history in general I may make the odd sweeping statement over the next few paragraphs, like the following.
It may have started with Black Comedians such as Richard Pryor (although after visiting Africa he stopped using the word according to his autobiography and later stand up) who used it to shock both Black and White audiences. Oh and to be really very funny,

Through out the 80's pretty much every rapper used the word to describe themselves or other black men (My personal favourite would be Public Enemy by the way) and then in the 90's it came back to comedy with the fantastic Chris Rock.
Now the original point of taking back the word was to disarm it, to remove it's sting and offence. If a black dude is calling another black dude “nigger” then it's ok, right? Well, no. Chris Rock managed to make it offensive again by using it to describe the sort of irresponsible man that he didn't like,

But that really isn't my point. It has slipped into the everyday vocabulary of young black men, see the fantastic Wire for details, and is seen by many as inoffensive unless I used it in their general direction, when it might regain some of it's power. Whether the plan worked or was a good idea in the first place is not for me to say.
My point is that several generations have been trying to rehabilitate a word. A word that has been used as a serious and powerful term of abuse over many, many years. This is what I think the Daily Mail are doing with their constant references to Nazis. (Admit it, that isn't where you thought that this was going did you?)

In Richard “Twat” Littlejohn's columns there are constant references to “Town hall Nazis” or “Speed Camera Nazis”, only today there was a headline in the paper that read “Cardboard gestapo: Grandmother threatened with £300 fine over box that was too big for recycling bin slot”.
Now I'm pretty sure that none of the people referred to in this incredible offensive manner is responsible for the death of 6 million Jews and countless Gypsies, homosexuals and disabled people, so why do it?
Because the Daily “Hurrah for the Black Shirts” Mail is trying to take back the words. They think that these words need rehabilitating after being used as a massive insult for so long.
It's the only reason that I can think of that doesn't include insulting the intelligence of the people who work for that paper or concluding that they are anti-Semitic and don't think that the Holocaust was that bad really.
Can I just say that if anyone thinks this racist in any way, I apologise. It really isn't. I love all people except those that choose to write for the Mail.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Diana Watch

So when you are in the company of a group of woman and they ask, in general, why their lives are a little hard, the correct answer is not “because you tricked us into eating the apple, it's your own fault”. Just a little bit of social etiquette advice for you there.

Do you know how much water your jeans used in their production? No? Well let me tell you, it takes 10,850 litres per pair of jeans. This massive figure includes the water used to grow the cotton and what is used in the factory.
 Ok, how about a pint of beer? 1 pint of fluid, it can’t be that much can it? 150 litres apparently.
 The Engineering the Future alliance of professional engineering bodies has released a study (I know I said I wasn’t going to cover “Studies” but I don’t think that this is a PR puff piece) in order to show the hidden amounts of water being used (most of it aboard) to make our stuff.
 It is estimated that you (and I) use about 150 litres (about a bath full) of water everyday but that is only the water that we see, up to 10 times as much is “embedded” in the British made goods bought by consumers. This, however, only represents about one-third of the total water embedded in all the average consumer's food and goods, with the remainder coming from imports.
 Forecasts suggest that when the world's population soars beyond 8 billion in about 2030 the need for fresh water rising by 30%. Developing countries are already using large amounts of their water to grow food and produce goods for consumption in the West.
 This really can’t end well. If the Gulf war was fought over oil, as many claim, how long before we have wars over water?

Here we go again,
Gays, blamed
The Media, blamed
The Devil, blamed
and so, who or what else can they blame? Ah I know, how about you blame the Internet.
Another week, another Senior Catholic Priest not taking responsibility for the actions of their colleges and trying to shift the blame. It's not the fault of the person who did the child rapings, oh no. See how many external factors we can find. I will stop going on about this when they sort themselves out.
 Step up Bishop Felipe Arizmendi, it's your moment in the, being-mostly-ignored-by-the-mainstream-media, sun.
Oooh, just a brief aside before the main story. Whilst I am wondering why the press seems to be going a little easy on the Vatican, it seems that if you make films and are convicted of having sex with a 13 year old girl at the home of Jack Nicholson in 1977, this will be ignored as long as you make a good film whilst under house arrest.
 Why is Roman Polanski not vilified around the world? I truly do not understand.
 Anyway, back to the story. Speaking in Mexico City he said “With so much invasion of eroticism, sometimes it’s not easy to stay celibate or to respect children. If on television and on the Internet and in so many media outlets there is pornography, it is very difficult to stay pure and chaste.” So this is your excuse for attacking children? If you really can’t help yourself just have a wank, it's much better for all involved. I know your Church is against that too but surely it’s less of a sin than the thing that you were trying to excuse.
 He added “Obviously when there is generalized sexual freedom it’s more likely there could be cases of paedophilia.” Ummm, no. Can you show me some evidence for that please? An email will do, just a hyperlink to the study that you are referring to. I think you might just be making that up.

