Sunday, 31 October 2010

Diana Watch

Happy Halloween! I do hope you are going to be watching some scary films or doing something else to celebrate. If you have children you better be dressing them up and taking them out trick or treating. It's fun people. Oh and the Mail has a tendency to publish stories about its evilness so it must be good. Oh and Express columnists don't like it either. It just keeps getting better and better.    It is also a good excuse to make things and do some fun cooking.  Significant Other has carved a pumpkin and we are going to cook a nice dinner.
 We went to a friend’s house on Friday evening for dinner and a scary film and they had decorated the house for the occasion. I say again, it's fun.
 Do we not need some fun in our lives currently run by Politicians who cut everything and joyspoilers who say things like “Trick or treating is just an American thing, we shouldn't do it”. No you are getting it mixed up with the Iraq war. Stop it. Oh and it's not a very good argument either. “Well we didn't do it in my day. It's a very new thing.” I did it a couple of times when I was little and that was a very long time ago.

Sometimes people make some rather interesting leaps of logic. In an interview with Dorset magazine local artist and stone balancer Adrian Gray says people have made some rather interesting suggestions about how he does what he does, which is balancing a stone on another stone,


Anyway some of the suggestions include glue, blu tack and velcro. They are not just balanced then? Oh no. In fact in an interview with our awful local paper's weekend magazine he said that some one even asked him if he was working in an area of low gravity. It seems that this distortion of the rules of the universe was more likely than some well balanced stones.
 This desire to believe/make up incredibly unlikely, physics defying things over perfectly sensible, rational explanations never ceases to amaze me about our species. I know that sciencey types are criticised for taking the mystery out of things but knowing what makes a rainbow doesn't make it any less beautiful. I know, to some extent, how Mount Fuji was formed and how the white stuff on the top was made but that doesn't mean that pictures of it don't take my breath away (haven’t quite got round to seeing it in real life yet). It is a joy to behold. I can look at the evolutionary path of my cats and they are still cute. Significant Other may have a common ancestor with the chimpanzee but she is still pretty and attractive.
 Knowledge doesn't make things less mysterious (despite the insistence of the Insane Clown Posse), it helps us to see all the things that we don't know. When I read a book it tells me a very small amount of information and shows so much more that I don't know. The more I learn the more I realise that I don't know and how much more there is to find out about. Why make up more stuff? To quote from Tim Minchin's excellent poem Storm “Isn’t this enough? Just this world? Just this beautiful, complex Wonderfully unfathomable natural world? How does it so fail to hold our attention That we have to diminish it with the invention Of cheap, man-made Myths and Monsters?”
 You see it all over society, odd leaps such as “Big Pharma is not always as honest as it could be so therefore is bad and that means that all Alt. Med. Treatments must work!” I'm sorry? “What is that light in the sky? There are plenty of things it could be like a Chinese lantern or something but it is definitely a UFO”
 Our press are very good at these sorts of logical side steps. It's an easy, space filling story for them. Man see UFO, man see ghost etc. Why bother finding out the truth when this is really an inconsequential story and they didn't bother finding out the truth about anything else they had written.
 Take this story in the Sun from September, “Ghost spotted in Cumbrian Pub”. A CCTV camera picked up what could, to a stupid person, be a ghost. The Sun is kind enough to have added the video footage to the website so that you can clearly see that it is a fly on the lens of the camera. An out of focus fly I grant you because the camera is focused on the room a long why behind but definitely a fly. You can see its wings move for fucks sake. Do they consult anyone who might tell them this? No, no they don’t but they do ask a “Medium” who, strangely enough thinks it's a ghost.
 Or maybe take at look at this picture that the Sun published (sorry to have to make you visit the Sun’s website to see it but they have copyrighted it and I can’t find it online). Is it a ghost? No, it's Anakin Skywalker from the Phantom Menace. Photo-shopped a bit but it’s definitely him.