 He wasn't the only Priest talking utterly offensive bollocks this week as the Bishop of Tenerife, Bishop Bernando Álvarez, tried to blame the victims.
 Now I know this was always going to happen as it is a well known phenomenon but that doesn't detract from how utterly deplorable this is. He said “There are 13 year old ado­les­cents who are under age and who are per­fectly in agree­ment with, and what’s more want­ing it, and if you are care­less they will even pro­voke you.” I just want that to linger with you a while. “and what's more wanting it”. Ah yes, the Lolita defence.
 What an absolute bastard this man is. He didn't leave it there though; he tried to blame the Gays as well.

 Although I do have to be fair, whilst the Vatican could limit the damage by admitting responsibility and having a proper investigation, the English and Welsh bit of the Church is at least trying.
 Bishops have written a letter that will be circulated to all churches expressing a “heartfelt apology and [their] deep sorrow to those who have suffered abuse”. They also recognised that there were “no excuses” for what has happened and said that it was a “profound scandal.”
 Well that is a start, now how about getting the police involved. You have admitted that many crimes have taken place and there is only one thing that you can do in this situation.

It is not only the Catholic Church that has a monopoly on blaming the innocent, oh no. A senior Muslim Cleric in Iran has said that earthquakes in the geologically unstable city of Tehran are caused by woman! No wait, come back, his reasoning is fault (ha, do you see what I’ve done there?) less.
 During the Second World War we had a saying, “Loose Lips Sink Ships” but in Iran they have one all of there own, “Loose Chicks cause significant shifts in the Earth Crust.” Whilst I agree that this is not as catchy but it does seem to be the view of some in Irania. No, really!
  Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted in the Iranian media saying “Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes,”   
 The Muslim world helped shape science during our “Dark ages”, they translated the ignored Greek texts on Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, they were proper clever people, however it does seem that some of their religious leaders are a little shaky on the basics of plate tectonics. Now, to be fair to this man it may have been something to do with a mistranslation of the post-coital question, “did the earth move for you?”. Although it seems more likely that this bloke is just a bit of a misogynist, “the Christians have blamed them for the fall of man in the Garden of Eden; we need something to equal that. Ah!  I know, blame woman showing a little bit too much fringe for Earthquakes. That’ll wash.”

The good thing about our reliance on oil is that extracting it from under the ground is always safe and that there is no danger of any pollution. Oh now wait…..
 On Tuesday night an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded and caught fire. 11 crew members are still missing. It has now sunk. A short pause to think of their families please.
 Local Coastguard believe that this could lead to the ex-oil rig leaking up to 8000 barrels of oil per day into the surrounding area.
 It is claimed that the safety of rig work has improved greatly recently but since 2001 there have been 858 fires and explosions in the Gulf, according to the federal Minerals Management Service. That still sounds pretty fucking unsafe if you ask me.

 I don’t want to make you feel guilty about all the oil we use (I was trying the with the water bit at the beginning) but here is a picture of what open cast mining for Tar Sands looks like,


It used to by Canadian woodland you know. I’m not lecturing you, I’m just pointing out the realities of how we all live our lives.

 All very serious and far too religious for my liking, lets do some awards,

The Award for Any Excuse to Show Very Cool Pictures,

The Hubble space telescope is 20 years old. Happy birthday Hubble.
 It has bought many exciting discoveries or confirmed existing theories. It helped age the Universe to 13.7 billion years old, it showed that the universe is still expanding and is accelerating as it does so and it showed that there are very large black holes at the centre of most Galaxies but what I think it will be most remembered for are the simply incredible pictures that it has been sending back. As good excuse as any to look at some of those pictures,

The Award for Breaking a Stereotype,

This goes to sprinter LaShawn Merritt, Olympic and world 400m champion, is facing a 2 year ban having tested positive for a banned substance.
 His lawyer has released a statement saying that his client admitted to taking “an over-the-counter male enhancement product”. Male enhancement product? Does he mean some of those tablets that you get spam email for offering you an extra inch or 2? Is there some thing you want to tell us Mr Merritt because I always thought, oh never mind.

Good luck to those running in the London Marathon today; I hope it does get too warm for you.

I’ll leave you alone know, have a lovely week. Honestly I tried to keep it short this week but hey, it’s Sunday and what else do you have to do? xx

Friday, 23 April 2010

Conservative Support Amongst Sheep

The Liberal Democrats have always been quite strong here for some reason, perhaps it’s because they used to be a bit of a tree hugging, lentil eating, sandal wearing hippies that appeals to middle class “spiritual” sorts, but recently they have been doing really rather well.
 Our current MP, Oliver Letwin(d) (I know it’s a childish joke but it was first made by a child so there) who is a Conservative, works for a bank and seems to have had his Wikipedia page changed since the election was called (it used to mention that he has changed his name from Gideon because he thought it too posh and that he is the heir to a Baronship (or whatever the correct word) but this isn’t the kind of  image the Tories are trying to portray in this campaign. Although he’s not as posh as the bloke standing for Dorset South, owner of 7,000 aches of land, Richard Drax, or to give him his full name, Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax ), only has a majority of just over 2,000.
 During this election campaign I have noticed something a little strange, only large areas of open land seem to be supporting the Tories, mostly boggy fields, such as here


and here.


All over Dorchester are little orange diamonds expressing their support for Sue Farrant


but I have found only one supporter for Mr Letwin(d) and he didn’t seem that proud (I’m sure there are more but I haven’t seen their signs).Photobucket
 Is this proof that we have a large swing to the Lib Dems following the leadership debates and hard work by local activists or that the Conservatives aren’t that proud of being Conservatives and only sheep are untroubled by looking as though they might vote that way? Who knows? We will all find out on May the 7th. To be honest the Tories probably don’t have any posters for homes but that would ruin my narrative and we can’t have that.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

More Guerrilla Gardening

I know it’s bad form to show of but sometimes it’s fun and good if it encourages others (that my justification anyway and I’m sticking to it).

 Last year I wrote a blog about my little bit of Guerrilla gardening (which looks lovely this spring by the way. Would you like to see? Of course you would, there it is, over there on the right) but I haven’t mentioned it since and that is because I haven’t done any, until today that is.

 I had an “admin” day at work today and when I was throwing away some paperwork that will probably turn out to be useful or important sometime in the next 2 weeks I  noticed a sad looking bed,


See how dry and unloved it is. 

Well I weeded it this morning and late this afternoon I returned with a few plants, they are just a start. 3 lavender and 2 thyme that will spread a little fragrance come the summer.

More plants will be added when I can.

 Go on, you give it a go. Find an unloved bit of land and plant something on it. For inspiration try here.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Arne Photographs

So yesterday we decided to take advantage of the lovely, lovely weather and visit the RSPB reserve at Arne which is situated on west side of Poole Harbour. It is a habitat of Woodland and heath that becomes beach and mudflat.
Some photographs were taken but the wildlife ones were rubbish do to the poorness of my camera and the lack of talent of the person using it so what we are left with are photos of slow moving things such as trees.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Diana Watch

Dear Moany Football Managers,

                         Both teams have to play on the same surface, stop moaning. You lost because the other side scored more goals than you not because the grass hated you.

                                                Martyn Norris

Can you guess which paper has had Princess Diana on the front this week? Of course you can, now you have GCSE Media studies, it’s the Sunday Express,


 I'm not going to take up too much off your time this week because I have got some homework for you.
 Now I'm not saying that you have to read them all the way though because they are really, really dull but here are links to the main parties (and UKIP's) manifestos

There doesn’t seem to be a manifesto for this election on their website but on past performances I think that we can safely assume that it would basically be “Go home Darkies” and would use the word Indigenous a lot without ever spelling out what that means.

I can't find a manifesto on their website but they claim to have one. It may possibly be this though,

 Thank you to the BBC for providing this list of all the parties standing and links to information about them.

 OK, that is hard work I know so let's just get on with the awards,

The Award for the World's Most Self Destructive Snack,

 Are you scared of American Imperialism? Worried that the rise of the Religious Right in the US threatens rationalism in that country? Don't understand the appeal of Glee? If I was you I wouldn't worry too much because they will all be dead soon.
 Ladies and Gentleman I give you the KFC Double Down.


 The bread of this bacon and cheese sandwich has been replaced with deep-fried breaded/battered chicken burgery things. 
 If a heart attack could be represented as a food stuff, this is what it would look like.

 The Award Naked Opportunism of the Week,

 This goes to both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems.
 The Government sent out a leaflet saying that the excellent 2 week guarantee for woman with suspected breast cancer to see a specialist was under threat for Tory plans.
 These leaflets were delivered to thousands of homes and, naturally, some of the people who got one had had breast cancer or know someone who has (a bit like how cold reading works). Because people are stupid and self-centred they assumed that the leaflets were targeted at them and have complained about it.
 They were not targeted at anyone, it was just a statistical certainty that this would happen but that didn't stop both the parties weighing in.
 David Cameron called for an apology and called the tactic “sick” despite the fact that it wasn't a “tactic”. Even the mighty Vince Cable wasn't above lowering himself to getting involved and said there needed to be an investigation to see if there had been any abuse of data protection laws. No there doesn't.