There is a point to this slightly bad tempered rambling.
 Most news outlets have covered a completely ridiculous story this week. “Has Belfast film-maker found time travel evidence?” asks the BBC website. No, no he hasn't. Now would you mind reporting the news?
 Ok, maybe a bit more depth. A man was watching the extras on his Charlie Chaplin box set) that is an exciting life) and saw some footage from the Première of 1928’s The Circus. I'll let him explain what happened next, “As I sat back to watch it I realised in the first 30 seconds there's A lady strolling by with her hand up to her ear which looked quite familiar in today's society. So I wound it back and watched it again, zoomed it in and slowed it down and got other people in to check it out. Everybody had the same reaction - it looks like she's talking on a mobile phone." Well that much is true, it does sort of look like she could be on a mobile, if it wasn't 1928, but it is so she isn't. Does he leave it there? Umm, no. "My initial reaction was that's a mobile phone, they weren't around then, my only explanation - and I'm pretty open-minded about the sci-fi element of things - it was kind of like wow that's somebody that's went back in time." Two things here, 1, learn to speak properly and 2, how is that proof of time travel? She looks like she is on the phone. It's not that she is centre shot waving her Iphone about. And then he says the classic credulous line, “A mystery like this one, bottom line I don't think we're ever going to find out” No sir you are wrong. Just because you don't have the intellectual rigour to work it out doesn't mean that others shouldn't of can’t. Hearing aid, scratching face, not wanting to be filmed, pick one!
 Ok, I'm being hard on this fucktard, he is allowed to think that if he likes and he can even tell his friends about it if he wants but why all the coverage? Just put “Time Travel Charlie Chaplin Mobile Phone” into Google and see how many hits you get. How many of them offer an explanation for this nonsense? Very few. Most of them just print his remarkable leap of logic. Surely we deserve a bit better than some blokes opinion reported as news.

Sorry, I've rambled on again. I wasn't going to do this I seem to remember saying. An award now I think.

The Award For Just Trying Really Hard To Moan About Stuff That Really Doesn't Matter Of The Week or The Mountain Out Of A Molehill Award,

Have you survived clock-o-gedden? Well as you are reading this I suppose you have. If you read yesterdays Daily Express you would have thought it was the end of the world. “Britain in gloom as clocks go back” was the headline. The opening line of the article is “Britons face a day of chaos tomorrow as the clocks go back an hour”. It's a Sunday, who cares! Calm down Express “writing” person.
“A third of us will oversleep” again I say, so, it’s Sunday. They continue, “20% will wake up to a cold house after forgetting to change the central heating timer.” says the next line, that's an odd statistic. Oh hang on; what's that in the next paragraph? “Research by energy company Npower....” ahhh, it makes a bit more sense now, it's a bad and pointless PR survey piece but with an exciting Daily Express doom-leaden twist. I'll ignore the rest of it then.
 If you want a bit more on Bad PR, try the Michael Marshall's blogposts for the Merseyside Skeptics.

As I mentioned it earlier, here is the whole of Tim Minchin's Storm.

 Maybe no “Diana Watch” next week as we are off to Kent but we'll see. Have a great week.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Daily Express and Foreign Aid

Now, it would be fairly easy to portray those who “write” for the Daily Express as unpleasant, small minded, borderline racist, xenophobic, black-hearted tossers who think that because our economy is having a bit of a downturn at the moment it’s perfectly acceptable for our, comparatively, very rich country to withdraw from the world and slash the Foreign Aid Budget. God forbid that we should help people who are actually starving to death or dying from easily preventable diseases when we have think about delaying Trident for a little while.
 It would be easy for me to do that but why should I when they are quite capable of doing it themselves. Here’s today’s front page,


Stopping people from dying is a “scandal” apparently. But surely this is just a one of aberration; it can’t be a campaign can it because that would be appalling? Well, here are 2 front pages from last week,