The Award for Having a Dig at a Fellow Sportsman of the Week,

 Golfist Phil Mickelson won the US masters on Sunday. This competition was the much written about return of serial philanderer Tiger Woods to professional golf and the expectation was very high. It blanketed out pretty much everything else in the coverage but he did not win.
 On winning one of the worlds more pointless sports Mr Mickelson dedicated it to his wife.  

The Award for Self Important Self Appointed Busy Body of the Week,

Jim Gamble is the Director of Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop). He has decided, with the help of the Daily Mail, that Facebook is the devil.
 Despite the fact that there is no proof that his idea about having a “panic button” on the social networking site will make any difference to the safety of children using it, he still manages to get himself on the various news programmes and into newspapers to promote himself, sorry, his idea.

The Award for Having the Worst PR Department in all of the Known World,

More good work by the people who work for the Catholic Church this week (I'm getting a little bored of this now. 4th week in a row that I have to mention child rapists and those that covered up for them).
 They have blamed the Devil, they have blamed the Press and now they blame..... The Gays. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's number 2, has said that Homosexuality was to blame for most of the “problems” that the Church has been having with continually employing child rapists and not the whole celibacy thing.
 Whilst in Chile he said “Many psychologists and psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relationship between celibacy and paedophilia. But many others have demonstrated, I have been told recently, that there is a relationship between homosexuality and paedophilia. That is true. That is the problem.” Oh FFS. What century are you living in? Oh yes, I remember, sometime in the 18th.
 I understand why they are trying this Blame Others approach. They are attempting to show the faithful that it is the things that the Church preach against that are the problem in a kind of “See, we told you so” sort of way, but it will not wash with the rest of us.
 Don’t expect any change in their policy any time soon though as the Church has only just forgiven John Lennon for his “bigger than Jesus” thing in 1966.

Oh, I supposed I ought to mention a bit of news.
Did you watch the Election Debate? OK, it was a bit dull and they had all “met” far too many people (David Cameron also claimed to have met a black man but I think that that is unlikely) but it does seem to have gone really rather well for Nick Clegg.
 I’m not going to criticize their performances to much though because it was the first ever debate and no one really knew what they where doing. Clearly they had watched the U.S. debates and had noted the tendency to use a heart warming or point making anecdote. Unfortunately they all went over the top and answered almost ever question with a little folksy story. Now all they have to do is practise winking to camera and saying “Y’all”.
 The other problem was the moderator. Alistair Stewart was rubbish. He barely gave them time to answer or rebut and bellowed over the top of them. I’m not sure if Tory loving Adam Boulton on Sky News will be any better though.

Some planes are unable to fly because of a massive cloud of volcanic ash covering most of Northern Europe.
 Whilst most of the papers were concentrating on the effects on travellers and trade, both the Mail and Express decided that the cloud, which is mostly at 25,000ft, will kill you.


 So if you are stuck somewhere and can't get home I do feel a bit sorry for you but to all of those moaning and scare-mongering in the press about food shortages can fuck right off. So what we don't have any asparagus imported from Egypt or lettuce from somewhere in Africa? How about buying British and seasonal? You may remember what food is supposed to taste like and maybe those countries can grow some food for themselves.
 “But I’ve got a business meeting to go to!” yeah, will I have Skype and can talk to people all over the world, on video, for free. Give it a try, you might like it rather than selfishly flying round the world for no good reason.
Oh and I am loving the stories from people who live around airports and can't believe their luck with all the peace and quiet that they are having this weekend.
 Please stop moaning, no one has or will die.

Do you think that your job is dangerous?

 Have a good week and enjoy the sunny weather (as long as it carries on obviously, it's not like you can fly to somewhere sunnier.)

Monday, 12 April 2010

Comin' Over Here

I don’t wish to come across as all Anton Vowl but if you even so much as glance at the Daily Express that is what will happen and today is no exception.
 “Strangers in our own Country” screams the headline and is reinforced in the by-line, “’English’ pupils are now the minority in 1,500 schools throughout the UK”. 

So is this true and what do they mean by “English”.
 Well, they later confirm that they really mean English as a first language, “Since 1997, the number of schools in which more than 50 per cent of pupils have English as their second language has almost doubled.” So they can still speak English then, it’s just that they can speak another language too, how very un-English of them.
 And 1,500 schools, that does sound like a lot doesn’t it? Yes it does but they are using the favourite media trick of removing the context.
 In 2007 there were 25,018 (click on Excel for the numbers) schools in the UK. So that is 6% then. Not that many schools in which more than 50% of pupils speak another language as well as English. Not that scary then, hey and if that encourages the “English” pupils to learn another language that would be nice.

Good point update,

As pointed by Jon Treadway on Twitter, does the survey that this article was based on include Welsh speakers? Now, I hadn't thought of that but a quick bit of Google action has shown me that 20% of pupils in Wales attend Welsh-medium schools and all pupils are taught it as part of the curriculum up to the age of 16.
As the survey that they used as their jumping off point for this article included all schools in the UK then it seems likely that it did included the Welsh speaking ones but they seem to have chosen to ignore this as it doesn't fit their pre-existing narrative.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Diana Watch

There really is only one story that I want to talk about this week. It is one of the most talked about and life changing events of the week (well in our house anyway). It could alter the way we live our lives for years to come. If we do not act now, history will judge us to have failed.
 As of July a Scrabble rule change will mean that you are allowed to use proper nouns! You will be able to put company names and the names of celebrities.
 A company spokesman said "This is one of a number of twists and challenges included that we believe existing fans will enjoy and will also enable younger fans and families to get involved." I'm sorry? What?
 Why do you think that young people need to be patronised by making the game easier? It is fun because it is hard, that is the point. Do we encourage children to play football by making the goals bigger? Do we get children to play “Battleships” by making the board smaller? Do we make teenagers seem more clever by making GCSEs easier? Ok, bad example (and I’m not sure if that is actually true) but my point still stands; making things easier does not make them more appealing. It does, however, make them less valuable. Have you ever been allowed to win by someone else, at anything, not just games? It is a totally empty feeling, even children understand this and they are stupid.
 JFK said “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard” He could have been talking about playing Scrabble.
 They also said that the changes will “introduce an element of popular culture into the game". Why is that a good thing?! I don’t want to have my scrabble board looking like a copy of Heat magazine. I want it to look like a scrabble board.
  Significant Other and I have discussed it and this is a rule change that we will not be implementing in the Norris household.

Ok, I suppose there was something else of some importance that happened this week. Gordon Brown has been to see the Queen and asked her if he can have an election and she said Yes (Do you think that she has an option? Could she say “No, cos I think that you will loose and I don’t want that twat Cameron in charge”? It seems unlikely).
 A clear Tory policy has emerged of not telling the truth about Nation Insurance. “We will not implement this 1% NI rise because it is a tax on jobs.” No, you will only raise it by 0.5% won’t you and “a tax on jobs”? Now this is a revelling line.
 What they mean by this is that it is a tax on businesses (rich people who fund the Tory party) but they have no problem with a rise in Income tax because that only affects workers.
 James Caan (out of off of Dragons Den) pointed out on Newsnight that the 1% rise will cost about £15 a month per employee. Will that stop a business employing a person? He said not. If they want a person they will employ them. He also pointed out that the NI rise only comes in when the employee earns about £20,000, how many shop workers earn that much? The job that I applied for at Millets (and didn’t get) paid £6 per hour, I don't think that I would have earn that much. So is the Tory plan nonsense and are their business friends only trying to preserve their profits? Yes, yes they are.
 The business men who queued up to side with their puppet, did I say puppet I meant Party, and say that Gordon Brown was wrong didn’t really fool anyone, despite David Cameron referring constantly to them.
 One of the people supporting the Tories was Sir Stuart Rose of Marks and Spencer whose company, this week, posted a health profit for last quarter of the year and estimates that it’s full year profit will be between £620m-£630m. Not really struggling then in the recession. They probably can afford an extra 1% on employees earning over £20,000 and not really notice it.
 Combine this with their calls for a reduction in Health and Safety legislation to make it easier for companies to kill you, their lack serious plans for increased regulation of the City and plans to reduce Inheritance Tax and you have to ask yourself, whose side are they on? I don’t think that it is yours.

 They are also a little hypocritical (I know this will come as no surprise) over income tax. On Tuesday the new top rate of income tax came in to force going up to 50% for those earning over £150,000. The Conservatives criticised this ferociously and, with various business groups, said that high earners would leave the country. Well they had one years notice and it seems that they haven’t.
 Despite this friend-protecting rhetoric they have no plans to reduce it.

 Whilst we are talking about tax and benefit changes can I bring your attention to these?

 Mothers will now be able to donate all or part of their maternity leave to their husband/partners. At the moment mother can take up to 52 weeks of fathers get 2 weeks but now the mother will be able to take 6 months and then go back to work and the father/partner can take the next 6 months.

ISA limits have been raised to £10,500 per year (so good for small savers then).