As I said before, I don’t have to make them look bad because they are bad and they are not ashamed by it.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Diana Watch

So, some very rich mostly men destroy our economy by not fully understanding how banking works (I hope that it was that and not that they did know what they were doing because would be very upsetting indeed) and now some rich people are telling us that we are all in this together and all our public services have to be cut. I over simplify (there are quite a few millionaires in the Government, 18 in the cabinet, but there were quite a few in the last one as well) but you get my point.
George Osborne told Parliament how we (and I say “we” because it certainly isn't “them”) are going to pay down the national debt that we didn't cause. Cutting child benefit, BBC to take on the cost of the World Service, the Foreign Office will see it budget cut by 24% and cuts to the armed services were all on the list.
The navy was hit quite hard in the review and will loose its flagship, the aircraft carrier the Ark Royal. It will be decommissioned this year, 4 years earlier than planned. However, due to “interesting” contractual reasons it is though that cancelling the 2 new aircraft carriers currently being built would be more expensive than completing their build so that order will be finished. We will then be the proud owners of 2 shiny, new very big boats that we can't afford to put planes on. Many ideas have been put forward on what to do with some flat topped ships, most seem to involve NATO aircraft using them, but can I make a suggestion? England is bidding for the 2018 World Cup and I think that we need some sort of gimmick or novelty idea to draw some attention to ourselves and that's where the Aircraft carriers come in. Yes we have some great looking stadia, like that one that Arsenal play in and the Manchester City one (I know nothing of football hence my support of AFC Bournemouth), but can you imagine a game of international football played on the deck of a moored, planeless Aircraft carrier? Or, for later round games, a boat at cruising speed in the English Channel? Come on, that would be entertaining. Ok, I agree there might be one or two problems but nothing that can't be sorted out. We are a resourceful people.
Back to the cuts. Various benefits will be cut and there will be yet another crackdown on benefit cheats. Whilst this plays well in the right-wing press, who think that no one should get benefits except them, it rarely saves that much money. Well, about £1 billion per year, ok, I accept that this is a quite a large amount of money but compare it to the amount that is paid out by the HMRC error. That is £4.2 billion.


And how does the government intend to help the HMRC sort out this problem and make it more efficient? Why, by cutting it's budget by 15% of course. Brilliant. Oh and this is the department that supposed to enforcing our tax laws and making sure that our biggest companies pay their tax bills, yes Vodafone I am looking at you.
Over all it was a spending plan the Margaret Thatcher would love.
A report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies said that the spending cuts would affect the poor the most. They described it as “more regressive than progressive” but massive disappointment Nick Clegg claimed that the IFS report was “distorted nonsense.” He may have a bit of point but when it suits him, ie before the election, the IFS was a respected Think Tank that said that the LibDems economic plans were the most credible, well that's what he claimed in a speech to the RCN on Tuesday the 27th of April 2010. It's easy to accept peoples opinions when they agree with yours isn't it Nick.