Sick notes have now been replaced with Fit notes. Instead of just being signed off sick your GP will be able to suggest what work you are fit for. Whilst there are a few problems with this, GP are not Occupational Health specialists for instance, overall this is great. Research seems to suggest that the sooner people get back to work the quicker they get better.

Now, as I have said before, I am no fan of Labour. I have watched my civil liberties disappear faster then the Twin Towers came down since 2001, they have taken us into 2 wars, 1 of which may be illegal and the Digital Economy bill is a disgrace but all of the above ARE great things and they should be applauded for these things.

And while I’m talking about Government achievement, the economy may do much better than predicted. 
According to the OECD the UK economy may grow at an annualised rate of 3.1% for the second quarter of 2010 which is much better than most other countries in the G7.
 Let me continue, if I may, with more slightly dull economic numbers.
 Many analysts say that The Markets are “jittery” about the possibility of a hung Parliament or the Countries credit rating being downgraded over the size of the deficit (this is so unlikely as to not be worth talking about). If this is true then The Markets are reacting in a very strange way. They are going up. The FTSE closed on Friday at 5770.98, up 58.28 points on the day. For the year they are up from their lowest point of 3968.40 points, that is a rise of 68%! Does that sound like a market that is concerned about how Labour are running the economy to you because it certainly doesn’t to me.
 Sorry, that was a bit dull but the points had to be made.

The scary thing about the pre-election is the blood lust that the 2 main parties have got up for cutting things.
Alistair “those aren't his real eyebrows” Darling said that they would have to cut harder and deeper (he was also writing porn dialogue at the same time) then anything done by Margaret Thatcher. Really? Fuck off. You are a Labour chancellor. What are you doing trying to keep up with the Osborne’s?
 And then they all try to hide other cuts in euphemism, “We will make efficiency savings”. So you are absolutely sure that these are not cuts then because when big companies merge they make “efficiency savings”. Shortly afterwards an awful lot of people loose their jobs and those that remain have their terms and conditions shredded. So I ask you once again, are you absolutely, completely and utterly sure that these “efficiency savings” are definitely, definitely not cuts?

The Award for Using Words in an Article That Only Newspapers Use,

There are some words that don’t get used enough in modern day English, such as bobbins and poppycock (which is my favourite word in all of the language), and there are some words that are only used by tabloid newspapers. The word “romp” for instance is only used by red top newspapers when they are referring to sex, i.e. “The footballer romped with the model”
 The mighty Daily Mail has decided to bring back a word that hasn’t been used in its correct context since Queen Victoria sat upon the throne. They claimed in an article about the New Dr Who assistant Amy Pond “that viewers were left scandalised” by her short skirt. Scandalised? Really? By some legs?
 Now I would link to the original article but I’m not clever enough and the Daily Mail on-line is like the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984, it is constantly changing things that have been printed to closer reflect the views of it’s witless commentators (and the Google Cached thing doesn’t seem to work for that paper). The article no longer includes that word because they probably realised that it has been used since the “Lady Chatterley” trial.
 I would just like to say to people who were upset, or indeed scandalised, by the sight of Karen Gillan’s (not even bare legs, although that might be the issue, oh I don’t know) legs that they should avoid nearly all female professional sport and it is probably best if you stay indoors for the summer (especially around May the 6th sort of time).

The Award for Trying to Get Something Really Rather Wrong on to a Plane,

Two women have been caught trying to smuggle a dead bloke in a wheel chair on to a plane at Liverpool's John Lennon Airport. It really is as simple as that.
 They claimed that he was asleep and put sunglasses on him and then attempted to board a plane.
They also travelled to the airport in a Taxi. That is how observant taxi drivers are people, you can pop a dead bloke in one and they won’t notice.

The Award Sticking Your Head In the Sand and Placing Your Fingers in Your Ears,

 For the third week in a row I am forced, mostly by their own stupidity and trying to make out that problems don't exist, to mention the Catholic Church.
 Now I am not a religious man, well actually I am an atheist, and the activities of the worlds various religions are not of a great deal of interest to me except if they are justifying flying planes into buildings or telling AIDS ravaged countries that condoms actually make the problems worse or….., oh ok, I do take a bit of any interest but the Catholic Church is really trying to push the boat out at the moment.
 The Associated Press is reporting that it has a letter that is signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI, in which he resists the defrocking of a convicted sex offender.  Cardinal Ratzinger said the "good of the universal Church" should be considered in such cases.
 Rev Stephen Kiesle was convicted in 1978 for lewd conduct with two young boys in San Francisco and was sentenced to 3 years probation. His diocese, Oakland, had recommended Kiesle's removal in 1981 but it didn't happen until 1987.  Cardinal Ratzinger took over the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the department that deals that sort of thing, in 1981 and this letter was written in 1985.
 So here is another bit of evidence that shows that Cardinal Ratzinger was aware of the abuse and attempted to cover it up and what did his spokesman, Rev Federico Lombardi, say? Why he tried to play it down of course, saying “The press office doesn't believe it is necessary to respond to every single document taken out of context regarding particular legal situations."