One of the other things that was cut was the Severn Estuary Tidal barrier. It was going to cost £34 billion and provide about 5% of the UK's electricity or enough for all of Wales.
There were good arguments for and against the building of the barrier, it's a low carbon technology that would have been reasonable effective at generation Vs the cost (it is quite high but it would have powered an entire country) and some possible damage to bird life. Of course the reason it was dropped was the price and only the price. More specifically the fact that it was a Government backed scheme.
We will build some nice new big, expensive nuclear power plants instead because Government don't have to play for them directly. Not because they are safe or efficient but because the initial cost will be met by someone else. Well except for the £5 billion subsidy to fast-track the building of the reactors that was agreed by the last Government but will be paid for by a slight increase in ours bill. Oh and the cost of decommissioning the plants. On this point the estimate for the current stations is around £70 billion to be met by the tax payer. With the new plants there is supposed to be a scheme where by the companies running them has to put some money aside each year to pay for it but given the difficult to know nature of the problem and the unpredictability of long term costings, any short fall will be picked up by the tax payer. Oh and then there is Deep Geological Storage, an untested technology, which is estimated to cost £10 billion. It is not cheap.
The problem with comparing the various costs of different types of generating is that it is really hard to do. It is hard to get the information and, unless you are an expert in such things, when you have the information it is really hard to understand. Here for instance is a Nuclear Power Generation Cost Benefit Analysis. WTF? And so it is almost impossible for me (I don't know about you) to have an informed opinion. Which is best? I don't know.
David Cameron is slightly obsessed with his Big Society where he can see the chance to save money (getting people to do things for free that used to be jobs that people were paid for) but where it is actually a good idea he says not word. Why do we need massive central power generation? Oh of course, profit. Can't interfere with the making of profit of power companies can we.
I've said it before and I will say it again. Micro, not macro, generation is the way forward. A few changes to the planning regulations would save us thousands of tonnes of CO2 a year and a power station or 2. Simple things such as all new domestic properties to be triple glazed and to have solar panels on the roofs. We currently pay quite well for feed-in tariffs. All those pointless and wasted rooftops. How about all of that space on top of factories or super markets? Some solar panels and a few wind turbines and they are generating most of their power. It can be done and it can be done easily but there is inertia within Government. If we are all generating a bit then power stations will have to generate less. It's quite simple.
Shall I tell you of my invention? Well it's an idea for an invention really. All that water flows off of your roof and into your guttering and then into the down pipe. What if there was a series of tiny generators in the down pipe? Well it's how hydro-electric plants work, only smaller, but if everyone was doing it. Loads of power. Alright it is a bit crappy but it might work.

I have rambled on a bit as usual, sorry. And so to some awards,

The Award for Story Clearly Made Up By Script Writers of the Week,

The UK's newest and most sophisticated submarine was carrying out a crew transfer with a surface vessel in the Kyle of Localsh when it ran aground. It has the finest sonar and stealth equipment and is called the Astute. The name alone is funny enough but there is another level of humour. The tug that was used to pull the World's most advance submarine free is to be decommissioned under the spending cuts announced this week. Is this not a story line from Yes Minister?

The Award for Doing Well in a Minority Sport That Doesn’t Get That Much Coverage of the Week,

As there is still a persistent rumour that we are not very good at sport I feel that I need to carry on pointing out when we have done well. In that vein, well done to Beth Tweddle, Louis Smith and Dan Purvis who have all won medals at the World Gymnastic Championships.

That is enough I think for one Sunday. Have a lovely rest of week. Oooh, and don’t forget the podcast as well.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

A Lucky Find

I was browsing a local second hand bookshop the other day trying to find a title that wasn't authored by Dan Brown, a harder task than you might imagine (it seems several million people can be wrong but they realize this by the end of chapter 3 rather than when they are standing in the queue waiting to pay. If you are not sure about the quality of the novel that you are about to purchase you can carry out this simple test. Hold the book somewhere you can see it. Look carefully at the front cover, the spine and then the back cover If the words Dan Brown appear at any point (whether that be as the author or in a quote from a review i.e. “if you loved Dam Brown then you'll love this..” or “..the new Dan Brown,,”) gently place the book back where you found it, go home, sit quietly for a moment and think about how close you came to intellectual death. Maybe you could tell your friends who, seeing how close they came to loosing you, will buy you a drink.)
I was looking through some of the older works in the shop when I spied a battered old tome. The leather binding was fraying and the gold embossed title down the back was difficult to make out. Was it? No, it can't be, can it? I removed it from the shelf and tried to wipe some of the dirt off. A musty smell arouse from it as I opened it to the title page. A deep joy filled me to my very core! It was! It really was!
I held the hallowed book in my hands. They trembled slightly like a frightened vole or a nervous virgin bride on her wedding night might. It was a very rare 1839 copy of “Keeping the Poor in their Place” by Valentine Slaymaker. The volume was subtitled “exploiting those who deserve it or how to keep the mud of your boots by walking on the backs of prostrate oiks.”
Well this excited me greatly, as I am sure you can imagine. In that rare group of people who sit happily in the intersection of the Venn diagram that shows Economists and Bibliolaters, as I do, this was a book that was talked about in hushed, reverential tones. It's revolutionary theories and it's total disregard for human dignity in the face of profit making is legendary. Yet here it was with my slightly sweaty fingers fondling it's content.
As I leafed through the pages of this almost mythical edition dust coated my fingers. Everything pointed to this book being a first edition. I was suddenly having a very good day.
The chapter headings alone indicated the polemic direction of this publication, titles such as “The Poor as a Source of Fuel” and “War is Good for Keeping Their Numbers Under Control and for Profit” didn't really hide the political leanings of the author.
As I read on further something started to dawn on me. I was beginning to recognize some of the ideas. I had heard them before and quite recently as well but I couldn't put my finger on it. So I read on.
The chapter on education, for instance, rang a bell somewhere in my over stimulated brain. Mr Slaymaker's argument was that only a very basic level of literacy was necessary for the poor as their minds could actually be damaged by trying to learn too much. They also had no concept of accruing money so there was no need for them to fully understand finance. (He also has a sub-section on how to entertain the poor and the best way to do this. They could be sated with regular minstrel shows it seems. The better minstrels, he advised, would say that they were singing for their mothers who had recently died of plague, whether or not it was true it was not important, it would get the crowd on their side.)
Higher education should be reserved for those who could afford to pay for it as well. He argues that there only social mobility the country needs is the aristocracy moving from Town to the Country when the weather gets warmer.
Another chapter about “The Natural Sciences” makes the case for private investment, and only private investment, in carrying out experiments. To quote the great man “Why should the working man's hard earned taxes (of which only the poor should pay as large companies should be allowed to keep all of their monies as they invest it, thus creating jobs in sustainable sectors such as tulip bulb speculation) be wasted on finding things out when we already know all of the things that we need to know. God is responsible for all that we don't know and can't understand. The inquiring mind is an ungodly mind.”
He continues by saying that he has nothing against Gentleman Scientists because they have their own money to waste but their work is of no relevance. He gives a for instance, “I have heard of one so-called scientist who is getting his son to play an oboe near a snooker table upon which he has placed any number of earth worms. I ask of you, what can this possible tell us other then whether worms like Vivaldi or not?”
I'm sure you can appreciate how this sort of rhetoric was sounding eerily familiar but still from whence I had heard I could not tell. I continued to flick through the book.
I was checking for damage or defacement that may effect the price that I would pay when I came across some scribblings on the inside of the front and back covers. Most of the childish style script was unreadable and in some sort of crayon but from what I could make out it was a declaration of ownership. It seems that the book had once belonged too, and was well thumbed by, someone called Gideon Osborne.
Who was this mysterious man with the very posh name? We shall never know. Just another one of life little mysteries like rail ticket pricing or where the LibDems backbone has gone? Where is he now I wondered?
I am now, of course, the proud owner of this historical oddity and I regularly read though it having a little chuckle at it's outmoded political sentiments.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Diana Watch

2 tweets from my brother from Thursday morning.

“It's at this point of the morning I wish I'd been lazy and driven in to work rather than cycle”, followed 57 minutes later by, “In ambulance on way to hospital having been knocked off my bike. Suspected broken leg.”

He had indeed broken his leg, in several places, but the rest of him was fine. Friday afternoon for him consisted of a rather long surgical procedure to put all the broken bits of bone back into some sort of order using chisels, drills and various bits of Meccano (orthopaedic surgery is not the most delicate of affairs). And now begins, what might be but then again may not be, the long road to recovery.
I just want to say thank you to everyone who helped him. All the people that helped at the scene and to the ambulance crew. To the A and E staff, the ward staff and even the surgeons who I have been known to mock from time to time. Thank you all so much.
I know it's pointless because none of them read this but I think everyone should know that most people aren't twats and are actually quite nice and the NHS is fucking brilliant and I love it, warts and all. OK, maybe not the warts.