Let’s end with a song to lift your spirits as I have gone on a bit this week.
I know that everyone else of a skeptical bent has linked to this or embedded it and that I am a little behind the curve here (as I am with so many things, I hear those Beatles are pretty good, you should check them out) but here is The Daily Mail Song by Dan and Dan,

Have a good week. The sun is out and the sky is blue, enjoy yourselves whilst you can as soon we may have a Tory Government.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Diana Watch

If you want an insight into how a society can/will breakdown just turn the power off on a set of traffic lights at a particularly junction.

I think you can describe this as a perfect storm for a Daily Express front page, Princess Diana and weather.

 I don’t think we need to go into the story really do we? No of course we don’t. The Daily Express is rapidly becoming Britain’s answer to the National Enquirer.

Wednesday's Mail and Express both had the same story with the same basic premise, “It is political correctness gone mad!”
 The version that you got from the head and by-lines was that a person was fined £1000 for selling a goldfish. Well, how ridiculous and of course not entirely correct.

Great Grandmother (who is 66! A great grandmother at 66, usually the Mail would have been criticizing that, how young were these people having children?, but they have bigger fish to fry! Ha, see what I’ve done there!) Joan Higgins sold a goldfish to someone who was 14 and this is illegal under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, they have to be 16 or occupied by an adult.  Oh much later on in both versions of the article “a council officer in the shop at the time also noticed a cockatiel in a cage that appeared to be in a poor state of health. A vet found the bird had a broken leg and eye problems. It was later put down.” So more breaking of the law then.
This may come as a surprise to Mail and Express but cruelty to animals is against the law. The maximum penalty for this crime is £20,000 and a year in prison so she, with her only £1000 and 120 hrs of community service, got of quite lightly really.
 This obviously has annoyed these papers, especially the Mail. This paper seems to be pushing for a 2 tier legal system, one for us and, as they would see it, the scummy people and then their readers who they seem to think the law should not apply to. See their offence when “middle class” types are charged with crimes. 
  A second tier of law, ummm, can you imagine the outcry if someone suggested a second tier of law based on say….. Sharia law? Of course you can because someone nearly did and this happened, here, here and here.
 They don’t, however, make a fuss about Jewish or Beth Din courts which have been operating in our country for many, many years, how strange. Is it because they don't know about them? Perhaps someone should tell them. Can it be me? Please?

Science news now.
 The Large Hadron Collider’s power is being turned up (yes, possibly to 11 but is that joke funny any more?) and they have started smashing very, very small things into each other.
 The worlds most complicated ever machine is now setting records for the most powerful particle collisions created by man. They are running at seven-trillion-electronvolt (TeV) collisions (no, I don’t know what that means either) which have initiated 18-24 months of intensive investigations.
 This is a good thing. Some people see this sort of thing as a waste of money, science for science's sake, but they are wrong. Do we know where these ground breaking experiments will take us? No, of course we don't, if we did there would be no point in the experiment.
 Did NASA think “what we are looking at inventing is a fabric fastening material and a coating to stop our bacon sticking to the frying pan”? No they didn't. They wanted to put men in space and then on the moon and they found some other stuff along the way.

 “Climategate” was bobbins.
 The Commons Science and Technology Committee has critised the University of East Anglia’s Dept of Climatic Research Unit (which consists of about 3 people) for not dealing with endless Freedom of Information requests for AGW deniers (not overly comfortable with that word but sceptic is the wrong word. Sceptics consider all the evidence not ignore most of it) well enough and that was all.
 The E-mails of Professor Phil Jones of the CRU were hacked and posted on the internet. These were used by some people with dubious motives to try and claim that he had manipulated the data to make it look like Climate Change was happening when it really it wasn’t. The committee said much of the data that critics claimed Prof Jones had hidden, was in fact already publicly available.
 “We have found no reason in this unfortunate episode to challenge the scientific consensus that global warming is happening and is induced by human activity”.
 Now I don’t know about you but I think that that is a pretty big smack down to the doubters but I don’t think that it will help to change their minds, after all they think that just because it is cold in England right now that this quite clearly proves that AGW is nonsense. That is an ok view for them to have in my opinion because it will be summer soon when it will be hot and by their logic this will prove that Climate Change is happening and then we will all laugh at them.