Did one of our papers some how manage to get a picture of Princess Diana on the front page? Of course they did but can you guess which one? Of course you can because it was the Express,


My question to you on this lovely Sunday morning (well it's lovely here) is, who would work for NICE? Really, why would you? You just can't win and you have to interviewed by the enormo-twat that is John Humphrys (He was born in a Welsh town called Splot apparently, I think we have discovered the seat of the Humphrys anger, his home town has a stupid name.)
Their latest kicking from the press came after they did what all proper scientists, skeptics and, to be honest, right thinking people should do, they changed their minds, and therefore advice, in the face of new evidence.
In 2007 the organisation decided, with the help of advanced computer modelling and complex algorhythms rather than the more powerful personal anecdote, that the evidence for the prescribing 3 drugs, Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl, for early to moderate Alzheimer’s disease was not strong enough for them to recommend them and so they didn't. This caused a bit of a fuss at the time because the drugs had been available before and they are not that expensive, the figure being bandied around is £2.80 per day. Some even went as far as to call NICE cruel, which was a little harsh. The evidence was weak so they were withdrawn from NHS prescribing, as it should be (they were still available privately though). We practice evidence based medicine, that is the way it works.
This week, following the consideration of 17 new studies (well according to NICE anyway so dispute this), it seems that the evidence base has shifted in favour of these drugs and so the decision was changed. Now that we know that they work and that they are safe and cost effective then now they can be prescribed. Personally I don't see what is wrong with that but, as I have complained about before, our press does not cope well when faced with a nuanced argument and they see changing your mind in the face of new evidence as a sign of weakness. It is reported that you were wrong rather than the situation has changed.
In British politics it seems that the worst thing that you can be accused of is a U-turn and the press, most of whom haven't shifted any of their ideologically views since some time during the reign of Queen Victoria, usually attach the word “humiliating” to the phrase U-turn just to reinforce their point. And so it was for NICE. The Telegraph had “Alzheimer's u-turn by Nice to allow drugs for mild cases” and the Mail went with “Alzheimer's victory for the Mail: Now just £2.50 can buy a life after U-turn on drugs banned by NICE”, in fact every paper I have looked at on-line (so not The Times then) called it a U-turn.
One of the interesting things is the wide range in the numbers that various papers said were effected by this decision. The Telegraph said “around 80,000”, the Guardian had “Tens of thousands”. The Mirror used the figure of “465,000” people, whilst the Mail claimed a rather vague “Hundreds of thousands”. The Star had something about boobs.
According to the Financial Times this change will cost the NHS £13 million per year so I ask the question that many have asked critics of NICE (including on the Pod Delusion podcast a few weeks ago, Episode 53 I think) what would you do? Rather than just carping on all the time put yourself in their shoes. It is a limited drugs budget and to spend £13 million on these drugs you would have to stop spending it on some other drugs, so which patients, who can all bring a miserable story and sad faced picture guaranteed to get them into the next round of the X-factor, would you tell they couldn't have their drugs? Come on journalists who do nothing but criticise others, what would you do? The likelihood is you will choose something that is close to you because a member of your family has suffered from it and excluded other things because, perhaps, you think that they are self inflicted and shouldn't be treated on the NHS. This is why something like NICE has to exist, to remove to emotion from decisions such as this and consider them in a purely rational, scientific way.

As usual I've rambled on, let do some awards,

The Award for Turning Out Not To Be An Arse (Possibly. Although it may have been for publicity but does that matter in the end, isn't the outcome the important thing whatever the motivation)

If you write a letter to your favourite film star you probably don't expect him to reply, after all Jim'll fix it hasn't been on television for years. You also probably don't expect that film star to turn up at your school either although that is exactly what happened to Bea Delap.
She wrote to Capt. Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean films asking for help with a mutiny and he, err, turned up to Meridian Primary School in Greenwich, London. Whilst he didn't help the children with their mutiny, Capt. Jack (played by Johnny Depp) did offer the children some excellent advice, always remember to brush your teeth.

The Award for Best Line of the Week,

One of the rescue teams has managed to break through into the underground chamber where the Chilean miners have been trapped for the last 66 days. A Journalist excitedly asks Chilean mining minister Golborne "how are the miners?", who replied "a lot calmer than the journalists." Nice.

That will do I think. The usual degree of rambling has been achieved and now I must stop, there are sick people to visit. Off to Devon now to visit our god daughter who's not been well either but the NHS made her better also, damn they are great and not just because they employ me.
Have a super fun week.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Diana Watch

“Well, there used to be a bloke called Peg who had a wooden leg. He used to set himself on fire and then jump into the Lido to put it out”
“What would Health and Safety think of that?”
“They don’t let you do anything these days.”

It was announced at the beginning of the week that Catherine Walker had died. She was a very successful fashion designer but differed from many others in her field by shunning the limelight and not doing runway shows.
 She was, however, famous for one thing that interested a certain section of our press. She provided frocks for Princess Diana.
 How did they mark the passing of this talented designer, successful business woman and founder of a Cancer Charity?
 Well, to be honest, most of them were pretty good about it. A short story on an inside page that played up the Diana connection. The Times had it on the front page with an accompanying photograph of Diana that at least Catherine Walker was in,


Not so the Express.


Really that is just a little bit rude. Covering the death of someone on the front page and then having a picture of someone else.

Friday the 1st of October saw the introduction of the much hated (by the Mail, Express and Church Groups, people who really know about bigotry) Equality Act.
 The act aims to provide protection for workers by banning discrimination by employers and covering areas such as age, disability and pay. It brings together 9 different bits of legislation into one easy to follow act.
 Ah, Britain moves, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century. No one can be discriminated against in the workplace on ground of Race, religion, sexual orientation, age and a big long list of other things I haven’t thought of but nasty bigoty types have. A utopia has been reached, we are all equal. No man or woman is above any other. It is Brave New World (but without the drugging) and not 1984. Who could not be happy at such an event?
 Well, entertainingly, both ends of the spectrum.
  British companies don't like the Act. "Businesses are really concerned," said Abigail Morris from the British Chambers of Commerce.
"The government's own impact assessment shows that this is going to cost £190m just for businesses to understand the legislation, and this at a time when we really need them to be concentrating on creating private sector jobs and driving economic recovery."
What she seems to be saying is, “we want to carry on exploiting people, discriminating against older people and paying women less because it increases our profits. Equality=Cost and we don't want that.”
 Well at least we now all know that I suppose. Business cares not for the workers. Is it any wonder that the Unions are getting twitchy?
 I know that some see it as too easy to mock the Daily Mail but some times they make it too easy.
 On Friday they published, on their front page, an article that complained that this was the “Death of the Office Joke”. Now, if you tell a racist, sexist, misogynist or anti-religious joke, you could fall foul of this legislation.
 What's wrong with that? I don't know about the place where you work but we don't tell that sort of joke, it's not very nice.
 They also have a problem with what is called Third Party harassment. According to the paper  “It creates the controversial legal concept of ‘third party harassment’, under which workers will be able to sue over jokes and banter they find offensive – even if the comments are aimed at someone else and they weren’t there at the time the comments were made.” Yep, nothing wrong with that either.
 There is some argument however for a freedom of speech infringement here; do you have the right to offend? Is this legislation attacking your right to be a twat and it is possible that the answer to that question is yes. It is a defence that the paper often uses to defend it's self and did when Jan Moir wrote her awful article about the death of Stephen Gately, but for some reason they decided not to go with that, curious.
 Maybe it is because the nasty Moir woman attacked “Modern” comedy earlier in the week. “This cruel, witless modern comedy is beyond a joke” she said. Her argument seems to be that we are no longer picking on the correct groups of people such as Gays, blacks and non-Christian religions.
 So in Mail-land you should have the freedom of speech to attack anyone you like no matter how offensive you are, unless the Mail thinks you shouldn't. It's no wonder their readers are so filled with impotent rage, they have no idea what they can and can't do because their paper keeps confusing them.
 But how about those that campaign for equality, what do they think of the act? As it is supposed to be anti-discriminatory surely they are as happy as a pig in the sort of thing that pigs are supposed to be happy in. What do, for instance, the British Humanist Association think about it? Well they are not happy either. They say that it gives “excessive privileges to religious organisations”. Oh dear, just when we thought we were getting somewhere.
 I thought, given the coverage in the right wing press, that everyone had to be treated equally in the workplace but it seems not. According to Naomi Phillips, BHA Head of Public Affairs, ‘Through wide exceptions that exempt religious organisations from significant parts of the law, the Equality Act gives excessive privileges specifically to religious groups, permitting them to discriminate against not only gay and lesbian people but against the non-religious and those of other religions.” Bugger. Oh well, it seems that we still have to carry on campaigning for equal rights for EVERYONE. Everyone, religious people, atheists, woman, gays, whoever, treated the same. No one group will be better than another. Please can we make that happen?