More architecture this week because London Mayor Boris Johnson has announced that they are going to build a fucking big statue/sculpture type of thing for the Olympic Games.

Now don’t worry if you don’t like it because you aren’t going to pay for most of it. The ArcelorMittal Orbit (odd name) is designed by Turner Prize-winning artist Anish Kapoor and £16million of the total £19.1million will come from steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal who owns the company ArcelorMittal, oh that will be where the name of the thing comes from. The other £3.1million will come from the London Development Agency.

Priests raping children update now,
 The Vatican has decided that the best form of defence is attack this week with the Pope describing the news coverage of the church’s of the cover up of decades of sexual abuse as “petty gossip”. In his address on Palm Sunday he said that faith in God leads “towards the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion”. He didn't refer directly to the scandal but the implication was pretty clear. He managed to ignore it or cover it up when he was a Cardinal and now he intends on dismissing it while he is Pope.
 If they wanted to mount a proper defence they have 2 options open to them; they can either attack the victims by trying to make them seem unreliable which may yet happen or you can attack those printing the allegations about you, which is what the Vatican has decided to do. First there was the “petty gossip” thing and now we have accusing the New York Times of going into “attack mode” for printing a series of articles about what the Pope may or may not have known. Cardinal William Levada, who is doing the Pope's old job (no, honestly, the man defending the Pope is the man whose job it is to cover things up, just like the Pope did) said that the paper should “give the world a more balanced view of a leader it can and should count on". No it shouldn't. It should be reporting the news not doing your advertising for you. If your Employees have broken the law, which it seems they have, then that should be reported.
 I thought about making some sort of joke about it's only a matter of time before someone tried to make out that it was “an anti-Catholic” conspiracy but thankfully someone has gone one better. Someone has stepped up and compared asking some questions and trying to get justice for the victims and with....., no wait for this, this is good...........  Anti-Semitism! No really!
 I give you the Rev Raniero Cantalamessa, Pope Benedict's personal preacher, raised this brilliantly distracting but ultimately spectacularly offensive idea during Good Friday prayers in St Peter's Basilica. And there we have it, now we have playing the victim.
 Strangely enough this has not gone too well with those of non-pork eating, foreskin removing persuasion.  Stephan Kramer, general-secretary of Germany's Central Council of Jews, described the remarks as offensive and repulsive. "So far I haven't seen St Peter's burning, nor were there outbursts of violence against Catholic priests."
  It's not wall to wall criticism though; some members of the Church are taking the issue seriously. Archbishops in Austria and Switzerland are appealing to parishioners to come forward with their allegations, and admitting to past mistakes when dealing with claims. They also asked for forgiveness as they tried to repair the damage caused by the sex abuse scandal currently not being cover or investigated as it should.
 Well it's a start, perhaps they could Email (or Tweet) the Holy See to try and encourage him to do the right thing. I know that after all this time he’s unlikely to change his mind but that would be the decent thing to do.
The links that I have used for this story all come form the BBC and the Guardian, there is a good reason for that. It does seem that a lot of news outlets in the UK are a little quiet on this story, you can click here for a made up Deity's view on this.

The Award for Panic of the Week,

 Why on earth are we banning Methedrone? I assume it is because it has crap nicknames like “meow meow” or “M Cat”.
 The tabloids got really upset about it, wrongly I might add (these 2 boys took Methadone (the heroin replacement, prescription only drug), and alcohol as well as Methedrone) and then the Government asked the , really understaffed, Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to consider what to do with it.
 When I say “consider what to do with it” I don't mean how to take it, I mean ban it. And then it was so. There was very little discussion amongst the council according to latest resignee Eric Carlin. In his letter to Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, he said,
    “Re-Mephedrone; we had little or no discussion about how our recommendation to classify this drug would be likely to impact on young people’s behaviour. Our decision was unduly based on media and political pressure. The report was tabled to the whole Council for the first time on Monday; the Chair came to brief you before the whole Council had even discussed all of the report. In fact, I still haven’t seen the final version.”
 So if you want something banned get some newspapers to make a fuss about it. The Home Secretary will push it through and you will get your way, which is good news for all of us, if we are a right wing newspaper.

I know that it is childish but I want to go and see “Kick Ass” just because it has pissed of the Daily Mail so much. I want it to do well so that they are even for annoyed.
 They seem not to like the film because a child uses a bad word and there is some violence, ah well. They describe it as “Evil” and if that doesn't make me want to go and see the film then I don't know what will. Oh and Mark Kermode gave it a good review too.

I will leave you with this happy little thought, British Chiropractic Association happily promotes bogus treatments even though there is not a jot of evidence.