I've rambled on again haven't I? Sorry. Let's do some awards then,

The Award for Helping to Make Scientology Look Even Sillier of the Week,

Usually this award would go straight to Tom Cruise he seems to be on a mission (and not an impossible one, sorry, that was awful) to bring Scientology down from the inside by making himself and therefore, by association, his “religion” look ridiculous. This week, however, he has had some help.
 Firstly there was a Panorama programme on BBC1 that had a bit a, admittedly flawed, look at what some may describe as the cult.
 Then Councillor John Dixon, who was suspended from his job after the “Church” complained about him tweeting “I didn't know the Scientologists had a church on Tottenham Court Road. Just hurried past in case the stupid rubs off”, was cleared of any wrong doing and that he had not breached the councillors' code of conduct.
 The final blow in a bad week came when the Charity Commission announced that it would recognise Druidism as a religion for Tax purposes. This is funny because they have refused to grant the same status to Scientology thereby making sure that it is not considered religion in this Country, well done us.
 Ha, where is your Xenu now hey? Trapped in a volcano or something I think, to be honest I can't be bothered to wonder waist high through the levels of bullshit necessary to find out.
The Award for Bad Planning at a Sporting Event of the Week,

Maybe this should go to the organisers of the Commonwealth Games who have had one or two problems in getting ready for the event that starts today in Delhi but that would be too easy and I think that some people have been a little mean to them in recent weeks. No, no, the winner must be the person who thought that it would be a good idea to hold the Ryder Cup in Wales. In October.
 What did they think would happen? Wales is not exactly renowned for its tropical weather and October isn't one of the UK's sunniest months. Surprisingly enough it rained on Friday and play was abandoned. Oh and then it rained yesterday afternoon and play was abandoned. And it’s rained again this morning and play is yet to start (at the time of writing)
 I also heard, through the medium of Twitter so I don't know how accurate the story is, that the US team didn't bring any wet weather gear with them and had to buy some when they got here. Great research there. Planned about as well as the invasion of Iraq. It seems that the motto of America is “I'm sure it will be fine”. This is what happens if you watch too many Hollywood movies.

OK, enough moaning from me, I'm sure you have things to do. Have a lovely week and do try the Dorchester Online Radio Company podcast you might enjoy it, although you may not, it's the risk we take. Have a lovely week.